If you turn away, then you should know that the sole function of our messenger is to deliver the message. To Him belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth. There is no God except He. He grants life and death. This has been shown by solid historical evidence. Moreover, the Quran pronounced this fact as well when God stated several times that the function of the messenger was only to deliver the message.

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He taught Malay language and literature for a time in the London School of Oriental and African Studies and then in a secondary school in Penang where he has been staying with his family since He has written several books on Malay literature as well as on Islamic subjects.

In Islam, there is no Church. However, the common knowledge, the established notions and the popular creed play the role of an intellectual and ideological Church which denies freedom of thought and shackles free intellectual development. The publication of such book in English does not represent any difficulty, either to the author, or to the public. Many authors in the last four centuries tackled the question of authenticity of the scriptures, Old and New Testaments, expressing much doubt about their historical authenticity.

The public became accustomed to such critiques of sources applied in Biblical criticism in modern times. It was a big debate behind the Protestant rift, postulating Sola Scriptura.

Notions of historical authenticity, narratives, oral tradition, revelation and inspiration became very familiar to the public in religious and literary studies. The main thesis of the book is that Hadith has been compiled without permission, either from the prophet, or from the four Righteous Caliphs for fear of confusing it with the Quran, the first source of Islam.

Because of the power struggles between different political factions, each pretender legitimized his claim by recourse to a saying of Prophet Muhammad in his favor.

Pious Muslims such as Bukhari and Muslim tried to collect these sayings after verifying their authenticity. Even then, they were not free from prejudice, in favor of the established authority, the Sunnites. Gradually, people forgot the Quran as the first source of Islam in favor of the Hadith, the second source. Since many of Hadith narratives contradict the Quran and even contradict themselves, the necessity to criticize the Hadith emerges as a prerequisite for any socio-political change.

Most of these unauthentic narratives are more stringent, binding and compulsory. The Quran in such topics is more lenient.

The Hadith debate is not new. It is already known in Western Orientalism since the last century and in contemporary Islamic thought. Since Orientalists denied Islamic Revelation, not only the Hadith but also the Quran, and since they have been accustomed to Biblical criticism, they applied the same rules to prophetic narratives in Islam.

Western public got used to this criticism since revelation and inspiration are the same. Christ is God, the Apostle is the writer. The ideas are inspired by the Holy Spirit while the words are chosen by the Apostle himself. Words can change according to the language, the education and the culture of the writer, while ideas remain the same.

Narratives developed in history as personal witnesses. The narration is not a recording-machine, a simple transmitter of a message, but a living witness. Historical authenticity requiring a concordance in the message between the enunciator and the auditor is a mechanical notion of reporting. In the case of the Gospel, the writer understands, interprets and creates the message.

The message becomes better transmitted, understood and communicated. The message is motivated by the intentions of the narrator, expressing his level of education and culture and revealing his loyalty to this or that group in the power struggle among the early disciples before Nicaea-I.

Maturation or deviation, creativity or inauthenticity, development or falsification? Judeo-Christian tradition chose the first answer while Islam chose the second. Since Hadith went in a similar way as the Jewish and Christian scriptures, it has been judged as an unauthentic historical deviation.

Modern Arab and Muslim thinkers and reformers such as Syed Qutb have been accused of minimizing the role of the Hadith in favor of the Quran, irrespective of their motives, either similar or different from the Orientalists. Modern thinkers did not deny revelation, but they tried to liberate Muslim societies from dogmatic and rigid adherence to the texts and calling for Ijtihad, based on the spirit of Islam and the universal intentions of the Law.

The general guidelines of the Quran help more than the details of the Hadith. The Asl has a more liberating power than the Fard.

Many of the harmful laws and superstitious beliefs come from the unauthentic prophetic narratives. The Hadith diverges while the Quran converges. Ancient scholars were aware of this problem of the historical authenticity or inauthenticity of the narratives. The Quran has been preserved in writing since the moment of its utterance. It has been collected, compared and standardized during the era of Othman, the fourth caliph.

The Quran did not go through a period of oral transmission such as the Hadith. Ancient scholars invented a whole discipline, the science of Hadith to put some rules to verify the authenticity of the Hadith in history. First, the analysis of the terms of the report into five degrees of certitude, from the more certain to the less certain, guarantees the direct testimony as the high degree of witnessing: I heard; He said; He ordered; He ordered us; They did. Second, the multilateral report , the Mutawatir, is the highest degree of authenticity concerning the chain of reporters.

It is the one transmitted by several reporters with four conditions, namely, first, a sufficient number which gives the certitude of authenticity and takes away all doubts; second, the independence of reporters from each other to prevent any possibility of connivance; third, the homogeneity of expression of the report in time through generations without oscillation between the well-known and the unknown; fourth, the concordance of the report with sensory evidence, with reason and with the course of events and the laws of nature to prevent mythological and superstitious infiltrations.

Third, the unilateral report, Wahid, is that one which fails one of the four previous conditions. It is hypothetical in knowledge but apodictic in action, while the multilateral report is apodictic in both knowledge and action. The authenticity of the unilateral report is guaranteed by the analysis of the consciousness of the reporter to verify its neutrality and objectivity, such as justice, unity, maturity, intelligence, good hearing and memory and speech ability, since a report is the passage from hearing to memorizing and finally to communicating.

Fourth, the transmission can be both written and oral, from hand to hand, and from mouth to mouth. The master can permit the disciple to report from this book handed to him Munawala. The disciple can read from the book and the master agrees Ijaza.

This rule of written transmission excludes any possibility of alteration on falsification of the document. Fifth, the report is not only the chain of reporters Sanad but also the report itself Matn. The highest degree of certainty is the literal report, the message with the same words.

If the message is transmitted in different words, with addition or omission, it becomes hypothetical. In short, the whole science of Hadith aims to verify the historical authenticity of the narratives. The whole theory is based on a tripartite division of the Hadith: Authentic, Unauthentic and Undecided, on which judgement is suspended. Ancient scholars, studying the Quran, also conceived the theory of abrogation and considered the development of the text and the historical contexts of the Quran and the Hadith.

The later texts cancel the earlier texts as a source of law. If this is the work of ancient scholars, what is the need to use Western culture as a system of reference? Is the book intended for Western readers to understand Muslim modernists, publicized in Western mass-media for fame? Western intellectual framework makes the thinker liable to be accused of Westernization and consequently of being uprooted from his own traditional culture. More knowledge of the ancient Hadith discipline and a deeper knowledge of Arabic help the modernist in expressing his case.

No modernism is possible without digging deeper into the tradition. Modernism comes from within not from without. That is why the introduction of the book on the crisis of the age is off-target. Which age? Western age or Malaysian-Muslim age?

The end of the twentieth century or the beginning of the fifteenth century? Peoples and cultures do not live in the same historical periods. The constant reference to the Western culture as a frame of reference gives the impression that the main problematic of the book is a Western one.

Biblical criticism is very common in the West because the Judeo-Christian scriptures passed through a period of oral transmission. The author refers constantly to Biblical criticism, to Western bibliography more than to Hadith studies and Islamic bibliography. Maybe the lack of knowledge of Arabic is an obstacle to dig in the classical sources and to use accurate Arabic technical vocabulary. The Christian calendar is more used than the Islamic one.

The Islamic calendar was only used for the compilers of the Hadith. Only once both calendars were used, i. Goldin, deviations of Christian fathers after Christ as a model of Muslim deviants after Mohammed, Christ seen as God by the Christians. Western cultural developments appear visibly in the book: the birth of modern secularism in Europe and its failure; European awareness of the importance of freedom of thought following the Arabs and their struggle for it, a model for the Muslims nowadays to follow; European success in pioneering science and technology; the opposition between religion and science in the 19th century as a model of the opposition between Hadith and science; European liberation from the authority of the Church and the establishment of Kantian principle, "Dare to Know," Western skepticism concerning the authenticity of the scripture, etc.

The author refers to many proper names, sociologists, such as Sorokin, and his book The Crisis of Our Age; doctors, like Maurice Bucaille, the French physician, member of the French academy of science, poets such as Yeats and T. Eliot, with quotations from their poems, and novelists, such as Dostoyevsky, Camus and Sartre.

Technically speaking, from within the science of Hadith, taking Islamic culture as a frame of reference, the following points can be made: 1. There is no general stand, accepting Hadith or rejecting it. There is only such stand concerning certain Hadith oscillating between authenticity and inauthenticity.

The authentic Hadith is accepted, while the unauthentic is rejected, according to the tripartite division of Hadith.

There is no general acceptance or rejection of the whole Hadith, but of special hadiths concerning certain topics contrary to the Quran or to Hadith itself. Other hadiths are well-taken such as "No testament for the inheritor," "There is zakat in the sheep in pasture. The Hadith is not only of two kind: authentic and unauthentic but it has different degrees of authenticity concerning the report Matn and the chain Sanad. The literal report is more authentic than the free quotation.

The multilateral is more authentic than the unilateral. The inference is based on the generalization of judgement from the part to the whole. The whole Hadith is discredited because of one discredited hadith. A better inference is the rejection of an unauthentic hadith because it is unauthentic, case by case, not as a whole. The authentic hadith cannot be rejected. The probable hadith can be accommodated with the authentic hadith and the Quran by many devices: abrogation, particularization, exception, restriction, interpretation, etc.

The critique of the Hadith is one thing and its rejection is something else. Ancient and modern scholars criticized the Hadith in order to purify it from the unauthentic narratives.


Hadith: A Re-evaluation

In it he writes that the hadith books in Shia and Sunni Islam were introduced without any authoritative basis. It claims that the hadith books were not endorsed by Muhammad, nor by the first four caliphs, nor by the Quran. The book makes the case for Quranism , a minority sect in Islam. Author[ edit ] Kassim Ahmed was born in in Kedah , Malaysia.


Hadith A Re-Evaluation By Kassim Ahmad


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