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MUHAMMAD'S SAYINGS AND TRADITIONS

The supreme importance of the sayings of Muhammad, apart from their general ethical value, can be fully realised only when one becomes aware that the whole religious, moral, social, and political fabric of a vast section of humanity rests on the Quran, the saying and acts (The Sunnah) 1 of the Prophet, and analogical deductions therefrom.

The Ways and Wont of Muhammad and his utterances form a living commentary on and a supplement to the Quran. Their great importance and their difference from the ebiter dicta of other teachers lie in this: the utterances of other prophets, sages, and philosophers may become the object of enthusiastic admiration in the absence of any sanction to enforce their translation into practice; whereas the utterances of Muhammad have already acquired the force of law. A Muslim may question the genuineness of an individual saying; but once its authenticity is proved it is as binding.

upon him as the injunctions and prohibitions in the Quran. 2What a powerful influence the example of the Prophet exercises over the hearts and imaginations of the followers may well be realised from the fact that today the approved mode of parting the hair and of waring the beard, and the popularity of the turban and flowing robes in the East, are all due to the conscious or unconscious imitation of that great Teacher who flourished in Arabia at the beginning of the seventh century.

The Table-Talk of the Prophet deals with the most minute and delicate circumstances of life, and the collected body is the Muslim's dictionary of morals and manners. It is therefore not to be wondered at that there are no less than 1,465 collections of the Prophet's sayings extant.

The importance of the Hadith (the Prophet's Sayings) lies in the fact that it is the most important source of Islamic law, of course after the Holy Quran. While on the one hand we are bound to believe in Allah and His Holy Book, on the other hand, it is incumbent upon us to accept the finality of the Prophet Muhammad and to follow his teachings. The Quran expressly asks us in various verses "to obey Allah and His Messenger" and tells us that "only those are believers who have believed in Allah and His Messenger". Thus, we see that whenever we are commanded to follow Allah, we have also been asked to follow the Prophet. To follow Allah means to act upon the teachings of the Quran. But how to follow the Prophet? The only way to follow him is to act according to his teachings and to emulate his practices These practices and utterances can be found nowhere but in the corpus of traditions. These traditions are the complete record of the sayings and practices of Muhammad which have got a paramount importance in the formation of the Muslim community.

The Companions during the lifetime of the Prophet were in direct contact with him. Thus, they could easily regulate their lives according to the Quran and Sunnah. Whenever a certain problem arose, it was immediately referred to the Prophet, and was solved then and there. The Companions were able to lead a life which was quite in consonance with the spirit of the teachings of Islam. Similarly, the people residing in remote parts of Arabia were eager to know the actual practice of the Prophet so as to mould their conduct according to the Sunnah of the Prophet. But in the period following the death of Muhammad, people had to face multifarious problems New social, political, legal and religious problems cropped up which had never arisen during his lifetime. The only guide in record at that time was the Quran which alone could not give the details of their daily problems. It provided to fundamental laws no doubt, but where could they get the rules and bye-laws thereof? Hence the necessity of Hadith was felt very strongly.

The traditions in those days were reported orally and were not available in a codified form like the Quran .The Companions used to report the sayings of the Prophet out of their memory. However, they did not give any (Isnad) in support of their statements for the obvious reason that they themselves were the eye witness and ear witness of his practices and utterances, and there was no link between them and the Prophet. But it does not mean that their statements were accepted without scrutiny. On the contrary, the reporter of a new Hadith had to produce an eye witness of the practice of the Prophet. The books of Hadith contain many such traditions. In (Ma'rifat ulum Al-Hadith) this story is given. A grand mother once came to the Caliph Abu Bakr and asked for her share in the property of her deceased son's son. Since the Caliph was not aware of such a law, he demanded a proof for such a ruling of the Prophet. `When Mughirah Ibn Shu'bah told that the Prophet had given one sixthshare to the grand mother in the deceased property, he asked for a witness for further confirmation. Thereupon Muhammad Ibn Muslimah appeared as a witness. Satisfied with enough proof for such a Hadith, the Caliph accepted the claim of the grand mother and gave her her share.

Caliph Omar also asked for a witness from Abu Musa al-Ash'ari to prove his statement that the Prophet had said.

"If a man seeks permission to enter one's house three times and no response, he should retire".

The practice of Ah was to accept the traditions when reported on oath.

(Isnad) or (Sanda) is the authority for the trustworthiness of the statements of narrators. It contains the names of the persons who have handed on the substance of the tradition to one another. This is the main portion of Hadith which gives us the greatest source of examining the persons giving a particular statement. The authenticity of a statement is based mainly on its reporter. Hence, the importance of this portion of Hadith.

No trace of (Isnad) is found in any religion except in Islam which can pride itself to be the originator of this science'. lbn Hazm in (Al-Milal wal-Nihal) has rightly remarked that "the practice of reporting from one genuine narrator to another until it reaches to the Holy Prophet has been the prerogative of the Muslims, having no parallel in other religions".

The reporter of a Hadith is of primary importance while the report has got a secondary place in ascertaining the authenticity of a statement. This is quite in consonance with the Holy Quran which provides

"O, you who believe, if an unrighteous man brings you news, look carefully into it, lest you harm a people in ignorance, then be sorry for what you did".

 
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