Before we touch upon the merits and virtues of the science of Hadith and what relates to it, it is necessary to explain why the Ahadith were compiled from the blessed era of the Companions till this date and how was the process of compilation?
A very brief insight into this is that the blessed era of the Messenger of Allah was the time when the verses of the Holy Qur’an were being revealed. because the most important task in this era was the collection of these verses and preserving this Divine trust, this was why the Messenger of Allah emphasised over and over again that the Companions compile and write only the verses of the Holy Qur’an – nothing else. This was so that no confusion be made if anything besides the Holy Qur’an would also be recorded.
However, permission was given to memorise, record, preserve and then transmit the Ahadith by tongue. Imam Muslim narrates from Hadrat Abu Sa’id al-Khudri, who reports that the Messenger of Allah has stated, “No one should write my speech. Whosoever has written anything beside the Qur’an should eliminate it; and transmit my Ahadith verbally; there is no harm in doing so. Whosoever attributes a lie to me, then he should prepare for himself an abode in the fire of Hell.”
on top of this, there were some Companions – who had full certainty not to confuse the Verses of the Holy Qur’an from the reported speech of the Messenger of Allah – who wrote the Ahadith.
Imam al-Bukhari narrates on the authority of Hadrat Abu Hurairah who states, “There was none from among the Companions who narrated the most Ahadith except for Hadrat ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr (ibn al-‘As); as he used to record them by writing them down, and I did not do that.”
When all of the verses of the Holy Qur’an – some that were written on separate pieces of paper, some on leaves, some on slates, some on deer skin, some that were memorised in the hearts – were collected and compiled into one book form during the blessed era of Hadrat ‘Umar al-Faruq and Hadrat ‘Uthman; and all of the copies of the Holy Qur’an were distributed far and wide to many different countries, by which there was no concern for the verses of the Holy Qur’an being confused with the reported speech (Ahadith) of the Messenger of Allah, the process of collecting, compiling and writing the Ahadith began in the era of the Righteous Caliph ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz upon his suggestion.
The editor of Imam Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti’s commentary on the Alfiyyah states in the introduction that, “when Hadrat ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz was given the responsibility of being a Caliph in the year 99 A.H. he wrote to Hadrat Abu Bakr ibn Hazm – the Shaikh of the Imams Ma’mar, Laith, Awza’i, Malik, ibn Ishaq and Ibn Abi Dhi’b and also the vice of the Caliph in the Court of Justice of al-Madinah al-Munawwarah – to collect and compile all the Ahadith of the Messenger of Allah, as he feared (sacred) knowledge becoming extinct, and the demise of the possessors of this knowledge – the ‘Ulema.” [Introduction to the Alfiyyah – Page 5]
Not only this, but in fact, Hadrat ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz wrote to all those far and wide to collect and compile any Hadith of the Messenger of Allah, they find. [Tarikh Isfahan – Abu Nu’aim]
Upon the motivation, encouragement, and relentless efforts of Hadrat ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, the first book on the science of Hadith was compiled by Hadrat Abu Bakr ibn Hazm. Thereafter, innumerable books were written and compiled on different topics of this precious science of sacred knowledge, by many elite Shuyukh who came from many different places.
Among those who compiled and wrote books of Hadith at this very early age of its compilation were ibn Juraij in Makkah al-Mukarramah; ibn Ishaq and Imam Malik in al-Madinah al-Munawwarah; Rabi’ ibn Sabih, Sa’id ibn ‘Urwah and Hammad ibn Salimah in Basra; Imam Sufyan al-Thawri in Kufa; Imam al-Awza’i in Syro-Palestine; Hisham in Wasit; Jarir ibn ‘Abdullah in Rai, and ibn al-Mubarak in Khurasan. All of these men of great knowledge, were contemporary and of one category. Most of them were the students of Hadrat Abu Bakr ibn Hazm and Imam ibn Shihab al-Zuhri.
Afterwards, the Ahadith were spread far and wide due to the compilation and writing of books on Ahadith; laying down the foundation principles for accepting or rejecting a report; collecting background information of the narrators and their beliefs; writing books on the etiquettes and manners essential for a student pursuing this sacred knowledge of Hadith. All of these were compiled to form a sub-subject of Hadith – Usul-e-Hadith or the Principles of Hadith.
Ahadith were compiled using the rigorous of all criterions and rules to accept a report, until the Six Authentic Collections of Ahadith became accepted and popular. These are the Sahih of Imams Bukhari and Muslim, the Jami’ of Imam al-Tirmidhi, the Sunan of Imams Abu Dawud, Nasa’i and Ibn Majah.
We have shed some light upon Ahadith, its History of Compilation, and its status in Islam. Those true and sincere Muslims who love Islam and the Qur’an, and who recognise themselves as individuals of this Ummah, which is flourishing with its long-lasting heritage of over fourteen hundred years of an unbroken chain of transmission to our liege lord the Messenger of Allah, are not in need of any evidence to prove the veracity of Ahadith.
Yes, however, for those hypocrites who deny the reliability of Ahadith, yet name themselves People of the Qur’an, if I had much time, I would make it apparent like the certitude of the sun at midday with irrefutable proofs and evidences that their denial of the Ahadith is in reality the denial of the words of Allah. They are not doing this only to make way for themselves not to follow the Qur’an.
Their main argument is that the translation and meaning of the verses of the Holy Qur’an should be left to their own will; however they desire they extract the meanings of the Holy Qur’an, so that, even after altering the correct meaning and translation of the Qur’anic verses, they can falsely claim to be the followers of it.
We ask Allah the Most Exalted to protect the Muslim Ummah from the evil of the onslaughts of those who reject Ahadith, and that he gives them guidance to broaden the light of Ahadith to eliminate the darkness that prevails the Ummah today.
His choicest blessings and salutation be upon the best of His creation, our Master Muhammad, his progeny, upon his companions and all of his followers.
Ja Al-Haq (The Obliteration of Falsehood)
by Mufti Ahmad Yar Khan Na’eemi