Rafed English

Narration of Hadith after its Writing was Forbidden by Prophet

Those having no expertise in knowledge and no awareness of expertise, surmise that the Messenger’s traditions which they read in books or hear from narrators, have all reached us correct in syntax and well-arranged in wording, and that their original words reached to the narrators intact and preserved exactly as were uttered by the Prophet, without any corruption (tahrif) or alteration.

They further think that the Companions and those who succeeded them who kept in memory the Prophet’s traditions till the time of tadwin (writing down of hadith), have conveyed them with their original text and wording exactly as they heard them, and duly related them in the form they received them, keeping them safe against any change and alteration.

And the idea seizing people’s minds was that these narrators constituting altogether a distinguished stratum among people in calligraphy, perfect exactitude, and powerful memory. And that their minds were created in a special shape with no parallel among all people, in a way that whatever they were hearing would be engraved on their (minds) tablets escaping not even one word and sparing not even one letter.

Undoubtedly, this kind of conception had its extreme impact upon the thinking of chiefs of religion, except those whom God kept immune. It made them hold these traditions in the same position of the Qur’anic verses, the fact entailing obligation to abide by them and surrender to their rules, in a way that whoever contradicting them would be considered as sinner, guilty and debauchee, and that denying or suspecting them would be counted an apostate that should repent.

For this reason, I opined to elaborate discussion on this topic, so as to expose to people the true aspect in it, making them recognize that the traditions reported to them from the Messenger of Allah (S) were in fact narrated according to their denotations and meanings, when (the Companions) failing to convey them with their real syntax and wording, either due to forgetting their origin or their being kept in memories for a very long time since they narrated them for the first time. Furthermore, it was that every narrator would report only that portion of the hadith his mind could keep according to the meaning, after his memory failing to recollect its original words. This was due to the fact that they (companions), have not cared, in the outset, for writing down the hadith, letting it be narrated through denotation, the state attaining agreement of all gnostics and scholars.118 Thereafter disagreement appeared among the ulama regarding this matter, with some forbidding it and some others permitting. The significance of demonstrating this subject prompts us to refer here to some of the evidences of these and those (people), finding no one making a comprehensive investigation on this issue except al-Allamah al-Shaykh Tahir al-Jaza’iri, in his valuable book Tawjih al-nazar. Following are excerptions of his statements.119

Notes:

118. Ibn al-Salah, in his Muqaddimah, says: The narrators were most often reporting the same meaning of one subject through different words, and the only reason for this was their depending on the meaning not the words (p.90).

119. In p.298 and the following pages in brief.

Adapted from: "Lights on the Muhammadan Sunnah" by: "Mahmud Ali Riyyah"

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