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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ahaadees (or, if you are obsessed, Ahaadeeth) …

The Qur'an, or the part of it I read as a child, was in Arabic. Occasionally I was given an Urdu Translation under the Qur'anic verses. I even got one that had a Direct Translation in Urdu under it and a Meaningful Translation in Urdu under that.

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 read 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.

Reading most religious books, as far as it was possible, in the order that they were sent to us by a God, or were written by humans (inspired by God), I finally reached Islamic Studies that included the Qur'an, Sunnah, and Hadees (often spelt as Hadith or Hadeeth).
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."
Sunnah is what the Prophet of Islam did, like saying his prayers. For example, he prayed slightly differently at times and we have groups of Muslims who pray with their hands folded at the stomach, above the stomach, and some in between these extremes. There are some who in prayers, like him, recite a verse loudly, while others think, also from seeing him, that it should be said very softly. None of these makes them non-Muslims at all … but they are set apart as the followers of certain Taqleeds.

Hadees, written by people several years after the Prophet's passing away (we are told that the Prophet did not want them written down so that people don't consider it to be the equal of Qur'an) actually were stories about what he said (or supposedly did say), as narrated by one person to someone else to someone else to someone else …

The Hadees, to be considered True - in this game of Chinese (/Arabian) Whispers - had to come through people known to 'speak the Truth'. Rather difficult, actually, when you look at generations that had passed, but (strangely!) acceptable to the ones who spent their lives writing these hadeeses down.

We now have several books, like Bukhari, Muslim (Bukhari's student), and four others, from the Sunnis. This whole collection is called Kütüb Al-Sittah. Most Sunni Muslims who strictly follow the Ahaadees (although there are some Muslims who do not) believe that Sahih al-Bukhari is the most important book after the Qur'an.

Muhammad ibn Ya‘qub ibn Ishaq al-Kulayni al-Razi al-Baghdadi was from a noble family of Kulayn, near a city called Ray. He was buried in Baghdad near Bab al-Kufa in 981 C.E. His compilation of Ahaadees is known as Al-Kafi that all Shias read. It is a collection that is considered priceless by its own followers. A preface of the translation (Muhammad Sarwar, 1999) states that "Al-Kafi is not a book independent of the Holy Quran. This volume simply provides beautiful details of the above matters as they are mentioned in various passages and verses of the Holy Quran."

(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.

Always sounds peculiar to me, this attitude! I can have discussions with people over something today and, very rarely, do I find the person quoting a verse for or against my thinking ... but, much more frequently, I am told that their view is supported by a Hadees. This even happens sometimes when that particular Hadees is almost against the Qur'anic teachings.


Sahih Bukhari, a collection of 2602 Hadeeses collected in 16 years by Abū ‘Abd Allāh Muḥammad ibn Ismā‘īl ibn Ibrāhīm ibn al-Mughīrah ibn Bardizbah al-Ju‘fī al-Bukhārī (194 - 256 AH / 810 - 870 AD), is among the most popular websites that I visit often. I was astonished that the Preface said Hadees and Sunnah were the same thing. Many Muslims have a concept, now, that these two are the same. Pity!

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.

Some ahaadees really seem fantastic. Take this, as an example:
"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)
The Sahih Bukhari Ahaadees states that certain verses of the Quran were taken away. Then it quotes their gist and also tell us when or why this happened. Isn't it odd that people would remember these verses after three generations? Specially after God had made us forget them!


A few of them are also about Hazrat Ali, or some other holy person, in which the Prophet is mentioned. Is this a Hadees? Here's one of them. What do you think?
"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)"
Incidentally this is one of the Ahaadees that's quoted when Muslims want to kill an Atheist … or even someone who has changed from Islam to become a member of those that are considered Ahlé Kitaab.


Allaama Kulaini's Al-Kafi ook 20 years to be compiled. Among it's numerous volumes it has stories of the pre-Creation, the Prophet, his Ahlé Baét, the Imaams, and other religious matters. Apart from the fact that many Sunni Muslims don't agree with Al-Kafi, the book also has the following tale (and many similar ones, actually) …

Muhammad ibn Yahya has narrated from Sa‘d ibn ‘Abdallah from Ibrahim ibn Muhammad al- Thaqafi from Ali ibn Mu‘alla from his brother, Muhammad from Durust ibn abu Mansur from Ali ibn abu Hamza from abu Basir from abu ‘Abdallah (a.s.) who has said the following. "When the Holy Prophet (s.a) was born he remained for days without milk. Abu Talib himself breast fed him and Allah sent milk through his nipples. It continued for several days until abu Talib found Halima al-Sa‘diya and the child was given to her"  — H , Ch. 111, h 27

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).

You can read more on this subject alone here.


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Anonymous Noman Yousuf said...

Thanks ZAK Bhai for the lovely post. You're the one who introduced Ziauddin Kirmani's wonderful book, The Last Messenger with a Lasting Message to me, and I'd always be grateful to you for that. It was an eye opener, which elaborates the subject matter of your post very well. A few sections of that book hurt the sentiments of a pretty large minority here, but still the book is must read for all. Guess I need to have a session with you soon.

16 October, 2014 17:05

Blogger Zakintosh said...

Your session would be great. Shall we Skype?

16 October, 2014 17:37

Anonymous Anonymous said...

HI ZAK I have listened to many debates by Zakir Naik and find him a very interesting and intelligent person. You too strike me as an intelligent person. I am of Dutch-Indonesian decent and was born and raised in Java Indonesia. Being so I obviously from a young age practiced Islam. However there are many things that really trouble me about Islam. Sharia Law, Jannah and Jahannam.
Sharia Law to me would not be the Law of Allah as it is very restrictive and cruel in its punishments, Things I believe a God would not be condoning. The Islamic version of Paradise to me would be revolting. Living in Luxury, Given everything you want and hot and cold running virgins. One would soon tire of this. I personally would not like to live forever. Especially without, mystery, danger, excitement, emotion, fear and adrenalin pumping adventure. I would be bored to death literally.
I would not like rivers of Milk and honey. Servants bowing to my every need. If there is no emotion in paradise, no Beethoven, Chopin, Mozart, Buddha, Gandhi etc there then to Hell with me please!
As for Hell. Well no GOD that I could imagine would be so cruel and so merciless as to punish someone forever. That is pure hate pure sadism.No one no matter how bad deserves to be punished forever. Eventually one of two things would happen. 1: You would go mad, insane.
2: You would eventually begin to accept it as your way of existence and eventually begin to like it. ergo: No longer punishment.
As intelligent people I feel that the Islamic description of Hell is to put the Fear into people and the Islamic description of Paradise is to reward believers with tales of 24 hour sex, parties and Super luxury all without using your intelligence at all. Just the ticket for low IQ followers.


17 October, 2014 09:46

Blogger Zakintosh said...

Dear Woody Young
(is that ?)
Thanks for your comment. I enjoyed most of it and have some stuff that you may consider to be against it, as well. But here goes:

1. Zakir Naik is a bit of a crook. Yes, he is intelligent … and so is his young son. Both have an amazing photographic memory plus a bit of technology hooped in. ZN has lied in several things in his speeches … and has also paid members of 'other churches' attend and 'succumb' to him.

2. One of his teachers was Mohammad Sheikh who's videos you might find interesting at www dot iipctvstream dot com. Sheikh was my cadet for a while on a ship (I was at sea for 25 years). He is still a great friend and often comes here … despite my absolute differences in his 'main' view. He has told me tales of ZN which also confirm my findings.

3. I am NOT an intelligent person and, like you, I question everything. If I find that a belief system has many things that are not true, I give it up!

4. I was a proof-reader and offered a couple of corrections (such as dates) and a bit more to Kirmani's book: The Last Messenger with a Lasting Message. Once again I found the book to be fascinating. A lot more than most biographies are. Several parts I disagreed with - but that was his book, not mine. Well worth a read.

5. Sharia Law is NOT the law of Allah. It's interpreted differently in different Muslim countries. It often follow the Taqleed (another hideous item!) that the majority follows. They differ fairly greatly in some places.

6. If you read the Qur'an you'll find that the description of Heaven is just a parable — Surah 47 Ayah 15 — and it is described for the Arabs. All those things that they desire are mentioned - some pretty bad if we look at the various translations. Can you imagine going to a cold place would be 'Heaven' for an Eskimo?

7. I have often been told that God punishes just like a father punishes. That'd be fine — coz the father wants you to become better via the punishment, I guess. Eternal Punishment for a crime that you haven't really committed since He made you do that when you were 'created'? Sorry. Not my cup of tea.

8. I agree that most non-thinkers "would eventually begin to accept it as your way of existence and eventually begin to like it." But are you a non-thinker? No. Best of luck with your life …

17 October, 2014 11:21


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