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    Understanding the Hadith

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    To understand the Qur'an we need to consider the context, the narations regarding the ayah and the opinion of the schollars. What about the Ahadith? Do we need to read all of them? Is it possible that a hadith is talking about a special group of persons? or individuals? or situations?

    Is there something to mind when reading ahadith?

    If possible please give some (scholarly) evidence.

    Jazak allah kheiran!!

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    Re: Unterstanding the Hadith



    Push!!

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    Re: Unterstanding the Hadith

    Wa Alaykum Assalaam,


    I'm not an expert or scholar, but I will do my best to help.


    The Qur'an and the Hadeeth are both revelation from Allaah (swt) - they both come from one source. And both of these must be taken hand-in-hand. So when we have a particular issue, we must gather together all the relevant verses and hadeeth on that issue before coming to a conclusion. This is a very important principle that many people neglect. If we only look at one verse by itself, or one hadeeth without looking at the rest, this will lead to misunderstanding. Rather we have to take all of the related evidences together. Allaah (swt) says in the Qur'an (interpretation of the meaning):

    ...Then do you believe in a part of the Scripture and reject the rest? Then what is the recompense of those who do so among you, except disgrace in the life of this world, and on the Day of Resurrection they shall be consigned to the most grievous torment. And Allah is not unaware of what you do. [Al-Baqarah: 85]


    In particular about hadeeth, it is possible that one hadeeth can be narrated with a number of different wordings or texts. It is important to study these different transmissions as many of them offer insight and important points that are not mentioned in other narrations. It is even possible to misunderstand a particular hadeeth unless the different narrations are combined together.


    Another principle you mentioned is regarding general and specific texts. For example, the Qur'an might give a general ruling in one place, yet another verse or hadeeth may specify that rule not to apply in certain circumstances. So that is why you first need to gather all the related evidence together, so that any verses/hadeeth giving further clarification are considered.


    What you mentioned about the context of Qur'anic verses also applies to hadeeth, where the circumstances surrounding particular speech of the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam) needs to be studied. Knowing the circumstances surrounding particular verses or hadeeth leads to the correct understanding of them (but note that it is not necessary that every verse or hadeeth have particular incidents that led to them).


    So all of this goes to show how the knowledge of the Qur'an and Sunnah is very vast and that there are a number of principles involved in understanding them correctly. This is why it is important to turn to the scholars as they are the ones equipped with the knowledge to derive rulings from the Islamic texts. There is a whole science dedicated to understanding the hadeeth, where scholars study both the chain of hadeeth to see who narrated the hadeeth and how authentic it is, as well as the text of the hadeeth which is analysed in detail.


    I do have some quotes from scholars about the importance of gathering all related evidence together, but unfortunately these are not referenced so I haven't mentioned them.


    And Allaah (swt) knows best.
    Understanding the Hadith




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    Re: Understanding the Hadith



    May Allah ta'ala reward you with best!!! Thanks a lot my dear brother!! This helped me a lot, Alhamdulillah! Could you tell me some of the quotations?

    Jazak allah kheir!

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    Re: Understanding the Hadith

    Wa Alaykum Assalaam Warahmatullaah,


    Alhamdulillah, I am glad you found it helpful akhee.


    I decided to give futher examples of important principles required for understanding the Qur'an and Sunnah (hence I have repeated some of the information I mentioned earlier to show how it fits in). All of these are like general tools for understanding the sources of Islam - and there are still others that have not been mentioned. Please remember that this is not an exhaustive list.

    Most of the information is taken from some notes that I have, therefore there is the possibility of error. I ask Allaah (swt) to forgive any mistakes and place benefit in it, Aameen. This is also why some references are missing. Also, I have tried to keep it brief and have therefore not listed all the related points and proofs for each principle. Despite this, it is still quite a long post and I hope you will accept my apologies for that!




    Having Faith in all of the Texts


    This is an important principle for understanding the Qur'an and Sunnah. It paves the way for a number of other principles. Islam is submission to Allaah (swt), and this submission is only fulfilled once the person believes in what Allaah (swt) revealed whether it is the Qur'an or the Sunnah. Therefore, it is necessary to have belief in all of the text of the Qur'an and Sunnah whether we understand the meanings or not. It is also necessary to believe in all that the Ummah and its scholars have agreed upon.

    Amongst the proofs for this is the verse in the Qur'an (interpretation of the meaning):

    But no, by your Lord, they can have no Faith, until they make you (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) judge in all disputes between them, and find in themselves no resistance against your decisions, and accept (them) with full submission. [An-Nisaa: 65]


    Az-Zuhri said:
    'The message is from Allaah, it is for the Messenger to convey and for us to submit to.'


    Among the other principles that branch from this are the following:





    To gather all related evidences on a given issue before deriving a ruling


    The Qur'an and the Hadeeth are both revelation from Allaah (swt) - they both come from one source. And both of these must be taken hand-in-hand. So when we have a particular issue, we must gather together all the relevant verses and hadeeth on that issue before coming to a conclusion. This is a very important principle that many people neglect. If we only look at one verse by itself, or one hadeeth without looking at the rest, this will lead to misunderstanding. Rather we have to take all of the related evidences together. Allaah (swt) says in the Qur'an (interpretation of the meaning):

    ...Then do you believe in a part of the Scripture and reject the rest? Then what is the recompense of those who do so among you, except disgrace in the life of this world, and on the Day of Resurrection they shall be consigned to the most grievous torment. And Allah is not unaware of what you do. [Al-Baqarah: 85]


    In particular about hadeeth, it is possible that one hadeeth can be narrated with a number of different wordings or texts. It is important to study these different transmissions as many of them offer insight and important points that are not mentioned in other narrations. It is even possible to misunderstand a particular hadeeth unless the different narrations are combined together.


    Imam Ahmad said:
    'If you do not gather all the narrations of a hadith you will not understand it. The hadith explains itself.'
    Ibn Taymiyyah said:
    'If an Alim distinguishes between what the Prophet said and what he did not say he needs to understand what the Prophet meant... he should collect all the hadith and include like parts together. He gathers what Allah and His messenger gathered and separates what Allah and His messenger separated. This is the knowledge that benefits the Muslims and which should be accepted. And with this, the Muslim scholars such as the four Imams became leaders.'
    Ash-Shatibi said:
    'Error on this topic revolves around one thing. It is the ignorance of the objectives of Sharia and the lack of drawing all the parts together. For the scholars grounded in knowledge, the means of accepting the evidence is to take the Sharia as a whole in accordance with the overriding principles, on which its subsidiaries are based, the generalities from which result the specifics, the clear which explains the ambiguous...'
    He further said,
    'The method of those grounded in knowledge is to see the Sharia as a whole, part of it serving other parts just like limbs of person...'




    Understanding the Mutashaabih in light of the Muhkam


    There are various aspects related to the Arabic language. Among these is the knowledge of how words give particular meanings (e.g. general and specific), how the word or text is used, and how the text gives the desired meaning. All of these are different categories of texts. One category of text that we will look at is called Muhkam and Mutashaabih, where a Muhkam verse is one that is clear in its meaning and is not open to interpretation. A Mutashaabih verse is one that is unclear and needs explanation.

    Allaah (swt) says in the Qur'an (interpretation of the meaning):

    It is He Who has sent down to you the Book (this Qur'an). In it are Verses that are entirely clear, they are the foundations of the Book; and others not entirely clear. So as for those in whose hearts there is a deviation they follow that which is not entirely clear thereof, seeking Al-Fitnah (polytheism and trials), and seeking for its hidden meanings, but none knows its hidden meanings save Allah. And those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say: "We believe in it; the whole of it (clear and unclear Verses) are from our Lord." And none receive admonition except men of understanding. [Aal-'Imraan: 7]

    It is important to note, however, that most of the Shariah is clear and there is little Mutashaabih. And what is required of us is to believe in the Mutashaabih and act on the Muhkam. Whenever we come across a verse or hadeeth which might not be entirely clear, we must refer it to other verses and hadeeth which are clear. This principle goes with the earlier-mentioned principle of gathering all the related evidences, so that the Mutashaabih texts can be understood in light of the Muhkam.


    The following hadeeth shows how our stance should be:
    Amr ibn Shuaib reported from his father then his grandfather that the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam) heard some people arguing. He said, 'The people before you were destroyed because of this, they argued with a part of the Book of Allaah against other parts. Allaah's Book was revealed for part of it to testify to the rest. Do not disbelieve in part of it because of other parts. What you know of it say, what you do not know entrust its knowledge to the one who knows.' (Ahmad, Ibn Majah)
    Another category of text is the general and specific texts. For example, the Qur'an might give a general ruling in one place, yet another verse or hadeeth may specify that rule not to apply in certain circumstances. So that is why you first need to gather all the related evidence together, so that any verses/hadeeth giving further clarification are considered.




    Glorification and Veneration of the Texts/Shariah


    The Qur'an and the Sunnah comprise three things: the text, the meaning and the implication of the meaning. A Muslim is obliged to believe in and give due respect to all three things. So everything that Allaah (swt) orders or prohibits, our position towards that is to glorify it by carrying out the matter and this is the only way for success in this life and the hereafter.

    Furthermore, glorification and veneration of Islam can be achieved by venerating the text even if we did not understand its meaning. For example, regarding the hadeeth about a fly falling into one's drink, even if we don't understand this, we must carry it out to glorfy the revelation. And there are many other examples. Glorification and veneration also involves not suggesting a meaning for the text before we understand the correct meaning. Once the meaning is confirmed, it is part of Islam and therefore it is the truth and everything is measured accordingly.

    There are many examples of the salaf showing the way they glorified and venerated the Shariah. And this is also a matter which Allaah (swt) has mentioned in the Qur'an in many places such as:

    O you who believe! Make not (a decision) in advance before Allah and His Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم), and fear Allah. Verily! Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing. [Al-Hujuraat: 1]


    That (Manasik- prescribed duties of Hajj is the obligation that mankind owes to Allah), and whoever honours the sacred things of Allah, then that is better for him with his Lord... [Al-Hajj: 30]

    The only saying of the faithful believers, when they are called to Allah (His Words, the Qur'an) and His Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم), to judge between them, is that they say: "We hear and we obey." And such are the successful (who will live forever in Paradise). And whosoever obeys Allah and His Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم), fears Allah, and keeps his duty (to Him), such are the successful. [An-Noor: 51-2].





    Abrogation


    This is the removal of an Islamic ruling by an Islamic evidence that comes after it. Abrogation is of various types and has conditions, such as the fact that it cannot occur in firm principles established in the religion, like Tawheed, and information given to us about the Prophets, Paradise, Hellfire etc.

    It is essential to have knowledge of abrogation to understand and implement the Qur'an and Sunnah properly. Otherwise, a person might apply those texts (e.g. a verse from the Qur'an) that are not meant to be applied. Therefore, a person must have this knowledge if he wishes to derive laws from the Qur'an and Sunnah. It is actually one of the conditions for a person to become an interpreter of the Qur'an (Mufassir) or scholar (Mujtahid).


    Imam Ash-Shafi'ee said,
    "It is impermissible for any person to give verdicts concerning the religion of Allaah, unless he is knowledgeable of the Book of Allaah, and its naasikh (the ruling that does the abrogating) from its mansookh (the ruling that is abrogated), and its muhkam from its mutashaabih, and its interpretation, and its process of revelation, and its makkee from its madanee (i.e. time/place of revelation of specific verses - whether revealed in Makkah, Madeenah etc.), and its asbaab an-nuzool (causes of revelation). In addition to this, he must be knowledgeable of the Sunnah...' (an-Nahaas, p.124)





    To deny the plausibility of any actual contradiction between the texts


    This principle establishes the importance of us understanding that there is no contradiction between any of the texts. This is because all of the revelation - Qur'an and Sunnah - is from the same source, Allaah (swt), therefore it cannot contradict. Any apparent contradictions lie with the person and not the text, and this could be due to a number of reasons such as ignorance of the Arabic language, mistaking a fabricated narration as a Hadeeth, not knowing about abrogation etc. So that is why a Muslim must never be shaken in this belief.

    Allaah (swt) says (interpretation of the meaning):

    Do they not then consider the Qur'an carefully? Had it been from other than Allah, they would surely have found therein many a contradiction. [An-Nisaa: 82]


    And Imam Ash-Shafi'ee said:
    'And know that the rulings of Allaah and the rulings of the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam) do not differ and they are like one example.' (Ar-Risala)





    Importance of the Arabic Language


    The Qur'an and the Sunnah are divinely revealed texts in a particular language and composed in accordance to the rules of the language. Therefore we must try to understand the usage of that language by the people to whom it was revealed so that we may understand the texts better.


    Ibn Taymiyyah wrote in his book al-Iman, pg. 105:
    'Before one can interpret and understand the Qur'an and the Hadith, he must know the meanings intended by the words of Allaah and His Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam), and he must know the methods necessary to understand their words. Knowledge of the Arabic language in which we were addressed will help us to understand what Allaah and His Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam) intended through their words, as will understanding the semantics behind the words and phrases. Truly, most of the misguidance of the Innovators occurred due to this reason - they began to misinterpret the words of Allaah and His Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam) claiming that they meant one thing, when really they meant another.'
    And there are various sayings of the scholars emphasising the great importance of the Arabic language.






    Understanding of the Salaf


    This is a major principle that should be understood, which is that we must refer to the understanding of the Companions and those scholars who came after them. The generation of the Companions is the most important, as the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam) said, 'The best of mankind is my generation, then those who came after them, then those who came after them.' (Al-Bukhari and Muslim). There are also a number of other reasons why the understanding of the Companions is very important, such as the fact that they were chosen by Allaah (swt) to accompany the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam) and to pass on his teachings to later generations. In more than one verse in the Qur'an, Allaah (swt) mentions that He is pleased with them, thus clearly showing their superiority over other generations.


    The Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam) said:
    “The stars are the custodians for the sky, so when the stars pass away, that which has been decreed for the sky will come upon it. I am the custodian for my Companions, so when I pass away, there will come upon my Companions that which is decreed for them. And my Companions are the custodians for my Ummah, so when my Companions pass away, that which has been decreed upon my Ummah will come upon it.” (Related by Muslim (16/82) and Ahmad (4/398), from Abû Mûsâ al-Ash’arî radiallâhu ’anhu)
    Ibn Mas'ood said:
    'Whoever amongst you seeks to adopt a path, should take to the way of the Companions of Allaah's Messenger, may Allaah send peace and blessings upon him: they possessed the most pious hearts of this Ummah, were the most profound in knowledge; the most moderate and self-disciplined of this Ummah; most rightly-guided; and were upon the finest state of affairs. They were a people whom Allaah chose for the companionship of His Prophet and the establishment of His religion. So know their rights and adhere to their guidance, for they indeed were upon the straight way.' (Jami' Bayan al-'Ilm wa Fadhlih, 2/97)
    Understanding the Hadith




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    Re: Understanding the Hadith

    With specific reference to Hadeeth, the following principles and tools are also relevant:


    Manuscript collections of Hadeeth

    Early scholars would be keen to hear a hadeeth from more than one route, and they would also collect the different manuscripts and compare them to find any copying errors.

    For example:
    - Yahya ibn Ma'een heard the work of Hammad ibn Salamah from eighteen of his students

    - Ibn Ma'een would say, 'We have not fully understood a Hadeeth until we have recorded it via thirty routes.' [Hakim, al-Madkhal, pg. 9]


    Collating all the various narrations of a hadeeth together with any variant wordings

    This was mentioned above under the principle of gathering all related evidences.



    Considering particular occasions that led to the statement being said

    Just as the Qur'an has causes of revelation, there are also circumstances surrounding particular speech of the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam) which needs to be studied. Knowing the circumstances surrounding particular verses or hadeeth leads to the correct understanding of them (but note that it is not necessary that every verse or hadeeth have particular incidents that led to them).




    And Allaah (swt) knows best.




    Regarding the classification of Hadeeth and other aspects of the sciences of Hadeeth, these have most likely been mentioned in other threads of this section. We have some good threads that have been made stickies (the ones which stay at the top), Alhamdulillah.
    Understanding the Hadith




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    Re: Understanding the Hadith

    wow, fantastic advice mashaAllah. One of the most important I think that will unlock the door to everything else; learning the Arabic language with all it's subtleties etc.!
    Last edited by Banu_Hashim; 04-12-2010 at 12:14 AM.
    Understanding the Hadith

    ‘Say: If the ocean were ink wherewith to write out the words of my Lord, sooner would the ocean be exhausted, even if We added another ocean like it.’~Al Qu'raan (18:109)


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    Re: Understanding the Hadith




    Masha'allah this is outstanding!! May Allah ta'ala reward you for every letter that you have written. Jazak Allah Kheir. Alhamdulillah, now this topic has become very clear to me. Akhi, I got another question: Are there any ayat in the Book of Allah ta'ala which does not need any tafsir? ayat that one understands straight away, without reading tafsir or any hadith? Ayat which explains themselves?

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    Re: Understanding the Hadith

    Wa Alaykum Assalaam Brasco,

    Wa iyyaak Insha'Allaah. I have been a bit busy so I apologise for the delayed response.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brasco View Post
    Akhi, I got another question: Are there any ayat in the Book of Allah ta'ala which does not need any tafsir? ayat that one understands straight away, without reading tafsir or any hadith? Ayat which explains themselves?
    There are many aayaat whose meaning is clearly understood - they are the Muhkam verses.

    Examples include:

    الْحَمْدُ للّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

    All the praises and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of the Alamin (mankind, jinn and all that exists). [Al-Fatihah: 1]



    قُلْ هُوَ اللَّهُ أَحَدٌ

    Say (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم): "He is Allah, (the) One. [Al-Ikhlaas: 1]



    These verses are clear and have no ambiguity. And there are perhaps many other examples.

    Wassalaamu Alaykum.
    Understanding the Hadith





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