A Quick Conversation on Hadith: Its Science and Logic

While discussing with a sister the topic of Hadith and its key role in the practice of Islam, she responded as follows (edited for publication):

“Ok Yunus, you might be right. I’ll give you one example regarding a hadith I used to come across frequently in hadith books (that’s all I read at the time!).
The hadith says:
“The Prophet (SAW) used to love eating garlic, so much that he (SAW) ate it all the time and recommended that others eat it for their health. He (SAW) also loved the taste of it…

Now another hadith I ran into said that “The Prophet (SAW) hated garlic (i.e., the taste of it) but wouldn’t forbid eating it: he (SAW) simply would not eat it, and he (SAW) didn’t mind if others ate it, so long as it was not before attending the masjid.”

And lastly, the final one I came across said, “The Prophet (saw) would not eat garlic, and he (SAW) told others not to eat it either.”

Now who could believe the hadith collections after seeing such contradiction?
Our religion was not made to be complicated! I hate how humans messed up the translation of the Prophet’s (saw) life and made our religion harder and look bad.

Explain this please!”

The sister had a point. Today, many people get confused when they see contradictory messages within the deen. And sheytan loves to use such confusion to stir up fitna, create doubt, and whisper to the Muslim to encourage him or her to interpret hadith in the fashion that suites their own desires.

As a response to the sisters excellent question, I wrote the following. Perhaps others may find it useful as well. For this reason, I share it here (edited for publication):

“Good question! This topic is a very deep one but unfortunately I can only afford a quick response as I am now at work. Before I get started, let me say that my own understanding of the hadith you referenced is that the Prophet (SAW) said the angels don’t like the smell of onions and garlic and so not to eat onions and garlic before attending the masjid or doing a group zhikr.

However, to better understand your own line of questioning, there are two things we need to know about hadith:

1. Hadith can be fabricated (meaning, like you mention, some evil or self-centered people added their own hadiths). This is the problem with most religions: they were changed over time. However, if one studies the deeper science of hadith collection, you quickly find out that hadith have ‘rankings’ of weak, sound, strong, and authentic (and maybe some others). This is because the collectors of hadith researched the chains of transmission through known “non-liars.” For example, they met a shaykh of good character and reknowned for his adab (manners), ethics, and following the shariah. They know he is good. They ask him about any hadith he knows, and he tells about the hadith and they ask then: “Who did YOU learn it from?” And based on the known character/ethics/shariah observance etc of the transmitter(s) they would then rank the hadith. If a hadith had only a small number of transmitters, the strength of the hadith was reduced, and if it had a lot, the strength was increased. Now, you should know that more than once the hadith compilers came upon a hadith that they very much felt was a good and true hadith. But because the transmitter was of questionable character, they excluded the hadith from the collection. My point here is to illustrate the soundness of the various hadith collections (such as Tirmidhi, Muslim, Bukhari, Ibn Majah, etc.)

2: Hadith are collections of what he (SAW) said and did. However, many times, the context of the hadith is removed. For this reason, it is strongly recommended that “beginners” not simply run to the hadith collections. This is because they risk picking and choosing hadith to suite their own desires and needs. Many groups of Muslims do that today (and end up making other Muslims such as yourself very disgruntled!).

Now in answer to your question, I want to illustrate that it is possible for all three hadith to be perfectly true.

For example, you can legitimately tell two different people different things about a particular subject. Now later, when these people are asked about what you said, they both reveal it. However, because you were telling each something according to your own relationship with them, WHAT you said differs.

For example: If you taught at the masjid, and you disliked garlic, you would say: “Don’t eat garlic and onions before coming to the Masjid”
You then go home, and guess what? Of course: you STILL dislike garlic, so you turn to your husband (with whom you are intimate) and you say: “I HATE garlic, don’t you EVER eat it!!!!!!”

HA! See? This simple example very quickly explains that two of the three hadith you asked about could very well be accurate.

Now to PROVE that all three hadith could very well be real and possible: (just to restore your faith in the hadith): Think of how often your food preferences changed over the course of your life? I remember as a child, I HATED, HATED tomatoes!!!! I also know many people LOVEEEEEEEEEED Ice cream and candies and sweets as children!!!!

But… After growing up, I find that now I LOVE tomatoes and all these people who used to love ice cream and sweets HATE them because they developed lactose intolerance and heart issues ;-)

So, you see, when applying the hadith, one must understand the context in which Rasool (saw) said the utterance, to whom, and what was the Hikma behind it.

God bless you for having spent the time to read this short note and inshAllah it will help remove any doubt you might have harbored regarding why some hadith appear contradictory.

Ma Salaama and Barakallahu Feekum,
Br. Yunus


Where am I?!!

Ramadan, the month of fasting for Muslims, started more than two weeks ago. We stop eating and drinking from dawn to sunset. It might sound too harsh, and hard, for you who are not used to it. But we can handle it pretty well! This is our digestive system yearly break (or so it should be, except for our fellow Muslims who break their fast with massive meals, followed by traditional desserts and drinks!). Fasting is not only about our digestive system for sure, but that’s not today’s topic.

I have made a promise before Ramadan to Helen, a reader who found this blog, took the time to read most of my posts and left me many questions and remarks. Since she took the time to go back and read my old posts, I owe her thorough answers to her questions and comments. And I thank her for pulling me out of my writing laziness and giving me lots of blogging assignments to come :)  I also had the good fortune to get to know new online friends who have lots of curiosity about Islam as well. It seems that this blog is intended to see some lively action soon!

As you may already you, fulfilling one’s promises is required in Islam:

“The hypocrite has three signs: when he is entrusted, he betrays the trust; when he speaks, he lies; and when he promises, he doesn’t fulfill his promise”

Said Prophet Muhammad, hypocrisy being one of the major sins and personality traits leading to Hell according to the Quran. Anyone who has one of those signs, has one share of hypocrisy to work on eliminating!

All that being said, I’m just writing to let my friend Helen know that I didn’t forget my promise to her, and ask that she kindly be patient with me. The low energy due to fasting, and the fact that I’m also moving into another apartment by the end of this month, left me with very little clarity of mind to write anything meaningful! So hopefully after my move is done I will get going next month!

Peace!


Call to The Best Jihad!

I’m all for Jihad. Yes, I invite you to Jihad. You Muslims of the world, I’m not afraid and I’m not scared. Jihad has a bad reputation? I don’t care. I want us all to be Jihadists. Not only Jihadists, no, I want us to do the Best of Jihad! See, I finally revealed my true Muslim self, and gave up my Taqyia!

So, what’s the plan of our Jihad? I mean the Best of Jihad? See, I’m a Salafi too, so I stick to the sources, and our first source is the Prophet. I’m not inventing anything. The Prophet gave us the defintion and the way of this Best Jihad. Are you ready, fellow Muslims?

“The best of Jihad is a word of truth in front of a tyrant/an oppressive ruler!”

I’m sorry if I disappointed you! No, my Jihad is not against the Infidels until they accept Islam. After all, God Himself told us that whoever wants to believe is free to do so, and whoever wants to disbelieve, they’re free to do so as well (Quran 18:29).

An infidel only hurts him or herself. A Tyrant evetually hurts millions, tens of millions, and sometimes even hundreds of millions!

So, my fellow Muslims, imagine if all citizens of Mubarak, Gadhafi, Saddam Hussein (before he invaded Kuwait!), Saud, etc, etc, did the Best Jihad. All of the them said a word of truth to their rulers: You are the trash of our Earth. You are the enemies of Allah. You are the Pharaohs of our time. You’re going to Hell anyway, so we will take you the hell out of our lands, NOW!

I’m not inventing anything. That’s the Best Jihad according to our Prophet!


Life is too short, so?

The most common conclusion, as you may know, goes like: so we have to live it to the fullest! But I believe it’s smarter to come to a more meaningful conclusion and truth, like: which means that, in the blink of an eye, we will be dead!

That doesn’t mean pessimism, in any way. It just means realism and focusing on what really matters, and especially doing the right thing. It means letting go of our selfishness, because no matter how much pleasure or how much pain we had in this short life, they will have vanished once the soul leaves the body!

 

And why even think of death. Think of right now, right this moment, then think of all the pleasures and pains that you had in the past. Where are they? Completely gone! Of course anything that we’re experiencing in the present seems too powerful for us to think that it will one day vanish, but it’s the truth, and we know it for sure, from experience.

 

According to Aisha, wife of Prophet Muhammad, one day he came back home during the Eid Al-Adha celebration, the time of the year when Muslims sacrifice animals and have to give one share to the poor, one share to their relatives and neighbors, and keep the third to themselves. Muhammad asked his wife: “What remains of the goat?” She replied: “only one leg remains, we have given away the rest”. There the Prophet corrected her: “All the goat remains, except the leg!”

 

It’s not uncommon to hear someone talking about the joy of giving. Each one might have experienced it for her or himself. It’s a universal human experience. And many times it’s way greater that the joy of simply taking.

 

If life is this short, then we should just remember the fact, and work and live accordingly. We can live it to the fullest, but only as long as we’re not harming or hurting. We should work for something bigger than our mere selves, and contribute to life and others as much as we possibly can. Because it will all vanish. And only our righteous deeds will remain forever for our joy and peace!
Whether or not we live within and for ourselves is not only about what truly remains. It affects our experience of life in the very present. It makes the difference between living in abundance or living in scarcity, from within. Selfishness is poor, giving and caring for others is rich and wealthy!

Who is most loved by God? (Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindous, etc.)

Whom do we think God loves most, we who believe in Him?

May be the followers of every religion would think that they are the ones. God loves them most! Jews are the chosen people, God’s children, so He loves them most. Christians, who believe in the Christ, deserve to be saved and loved by the Lord. Or Muslims who worship the one God who begets not and has not been begotten. Which group is the most loved by God? Supposing that every group even thinks that the others are OK, let alone are loved by Him.

I, as a Muslim who believe that the message of Islam is misunderstood, misrepresented, misquoted and attacked both by stupid or superficial Muslims as well as islamophobists, as such, I firmly and unshakingly believe that God loves none of the previous groups, just for belonging to any one of them.

I learn from and believe Prophet Muahammad, and here is his answer to this question:

GOD LOVES MOST… THOSE WHO ARE MOST USEFUL TO PEOPLE.

Now here is a new group. This is THE religious leader of Islam saying that those whom God, Allah loves most are simply those who are most useful to their fellow humans. Note that he didn’t even say: those who are most useful to Muslims. Just to people. He didn’t even specify what type of usefulness. That’s why a Muslim should believes that he is rewarded by God for any benefit that he brings to people. Islam considers work as an act of worship, and work useful to others goes higher, to the Love of God. This is a very well-known saying of the Prophet among Muslims as well. It’s not Muhammad’s fault then when Bin Laden has a different opinion! Muhammad delivered the message then he passed away. He can’t come back to life to correct everyone’s illusions. This is our own mission now!

This saying is not an isolated event in the Islamic understanding:

 According to the Quran, 49:13

“Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).”

Here it is stated that God doesn’t give preference for anyone except for how righteous and mindful of Him they are. No names here, no labels (Islam, Muslims). Just values.

In another passage, the Quran refutes the idea that Jews and/or Christians have any special place just for being so:

Quran 5:18

(Both) the Jews and the Christians say: ‘We are the sons of God, and his beloved.’ Say: ‘Why then would He punish you for your sins? No! You are but humans among all those he has created”.

I like that! We’re all just humans, like all other humans He has created. He judges us not based on what religion we were born following or we say we follow. He judges us according to how righteous we are. Labels don’t matter to Him. Here comes to my mind another saying of the Prophet: “God does not look at your images and your bodies, He looks at your hearts.” Beautiful!

Yet another meaning the Prophet mentioned, where he particularly talks to Arabs, warning them from the silliness of ever thinking that because the Quran was revealed in Arabic, they as Arabs would have any advantage in the sight of God: “All people are as equal as the teeth of a comb, there is no virtue (nothing better or superior) to an Arab over a non-Arab nor white over colored except by the fear and mindfulness of God”. However we ended up seeing many Arabs try really hard to Arabize Islam! To confuse and mix their own traditions (at times stupid, dangerous, and unhuman) with the teachings of Islam.

To finish this post, I’d like to mention a very important verse from the Quran, 2:62

“Those who believe, and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians,- any who believe in God and the Day of Judgment, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.”

I haven’t seen anything like that in any other scripture. Here the Quran even names those “others”, and establishes one simple criterion for all: believing in God and Judgement Day and doing good deeds, resulting in them being rewarded and having no fear. The same meaning is repeated in other verses as well. I for one didn’t find any other religion that has this same message as clearly, and that’s why I chose to be Muslim!

I hope we Muslims can always remember that true faith consists in serving God’s creation, people, no matter where they are or what they believe. Muslims strive to follow the example of their Prophet. He told them the surest way to God’s love!


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