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The Next Target

by | Jan 16, 2021

Last week, we visited how some people target the Quran, the prophet Muhammad ppuh and the Sahaba (companions of the prophet). But there is an even greater target: the Hadith and their authenticators. And even if the target are people and texts from hundreds of years back, the victims are still very alive: you and me.

You see, the only way to really get a sense and comprehension of the Quran is through the teachings and life of the prophet Muhammad. The Quran and the teachings of the prophet are kind of like the textbook and the teacher. The students read the book, comprehend a good chunk of it; yet, still refer to their teacher for explanation and clarification on certain aspects and topics. These teachings of the prophet are only clear through the Hadith. Basically, a Hadith is a situation that was reported at the time of the prophet Muhammad (i.e. words and/or actions of the prophet)

So in order to discredit the words and actions of the prophet themselves, you must discredit the authenticator that has deemed them worthy. The most renowned authenticator of Hadith is undoubtedly the great scholar Muhammad Ismail Al-Bukhari, commonly known as Imam Al-Bukhari.

Just as a sidenote, it is incredible how the greatest Muslim scholar was only a 4th generation Muslim, from a region in Uzbekistan that is over 3000 km from Mecca and 200 years removed from the time of the prophet Muhammad. It is just remarkable to see how Islam is universal and timeless.

So back on the trail of the detractors of Al-Bukhari. They try to discredit him on one specific front: his incredible memory. Many people are sceptic of his capabilities, and unfortunately, some Muslims also fall into this trap. There have been remarkable people through history, people who have done feats that boggle the imagination; in science, sports, war… Al-Bukhari is an exception, not the rule. When we hear about a 13 year old that has been accepted in university, we find this remarkable, but not impossible. When a teen revolutionizes science with an incredible discovery, we find this amazing, but not impossible. However, when it comes to memorizing over 100 000 narrations (authentic and false narrations), this is seen as impossible. Why? In order to cast doubt!

I am not saying to be gullible and not search on the matter. Actually, do search, learn about Imam Al-Bukhari’s upbringing and you will find out that he was not your regular kid. While still a child, he memorized the Quran (a 600 page book, but this is not uncommon among Muslim children); while still a teen, he was narrating Hadith and authoring books (now that is pretty impressive). By the age of 16, he began his journey in order to seek more sources of Hadith, so he went to Hajj (pilgrimage at the Kaaba in Mecca) and continued his trek that lasted over 16 years (2 years in Mecca, 4 years in Medina, Egypt and Greater Syria twice, Bursa, Kufa and Bagdad, plus multiple other excursions).

While Imam Al-Bukhari was in Baghdad, to test his knowledge, ten of among the most knowledgeable scholars each recited ten different Hadith, the situation as well as the chain of narration. However, they purposely recited an altered version of the chain of narration or the situation in each case to confuse the Imam. After listening to all of the 100 Hadith, Imam Al-Bukhari was able to recite each of the altered chains of narration in chronological order, point of the flaws, and recite the correct version.

This is not your regular Joe; this is a genius who dedicated his life to this knowledge and was the best at it. So don’t listen to someone who tries to rationalize this argument by comparing him to his own capabilities; we are talking about the best of the best in his field throughout history.

As for the following argument that casts doubt on the Hadith is actually how can you certify that a Hadith is authentic to start with? Well in this my friend, your argument is dead even before it is raised. For it is the Muslims who invented all of the actual review process, let’s explore this more in depth.

Hadith have been conserved through time and verified by cross-checking and peer reviews way before any scientific method was put in place (the scientific method was also a Muslim invention). In order for a Hadith to be considered true (Sahih), the narrators of the Hadith must reach back till the prophet himself; meaning that the transfer route must be known (i.e. this companion of the prophet told his son who told his nephew who told a scholar who conserved it in writing who recited it to his students who in turn wrote it down…). Therefore, it can be retraced to have being said by the prophet. 

Now, anyone can invent something and say that the prophet said it, right! That is exactly right, and hundreds of people have been doing this since the time of the prophet in order to sabotage Islam. But these false Hadith have been rooted out. How? By examining the characteristics of the narrator. Let’s say someone is known to lie or deform the truth, his narration will not even be considered. Let’s say a scholar started to have Alzheimer or loss of memory, the Hadith he reports will not be considered unless they have been conserved textually before he started having these memory lapses. 

Another determining factor is geography.  If someone reports a Hadith from someone else and they have never been at the same place at the same time, the Hadith will not be considered true; unless the intermediate is mentioned in the chain of narration.

Now, let’s say a scholar miss-transcribed a Hadith. It will be rooted out by cross-checking with other peers who transcribed the same Hadith. Therefore, the majority overcome the error. 

The ultimate criterion of validation is the concordance of the Hadith with the Quran. If the Quran says one thing and the Hadith say something contradictory, then the Hadith is considered void without any further regard. These are but the basic ground rules for affirming or infirming Hadith, yet this domain is way more precise than a few lines written in English. There are people who have dedicate their lives to this knowledge; past and present. As it goes for the past, the soundest book of Hadith is the books of Imam Al-Bukhari. Only verified, cross-checked, peer-reviewed Hadith are present. This does not mean that all the authentic Hadith are present in them; just that all of the 2600 Hadith (7563 with repetition) that are within them have passed this rigorous validation.

The Greatest Generation in History

Is there Anything Bad in the Quran? – Existential Questions

Is there Anything Bad in the Quran? – Existential Questions

When I mean bad, I mean something that everyone will agree to as fundamentally wrong. I don’t mean what is acceptable to modern standards, but fundamentally evil. Not only there is no evil within what is ordained, but it can only be depicted as righteous and good when looked at as a whole. Here are some Islamic principles that are listed in the Quran:

Say, “Come, I will recite what your Lord has prohibited to you. [He commands] that you not associate anything with Him, and to parents, good treatment, and do not kill your children out of poverty; We will provide for you and them. And do not approach immoralities – what is apparent of them and what is concealed. And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden [to be killed] except by [legal] right. This has He instructed you that you may use reason.”

And do not approach the orphan’s property except in a way that is best until he reaches maturity. And give full measure and weight in justice. We do not charge any soul except [with that within] its capacity. And when you testify, be just, even if [it concerns] a near relative. And the covenant of Allah fulfill. This has He instructed you that you may remember.

And, [moreover], this is My path, which is straight, so follow it; and do not follow [other] ways, for you will be separated from His way. This has He instructed you that you may become righteous.

Surah Al-Anam (6 – 151-153)

Indeed, Allah orders justice and good conduct and giving to relatives and forbids immorality and bad conduct and oppression. He admonishes you that perhaps you will be reminded.

Surah An-Nahl (16 – 90)

And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], “uff,” and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word.

And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy and say, “My Lord, have mercy upon them as they brought me up [when I was] small.”

Your Lord is most knowing of what is within yourselves. If you should be righteous [in intention] – then indeed He is ever, to the often returning [to Him], Forgiving.

And give the relative his right, and [also] the poor and the traveler, and do not spend wastefully.

Indeed, the wasteful are brothers of the devils, and ever has Satan been to his Lord ungrateful.

And if you [must] turn away from the needy awaiting mercy from your Lord which you expect, then speak to them a gentle word.

And do not make your hand [as] chained to your neck or extend it completely and [thereby] become blamed and insolvent.

Indeed, your Lord extends provision for whom He wills and restricts [it]. Indeed He is ever, concerning His servants, Acquainted and Seeing.

And do not kill your children for fear of poverty. We provide for them and for you. Indeed, their killing is ever a great sin.

And do not approach unlawful sexual intercourse. Indeed, it is ever an immorality and is evil as a way.

And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden, except by right. And whoever is killed unjustly – We have given his heir authority, but let him not exceed limits in [the matter of] taking life. Indeed, he has been supported [by the law].

And do not approach the property of an orphan, except in the way that is best, until he reaches maturity. And fulfill [every] commitment. Indeed, the commitment is ever [that about which one will be] questioned.

And give full measure when you measure, and weigh with an even balance. That is the best [way] and best in result.

And do not pursue that of which you have no knowledge. Indeed, the hearing, the sight and the heart – about all those [one] will be questioned.

And do not walk upon the earth exultantly. Indeed, you will never tear the earth [apart], and you will never reach the mountains in height.

All that – its evil is ever, in the sight of your Lord, detested.

That is from what your Lord has revealed to you, [O Muhammad], of wisdom. And, [O mankind], do not make [as equal] with Allah another deity, lest you be thrown into Hell, blamed and banished.

Surah Al-Isra (17 – 23-39)

Most of the accusations come from people who do not agree with the standard of morality or virtue that is ordained in Islam. For instance, the Hijab for women; not being allowed to have a sip of wine or not even having a girlfriend… These practices have become customary in “modern” civilizations, yet they are considered illicit in Islam. Society is always faced with dumbing down standards and laws to curtail the desires of the majority. But the fundamental question remains; what makes it right now but made it wrong before (and vice versa)? This type of thinking induces decadence. Virtues and morals become trivial, unattainable utopias, unrealistic… mockeries.

This was the same discourse used by the people of Lot thousands of years ago when they wanted him and his family out of their city.

But the answer of his people was only that they said, “Evict them from your city! Indeed, they are men who keep themselves pure.”

Surah Al-Aaraf (7 – 82)

Wow! Accused of being too pure… It’s like someone who says: “Ah! He gets on my nerves because he is too polite.” or: “look at her; she thinks she is so superior! She doesn’t even want to dress like us.” and the classic: “Look at that geek; he thinks that his A+ is going to stop him from that face pounding.” What is it that makes that person’s conduct wrong in the first place; what did he do to deserve this reprimand? Is it high self-esteem (or lack of it)? Is it because a person is different (where his difference is not accepted)? Is it because of jealousy (or more likely envy)?

It is sad to see that we have reached a point where righteous conduct is ridiculed and marginalized. Someone who gives his seat on the bus is looked at awkwardly; a student who says Mam and Sir is called a suck-up; a 16-year-old virgin is made fun of. But, as we have seen, this attitude has been present for millennia, all depending on the context and stage in which a society is to be found.

But in the end…

And it will be said to those who feared Allah, “What did your Lord send down?” They will say, “[That which is] good.” For those who do good in this world is good; and the home of the Hereafter is better. And how excellent is the home of the righteous –

Surah An-Nahl (16 – 30)


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