WHAT IS HADITH?
Reported sayings or actions or traditions of Mohammad (Peace be upon him) , together with the tradition of its chain of transmission that are not part of the Qur'an.
People during Huzoor's (S.A.W.) time and even 100-200 years after Huzoor (S.A.W.) , used to memorize his sayings and writing of Hadith was not common at that time.
As Huzoor (S.A.W.) left ,many wicked people began to say false things by adding the name of Huzoor (S.A.W.) ,so that they could please the kings and in this way ,the sayings of Huzoor (S.A.W.) got mixed with false things.
So few people came forward and decided that the words of Huzoor (S.A.W.) should reach the people in its pure form without any alteration .Thus the words of Huzoor (S.A.W.) were recorded in the form of books and the Sahih Hadith was established.
The Sahih Hadith is a standard parameter for the people to know the authenticity of any other Hadiths.The narrators of this category of Hadith were pious and strong. So all other category of Hadiths are judged based on this ‘meter’ only. If the content is more in other Hadith compared to the Sahih Hadith,then they are removed or not considered.
Sahih Hadith were collected by six pious people namely – Bukhari,Muslim,Tirmizi,Abu Dawood, Nisai,Ibne Majah.These were the people who decided to deliver Huzoor (S.A.W.) words in its original form without any mixing and on the basis of sound narrators.
The collections gathered by these people were named after their name and later was collectively termed as six Authentic Hadiths or simply “Sahae Sitta”
Till now the status of these six books are above all the other Hadith books written before or after it. The reason being that the muhaddith(hadith expert) of these Hadiths got the narrators whose chain finally reached Huzoor (S.A.W.) .After these six books ,the remaining muhaddith (hadith expert) didn’t get such narrations and the hadith collected by them were picked from Sahih hadith (Sahae Sitta) or from books being written before Sahae Sitta. The later Hadiths also contain some weak narrations which were omitted by either Sahae Sitta or books before them.
That is why the muslim community gives priority to Sahae Sitta over all Hadith Books & thus ‘ Sahae Sitta’ is a standard parameter for the checking of hadiths.
Also, the book which is given priority after ‘Sahae Sitta’ is Musnad Ahmad collected by Ahmad bin Hanbal. He was 30 years older than Bukhari & has written Musnad Ahmad before ‘ Sahae Sitta’.
But it was not included in the Sahae Sitta as it contained many weak narrations. But after Sahae Sitta, this book is preferred over other books as it was written close to Huzoor's (S.A.W.) time.
The rest of hadith books like Hakim, Tibrani, Durre Mansoor, Kanzul Amaal, Mishkat etc. were written 200-700 years later compared to Sahae Sitta. Hence the amount of weak narrations is more as they were collected long after Huzoor's (S.A.W.) time and also one can’t get the narrators whose chain can reach Huzoor (S.A.W.) . So these books contain many weak and fabricated narrations.
Now, it is clear that no one has the right to challenge the hadiths mentioned in books other than Sahae Sitta against that of Sahae Sitta and thus to obtain the words of Huzoor (S.A.W.) , the best hadith book is “Sahae Sitta”.
Ranks Among Sahae Sitta.
There are ranks among Sahae Sitta also. Bukhari is given topmost priority followed by Muslim, Tirmizi, Abu Dawood, Nisai and finally Ibn e Majah
If there are similar narrations mentioned in all the six books with little bit of change of words , then the narrations of Bukhari would be preferred. Similarly, if there are similar narrations mentioned in Muslim, Tirmizi, Abu Dawood then muslim’s narration is preferred. Ibne Majah’s narration is preferred only when this kind of narration is not present in any of the remaining five books.
These are the general guidelines followed by the muslim community regarding the understanding of hadiths.
Hadiths are broadly classified into two types :
- Hadith based on deeds (day to day action).
- Hadiths based on prophecy.
So naturally inorder to know about Imam Mahdi (A.S.), we have to look into the hadiths based on prophecies.
What is Prophecy?
Prophecy is the “knowledge of the unseen”. From Quran we come across that the events that happen in past or that will happen in future are the knowledge of unseen.
- This is a part of the news of the Ghaib (unseen, i.e. the news of the past nations of which you have no knowledge) which We inspire you with (O Muhammad (S.A.W.)) . (Al Imran, 44)
- This is of the news of the Ghaib (unseen) which We reveal by Inspiration to you (O Muhammad (S.A.W.) ). You were not (present) with them when they arranged their plan together, and (also, while) they were plotting. (Yusuf, 102)
- Say (O Muhammad) : "I possess no power of benefit or hurt to myself except as Allah wills. If I had the knowledge of the Gaib (unseen) , I should have secured for myself an abundance of wealth, and no evil should have touched me. (Araf, 188)
Since prophecies are the events that will happen in future, therefore they are knowledge of unseen.
From where to obtain prophecy?
The rule followed is same as that of any general hadith understanding, that is obtain it from Sahae Sitta. But there are some notable points.
Suppose if a prophecy is mentioned in one of the weak hadiths and it gets fulfilled, then that weak narration is considered strong because prophecies are knowledge of unseen and so if the narration was not correct then it would not have got fulfilled. Investigation is the result of human effort which sometimes may be incorrect. But this happens rarely that instead of sahih hadith, narration of weak hadith gets fulfilled.
If there are same prophecies mentioned in any sahih hadith, pointing to the same event but slight variation of words then if anyone of the hadith gets fulfilled then that prophecy is considered to be fulfilled.
One cannot challenge any prophecy of weak hadith against sahih hadith. That is, if there is a prophecy of an event present in both sahih hadith and weak hadith and if only the sahih hadith’s prophecies gets fulfilled, then one cannot argue that the prophecy is not fulfilled because weak hadith’s narration has not been yet fulfilled. If the narration is fulfilled in sahih hadith, then the prophecy is fulfilled irrespective of the fact that whether it has been fulfilled in weak narration or not.But if the weak hadith’s narration gets fulfilled alongwith sahih hadith, then it can be mentioned while describing the completion of the prophecy.
One even cannot guarantee that the given hadith will happen in the way One has interpreted because prophecies are the knowledge of the unseen and before its happening one can only assume that it might happen in this way but cannot tell with full confidence that it will happen in the way assumed. For example, Huzoor (S.A.W.) was prophesized by Moses (A.S.) in Torah that “surely he will come near Faran mountain with 10000 pious men and having a sparkling law in his right hand.” Now by reading the above prophecy one can assume that he might come near Faran mountain but one cannot say it with certainly because we know that in prophecy name of place doesn’t generally match. And this was happened here also. Huzoor (S.A.W.) came in mecca which is a mountaineous region but nowhere in mecca was a mountain called faran during Huzoor (S.A.W.) time. Hence we can only assume about the occurence of a prophecy but cannot tell it with certainty.Those who try to say it with certainty then they are claiming that they have knowledge of the unseen. Only Allah knows the unseen and his prophets know only that portion of unseen which Allah has revealed to them. Apart from this, from Quran and sahih hadith we come to know that satan can steal a portion of the unseen and then feed it into the ears of fortune-teller and thereby he mixes it with hundreds of false talks and present it to the people. Thus if a person is arguing that the prophecy will be fulfilled as per his assumption then he is claiming that he is either a prophet, satan or a fortune-teller. And if not all these,then he surely is a liar.
Knowledge of Prophecies
Now, to understand a Hadith related to prophesies, we have to understand certain fact:
Contradiction in the names of individuals in prophecies:
Often the name of the individual that has figured out in prophesies does not match when prophesies are unfolded.However, sometimes meanings of the name matches or sometimes qualities, which the name signifies, matches.
Father replied that in his Book, he(Umar) has been prophesized by the name KARAN, which means strong, strict & trustworthy. And, as all of us know, these qualities were found in Umar (R.A.).
Thus from the above two examples, it is clear that sometimes meanings of the name matches or sometimes qualities, which the name signifies, matches.
Place: Generally it is difficult to figure out places in the prophecies.
This is because of many reasons; out of which some are listed below:
Generally names of places keep on changing with time. E.g. Earlier ‘Patna was called ‘Patliputra’.
Similarly, today’s Christian population what we see around the world (in America, Australia etc.) are generally from the same race who were called ‘Roomie’ at the time of Huzoor (S.A.W.). So, Huzoor (S.A.W.) has prophesized these today’s Christian population by the name, ‘Roomie’.
With time new countries are coming into existence:
For example, 100 years back, Pakistan, India & Bangladesh all were one.Now suppose, if someone at that time has prophesized about Pakistan & Bangladesh war wherein India has helped Bangladesh in two different ways: in one place like, “Indian Military would fight with Bengalis”; and in another place like, “Indian Military would help the Bengalis”.
Then People at that time would not have, even in their dream, thought that the above two prophesies were about the same war: where at one place ‘Indian military’ refers to today’s Pak army; and at other place ‘Indian military’ refers to today’s Indian army.
From the above two points a & b, it has become clear that it is better to give attention on the ‘Geographical condition’ rather than on the names of the places in the prophesies.
Many a times, Prophesies about a City or Nation, which had not came into existence, have been done by name of other city or nation( that existed & was famous at the time of prophecy).
For E.g.- As we know Kuwait didn’t exists at the time of Huzoor (S.A.W.) . Kuwait has come into existence in 17th century only. This is a small country the one side of which is in the land and the other is in the sea. Its geographical condition matches with that of Constantinople.
Therefore, at some places, prophesies about Kuwait has been done by the name of Constantinople.
Initially the place of migration (Hizrat) was kept in secret to Huzoor (S.A.W.) but later on when the time of migration came, the place name was made clear to him at that time only.
The Prophet said: " I saw in a dream that I was migrating from Mecca to a land where there were date palm trees. I thought that it might be the land of Al-Yamama or Hajar, but behold, it turned out to be Yathrib (i.e. Medina)."[Bukhari].
From the above discussion it became very clear that if a prophecy is unfolding in every aspect & only contradiction in name of a person is found, then in that situation, it is better to give attention to the meaning of name or to the qualities which it signifies.
Moreover one more point came to our notice that something in prophesies are kept secret so that each event shall happen at their respective time.
Tamseel (METAPHORS) in Hadith
One more difficulty in understanding hadith is that many things in prophesies are told in metaphors. Because of this metaphoric narration, sometimes it become very difficult to recognise things, even after it has happened.
For E.g. Huzoor (S.A.W.) , at various places, himself has prophesized many things in metaphors.
The Prophet (S.A.W.) said: " perhaps Allah will clothe you with a shirt, Usman, and if people want you to take it off, don’t take it off for them."
If Usman(RA) has taken its literal meaning then he would not have changed his attire for his entire life, but this hadith is metaphoric. kamiz (Shirt) has been used as a metaphor for Khilafat. So, when Usman(RA) got his khilafat and at the time when some people wanted to kill him and revered Sahabas told him to leave khilafat, then at that time, he realised the meaning of prophesy related to him & didnt quit Khilafat. (Ibn Majah & Tirmidih)
- Some of the wives of the Prophet asked him, "Who amongst us will be the first to follow you (i.e. die after you)?" He said, "Whoever has the longest hand." So they started measuring their hands with a stick and Sauda's hand turned out to be the longest. When Zainab bint Jahsh died first of all in the caliphate of 'Umar, we came to know that the long hand was a symbol of practicing charity, so she was the first to follow the Prophet and she used to love to practice charity. (Sauda died later in the caliphate of Muawiya). (Bukhari)
Now, why these things are kept in secret or tamseel?? .Because the events described in the hadith shall happen at their fixed time & at the same time, the person, in whose Heart the disease of "takabbur" ( arrgancy, egoism) is not found, shall accept the 'manifested truth' & the person, in whose Heart the disease of "takabbur"( arrgancy, egoism) is found, shall reject the truth because of the disease, thereby led astrayed by ALLAH.