(Warning: this will probably piss off some readers, so if you prefer not to get all riled up please feel free to come back later when there is something less controversial to read)
Once Allah’s Apostle went out to the Musalla (to offer the prayer) o ‘Id-al-Adha or Al-Fitr prayer. Then he passed by the women and said, “O women! Give alms, as I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-fire were you (women).” They asked, “Why is it so, O Allah’s Apostle ?” He replied, “You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you. A cautious sensible man could be led astray by some of you.” The women asked, “O Allah’s Apostle! What is deficient in our intelligence and religion?” He said, “Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?” They replied in the affirmative. He said, “This is the deficiency in her intelligence. Isn’t it true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?” The women replied in the affirmative. He said, “This is the deficiency in her religion.”
– Volume 1, Book 6, Number 301 of Sahih Bukhari. It is considered by many Muslims to be the most authentic book after the Quran itself.
This is just one example, I realize, but come on! THIS is equality before God? When I first read the Quran, I was blown away by how beautiful and inspiring it was. I couldn’t understand where so many practices were drawn from it, so I began researching the hadiths since it seems a lot of the practices were “clarified” by the hadiths. I have been studying them a lot lately, and I have something to say:
I reject the hadiths.
There, I said it. I think whatever truth they held was likely corrupted by time, politics and sectarian interests. I think that many of them conflict with both the general principles of the Quran and in some cases specific ones. Given that, I feel I can’t trust the weight of authority they have been granted throughout history. In fact, I wouldn’t give them more authority than the gossip columns of celebrity magazines.
Bukhari collected these hadiths 200 years after the death of Muhammad, and he was the first to compile them. Hadiths are considered authentic by their “chain of transmission” – basically someone heard the Prophet say something, and told someone else, who told someone else, who told someone else, etc. If all those people had – wait for it – good reputations, then the much-passed-around-story is considered the verbatim word of God’s Prophet! Because, of course, nobody would ever use religion for their own ends, right? Nobody would ever twist some important person’s words to suit their own interests, right? Even if I believed that all the people who passed along the stories were completely honest, how could I imagine that all of them had perfect memories?
Rejecting the hadith is not even a new thing (I mean, Muslims were still Muslims during the 200 years before Bukhari started working… did they all do it wrong because they didn’t have the “legitimate” hadiths to guide them?). And early Muslims are recorded as having issues with them too. Even Muhammad himself banned the practice of writing down his sayings (at least, according to hadith… ha ha). Today some scholars are de-emphasizing the hadiths or re-evaluating them, and some are completely rejecting portions as well. Many of these people are being labeled apostates as a result. According to the Quran, it is enough, it is fully detailed and complete.
Look, I’m not saying Muslims who follow the hadiths are wrong, or right. Some Quranists go so far as to accuse those who follow the hadiths of committing shirk! I don’t think anyone has the right to make that accusation. I DO think we ALL have the right to say its wrong to accuse all women of being unintelligent and religiously deficient, its wrong to stone people to death for adultery, and its wrong (well, maybe not wrong, but really, really gross) to drink camel piss (ewww)! I really hope the Prophet didn’t say these things, and I don’t believe for one second that God condones these things. So I guess I’m going to be a Quranist Muslim. I’ll continue to study the hadiths, but mainly to understand exactly which current practices came from the Quran and which came from elsewhere, and to better understand Islamic history.
*Sigh* All right, folks. Try to at least be respectful when you tell me I’m gonna burn in hell. (Just kidding, I’m sure everyone will see this as just another valid point of view…. right?)