In sha Allah, we will be beginning the study of the most authentic book of Prophetic traditions [ahadeeth], but before we do that we must answer the question: Why study ahadeeth?
Today, we live in the times where a group has risen that questions the authenticity of the most authentic ahadeeth and the work of the scholars of the past. They claim that while Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala promised to maintain the originality of the Qur’an, how do we know that these authentic ahadeeth have not been altered?
Let us first answer the question: Why study ahadeeth?
Why Study Ahadeeth?
1.We cannot Love the Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam without knowing What He Said
In Surah Aal-Imran, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala commands Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam to say,
“If you (really) love Allah, then follow me. Allah will love you and forgive you your sins…” (3: 31).
As we mentioned in the introduction of the Seerah, one cannot follow someone without knowing them. And the more we know someone the more we fall in love with them. Likewise, in order to be sure that we are following the Sunnah we need to study both the Seerah and ahadeeth. The more dedicated we are in this study, the more our love for our beloved Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam will increase.
While the Qur’an carries commands, the Sunnah shows us the way to execute them. Had the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam not explained to us, each one of us would have invented our own way of worship. Therefore, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala sent us the Book (Qur’an) as well as the teacher. Those living today have never met the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, the record of his traditions is our only way of ever knowing him in this world.
“And whatever the Messenger has given you – take; and what he has forbidden you – refrain from.” [al-Hashr 59: 7]
How can we know what he allowed us to do and forbade us from without knowing his statements?
2.Enjoy the Company of the Prophet and His Companions by reading the Ahadeeth
One day Imam Bukhari was teaching one of his students, narrating one hadeeth after another. Here was a man who had spent his entire life in collecting and writing the sayings of the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, one can imagine how passionate he must be. He knew thousands of ahadeeth, therefore he spoke at length. He realized while he is fervent about the Prophetic traditions, his student might get bored. So, he said,
“Be happy and at peace, for the people of games are busy in their games, the workers are busy in their work, and the businessmen are busy with their businesses. But as for you, you are with the Prophet (salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and his Companions (radhiAllahu ‘anhum).”
When you study the ahadeeth imagine you have entered into another world. Read the ahadeeth as if you can feel what is being said. It is similar to visualizing the story as we read a fiction novel. Immerse yourself in the ahadeeth.
3.The Prophet’s Supplications for the Ahadeeth Narrator and Memorizers
The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam supplicated for us by saying,
“May Allah make pleasant (i.e. illuminate or brighten), the face of the man who heard a hadeeth from me, memorized it and then conveyed it (to others) just as he heard it.” [Sharh us Sunnah of al-Baghawee]
Sufyan ibn Uyaynah said, “There is no person seeking the hadeeth except that in his face is radiance.” Every person who desires their face to glow should sincerely start studying the ahadeeth.
In another du’a the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “O Allah! Have mercy on my successors.” It was asked, “Who are your successors, O Messenger of Allah?” He said, “Those who narrate my ahadeeth and also teach it to other people.”
What is Hadeeth?
Hadeeth is a science or knowledge in which the statements, actions, approvals and circumstances (important incidences) of Prophet Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam are mentioned.
Hadeeth is the sharh or explanation of the Qur’an. After studying the Qur’an, it is important that we further understand it through ahadeeth.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,
“Certainly, did Allah confer (great) favor upon the believers when He sent among them a Messenger from themselves, reciting to them His ayaat and purifying them and teaching them the Book and wisdom, although they had been before in manifest error.” [Aal-Imran 3: 164]
These teachings of the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam have been preserved in the ahadeeth.
Why Saheeh Al-Bukhari?
Imam Bukhari lived a couple of centuries after the Prophet’s death and worked extremely hard to collect his ahadeeth. Each report in his collection was checked for compatibility with the Qur’an, and the veracity of the chain of reporters had to be painstakingly established. Bukhari’s collection is recognized by the overwhelming majority of the Muslim world to be one of the most authentic collections of the Sunnah of the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
Bukhari (full name Abu Abdullah Muhammad bin Ismail bin Ibrahim bin al-Mughira al-Ja’fai) was born in 194 A.H. and died in 256 A.H. His collection of hadith is considered second to none. He spent sixteen years compiling it, and ended up with 2,602 hadith (9,082 with repetition). His criteria for acceptance into the collection were amongst the most stringent of all the scholars of ahadeeth.
It is important to realize, however, that Bukhari’s collection is not complete: there are other scholars who worked as Bukhari did and collected other authentic reports.
Do you know: the name, Saheeh Bukhari is not the original name of this book? The original name of the book is: Al-Jami’us Saheeh Al-Musnad min Hadeeth Ar-Rasool salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam wa Sunanihi min Umoorir Rasool salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam wa Sunanihi wa Ayyamihi.
The Etiquette of Studying Ahadeeth
We know that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala teaches us the etiquette of major areas of life. Do you know there are also ayaat in the Qur’an that teach us how to study the ahadeeth?
Read the following ayaat for example,
“O you who have believed, do not put [yourselves] before Allah and His Messenger but fear Allah. Indeed, Allah is All-Hearing and All-Knowing. O you who have believed, do not raise your voices above the voice of the Prophet or be loud to him in speech like the loudness of some of you to others, lest your deeds become worthless while you perceive not. Indeed, those who lower their voices before the Messenger of Allah – they are the one whose hearts Allah has tested for righteousness. For them is forgiveness and great reward.” [Al-Hujarat 49: 1-3]
So, while studying the hadeeth we should be extremely attentive and not allow ourselves to be distracted by anything else. Whatever we read in the ahadeeth our attitude should not be: Why should I do it? Rather, we should say what the Companions radhiAllahu ‘anhum said, “We hear and we obey.”
In the next post, in sha Allah, we will briefly study the life of the narrator: Imam Al-Bukhari.