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The Muslims have three sources for establishing themselves on Islamic guidance.

First, the Holy Quran which is the Book of God than which we have no more conclusive and certain statement. It is the Word of God and is free from all doubt and speculation. Secondly, the practice of the Holy Prophet, which is called Sunnah. We do not regard hadeeth and sunnah as one. They are distinct, hadeeth is one thing and sunnah is another. By sunnah we mean the practice of the Holy Prophet, to which he adhered and which appeared along with the Holy Quran and will accompany it. In other words, the Holy Quran is the Word of God Almighty and the sunnah is the action of the Holy Prophet, peace be on him. It has ever been the way of God that the Prophets bring the Word of God for the guidance of people and illustrate it in practice with their conduct so that no doubt should remain in the minds of people with regard to the Divine Word. They act upon it and urge others to do the same.

The third source of guidance is hadeeth, by which we mean those traditions which were compiled from the statements of diverse narrators a century and a half after the Holy Prophet. The distinction between sunnah and hadeeth is that sunnah is a continuous practice which was started by the Holy Prophet. It is only next to the Holy Quran in its certainty. As the Holy Prophet was commissioned for the propagation of the Quran, he was also commissioned for establishing the sunnah. As the Holy Quran is certain so is the continuous sunnah. Both these tasks were performed by the Holy Prophet as his duty. For instance, when the Prayer services were made obligatory, the Holy Prophet illustrated by his action how many rakaas were to be performed in each Prayer service. In the same way, he illustrated the performance of the pilgrimage. He thus established thousands of his companions on his practice. The practical illustration which has been continuous among the Muslims is the sunnah. On the other hand, the Holy Prophet did not have the hadeeth recorded in his presence nor did he make any arrangement for its compilation. Hazrat Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, had collected some ahadeeth and then had them burnt out of greater caution as he himself had not heard them from the Holy Prophet and did not know their reality. When the time of the companions of the Holy Prophet had passed some of their successors thought of compiling the ahadeeth and they were compiled. There is no doubt that most of the compilers of hadeeth were very pious and righteous. They tested the accuracy of ahadeeth as far as it was possible and tried to steer clear of such of them as in their opinion were manufactured, and they rejected every hadeeth any narrator of which was of doubtful veracity. As all this activity was ex post factum, it was no more than conjecture; yet it would be most unfair to say that all ahadeeth are vain and useless and false. So much care was taken in compiling the ahadeeth, and such research and criticism were employed in the task, that they cannot be matched in any other religion. The Jews also had compilations of hadeeth and Jesus was opposed by that sect of the Jews who followed the ahadeeth, but it is not proved that the Jewish compilers of hadeeth had exercised that care in compiling their collections as the Muslim compilers of hadeeth did. Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to imagine that till the ahadeeth were compiled, the Muslims were unaware of the details of Prayer services or did not know the proper way of performing the pilgrimage. The practical illustrations of the sunnah had taught them all the limits and obligations laid down by Islam. It is true, therefore, that even if the ahadeeth, which were collected after a long time, had not been compiled this would not have affected the real teaching of Islam for the Holy Quran and practice had fulfilled this need. The ahadeeth only added to that light and Islam became light upon light and the ahadeeth became testimonies for the Quran and sunnah. Of the many sects that subsequently appeared in Islam, the true one derived great benefit from the true ahadeeth. The correct way, therefore, is neither to treat the ahadeeth as having greater authority than the Quran, as do the Ahl-i-hadeeth of this age, and not to prefer the statements in the ahadeeth which are contradictory of the Quran to the Quran itself; nor to regard the ahadeeth as vain and false as is the belief of Maulvi Abdullah Chakralvi. The Quran and sunnah should judge the ahadeeth and those that are not opposed to them should by all means be accepted. This is the straight path and blessed are those who follow it. Most unfortunate and foolish is the person who rejects the ahadeeth altogether without regard to the test that we have proposed. It should be the duty of the members of our community that a hadeeth which is not opposed to the Quran and sunnah, should be accepted and followed, however weak might be its authority, and it should be preferred to the rules framed by jurists Review on the Debate Between Batalwi and Chakrhalvi ((Qadian, 1902) Now printed in Ruhani Khazain, Vol.19 page 3-5).

Authoritative Books

The books that we accept and believe in and consider trustworthy are the following.

rst is the Holy Quran. It should, however, be remembered that only that interpretation of a verse of the Quran is correct and trustworthy which is testified to by other verses of the Quran, inasmuch as some verses of the Quran interpret other verses. If certainty of meaning should not be guaranteed by other verses of the Quran, then the meaning should be confirmed by some true and reliable hadeeth. According to us the interpretation based merely on one's opinion is not permissible. Everyone who raises an objection against the Holy Quran should keep this rule in mind.

Of the other books that are accepted by us the Sahih of Bokhari ranks as the first. All its ahadeeth which are not opposed to the Holy Quran are in our view authoritative. Next comes the Sahih of Muslim. We accept its authority subject to the condition that it should not be opposed to the Holy Quran and the Sahih of Bokhari. Next to them are the compilations of Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, the Muatta of Imam Malik, Nissai, Abu Daud and Dar Qutni, which we regard as authoritative so long as they are not opposed to the Holy Quran and Bokhari and Muslim. These are our religious books and these are the conditions under which we accept them....

Every critic must confine himself to these books and these conditions (Arya Dharam ( Qadian, Ziaul Islam Press ) Now prited in Ruhani Khazain (London, 1984) vol. 10 End book note pp. 7-8).

Regarding the Book and sunnah as authorities I believe that the Book of Allah is to be preferred to all. If the purport of a hadeeth is not opposed to the Book of Allah, it would be accepted as authoritative, but we will not accept an interpretation of a hadeeth which is opposed to the clear text of the Holy Quran. So far as possible, we shall try to interpret a hadeeth so that it should be in accord with the clear text of the Book of Allah, but if we come across a hadeeth which is opposed to the text of the Holy Quran, and it cannot be interpreted in any other way, we would reject it as spurious, inasmuch as God, the Glorious, has said: In what discourse apart from Allah and His commandments will they believe? (45: 7). This means that if the Holy Quran is conclusive and positive about a matter and its meaning is clear, a believer should not accept a hadeeth which is clearly opposed to it. To the same effect is the verse: In what discourse thereafter will they believe (7: I86)? According to these verses a believer must accept the Book of Allah without condition and should accept a hadeeth conditionally. This is my stand {Al-Haqq (Mubahisa Ludhiana)Qadian, 1903, Now prited in Ruhani Khazain (London, 1984) vol. 4., pp. 9-10)}

A person who is bestowed the understanding of the Quran by Divine grace, and who finds that a hadeeth is opposed to a verse of the Quran, should, out of respect, so far as it is possible, so interpret the hadeeth as to bring it into accord with the Holy Quran, but if this is not possible and cannot by any means be achieved, he should regard the hadeeth as spurious This is better for us. We should seek an interpretation of a hadeeth which is not opposed to the Holy Quran, but if this should not be possible it would be heresy and disbelief that we should give up the Quran for the sake of ahadeeth, which have been conveyed to us by human hands and with regard to which it is not only a possibility, but a certainty, that they have got mixed up with human statements (Ibid. p. 19).


The ahadeeth are divided into two parts. One part is that which is completely protected by practice, that is to say such ahadeeth as are strengthened and are carrying the degree of certainty by the firm and strong and certain method of practice, and which are comprehensive of all religious needs and worship and covenants and dealings and the commandments of the law. Such ahadeeth are doubtless certain and are fully proved. The strength of these ahadeeth is not derived from the art of compilation of hadeeth, nor from their inherent force, nor from the reliability of and confidence in their narrators, but is bestowed by the blessings of practice. I accept these ahadeeth so far as they are supported by practice up to a certain degree of certainty, but the other portions of ahadeeth which are not related to practice and are accepted on the basis of the truthfulness of their narrators are not held by me as being beyond the status of conjecture. At the most they can be employed as useful conjecture inasmuch as the manner in which they have been compiled is not certain and conclusive, but leaves room for perversion (Ibid., p.33).

An objector hears from someone that the ahadeeth are not reliable and he immediately concludes therefrom that with the exception of the Holy Quran all other authorities in Islam are baseless and doubtful and fall far short of certainty and conclusiveness. This is a great mistake, the first result of which is to destroy faith and religion; for if it were true that with the exception of the Holy Quran all other sources are false and imposture and conjectures and imagination, then little would be left of Islam for all the details of our faith have come down to us through ahadeeth. Our Prayer services have been made obligatory by the Holy Quran, but it is nowhere laid down in the Quran that the Dawn service comprises two rakaas of Farz and two rakaas of Sunnah, and the Noon service comprises four rakaas of Farz and four and then two rakaas of Sunnah, and the Sunset service comprises three rakaas of Farz and the Evening service comprises four rakaas of Farz. In the same way, we have to depend upon a hadeeth to discover the details of Zakat. There are thousands of details relating to worship and dealings and covenants which are derived from the same source. Besides, the principal source of Islamic history are ahadeeth. If ahadeeth are not to be relied upon you cannot take it as certain that Abu Bakr and Umar and Usman and Ali, May Allah be pleased with them, were the companions of the Holy Prophet, who became his Successors in that order and died in that order. If ahadeeth are not to be relied upon, we cannot be certain about the existence of these great personalities and it might be possible that all these names are fictitious and that there was no Abu Bakr, no Umar, no Usman and no Ali.... In the same way, shall we deny that the name of the father of the Holy Prophet, peace be on him, was Abdullah, and the name of his mother was Aminah, and the name of his grandfather was Abdul Muttalib, and one of his wives was named Khadija and another Ayesha, and another Hafsa, may Allah be pleased with them, and that the name of his foster-mother was Haleema, and that he used to withdraw to cave Hira for worship and that some of his companions migrated to Abyssinia, and that for ten years after his advent, the Holy Prophet resided in Mecca and that thereafter there were all those battles that are not even mentioned in the Quran, simply because these facts are established by ahadeeth and the ahadeeth amount to nothing? Were that so, it would not be possible for the Muslims to relate any portion of the biography of the Holy Prophet. It should be observed that the events of the life of our lord and master, what kind of life he led in Mecca before his advent, and in what year he called people to his Prophethood, and in what order people embraced Islam, and how were they persecuted by the disbelievers in the ten Meccan years, and how the wars began, and in which of them the Holy Prophet, peace be on him, took part himself, and to what regions the rule of Islam had extended in his lifetime, and whether he addressed letters to the rulers of the time, inviting them to Islam, and if he did so, what was their response, and after his death what were the victories achieved during the time of Hazrat Abu Bakr, and what difficulties he had to contend with, and what countries were conquered in the time of Hazrat Umar, all these matters are known through ahadeeth and the statements of the companions of the Holy Prophet. If the ahadeeth amount to nothing, it would not only be difficult but would be impossible to discover the events of those times and in such case the opponents of Islam would be free to invent whatever they like concerning the events of the life of the Holy Prophet, peace be on him, and of the lives of his companions, may Allah be pleased with them. We would thus afford to the enemies of Islam a great opportunity of making baseless attacks against Islam and we would have to confess that all the events related in the ahadeeth are without any basis and imaginary, so much so, that even the names of the companions of the Holy Prophet are not known for certain. To suppose that we cannot derive any certain and conclusive truth from the ahadeeth would amount to destroying a great portion of Islam with our own hands. The true and correct position is that we must accept whatever is stated in the ahadeeth unless it should be opposed to the Quran in clear terms. It is admitted that it is natural for man to tell the truth and that recourse is had to falsehood under some compulsion, for falsehood is unnatural. To doubt the conclusiveness and correctness of the ahadeeth, which through practice had become a characteristic of the different groups of Muslims, would amount to insanity. For instance, if anyone were to contend that the number of rakaas performed by the Muslims in the five daily services is a doubtful matter, inasmuch as there is no verse in the Quran prescribing two rakaas for the Dawn service and two for the Friday service and two each for the festival services and that most of the ahadeeth are unreliable, would such a one be in the right? If such an opinion were accepted about the ahadeeth, we would first have to forego the Prayer services, for the Quran has not prescribed anywhere the method of performance of Prayer Services and they are performed only on the basis of the accuracy of ahadeeth....

This is a serious mistake which has drawn the followers of nature in this age far away from Islam. They imagine that all Islamic practices and ceremonial and worship and biographies and history in connection with which reference is made to ahadeeth, are established only on the basis of a few ahadeeth. This is a clear error. The practice which the Holy Prophet, peace be on him, had established with his own hands, had become so common among millions of people that even if there had been no trace of the compilers of hadeeth, no harm would have been done. Everyone has to admit that the Holy Teacher and Prophet, peace be on him, had not so confined his teaching as to train only a few people in it and to leave all others unaware of it. Had that been so, Islam would have been so corrupted that it could not have been reformed through the efforts of any compiler of hadeeth. The Imams of hadeeth have compiled thousands of ahadeeth relating to religious instruction, yet there is no hadeeth which was not being acted upon before its being recorded and which was not known to the world. If there is any teaching, or event, or doctrine the foundation of which has only been laid by the Imams of hadeeth on the basis of some report and no sign of it is discoverable in practice, nor is it mentioned in the Holy Quran, then without doubt such a report which became known a century and a half later, would absolutely lack certainty and would deserve whatever condemnation might be directed at it. Such ahadeeth have no great relationship with faith in the history of Islam. If you look with care you will find that the Imams of hadeeth have very seldom mentioned a hadeeth no trace of which is found in practice. It is, therefore, not true, as some ignorant ones imagine, that the world has learnt of the hundreds of matters relating to the faith, even fasting and Prayer services, only from the ahadeeth compiled by Bokhari and Muslim and others. Were the Muslims without faith for a century and a half, did they not perform the Prayer services, did they not pay Zakat, did they not perform the Pilgrimage, were they unaware of the Islamic doctrines that are mentioned in the ahadeeth? Certainly not. {Shahadatul Quran (Sialkoat, Panjab Press) Now prited in Ruhani Khazain (London, 1984) vol. 6. pp. 2-7}

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