The Probativeness of the Sunna
by GF Haddad
II. PROOFS FOR THE PROBATIVENESS OF THE SUNNA
1. The Prophet's Immune State -- Allah bless and greet him -- Dictates That Hadith is Revelation
By consensus, the evidentiary miracle is proof that the Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him -- is immune (ma`sum) from the deliberate commission of anything that might compromise his Message. In addition, the most correct position is that he is also immune from error in that regard, while those who hold the possibility of error for him concur that such possibility is conditional upon his immediate divine appraisal and self-correction. It follows that every divinely-sanctioned discourse on his part is by consensus truthful and in conformity with what comes from Allah, therefore it is obligatory to accept and conform with it. This proof leads us to establish the probativeness of the following:
- His saying about the Qur'an that it is Allah's Word.
- His saying before every hadith qudsi: "The Lord of Glory said..." or some similar wording.
- His narration from al-Miqdam ibn Ma`dikarb: "Lo! I have been given the Qur'an and something like it. Soon a man will say, leaning on his couch with his stomach full: 'Follow this Qur'an, whatever you find in it to be [declared] permissible then declare it permissible, and whatever you find in it to be [declared] prohibited then declare it prohibited.' Lo! The meat of the domestic ass is prohibited to you. So is the meat of beasts of prey with fangs. So is a find belonging to the beneficiary of a treaty unless its owner does not want it. If one or more people arrive among some people the latter must receive them hospitably; if they do not, they must give them the amount equivalent to their hospitality."1
- His saying: "Here is Gibril, the Messenger of the Lord of the worlds, who has breathed into my innermost that no soul dies until it receives its sustenance in full, even if it is slow in coming. Therefore, beware Allah and ask Him gracefully. Let not delay in sustenance push you to apply it [once received] toward disobeying Allah. Lo! Allah - one does not obtain what He has except through obedience."2
All these reports come from one who is exempt from lying and therefore constitute proofs showing that revelation is divided into two kinds:
a) The Book, which is the evidentiary miracle used to worship by means of recitation.
b) Everything else, namely: the hadith qudsi and the Prophetic hadith, whose meaning was revealed but whose wording was chosen by the Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him --. If all this is from Allah, then all this constitutes inescapable proofs for human beings until the Day of Resurrection.
Also established as probative on the basis of his exemption from lying in the course of delivering his Message are sayings such as the following:
- "The claimant must produce clear proof, and the disputant has to swear an oath." (al-bayyina `ala al-mudda`i wa al-yamin `ala man ankar)3
- "Islam is built on five things."4
- "O people! Verily I do not command you except what Allah has commanded you, and I do not prohibit you except what Allah has prohibited you. Therefore be graceful in your requests from Him. By the One in Whose hand is Abu al-Qasim's life, the sustenance of each one of you shall surely come to him just as his term of life shall surely come to pass. Therefore, if you find yourself in difficulty because of some need, ask for your sustenance through obedience to Allah."5
- "Pray as you see me pray."6 The establishment of the probativeness of this hadith means that all his prayer-related actions are established as probative.
- "Take your pilgrimage rites [from me], for I may not perform pilgrimage again."7 The probativeness of this order and that of the acts and details of pilgrimage are similar to that of the previous report.
- "I exhort you to beware of Allah. I exhort you to hear and obey even if your leader is a black Ethiopian. Lo! Whoever of you lives shall live to see great divisions. You must follow my Sunna and the Sunna of the rightly-guided, upright caliphs after me. Hold on to it firmly, bite upon it with your very teeth! Beware of newfangled matters. Every new matter is an innovation, and every innovation is misguidance."8 The establishment of the probativeness of this order to follow the Prophet's -- Allah bless and greet him -- Sunna is tantamount to establishing the probativeness of all the different kinds of the Sunna such as the verbal Sunna (al-sunna al-qawliyya), the active Sunna (al- sunna al-fi`liyya), and the confirmative Sunna (al-sunna al-taqririyya).
- "Satan has despaired of ever being worshipped in your land. However, he is satisfied to be obeyed in everything else from the deeds that you consider despicable. Therefore beware! Lo! I have left among you something which, if you cling to it, you shall never be led astray: Allah's Book and the Sunna of His Prophet."
- "Whoever innovates in this matter of ours something which does not belong to it, such innovation is rejected." This and the previous report, since they come from one exempt from lying, indicate that our Prophet's -- Allah bless and greet him -- Sunna is probative in all its aspects which we just mentioned and that there is no misguidance whatsoever in confirming to it. Rather, the misguidance lies in abandoning the Sunna or practicing what contravenes it.
Next Topic: 2. Allah's Approval of the Companions' Conformity With the Sunna
1Narrated with sound chains by Abu Dawud and Ahmad.
2Narrated from Hudhayfa by al-Bazzar in his Musnad - cf. Ibn Hajar, Mukhtasar (1:506 #874) - with a chain of trustworthy narrators except Qudama ibn Za'ida who is unknown according to al-Haythami in Majma` al-Zawa'id (4:71), but the hadith is strengthened by witness-narrations from Ibn Mas`ud by al-Bayhaqi in Shu`ab al-Iman (7:299), Ibn Abi Shayba in his Musannaf (7:79), al-Quda`i in Musnad al-Shihab (2:185), and al-Daraqutni in his `Ilal (5:273); from al- Muttalib ibn Hantab by al-Shafi`i in his Musnad (p. 233) and al-Bayhaqi in Shu`ab al-Iman (2:67); from Abu Umama al-Bahili by Abu Nu`aym in Hilya al-Awliya (1985 ed. 10:26-27); and from Jabir by al-Daylami as mentioned in Kashf al- Khafa' (1:155, 1:268).
3Narrated from Ibn `Abbas by al-Bayhaqi in al-Sunan al-Kubra (10:252) with a sound chain according al-San`ani in Subul al-Salam (4:132) and al-Nawawi as cited by al-Mubarakfuri in Tuhfa al-Ahwadhi (4:475), while Ibn Hajar in Fath al- Bari (1959 ed. 5:283) considers it fair. Al-Bukhari cites it without chain in his Sahih. The second half is narrated from Ibn `Abbas by Bukhari and Muslim and al-Tirmidhi who declares it hasan sahih. This is a nearly-mass-narrated, "famous" (mashhur) hadith narrated from eight Companions in all and counted by al-Kattani in Nazm al-Mutanathir (p. 169-170) as "mass-narrated in meaning."
4Narrated from Ibn `Umar by Bukhari, Muslim, al-Tirmidhi (hasan sahih), al- Nasa'i, and Ahmad. Also narrated from Jarir ibn `Abd Allah by Ahmad.
5Narrated from al-Hasan ibn `Ali by al-Tabarani in al-Kabir (3:84) with a chain containing `Abd al-Rahman ibn `Uthman al-Hatibi whom Abu Hatim declared weak as stated by al-Haythami in Majma` al-Zawa'id (4:71-72), however, the contents of the hadith itself are confirmed by other evidence and Abu Hatim's lone discreditation does not suffice, as he is known for his severity.
6Narrated from Malik ibn al-Huwayrith by al-Bukhari.
7Narrated from Jabir by Muslim, al-Nasa'i, Abu Dawud, and Ahmad. Also by al- Bayhaqi in al-Sunan al-Kubra (5:125) in the wording "Take your pilgrimage rites from me."
8Narrated from al-`Irbad ibn Sariya by al-Tirmidhi (hasan sahih) Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, Ahmad, al-Darimi, Ibn Hibban in his Sahih (1:178-179 #5), al-Hakim (1:95=1:174) who declared it sahih while al-Dhahabi concurred, al-Ajurri in al- Shari`a (p. 54-55 #79=p. 46), Ibn Abi `Asim in al-Sunna, al-Tahawi in Mushkil al-Athar, Abu Nu`aym in Hilya al-Awliya' (1985 ed. 5:220-221), al-Bayhaqi in al- Sunan al-Kubra (10:114), al-Madkhal (p. 115) and Shu`ab al-Iman (6:67) and others. This is hadith #28 of al-Nawawi's Forty.
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