On the Matter of Hadith

(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)

Ok, here goes.

Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:

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?)


10 responses to “On the Matter of Hadith

  1. Hey dear! I am a female MBA from Karachi, Pakistan. Honestly just browsing through good blogs and finding literate & intelligent writers like you to talk to me on various issues. Love ur blog outlook and ur awesome thoughts. I write on issues related to society, religion as well as some funny stuff. Best of Luck for ur blogging. I hope u can be a follower- if u like my blog? And don’t forget to comment please !! http://relationships-catgirl.blogspot.com/2010/06/anybody-listening.html

  2. Masha allah this post was what I thought of about hadith..Yes u r right, if there is contradictions between hadith and Qur'an, avoid believing hadith and stick to Qur'an..Prophet (sas) was / is targeted being him married to a 7 year old ayesha..its very unbelievable hadith….the prophet of Allah could do this?….never..i don't believe this at all..moreover historic evidences show ayesha was never 7 year old when she married to rasoolallah…What was the age of Ayesha when she got married to prophet? ( she was 18-23 year old).. Watch out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tXaw9UZlK_ISo, be careful with islamophobes, they refer un-authentic and unbelievable references from hadith and sometimes symbolic ayahs from Qur’an to weaken or divert your faith. Don’t read any Islamic books with negative thinking …Believe in what you read …not what the haters say..*** Another wonderful story of MTV Host Kristiane Backer,She is Converted To Islam.Watch her journey to Islam: http://www.youtube.com/user/ndabdofari#g/f

  3. This Catgirl is annoying! She has never posted an actual comment that had anything to do with my blog… only promotion for her own! Very controversial post! The type of post you could get a lot of crap for if read by less open-minded people. I like your attitude though! 😉 I feel similarly, actually. Although to avoid controversy and the burn-in-hell comments, I've never stated it in a way that is as direct as you did, "I reject the hadith." It removes part of what I like in blogging to have to manage these comments. For me, the hadiths are NEVER to be used to create a law because that's putting words into God's mouth and is simply haram! Astaghfirallah! I agree with you that we are no one to start judging people and accusing them of committing shirk and I find that way pretty extreme with some of the Qur'an Only people… Personally, I am closer to being Qur'an Only than Sunni in beliefs (especially towards hadiths), but enjoy the structure and community of Sunnis (and Shias, I suppose!) and might be closer to them for that. Overall, I'd rather not label myself anything and go with what I believe and how I want to practice. Nice post, I enjoyed it! Please keep blogging!

  4. I'm trying to read books with a wide variety of perspectives. I tend to follow a middle ground most of the time, but I admit when I posted this I was feeling pretty frustrated with the Sahih Bukhari in particular and hadiths in general. And reading the "negative" stuff is a good exercise in critical thinking… if my faith can't stand up to a critical book, how will I stand up to critical people? So far nothing has convinced me that I'm wrong in being drawn to Islam, but it has forced me to analyze why I want to convert and what I want to actually convert to.Thanks for the interesting links!

  5. Thanks Candace, I know I may have opened up a can of worms here. But I don't like dancing around on certain things. But yeah, some of the Quranists are every bit as extreme as the groups they condemn. And I don't think we should burn the hadiths or anything. They still offer some interesting clues as to the stories people told back then… but I don't believe they are more than stories. Still, there is nothing wrong, in my mind, with following Sunni traditions for the sake of community or familiarity.

  6. I think they offer "interesting clues" too. I take hadiths as a possible interpretation for the Qur'an as well, but never as the only and final interpretation unless it's just as specific in the Qur'an

  7. Hi
    I think it is important to see that there can be some truth in hadiths, for example “be kind to your parents” – clearly agrees with the Quran and should agree with your own moral centre. I am a Quran Alone Muslim and I believe in plurality. We should be free to interpret the Quran as we wish, for ourselves, but I can’t prescribe anything to you that I believe in. Also, whilst Quranists are few in number, we vary in our understanding – this is a good thing – it allows us as individuals to grow. It is a personal belief system not a communal one for me. I do reject hadiths as divinely ordained and do not make any of the ‘law’ I live by from them – purely from Quran… Peace…

    • Hi darcust, I couldn’t agree more. Many hadiths resonate on a deep spiritual level. I think the pluralistic, personal approach you describe is commendable. And every time I read the Quran I learn something new! It is strange that words can inspire that which is beyond words, don’t you think? Peace to you as well.

      • Some hadiths do resonate, a lot however, really don’t and are clearly made up by men who want control and power.
        Although this is a little off topic, you might want to consider looking at something called The New Message by Marshall Vian Summers – not sure if you’ve read any of it yet, makes interesting reading…

      • Sounds interesting, I’ll look into it. Thanks!

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