22
May
07

ATTITUDE OF THE FOUR CALIPHS TOWARD THE HADITHS

Those who have acknowledged the existence of books other than the Quran as sources for Islam in the belief that the Quran was not self-sufficient, and who have tried to understand Islam basing this on the hadiths, think that the happiest period of Islam was in fact the period during which the Prophet reigned and next to it the period of the Four Caliphs that followed it. However, their behavior has betrayed their speculative approach. It is a fact that the Four Caliphs banned the copying of all hadiths and did everything to thwart the attempts to copy. What is more, the time was the period after the death of the Prophet. Had they so wanted, they could have collected an infinite number of hadiths, and the result would have been much more reliable, given the fact that they would have obtained their information from the people who had seen and talked to the Prophet. What they did, however, was to outlaw the creation of sources next to the Quran. It may be worthwhile to quote here the remark of Darekutni, the celebrated hadith transmitter: “A sound hadith among those invented is like the only white hair on the skin of a black ox.” A time came when the number of invented hadiths exceeded the genuine ones. The most renowned book of hadiths came out in the period when the political, material and moral interests had prevailed. The authors were certainly oblivious to the Four Caliphs’ approach to the issue. Although the said Four Caliphs are an object of praise today, they ignored their attitude toward the hadiths:

Abu Bakr gathered the public after the death of the Prophet and addressed them thus: “You are transmitting conflicting hadiths that clash with the sayings of the Prophet. The persons to come after you will be in a worse predicament. Transmit no hadiths from God’s messenger. Speak to those who would like you to transmit hadiths in the following way: “Behold! God’s book is with us, abide by what has been made lawful for you therein and avoid what has been prohibited.”
Zahabi, Tezkiratul Huffaz, Bukhari

As we see, Abu Bakr, the first Caliph, was resolute about the prohibition of writing down hadiths. He made no distinction between the true and the fabricated hadiths. It is advisable to remind our readers that this approach by the Caliph is all the more meaningful if we consider that at the time there were still people living who had been a witness to the Prophet’s acts and sayings. The attitude of Omar was no different. He was even more rigid in his approach.

OMAR’S CHASTISEMENT OF FABRICATORS

Omar wrote letters to the Prophet’s companions, who lived in other cities, asking them to destroy all the copies of hadiths in their hands.
Ibn Abdil Berr, Camiul Bayanil Ilm ve Fazluhu.

There was a remarkable increase in the number of hadiths during the caliphate of Omar. Omar desired that all the pages on which were written the hadiths that were in the hands of the public be brought to him. Then he ordered that they be destroyed, saying: “These are like the Mishnah of the Jewish people.”
Ibn Sad- Tabakat

Omar drew a parallel between the Mishnah that had contributed to the corruption of Judaism and the hadiths. Not being satisfied by mere speculation, he had them destroyed. According to our estimate, the hadiths was quite probably more correct compared to those we find today in the books of Bukhari and Muslim. To begin with, the persons who had known the Prophet were still alive and no political dissensions had yet started.

Let us ask the defenders of traditional Islam if Omar had not loved and respected the Prophet. If their answer would be affirmative, they should not challenge then the defenders of the self-sufficiency of Islam. Otherwise, they should also level criticism at Omar who had the hadiths burned. There is no doubt that Omar held the Prophet in affection, but he had got the message of the Quran and the essence of Islam. His burning of the hadiths was not a sign of disrespect toward him; quite the reverse was his attitude, one of profoundest respect in fact. He knew that the Prophet himself had banned the copying of his sayingsas the Quran was self-sufficient and included everything a man should know. He tried to protect Islam against Mishnah and the acts wrongly attributed to Omar. People nowadays who praise Omar believe that to abide by the hadiths is to respect the Prophet. They are more Catholic than the pope, as they say in the West, and far removed from the Quran. In the next chapter we shall see the strong reaction of Omar against such people as Abu Hurayra and Kab who had transmitted innumerable hadiths (see Chapter 12.)

Omar said to his friend who went on a journey to Iraq: “You are going to a country where the population recites the Quran like busy bees; so do not divert them from their true path with hadiths.”
Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Kitabul Ilal

Omar spoke thus: “Remember those that went before you, they had books written and abandoned God’s Book. I shall not allow anyone to compare any book with the Quran”. In another instance he had said: “I will not exchange any book for the Quran.” Yet, on another occasion, he had announced: “By God, I shall not let any book cast a shadow on the Quran.”
Al Hatib, Takyidul Ilm; Ibn Sad, Tabakat.

Omar carried on his reaction against Abu Hurayra and Kab who continued transmitting hadiths.

PROMINENT COMPANIONS OF THE PROPHET WAGED WAR AGAINST TRANSMITTERS OF HADITHS

Othman threatened Abu Hurayra with exiling him to the Desh Mountains and Kab to the Kýrada Mountains.
Tahzýrul Havas

Many companions of the Prophet other then the Four Caliphs, both during the period of the Four Caliphs and thereafter, adopted the same attitude toward the hadiths. Ibn Abbas and Abdullah bin Mesud were among them:

Sheddad asked Ibn Abbas whether the Prophet had left anything behind and the answer was: “Only what are inscribed between the pages on the Quran.”
Bukhari K. Fezailul Qura; Muslim K. Fezailus Sahabe, Abu Davud K. Fiten, Tirmizi K. Fiten.

Ibn Abbas used to say, regarding the prohibition of copying the hadiths: “The communities before you swerved from the right path because of books they wrote like yours.”
Ibn Abdul Berr, Camiul Beyanil ilm

A page on which were written hadiths happened to be in the hands of Abdullah b. Masud. He asked for some water with which he washed away what was written on it, then he ordered it burned saying: “Anyone who would report to me the place where a hadith is kept, I would go there, even as far as India, to destroy it.”
Aby Rayya, Enlightment of the Muhammedan Sunna.

If the hadiths were to be a source of Islam, they should have been preserved; but the fact proved to be different. The hadiths were burned and the self-sufficiency of the Quran was announced. The behavior of those who pay tribute to the companions of the Prophet and the attitude adopted by the companions themselves plainly clash. Those who oppose the prohibition of copying the hadiths, whose reaction runs counter to the approach of the companions, have created a mechanism that puts a forced construction on the hadiths. Yet, this outcry cannot obliterate the fact that not even a single page of hadiths has come down to us from the Four Caliphs’ period. The words spoken by the Caliphs above and the companions of the Prophet and the fact that none of them wrote any such books prove beyond doubt that all our arguments are valid.

ALI THE CALIPH HAD HADITH PAGES DESTROYED

We hope that the reaction of Ali will induce the Shiites, Alawis and other sects to return to the unique source of Islam, the Quran.

Ali pronounced the following khutba, (sermon delivered at the noon prayer on Friday): “Those who have about them pages of hadiths, destroy them. For, what causes havoc among people is their abandonment of the Quran, and in abiding by the injunctions of the scholars.”
Ibn Abdul Berr, Camiyul Beyanul Ilm

They came to report to Ali and said: “The public is engrossed in hadiths.” “Is that so?” asked Ali. The answer was in the affirmative. “I had heard the Prophet say that a mischievous dissension seemed to lurk ahead.” I asked him what could that be and he replied: “The salvation is in the Quran. Those that went before you and those that will come after you are within reach of the Quran, the Book that settles all disputes; it is no joke, mind you. Anyone who abandons It will be subject to the wrath of God. Anyone seeking a truer path will go astray. It is the infallible rope of God. It is full of wisdom. It leads man along the right path. It is the Book that will surely lead youin the right direction;, scholars will never be able to embrace it totally, a Book with inexhaustible riches.”
Sunnan-i Tirmizi/Darimi

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3 Responses to “ATTITUDE OF THE FOUR CALIPHS TOWARD THE HADITHS”


  1. 1 Adamu
    March 23, 2008 at 10:18 am

    How then are we to perform acts of ibadat which are not explicitly mentioned in the Qurán like the steps in salat, how many rakat to pray, what to recite, when to terminate, etc

  2. 2 Noe
    January 7, 2009 at 6:28 am

    tzDtPITOWYjHn

  3. 3 mukto pakhi
    February 22, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    Just curious: If you don’t belive in any hadith, then why do you quote hadith from Bukhari etc. to prove that the imams did not want hadith to be written down/distributed??


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