The Sirah and Ahadith: The Foundation of the Quran

It is no exaggeration to say that without the sirah and hadith literature a person cannot make heads or tails out of the great bulk of the Quran. In fact, if one doesn’t have any recourse to these sources then s/he is unable to answer the who, what, where, when, why and how of the Quran, meaning:

Who wrote the Quran?

What was it written on?

Where was it written?

When was it written?

Why was it written?

How was it compiled in the form that we have it today?

Oldest Extant Muslim Sources

The following gives us an idea of why the sirah and ahadith are problematic for providing the framework and context of the Quran.

Sirat Rasulullah

Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasulullah who died 767 AD. His sirah written roughly around 760 AD. However, no copy of his original work exists since all the copies that we have are based on the Egyptian Muslim scholar Ibn Hisham’s rendition of Ibn Ishaq’s work who admitted to omitting things which he did not like or thought were objectionable. Ibn Hisham died in 832 AD. 

Al-Kutub/Sihah Sitta

The Sihah Sitta refers to the six major Sunni hadith collections. They are in order of their authenticity:

  1. Sahih Bukhari, collected by Imam al-Bukhari (d. 256 A.H., 870 C.E.), includes 7275 ahadith. His hadith collection was compiled around 846 AD.
  2. Sahih Muslim, collected by Muslim b. al-Hajjaj (d. 261 A.H., 875 C.E.), includes 9200 ahadith.
  3. Sunan al-Sughra, collected by al-Nasa’i (d. 303 A.H., 915 C.E.).
  4. Sunan Abu Dawud, collected by Abu Dawud (d. 275 A.H., 888 C.E.).
  5. Jami al-Tirmidhi, collected by al-Tirmidhi (d. 279 A.H, 892 C.E).
  6. Sunan ibn Majah, collected by Ibn Majah (d. 273 A.H., 887 C.E.).

The first two, commonly referred to as the Sahihayn (Two Sahihs) as an indication of their authenticity, contain approximately seven thousand ahadith altogether if repetitions are not counted, according to Muslim scholar Ibn Hajar.

The Names of the Authors

  1. Muhammad b. Isma’il al-Bukhari, the author of the Sahih Bukhari, which he composed over a period of sixteen years. Traditional sources quote Bukhari as saying that he did not record any hadith before performing ablution and praying. Bukhari died near Samarqand in 256/869-70.
  2. Muslim b. Hajjaj al-Naishapuri, who died in Nishapur in 261/ 874-5 and whose Sahih Muslim is second in authenticity only to that of Bukhari.
  3. Abu Dawud Sulaiman b. Ash’ath al-Sijistani, a Persian but of Arab descent, who died in 275/888-9.
  4. Muhammad b. ‘Isa al-Tirmidhi, the author of the well-known as Sunan al-Tirmidhi, who was a student of Bukhari and died in 279/892-3.
  5. Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Nasa’i, who was from Khurasan and died in 303/915-16.
  6. Ibn Majah al-Qazwini, who died in 273/886-7.

The preceding taken and modified from Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Kutub_al-Sittah) on May 12, 2013.

The Authenticity of the Sahihayn

According to Sunni scholars, the hadith collections of al-Bukhari and Muslim are the two most authentic Islamic records after the Quran. Sunni Muslims for the most part accept whatever is found in these collections since they believe that neither compilation contains any weak or fraudulent reports, just as the following statements by the Muslim scholars confirm.

Sahih al-Bukhari

Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan says concerning Al-Bukhari’s hadith collection:

“It has been UNANIMOUSLY AGREED that Imam Bukhari’s work is the most authentic of all the other works in Hadith literature PUT TOGETHER. The authenticity of Al-Bukhari’s work is such that the religious learned scholars of Islam said concerning him: ‘The most authentic book after the Book of Allah (i.e., Al-Qur’an) is Sahih Al-Bukhari.’ …

“Before he recorded each Hadith he would make ablution and offer two Rak’at prayer and supplicate his Lord (Allah). Many religious scholars of Islam tried to find fault in the great remarkable collection – Sahih Al-Bukhari, BUT WITHOUT SUCCESS. It is for this reason, they UNANIMOUSLY AGREED that the most authentic book after the Book of Allah IS Sahih Al-Bukhari.” (Translation of the Meanings of Sahih Al-Bukhari, Arabic-English, translated by Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan, Formerly Director, University Hospital, Islamic University, Al-Madina Al-Munawwara (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia), [Dar-us-Salam Publishers & Distributors, Riyadh-Saudi Arabia, July, 1997], Volume 1, pp. 18-19; bold and capital emphasis mine)

Sahih Muslim

“… Although Sahih al-Bukhari is the most reliable collection of Ahadith, however, Sahih Muslim has certain aspects of superiority. Imam Muslim adhered strictly to most of the principles of the Science of Hadith which were somehow at some places ignored by his teacher Imam Bukhari. Imam Muslim accepted for his collection only such Ahadith which had been transmitted with an unbroken chain of reliable narrators, free from all defects and were in perfect harmony with the narrations of other narrators. He has recorded only those ahadith which were transmitted at least by two different transmitters from two different Companions. Imam Bukhari has sometimes used the Kunyah (surname) of the narrators and sometimes their names. Imam Muslim avoided this confusion. Imam Muslim is also particular in pointing out the slightest difference in the text of the narrations. Imam Bukhari has fragmented most of the Ahadith and presented the portions under different chapters, while Imam Muslim presented them as a whole narration. So, the works of both Imams provide different approaches for the scholars and readers of Ahadith.” (The Translation of the Meanings of Summarized Sahih Muslim, Publisher’s Note, Volume 1, p. ii; bold emphasis mine)

And:

“Imam Muslim compiled many books and treatises on Hadith, the most important of his works is the compilation of the Hadith collection Al-Jami‘ As-Sahih, which is famous by the name of Sahih Muslim. Some scholars of Hadith opine that in some respects IT IS THE BEST AND MOST AUTHENTIC COLLECTION of Ahadith. Imam Muslim laboriously collected 3,00,000 Ahadith, but after critical study, he selected only 4,000 Ahadith for this collection…

“Many students learned the Science of Hadith from Imam Muslim. Those who became famous and occupied a prominent position are: Abu Hatim Razi, Musa bin Harun, Ahmad bin Salamah, Abu ‘Isa Tirmidhi, Abu Bakr bin Khuzaimah, Abu ‘Awanah and Hafiz Dhahbi.” (Ibid., p. v; bold and capital emphasis mine)

This means that no devout Sunni Muslim can ever call into question any hadith that is cited from either one of these collections, since to do so is to place oneself outside of the fold of historic, orthodox Sunni Islam.

With the foregoing in view, we can now cite some examples from these collections in order to give the readers an idea of what they contain and what Sunni Muslims must believe are the very inspire utterances of their prophet.

Silly Sayings of the Ahadith Showing Why They Are Unreliable Sources

The following is just a small sampling of narrations which illustrate just how absurd and irrational the ahadith collections truly are.

ADAM THE NOT SO JOLLY GIANT

Muhammad taught that Adam was created 60 cubits in height!

“Narrated Abu Huraira: The prophet said, ‘Allah created Adam, and his height was 60 cubits.’”  BUKHARI, Vol. 4, Bk. 55, No. 543

This makes Adam 90 feet tall!

Presumably, Adam’s children would also be as tall as their father, a fact affirmed in this Hadith:

“Narrated Abu Huraira: The prophet said, ‘Allah created Adam in his image sixty cubits (about 30 meters) in height… Since then the creation of Adam’s (offspring) (i.e., stature of human beings) is being diminished continuously up to the present time.’” BUKHARI, Vol. 8, Bk. 74, No. 246

To make matters worse, Muhammad actually believed that in paradise people would again become 90 feet tall!

“Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s apostle said, ‘The first group of people who will enter Paradise, will be glittering like the full moon and those who will follow them, will glitter like the most brilliant star in the sky. They will not urinate, relieve nature, spit, or have any nasal secretions. Their combs will be of gold, and their sweat will smell like musk… Their wives will be houris. All of them will look alike and will resemble their father Adam (in statute), sixty cubits tall.’” BUKHARI, Vol. 4, Bk. 55, No. 544

THE SUN’S SETTING PLACE

Both the Quran in Q. 18:86 and the ahadith claim that the sun literally sets in a muddy spring:

(3991) Abu Dharr said: I was sitting behind the apostle of Allah who was riding a donkey while the sun was setting. He asked: Do you know where this sets? I replied: Allah and his apostle know best. He said: IT SETS IN A SPRING OF WARM WATER (hamiyah).3408 (Prof. Ahmad Hasan, Sunan Abu Dawud – English Translation With Explanatory Notes [Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, Publishers, Lahore, 1984], Volume III. Chapters 1338-1890, XXV. Kitab Al-Ahruf Wa Al-Qira’at [Book of Dialects and Readings Of The Qur’an], Chapter 1498, p. 1120; bold and capital emphasis mine)

3408. Qur’an, xviii. 86. The word hami’ah in this verse has two readings. Abu Ja‘far, Abu ‘Amir, Hamzah, al-Kisa’i and Abu Bakr read it hamiyah with long vowel a. Hamiyah means warm water. The others read it hami’ah meaning musky water. (Ibid.)

Hence, not only do we have a gross scientific error, we also have a clear example that proves that Quran contains variant readings!

The following is an alternate translation of this particular report:

4002. It was narrated that Abu Dharr said: “I was riding behind the messenger of Allah while he was on a donkey, and the sun was setting. He said: ‘Do you  know where this (sun) sets?’ I said: ‘Allah and his messenger know best.’ He said: ‘IT SETS IN A SPRING OF WATER (fa innaha taghrubu fi ‘ainin hamiyah).’” (SAHIH) (English Translation of Sunan Abu Dawud, Compiled by Imam Hafiz Abu Dawud Sulaiman bin Ash‘ath – From Hadith no. 3242 to 4350, ahadith edited and referenced by Hafiz Abu Tahir Zubair ‘Ali Za’i, translated by Nasiruddin al-Khattab (Canada), final review by Abu Khaliyl (USA) [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, First Edition: July, 2008], Volume 4, 29. The Book Of The Recitations And Readings Of The Qur’an, p. 375; capital emphasis mine)

BON APPETIT!

The hadiths teach that Muhammad’s food would praise Allah right before being consumed by Muhammad! Muhammad even caused water to flow from his fingers!

“Narrated ‘Abdullah: We used to consider miracles as Allah’s Blessings, but you people consider them to be a warning. Once we were with Allah’s apostle on a journey, and we ran short of water. He said, ‘Bring the water remaining with you.’ The people brought a utensil containing a little water. He placed his hand in it and said, ‘Come to the blessed water, and the Blessing is from Allah.’ I saw the water flowing from among the fingers of Allah’s apostle, and no doubt, we heard the meal glorifying Allah, when it was being eaten (by him). BUKHARI, Vol. 4, Bk. 56, No. 779

This reminds us of a scene from the Three Stooges where Curly’s sandwich kept biting him in his face every time he tried to eat it. In fact, it may be that the reason why Curly’s sandwich kept giving him such a hard time is because he was a disbelieving Jew whereas the sandwich was a Muslim!

FINGER LICKING GOOD

Muhammad forbade his followers from wiping their hands after eating until and unless they or someone else licks them clean!

“Narrated Ibn Abbas: The prophet said, ‘When you eat, do not wipe your hand till you have licked it, or had it licked by somebody else.’” BUKHARI, Vol. 7, Bk., No. 366

SATAN’S BOWEL MOVEMENTS, LODGING PLACE AND THE REASON FOR YAWNING

Muhammad taught that Satan urinates, passes gas/farts and stays in the nose of a person over night!

“Narrated Abdullah: A person was mentioned before the prophet and he was told that he had kept on sleeping till morning and has not gotten up for the (fajr – early morning) prayer. The prophet said, ‘Satan urinated in his ears.’” BUKHARI, Vol. 2, Bk. 21, No. 245

“Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s apostle said, ‘When the Adhan is pronounced Satan takes to his heels and passes wind with noise during his flight in order not to hear the Adhan. When the Adhan is completed he comes back and again takes to his heels when the Iqama is pronounced and after its completion he returns again till he whispers into the heart of the person (to divert his attention from his prayer) and makes him remember things which he does not recall to his mind before the prayer and that causes him to forget how much he has prayed.’” BUKHARI, Volume 1, Book 11, Number 582

“Narrated Abu Huraira: The prophet said, ‘Yawning is from Satan and if anyone of you yawns, he should check his yawning as much as possible, for if anyone of you (during the act of yawning) should say: ‘Ha’, Satan will laugh at him.’” BUKHARI, Vol. 4, Bk. 54, No. 509 – see also Vol. 8, Bk. 73, No. 242

“Narrated Abu Huraira: The prophet said, ‘if anyone of you rouses from sleep and performs the ablution, he should wash his nose by putting water in it and then blowing it out thrice, because Satan has stayed in the upper part of his nose all the night.’” BUKHARI, Vol. 4, Bk. 54, No. 516

Abu Huraira reported: The Apostle of Allah said. When any one of you awakes up from sleep and performs ablution, he must clean his nose three times, for the devil spends the night in the interior of his nose. MUSLIM, Bk. 002, NO. 0462

The footnote to the hadith from Bukhari states:

(1) (H. 3295) We should believe that Satan actually stays in the upper part of one’s nose, though we cannot perceive how, for this is related to the unseen world of which we know nothing except what Allah tells us through his Messenger. (Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan, The Translation of the Meanings of Sahih Al-Bukhari [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, July 1997], Volume 4. Ahadith 2738 to 3648, 59 – The Book Of The Beginning Of Creation, (11) CHAPTER. The Characteristics of Iblis (Satan) and his soldiers. p. 312; bold and italicized emphasis mine)

HUMANS TRANSFORMED INTO ANIMALS

The following narrative shows us the type of reasoning Muhammad used to conclude that a group of Jews had been transformed into rats:

“Narrated (Abu Huraira): The prophet said, ‘a group of Israelites was lost. Nobody knows what they did. But I do not see them except that they were cursed and transformed into rats, for if you put the milk of a she-camel in front of a rat, it will not drink it, but if the milk of a sheep is put in front of it, it will drink it.’ I told this to Ka’b who asked me, ‘did you hear it from the prophet?’ “I said, ‘Yes”. Ka’b asked me the question several times; I said to Ka’b, ‘do I read the Taurat (Torah)? (i.e., I tell you this from the prophet).’” BUKHARI, Vol. 4, Bk. 54, No. 524

What does Dr. Muhsin Khan say in his footnote?

“Later on, the prophet was informed through inspiration about the fate of those Israelites: They were transformed into pigs and monkeys.”

SHARIAH OBSERVANT MONKEYS

One of Muhammad’s companions claimed to have witnessed and assisted a group of monkeys in stoning a she-monkey for committing adultery!

Narrated ‘Amr bin Maimun: During the pre-Islamic period of ignorance I saw a she-monkey surrounded by a number of monkeys. They were all stoning it, because it had committed illegal sexual intercourse. I too stoned it along with them. BUKHARI, Vol. 5, Bk. 58, No. 188

Need we say more?

MOSES AND THE RUNNING STONE

“Narrated (Abu Huraira): The prophet said, ‘The (people of) Bani Israel used to take bath naked (all together) looking at each other. Prophet Musa (Moses) used to take bath alone. They said, ‘By Allah!  Nothing prevents Musa (Moses) from taking a bath with us except that he has a scrotal Hernia.’ So once Musa (Moses) went out to take a bath and put his clothes over a stone and then that stone ran away with his clothes. Musa (Moses) followed that stone saying, ‘My clothes, O stone!  My clothes, O stone!’ till the people of Bani Israel saw him and said, ‘By Allah, Musa (Moses) has got no defect in his body.’ Musa (Moses) took his clothes and began to beat the stone.’  Abu Huraira added, ‘By Allah! There are still six or seven marks present on the stone from that excessive beating.’” BUKHARI, Vol. 1, Bk. 5, No. 277

Again, need we say more?

A WEEPING PULPIT

“Narrated Jabir bin Abdullah: The prophet used to stand by a stem of a date-palm tree (while delivering a Khutba). When the pulpit was placed for him we heard that stem crying like a pregnant she-camel till the prophet got down from the pulpit and place his hand over it.” BUKHARI, Vol. 2, Bk. 13, No. 41

No further comment is necessary.

MUHAMMAD’S MEDICINAL ADVICE

Muhammad instructed a group of men to drink camel urine with milk for their ailing stomachs:

Muhammad further advised dipping a fly in the case it lands in your drink since it contains both the disease and its cure!

“Narrated (Abu Huraira): The prophet said, ‘If a housefly falls in the drink of anyone of you, he should dip it (in the drink), for one of its wings has a disease and the other has the cure for the disease.’” BUKHARI, Vol. 4, Bk. 54, No. 537

THE SIGN OF PR0PHETHOOD

According to the Quran, Muhammad performed no miracles to confirm his prophethood (Q. 6:37; 17:59; 28:48; 29:50-51). This embarrassing fact has led Muslim theologians to search desperately for any sign that would attest to Muhammad’s prophetic claims. One such evidence is the so-called “Seal of Prophethood” alluded to in the Quran:

“Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but (he is) the Apostle of God, and the seal of the Prophets: and God has full knowledge of all things.” S. 33:40

The question arises as to what was the Seal of the Prophets. Was it a spiritual or a physical sign? Does it find Biblical precedence and support for it? To our amazement the seal was a hairy mole between Muhammad’s shoulders!

“Narrated As-Saib bin Yazid… I stood behind him (i.e., Muhammad) and saw the seal of Prophethood between his shoulders, and it was like the ‘Zir al-Hijla’ (meaning the button of a small tent, but some say ‘egg of a partridge.’).” BUKHARI, Vol. 1, No. 189 – see also Vol. 4, No. 741

Chapter 28: THE FACT PERTAINING TO THE SEAL OF HIS PROPHETHOOD, ITS CHARACTERISTIC FEATURE AND ITS LOCATION ON HIS BODY

“Jabir b. Samura reported: I saw the seal on his back as it were a pigeon’s egg.” MUSLIM, Bk. 030, No. 5790

“Abdullah b. Sarjis reported… I then went after him and saw the Seal of Prophethood between his shoulders on the left side of his shoulders having spots on it like hairy moles.” MUSLIM, Bk. 030, No. 5793

Concluding Remarks

The preceding was just a small sampling of some of the irrational and mythical teachings of the ahadith, let alone the grossly immoral practices which are commanded and permitted within them. These examples should convince any rational person that the people who collected such ridiculous stories were in no position to determine the historical veracity of events which transpired over 200 years earlier. The hadiths are just as unbelievable as the Quran and therefore cannot be taken as credible sources on the origin and compilation of the Muslim scripture.  

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