Please stop abusing the Prophet

Fathul Bari, a commentary of Shahih al-Bukhari by Imam Khairul Annas

It is abusive to partially quote the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, thus distorting what he said. How many times have you heard the Hadith "Paradise is under the shadow of the swords?" I have read and heard this so many times that I assumed that the Prophet, surrounded by enemies and a small Muslim community, must have said this to encourage fellow believers. Well, that's only partly true.

Here is the full text of what he actually said:

"Do not look for a fight with the enemy. Beg God for peace and security. But if you do end up facing the enemy, then show endurance and remember that Paradise is under the shadow of the swords." This is recorded by Sahih al-Muslim.

The full Hadith pretty much fits with the historical context and the character of the Prophet, who was sent as a mercy to humanity, and cared so deeply about not just human beings, but animals and other creatures as well. He would go out of his way to maintain peace and avoid a war, unless the enemy forced him to it. That is why there is no word in Islam similar to "holy war". War is never holy. It was always a last resort forced upon the Muslims.

But it is the earlier, partial reading of the Hadith that is oft repeated by firebrand speakers, since it fits into their theology of anger, while the full Hadith negates that culture.

On one occasion, I heard a Muslim argue with the help of another partial Hadith: "help your brother whether he is a wronged or is a wrong doer." The person was using it to justify political support of Muslims, regardless of if they are right or wrong. This behavior goes against the Quran, which asks Muslims to be just even towards their enemies, even at the risk of hurting their self-interest. (Quran 4:135). The Prophet cannot go against the Quran. What he said in a lengthy statement included the explanation that "the way you support your wrong doer brother is by stopping him from that bad action" (as reported by Sahih al-Muslim).

This above-mentioned selective use of Hadith to support nationalistic behavior is contrary to Islamic principles. Muslims must never subscribe to the "My Country Right Or Wrong" theory.

Here are some of the conclusions which I would like to draw from the above two incidents. These are in no way isolated cases:

1) This is abuse of the Prophet, God's peace and blessings be upon him. Please seek forgiveness from your Creator.

2) Lying is a major sin in Islam. It is more so when you distort a teaching of the Prophet.

3) God criticizes the People of the Book for this behavior in the Quran as a warning to Muslims to avoid taking things out of context.

4) This careless attribution to the Prophet can land a person in the Hellfire: "A person who intentionally attributes a false statement towards me will  find a place for himself in Hellfire." (Sahih al Bukhari). In another Hadith, the Prophet said: "Do tell others about me. There is nothing wrong about it. But a person who knowingly attributes a false thing to me, he will make his abode in the Hellfire." (Sahih al Muslim).

5) Remember the etiquettes of narrating a Hadith. Based on the above explanation, it will be good to adopt the following Adab (etiquette):

  • Avoid stating a Hadith if you do not know the accurate wording.
  • Avoid sharing a partial Hadith, since you risk losing the sense of what the Prophet was saying.
  • Don't draw big conclusions from a small statement unless you study the context.
  • Remember that the first principle of Hadith authenticity test is that it must not contradict Quran.

6) Scholars' Wisdom: This abuse of the Hadith was probably the major reason why in my Islamic seminary, my teachers, which included one of the grand muftis of Pakistan, wanted us to first study all other aspects of Islamic knowledge, including the Arabic language, grammar, literature, Quran, fiqh, usoolul fiqh, usoolul hadith, rhetoric, etc. And only at the end would we begin reading Hadith textbooks.

7) There are two disciplines that scholars employ before determining the proper use of a Hadith. One is called Riwayah and the other is called Dirayah. The scholars of Hadith focus essentially on Riwayah, which helps determine the authenticity of the chain of narrators of a Hadith. The scholars of Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) use the tools of Dirayah to determine how a Hadith will be used in reaching a conclusion, taking into account the whole spectrum of Islamic knowledge.

If you are serious about reading Sahih Al Bukhari and other classic Hadith collections, you should spend some time learning how a Hadith should be used and understood. The relevant disciplines of Islamic knowledge which deal with this topic are Usoolul Hadith, Usoolul Fiqh, and Ilm al Maqasid. Until then, it is a good idea to stick to the collections compiled for the laypersons, like Riyadhus Saliheen of Imam Nawawi, instead of heavy- duty classic Hadith books.

Conclusions

What the Prophet left for us is essential. Without the Quran and his Sunnah we are lost. My request for us to be careful is not to be confused with seeking daily guidance from his teachings. Rather, I am advising that we avoid the tendency to issue a Fatwa equipped only with a partial Hadith, ignoring the whole teaching of the Prophet. God's Mercy and Blessings be upon him.

May God forgive us for not being careful with our tongues. He is indeed Merciful and Mercy-Giving.

 

"Fathul Bari bisyarhi Shahih al-Bukhari Imam Khairul Annas" by Imam Khairul Annas - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fathul_Bari_bisyarhi_Shahih_al-Bukhari_Imam_Khairul_Annas.JPG#mediaviewer/File:Fathul_Bari_bisyarhi_Shahih_al-Bukhari_Imam_Khairul_Annas.JPG

Comments

Yeah, the hadith and the Qur'an get taken out of context too often. What's worse is when people are CONVINCED that somethings which are prohibited are actually condoned.

Location

UK

Assalamu Alaikum, May Allah reward you, your organization and all readers with his blessings and guide us to the correct path. Islam is a universal religion, it reminds and welcomes all to submit to the will of God, not a religion of compultion but conviction, you are right brother, we are confused and need proper guidance. If we follow our belovered prophets (SPBUH) intructions correctly, we will not make enimies, but convince people to look into Islam .

Location

Sri Lanka

may Almighty Allah in his infinte mercy continue to increase the writer in knowlegde and wisdom. may this type of article continue to inspire muslims and non- muslims all over the world (amin)

Location

abeokuta,Nigeria

JazakAllah,for writing such an enlightening article .yes, we need learned people like you to bring into the attention of people,that we cannot quote the prophet out of context for our selfish desires.May Allah (swt) guide from doing more harm to ourselves in order to achieve the worldly gains.

Location

us

This is longoverdue article to inform Muslims around the world and nonMuslims as well that either quoting Hadith or the Holy Quran in brief or in pieces to suit ones evil intentions can not be telerated any more. I have read such pieces before from a club to which I subscribe my memnership, and had to fight with several members who supported distortion of facts in translating the small pieces from the Holy Quran. The article will go a long way to educate all. Thank you.Abdul Mohaed

Location

Austin, Texas

Assalam u alaikum Wa rahmatullahi Wa barakatuhu. Excellent article. It saddens me to see us (Muslims) have really lost the essence of understanding the importance of Hadith and The Holy Quran and Islam on the whole. I am definitely going to spread this article around to create more awareness! All I can say is Jazakallah khair!

Location

Pakistan

Question- r u saying that we shouldnt be fighting, that there is no reason to fight oh what? I am getting very confused with all the recent statements being issued i would like to know if we are supposed to be like the black chrisitians of the 60's and just believe that we shall overcome one day without actually doing anything to protect our life and liberty?

Location

Jamaica

Assalamu aLaikum,You addressed a great concern...I'm always apalled by such quotations. Its so aggravatingJazakallah Khair,and the brother has a point...maybe u should send this article to the 700 Club and such organizations

Location

Canada

Maasha Allah. May Allah lead us away from these habits and ignorances. May Allah raise our Prophet to the highest place. This article is fabulous. Baraka Allahu fik wa salaam.

Location

ohio

This is an excellent article, Jazakum Allahu Khairan.Can I give the URL to my non-Muslim friends?

Location

Syria

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