Hadith, Revisited

Back on the blog I started with, I wrote a post about my view on hadith. I have decided to re-open that can of worms.

Recently this topic has cropped up in the comment section of an earlier post, so I thought I’d open the subject up again with its own post. I wrote the following comment on this blog (in reference to vol. 1, book 6, number 301 of Bukhari):

In fairness, it may be gut instinct as well as reason that makes me question the hadiths. I will not follow a Prophet who disrespects my entire gender. Why on earth would I? What possible motivation do I have to make myself believe that God intentionally made me deficient?

Needless to say, I remain skeptical of hadith. I am bringing this topic up again because I want to find out if I’m missing something here – if there exists some bit of knowledge I’ve skipped over that would instill in me some tiny seed of belief that the hadiths are, in fact, accurate records of the words and deeds of the Prophet of Islam. I feel that the hadith are especially harsh towards women, something that would seem to contradict the impression I got of gender relations in the Quran. As a woman, I feel a responsibility to understand this divergence. As a possible convert, my religious future is inextricably tied to understanding the legitimacy and power of the hadiths.
So I ask you, dear readers and fellow bloggers, for your help. How do you feel about the hadiths? What influenced you regarding those feelings? What research have you done regarding hadiths? Was it helpful, and would you recommend anything? Regardless of their accuracy, do you feel the hadiths are relevant today, or limited by their time and place?
I do ask that those who choose to comment be respectful to each other. I will be moderating all comments.

29 responses to “Hadith, Revisited

  1. I'm a convert and I'm probably 90% Qu'ran/10% Hadith.I think hadiths should be interpreted in their context. Furthermore, I believe that many of those often quoted and used today (especially concerning women!) are actually weak hadiths, i.e., probably not accurate or true. Personally, when I hear or read a hadith, I always hold it up against the Qu'ran, is this in the spirit of the Qu'ran? Does it go against what the Qu'ran says? If it does, then I don't believe it's a true hadith and disregard it, if it doesn't, then I see what I could possibly learn from it, but I still put my main focus and energy on what the Qu'ran teaches.

  2. Hi there, Becky! Your way of dealing with hadiths seems fair to me. Do you ever encounter difficulties with this approach?

  3. My main problem is lack of knowledge. I don't really have enough knowledge of how hadiths are authenticated and therefore base most of my arguments on other people's work.I've only been a Muslim for 1½ year, and I still focus mostly on reading the Qu'ran and different books about Islam. I do hope to one day start studying the hadiths more closely, so as to provide better and stronger arguments.It is often hard for people to accept that some of the hadiths used most often, probably aren't real. For example, the one hadith used over and over again to demand that women cover everything except their hand and face is considered a weak hadith. Yet, it's still used as the basis for telling women how to dress!"The hadith also address women’s (and men’s) dress. The most oft-quoted hadith attributed to the Prophet (pbuh) is as follows:Aisha said, "Asma, daughter of Abu Bakr (that is, Aisha’s sister), entered upon the Apostle of God (pbuh) wearing thin clothes. The Apostle of God turned his attention from her and said, "O Asma, when a woman reaches the age of menstruation, it does not suit her except that she displays parts of her body except this and this," and he pointed to her face and hands. (Sunan Abi Dawud)This hadith is found only in the hadith collection of Abu Dawud (no. 4095). According to Abu Dawud, it is considered weak because the narrator who transmitted it from Aisha is not known (mursal)."http://www.mwlusa.org/topics/dress/hijab.html

  4. **"In fairness, it may be gut instinct as well as reason that makes me question the hadiths. I will not follow a Prophet who disrespects my entire gender. Why on earth would I? What possible motivation do I have to make myself believe that God intentionally made me deficient?"**well is that the only issue with the hadiths? …. let me show u a passage of the Quran , and u i want u to answer me as to what this passage means.Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband's] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance – [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed;and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand. {4:34}Now do u see the part where it says strike them? … or infact just tell me what the whole ayat says and how do u interpret it since this is the Quran and not the hadith. Oh btw if ur going to use google then ill tell u the first top 10 searches are going to be *this is how muslims treat woman* …. so well better not to google it i guess … :)And btw i will fully accept with full honour that i cant beat a woman when it comes to love. We all know woman have more emotions than men. That is why kids side up with mothers than their fathers since it is the mother that loves the child more than the father does. And i will also accept that i as a man am deficient when it comes to making children and i can never get pregnant.It seems u are confused about the same hadith in which Muhammad(sws) said something about a womans intelligence if im not mistaken… who's link i gave u to clear ur misconception of what it meant.Btw if u really are confused with the hadiths then why not walk up to some knowledgeable person( a lady preferably, one who isnt a Quranist btw) and clear this issue face 2 face since that is way better than doing it online.

  5. Sophia,You already agreed that, Quran is from God and Muhammad (saws) is prophet of god.I agree that what Sister Becky has said was 100% correct. She explained different between hadith (hadees) and Quran in a very simple and logical way to make a STUPID person like me to understand without roaming like a stray DOG or swimming/acting like a MADFISH out of water.All reformists, innovationists are arguing their rubbishes based on Quran was to show their so called intelligence / indifference , either to malign or make us understand it in a better way. Most of the reformists are /were either sinners of their own or attention seekers …..because you need not to be a boaster / attention seeker when you are dealing and understanding the greatest of all the GOD ( Alla) and Quran.Sister Sophia, If you agree with Becky, there is no reason you go to all sorts of complicated sites which explains more confusing methods to make you trapped into a wheel where there is no samsara(family) at all.Thank you Sister Becky and may Allah’s peace be upon you and reward you for your sincere effort.

  6. I would never turn to hadith for religious guidance but sometimes I come across one that seems to have a useful lesson. For the most part I believe they are a product of their time and place. Someone on the MPV mailing list wrote this and I really agree: "the best piece of advice I ever heard, when evaluating hadith or the meaning of Qur'anic ayat or a ruling as to the Shari'a, is: does this conform, in any way, with the character of the Prophet (sawas)? Does this conform with the kindest, gentlest, most polite, most honest and pure person? Because if it doesn't, then the hadith, or the interpretation of the ayat, or the fatwa, becomes (for me) questionable, and I need a preponderance of evidence to convince me it is right. Many of the ahadith in circulation about women, or how Muhammad (sawas) says he would treat homosexuals, or how he felt about dogs – they are extraordinarily circumspect to my mind because they are often violent, prurient or vitriolic – coming from a man who detested violence, who was modest to the point of bashfulness, and who cannot bear to reprimand others so much that half the Qur'an seems like God stepping in to do it for him."

  7. salam,in my idea many of ahadith is in contradiction with Quran , I never hesitate in throwing them away.a few years ago it was told in Iran that some of ahadith in Baharolanvar ( with both sunni and shia source)are fake.honestly I have never seen sunni scholars say something same about ahadith which is narrated by Abu Hurairah. as you know most of anti woman ahadith are narrated by him.sadly many of muslims put too much value for some words which are completely unislamic.if we stop treating many of these ahadith like words of God, many of our problems will be solved.:-)mariam-Iran

  8. It's a difficult thing since I'm not sure how fair it is to accept the hadith I like and reject the ones I dislike, but then again it seems that that's what Islamic scholars do. What I end up doing is using the Qur'an as a filter: if a hadith contradicts the message of the Qur'an then I don't take it into consideration.

  9. @mariam well apparently its a good thing i have some insight on shia ideology. U say Abu hurayrah(rad) who was a close companion of Muhammad(sws) was anti woman and well i dont want to go indepth of all the other words u also call him but hey wait a sec … dont u call Aisha(rad) ,who is a woman and wife of Muhammad(sws) , the most disqusting,vulgar and derogatory words also? …. but its abu hurayrah thats anti woman? … plz bring those hadith up and stop putting allegations on such a great man that was a close companion of Muhammad(sws).@cairoMan likes sex , money , drinking … does that mean if the hadith isnt to ur liking than well lets have all of those. weird thing is i just dont know than how most of u guys know the character of Muhammad(sws) … oh yeah i remember u all take what u like regarding the hadith. So if he ate with his right hand and if u dont like that then u reject it …. @zuhuraThere are no sahih hadeeths that contradict with the Quran. Of course. of course gays are not to be killed … who said that? .. unless the gay man commits sodomy than thats a different issue. Its interesting how u characterize Muhammad(sws) as a modest man yet u think he would really allow stuff like fornication , gay marriages , strip bars and the sort to be allowed? … certainly some contradiction thereof course u might hate something that u dont like but as we all know satan is also there with his whisperings … so tell me how does one know what he is doing is right or wrong unless he doesnt go back to the Quran and sunnah? … btw how does any1 pray here if u dont follow hadith? … or how do u do hajj? … how do u know when and at which time which verse was revealed? ….Does any1 here even know how hadiths are derived? ever heard the word Isnaad? … if u dont well then watch the video below or read a book….http://vimeo.com/7216747

  10. blackb3ard911, I would love to discuss the passage you referenced at a later time, but I want to focus on hadith right now. However, I disagree that "women have more emotions than men". While their are some physiological differences between genders, and these do influence social interactions, I think that culture plays a larger role. In society women are expected to show certain emotions (generally NOT aggression, dominance, etc.) and men are expected to hide certain emotions (tenderness, submission, etc.). This does not mean that the emotions don't exist, just that culture dictates the acceptability of their expression. Maybe children "side up with mothers" because traditionally its the mother that spends time at home raising them. If the father was home raising the children from infancy while the mother worked, it might be a different story. Also, men are not in any way deficient because they can't give birth, otherwise women who were infertile would have to be considered deficient too. But, I digress. Back to hadiths…From the website you gave me before (http://www.answering-christianity.com/karim/women_not_deficient_in_intelligence_and_religion.htm):"Numerous verses and other narrations stress that the reward of women equals that of men even if their acts differ. So this particular narration is not meant literally but as an acknowledgment of the power women wield over men while ostensibly less active in the public and spiritual spheres."Why is it that reassurances about the equality of women tend to come off as patronizing? So, this particular narration acknowledges that women have power – not directly, of course, but through men. I feel MUCH better."When he [the Prophet] talks about lack of intellect, he does not talk about potential of brain or capacity of talent or skill. A woman is overloaded by being a mother or a babysitter or pregnant. All these carriers are around the clock, because of what she is, she is always likely to forget more than a man who is devoted to one career only."and,"As women, we are aware of the cyclical psychological strains that a woman has to encounter every month. The symptoms during early pregnancy, ante-natal and post-natal depressions, the phenomenon of menopause, the physiological and psychological problems due to infertility and last but not least the psychological problems faced after miscarriage.It is under these situations that women can experience extraordinary psychological strains giving rise to depression, lack of concentration, slow-mindedness and SHORT TERM MEMORY LOSS."Ah, yes. The lives of all women revolve entirely around babies: waiting to have babies, making babies, raising babies, or even not having babies – and darn it we just can't get our heads together! Good thing the men are here to pat our tired heads and assure us that we can let them handle everything else. Why then, do men who are single parents still get full credit for their mental capacity? Why is it that if menstruation is considered an illness or lack of cleanliness, men who are diabetic can fast and men who are bleeding from a sore can wash and bandage and still pray?I am hoping to talk to someone about this in person, but I am actually quite shy most of the time and I'm still too intimidated to walk into a mosque. I'm a wuss, what can I say? ;)Also, I have strep throat at this very moment, so I am trying not to have face-to-face interactions with anyone.

  11. extramiNt, I'm not sure I'm following what you're trying to say. I'm guessing you don't like reformers, but I'm not clear about your opinion of hadith. Also, you only need to post a comment once, it may just take awhile for me to publish it.

  12. Zuhura, thank you for that quote. The violence and oppression evident in the hadiths don't seem at all consistent to the depictions I've read about the Prophet. But what I don't understand is how we know anything about the Prophet except from hadiths and his early biographies… some, like Ibn Ishaq, don't paint a very flattering picture at all.

  13. Mariam, I couldn't agree more. Regardless of the accuracy of hadiths, I feel their implied importance has become disproportionate to their actual value. Even if they are the words of Muhammad, they are not the words of God. The wisdom of the greatest of men is not comparable to God's wisdom.

  14. Sorry Becky! I missed your last comment! I had no idea that was considered a weak hadith… certainly no one who quoted it to me mentioned that little tidbit.

  15. Cairo, you have a point about the scholars selective acceptance. I hope I don't actually have to become an Islamic scholar to follow this religion – but I may try! The Quran-filter method seems pretty popular, so maybe that's what I'll do… but just figuring out which everyday practices come from the Quran itself or from hadith is a challenge.

  16. Sophia, that's okay 🙂 I only just found out recently as well, but it's one of the main reasons why I don't personally believe that the hijab is obligatory. And that gets quoted pretty much every time someone talks about hijab and how women should dress (often done by men even!)

  17. That's a good point, Sophia. But I think learning what the prophet was like from hadith is different than determining our own behavior based on hadith.

  18. **Mariam, I couldn't agree more. Regardless of the accuracy of hadiths, I feel their implied importance has become disproportionate to their actual value. Even if they are the words of Muhammad, they are not the words of God. The wisdom of the greatest of men is not comparable to God's wisdom. **Well when god himself is saying to follow Muhammad(sws),which is said over and over again in the Quran, then u are directly disobeying him by saying they are not the words of god. Muhammad(sws) was a prophet and prophets convey the message of god.

  19. blackb3ard911, the Quran does say to follow the Prophet. It also says there is no God but God. I heard this somewhere, I'll try to get a source on this: didn't God correct Muhammad at some point in the Quran? Doesn't that imply that Muhammad was capable of error, as all beings are except for God? Also, God made it clear that he didn't want things to be forbidden that weren't forbidden – where in the Quran does it say eating with your left hand is forbidden? I use a toothbrush and not a stick – does that mean I am disobeying my creator?If everything the hadiths report are the words and actions of God rather than Muhammad, then why do even many scholars and lawmakers consider them less important than the Quran?

  20. blackb3ard911Just adding to Sophia's comment.Yes, the Qu'ran does say to follow Mohammed. Yes prophets do convey the message of God. The message Mohammed was given from God is the Qu'ran. If God wanted to make sure there was no doubt how to interpret certain things, do certain things, what to do, what not to do etc., he would've stated it clearly and unambiguously in the Qu'ran. Just like it is clearly stated in the Qu'ran that there is no god but God.

  21. @sophiaactually it says there is *no god but Allah(swt)* … but people change that to god so that the ill knowledged people will know what it means.And of course i wont say anything negative about Muhammad(sws) cause then i'd be totally messing my afterlife. Cause we all know that Muhammad(sws) was the best and most loved to Allah(swt) . and yes there was the incident where Muhammad(sws) made the honey haraam due to his wives but then Allah(swt) said [Shakir 66:1] O Prophet! why do you forbid (yourself) that which Allah has made lawful for you; you seek to please your wives; and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.but then u can see Allah(swt) forgave him cause he was the man who did the most tawbah(repentance)And yes there isnt anything in the Quran that says to use ur right hand. Thats why the things that arent in the Quran are in the sunnah. Reason is devil uses his left hand to eat. And no scholar will disagree with this hadeeth cause it has been proven sahih. I dont know which scholars consider them less important than the Quran … u'll have to name them … irshad manji isnt a scholar btw. If she were to ever debate zakir naik on this issue then he'd totally wreck her.But when Allah(swt) has said to follow the Muhammad(sws) just like the previous genrations were told to follow their prophets and those that didnt well i guess the Quran also tells what their fate was.And i am a lefty ….

  22. @beckywell actually it is clearly stated int the Quran Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “Nor does he speak of (his own) desire.4. It is only a Revelation revealed”[al-Najm 53:3-4] and it says there is not god but Allah(swt) actually …. the other one is just for people who dont know who Allah(swt) is … it doesnt even make sense when u say there is no god but god ? …. but when u put the name of the god there which is Allah(swt) then that sentence makes sense …

  23. @becky(1) The Qur’aan speaks of the importance of the Sunnah, for example:(a) Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “He who obeys the Messenger has indeed obeyed Allaah . . .” [al-Nisaa’ 4:80] Allaah described obedience to the Prophet (peace be upon him) as being a part of obedience to Him. Then He made a connection between obedience to Him and obedience to the Prophet (peace be upon him): “O you who believe! Obey Allaah and obey the Messenger . . .” [al-Nisaa’ 4:59](b) Allaah warns us not to go against the Prophet (peace be upon him), and states that whoever disobeys him will be doomed to eternal Hell. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “. . . And let those who oppose the Messenger’s commandment beware, lest some fitnah (trial, affliction, etc.) befall them or a painful torment be inflicted on them.” [al-Nur 24:63](c) Allaah has made obedience to His Prophet a religious duty; resisting or opposing it is a sign of hypocrisy: “”But no, by your Lord, they can have no Faith, until they make you [Muhammad] judge in all disputes between them, and find in themselves no resistance against your decisions, and accept (them) with full submission.” [al-Nisaa’ 4:65](d) Allaah commands His slaves to respond to Him and His Messenger: “O you who believe! Answer Allaah (by obeying Him) and (His) Messenger when he calls you to that which will give you life . . .” [al-Anfaal 8:24](e) Allaah also commands His slaves to refer all disputes to him: “. . . (And) if you differ in anything amongst yourselves, refer it to Allaah and His Messenger . . .” [al-Nisaa’ 4:59]Common sense indicates the importance of the Sunnah.The fact that the Prophet (peace be upon him) is the Messenger of Allaah indicates that we must believe everything he said and obey every command he gave. It goes without saying that he has told us things and given instructions in addition to what is in the Qur’aan. It is futile to make a distinction between the Sunnah and the Qur’aan when it comes to adhering to it and responding to it. It is obligatory to believe in what he has told us, and to obey his instructions.

  24. She is a converted muslimah of USA.She is not complaining about hadith.she is just following what is good for her,without doing any bad to herself,and hadithsShe said in her blog : sisters.in the past four days, i have been invited to the homes of three different sisters from the masjid. three homes in four days. three muslim homes.each sister showed me so much hospitality, care, and guidance, each in her own unique way. i am so incredibly touched by their generosity.each family embraced me and made me feel welcome. one from egypt, one from jordan, one from saudi arabia. each family was different, but the same. each family made me think, “this is the kind of family that i want.” i feel so happy that i am a muslim. alhamdulillah.VISIT :http://necosfrabjouslife.tumblr.com/

  25. @ sophiawell u can disagree that women are more emotional than men but reality is reality. An then there are also infertile men but that doesnt mean that those men arent men no longer 🙂 ….well yes i would agree being a man, i wouldnt let my wife do my job which is working to provide for the family. It might be the culture at ur place to make women work but my honour and pride does not allow that i make my wife work while i lay my butt on the couch watching desperate housewives. But i also wouldnt mind my wife working if she wanted to out of her own will required that the place had no interaction with the opposite sex.actually women who are diabetic can also fast and also wash and can bandage to close an open wound and pray …. comparing between woman having her period and a man having diabates has no connection. The part where woman cant pray while her period is actually mentioned in a hadtih in which Aisha(rad) was asked this question. I cant really remember it right cause i read it a long time ago so im paraphrasing. A woman came to Aisha(rad) and asked her why she cant pray when she has her period. At hearing this Aisha(rad) got mad and told her that doesnt she see that Allah(swt) has made things easy for us during our menses … Like i said i cant really remember the right wording and im too lazy to search it. :)and ur whole lives dont actually revolve around babies. It also revolves around love , hate , anger ,joy , happiness , sadness ,etc. But then our main aim in this world why we were created was to worship ALlah(swt). Not to make money and tall buildings.And going into the mosque the first time might be a bit awkward and intimidating just like talking to a stranger. But hey , im sure they wont bite.And i hope u get well soon.

  26. Sorry blackb3ard911, it wasn't scholars, it was judges in Pakistan who are de-emphasizing the hadith in court rulings, at least compared to the Quran. I only mentioned the diabetes thing to draw a parallel between how Islam seems to treat men and women differently. I understand God wanting to give women the option of not fasting/praying when they are menstruating, just as all believers can take a little break when they are ill, because God doesn't want to give us hardship. What I don't understand is forbidding women from participation, and then saying they are deficient in their religion. I mentioned that there is no god but God (or Allah, if you prefer), because even the best of men is still a man, and not comparable to God. The following is just my perspective: The Quran says to obey the Messenger, but it is also very clear about assuming others than God share His attributes. But I'm still not convinced the hadith are authentic, so I'll have to work on that before I decide how important they are to me. 🙂

  27. Blackb3ard911,To begin with, my apologies if I don't respond to everything, but I'm scrolling back and forth and I might miss something, if there is anything that I forget, and you would like a response, just let me know.There is no god but God = there is no god but Allah. To say anything else shows ignorance of the English language. god and God is NOT the same. Christians in Arab countries call God, Allah, because it is the same, linguistically and in meaning.Like I stated in my previous comment, I do not disagree at all that the Qu'ran does indeed tell us to obey Muhammed (pbuh) and the message he was given, which, in my opinion and as far as I understand it, is the Qu'ran. Yes, I'm sure the Prophet (pbuh) has given many important and wise instructions, but I'm confident that if there was to be no doubt about them, they would be in the Qu'ran. It's much harder to authenticate the Hadiths, than the Qu'ran, so therefore I'm always going to place the Qu'ran first. Like I said, if the message of the Hadith does not go against the Qu'ran, then I learn from it as best I can, taking into account the time and occasion that it took place in.Whichever hand you eat with, frankly, I think that's more a matter of culture and traditions, and is not going to be the determining factor on the Day of Judgement.

  28. @beckywell the first point like i said is just for the people who have no knowledge of god so thats why they use a universal term called *god* … just tell me does it make sense to say there is no god but god? … but if u will add a noun there and say there is no god but Allah then it would make sense. I hope the one's good in english can clear this up cause it just doesnt make sense to say *there is no god but god* unless u put a name there which states that is the only god that is Allah(swt).well since ur saying that everything is in the Quran. Then i would like u to tell me how to pray according to Muhammad(sws) since he is the only person that knows how to pray perfectly and he in his hadith has said pray as u have seen me pray. And i would like u to tell me how many times u have to pray in Islam and how to do hajj. wont be that hard since it is in the Quran but only thing is its in brief. :)well firstly a hadith(sahih) will never go against the Quran. Cause Muhammad(sws) can never go against the Quran. Cause if that happens then there would be no Islam. So saying that the hadith not going against the Quran is quite obvious.Now u wont see anything in the Quran telling u how judgement day will come and what there signs will be. So will u reject those hadith? … cause all those hadiths which tell of what will happen before judgement day are all coming true one by one.Well no actually i dont know of any culture which says u need to eat using the right and not ur left hand. Infact the reason has been mentioned in the hadith which says satan uses his left hand to eat. So thats why we are told not to eat using the left hand. Yes its not in the Quran but what is in the Quran is to obey the messenger that is Muhammad(sws) and i aint taking my chances in the after life if i get asked why i used my left hand when Muhammad(sws) said satan uses his left hand to eat and i reply *its culture* ….. and if im not mistaken then theres alot more things about ettiquetes which can be found in the hadith but not in the QUran such as how to dress, how to clean urself after using the washroom , etc.

  29. Blackb3ard911,I would never say 'there is no god but god', but I will say 'there is no god but God'. You notice the capitalized G? That is what makes the difference. The capitalized G turns God into a noun.Actually, I think we agree on many points, we just explain our opinions very differently and emphasize different things :)Yes, I think everything is in the Qu'ran, but I do also think that the hadiths can help us understand what is already in the Qu'ran. As is the point for praying, it's in the Qu'ran that you have to pray, but I will follow the authentic hadiths concerning prayers – as it does not go against the Qu'ran, but rather helps us to understand it.Also, my point in saying I believe more in the Qu'ran, is because, like you said, an authentic (sahih) hadith will never go against the Qu'ran. So when I look at the hadiths, I check to see if they're in the spirit of the Qu'ran, and if they are, then I learn from them what I can.

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