Umar’s Ban on Hadith

In many conversations and discussions with Muslims who acknowledge hadith as a source of law, I would often mention how Umar Bin Al Khattab disallowed the recording of hadith and the narration of sunan. Most of the time, I was asked for proof and could not quite provide any. “Fair enough,” I’d say to myself, “I learned about this on a missionary-kind of Hadith-rejection TV show after all, and never did my homework on it as I should.”

But today is the day.

Umar ibn al-Khattab once tried to deal with the problem of committing the Hadith to writing. The companions of the Prophet whom he consulted, encouraged him, but he was not quite sure whether he should proceed. One day, moved by God’s inspiration, he made up his mind and announced: “I wanted to have the traditions of the Prophet written down, but I fear that the Book of God might be *encroached* upon. Hence I shall not permit this to happen.” He, therefore, changed his mind and instructed the Muslims throughout the provinces: “Whoever has a document bearing a prophetic tradition, shall destroy it.” The Hadith, therefore, continued to be transmitted orally and was not collected and written down until the period of al-Mamun. (The Life of Muhammad, Cairo, 1935) [Source].

Many Muslims already argue that Umar outlawed hadith so that the Quran would not get mixed up and neglected at such an early, vunerable stage. They offer the same argument when you tell them the Prophet himself ordered his companions to burn what they recorded of his sayings. But it seems to me that people were doing well without hadith during the time of Umar.

There’s also the interesting view of Shi’a on this.

Muhammad lived in the hearts of his companions and friends. After his death, they wished to preserve all their recollections of his life. These recollections were of two kinds – his words and his deeds. The two together formed his Sunnah (the trodden path). Anything he said, and was quoted by a companion, is called a hadith or ‘tradition.’

But Umar did not want the companions to preserve any recollection of the words and the deeds of the Prophet. He, apparently, had many reservations regarding the usefulness, to the Muslim umma, of these recollections. He, therefore, forbade the companions to quote the sayings of the Prophet in speech or in writing. In other words, he placed the Hadith of the Prophet under a proscription. [Source].

Turning the tables, most Shi’a believe that this is a conspiracy-kind of act coming from Umar to prevent Ali of being declared a successor by the Prophet on his death bed. It’s actually surprising, to some level, that the Prophet wanted to leave behind anything beside the Quran. This means the very notion of the Prophet having preached anything outside the boundaries of the Quran are redicilous. How could Umar remember that statements outside the Quranic verses were unlawful while the Prophet could not?

Most Sunnis view that Muhammad himself proclaimed that no hadith are to be recorded to ensure that people would not confuse any hadith with the Qur’an, and that this decision of Muhammad was upheld by his successors (Arabic: caliph), including Umar, the second Sunni Caliph. [Source]

So, until the second Caliphate, people survived without documented hadith. In fact, they survived with it being illegal and advertised as haraam (being made illegal for religious purposes). Why did that ever have to change?

And just for the sake of reading, I give you this:

Abu-Dhahabi reports: The Caliph Abu-Bakr compiled a work, in which there were 500 traditions of the Prophet, and handed it over to his daughter ‘Aishah. The next morning, he took it back from her and destroyed it, saying: “I wrote what I understood; it is possible however that there should be certain things in it which did not correspond textually with what the Prophet had uttered.”

As to Umar, we learn on the authority of Ma’mar ibn Rashid, that during his caliphate, Umar once consulted the companions of the Prophet on the subject of codifying the Hadith. Everybody seconded the idea. Yet Umar continued to hesitate and pray to God for a whole month for guidance and enlightenment. Ultimately, he decided not to undertake the task, and said: “Former peoples neglected the Divine Books and concentrated only on the conduct of the prophets; I do not want to set up the possibility of confusion between the Divine Qur’an and the Prophet’s Hadith.” (Introduction to Islam, Kuwait, pp. 34-35, 1977)

One of the companions whom the Sunni Muslims consider one of the greatest authorities on Hadith, was Abu Hurayra. He was ever ready to quote a Hadith. There was never an occasion when recollection did not come to him of something he had heard the Prophet saying or something he had seen him doing. Once Umar asked him:

“O Abu Hurayra! Tell me this. Did the Messenger of God have nothing in the world to do except to whisper Hadith in your ears?”

Umar then ordered Abu Hurayra not to narrate any more Hadith.

You can read the rest here: I’ll have to disagree on the last part of the article that claims Quran cannot be understood without hadith. Also that Umar acted alone when all others actually wanted to record and document hadith.

Adultery in Islam from two different angles: Traditional Islam vs Quranism – Part I

In this article (defining our terms), Traditional Islam is Sunnism and Quranism is the belief that the Quran is the supposed sole authority of sharia in Islam.

I have recently been investigating details on the adultery penalty in Traditional Islam compared to Quranist Islam. I would like to share them with you if you are interested in truth, because a part of truth is to hear your “opponent”, although I don’t want to be one.

The subject is adultery in the Quran and sunnah. Lately, I’ve had the chance to read a book on the interpretation of chapter 24 (Tafseer Surat An-Noor by M. A Al-Hasan and A. F Abu Albah – dated 1983. Old, I know), where the first part exclusively dealt with the penalties and regulations of adultery in “Islam”. I found them to be awfully bigot and contradicting. I still don’t understand why any Muslim woman ever got into an Islam-ruled marriage.

Moving on, this book preaches that chapter 24 is dealing with the social relationship between men and women, highlighting the act of fahisha. The writer/s insisted that adultery is, indeed, an act of fahisha – thus saying that 24:2 is an abrogation of 4:15-16.

I wish to discuss the penalty of adultery in traditional Islam with you bit by bit, simply because it is a must. The first detail includes abrogation in the Quran.

Although the Quran mentions that a verse (ayah, actually) could have been abrogated (and only ONCE, being 2:106), there’s a big chance “abrogation/naskh” in the Quran means something else. Well, whether it means abrogation or not, who said you can “cancel” one verse using another? What logic would allow this? All based on a possible contradiction you found? What about the many verses that state the Quran is clear, comprehensive, and of no fault (39:28, 41:3, 10:37, etc)? So in what name dare you annul or abolish a certain law made by the deity you acknowledge as GOD by another law made by Him when you have previously learned that no contradictions exist?

In fact, 39:28 mentions the Quran is free of awaj, literally meaning something free of crookedness. The Quran is thus straight-forward, and so, there is no chance of sudden “turn-backs”. And yet, some scholars of traditional Islam recognizes such turn-backs under the name of abrogation.

4:15, roughly speaking, states that if “women” among you commit a fahisha, and four witnesses gave testimony against them, they should be sentenced to house-arrest for life or until “God helps them find a way out”. Then 4:16 states that, if “two of you” commit it, then you should hurt them; that, if they repent, you can stop. Traditionally, 4:15 is an exclusive call against “obscene” women while 4:16 can be general (considering the grammar rules of Classical Arabic) and yet is not (to them). To them the verses say that (as the writer himself explained) if a woman commits such an obscenity, she would be locked up in her own house for life or until God offers her a way out, and if a man commits the same level of crime (the crime at level fahisha) would only be rebuked and admonished.

You think this is bigot? Wait ’till we discuss more of this. This, after all, if you are a traditional Muslim, the religion you settled for, and are thus obliged to study and know it.

Anyway, the entire point is that 4:15-16 were abrogated by 24:2. But let us, for a moment, imagine a world where no “contradiction” such as this was ever found (no, reader, it is not a contradiction, but a technicality). We have two options: ONE, we either say that a fahisha can be something horrible, but non-sexual, or that, TWO, “adultery” in the Quran could be something horrible, but non-sexual. Either ways, those two verses will have to work together, in harmony. Only one can be about adultery (if you think it’s about adultery anyway – I don’t), and only one can be about fahisha, and yes, either “adultery” or fahisha is sexual, but not both. Adultery can not be fahisha neither be a part of it, and vice versa.

Now, was it so hard to find a way to fit both statements of LAW in one book without having to abrogate either of the two?

Angels are Daughters of Allah?

Sarah asked a great question on QRAC about the angels being daughters of Allah. I personally dont think the word ‘banat’ means daughters. However, the passage has become ‘flowing’ for me yet. Maybe in time, inshaa Allah

The bracket of ch 2 and ch 3

In the early part of ch 2, we have the word muflihoon (preperous ones). This follows a short passage describing them (2/1-5). To me, it refers to people who are always questioning, negating and practising (Alif Laam Meem) and thus achieving the state of doubtlessness. They then practise the connection with Allah and spend. They believe in whats sent down to them. Its almost like a mini discourse on how to live.

Then we got the very last word of chapter 3, ‘tuflihoon’ (you prosper). This comes after a 200 ayat discourse of chapter 3 which talks about the establishment of islam.

I dont believe anything in the Quran is a coincidence. Not anything at all. I believe now the twin-theme of ch 2 and 3 is al-falah (related to muflihoon and tuflihoon. So these chapters tell us about how to achieve prosperity albeit from different angles.

Ramadhan Vlog Day Three – Chapter 3

Discussed the breakdown of chapter 3 on my youtube channel today. Enjoy.

Ramadhan Vlog Day Two – Chapter 2

Did some musing on Quranology Discussion Youtube today. On the concept of chapter overview and an actual overview of chapter 2.

The Second Promise of Bani Israil

Lisa hit the nail on the head here when she mentioned the second promise to the Children of Israel in Quranology Discussions. She wrote:

I have a question regarding 17:104-111. I get the impression that God may have promised the Jews another revelation (17:104), that this revelation was eventually sent down to Muhammad (17:105-106), that Muhammad related it to the Jews (17:107), that they recognized the revelation (17:108-109), that Muhammad gave them further instructi…ons for prayer (17:110-111).17:104 We said after him to the Children of Israel: “Dwell in the land, then, when the time of the second promise comes, We will bring you all together as a mixed crowd.”

17:108 They say, “Praise be to our Lord. Truly, the promise of our Lord was fulfilled.”

Does “the promise of our Lord” (17:108) indeed refer to the “second promise” (17:104) then?