The Example of Allah’s Messenger is part of Islam and will be protected till the Last Day. Allah says,
“Indeed, in the Messenger of Allah (Muhammad sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) you have a good example to follow, for him who hopes in (the Meeting with) Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah much.” [Surah al-Ahzab 33:21]
Islam is a universal religion, and its teachings are for all mankind and for all ages; and as long as people need to be guided, the example of the Prophet will be preserved.
“We have not sent you (O Muhammad sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) except as a Messenger to all mankind, giving them glad tidings and warning them against sin.” [Surah Saba 34:28]
Rather, the very purpose of sending a human Messenger was for people to take him as an example in their day to day lives,
“Say, ‘If there were on the earth, angels walking about in peace and security, We should certainly have sent down for them from the heaven, an angel as a Messenger.” [Surah al-Isra 17: 95]
Allah’s Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam received revelations besides the Qur’an. Allah says,
“Verily, it is We who have sent down the Dhikr (revelation), and surely We will guard it.” [Surah Hijr 15:9]
Anyone who believes in Allah as the Supreme Rabb, must agree that the guidance which Allah has sent will be protected as long as there is a need for it which in case of Islam is until the last day. The question remains – Is Qur’aan the only guidance that has been revealed by Allah as the hadeeth-rejecters contend or has the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) received revelation from Allah that is not part of the Qur’aan??
The Qur’aan itself refers to revelation being received from Allah that is not found in the Qur’aan and hereunder are few examples:
i) Allah says in the Qur’aan,
“And We made the Qiblah (prayer direction towards Jerusalem) which you used to face, only to test those who followed the Messenger (Muhammad).” [Surah al-Baqarah 2:143]
This verse shows that Allah had assigned the previous Qiblah of the Muslims but there is no verse in the Qur’aan designating Jerusalem as the previous Qibla. This means that there has to be an alternative form of ‘Wahy’ (revelation) apart from the Qur’aan through which Allah revealed the previous command of facing towards Jerusalem.
ii) “And (remember) when the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) disclosed a matter in confidence to one of his wives (Hafsah), so when she told it (to another i.e. Aa’isha), and Allah made it known to him, he informed part thereof and left a part. Then when he told her (Hafsah) thereof, she said, ‘Who told you this?’ He said, ‘The All-Knower, the All-Aware (Allah) has told me.” [Surah at-Tahrim (66): 3]
The verse says, “Allah made it known to him,” and yet, there is no verse in the Qur’aan that makes mentions this.
iii) “It is for Us to collect it (i.e. the Qur’aan) and to give you (O Muhammad sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) the ability to recite it (the Qur’aan).” [Surah al-Qiyamah 75:17]
The Qur’aan as it has been collected is not in the same order in which it was revealed, and while it is for Allah to collect the Qur’aan there are no verses in the Qur’aan that mention the arrangement of the verses. This information is found in the Sunnah.
iv) The Qur’aan mentions the call to the prayer (adhan), “And when you proclaim the call for Salaat, they take it (but) as a mockery and fun.” [Surah al-Maidah 5:58] and,
“O you who believe! When the call is proclaimed for the Salaat on the day of Friday, come to the remembrance of Allah.” [Surah al-Jumu’ah 62:9]
These verses testify that Adhan is part of the religion of Islam but there is no verse in the Qur’aan that prescribes the Adhan for the believers. This order is found in the other revelation – the Sunnah.
These are some proofs that show that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) did indeed receive revelation apart from the Qur’aan; and since this revelation constitutes beneficial guidance, it will be preserved.
The Sunnah is in itself a Revelation from Allah
Allah repeatedly makes mention of the revealed ‘al-Hikmah‘ in the Qur’aan. He said, “Allah has sent down to you the Book (the Qur’aan), and al-Hikmah, and taught you that which you knew not.” [Surah an-Nisa 4:113]
“He, it is Who, sent among the unlettered ones a Messenger from among themselves, reciting to them His Ayaat, purifying them, and teaching them the Book and the Hikmah.” [Surah al-Jumu’ah 62:2]
“And remember (O you members of the Prophet’s family), that which is recited in your houses of the Ayaat of Allah and the Hikmah.” [Surah al-Ahzab 33:34]
These verses show;
(i) Al-Hikmah is revealed by Allah
(ii) It is part of the Messenger’s (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) duty to teach the Hikmah
(iii) It is something recited and remembered in the Prophet’s (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) household.
There is nothing in status and position that can be mentioned alongside the Qur’aan apart from the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). This honor cannot be given to conventional wisdom inherited from the past or even to the books given to previous nations. At the time of the Sahabah, such ‘wisdom’ was not given any consideration as the following incidents testify…
Imran bin Hussain said, “The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said, ‘Haya’ does not bring anything except good.” Thereupon, Bashir bin Ka’b said, “It is written in the wisdom paper: Haya leads to solemnity; Haya leads to tranquility (peace of mind).”
Imran said to him, “I am narrating to you the saying of Allah’s Messenger and you are speaking about your paper (wisdom book)?” [Saheeh al-Bukharee (8/138)]
When Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) came to the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), he said, “We hear the narrations from the Jews, which sound pleasing to us, so should we not write some of them?” Whereupon he (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said, “Do you want to be baffled as the Jews and the Christians were baffled? I have brought to you (guidance) bright and pure and if Prophet Moosa (alayhissalaam) was alive now there would have been no alternative left for him but to follow me.” [at-Tirimidhi]
Therefore, Imam Ash-Shafiee (rahimahullah) says explaining the verse about Hikmah,
“So Allah mentioned His Book, i.e., the Qur’aan and (He also mentioned) Hikmah. I have heard that those who are learned in the Qur’aan – whom I approve – hold that Hikmah is the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah.
This is like what [Allah Himself] said but Allah knows best! For the Qur’aan is mentioned [first], followed by Wisdom; [then] Allah mentioned His favor to mankind by teaching them the Qur’aan and Wisdom. So it is not permissible for Hikmah to be called here [anything] save the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah. For [Hikmah] is closely linked to the Book of Allah, and Allah has imposed the duty of obedience to His Messenger, and imposed on men the obligation to obey his orders.
So, it is not permissible to regard anything as a duty save that set forth in the Qur’aan and the Sunnah of His Messenger. For [Allah], as we have [just] stated, prescribed that the belief in His Messenger shall be associated with the belief in Him.” [Ar-Risala]
Furthermore, Book and Hikmah are not the same because at no place is the word ‘Hikmah’ used for the Book or the word ‘Book’ used for ‘Hikmah’. They are two separate and distinct entities.
The Qur’aan needs to be understood as Allah meant it to be understood. Allah says,
“It is for Us to collect it and to give you (O Muhammad sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) the ability to recite it (the Qur’aan). And when We have recited it to you, then follow you its recital. Then it is for Us (Allah) to make it clear to you.” [Surah al-Qiyamah 75:17-19]
This verse indicates that both the text of the Qur’aan as well as its explanation have been sent from Allah.
Allah also says, “And We have also sent down unto you (O Muhammad sallallaahu alayhi wasallam ) the reminder and the advice, that you may explain clearly to men what is sent down to them and that they may give thought.” [Surah an-Nahl 16:44]
This verse mentions that the message requires explanation, and the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) is the one assigned to provide it. This explanation is not only needed by people at the time of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), but by all subsequent generations until the last day. Rather, the more the distance in age from the time of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), the more the need to solve differences in understanding by reference to the original state of affairs.
Furthermore, this verse also gives instructions about the order in which the Qur’aan should be understood. First the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) explains Allah’s revelation clearly to mankind and then they give thought. People are not free to let loose their thoughts and speculate about the message of the Qur’aan whilst ignoring the teachings of the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam).
According to Hadeeth-rejecters, ‘God Himself states in the Qur’aan that it is He Who explains the Qur’aan. This means that the Qur’aan explains itself.’ But why then have the Hadeeth-rejectors not sufficed themselves with the text of the Qur’aan and have written huge volumes discussing and explaining the Qur’aan?
Because there are verses in the Qur’aan that explain each other, and there are verses that require explanation from the Sunnah.
The Qur’aan can only be correctly understood in light of the Sunnah. One of the most important duties with which Allah’s Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) was sent with was to convey the Qur’aan to mankind and to teach it. Allah says,
“Indeed, Allah conferred a great favor on the believers when He sent among them a Messenger (Muhammad sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) from among themselves, reciting unto them His Verses, and purifying them, and teaching them the Book (Qur’aan) and Hikmah while before that they had been in manifest error.” [Surah aal-Imran 3:164]
“And We have also sent down unto you (O Muhammad sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) the Reminder and the Advice that you may explain clearly to men what is sent down to them.” [Surah an-Nahl (16): 44]
i) The Sunnah explains the commands of the Qur’aan in details. For example, Allah commands His believing slaves in Surah al-Baqarah 2: 43, “…establish As-Salaat and give Zakaat…”
Details of the command to establish the Salaat are not found in the Qur’aan such as the required number of daily prayers, the units of prayers (rak’ah) and the recitation in each mode of prayer as well as the manner of performing the prayer from the beginning to the end, etc. All these guidelines are to be taken from the Sunnah. Similarly, Allah commands in Surah al-Jumuah 62: verse 9, “When the call is proclaimed for the Salaat on the day of Friday…”
The words of the call to prayer (Adhaan) is known from the Hadith. Likewise, all issues of Zakaat e.g., the minimum amount on which Zakaat becomes payable, the percentage paid, the kind of wealth, goods and animals on which Zakaat is obligatory, etc. are clearly explained by the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam).
Other important acts of worship like fasting and Hajj are touched upon briefly in the Qur’aan and for detailed injunctions Muslims are to refer to the Hadith and the Sunnah of the Messenger and the rightly guided Caliphs.
Another example is the Qur’aanic punishment for the thief. “Cut off the hand of the thief, male or female, as a recompense for that which they committed…” [Surah al-Maidah 5:38]
This verse prescribes the punishment, but the Sunnah designates what is the minimum amount when it is applied. The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam said, “The hand of the thief shall be cut off if he steals a quarter of a Dinar or more.” [Saheeh al- Bukhari]
Note: The manner in which the hadeeth-rejectors explain this verse provides beneficial insight into their methodology and contradictions.
Rashad Khalifa (the Hadith-rejector) translates this verse as,
“The thief, male or female, you shall mark their hands as a punishment for their crime,” and then comments,
“The practice of cutting off the thief’s hand as decreed by the false Muslims is a satanic practice without Qur’aanic basis.” [Rashad Khalifa’s Translation]
Therefore, the Qur’aan itself does not have Qur’aanic basis (!) when the hadeeth-rejectors dislike something in it. Rashad Khaleefah used mathematical calculations to interpret cutting as marking.
Ghulam Perwez (another Hadith-rejector says about this verse, “As to a thief, man or woman, such restrictions should be imposed on them which render them incapable of committing such crime.”
He comments, “The literal meaning of the text is ‘cutting off the hands.’ When the Divine Order of Rabubiyyat is established, every person will be guaranteed means of livelihood.
If anyone commits a theft under such circumstances he deserves the highest punishment.” [Perwez’s Translation]
We can see that after all the prolonged argument by the Hadeeth-rejecters that the Qur’aan explains itself and is in no need of the Hadith and Sunnah to clarify it, we find Perwez adding non-Qur’aanic clauses to the Qur’aanic law to limit the circumstance under which this punishment is applied.
ii) The Sunnah establishes a meaning, when a number of meanings are possible. The Qur’aan prescribes, “Cut off the hand of the thief, male or female…” but does not clarify what hand means. The Hadith and the Sunnah explains the hand to mean ‘from the wrist down’.
The Qur’aan explains the ruling and manner of Tayammum as, “…But if you are ill or on a journey or any of you comes from answering the call of nature, or you have been in contact with women and you find no water, then perform Tayammum (dry ablution) with clean earth and rub there with your faces and hands.”
The Sunnah explains that hands in this verse mean only the palms. The word ‘hand’ could have multiple meanings but the Sunnah specifies the appropriate meaning for each ruling.
Another example is the Saying of Allah, “And those (means hoarding up) gold and silver, and spend it not in the Way of Allah, announce unto them a painful torment.”
Apparently, this verse means that any kind of hoarding or collection of money that is not spent in the Way of Allah will doom one to the painful torment but the Sunnah clarifies that Kanz refers to the wealth on which Zakaat has not been paid.
iii) The Sunnah can specify exceptions to a general rule. In Surah al-Maida 5: 3, Allah says, “Forbidden to you (for food) are: al-Maytatah (the un-slaughtered dead animals), blood…”
The general rule in this verse prohibits all Maytatah and all forms of blood but the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) made exceptions to this rule. He said, “We were allowed two dead animals and two (kinds of) blood. As for the two dead animals, they are fish and locust. As for the two bloods, they are liver and spleen.” [Quoted from Tafseer Ibn Katheer]
iv) The Sunnah also gives additional injunctions in a number of issues. Allah says, “Those who follow the Messenger, the Prophet who can neither read nor write – he commands them for al-Ma’roof (the prescribed); and forbids them from al-Munkar (the prohibited); he allows them as lawful at-Taiyibaat (i.e. all good), and prohibits them as unlawful al-Khabaaith (i.e. all evil), he releases them from their heavy burdens (of Allah’s Covenant), and from the fetters (bindings) that were upon them. So those who believe in him (Muhammad sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), honor him, help him, and follow the light which has been sent down with him, it is they who will be successful.” [Surah al-A’raf 7:157]
A number of religious injunction thus emanate from the Sunnah like the prohibition of the flesh of the donkeys, dogs, beasts with canine teeth and birds of prey. He made wearing gold and silk Halaal for the women and Haraam for the men, etc.
v) Inadequacy of language alone to understand Qur’aan. There is no scope for anyone with all his Arabic scholarship to understand the glorious Qur’aan without Hadith and Sunnah. The Sahabah were the most knowledgeable in the language in which the Qur’aan was revealed at a time when Arabic was not blemished by the incorrectness of the colloquial language or their grammatical mistakes. Yet, they erred in understanding the verses when they relied on language alone, and following are some examples…
a) Allah says in the Qur’aan, “It is those who believe and confuse not their belief with Dhulm (wrongdoing), for them (only) there is security and they are the guided.” [Surah al-An’am 6:82]
When this verse was revealed, the Sahabah understood ‘Dhulm‘ in its wider sense meaning ‘all wrongdoing’ and this caused much concern because no one is free from wrongdoing. The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) explained that ‘Dhulm‘ in this verse refers to Shirk.
b) “…eat and drink until the white thread of dawn appears to you distinct from the black thread.” [Surah al-Baqarah 2:187]
This verse describes the time when the fast begins. A companion understood this verse literally and slept with two threads under his pillow to determine when the fast should begin. The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) explained that the black and white thread actually refers to the white streak of dawn and the darkness of night.
The hadeeth-rejecters maintain that the Qur’aan is a detailed Book that does not require any other source to supplement it – not even Sunnah. Despite this we have seen how Ghulam Parwez added additional clauses to the order of cutting the thief’s hand. Furthermore, the Hadeeth-rejecters seriously contradict themselves when they author detailed volumes explaining and deliberating upon the Qur’aan and propose additional clauses and conditions to the Qur’aan’s orders.
Another example of this is Rashad Khaleefah’s comment on the verse, “Those who eat Riba (usury) will not stand (on the Day of Resurrection) except like the standing of a person beaten by Shaytan leading him to insanity.”
Rashad Khaleefah says,
“It is an established economic principle that excessive interest on loans can utterly destroy a whole country. During the last few years we have witnessed the devastation of the economies of many nations where excessive interest is charged. Normal interest – less than 20% – where no one is victimized and everyone is satisfied is not usury.”
The 20% condition is not mentioned in the Qur’aan.
To emphasize that the Qur’an does not need supplementary explanations, the Hadeeth-rejecters quote, “We have neglected nothing in the Book, then unto their Lord they (all) shall be gathered.” [Surah al-An’am 6:38]
“And We have sent down to you the Book (the Qur’aan) as an exposition of everything…” [Surah an-Nahl 16:89]
For the correct understanding, we refer to the complete verse, i.e., “There is not a moving (living) creature on earth, nor a bird that flies with its two wings, but are communities like you. We have neglected nothing in the Book, then unto their Lord they (all) shall be gathered.” [Surah al-An’aam 6:38]
One interpretation is that ‘the Book’ in this verse refers to the preserved tablet in which Allah has recorded everything that occurs, and this is similar to another verse,
“And no (moving) living creature is there on earth but its provision is due from Allah. And He knows its dwelling place and its deposit all is in a Clear Book (al-Lawh al-Mahfoodh).” [Surah Hud 11:6]
Even if one interprets ‘the Book’ to be the Qur’aan then Allah has not neglected to mention in it the Prophet’s (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) duty as the example, teacher and explainer of the Qur’aan and obedience to him is ordered in seventy verses.
While ‘the Book’ does not contain details of the prayers and fasting, it did not neglect to direct the believers towards the example of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) where it can be found. And the same explanation holds good for the other similar verse, i.e.,
“We have sent down to you the Book (the Qur’aan) as an exposition of everything…”
Allah’s Protection for the Dhikr includes all the Deen
“Verily, it is We who have sent down the Dhikr (revelation), and surely We will guard it.” [Surah Hijr 15:9]
The word, ‘Dhikr‘ has been used in the Book of Allah to refer to the Qur’aan, the Deen in general, the remembrance of Allah, the Friday prayer (62:9) and Allah’s Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) as in the verse,
“Allah has indeed sent down to you a Dhikr (reminder). A Messenger who recites to you the verses of Allah.” [Surah at-Talaaq 65:10-11)]
Therefore, Allah promised to protect the Qur’aan, its understanding, the example of His Messenger, the actions of the Khulafa e Rashidin, the examples of the Imams of the Madhabs, the Ijma’ of the scholars the Prayer and all aspects of the Deen which collectively are ‘the Dhikr‘. The text of the Qur’aan will not be protected if its understanding which is contained in the Sunnah is not protected.
Furthermore, if anyone wants to restrict the meaning of ‘Dhikr‘ to the Qur’aan then they need to present a proof. A segment of Munkireen al-Hadeeth argues that Qur’aan was the only revelation and hence Dhikr exclusively refers to the Qur’aan. This argument has already been replied to earlier with examples that the Qur’aan itself refers to a revelation apart from it.
Another group of Munkareen al-Hadeeth claims that the additional guidance received by the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) was for his period only. This is a false argument because the latter generations who do not have a living Messenger amongst themselves are more in need of the guidance and explanations that was revealed apart from the Qur’aan. This group also claims that the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) himself did not undertake any measures to preserve the hadeeth, the like of which was undertaken to preserve the Qur’aan. We will shed light on the issue in the following pages.
To summarize, the insistence of Munkareen al-Hadeeth that the Dhikr which Allah had Promised to protect, is only the Qur’aan is not based on any sound proof but upon their assumption and conjecture.
Preservation of Hadith
From what has preceded, we have seen the significance of the Hadeeth and Sunnah as a source of the Deen and it is only a natural consequence that the study of Hadeeth has been a constant pursuit since the beginning of Islam to the present time.
The Companions of the Prophet eagerly observed what he said and did, and memorized it faithfully. Some of them even recorded Hadeeth by writing in ‘saheefahs’.
The Ahadeeth were passed down from generation to generation among the most trustworthy of individuals in a tremendous effort that not only preserved the exact words of the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), but also the entire chain of narration and the condition of the narrators (memory, period, beliefs, etc.).
This manner and meticulousness by which Ahadeeth have been preserved is unique and unparallel in literary history, and one needs to study the science of hadeeth-verification in order to truly appreciate it.
To get a good overview of how Islamic texts were preserved we start by understanding the methodology of the compilation of the Qur’aan so that it can be compared to the methodology of Hadeeth compilation.
Compiliation of the Qur’an
Allah says, “He, it is Who, sent among the unlettered ones a Messenger (Muhammad) from among themselves.” [Surah al-Munafiqun 63:2]
Being mostly unlettered, the primary mode by which the Arabs preserved their knowledge like poetry and history was by memorization. When the Qur’aan was revealed it too, was memorized by the Sahabah and in addition some of the sahabah were assigned by the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi was to write down the Qur’aan.
At the time of the Prophet’s (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) death, all of the Qur’aan had been verified and written on various materials like cloth, stone, date-palm leaves, etc., and remained scattered as loose fragments in the possession of various Sahabah.
It had not been compiled in the form of a book because during the lifetime of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) the Qur’aan was continually being revealed, and the order of the verses is not chronological. There was also no pressing need for it because of the large number of accurate memorizers and reciters of the Qur’aan.
During the Caliphate of Abu Bakr as-Siddeeq (radhiyallahu anhu), many memorizers of the Qur’aan were killed in battles and a collective decision was taken to compile the Qur’aan in a single book in order to preserve it. The enormously significant task was given to Zayd ibn Thaabit (radhiyallahu anhu) who began to collect the Qur’aan from what was written on palm stalks, thin white stones and also from the men who knew it by heart.
Zayd ibn Thaabit (radhiyallahu anhu), despite being a memorizer of the Qur’aan himself, was methodical in his compilation and would not agree to write down any verse until two of the Sahabah testified that they had heard it from the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). In this manner, the entire Qur’aan was verified and written on leather, and remained with Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu anhu) until his death and then with Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) until the end of his life, and then with Hafsah (radhiyallahu anha) the daughter of Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) and the wife of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam).
At the time of Uthmaan ibn Affan (radhiyallahu anhu), the Islamic empire had spread far and wide and people were being taught to recite the Qur’aan in seven different dialects (the Qur’aan was revealed in seven dialects). This began to cause confusion in far off provinces, and a decision was taken to make an official standardized copy from the manuscript of Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu anhu) and limit the people to its recitation.
More copies were made from this copy known as ‘Mushaf Uthmaan,‘ and sent to different parts of the Islamic empire.
This Mushaf was unpointed (i.e., it had no diacritical marks). The addition of diacritical marks to the Mushaf happened in the era of Abd al-Malik ibn Marwaan to ease recitation.
Compiliation of the Hadith
Like the Qur’aan, the sayings and actions of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) were preserved primarily at the time of the Sahabah by memorization and they were also noted down. This was due to encouragement and direction by the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) himself, who said, “May Allah make radiant the man who has heard what I said and has preserved it in his memory until he conveys it to another. Perhaps, the one he conveyed it to has a better understanding than him.” [At-Tirmidhi] He (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) also said, “Convey from me even a single verse. You may relate from the Children of Israel without objection. Anyone who deliberately tells a lie against me will have prepared his seat in Hellfire.” [Bukhari]
The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) also made clear the necessity of accurately preserving and transmitting Hadeeth when he warned, “Lying about me is not like lying about anybody else. Whoever lies about me let him take his place in Hell.” [Agreed upon] So serious was this matter that at the time of the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), lying about him was punishable by death.
Abu Hurayrah (radhiyallahu anhu) said, “People say that I have narrated many Ahadeeth. Had it not been for two verses in the Qur’aan I would not have narrated a single Hadeeth and the verses are, “Verily, those who conceal the clear sign and the guidance which We have sent down…” [Surah al-Baqarah 2:159-160]
No doubt, our Muhajir (emigrant) brothers used to be busy in the market with their business (bargains); and our Ansari brothers used to be busy with their property (agriculture). But I used to stick to Allah’s Messenger content with what will fill my stomach and I used to attend that which they used not to attend and I used to memorize that which they used not to memorize.” [Saheeh al-Bukhari (3/118)]
Famous Memorizers of Hadeeth amongst the Sahaba h included Abu Hurayrah, Abdullah Ibn Abbas, Aa’isha Siddeeqa, Abdullah Ibn Umar, Jabir Ibn Abdullah, Anas Ibn Maalik and Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri (radhiyallahu anhum). Each of them memorized over a 1000 Ahadeeth.
Famous Memorizers of Hadeeth amongst the Tabieen included Sa’eed Ibn al-Mussayab, Urwah Ibn Zubayr, Saalim Ibn Abdullah Ibn Umar (the son of Abdullah Ibn Umar) and Naaf’i (the servant of Abdullah Ibn Umar).
References to writing the Hadeeth can be found in various narrations some examples are mentioned below:
1. Abdullah ibn Umar ibn al-As stated that they used to record everything they heard from the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) until they were warned that the Prophet was a human being who may be angry at times and pleased at times. Abdullah stopped writing Ahadeeth until he asked the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) about it, who said, “Write (my hadeeth), by the One, in Whose Hand is my soul, nothing leaves it (the Prophet’s mouth) save the truth.” [Saheeh Sunan Abu Dawood (2/695)]
2. Al-Bukhari recorded in his Saheeh that Abu Hurayrah (rashoyallahu anhu) said, “One can find none of the Companions of the Messenger of Allah relating more Ahadeeth than me, except Abdullah ibn Amr (radhiyallahu anhu) because he used to record the hadeeth while I did not do so.”
3. Al-Bukhari recorded that a man from Yemen came to the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) on the day of the conquest of Makkah and asked him if he could get the Prophet’s speech recorded and the Prophet approved and told someone, “Write it for the father of so and so.”
Al-Azami in his work Studies in Early Hadeeth Literature (p.34-60) has listed and discussed some fifty Companions of the Prophet who wrote Ahadeeth. He listed eighty-seven of the scholars covering the late first and early second centuries who recorded hadeeth.
Then he listed from the early second century scholars, 251 people who collected and recorded hadeeth. Thus al-Azami has produced a list of 437 scholars who had recorded Ahadeeth and all of them lived and died before the year 250 A.H. Many of them are from before the time of Umar ibn Abdul-Azeez (rahimahullah) who is credited with having been the first person to ask for the compilation/collection of hadeeth.
“I have established in my doctoral thesis Studies in early Hadeeth Literature that even in the first century of the Hijra many hundreds of booklets of hadeeth were in circulation. If we add another hundred years, it would be difficult to enumerate the quantity of booklets and books, which were in circulation. Even by the most conservative estimate they were many thousands.” [Studies in Hadeeth Methodology and Literature (p.64)]
He also demonstrated in his Ph.D. thesis the reason why none or very few of them are still in existence today “These books were not destroyed nor did they perish, but (they) were absorbed into the work of later authors. When the encyclopedia-type books were produced scholars did not feel the necessity to keep the early books or booklets and so slowly they disappeared.” [Studies in Hadeeth Methodology and Literature, p.64]
Saheefah Hammaam ibn Munabbih
“Of the earliest collections of hadeeth one in particular deserves closer attention. This is the Saheefah of Hammaam ibn Munabbih (rahimahullah). It is actually a written collection of hadeeth that the Companion Abu Hurayrah (radhiyallahu anhu) dictated to his student Hammaam.
Since Abu Hurayrah (radhiyallahu anhu) died around 58 A.H. (or some 48 years after the death of the Prophet) this collection must have been dictated to Hammaam sometime from that date…
Imam Ahmad Ibn Hambal (rahimahullah) incorporated the entire work except two hadeeth into his famous Musnad.
Al-Sulami (a muhaddith), on the other hand, continued the passing on of this collection as an independent work. It was continually passed on until the 9th century which is the date of the Berlin manuscript, one of the four manuscripts of this work that is still in existence.
Since Ahadeeth in Ahmad’s Musnad are arranged according to the Companions who narrated the Hadeeth. It is very easy to find all of the hadeeth from Hammam on the authority of Abu Hurayrah (radhiyallahu anhu) in that collection.
Other books where the Ahadeeth are arranged according to Fiqh topics also incorporated a great deal of this Saheefah.
A study of Saheeh al-Bukhari and Saheeh Muslim will demonstrate the following. Out of the 137 Ahadeeth in the Saheefah of Hammaam: 29 are recorded by both al-Bukhari and Muslim 22 others are recorded by only al-Bukhari 48 other are recorded only by Muslim. Thus 99 of the 137 hadeeth may be found in either Saheeh al-Bukharee or Saheeh Muslim…
It is interesting to note that all of the following works that contain many, if not all, of the hadeeth of this saheefah are now published: al-Bukhari’s al-Jaami al-Saheeh, Muslim’s Saheeh, Ahmad’s Musnad, Abdul Razzaq’s Musannaf, Ma’mars Jami and even Hammam’s Saheefah. All of these collections may be studied to see that even the wordings of the hadeeth have not been changed from the time of Abu Hurayrah (radhiyallahu anhu) to the time of al-Bukharee.”