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SECOND SOURCE OF SHARIAH SUNNAH/HADITH

Sunnah and hadith/traditions are technically same. There are three types of the sunnah of the Holy Prophet (SAWW), i.e. Sunnat-ul-Qaol, Sunnat-ul-Fael, Sunnat-ul-Taqreer. Sunnat-ul-Qaol is comprised of the sayings of the Holy Prophet (SAWW).

Sunnat-ul-Fael consists of actions of the Holy Prophet (SAWW) and Sunnat-ul-Taqreer means/implies those actions that were performed by the companions in his presence and the Holy Prophet (SAWW) did not prohibit their performance. It was a kind of tacit approval.

The second source of Islamic Jurisprudence or Shariah is the sunnah of the Holy Prophet (SAWW). Sunnah literally means way or path and technically it is comprised of sayings and actions of the Holy Prophet (SAWW). The Holy Quran and Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (SAWW) are the primary sources of shariah whereas all the remaining sources of shariah such as Ijmaa/Consensus of Opinion, Qiyas/Analogical deduction, Istihsaan, Istidlaal etc. are the secondary sources of Islam because they are derived from the primary sources. The life of the Holy Prophet (SAWW) is the role model for all Muslims because it is the practical form and explanation of the Holy Quran. In this regard Allah Almighty declares in verse No. 21 of Surrah Ahzaab Chapter the Confederates, ‘For you is the best example in the life of the Holy Prophet (SAWW).’Similarly, once the companions inquired from the mother of believers Hazrat Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) about the life/character of Holy Prophet (SAWW); she replied, ‘The life/character of the Holy Prophet (SAWW) is the Holy Quran.’

life/character of the Holy Prophet (SAWW) is the Holy Quran.’

Sunnah and hadith/traditions are technically same. There are three types of the sunnah of the Holy Prophet (SAWW), i.e. Sunnat-ul-Qaol, Sunnat-ul-Fael, Sunnat-ul-Taqreer. Sunnat-ul-Qaol is comprised of the sayings of the Holy Prophet (SAWW). Sunnat-ul-Fael consists of actions of the Holy Prophet (SAWW) and Sunnat-ul-Taqreer means/implies those actions that were performed by the companions in his presence and the Holy Prophet (SAWW) did not prohibit their performance. It was a kind of tacit approval.

The sunnah of the Holy Prophet (SAWW), i.e. his sayings and actions that are in reported form are known as hadith or traditions. There is another classification of the traditions of the Holy Prophet (SAWW) which is on account of authenticity and is based upon the period of compilation. In this regard the period of compilation of traditions has been divided into three parts, i.e. the period of Companions of the Holy Prophet (SAWW), the period of Successors, i.e. Tabeen and the period of Successors of Successors, i.e. Tab-e-Tabeen. On this basis there are three kinds of traditions:-

  1. Continuous traditions
  2. Well-known traditions
  3. Isolated traditions
Continuous traditions are those traditions which are reported in all the three periods of compilation by an indefinite number of narrators. These traditions are the most authentic and are having undisputed nature. Well-known traditions are those that are reported by a large number of narrators in two consecutive periods of compilation. In respect of authenticity these traditions are superior to the isolated ones but inferior to continuous traditions.
Isolated traditions are those traditions that do not fulfil the requirements prescribed for the first two kinds of traditions such as those traditions which are reported in one period of compilation.
 Whenever the text of the Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet (SAWW), he would recite it in the assembly of Muslim men. Later, he would repeat the same text in the special assembly of women.
 There is an other kind of traditions which are known as Hadith-e-Qudsi that are comprised of those sayings of the Holy Prophet (SAWW) which commence with the words ‘Allah Almighty says’. An example of Hadith-e-Qudsi is ‘Allah Almighty says each act of human beings is for them but fasting is for Me and I would give reward for it.’
The difference between compilation of the Holy Quran and hadith is that the Holy Quran was compiled under the supervision of the Holy Prophet (SAWW) and different methods for preserving the Holy Quran were taught by him to the companions under divine commandment; whereas, the compilation of the traditions was carried out by the companions on the basis of their personal endeavour. The compilation of the Holy Quran was carried out under the supervision of state whereas the compilation of hadith was not undertaken under official auspices and was the result of sincere and dedicated personal efforts of Companions of the Holy Prophet (SAWW). Great care and attention were exercised in the compilation of the traditions.

During the life time of Holy Prophet (SAWW), the Muslims did not feel the need for compiling the sunnah as he was himself present among them but soon after the demise of the Holy Prophet (SAWW), need for collecting traditions was felt. Even during the life time of the Holy Prophet (SAWW) some companions had reduced to writing a number of traditions. In addition to it certain documents were written down under the directives of the Holy Prophet (SAWW) such as the Charter of Madina which is comprised of 52 articles. A number of such documents as well as letters of the Holy Prophet (SAWW) to different individuals and rulers are extant. Among the companions of the Holy Prophet (SAWW) important narrators of traditions were Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-As, Anas ibne Malik, Abu Hurayrah, Abdullah bin Umar, Abdullah bin Abbas, Jabbir bin Abdullah Ansari, Saad bin Malik, Abu Saeed Khudri and the mother of believers Hazrat Aisha (may Allah be pleased with them) etc. Some of these companions had written down thousands of traditions of the Holy Prophet (SAWW). Hundreds of traditions about household life of the Holy Prophet (SAWW) have been reported by Hazrat Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) because she was a literate lady having impressive memory as well as knowledge of the Holy Quran and being the beloved spouse of the Holy Prophet (SAWW) she was having the closest relation with him. After the demise of the Holy Prophet (SAWW), the companions used to inquire from her about sunnah/ways of the Holy Prophet (SAWW) and religious issues especially about family matters. The task of compilation of traditions continued during the age of companions, successors of companions and successors of successors. In this context tremendous services were rendered during second and third century after Hijra. The founders of four Sunni Schools of Jurisprudence played an important role in the compilation of traditions. Imam Malik wrote the book Mota which contains 300 traditions. Imam Hanbal wrote the book Masnad which is a collection of about 30000 traditions.

 Under divine commandment, the Holy Prophet (SAWW) recited the whole of Holy Qur’an twice in front of companions during the last Ramadhan of his life in order to leave no room for mistakes in its text.
 The era of these four scholars of jurisprudence was followed by the era of scholars of traditions during which the six books of traditions were compiled. This important and hectic exercise was undertaken in the second half of the third century after Hijra. These six books are collectively known as Seha-e-Sitta that mean the six correct ones. The authors of these six books of traditions Seha-e-Sitta are Muhammad Abu Ismail al-Bukhari, Abu Hussain Muslim al-Nishapur, Abu Essa al-Tirmzi, Imam Abu Daud, Muhammad ibn Yazeed al-Maja, Abu Abdul Rehman al-Nisai. They devoted their lives and energies for collecting traditions and for verifying their authenticity and authority after applying strict tests. For example, Imam Bukhari who is the author of Sahih Bukhari collected a huge mass of about half a million traditions and after an hectic exercise he gave space to only 7563 traditions in his book on account of their authenticity.

The traditions reported in Seha-e-Sitta and earlier books are based on rationality and correct narration of a statement. Each tradition is having a chain of narrators that culminates on the Holy Prophet (SAWW). For example, if Imam Bukhari says that he heard a tradition from his teacher Imam Hanbal which was heard by him from other narrators and that last narrator heard it from a companion of the Holy Prophet (SAWW), who heard it directly from Hazrat Muhammad (SAWW), then we are having the books of the intermediary narrators and we can easily check that tradition in those books which can verify the veracity of that tradition. The rationality of traditions implies that no tradition of the Holy Prophet (SAWW) is in contravention of a verse of the Holy Quran and rules of common sense/prudence.

Without traditions of the Holy Prophet (SAWW), Islam is incomplete and cannot be comprehended, as the Holy Quran gives us only the guidelines about basic tenets of Islam whereas the detail are expounded in the sunnah of the Holy Prophet (SAWW). For example, the Holy Quran makes it obligatory upon the Muslims to establish salat/Service of worship but how salat has to be offered has not been elaborated in it and has been enunciated in the Sunnah of Holy Prophet (SAWW). The same is the case with other rituals and laws of Islam such as Zakat, Fasting, and Pilgrimage etc. Furthermore as the Holy Quran is the direct revelation of Almighty Allah, the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (SAWW) are indirect form of revelation as the Almighty Allah says in verse No.3 and 4 of Surah Al-Najam/Chapter the Star, ‘ The Holy Prophet (SAWW) does not say any thing of his own. He says only those things that are revealed upon him.’

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