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You are here: Home > Islam-myths > Hadith and Sunnah>Hadith & Sunnah

Hadith and Sunnah

What are Hadith and Sunnah?

Simply put, Hadith and Sunnah as accepted by traditional Muslims are the words and deeds attributed to the prophet Muhammad. Hadith began as oral traditions handed down for more than a hundred years after the death of Muhammad in 632 AD. Eventually these oral traditions were written down and collected into volumes by various scholars. These collections became a source of religious law and doctrine to be used in conjunction with the Quran. In the example below, the writer states that Hadith and Sunnah are indispensable and that one cannot practice Islam without consulting both of them:

“the Arabic word Sunnah has come to denote the way Prophet Muhammad (S), the Messenger of Allah, lived his life. The Sunnah is the second source of Islamic jurisprudence, the first being the Qur’an. Both sources are indispensable; one cannot practice Islam without consulting both of them. The Arabic word hadith (pl. à hadith) is very similar to Sunnah, but not identical. A hadith is a narration about the life of the Prophet (S) or what he approved - as opposed to his life itself, which is the Sunnah as already mentioned.


Who follows Hadith and Sunnah?

Most traditional Muslims believe that in order to understand and follow the Quran, they must also follow the body of work known as Hadith and Sunnah. Since the death of Muhammad, Islam has broken into sects, a practice condemned in the Quran [6:159]. There are a number of sects but this section will identify two main sects, each with their own collections of “authentic” Hadith and Sunna.

Sunni Muslims

Imam Bukhari (d. 870) collected 7,275 hadiths into a collection called Sahih Bukhari
Muslim b. al-Hajjaj (d. 875) collected some 9200 hadiths into a collection called Sahih Muslim
There are four other collections of lesser significance:

o Sunan Abi Da’ud, collected by Abu Da’ud (d. 888)
o Sunan al’Tirmidhi, collected by al-Tirmidhi (d. 892)
o Sunan al-Sughra, collected by al-Nasa’I (d. 915)
o Sunan Ibn Maja, collected by Ibn Maja (d. 886)

Shi’a Muslims

Usul al-Kafi
Mun La YahDuruHu al-Faqeeh
Nahjal-Balagha (written in the 10th century)

There are numerous contradictions between collections, and even contradictions within a collection. While many of the sayings in these collections may seem innocent enough, even appearing to be in agreement with the Quran, there are many sayings that are appalling to the point of being perverse, going into details with regard to the prophet’s private life, such as his sex life. It is worth noting that in the Quran, the wives of the prophet were forbidden from remarrying after his death [33:53]. The commonsense conclusion is that the private details of the prophet’s life were intended to remain private, and not become the subject of conjecture in the form of Hadith.

[33:53] O you who believe, do not enter the prophet's homes unless you are given permission to eat, nor shall you force such an invitation in any manner. If you are invited, you may enter. When you finish eating, you shall leave; do not engage him in lengthy conversations. ….You shall not marry his wives after him, for this would be a gross offense in the sight of GOD.

Additionally, many of these sayings prohibit things not prohibited in the Quran.

Some of the sayings and deeds attributed to the prophet are so offensive, that the critics of Islam can hardly be blamed for their harsh critiques. Muslims are as much responsible for maligning the religion as the opponents of Islam.

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