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Old Tuesday, June 27, 2006
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Smile The Sunnah: The Second form of Revelation

The Sunnah: The Second form of Revelation


Allah (SWT) says in His Book: "This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed my favor upon you and have chosen for you Islam as your religion." (Surah Al-Maidah: 3)

Amongst the Believers there is no doubt about this way of life called Islam. It is without a doubt a complete way of life. The Creator of the heavens and the earth has not left anything out of this glorious Deen (way of life) of His. As the above verse states that this religion is perfect and complete. However, something new has come in fairly recent years from the Shaytan concerning the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (SAWS). It has been suggested by him to the hearts of some of the Muslims that the Qur'an, as Glorious as it is, is sufficient enough alone as guidance for Mankind. Meaning that the Sunnah, or way of the Messenger of Allah (SAWS) is something that can be left off, or abandoned. Without a doubt this is a growing disease that has no place in this wonderful way of life of ours.

In order to address this issue we must ask ourselves an important question. How do we worship Allah? Do we worship Him any way we want? Is there a correct Minhaj (Methodology) to worshipping Allah? Is it sufficient for us to say and do whatever it is that we feel is worship and then call it worship and it will be accepted as such? Let us consider what Allah (SWT) says in the Qur'an:

"O ye who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger, and make not vain your deeds!"

Let us examine, if we may, the above verse.

Firstly, Allah (SWT) is addressing the Believers at this particular time.

Secondly, Allah (SWT) states that he is to be obeyed. No sane person would doubt this, for it is the word of Allah. However for some unknown reason there appears to be some ambiguity about the statement that follows it.

Allah (SWT) also states that the Messenger (SAWS) is to be obeyed as well. Now, from the outset I would say once again that no sane person would doubt that the Messenger (SAWS) is to be obeyed as well, however there appears to be a breach not in the acceptance of the verse but in understanding what is actually being ordered.

We have established that the Messenger (SAWS) is to be followed, however we must ask ourselves a question once again. In His infinite wisdom, Allah (SWT) knew when he revealed this verse that the Messenger (SAWS) would soon die and that his Ummah (nation) would carry on after his death. Understanding this, we must ask the question of how do we understand this verse of the Qur'an after the death of Muhammad (SAWS). Is it no longer applicable? Of course it is! The Sunnah is the explanation of the Qur'an. It is the Qur'an in practice.

O Muslim reader, you must know that the Qur'an and the Sunnah do not contradict one another, rather they complement one another. When Allah (SWT) says in this verse that the Messenger (SAWS) is to be obeyed, he is not only talking to that Honorable group of Muslims that accompanied the Prophet (SAWS) during his lifetime. He is speaking to all of the Muslims that will come up until the Last Day.

Similarly, no one is ready to conceive the notion that when Allah (SWT) says (which means in English) O ye who believe! that the only ones who believe are the Muslims who were with the Prophet (SAWS) at that time and no one after them believed and no one else will ever believe! This would be grossly limiting the Qur'an in a way that was not understood by the Prophet (SAWS) himself.

The Shaytan is crafty! He may then try to sway your thinking from another angle. He may say that the Qur'an is simple to understand and that it needs no explanation. For it is true that Allah (SWT) says:"We have indeed made the Qur'an easy to understand and remember" [Surah Al-Qamar:32 ]

However, although the Qur'an is easy to understand, it does need to be explained so that it is properly understood. Allah (SWT) says in His Book: "And when We have recited it to you (O Muhammad (SAWS) through Jibreel Gabriel]) then follow its (The Qur'an's) recital. Then it is for Us (Allah) to make it clear (to you)" [Surah Al-Qiyamah:18,19]

Surely if the Qur'an had to be made clear to the Messenger (SAWS), then how much more so to you and I? Is it logical at this point to assume that the Qur'an needs no explanation when Allah (SWT) says:

"…And We have also sent down unto you (O Muhammad) the Reminder, that you may explain clearly to men what is sent down to them, and that they may give thought." [Surah An-Nahl:44]

In this verse Allah (SWT) is exhorting the Messenger (SAWS) to not merely recite the Qur'an but to explain it as well. Obviously, some explanation is required even to the most pious of men.

Truly the list of proofs can go on and on. However, I will list just a few Insha Allah: "…(And) if you differ in anything amongst yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger, if you believe in Allah and the Last Day. That is better and more suitable for final determination." [Surah An-Nisaa:59]

Once again, if we try to leave off the importance of the Sunnah, then how do we implement this verse of the Qur'an? Allah (SWT) orders us to refer our differences to him. This means for us to seek our answers from the Qur'an. He also attaches The Messenger (SAWS) to that particular order when He stated for us to refer to Him. If we leave off the Sunnah then this part of the verse has no meaning, and I seek refuge with Allah from that!
"Whoever obeys the Messenger, has obeyed Allah" [Surah An-Nisaa:80]

How can we allow the Shaytan to "explain away" these clear proofs from the Book of Allah?

"Say (O Muhammad): If you (really) love Allah, then follow me, Allah will love you and forgive you your sins" [Surah Ali-Imran: 31]

How can the Muslims of today follow the Prophet (SAWS) and not refer to his Sunnah? How can we say that we love Allah (SWT) and not try to follow the methodology of His Prophet (SAWS)? It doesn't make sense O my Brothers in Islam! It is only the whispers of the Shaytan. Allah (SWT) says: "So fight you against the friends of Shaytan (Satan):ever feeble indeed is the plot of Shaytan (Satan)" [Surah An-Nisaa:76]

Finally I would like to conclude with a Hadeeth (saying) from the Messenger of Allah (SAWS) that was collected by Imam Malik in his Muwatta. The Prophet (SAWS) said: "I have left behind two matters. Those who hold fast to them will never go astray: The Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger".

The reason that many of the Muslims are going astray today is because they are not only leaving off the Sunnah but they are leaving the Qur'an as well! Know for a certainty O Brother Muslim, that if you are not giving the Sunnah its rights, then you are not giving the Qur'an its rights. And I seek refuge with Allah (SWT) from that! Don't forget your Shahadah:

I bear witness that there is nothing worthy of worship as a God except Allah; and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.

Without the Sunnah then the second statement of your Shahadah also has no meaning. And I seek refuge with Allah from that! I glorify you O Allah, and I praise You. I bear witness that there is no God worthy of worship except You. I seek Your forgiveness and repent to You.
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Exclamation History of Sunnah

1. What is the Sunnah?

Definition: Sunnah in Arabic means "a way to be followed" or "an example to be imitated". However, in Islamic terminology the word sunnah can have several meanings depending on the subject being discussed, as shown below:

1) Every saying and action of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh), every situation where he approved of an action or saying by someone else, and his personal traits and manners.

2) For fiqh scholars, the word Sunnah is sometimes used to describe recommended (mustahab) actions as opposed to obligatory (fardh) actions.

In general, when the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) does a certain action regularly, or gives glad tidings to those who do a certain action, it is considered by fiqh scholars to be recommended. An example of this would be praying 2 rak'at before Fajr prayer. The Prophet used to always pray these 2 rak'at, and he promised great rewards for anyone who prayed them. However, the Prophet never ordered anyone to pray these 2 rak'at. Therefore, fiqh scholars said that these 2 rak'at are to be considered recommended and not obligatory. However, when the Prophet orders the believers to do something, such as ordering men to grow their beards, this is considered to be wajib (required), and not doing that action is considered prohibited or haram.
However, in this article we are discussing the Sunnah in the first sense. We are talking about the Sunnah in general as a source of legislation and Shariah. We will try to prove that Allah (swt) has commanded Muslims to follow the Sunnah in the holy Qur'an, and that Allah (swt) has made the Sunnah a source of Shariah.

It is obligatory for all Muslims to follow the Sunnah of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh), and it is obligatory to follow all the orders of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) and refrain from all what he asked us to stay away from. This will be proven in this article and the next one about the authority of the Sunnah (please see link at the end of this article).

One last thing to note: the term Hadith is sometimes used interchangeably with the term Sunnah. Hadith simply means speech. The Hadith usually refers to all the sayings and actions of the Prophet. The Sunnah is a broader term, since it includes the Hadith and also the Prophets way of life, his manners, his personality and his biography.


2. Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) as a Teacher:

The Sunnah as mentioned earlier is a term that is used to describe the actions and sayings of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh). Therefore, when we talk about the history of the Sunnah we must first quickly discuss the source of this Sunnah, Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) himself.

Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) was the best example of a teacher and mentor. This is because he used to teach people with the utmost kindness and leniency, and he used to stay away from harshness and scolding. He, peace be upon him, used to teach Islam in a way to make people's lives easier, and to give them glad tidings. He used to refrain from making matters difficult for people, or doing anything that would push people away from Islam.

Unfortunately, many people, especially non-Muslims, have an image of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) as promoting Islam by force or by violence. This could not be farther from the truth. Unfortunately, those people also include some Muslims who simply believe anything that comes from the west.

However, for anyone who has spent the least amount of time studying the biography (seerah) of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) and his Sunnah, they would know that he was the kindest and most lenient of teachers. He used to treat all Muslims as if they were his own children. And he never shouted at anyone in his life. Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) also rarely got angry in his life, and when he did he only got angry for the sake of Allah (swt).

Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) used to live for delivering the message of Islam. He spent every waking moment of his life in the service of Islam, and he was subjected to many kinds of pressure and physical harm, which he took with patience and steadfastness. May Allah (swt) shower his peace and blessings on Mohammad, who went through much suffering to bring us the beautiful message of Islam.

Our discussion here is not about the biography (seerah) of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh), however this brief introduction was required as background information to the rest of our discussion. There is much to learn from the biography and manners of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh), for both non-Muslims and also Muslims as well. We will leave this for another discussion Insha' Allah (God Willing).


3. The Companions of the Prophet and the Sunnah:

The second issue we must discuss is that of the companions of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh). After all, they are the ones who heard his sayings and saw his actions, and they are the ones who transmitted all of this to us. The companions methodology of learning the Sunnah was to believe that it is the only hope for salvation in this life and the hereafter. Therefore, they were keen on being with the Prophet in most of his gatherings and lectures.

In order not to miss anything said or done by the Prophet, some companions used to alternate in attending the gatherings of the Prophet, and then exchange notes in order to have a complete picture of what he said. They also used to study the sayings of the Prophet and memorize them, and many companions used to write the Sunnah in order to preserve it as well. The companions were indeed an excellent example for us on how to learn and follow the Sunnah, and regard this as our top priority in life.

After the death of the Prophet, the companions were very careful in preserving the Sunnah. They ensured not to mention a hadith unless it is verified that it is a true saying of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh). They also used to verify the hadith amongst each other, and prevent people who have little knowledge from saying hadith because they will probably make mistakes in it. They also used to be careful to use the same wording as the original hadith by Prophet Mohammad (pbuh).


4. Traveling to Collect the Sunnah:

As Islam spread through the world, many companions and then the followers of the companions traveled to different parts of the world to spread the message of Islam. Therefore, the Sunnah also spread with them across many parts of the world. This meant that those among the companions who wanted to collect and learn the Sunnah would have to travel to various cities to take the Sunnah from the companions at those cities.

This is indeed what happened, and this continued for the students of knowledge and especially those who specialized in studying the Sunnah. Every scholar of Hadith used to travel to many different cities to learn the Sunnah from it's original sources. After the death of the companions, people used to get the Sunnah from the students of the companions, and so on.

This travel in search of the Hadith also had other benefits in addition to simply collecting and learning Hadith of various cities. It also helped the spread of the Sunnah, and it added more paths to the sanad (chain of transmission) of the Hadith. In addition, it allowed Hadith scholars to exchange views, books and ideas, and it allowed them to study the situations of the rawi (transmitter) of the Hadith in order to check his reliability.


5. The Sunnah was written during the time of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh):

This is a major issue of concern to many people, including Muslims. Some non-Muslims, in their vain attempts to weaken Muslims' belief in Islam, have launched a major campaign against the Sunnah. Since they know that no Muslim would doubt the holy Qur'an, they thought that the Sunnah would be an easy target. However, they did not know that their attempts would only work on people with very little knowledge of Islam and people who simply believe any statement that comes from a westerner.

Unfortunately, most Muslims today do not study very much about Islam and the history of Islam. Most Muslim countries prefer to teach only a few fiqh issues in their schools, such as how to pray and how to fast. They rarely discuss issues such as aqeedah and the Sunnah for example. We hope that the following quick overview will help Muslims to discover the truth about the Sunnah.

Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) had over 60 "writers" during his life. These "writers" used to write for the Prophet everything he ordered them such as the holy Qur'an, letters to other leaders and to Muslims governors, agreements with other nations or tribes and other such documents. Therefore, a large part of the Sunnah was written officially in this format during the life of the Prophet. In addition to this, individuals used to also write the Hadith, or sayings of the Prophet Mohammad, in order to help them memorize these Hadith.

Many Muslims believe that the Prophet ordered the companions not to write the Hadith, and some deviant groups use this as a basis for them to disregard the entire Sunnah. There is only one sahih (correct) hadith about this from the Prophet which says the following:

This hadith can be translated as: "Do not write about (or from) me, and whoever wrote anything from me other than the Qur'an he should erase it", and in one narration the following statement is added: "and say the hadith about me with no restrictions, and whoever lies on my behalf should be ready to take his place in the hell fire". The hadith is narrated in Sahih Muslim.

This hadith is the only hadith that is sahih where the Prophet orders the companions not to write the Sunnah. On the other hand, there are many hadith where the Prophet orders his companions to write the Sunnah. The following are two examples:

The first hadith is narrated in sahih Bukhari, where the Prophet orders his companions to write his sayings for a person named "Abi Shah". This occurred during the final hajj season before the death of the Prophet. The second hadith occurred when one companion asked the Prophet whether he should write the Sunnah, and the Prophet replied by pointing to his mouth and saying: "Write, for by Allah, nothing comes out of this except the truth". This hadith is also sahih, and is narrated by Imam Ahmad, Abu Dawood and Addrami.

Muslim scholars have explain these hadith in several ways, we mention 2 below:

1. That the order not to write the Sunnah was early in Islam, when the Prophet was afraid that his sayings would get mixed with the holy Qur'an. But once Muslims were able to recognize the style of the holy Qur'an, which is unique from any other style, the Prophet allowed the writing of the hadith. This is especially strengthened by the fact that we know that the Prophet ordered the companions to write his sayings during the last hajj he performed.

2. That the Prophet forbid writing the Sunnah during the time the holy Qur'an was being revealed and written, or that he forbid writing the Sunnah in the same papers or books as the holy Qur'an.

There are other opinions by various scholars, but the important thing is that the scholars of Islam have agreed by consensus that the Prophet did indeed allow and in fact ordered the companions to write the Sunnah. This consensus is reported by, among others, the well known scholars of Hadith:

Now that we know that the Prophet did ask the companions to write the Sunnah, and he definitely asked them to transmit it orally, we ask what are some examples of the Sunnah written during the life of the Prophet? These include some documents written by the "writers" of the Prophet upon his order, such as his letters to the kings and leaders of various nations, his letters to other tribes inviting them to Islam, his letters to the Muslim governors, judges and zakat workers to guide them in their work, and a number of agreements, treaties and contracts and so on.

In addition to the official documents mentioned earlier, which were written by the order of the Prophet, there were other writings by the individual efforts of the companions. These include the following: "Assaheefa Assadiqa", written by Abdullah ibn Amr ibn Al-'as, and it contained one thousand hadith. Also, there were the books of Sa'ad ibn Obada, Mo'ath ibn Jabal and Abi Rafi'. In addition, there was the writings of Ali ibn Abi Talib and Jaber ibn Abd Allah Al-Ansari.

All of these are the books and writings of the companions of the Prophet, who heard the hadith directly from him peace be upon him. Many of these documents, both the official ones and the individual writings by the companions, are preserved until today in the books of Sunnah, history and seerah. Therefore, it is clear that there is no place for anyone to claim that the Sunnah was not written during the time of the Prophet.

In addition to all this, Muslims also used to memorize the hadith of the Prophet. In fact, some scholars when collecting the hadith used to prefer to take hadith from one who memorizes it over one who has the hadith written. This is because the one who memorized the hadith is less likely to make a mistake, and is more likely to have understood the hadith and worked based on it's teachings.


. The Official Collection and Organization of the Sunnah:

As mentioned in the previous section, thousands of hadith, documents and agreements were written by the companions during the life of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh). These documents and books of hadith remained with the companions who wrote them after the death of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh). These books were scattered amongst the companions and were not collected in large collections. In addition to that, many hadith were memorized by the companions, and were transmitted to their students during halaqa (classes) of studying Islam orally.

During this time, the Muslims did not see a great need to collect the hadith into organized books. After all, the companions were available, and they used to memorize the hadith and teach it to their students who used to memorize it as well. And since writing was not easy at the time, after all every book would have to be written by hand, most people depended on memorization in their teaching and not writing. It is true till this day: a student who memorizes the hadith perfectly can benefit from it much more than one who hears the hadith once and writes it in his notes never to remember it again.

The hadith continued to be memorized by the hearts, and much of it also written in the books of individual companions. It was also being taught to the next generation of Muslims, the followers of the companions, and to the vast numbers of people who were entering Islam every year.

The first collection of hadith officially sanctioned by a leader of the Muslims, that we know of, was done by the Ameer of Misr (Misr is also known by its un-Islamic name egypt). His name was Abdul Aziz ibn Marwan, and he was the Ameer of Misr around the year of 80 after the hijra. He wrote to Katheer ibn Morra Al-Hadrami telling him to send him all the hadith he can collect, except the hadith narrated by Abu Hurayra, since he already had it collected. Katheer had met with over 70 of the companions who had fought in the battle of badr, so he had a wealth of hadith from them.

Of course, from this historical record we can also deduce that the Ameer had already begun to collect the hadith before that, since he already had the hadith narrated by Abu Hurayra. Therefore, the action pointed to by this historical record is in fact that the Ameer wanted to build up and increase his existing collection of hadith.

Another major effort to collect the hadith was made during the rule of the fifth guided khalifah, Omar ibn Abdul Aziz, around the year 100 after the hijra. This was a widespread and concerted effort that was started by the Khalifah, top leader of the Muslims. This effort to collect the hadith was special because it had the following qualities:

All governors of the Muslim nation were asked to send the hadith that they have in their provinces to the Khalifah.

The scholars of Islam were gathered in order to help verify and write the Sunnah, and help to spread it across the Muslim world.

The extraordinary effort put into ensuring the accuracy of all that was written. This was done by gathering the best scholars who memorized the Sunnah in order to verify everything that is written.

After the Sunnah was collected and written, copies of it were made and sent to all Muslim lands and nations.

After this action by Omar ibn Abdul Aziz, Muslim scholars continued to spend a lot of efforts to continue gathering, verifying, classifying and writing books about the Sunnah. They developed sciences on how to verify the hadith, and how to classify it and so on.

Therefore, from what we have mentioned above, it is clear to anyone who studied Islam and the history of Islam that the Sunnah was preserved by both memorization and by writing since the time of Prophet Mohammad. However, some of the anti-Islamic elements try to shake Muslims belief in the Sunnah by saying that the Sunnah was not written until 200 or even 300 years after the death of Prophet Mohammad! It is obvious to everyone who has spent some time to study the issue that these claims are blatant lies!

Muslims should not be surprised that these people who have no religion, or those who have distorted their own religion, would have no problem in lying. Muslims should fear Allah (swt) and not take any news or information from non-Muslims, especially when this information is about our own religion of Islam or about a group of Muslims. We all know how hard the enemies of Islam work in the media and in their books in order to tarnish the images of certain groups of Muslims, or Islam in general, and we should not believe anything they say without clear and incontrovertible evidence.


7. Methods for Transmitting the Sunnah:

Now that we have some historical background about the Sunnah, we should devote some time to talk about how the Sunnah was transmitted to us today. In fact, the method of transmitting the Sunnah is a truly ingenious and unique method invented and used only by the Islamic Ummah. No other civilization was able to come up with similar methods to accurately transmit their claimed holy texts.

Muslims put a huge amount of effort in order to protect and preserve the Sunnah, and to keep it clean from any inaccuracies or fabrications. This effort was made by thousands of Hadith scholars, who spent their lives in the service of the Sunnah. Their efforts in combating fabrications and preserving the Sunnah are discussed later on.

In order to ensure the accuracy of every sentence in the Sunnah, the Hadith scholars devised a system where every hadith contains two parts. A sanad (chain or narrators) and a matn (the actual words said by the Prophet). The sanad is the chain of narrators of the hadith. When the hadith scholars came across a hadith, they required the person saying the hadith to say who he learned this hadith from, and who that person learned it from, and so on, up to the companion who heard it directly from the Prophet.

By requiring this sanad with every single hadith, the scholars were able to check this chain of narrators and decide on whether this hadith is authentic or not. They developed books, still available today, that describe all these narrators, their dates of birth, where they lived, their level of memorization, their character and so on. The hadith scholars, before declaring a hadith to be sahih or accurate, intensively check the sanad of the hadith.

This includes historical checks to ensure that each 2 narrators lived at the same time and in the same place. It also includes checking for the character and level of memorization of that person. This science was called ilm al-rijal or aljarh wal ta'deel, which means science of men. The scholars collected information about each narrator from people who know him or people who did some business with him etc. They collected this information in order to allow them to judge the reliability of each narrator.

For example, if a narrator is known to have lied once in his life, during a business transaction, marriage, to his friends etc. he is rejected and the hadith narrated by him is considered weak or fabricated. If a narrator is known to occasionally make mistakes, this is taken into account. If he missed some prayers, or was known to have deviant beliefs etc. all this was taken into account.

All these books are still available today. We also still have the books where the scholars ranked each narrator depending on their reliability. All this information was then used to rank the hadith as being: sahih, hasan, da'eef or mawdoo'. In order for a hadith to be deemed sahih, the chain of narrators must be continuous with no gaps, every narrator must have excellent character and excellent memorization, and the matn is checked to make sure it doesn't contradict the Qur'an or other known hadith and so on.

The sciences of hadith are some of the most complicated in Islam, and it honestly cannot be fully explained here. However, we hope that we were able to give an overview of how the hadith was transmitted in order to give readers strong confidence about the scholars who performed this task. If someone is interested to learn more, there are hundereds of books about aljarh wal ta'deel and mostalah al hadeeth and so on. For others, you should have some confidence and trust in the work done by the scholars and trust their word when they say a hadith is sahih or daee'f etc.


8. Classification of Hadith:

It may be useful here to mention briefly some of the classes of hadith. The hadith can be classified in two ways:

1) Classification based on number of narrators in each generation:

Motawatir. These are hadith where a large number of people narrated the same hadith in each generation of the chain of narrators.

Ahaad. These are hadith that are narrated by only a few people in each generation.

We know that the motawatir hadith are indeed the sayings of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh). This is because of the large number of people who heard the prophet say the hadith, and then it was transmitted through many different chains of narrators and it ended up to be still exactly the same hadith.

The Ahaad hadith must be studied in detail, as mentioned above, in order to prove them and they are classified as follows:

2) Classification based on studying the narrators:

Sahih and hasan. These are hadith which were judged to be truly the words of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) by the scholars who specialize in Hadith. Sahih are a higher class than hasan.

Da'eef. These are weak hadith, which are not proven to be from the Prophet.

Mawdoo'. These are hadith known to be fabricated.

Scholars of hadith, such as Bukhari and Muslim, collected sahih hadith only and put them in their books of: Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim. However, they did not attempt nor claim to have collected all sahih hadith. There are many other books of hadith such as Musnad Ahmad, Mowatta' Malik and so on which contain many sahih hadith as well.


. The Efforts of the Scholars to Preserve the Sunnah:

For many reasons, some people invariably tried to lie about the Prophet and make up hadith and say they heard it from the Prophet. These people had various motivations, but their final destination was clearly mentioned to us by the Prophet, that they should be ready to take their seat in the hell fire.

One of the biggest sources of liars about the Prophet were the deviant groups, who tried to re-enforce their deviant ideas by producing fake hadith. Some scholars have reported that the first deviant group to start producing fake hadith was the Shia, who had no evidence from the Qur'an or Sunnah and so they tried to fake hadith. In any case, we will try to mention some of the efforts of how the scholars tried to combat these deviant groups and their fake hadith:

1. Requiring a full isnad (chain of narrators) for each hadith before accepting it. As we all know every hadith is composed of two parts: sanad and matn. The sanad means the chain of narrators, which starts with the person who heard the hadith from the Prophet, then the person who heard from him and so on. The matn is the actual wording that the Prophet said. Before adding a hadith to their collection, the scholars required that they hear the entire chain of narrators for it up to the person saying the hadith.

2. After hearing the sanad, the scholars used historical evidence to expose liars who had just invented the hadith. This is because the scholars had books detailing narrators of hadith, which were of course mostly scholars and their students. They knew during what years they lived, and in what cities they lived and so on. Therefore, they can expose inaccuracies in the sanad which prove that the person is lying.

3. The books about the narrators also included information about each narrator such as: how religious he was, if he attended prayers, if his beliefs were correct, if he belonged to any deviant groups, if he was ever known to lie etc. Therefore, after checking the historical accuracy of the sanad (to ensure that every narrator met with the previous one in the chain and so on), the scholars also checked to ensure the character of each narrator.

4. The scholars developed the science of "Al-Jarh wal Ta'deel", also known as "Ilm Ar-Rijal" (the knowledge of men). This basically included the books mentioned earlier which contain a listing of narrators, and information about them. This science allowed scholars to classify narrators into classes based on the strength of their memorization and their Islamic character. Therefore, hadith would be taken only from people with good character who have good memorization. If someone has good memorization but sometimes makes mistakes in memorization, the hadith may be taken but is put into a lower class.

5. Classifying hadith into classes. This includes "motawatir" hadith (narrated by a large number of people in every generation of the chain of narrators), then sahih, hasan, da'eef and finally mawdoo' (fabricated). They depended on the following factors in this classification:

Having a continuous sanad (chain of narrators) with no gaps.

The character of the narrators

The quality of the memorization of the narrators

The matn (wording) of the hadith does not contradict the Qur'an or other sahih hadith.

The hadith does not have any subtle reasons in the sanad that makes it weak (called 'illa in Arabic).

Having other hadith with the same meaning to back the hadith up.

6. Exposing liars and fabricators by letting all Muslims know that they are liars and warning people not to listen to any hadith from them or take their word for anything.

7. Writing books that include "mawdoo' hadith", or fabricated hadith, and proving why they are fabricated. These books are written to warn Muslims from taking such hadith as true.

8. Checking for signs of fabrication in the wording of the hadith. This can include the style of the wording, as the Prophet was known to be extremely eloquent in his wording. It also includes checking that the wording does not contradict the basics of Islam, and that it doesn't contradict things known for sure by the human mind. It also includes checking for historical accuracy if the hadith is reporting an action during a certain time and so on.

10. Conclusion:

In conclusion, after the very quick and brief discussion in this article, we hope that it will be clear to all Muslims that the Sunnah was memorized and written during the time of the Prophet Mohammad, and that it was officially collected very early in Islam. We also hope that Muslims now have a better idea about some of the efforts of the scholars of Islam in ensuring the accuracy of the hadith that they have reported in their books.

Now that we are confident about the Sunnah, the next subject that Muslims should learn about is the "hojjiyat Assunah", or the Authority of the Sunnah. In that discussion, we shall talk about the different types of the Sunnah, and our obligation towards it, and we shall prove that it is obligatory on every Muslim to follow the Sunnah of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh). Please see the link below to visit the article on the "Authority of the Sunnah".

May Allah (swt) guide us all to the right path.
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Exclamation Authority of the Sunnah

One thing that must be mentioned here is that many Muslims get confused between the general term of Sunnah, which includes all the sayings and actions of the Prophet, and between the term Sunnah when used in fiqh issues where it means "recommended". For example, since the Prophet used to pray 2 rak'at before fajr prayer, we say that it is Sunnah for us to pray these 2 rak'at, which means that it is recommended to pray these 2 rak'at and not obligatory.

In this article we are discussing the Sunnah in the general sense, and not in the fiqh sense. We are talking about the Sunnah as a source of Islamic legislation. Therefore, when we say it is obligatory to follow the Sunnah, we are talking about the Prophets commands for us in the Sunnah and not about the recommended actions such as the 2 rak'at before fajr for example. Please make sure that you understand the difference here.

2. What does the Authority of the Sunnah mean?

In Arabic, the wording is Hojjiyat As-Sunnah. This basically means that the Sunnah can be used as evidence in Shariah, and that Allah (swt) has ordered us to follow the Sunnah and avoid anything it has prohibited for us. In other words, this means that it is obligatory on every Muslim to believe in what the Sunnah tells us, and to act according to the Sunnah in all aspects of our life and ensure that we do not commit any actions that contradict the Sunnah.


3. The Sunnah and it's place in relation to the Holy Qur'an:

The Sunnah can be divided into three parts:

Confirming Sunnah. This is the part of the Sunnah that confirms what is in the Qur'an, and reinforces it.

Explanatory Sunnah. This part of the Sunnah explains the holy Qur'an and the various Shariah injunctions that come in the holy Qur'an. It includes four parts: expanding on what is mentioned only briefly in the holy Qur'an, explaining difficult verses or issues, putting limits on general statements in the Qur'an and finally specifying generalities in the Qur'an.

Sunnah that brings new legislation. This part of the Sunnah is the one that brings new legislation, and new Shariah that is not in the holy Qur'an.

4. Evidence of the Authority of the Sunnah from the Qur'an:

Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger, and beware (of evil): if ye do turn back, know ye that it is Our Messenger's duty to proclaim (the Message) in the clearest manner. (5: 92).

O ye who believe! obey Allah, and obey the Messenger, and those charged with authority among you. If ye differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger, if ye do believe in Allah and the Last Day: that is best, and most suitable for final determination. (4: 59).

So take what the Messenger assigns to you, and deny yourselves that which he withholds from you. And fear Allah; for Allah is strict in Punishment. (59: 7).

But no, by thy Lord, they can have no (real) Faith, until they make thee judge in all disputes between them, and find in their souls no resistance against thy decisions, but accept them with the fullest conviction. (4: 65).

But for the Grace of Allah to thee and His Mercy, a party of them would certainly have plotted to lead thee astray. But (in fact) they will only lead their own souls astray, and to thee they can do no harm in the least. For Allah hath sent down to thee the Book and Wisdom and taught thee what thou knewest not (before): and great is the Grace of Allah unto. (4: 113).

Say: "If ye do love Allah, follow me: Allah will love you and forgive you your sins; for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." (3: 31).

Then We put thee on the (right) Way of Religion: so follow thou that (Way), and follow not the desires of those who know not. (45: 18).

He who obeys the Messenger, obeys Allah; but if any turn away, We have not sent thee to watch over their (evil deeds). (4: 80).

Say: "Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger: but if ye turn away, he is only responsible for the duty placed on him and ye for that placed on you. If ye obey him, ye shall be on right guidance. The Messenger's duty is only to preach the clear (Message). (24: 54).

When they are summoned to Allah and His Messenger, in order that He may judge between them, behold, some of them decline (to come). (24: 48).

Deem not the summons of the Messenger among yourselves like the summons of one of you to another: Allah doth know those of you who slip away under shelter of some excuse: then let those beware who withstand the Messenger's order, lest some trial befall them, or a grievous Penalty be inflicted on them. (24: 63).

Ye have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for any one whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who engages much in the praise of Allah. (33: 21).

The verses mentioned here are just some of the verses relating to the authority of the Sunnah of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh). Anyone who has read the holy Qur'an knows that Allah (swt) repeats his command to us to follow the Prophet, and obey him, and stay away from anything that he forbids, many times in the holy Qur'an. All these verses point to the fact that we must abide by and follow the Sunnah, and that we cannot obey Allah (swt) without following the Sunnah because Allah (swt) himself in the holy Qur'an asks us and requires us to follow the Sunnah.




5. Evidence of the Authority of the Sunnah from the Hadith:

Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) has warned us in many hadith of the fact that some people will come who will deny the Sunnah and claim to follow the holy Qur'an only. Subhan Allah, we see this has come true today with some of these deviant groups. Please read the hadith below:

There will be a man to whom my hadith will reach him, while he is sitting comfortably, and he will say between me and you is the book of Allah, whatever we find in it that is halal we will make it halal, and whatever we find in it haram we will make it haram. Then the Prophet says: whatever the messenger of Allah has made haram is as if Allah has made it haram.

All of my Ummah will enter heaven except those who refuse (or reject), so they asked him: oh messenger of Allah, who is the one who refuses? The Prophet said: whoever obeys me will enter heaven and whoever obeys me he has refused.

Do not ask me about what I didn't' mention, because what has caused the destruction of the previous nations was their questioning and disagreement with their Prophets. If I forbid you from doing something, avoid it, and if I order you to do something do as much of it as you possibly can.

May Allah make bright (beautiful, happy) the face of the one who listens to my saying, and he memorizes it, understands it and delivers it to others. How many people may carry knowledge while they are not knowledgeable, and how many people carry knowledge to those who are more knowledgeable than them.

Again the evidence from the Sunnah points to the same fact, which is that it is obligatory for Muslims to follow the Sunnah. We must abide by it, follow its orders and avoid whatever it forbids us from. We cannot claim to be obeying Allah if we do not follow the Sunnah.

6. Evidence of the Authority of the Sunnah from the Consensus of the Scholars:

Since the belief in the authority of the Sunnah is one of the basics of Islam, and one of the foundations of this religion, Muslims have agreed on this fact in the early generations and the later generations as well. This consensus has been reported by many scholars including: Al-Shafi'ee, Ibn Abd Al-Barr, Ibn Hazm, Ibn Taymiyah and Ibn Al-Qayyim.

No Muslim scholar has raised any doubt about the authority of the Sunnah as a source of Shariah. The only doubts were raised by deviant groups who obviously had very little knowledge of Islam, because the overwhelming evidence of the Qur'an and the Sunnah clearly settles this issue. These deviant groups simply wanted to create a new Shariah based on their own opinions and desires. Therefore, they wanted to destroy the Sunnah which is a major source of the Shariah in order to replace it with whatever they want. We will discuss these deviant groups in more detail later on.

7. The Sunnah is Part of the wahy (Revelation from Allah):

The Sunnah can be divided in this regard into the following parts:

A part that was directly revealed to the Prophet by meaning only (the part revealed by exact wording is the holy Qur'an).


A part that the Prophet said or did out of his own with no revelation, and this part is divided into 2 sub-parts:


Either the revelation asserts the action or saying of the Prophet, and in this case it becomes the same as the part that was directly revealed to the Prophet.


Or the revelation comes with an alternative idea to what the Prophet said or did, and in this case we take the revelation and work by it.

Therefore, as we can see that with regard to anything related to the religion of Islam, the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) is immune from making a mistake (ma'soom). This means that the entire Sunnah of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) is according to the will of Allah (swt), since it is either directly revealed by Allah (swt), or it is asserted by Allah (swt), or else it has been corrected by the revelation from Allah (swt).

This is obvious to any Muslim, after all, Allah (swt) has promised to protect this message, the message of Islam. And it is not possible for Allah (swt) to allow the messenger who is delivering His message to make any mistake in delivering it, otherwise it would not be protected.

The following is some evidence from the holy Qur'an that the Sunnah is part of the revelation and that the Prophet does not make mistakes in delivering the message of Allah (swt):

Your Companion is neither astray nor being misled, Nor does he say (aught) of (his own) Desire. It is no less than inspiration sent down to him. (53: 2-4)

He who obeys the Messenger, obeys Allah; but if any turn away, We have not sent thee to watch over their (evil deeds). (4: 80)

In fact, all of the verses we mentioned above to prove the authority of the Sunnah are evidence that the Sunnah is indeed from Allah (swt). After all, since Allah (swt) requires us to follow the Sunnah, then it must be from the revelation of Allah (swt). And in all cases, we are required to follow it and therefore it is equivalent in its importance to the revelation.

8. Impossible to rely solely on the holy Qur'an:

In addition to all what was mentioned above, any rational Muslim who has the slightest knowledge about the Qur'an and the Sunnah knows that most of the details of the religion of Islam were revealed to us through the Sunnah and not through the holy Qur'an. For example, the holy Qur'an mentions in many places that Muslims should pray, and perform rukoo' and sujood. However, without the Sunnah of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh), we would be unable to perform the prayers since all the details of how to pray are from the Sunnah and not the Qur'an.

This obviously proves that part of the revelation came to the Prophet by meaning only, and it includes such things as how to pray. The Prophet ordered us to pray as we have seen him pray, and the Prophet must have learned this through revelation from Allah (swt). In addition to prayers, also the details of the zakat were revealed in the Sunnah and not the Qur'an.

Therefore, if anyone from those deviant groups tells you they only follow the Qur'an and not the Sunnah, you should ask them immediately if they pray. If they say yes they do pray, then tell this ignorant person that they are following the Sunnah in praying as the Qur'an does not describe any of the details of the prayers. In fact, almost all matters of fiqh rely very heavily on the Sunnah especially for the details. The holy Qur'an only mentions general statements, and they are explained in the Sunnah in detail.

Finally, there are many verses of the holy Qur'an that were explained to us by the hadith from the Prophet. Without the hadith, we would lose large parts of the Qur'an because we have no way of understanding it. After all, didn't Allah (swt) reveal the following verse:

"Move not thy tongue concerning the (Qur'an) to make haste therewith. It is for Us to collect it and to promulgate it: But when We have promulgated it, follow thou its recital (as promulgated): Nay more, it is for Us to explain it (and make it clear)." (75: 16-19).

In these verses, Allah (swt) is instructing Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) not to hurry by repeating the Qur'an as it is being revealed to him. Allah tells the Prophet that it is up to Him to collect it into the Prophet's heart and make him read it as it was revealed to him. Allah further instructs the Prophet that if it is being revealed to you, then just listen to it. Finally Allah says: and then it is up to us to make its meaning clear to you.

The mofassireen (scholars who explain the verses of the Qur'an) have said that Allah is telling the Prophet that the meanings of the verses being revealed to him will be explained to the Prophet and their meanings will be made clear to him in his heart.

This verse makes it clear that Allah (swt) did not simply reveal the words of the verses of the holy Qur'an to the Prophet. Allah (swt) also revealed the meanings of these verses into the heart of the Prophet. Therefore, the hadith of the Prophet in explaining the verses of the Qur'an is part of the revelation of the Qur'an. However rejects the Sunnah is rejecting part of the revelation.



9. The Ruling on those who Deny the Authority of the Sunnah:

The scholars of Islam have agreed that the one who denies the authority of the Sunnah and rejects it and its rulings has committed kufr disbelief, and that he is no longer within the realm of Islam, and that his prayers, fasting and zakat are of no benefit to him.

The scholars of Islam have very detailed rulings in this regard, but we will not mention them here in order not to make this too long. However, it is very easy to find in any basic book about the Sunnah and the Authority of the Sunnah. Among the scholars who have made this ruling are: Ibn Hazm, Ayoub Al-Sikhtiany, Imam Al-Shatibi, Imam Al-Soyooti, Imam Al-Shawkani and others.

Some of the verses of the Qur'an that provide evidence about this ruling:

But no, by thy Lord, they can have no (real) Faith, until they make thee judge in all disputes between them, and find in their souls no resistance against thy decisions, but accept them with the fullest conviction. (4: 65).

When it is said to them: "Come to what Allah hath revealed, and to the Messenger": thou seest the Hypocrites avert their faces from thee in disgust. (4: 61).

Say: "Obey Allah and His Messenger": but if they turn back, Allah loveth not those who reject Faith. (3: 32).

It is not fitting for a Believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah and His Messenger, to have any option about their decision: if anyone disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he is indeed on a clearly wrong Path. (33: 35).

So take what the Messenger assigns to you, and deny yourselves that which he withholds from you. And fear Allah; for Allah is strict in Punishment. (59: 7).

Therefore it is clear to any Muslims, after reading these verses of the holy Qur'an, that obedience of the Prophet is indeed obedience of Allah (swt). It is also clear that Allah (swt) has said that people will not believe until they judge in all disputes according to the judgment of the Prophet, and they should not have any doubts about the Prophet's decision and judgment.

May Allah (swt) save us from being misguided, and may Allah (swt) guide those people who fell into this misguidance back into the fold of Islam. If they do not repent, not even their prayers, fasting or zakat will help them since they are rejecting the clear commands of Allah (swt).



10. Conclusion:

In this article we have discussed the meaning of the authority of the Sunnah. We said that this authority means that the Sunnah can be taken as evidence in all matter of religion in Islam. We also said that this authority means that it is obligatory for us to follow all commands in the Sunnah, and it is obligatory for us to avoid everything forbidden by the Sunnah.

We also discussed the fact that many fiqh scholars use the term Sunnah to describe recommended actions. As we know all actions have one of five rulings: obligatory, recommended, allowed, disliked and forbidden. Some fiqh scholars use the term Sunnah for recommended actions because these are actions the prophet used to do but did not command the Muslims to do. These include praying 2 rak'at before fajr, and 2 after maghrib and so on. However, the Sunnah in general is the sayings and actions of the Prophet, and it is a source of shariah legislation. This is the Sunnah that we mean in our discussion.

We then discussed the evidence of the authority of the Sunnah from the holy Qur'an, the Sunnah and the consensus of the scholars. We then mentioned that the Sunnah is part of the revelation from Allah (swt), and we proved this by saying that for example we pray according to the Sunnah, and obviously our method of prayer was a revelation. We then continued to prove that the Sunnah is part of the revelation by proving that it is impossible to be a Muslim and rely solely on the holy Qur'an.

Finally, we also mentioned the ruling on those who reject the authority of the Sunnah, and we said that the scholars of Islam have agreed that their ruling is that they have committed an act of disbelief and that they are no longer in the realm of Islam. Their prayers, fasting and zakat cannot help them as they have rejected a main source of these forms of worship, the Sunnah.

May Allah (swt) guide us all to the right path.
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