Ahaadees (or, if you are obsessed, Ahaadeeth) …
I understood little, if any, of its meaning or what it desired of Muslims. The force was to read the Arabic and I paid very little time to the Urdu version. This is the way that most of us read it as children. It was much later, as a grown up, that I read it - fully - in my 'religious reading period', whilst I was at sea and had the time to think about all religions and their counterparts. I read several English and Urdu versions of the meanings of the Qur'an. These included Deobandi, Barelvi, Shia, Ahmadi. In English I read Pickthall (who converted from Catholicism to Islam in 1917) and Abdullah Yusuf Ali (a Dawoodi Bohra). The latter version is the one that is given by Saudi Arabia now to guests. I'd also many others by people who were not Muslims (e.g. Arberry).
You might want to know why did I have a 'religious reading period' at all. Part of it was my interest in Religion itself, as a subject, but a lot if it was my love of reading of Western or Eastern prose and poetry. Many of these contained references to historical figures based on numerous religions, a lot of them from the past and some from the more recent present. I had to understand these references to fully enjoy reading all the works that I did. Apart from religious works I also read Plutarch's Lives and other old books that spoke of the great men who followed these gods.
Having decided that the best way to read it would be, preferably, in a chronological order … so that I understood how the human mind evolved and how their ways of belief helped them do so … I started carrying several books to the ships with me.
(The sea was the best period of my life, I am sure, giving me time to read, listen to music, watch plays, meet people from all parts of the world, talk to people who would just have been part of my dreams were I not sailing to their ports. O' how I miss it!)Except a few, almost all people I met remained into the Islamic Deen or other religions into which they were born, with families and environments playing the major role. However, I also found that many of these beliefs (and disbeliefs) turned people into Polytheists, non-Theists (like the Buddhists), Deists, Monotheists, and even Agnostics, Atheists, and anti-Theists.
Ziauddin Kirmani's wonderful book, The Last Messenger with a Lasting Message, has this to say: "… we should not confuse the word Sunnah – the way the Prophet would act in a particular situation or, in other words, his line of action – with what we call Hadeeth (Tradition), that is, a reported incident from the life of the Prophet."
(I am rather surprised that, of late, many Shias, including a couple of close friends of mine, don't think that all of Al Kafi is necessarily true.)
Having been brought up to believe in the Qur'an and Sunnah, I also read a lot of Bukhari and Al-Kafi (and, very occasionally, Muslim) for purely historical interest … not counting them to be part of my belief system as something I 'must' follow. Now, with Internet, most of us who have access can read all these books online or download them (and hundreds of thousands do so). They read this and use it … but without even still bothering to read the Qur'an and its meaning in their own languages.
Among the collection of Bukhari's 'Sahih Ahadees' are nine books and the first book has Menses as its Chapter Six. Surely there must be more important things that we must follow, but these important things have been dealt with in later books/chapters.
I used to always wonder how, after being told to behave morally, the Prophet's widows — women whom the Muslims consider their Mothers (Ümm-ül-Momineen) — spoke to several random people about the Prophet's attitude towards Menses. I guess things were more tolerant then. Specially in Arabia. In my growing up in the subcontinent - and until very recently - none of the men and women talked about this, ever. Most of them still don't.
"Narrated Abu Huraira and Zaid bin Khalid: 'Umar Ibn al Khataab said "Allah sent Muhammad with the Truth and revealed the Holy Book, Quran, to him, and among what Allah revealed, was the Ayah of the Rajam (the stoning of married person - male & female) who commits illegal sexual intercourse, and we did recite this ayah and understood and memorized it." (Bukhari: Volume 8, Book 82, Number 815)”
"Abu al-Nu‘man Muhammad ibn al-Fadl related to us: Hammad ibn Zayd related to us from Ayyub from ‘‘Ikrimah who said: “Some Zanadiqah were brought to ‘Ali and he burnt them. This reached Ibn ‘Abbas and he said: I would not have burnt them because of the prohibition by the Messenger of God: ‘Do not punish with the punishment of God.’ I would have killed them in accordance with the word of the Messenger of God: ‘Whoever changed his religion kill him’.” (Bukhari Vol. 9 Book 84 No. 57)"
One has to believe in the supersupernatural to understand that God works in Mysterious Ways and He did not think it would be wise to give the Prophet's mother some milk but Decided to alter a male into being a kind of heterosexual.
I must state, though, that it is not just Ahaadees that are filled with Zaeef and Unacceptable versions. This madness is also part of the history which is altered profusely when people teach their children about their past. Here's one example:
Allama ibn Jawzi writes: That when Adam (May Allah bless him and grant Him peace) was being created, the noor of Prophet [May Allah bless him and grant Him peace] was placed in Adam [May Allah bless him and grant Him peace]’s forehead and Adam [May Allah bless him and grant Him peace] saw Prophet [May Allah bless him and grant Him peace], Adam [May Allah bless him and grant Him peace] asked “who is he?” Allah Ta’ala replied “He is the last Prophet and will be the chief of your children.”
(Al Wafa chapter on Birth of Prophet [May Allah bless him and grant Him peace] by Ibn Jawzi).