Dr Wasim Ahmad
Department Head of Islamic Studies
Preston University Ajman
Very often we come across debates about Hadeeth. A section among us believes that there is no need to refer to Ahaadeeth at all as Qur’an is sufficient. There is no denying the fact that Qur’an is complete. There are some inconsistencies in the position of those who ignore the Ahaadeeth, however. In numerous verses Qur’an says, “Indeed in it are signs for those who reflect”. The word ‘aayaat’ is plural and indefinite. When Qur’an asks us to reflect on its aayaat in so many verses does it mean that Qur’an is incomplete? It means there is something more to discover after reflection. Why there is something more to discover if it is ‘complete’ (in our sense of the word)? Qur’an is complete but it asks us to find out Signs within and in the universe. Qur’an cites history for learning lessons from it. Do we assume that only the cited incidents of history we could learn from or we could learn from other incidents of history, too, which are not mentioned in Qur’an? Should our future generations not learn anything from that past (history) of them which is still future and unknown to us and not mentioned in Qur’an? How will we understand the ‘completeness’ of Qur’an?
Qur’an is complete but not in the presumed incomplete sense of some of us. It is complete in the sense that it gives the complete picture. All the bits and pieces of information that we may gather from a) the Universe, b) the man himself and c) the history will be put in order and in a coherent manner by Qur’an so as to make the whole picture and the complete sense. It is complete in the sense that it will give a collective meaning to all those parts which otherwise we may not be able to find any reason behind or justify their existence including ours. It is complete in the sense that it will ultimately serve as the Criterion (al-Furqaan) when we have exhausted all other options. Its completeness lies in increased and intensified search and research for the completeness and not in abruptly discontinuing the search and research for completeness. But then we won’t allow anyone else to learn wrong lessons from right stories.
Qur’an is complete and we have a complete head, too, on our shoulders and buy a complete set of Encyclopaedia Britannica. Qur’an is complete but we build libraries in our educational institutions. Qur’an is complete but we watch many TV channels everyday and read many newspapers and magazines. Qur’an is complete but still we are reading this write-up. We shouldn’t be doing any of the above because Qur’an is complete. We don’t do that and still don’t notice the anomaly and the self-contradiction. We have gradually turned the blessings into curse. We oppose light while we should actually be searching for it madly. It surprises me that we want to allow the light to come in from thousand and one windows but oppose the flood light coming in from one specific window. We especially oppose that window which is actually the widest and is directly facing the sun!
The rejection of Hadeeth, however, saves one from the difficult tasks of analysis, reconciliation, relating and application etc. In other words it saves one from the toughest job on earth: THINKING. It has the same reason as does our blind following of one individual scholar. In both the cases we are not challenged. In both the cases we are extremely relaxed. In both the cases we enjoy a luxury which we cannot afford. In both the cases we grope in the dark. In both the cases we move in a cyclic manner and aren’t able to forge ahead – breaking the cycle. In both the cases we are not able to define what our legacy is and what not. In both the cases we keep spinning and spinning in the same place facing the same kind of situations and questions always. In both the cases we waste a lot of our energy and resources and keep reinventing the same wheel.
The rejecters of Hadeeth will believe any stranger for showing them the way to a destination when in an unknown area. They will follow every signboard in every lane and by-lane. They will narrate proverbs and the wisdom from ages and sages – and most deservedly and rightfully so. They will give references from newspapers and books and various other sources and resources. They will get inspired by the legacy of many illustrious human beings and will rightfully motivate their children and students by eminent personalities from history. They will listen to speeches from many speakers and will benefit from the research of many authors. How will you or your children progress through life otherwise?
Those who do not want to benefit at all from Ahaadeeth do not mind taking whatever they can from Plato, Socrates, Aristotle and many more writers and experts in various fields. When it comes to taking from the Last Prophet (pbuh), however, they become extremely hesitant. This selective resistance is what raises many questions. We all might agree that one could learn from the most ignorant. One can learn patience from the impatient and reasonableness from the irrational. We can learn good manners (like Shaikh Sa‘di Shirazi did) from the ill-mannered. Then why can’t and shouldn’t we learn whatever we can from the Prophet (pbuh) – the Mu‘allim?
I would like to know from those among us who reject Ahaadeeth if we should stop exchanging gifts because the Prophet (pbuh) has advised us for it and we don’t believe in Ahaadeeth? If we still exchange gifts what will be our justification? If we argue that it is in the sound human nature to exchange pleasantries for strengthening human relations and for bringing warmth then what if the Prophet (pbuh) has given expression to many more such things – for obvious reasons – which are in the sound human nature and which we may not have been able to give expression to? Will you not do any of those things which the Prophet (pbuh) has asked in any of his sayings no matter how much in accordance with the sound human nature they may be?
The rejecters of Hadeeth will work in various Organizations and different fields of life with relevant prior qualifications. They will keep learning from their seniors and from their own mistakes knowing very well that they have to be open to learning for upward movement in their professions. They will thank everybody for sharing a piece of information and letting them know what they did not. But they will selectively refuse to accept anything from Muhammad (pbuh) in the form of Ahaadeeth. They will exclusively avoid him. Without noticing the self-contradiction at every step of their life.
There are those among us who do not take anything from the one who had the whole picture. Who knew where the man has come from, where he is going to and what he is expected to do on earth. But these very people might be and actually are taking a lot from many who are not sure where the man has come from, where is he going to and what should he be doing on earth. Yes, one could be as strict in checking the veracity of a given Hadeeth as possible according to the principles of Hadeeth and historical criticism. This, too, will be in keeping with the spirit of the message of the Prophet (pbuh) himself:
socha tha tujh se door chalay jaa’ay(n)ge kahee(n)
dekhaa to har maqaam teri rahguzar mei(n) hai
The tendency, however, to ignore Ahaadeeth (irrespective of their authenticity or otherwise) indicates the fact that our thinking is atomistic and incoherent – as different from holistic and coherent. We haven’t developed the cosmic view which Qur’an inculcates and which teaches us to relate one thing with the other in order to develop the whole picture. Because science is bereft of the complete picture, it symbolizes a disjointed outlook. Science is a wonderful tool if we are aware of the limitation of science. The atomistic outlook, however, has become the common outlook. The rejection of Ahaadeeth is the symptom, therefore. The disease is our incoherent and disorganized thoughts. Let us resolve to seek organization and coherence in our thoughts. It will automatically remove many fallacies.