By Haafidh Muhammad Zubayr
Whenever the topic of defending the Hadeeth comes, this is the question that often gets asked by the Rejectors of Hadeeth.
So the very first thing to note here is that, whatever is between the two covers of Saheeh Bukhaari is not a revelation from Allaah, and no one has claimed it so! Rather the right phrase is to say, “the revelation of Allaah is found in Saheeh Bukhaari, but Saheeh Bukhaari itself is not the revelation of Allaah”.
Second and a more important thing to note is that, “Hadeeth” is what we call revelation, not Saheeh Bukhaari. Saheeh Bukhaari CONTAINS that hadeeth, but not every single thing Saheeh Bukhaari contains is a Hadeeth! Hadeeth refers to that narration which contains the sayings, actions, or approvals of Allaah’s Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), while Saheeh Bukhaari also contains the sayings of the Sahaabah, the Taabi’een as well as the A’immah.
Third and even more important thing is that, no one ever refers to the Hadeeth as a “literal revelation”, on the contrary, Hadeeth is an “interpreted revelation”. Hence, the “meaning” of the hadeeth is a revelation from Allaah, but its “wording” is that of Allaah’s Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), if it is a Qawli Hadeeth. Similarly if it is a Fi’li Hadeeth (action of the Prophet) or a Taqreeri Hadeeth (Approval of the Prophet), then in that case the wording is that of a Sahaabi (Companion of Allaah’s Messenger). Now even though a lot of effort has been put in preserving the exact wording of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), the reality is that it is only his “meaning” that is preserved.
The rejectors of hadeeth do not usually take these key things under consideration when casting doubts on Ahaadeeth. Like, for example, they object on Saheeh Bukhaari by saying that it contains a story which says a monkey committed fornication and his fellow monkeys did rajam on him. Now Imaam Bukhaari has narrated this incident from Amr bin Maymoon, a taabi’ee, and it is him who says that I once saw such and such thing happening in Yemen. Now this is not even a Hadeeth, even though it is narrated in Saheeh Bukhaari.
Now as far as critiquing Saheeh Bukhaari is concerned, then the Imaams and experts of this field have already critiqued it and the Imaam and experts have also replied to those critiques. And now after all the criticisms and their answers, it has been clarified and made clear as to what those places are where criticism can possibly be done and what their answers are. And this conclusion has been reached after over a thousand years of practice. Now you cannot create a new objection on Saheeh Bukhaari, while those that were made in the past have already been answered.
That is why after all the extensive criticisms and their answers on Saheeh Bukhaari and Muslim, all those places in these books have been pointed out where any Ilal (Defect) are found, and the status of those Ilal has also been clarified as to whether those Ilal are Qaadiha (harmful) or not?
Now if someone tries to criticize a hadeeth of Saheeh Bukhaari or Saheeh Muslim basing it on the research of Imaam ad-Daaraqutni or any other Muhaddith from the A’immah of Salaf, then this criticism of his on Saheehayn will not be considered an independent criticism, and such a criticism has already been answered with a sufficient and convincing reply from Muhadditheen of the A’immah of Salaf themselves.
And if someone criticizes such a narration of Saheehayn which was not even criticized by anyone among the A’immah Salaf, then such a person is opposing the Ijmaa of Muhadditheen, because the narrations which the Muhadditheen did not lay a criticism on, proves that those were agreed upon to be Saheeh near all the Muhadditheen. Hence criticizing on those narrations simply means challenging the claim and Ijmaa of all the Muhadditheen. Such a criticism itself is not worth paying attention to, let alone doing its Tahqeeq.