Why we must study Ha­dith once again

The Miracle - - Front Page - Source: www.alju­muah.com Dr Ovamir An­jum

Ha­dith Stud­ies: An In­tel­lec­tual Chal­lenge for the Mus­lim Ummah To­day Ha­dith is the only means by which we can know the Sun­nah of the Prophet صلى اله عليه وسلم and con­seTuently the full mean­ings of the 4uran in its proper con­text. But since the Ha­dith lit­er­a­ture, un­like the 4uran, is not a sin­gle, well-known, bounded text, but rather a baffling amount of lit­er­a­ture col­lected over sev­eral gen­er­a­tions—its au­then­tic­ity and or­ga­ni­za­tion have been a great chal­lenge. This chal­lenge, how­ever, was taken up by the great schol­ars of Is­lam, who duly pro­duced the most amaz­ing large-scale ef­forts in his­tory— as al­lowed by the tech­nol­ogy of the time—to pro­tect and pre­serve ev­ery­thing that the Prophet ever said or did. The fact that some peo­ple tried to fab­ri­cate aḥâdîth shows that the aḥâdîth were deemed ex­tremely in­flu­en­tial and au­thor­i­ta­tive—no­body fakes a cur­rency that has no value. All stud­ies of early Is­lamic his­tory, even by the most cyn­i­cal and crit­i­cal of non-Mus­lim schol­ars, have shown that the learn­ing, teach­ing and preser­va­tion of Ha­dith were the fo­cus of Mus­lim schol­ar­ship dur­ing the first few cen­turies of Is­lam. Be­cause the aḥâdîth of the Prophet had such great cur­rency at the time, so then liars and op­por­tunists—as have al­ways ex­isted in all so­ci­eties—fab­ri­cated aḥâdîth to ac­com­plish worldly goals. His­tory at­tests to the fact that our Pi­ous Pre­de­ces­sors, who were cho­sen by Al­lah to be the re­cip­i­ents of His fi­nal mes­sage, did not fall short of their obli­ga­tion to pre­serve the Sun­nah: Colos­sal at­tempts were made to re­sist and erad­i­cate this forg­ing of aḥâdîth by the schol­ars and lead­ers. Thou­sands and thou­sands of schol­ars be­gan to study, mem­o­rize, au­then­ti­cate and pre­serve the Ha­dith lit­er­a­ture. What Hap­pened to the Tra­di­tional Schol­ar­ship of Ha­dith? It is still around: there are nu­mer­ous schol­ars de­voted to Ha­dith who have spent their lives mem­o­riz­ing, sort­ing and eval­u­at­ing aḥâdîth. How­ever, in my hum­ble opin­ion af­ter tak­ing stock of Ha­dith stud­ies both by Mus­lims as well as non-Mus­lims, I ven­ture to say that there is a lot that hh has not b been d done, and d a l lot that h can­not be done with­out a se­ri­ous re­vival of Ha­dith sci­ences and method­ol­ogy. More rig­or­ous his­tor­i­cal re­search has un­earthed even older manuscripts of Ha­dith than the canon­i­cal ones which we are used to as Bukhâri and Mus­lim—I mean specif­i­cally the col­lec­tion of Ab Hu­rairah’s one hun­dred and forty re­ports that he dic­tated to his dis­ci­ple, Ham­mâm ibn Mun­ab­bih. These aḥâdîth are found in ei­ther Bukhâri or Mus­lim, which is a trib­ute to the ac­cu­racy and ve­rac­ity of these two col­lec­tions. More such dis­cov­er­ies are pos­si­ble, and Mus­lim his­to­ri­ans must la­bor hard for them. Sim­i­larly, there is a lot that the schol­ars of to­day, both tra­di­tional and mod­ern, do not know about the con­text, mean­ing and au­then­tic­ity of many re­ports. )or ex­am­ple, a tremen­dous amount of work is yet to be done in un­der­stand­ing the con­text of these aḥâdîth, thereby re­solv­ing con­flicts and dis­agree­ments about their mean­ings as well as au­then­tic­ity. What Can We—the Or­di­nary Mus­lims—Do about It? )or the or­di­nary Mus­lim, it is no longer pos­si­ble to turn a blind eye to this chal­lenge, be­cause it is no longer only a bat­tle in the acad­emy—in the ech­e­lons of 2ri­en­tal­ism far re­moved from Is­lam and Mus­lims. It is rather a very per­ti­nent, a very real-life bat­tle. More and more young Mus­lims, in the :est but ul­ti­mately every­where in the world, are grow­ing up read­ing, learn­ing, dis­cussing and in­ter­nal­iz­ing these at­tacks on Is­lam and skep­ti­cism to­wards its au­then­tic sources. The Tues­tions raised by skep­tics, out of an­tipa­thy or ap­a­thy, h are b be­com­ing i po­lit­i­cal li i l weapons in some hands, and a means of so­cial and fi­nan­cial gain in oth­ers. Le­gions of pseudo-Mus­lims and pseudo-schol­ars and pseudo-ex­perts have mush­roomed, and it is be­com­ing an up­hill bat­tle, for un­aware Mus­lims as well as non-Mus­lims, to fig­ure out the true teach­ings of Is­lam. :hat can or­di­nary Mus­lims do about this oesn’t Ha­dith schol­ar­ship reTuire a life­time of study No—not at all. It reTuires not one life­time, but in fact many, many life­times. And that is pre­cisely why we need or­di­nary Mus­lims, all Mus­lims, to worry about it. True, we need the piety and rigor of Al-Zuhri, Shuᶜbah, Imam Aḥ­mad ibn Ḥan­bal, and the painstak­ing pre­ci­sion of those like Imams Bukhâri and Mus­lim in the sci­ence of Ha­dith. But all ex­cel­lence and suc­cess can start with or­di­nary Mus­lims: There is no clergy in Is­lam. As long as re­source­ful and ed­u­cated Mus­lims keep send­ing their best and most pro­duc­tive young minds to the sci­ences of this world for seek­ing money, sta­tus and com­fort, and as long as they aban­don the sa­cred sci­ences for the drop-outs and the have-not to take on—or, worse yet, for non-Mus­lims to dis­tort or mis­use—we will never re­gain the in­tel­lec­tual su­pe­ri­or­ity and con­vinc­ing power of our faith. So long as these trends of ne­glect and neg­li­gence con­tinue, we will keep los­ing both in­tel­lec­tual ground as well as our com­ing gen­er­a­tions. The his­tory of Is­lam, which I have drawn upon in pos­ing the chal­lenge, also gives us hope. As the great In­dian scholar Ab Al-Ḥasan ᶜAli Al-Nadwi said, Al­lah has al­ways raised among Mus­lims those who have pro­tected Is­lam against its en­e­mies a h and awak­ened Mus­lims from their slum­ber. This time around, the task is big. I can­not em­pha­size enough that this work must be done by Mus­lims— be­liev­ing, ded­i­cated, and bril­liant Mus­lim schol­ars. These must outdo all oth­ers in us­ing the best his­tor­i­cal and an­a­lyt­i­cal tools. No sci­ence is com­pletely ob­jec­tive, but es­pe­cially the sci­ence of in­ter­pre­ta­tion and his­tor­i­cal c crit­i­cism is deeply con­nected to one’s be­liefs and world­view, to how much one un­der­stands or iden­ti­fies with the texts or to the peo­ple whom one is writ­ing about. Ac­cord­ingly, A things like in­ter­pre­ta­tion of 4uran and Ha­dith, or like their his­tor­i­cal crit­i­cism, can never be cor­rectly ac­com­plished at the hands of non-Mus­lims or non-com­mit­ted Mus­lims. .nowl­edge and cer­tainty are in­spired by Al­lah, as are ar­gu­ments and counter-ar­gu­ments about in­ter­pre­ta­tion and au­then­tic­ity, and so the be­lief and piety of the scholar are crit­i­cal to his or her cred­i­bil­ity. Mus­lims must re­claim in the light of mod­ern meth­ods and sci­ences once again the sci­ences that they pi­o­neered: crit­i­cism, au­then­ti­ca­tion and in­ter­pre­ta­tion of re­ports. It is nec­es­sary that not only the fore­most his­to­ri­ans and in­ter­preters of Is­lamic texts be Mus­lims, but that they be true Mus­lims—con­nected with the Mus­lim 8mmah, and en­gaged with the strug­gle to es­tab­lish Al­lah’s in. This is pre­cisely what our pi­ous pre­de­ces­sors meant when they said: such and such scholar was “‘ ᶜâlimun ᶜâmil” and a “mu­jâhid” — that is, a right­eous scholar, one who up­held the truth even against op­pres­sion and tyranny, and strug­gled in the way of Al­lah with a pure soul. 2nly then did the light of Is­lamic knowl­edge shine upon him. It is a his­tor­i­cal fact, and an ex­am­ple of the amaz­ing col­lected wis­dom of the 8mmah, that it never fol­lowed, revered as Imams or took its knowl­edge from non-Mus­lims, sell­outs or hyp­o­crit­i­cal schol­ars. My pur­pose in writ­ing this ar­ti­cle will have been ac­com­plished if even one fa­ther or mother de­cides, upon read­ing this, that they are go­ing to de­vote their most bril­liant child, boy or girl, to the study of the Ha­dith of the )inal Prophet

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.