Hadiths: False Tales or Authentic Narrations?

Hadiths have come under lots of scrutiny and criticism during our times and many doubts have been raised against its validity.  The orientalists in particular have raised a number of doubts about its true origin and whether they truly are the words of the Prophet of Islam (pbuh).  One of the most common criticisms of hadith used to establish the hadiths as just false tales, as they claim, is that it was not written down during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad.  They argue that hadiths were not written down until generations after the Prophet’s death, hence, they cannot be accurate.  This is the main crux of their arguments and the main reason, they claim, for their rejection of hadiths.

However, when we open the books of those who have researched this topic thoroughly, we find a different story.  M.M. Azami writes in his infamous work Studies In Early Hadith Literature, refuting the claim that hadiths were not written down until the mid-second or the later half of the 2nd century after the Prophet’s migration to Madinah:

“It is not clear who was the first who furnished this information, but later on all the scholars, even al-Dhahabi and Ibn Hajar, repeated the old statement without scrutinizing it, even though they themselves had provided ample evidence in their writings against this common belief.”1

Azami further elaborates and points out that this understanding is a result of the following misconceptions:2

  1. Misinterpretation of the words: Tadwin, Tasnif and Kitabah (mentioned in hadith literature) which were understood in the sense of recording.
  2. The terms Haddathana, Akhbarana, ‘An, etc., (mentioned in hadith literature) which were generally believed to be used for oral transmissions.
  3. The claim of the powers of unique memory of the Arabs so that they had no need to write down anything.
  4. Hadiths against recording hadiths.

He then spends the next few pages clarifying the above misconceptions.  And these misunderstandings are mainly a result of orientalists not being familiar with the culture and history of the muhadditheen (scholars of hadith) and how they use to deal with the Prophet’s hadiths.  Language was another barrier for the orientalists.  They tend to understand certain words of the muhadditheen in a way not intended by them.  This is common in language where certain words have one meaning in a particular context and another meaning in a different context.  For example, the word Haddathana mentioned in the chains of transmission by the scholars of hadith was understood by the orientalists to mean only oral transmission.  But this assumption is false.  Azami clarifies this understanding by stating:

“The word Haddathana was used in a very wide sense.  If a man read a book of traditions to his teacher, he could use this word.  If the teacher read to his students from a book or from memory, the same word was used to describe the channel of knowledge.  Some scholars applied different terms to these two different methods of learning.  If the teacher read to his students, then the students could use the word Haddathana whenever they transmitted that particular tradition, but if the student read to his teacher then he would use the term Akhbarana.  In general this difference was not strictly observed.”3

Azami further proves this, in the next few pages, through examples of various hadiths mentioned in the classical works that use the word Haddathana and other such words in their text and points out clearly that those scholars many times were referring to actual written records and not just oral transmissions.

Writing was a common tool used not only during the Prophet’s life but rather after it as well.  Dr. Muhammad Hamidullah in his An Introduction to the Conservation of Hadith points out many examples from the Prophet’s life in which written documents were created and have been recorded in books of history.  The most important of these written records was the constitution.  Hamidullah writes:

“After the Muslims of Mekkah migrated to Madinah, they laid there the foundations of a government and a city-state.  They Holy Prophet called for consultation of all the inhabitants of the place, Mekkan immigrants, Madinan converts, Jews and the Arabs who had not yet embraced Islam, and promulgated a state constitution.  This is the first written constitution of any state in the history of the world.”4

Among other written records he points out in his book during the Prophet’s life include a census, letters-patent, letters of proselytism, correspondence with the Jews, instruction to governors, rules and tariffs of taxes, etc.  There were also a number of companions who use to write down the prophet’s hadiths during his lifetime. They include Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘As, Abu Rafi’, Anas ibn Malik, and ‘Amr ibn Hazm.5  This, of course, is a partial list and not a complete one.

After the death of the Prophet Muhammad, many of his companions had their own personal copies of his hadiths written down.  One of the most prominent amongst the companions who is well known to have a large collection of his own writings was Abdullah ibn Abbas.  It is reported that, “when he died, he left as many of his writings as could constitute a camel-load.”6  One of the maidservants of the Prophet, Salma, said about him:

“I saw Abdullah ibn Abbas coming with tablets to (my husband) Abu Rafi’, and writing down something about the practice of the Holy Prophet.”7

It is well known that Abdullah ibn Abbas, when young, use to go to the elder companions and ask them about religious issues due to his love for seeking knowledge.  And he passed on this knowledge to his students in his own life.  For example, it is reported that, “certain men of Ta’if came to Abdullah ibn Abbas together with his books.  He began to read them out to them…Another pupil of his relates, ‘I came to Abdullah ibn Abbas and it so happened sometimes that I exhausted in writing all my stock of paper, then I wrote on (the sole of) my sandal to fill even that up, and then I wrote on my palm.’”8  As for after his death, it is well recorded that his students had access to his books.

As for other companions who either wrote the Prophet’s hadiths, had them written, or had a strong intention to do so, thereby, indicating that they did not consider it prohibited as some orientalists try to make the ignorant believe, then it includes: Jabir ibn Abdullah, Aisha, Abu Bakr, Umar, Ali, Samurah ibn Jundub, Abdullah ibn Abi Awfa, Sa’d ibn ‘Ubadah, Abdullah ibn Umar, Mughirah ibn Shu’bah, Abu Bakrah, Abdullah ibn Mas’ud, and Abu Hurayrah.9

A great discovery was made recently when one of the oldest manuscripts of hadith was found compiled by one of the students of the great companion Abu Hurayrah, Hammam ibn Munabbih.  It contained about 140 hadiths of the Prophet Muhammad on moral behavior.  It was dictated by Abu Hurayrah to his student Hammam and was named al-Sahifah al-Sahihah.  It serves a great historical purpose and proves that the hadiths use to be written down during the lifetime of the companions.  What is perhaps the most intriguing discovery of this manuscript is that when it was compared to the later works of hadiths by Bukhari, Muslim, Musnad Ahmad, etc., it was discovered that, “every hadith of (this) Sahifah Hammam is not only found in the six canonical books of hadith, narrated on the authority of Abu Hurayrah, but the sense of each of these sayings of the Prophet is found narrated on the authority of other companions of the Prophet too.”10  And the authors of these later famous hadith works had not changed even a single word of the hadiths, rather, it was similar in word and meaning exactly as the original manuscript.  Dr. Hamidullah presents the sahifah in the Arabic at the end of his book with its translation and also shows where those hadiths can be found in the well-known books of hadith.  All this affirms that the hadiths mentioned in the books of hadith are neither fictional nor baseless.  Azami put it best when he said:

“The pattern of composing books changed from the mere recording of hadiths at random or composing of booklets on a single topic, to cumulative writings incorporating scores of topics in one book…In later periods, this material was utilized by the classical authors, and edited with the utmost care, as is clear from the style of Muslim, Bukhari, etc.”11

1 Azami, M.M. Studies In Early Hadith Literature, p. 19.

4 Hamidullah, Muhammad. An Introduction to the Conservation of Hadith, p. 20.

5 Ibid, p. 29-35.  All the relevant references for these companions can be found in these pages in Hamidullah’s book.

11 Azami, M.M. Studies In Early Hadith Literature, p. 31-32.

Ruling on Acting on Weak Hadiths

In Islam, there is no dispute among the scholars that Qur’an and hadiths are the primary sources of Islamic law.  All issues related to the religion, particularly theology and legal rulings, must be in accordance to these two vital sources.  Any type of ruling, worship or belief that has no basis in the Qur’an or hadiths is rejected in Islam.  There is no dispute when it comes to the content of the Qur’an, however, hadiths have been scrutinized throughout Islamic history by scholars of hadith in an attempt to separate the authentically narrated reports of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) from the unauthentic.  While the Qur’an was untouchable with regards to tampering, mainly due to it being compiled in one book within the lifetime of the companions, the hadiths have come under attack throughout history by various people trying falsely to attribute statements and actions to the Prophet for personal and worldly reasons.  Some examples of these reasons include: promoting one’s own ideology, giving one’s own tribe superiority over others, hypocrites tampering with the religion to destroy it from within, and even some righteous people who did it with the intention of promoting good in society and forbidding evil.

The scholars of hadith took on the task to thoroughly research the chain and the text of every hadith they came across and identify elements within it which can help determine to the masses whether a particular hadith is reliable or not.  They categorized the grading of hadiths into four main categories: sahih (authentic), hasan (good), da’if (weak), and mawduu’ (fabricated).  They have sub-categories underneath them as well but these four are the general categories under which hadiths are placed.  There is a consensus with the scholars when it comes to not acting in any way or form with regards to mawduu’ (fabricated) hadiths.  However, when it comes to da’if (weak) hadiths, there is a difference of opinion “concerning the relating of and acting in accordance with weak hadith.”[1]

Shaykh Jamaal al-Din Zarabozo points out that there are three opinions on this matter:[2]

  1. The first opinion states that weak hadith may be used with virtually no restrictions on their use.  This opinion has been attributed to Ahmad and Abu Dawood.
  2. The second opinion states that weak hadith may be acted upon given certain conditions…This is the view of a large number of scholars, in fact, it is the majority view.
  3. The third opinion states that weak hadith are never to be acted upon.

Afterwards, Shaykh Zarabozo delves into the arguments of each opinion by those who held those opinions and concludes that the strongest opinion is the third one.  According to him the first opinion is a misunderstanding and the scholars of the past who held that position were not referring to hadiths which are today classified as da’if (weak).  Rather, he suggests, they were referring to hasan (good) level hadiths.  He uses quotes of Ibn Qayyim, Ibn Taymiyyah, al-Shaatibi to back his claim.[3]

As for the second opinion, this is the opinion of the majority of the scholars.  They allowed acting on it provided the following four conditions as stated by Ibn Hajr:[4]

  1. The hadith in question must not be very weak…[it may] only have minor defects.
  2. The hadith is taken as subservient to the confirmed sources, that is the Qur’an and accepted hadith.  Therefore, it may not be used to establish something that has no basis in the confirmed sources.
  3. The reward that is stated in the hadith should not be expected…deed should be done more out of safety and a hope for some type of reward.
  4. The doer of the act should not make the act public so that no one else may act upon that hadith and think something is sanctioned while it is not sanctioned or so that no ignorant people might see the person doing the act and think that the act is an authentic sunnah.

Ibn al-Salah al-Shahrazuri in his famous work on the introduction of the sciences of hadith also pointed out about this second opinion:

“This applies in topics other than the characteristics of God (He is exalted) and legal rulings concerning the permitted and forbidden, and so forth.  It is valid, for instance, for sermons, stories, the descriptions of the rewards associated with the performance of various religious acts…and the hadith on other matters having no connection to legal rulings and theological issues.”[5]

Shaykh Zarabozo’s reasons for rejecting this opinion as well, in summary, are as follows:[6]

  1. He states, “this is based on the presumption that virtuosity of acts somehow differs from laws in the religion of Islam.  There is no reason or proof for that presumption…statements concerning the virtuousness of an act must be based on the same types of evidence as any other deed in Islam.”[7]
  2. Weak hadiths are doubtful in nature and there is acceptable number of hadiths available and there is no need to refer to these doubtful hadiths.  Muslims should act according to knowledge and not conjecture.
  3. People who narrate such hadiths do not assure to make sure that it is not very weak; rather, they even narrate fabricated hadiths using the logic provided in this opinion that it is permissible as long as it is related to virtuous acts.  This understanding makes people too lax and they are not careful in determining if a hadith actually qualifies to be used for this purpose.  Thus, this view is not being put into practice with its proper conditions as stated by those scholars who hold this view.
  4. It is not easy to distinguish weak hadiths from very weak hadiths for even the scholars and is a very tedious task.

The third opinion, which Shaykh Zarabozo considers as the strongest, is that one should not act in accordance to any type of weak hadith no matter what be it subject matter.  He suggests that this is the opinion of Yahya ibn Maeen, Abu Haatim, Abu Zakariya al-Naisaboori, Abu Zarah, al-Bukhari, Muslim, Ibn Hibban, al-Khattabi, al-Shawkani, Sideeq Hasan Khan, Abu Bakr ibn al-Arabi, Ahmad Shaakir, Subhi al-Saalih, Ibn Uthaymeen, al-Albaani, and others.[8]  Mohammad Hashim Kamali states, “A weak or da’if hadith does not constitute a shar’i proof (hujjah) and is generally rejected.”[9]  Among the reasons listed by Shaykh Zarabozo for this opinion to be the strongest include:[10]

  1. Due to the numerous hadiths of authentic nature, there is no need to turn to these doubtful hadiths.
  2. There are strict warnings against attributing something to the Prophet which he did not say.  The companions use to start sweating when they narrated hadiths out of fear that they may attribute a lie to the Prophet.  As for some of the statements of the Prophet himself in this regard, following are a few examples:
    1. One of the worst lies is to claim falsely to be the son of someone other than one’s real father, or to claim to have had a dream one has not had, or to attribute to me what I have not said.” (Bukhari)
    2. Whoever falsely attributes something to me shall take his seat in the Fire.” (Bukhari)
    3. Telling lies about me is not like telling lies about anyone else. Whoever tells lies about me deliberately let him take his place in Hell.” (Bukhari)
    4. Whoever narrates a hadeeth from me that he thinks is false is one of the liars.” (Muslim)
    5. Beware of the hadith related on my authority, except for what you are knowledgeable of.” (Tirmidhi, Ahmad, Ibn Abu Shaiba)[11]
  3. In the terminology of hadith scholars, a weak hadith is basically a type of hadith in which there is a great possibility that the Prophet never made that statement and most likely it has not been properly preserved.  And “Allah has promised to preserve the sunnah.  Obviously, the preservation of the sunnah must imply that Allah will preserve it in such a way that the Muslim scholars can distinguish what is preserved from what is not preserved.  With respect to weak hadith, the evidence in front of the scholars is that they are not preserved.”[12]

A final point to mention about this issue is that some of the scholars, such as Ibn al-Salah al-Shahrazuri, had indicated that when “you want to relate a weak hadith without an isnad, do not use, ‘The Messenger of God (peace be upon him) said such and such,’ or similar phrases that definitively indicate that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said the words.  Instead, you should say for it, ‘It is related from the Messenger of God (Peace be upon him), such and such,’ ‘We read from him such and such,’…or something similar to that.”[13]  They said this in order to avoid attributing something to the Prophet which he did not say.  However, Shaykh Zarabozo makes a good point in that most people nowadays, due to lack of knowledge, are not able to determine through such phrases that the hadith is weak, hence, it is necessary to explicitly point out that the hadith is weak.


  1. Kamali, Mohammad Hashim.  Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence.  Cambridge:  The Islamic Texts Society, 2003.
  2. Al-Shahrazuri, Ibn al-Salah. An Introduction to the Science of the Hadith. Trans. Dr. Eerik Dickinson.  Reading: Garnet Publishing Limited, 2006.
  3. Zarabozo, Jamaal al-Din M.  Commentary on the Forty Hadith of Al-Nawawi. vol. 1.  Denver:  Al-Basheer Company for Publications and Translations, 2008.

[5] Al-Shahrazuri, pg. 80

[11] Sahih according to Al-Albaani, as cited in Ibid, pg. 86

[13] Al-Shahrazuri, pg. 80

Above is mostly a summary of Sh. Jamaal al-Din Zarabozo’s writing on the topic.

Rejecting Hadiths: The Fitnah of the Quranists

There are some “Muslims” in our times who follow a recent new movement (19th-20th century) which rejects hadiths, hence, deviating from the path of mainstream Islam. They pose and comment on many issues related to Islam from their viewpoint and reject many fundamental aspects of our religion.  Worst of all, they try to present their views as the mainstream opinion. It should be made clear that they do not represent mainstream Islam or Muslims in any way or form. The ummah (nation) of Muhammad (pbuh) accepts the Qur’an and hadiths as legitimate forms of sources for deriving Islamic laws. We, the mainstream Muslims, acknowledge that both, the Qur’an and hadiths, are a guidance from Allah.

Their History

During the colonial period, when most of the Muslim world came under the subjugation of the West, some “scholars” arose in places like Egypt (Taha Hussein), India (Abdullah Chakralawi and Ghulam Ahmed Pervaiz), and Turkey (Zia Gogelup), who began questioning the authenticity and relevance of hadith. It was not that some genius had found flaws in the hadith study that had eluded the entire ummah for thirteen centuries. It was simply that the pressures from the dominant Western civilization to conform were too strong for them to withstand. They buckled. Prophetic teachings and life example — Hadith — was the obstacle in this process and so it became the target.

About Their Movement

It is a movement that holds the Qur’an to be the most authentic criterion in Islam. Quranists (a common name for them) generally reject the religious authority of hadith (cataloged narratives of what the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is reported to have said and done), as they consider it inconsistent with the Qur’an. This in contrast to the Sunni, Shia and Ibadi doctrines which consider hadiths essential for the Islamic faith.

However, we the mainstream Muslims (whose ideology has existed since the time of the Prophet (pbuh)) believe that hadiths are necessary and are a legitimate form of extraction for divine guidance. We believe that Qur’an and hadiths go hand in hand and one explains the other. The Qur’an is general and the sunnah is specific and detailed. Hadiths are the explanation of the Qur’an by the Prophet (pbuh). The Quranists’ rejection of hadiths have led them to turn the Qur’an into a toy which they interpret based on their own intellect and desires. The hadiths, the mainstream Muslims say, preserve the meaning of the Qur’an. This is why Allah tells us in the Qur’an [meaning of which is]:

And We revealed to you [O Muhammad] the message [Qur’an] that you may make clear to the people what was sent down to them and that they might give thought. [Qur’an 16:44]

His HADITHS are that clarification!

There are also numerous verses in the Qur’an where Allah specifically commands the Muslims to obey the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), for example:

And We did not send any messenger except to be obeyed by permission of Allah. [Qur’an 4:64]

But no, by your Lord, they will not [truly] believe until they make you, [O Muhammad], judge concerning that over which they dispute among themselves and then find within themselves no discomfort from what you have judged and submit in [full, willing] submission. [Qur’an 4:65]

He who obeys the Messenger has obeyed Allah; but those who turn away – We have not sent you over them as a guardian. [Qur’an 4:80]

And when it is said to them, “Come to what Allah has revealed and to the Messenger,” you see the hypocrites turning away from you in aversion. [Qur’an 4:61]

Just as We have sent among you a messenger from yourselves reciting to you Our verses and purifying you and teaching you the Book and wisdom and teaching you that which you did not know. [Qur’an 2:151]

The above verses show that the Messenger (pbuh) plays a big role in addition to the Qur’an. This is how the companions of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) understood the religion as well. They understood that not everything is in the Qur’an. For example, it is narrated from Abdullah bin Khalid that he said to Abdullah bin Umar, a companion of Muhammad (pbuh) and the son of the second caliph of Islam:

“We find (mention of) the prayer of the resident and the prayer in a state of fear in the Qur’an, but we do not find any mention of the prayer of the traveler. Abdullah said to him: ‘Allah sent Muhammad (pbuh) to us, and we did not know anything, rather we do what we saw Muhammad (pbuh) doing.”  (Reported by Ibn Majah, Ibn Qayyim said it is authentic and Al-Albaanee declared it saheeh in Saheeh Ibn Majah (no.881))

The prophet (pbuh) warned us against them in a hadith which they of course deny:

“Soon there will come a time that a man will be reclining on his pillow, and when one of my hadiths is narrated he will say: ‘The Book of Allah is (sufficient) between us and you. Whatever it states is permissible, we will take as permissible, and whatever it states is forbidden, we will take as forbidden.’ Verily, whatever the Messenger of Allah has forbidden is like that which Allah has forbidden.”(Reported by Ahmad, Abu Daawood, Ibn Maajah and at-Tirmidhee, who declared it hasan. Al-Albaanee declared it saheeh in Saheehul-Jaami’ (no.8186))

Now, in my discussion with some of them, they will acknowledge that yes even the companions of Muhammad (pbuh), who saw, lived, learned, and met the last prophet (pbuh) himself, did not reject hadiths as a whole (they may differ on or doubt individual hadiths) but rather followed them and derived rulings from them. So what’s the problem? Their response: “They were just human beings and made mistakes. We shouldn’t accept it just because they did it.”

Just think about that for a moment. The very people who were extremely involved with the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) on a daily basis and learned directly from him were somehow collectively mistaken on the issue of following hadiths. I mean we have direct quotes from them acknowledging the sunnah and their strong desire to follow it to the best of their ability for God’s sake! Wouldn’t the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) have clarified to them to follow the Qur’an alone and not his hadiths? But somehow they were all wrong and this newly formed sect figured it all out. Completely absurd!

As for their delusional claim that hadiths were not written down until hundreds of years later, then I have already discussed this issue in a different post. If they were not written down, then why did Abu Hurairah say:

“There is none among the companions of the Prophet (pbuh) who has narrated more Hadiths than I except `Abdullah bin `Amr (bin Al-`As) who used to write them and I never did the same.” (Bukhari)

In addition, I would also refer you to Mufti Taqi Usmani’s book on the topic, especially the last 20 pages or so, where he completely obliterates this argument and proves that hadiths were in fact written down during the time of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), era of his companions, and the generation immediately following the companions. He references numerous manuscripts and names of books that were written much before Bukhari and Muslim came into existence. Therefore, this popular argument of theirs is completely debunked!

Their Hypocrisies

These hadith rejectors will criticize the sunnis for relying on hadiths while it was these same sunnis who preserved the Qur’an generation after generation! For some reason, they have trouble understanding the fact that if they do not trust our preservation methods when it comes to hadiths, then why do they trust our preservation method when it comes to the Qur’an?! If one of the replies, “because the Qur’an was compiled during the time of the Prophet (pbuh).” This is completely false! It was compiled after the time of the Prophet by the same people who today call themselves Ahlu Sunnah wal Jama’ah (i.e. SUNNIS)!

The ironic thing is if one were to ask them about the history of the Qur’an, they would have to go to hadiths else there is no other way. The Qur’an itself does not give its own history. Hence, they will go to hadiths when it suits their agenda and ideology. The reality is that there are numerous verses which cannot be understood without hadiths, for example:

Why [is it that] when a disaster struck you, although you had struck with one twice as great, you said, “From where is this?” Say, “It is from yourselves.” Indeed, Allah is over all things competent. [Qur’an 3:165]

When did this verse come down? What disaster is this verse talking about? What was struck twice as great?

Another verse:

And what struck you on the day the two armies met was by permission of Allah that He might make evident the [true] believers. [Qur’an 3:166]

What two armies? And on what day? What happened that day exactly? Where is this information in the Qur’an? It isn’t there but it is in hadiths.

Another example:

Allah has already given you victory in many regions and [even] on the day of Hunayn, when your great number pleased you, but it did not avail you at all, and the earth was confining for you with its vastness; then you turned back, fleeing. [Qur’an 9:25]

What is Allah speaking about here? What is the Day of Hunayn and its victory? What exactly happened on that day? You cannot provide any of these details from the Qur’an.

Last example:

If you do not aid the Prophet – Allah has already aided him when those who disbelieved had driven him out as one of two, when they were in the cave and he said to his companion, “Do not grieve; indeed Allah is with us.” [Qur’an 9:40]

Those who disbelieved had driven him out of where? What cave were they in and how did they get there? Who was his companion in the cave? None of this information is provided in the Qur’an but is available in hadiths!

There are so many other examples where you need hadiths to derive even the context of verses so you can know what is being talked about. Sometimes whole pages need to be properly contextualized to understand what is going on!

Do you know how Quranists respond to such verses? They make claims such as, “What benefit will these details bring me today? How do they help me as a Muslim? I do not need details of such information.” So on the one hand, they claim that the Qur’an is clear by itself and does not need hadiths but when you point to them verses that cannot be explained without hadiths, they resort to such red herring fallacies. In addition, to accept this response, it would mean that there are dozens of pages in the Qur’an which bring no benefit and are a complete waste. No God-fearing Muslim would ever hold such a repulsive belief.

Muhammad Abu Zahra in his fascinating book entitled The Four Imams: Their Lives, Works, and Schools of Jurisprudence gives a great response to one of Quranists’ main arguments. He says:

“How can it be said that the Qur’an is clear when it needs to be elucidated by the Sunna? The answer is that the clarity of the Qur’an is universal and not partial, general and not detailed, and the Sunna fleshes out the details of the generality of the Qur’an. The knowledge of the particular is only achieved through the Messenger.” (pg. 373)

Lastly, those who are actually interested in this science on a serious level should consider studying it in detail. There is an excellent curriculum mentioned here. I assure you that pretty much all of the hadith rejectors have not done even 2% of such a curriculum. They are completely oblivious to what hadith sciences actually consist of and this is one of many reasons they are not really paid much attention to in the Muslim world.

But Isn’t the Qur’an Clear By Itself?

Yes, the Book of Allah is clear in a general sense but still requires expertise and scholarship for deeper study especially when deriving legal or theological issues. I wouldn’t trust anyone without proper background to derive such things from the Qur’an. The companion Ibn Abbas famously described four levels of understanding with regards to the Qur’an:

  1. Verses whose meaning is known to the Arabs simply because of their command of Arabic.
  2. Verses whose meaning is known to all Muslims at a basic level, such as those that instruct Muslims to pray or fast.
  3. Verses whose meaning is known only to experts or scholars.
  4. Verses whose meaning is known only to Allah.

The above is clear when we delve into the grammatical analysis of the verses, the morphology and word choice, deep understanding of hadiths, and knowledge of how the companions themselves understood the various passages. Knowing the seerah also plays a huge role without which part of the Quran leaves you scratching your head. All of this requires expertise.

And of course there are some verses whose meaning is unknown to us and only Allah knows their meanings as He Himself said:

“He is the One Who has revealed to you ˹O Prophet˺ the Book, of which some verses are precise—they are the foundation of the Book—while others are elusive. Those with deviant hearts follow the elusive verses seeking ˹to spread˺ doubt through their ˹false˺ interpretations—but none grasps their ˹full˺ meaning except Allah.” [Quran 3:7]

Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) Companions Attitude Towards His Sunnah After him

We have numerous historical references where we see the companions of Muhammad (pbuh) being keen on following the sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in addition to the Qur’an. If hadiths were not part of the religion, then why were they so obsessed with following them? Imam Bukhari writes in his sahih, “After the time of the Prophet (pbuh), the Imams used to consult the trustworty scholars regarding the permissible matters in order to adopt the easiest decision. But, if the matter was clarified by the Book or Sunnah, they would look no further – in emulation of the Prophet (pbuh).”

As for some examples from the lives of the companions, then they are as follows:

Umar ibn al-Khattab was once delivering a sermon atop a pulpit, he said, “O People! When the opinion comes from the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), it is correct because it is a guidance that Allah has shown to him. But when it comes us, it is mere conjecture and preciosity” (Jami’ Bayaan al-‘ilm, 2/64).

Ibn ‘Abbas said, “It is only the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger (pbuh). Whoever speaks [concerning the religion] beyond that using his opinion, then I wonder if it would land in his good deeds or in his sins” (Jami’ Bayaan al-‘ilm, 2/32).

Ibn Sirin said, “Whenever Abu Bakr came across a case to which he could not find a solution either in the Qur’an or in the Sunnah, he would exercise personal judgement, and then say, ‘This is my opinion; if it is right then it is from Allah, and if it is wrong then ti is from me and from the devil” (I’laam al-Muwaqqi’in 1/57).

Umar ibn al-Khattab once told a man who asked him why he was not enforcing his own opinion on a matter due to his authority as a caliph, “If I was to refer you to the Book of Allah or the Sunnah of His Prophet (pbuh), I would have done that. However, I would be referring you to an opinion, and opinions are shared [by all]” (I’laam al-Muwaqqi’in 1/68).

Umar ibn al-Khattab decided a certain amount of blood money for the injury of fingers. He was then informed about a letter that the Prophet (pbuh) sent to Ibn Hazm in which he said, “For every finger ten camels (are due as blood money).’ So, Umar applied this judgement and abandoned his first one (Al-Faqih wal-Mutafaqqih 1/139).

But what about the hadiths regarding the prohibition of writing down hadiths and reports of Umar during his caliphate forbidding the people from narrating hadiths?

The Muslim scholars have answered these questions and the issue is not as complicated as the hadith deniers make it out to be. It’s actually quite simple and straight forward.

As for some of the hadiths in which it is reported that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) himself used to forbid the companions from writing down his hadiths, then this was only the case in the beginning when revelation was new and the Prophet (pbuh) did not want people mixing the Qur’an and his own hadiths. He wanted to keep a clear distinction between the two so that there is no confusion. We need to remember that the Meccan society during that time could not read or write. There were only a handful of people that could actually read and write in the city, the remaining relied on their memories for noting down important information. Also, during that early period, the Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) focus was on safeguarding his followers from persecution and there were no detailed discussions taking place that would make sense noting them down. The focus was Qur’an’s theme on tawheed, belief, afterlife, resurrection, judgement, paradise, hell, etc. However, later when Islam became established and strong and the number of followers increased, in addition to more detailed discussions and laws being discussed, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) allowed the literate companions to write it down if they wished. This is why we have later hadiths from his lifetime allowing it while the earlier ones forbidding it. For example, Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-‘As said:

“I used to write everything which I heard from the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). I intended (by it) to memorize it. The Quraysh prohibited me saying: ‘Do you write everything that you hear from him while the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) is a human being: he speaks in anger and pleasure?’ So I stopped writing, and mentioned it to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). He signaled with his finger to his mouth and said: ‘Write, by Him in Whose hand my soul lies, only truth comes out of it.’” (Abu Dawud)

As for the statements of Umar, then they can also be easily explained as noted by scholars. During the time of Umar, the companions were plenty, the religion was safe from corruption, and the sunnah was lived and common in the society without even having to narrate it in formal circles of study. Umar wanted to assure people do not become distracted from the Qur’an because he did not see any need to focus on narrating hadiths when they were so commonly known among them. He was by no means suggesting a rejection of the prophetic hadiths as a whole and this is why we have examples of him taking from the sunnah to make judgments when he couldn’t find it in the Qur’an! However, later on when the number of companions decreased and corruption started coming into the religion, the scholars started collecting hadiths in formal books due to the need of safeguarding the religion of Allah. Before this formal collection, there were scattered personal collections of hadith of various companions and scholars but nothing for the public at large. Dr. Umar al-Ashqar writes:

“The most common way of narrating the sunnah [in the beginning] was that people would memorize and dictate hadiths of the Prophet (pbuh). Aside from that, there was only Kitab as-Sadaqat and a few other documents that a researcher would only find after rigorous investigation. Thereafter, the need arose for the sunnah to be documented in writing; Islam had spread, the Muslim territories increased, the conquests continued, the companions dispersed throughout the lands, most of them passed away, their followers were scattered everywhere, accuracy was becoming scarce, and thus the sunnah being lost became a legitimate fear. For these reasons, the scholars were in need of compiling the hadith and preserving it through writing.

“When the rightly-guided caliph Umar ibn Abdil-Aziz realized that the Prophetic Sunnah was in danger – and he, may Allah bestow mercy on him, was a man of great insight in the religion of Allah – he commanded that the sunnah be compiled. He knew that the scholars among the companions and successors did not compile the sunnnah for a wisdom particular to their times, while that wisdom did not exist in this time, so the fatwa changed due to the changed times.” (History of Islamic Fiqh, pg. 130-131)

This wisdom of Umar ibn Abdil-Aziz is not much different than what occurred between Abu Bakr and Umar when they disagreed whether the Qur’an should be compiled in one book or not. At first, Abu Bakr did not want to do it because he felt this is something the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) never did so how could they do so? However, Umar made him realize the importance of it due to a need because many of the memorizers of the Qur’an were dying in battles and he wanted to safeguard the Book of Allah. Abu Bakr later agreed with this wisdom of his and realized its importance and the other companions followed suit.

Think of it this way, in the beginning of Islam there was no need to hold classes on classical Arabic grammar because it was well understood and spoken among the masses. However, later on when the Arabic language began to change due to outside influence and the original classical Arabic began to disappear from the masses, the scholars felt the need to note down rules related to the classical Arabic language in books from which it could be studied so that the meaning of the Qur’an is not lost. Today, a person can never be considered a serious student of Islamic sciences without delving into classical Arabic grammar as well. You are simply not going to be able to understand the Qur’an directly without doing so. The same goes for the hadiths. In the beginning, there was no need to do a formal collective effort because the hadiths were well-known and practiced in society but this changed later, thus, it necessitated collecting them in a formal manner.

Refutations Against Them

Alhamdulillah, they have been refuted profoundly throughout the Muslim world. To appreciate some of the finer details of hadith sciences and how meticulous the scholars of Islam were in grading hadiths, please refer to my explanatory notes on Ibn Hajar’s book Nukhbat al-Fikar.

Following is a list of some refutations against them:

And there is so much more stuff out there!

51 Short Hadiths Every Muslim Should Know with Explanation


I recently came across a wonderful list of short hadiths to memorize taken exclusively from the collections of Bukhari and Muslim. While I was reading through them, I felt they should be translated because the specific list is full of so much wisdom and for the most part self-explanatory. I decided to keep the Arabic available as well for those who wish to memorize them.

In addition, I am also providing a brief explanation of each hadith using mainly the Dorar hadith encyclopedia.

I hope you benefit from the words of the Prophet ﷺ below as much as I did!

Hadith 1 – Virtue of Making Tasbeeh

:كَلِمَتَانِ خَفِيفَتَانِ عَلَى اللِّسَانِ، ثَقِيلَتَانِ فِي الْمِيزَانِ، حَبِيبَتَانِ إِلَى الرَّحْمَنِ

(سُبْحَانَ اللهِ وَبِحَمْدِهِ)، (سُبْحانَ اللهِ الْعَظِيمِ)

There are two words which are light on the tongue, heavy on the scale, and loved by the Most Merciful: SubhanAllahi wa bihamdi, SubhanAllahi al-azeem (Glorified is Allah and praised is He, Glorified is Allah the Most Great).

(Bukhari and Muslim)


The remembrance of Allah is what gives comfort to the heart and soul. In this hadith, the Prophet (ﷺ) informs us of the great blessings that result from two particularly short phrases verbalized on a Muslim’s tongue. The word tasbeeh means to negate from Allah every type of defect and imperfection. The most typical phrase used to do this in Arabic is to say SubhanAllah. The two phrases mentioned are easy to say in any situation without difficulty. A person can repeat them over and over again often and this is why the Prophet (ﷺ) recommended it.

We are also informed that the weight of these two short phrases will be very heavy on the Day of Judgment when all of our good and bad deeds will be weighed against each other on the scale. Then the Prophet (ﷺ) stated that these two phrases, in particular, are very beloved by Allah. This indicates that doing tasbeeh of Allah and praising Him is among the best forms of supererogatory worship. 

This hadith also teaches us about the vastness of Allah’s mercy over us because He is willing to give us lots of reward for doing small good deeds.

Hadith 2 – Good Treatment of Parents

جَاءَ رَجُلٌ إِلَى رَسُولِ اللهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَقَالَ يَا رَسُولَ اللهِ مَنْ أَحَقُّ بِحُسْنِ صَحَابَتِي قَالَ ‏”‏ أُمُّكَ ‏”‏‏.‏ قَالَ ثُمَّ مَنْ قَالَ ‏”‏ أُمُّكَ ‏”‏‏.‏ قَالَ ثُمَّ مَنْ قَالَ ‏”‏ أُمُّكَ ‏”‏‏.‏ قَالَ ثُمَّ مَنْ قَالَ ‏”‏ ثُمَّ أَبُوكَ‏”.‏‏‏

A man came to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and said, “O Messenger of Allah! Who among the people has the most right to my good company?” He replied, “Your mother.” The man said, “Then who?” He replied, “Your mother.” The man said, “Then who?” He replied, “Your mother.” The man said, “Then who?” He replied, “Then your father.”

(Bukhari and Muslim)


The mother symbolizes sacrifice, honor, and purity. She is usually the first to look after the child. In this hadith, the Prophet (ﷺ) is asked about the person most deserving of good companionship among the people and he responds that it is the mother. The Prophet (ﷺ) emphasizes this fact three times, which goes to show the high level of regard for the mother over other relatives in the religion. 

The father being mentioned only once does not mean that there is deficiency in his right to good treatment, rather, the point is to show the greatness of the mother’s right. Some speculate that the reasons may be due to the abundance of her favors over the child and the many physical and psychological hardships endured by her during pregnancy, delivery, and breastfeeding. She also serves and has more compassion for her children than others. This amount of love and care may blind the child from giving her the treatment that she deserves, or the child may even begin to take her for granted, thus, the Prophet (ﷺ) wanted to emphasize it.

Hadith 3 – Avoiding Suspicion

إِيَّاكُمْ وَالظَّنَّ, فَإِنَّ اَلظَّنَّ أَكْذَبُ اَلْحَدِيثِ

Beware of suspicion for it is the most untruthful type of speech.

(Bukhari and Muslim)


Islamic law encourages reconciliation, consolidation, and harmony between Muslims and it prohibits anything that may cause rift, hostility, hatred, and disunity between them. In this hadith, the Prophet (ﷺ) warns us against one of the things that leads to hostility and disunity in the community: suspicion. This is when someone accuses another of doing something wrong in his/her heart without evidence. In other words, it is to think evil of other Muslims. It is not appropriate for a Muslim to think bad of another Muslim merely out of suspicion without even ascertaining the doubt. 

Some of the scholars say that we must do our best to first give excuses for others’ wrong behavior to the best of our ability before making a judgment. We do not always know the circumstances of other people and why they are behaving in a certain manner. Perhaps, they are not aware that they are doing something wrong or maybe they are stuck in a situation where it is difficult for them to act otherwise. These are just examples but there could be numerous other valid reasons as well. Sometimes people are just calling for help but nobody has ever offered it to them.

The Prophet (ﷺ) warned us against it because it leads to hostility, hatred, rumors, and overall disunity within the community. Everyone ends up suffering due to something that is not even confirmed. How often have we heard of cases where marriages are broken, friendships lost, and communities torn apart all because someone thought somebody was doing something wrong only to realize later that they were heavily mistaken in their assessment.

Hadith 4 – Guarding the Tongue

 إِنَّ الْعَبْدَ لَيَتَكَلَّمُ بِالْكَلِمَةِ مَا يَتَبَيَّنُ فِيهَا، يَزِلُّ بِهَا فِي النَّارِ أَبْعَدَ مِمَّا بَيْنَ الْمَشْرِقِ وَ الْمَغْرِبِ

A slave [of Allah] may utter a word without giving it much thought by which he slips into the fire a distance further than that between east and west.

(Bukhari and Muslim)


The tongue is a great blessing of Allah and despite its small size, it could be the cause of a person’s bliss or doom in the afterlife. Therefore, it is very important for a Muslim to safeguard his/her tongue from lying, backbiting, slandering, cursing, and a host of other sins that emanate from this single organ. In fact, some words are so dangerous that they can throw a person outside the fold of Islam.

The Prophet (ﷺ) in this hadith is teaching us about the effects of words and their consequences. A person could utter a word or statement thinking nothing of it, and may even consider it insignificant, however, in the sight of Allah it may be highly detested, which causes the person to fall into the depths of hellfire. The opposite could also occur. A person may utter a word or statement and not give it much attention, however, in the sight of Allah it may be highly loved, which causes the person to be raised several levels in paradise.

The important lesson from this wonderful hadith is that we must think before we speak. As the Prophet (ﷺ) directed us in another hadith to either say something good or remain silent. Some of the scholars mention that before uttering a word, the person is its master but as soon it leaves the tongue, then the person becomes its prisoner. It is important to ponder over the consequences of one’s words before speaking and the harms they may cause to oneself and others.

Hadith 5 – Avoiding the Forbidden

إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَغَارُ وَغَيْرَةُ اللهِ أَنْ يَأْتِيَ الْمُؤْمِنُ مَا حَرَّمَ اللهُ

Allah becomes jealous [of His honor] and that is when the believer does something He has forbidden.

(Bukhari and Muslim)


Allah placed limitations and laws within which we must live our lives and then He sent His prophets and messengers to convey those restrictions to the people. In this way, the evidence is established against the sinners because the messengers and prophets fulfilled their duty of informing us of the permissible and prohibited.

In this hadith, the Prophet (ﷺ) warns the believers from occupying themselves in forbidden matters. The Prophet (ﷺ) worded it in a way so that a true believer would not even think about doing something forbidden. The believers are specifically pointed out because they should know better. The disbelievers might be engaging in forbidden things out of ignorance but a believer has no excuse, therefore, there is a stern warning in this hadith to the believers from committing prohibited deeds.

The hadith also mentions one of the Attributes of Allah. Whenever we come across one of His Attributes in the Qur’an or hadiths, it should never be compared to His creation. Allah is nothing like His creation. He is far above and beyond His creation. As Muslims, we affirm and believe in all His Attributes mentioned in the Qur’an and hadiths without modality, resemblance, and denial.

Hadith 6 – Virtue of Ramadan

مَنْ قَامَ رَمَضَانَ إِيمَانًا وَاحْتِسَابًا, غُفِرَ لَهُ مَا تَقَدَّمَ مِنْ ذَنْبِهِ

Whoever stands [for night prayer] in Ramadan out of faith and hope for reward will be forgiven his past sins.

(Bukhari and Muslim)


In this hadith, the Prophet (ﷺ) is encouraging us to offer prayers during the nights of Ramadan, commonly known as the Taraweeh prayers, and the great reward waiting for those who choose to do so.

Ramadan is a month full of blessings in which the doors of paradise are opened and the gates of hell are closed. One of the great blessings of this month is the opportunity to pray the Taraweeh prayers, which are offered between the Isha and Witr prayers. The Prophet (ﷺ) mentioned two things as conditions to obtain the reward attached to offering these prayers:

  • The person must have faith – Meaning the person is a Muslim who believes in all of Islam’s tenets.
  • Hope for reward – Meaning the person is hoping for reward from Allah for performing the Taraweeh prayers. The person is not doing it to be seen or rewarded by the people, rather, he/she is sincerely doing it for only Allah’s pleasure.

Then the Prophet (ﷺ) mentioned the result of those who fulfill the previous two conditions that all of their previous sins will be forgiven. It should be noted that this is in reference to only those types of sins which violate the rights of Allah and not other individuals. If the sins are of latter nature, then the person must seek forgiveness from Allah and right the wrongs committed against others by either compensating them for their lost rights or seeking their forgiveness. For example, if a person stole another’s wealth, then he/she must return it back to its rightful owner unless the victim forgoes the right and chooses instead to forgive the perpetrator.

The main lesson from this hadith is to take full advantage of the night prayers in Ramadan.

Hadith 7 – Virtue of Umrah and Hajj

الْعُمْرَةُ إِلَى الْعُمْرَةِ كَفَّارَةٌ لِمَا بَيْنَهُمَا وَالْحَجُّ الْمَبْرُورُ لَيْسَ لَهُ جَزاءٌ إِلا الجنَّةُ

One Umrah to the next is an expiation for whatever happened between them and the only reward for an accepted Hajj is paradise.

(Bukhari and Muslim)


In this hadith, there is encouragement for us to perform Umrah multiple times in our lives. Allah made good deeds as a way to expiate us from our sins and to raise our ranks. One of the best ways to do this is through Umrah and Hajj. The former can be performed any time of the year and can be completed in one day but the latter can only be done during the season of Hajj and takes multiple days to complete.

The Prophet (ﷺ) is teaching us the blessing of doing Umrah and Hajj. For Umrah, we are taught that whoever performs it multiple times, then it will be an expiation of sins committed between them. This means the person will not be held responsible for them on the Day of Judgment. It should be noted that this is in reference to minor sins and not major ones. The latter require sincere repentance and good deeds alone will not suffice to wipe them out. There are various opinions among scholars on how exactly to define major sins. Some of the definitions of major sins include:

  • Sins which come with a threat of punishment in the Qur’an or Sunnah
  • Sins for which there is a prescribed punishment mentioned in the Qur’an or Sunnah either in this life or the next
  • Sins for which the doer is said to be cursed in the Qur’an or Sunnah
  • Some restricted it to the seven destructive sins that are mentioned in a specific hadith: to join partners with Allah, practice black magic, murdering an innocent person, usury, eat the property of the orphan, to give one’s back to the enemy and fleeing from the battle-field at the time of fighting, and to falsely accuse chaste women of fornication
  • There are other opinions as well

The accepted Hajj is the type that is done without doing anything forbidden in it. Some also said it is a type that a person performs sincerely for Allah’s sake without showing off or seeking fame and the person completes all of its pillars and obligations.

Hadith 8 – Yawning

التَّثَاؤُبُ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ فَإِذَا تَثَاءَبَ أَحَدُكُمْ فَلْيَكْظِمْ مَا اسْتَطَاعَ

Yawning is from the devil so whenever one of you yawns, then let him try to suppress it as much as possible.

(Bukhari and Muslim)


Yawning is associated with laziness and laxity. People with such characteristics tend to avoid doing good deeds and fulfilling their obligations, which is exactly what the devil incites us to do. This is why the Prophet (ﷺ) taught us to suppress our yawn as much as possible and to not let the devil have his way. A believer should be active and full of energy to do good deeds and fulfill his/her obligations.

Hadith 9 – Taking Care of the Widow and Poor

السَّاعِي عَلَى الأَرْمَلَةِ وَالْمِسْكِينِ كَالْمُجَاهِدِ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ – وَأَحْسِبُهُ قَالَ – وَكَالْقَائِمِ لاَ يَفْتُرُ وَكَالصَّائِمِ لاَ يُفْطِرُ

The one who looks after a widow or poor person is like the one who strives in the cause of Allah – and I think he also said – he is like the one who continuously stands for prayer without slacking and fasts without breaking.

(Bukhari and Muslim)


This hadith teaches us about the great reward for those who look after and take care of the widows and the poor by fulfilling their needs and being good to them. Such an individual takes responsibility for their interests, supplies, and whatever else they need. The ‘widow’ in the hadith is in reference to a woman whose husband has died, which has led her to poverty and loss in provisions. The ‘poor’ in the hadith is in reference to a person who does not have enough wealth to fulfill his/her needs.

The Prophet (ﷺ) likened the reward of someone who takes care of such people to that of a soldier fighting for the cause of Allah, a person standing at night in prayer, remembering Allah, and supplicating, or like the one who continuously fasts. Those who desire to do such things but cannot should strive to implement this hadith by taking care of the widows and the poor in hopes of being resurrected on the Day of Judgment with those who actually did such deeds and share in the same reward.

Hadith 10 – Virtue of Being a Muslim

مَا يُصِيبُ الْمُسْلِمَ مِنْ نَصَبٍ وَلاَ وَصَبٍ وَلاَ هَمٍّ وَلاَ حُزْنٍ وَلاَ أَذًى وَلاَ غَمٍّ حَتَّى الشَّوْكَةِ يُشَاكُهَا، إِلاَّ كَفَّرَ اللَّهُ بِهَا مِنْ خَطَايَاهُ

No fatigue, illness, worry, sorrow, harm, grief, or even the prick of a thorn afflicts a Muslim except that Allah expiates some of his sins by it.

(Bukhari and Muslim)


Those who are able to bear life’s afflictions with patience have a great reward waiting for them with Allah. As a form of mercy, Allah made tribulations as a means for the believers’ sins to be forgiven and to raise their ranks. This particular hadith gives the believers comfort because it teaches us that whatever problem a believer faces in this world, whether physical or psychological, then there is good in it for the believer. It does not matter whether that trouble is big or small in nature, it will be a means to expiate the believer’s minor sins by it.

The Prophet (ﷺ) gave some explicit examples of the various types of tribulations that may harm a Muslim in this life but it is not restricted to just them, rather, it can include anything that causes harm to the Muslim in any way whether physical or psychological. The important thing to remember is to be patient over it and hope for Allah’s reward through it. The hadith also teaches us about the abundant mercy of Allah over the believers by forgiving their sins with even a tiny amount of affliction that causes him/her harm in some way.

Hadith 11 – Rights of a Muslim

حَقُّ الْمُسْلِمِ عَلَى الْمُسْلِمِ خَمْسٌ: رَدُّ السَّلَامِ وَعِيَادَةُ الْمَرِيضِ وَاتِّبَاعُ الْجَنَائِزِ وَإِجَابَةُ الدعْوَة و تَشْمِيتُ الْعَاطِس

A Muslim has five rights on another Muslim:

1 – Return the greeting of salam

2 – Visiting the sick

3 – Following the funeral

4 – Accepting an invitation

5 – Saying Yarhamuka Allah (God have mercy on you) to the one who sneezes

(Bukhari and Muslim)


The Muslims are considered one brotherhood, hence, there are certain rights that each Muslim has on another due to this bond of brotherhood. The meaning of ‘right’ in the hadith is in reference to the right to sanctity and companionship. These five rights are to be fulfilled towards all Muslims whether they are righteous or not. They are as follows:

  • Returning the greeting of salam – This is done when another Muslim begins the salam so the listener responds to this by either saying exactly the same or adding more to it. For example, a Muslim says, “Assalamu Aliaykum,” so the listener responds by saying, “Wa alaykum al-saalaam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu.” The Muslim must respond if the salam was given to him/her individually but can refrain if it was given to a whole group of people to which he/she is part of. In the latter case, just one person from the group can respond to the salam and the remaining of the group is absolved from it. If an individual is given salam while he/she is in salah or in the restroom, then he/she is not required to respond.
  • Visiting the sick – When a Muslim is sick then other Muslims should ask about the person, pray for the person, and visit him/her provided it does not harm the sick person. If we are not able to visit the sick Muslim, then we should just ask about their health from those familiar with their situation and pray for them. Visiting the sick strengthens the bonds of love between people.
  • Following the funeral – This means participating in the deceased Muslim’s funeral prayer, walking behind his/her funeral to his/her burial place, and praying for mercy and forgiveness for him/her.
  • Accepting an invitation – This is in reference to when a Muslim invites another Muslim to a feast such as a wedding feast (waleemah) or its like. This is part of intimacy and good companionship between people. A Muslim should accept such invitations from other Muslims and attend the event as long as there is nothing Islamically forbidden present at the occasion.
  • Saying yarhamuka Allah – This is a prayer that is made for the one who sneezes and then says Alhamdulillah. This has a number of benefits: obtaining others’ love, joining the hearts, disciplining the soul by breaking its ego, obtaining humility, etc.

The above five are some of the things we can do to increase love and harmony between the ummah and remove hatred and grudges from the hearts. There are other narrations which mention some other rights as well which are not included in the above five like: assisting the oppressed, giving sincere advice to the one who seeks it, and fulfilling oaths.

Hadith 12 – Attending Funerals

مَنْ شَهِدَ جَنَازَةً حَتَّى يُصَلَّى عَلَيْهَا فَلَهُ قِيرَاطٌ وَمَنْ شَهِدَ حَتَّى تُدْفَنَ فَلَهُ قِيرَاطَانِ‏.‏ قِيلَ: وَمَا الْقِيرَاطَانِ. قَالَ‏: مِثْلُ الْجَبَلَيْنِ الْعَظِيمَيْنِ

Whoever attends a funeral and prays over it, then he will have a qiraat and whoever remains there until the person is buried will have two qiraat. It was said to him, “What are two qiraat“? He (ﷺ) replied, “They are like two great mountains.”

(Bukhari and Muslim)


There is strong encouragement in this hadith to attend the funeral prayer of your fellow Muslim and to accompany the deceased until he/she is buried. The exact magnitude of the reward for doing this is known only to Allah but we are told here that it is a heavy reward. The Prophet (ﷺ) compared this great reward to two huge mountains and some other hadiths suggest that one qiraat is equal to Mount Uhud in Medina. This hadith also shows us the great favor of Allah by rewarding us with so much while doing so little.

Hadith 13 – Not Criticizing Food

مَا عَابَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ طَعَامًا قَطُّ إِنِ اشْتَهَاهُ أَكَلَهُ وَإِنْ كَرِهَهُ تَرَكَهُ

The Prophet (ﷺ) would never find fault with food. If he desired it, he would eat. If he disliked it, he would leave it.

(Bukhari and Muslim)


This hadith shows the etiquette of good care towards Allah’s blessings and it is part of having good character. Food and drinks are from Allah’s sustenance which He bestows on us. When a person finds fault with a type of food that he/she dislikes, then it could be a rejection of Allah’s sustenance. Different people like different tastes and not everyone can be expected to like the same type of food. However, this does not mean that we should find fault with the blessings of Allah, rather, we should be grateful. If a person does not desire a certain type of food, then he/she can donate it away or gift it to a neighbor, friend, etc. but there is no need to find fault with Allah’s sustenance which He gave to the person. This is why the Prophet ﷺ would eat food if he desired it and leave it without criticism if he did not in order to assure that he does not show dislikeness towards Allah’s sustenance.

Hadith 14 – Hell and Paradise

حُجِبَتِ النَّارُ بِالشَّهَوَاتِ، وَحُجِبَتِ الْجَنَّةُ بِالْمَكَارِهِ

The fire is surrounded by [unlawful] desires and paradise by difficulties.

(Bukhari and Muslim)


This hadith commands us to abstain from unlawful desires because they lead us to hellfire and to be patient over difficulties because it leads us to paradise. In order to obtain the great rewards with Allah, it is not sufficient to just wish for them in the mind, rather, the person must actively strive for them by overcoming one’s unlawful desires and doing whatever is loved and pleasing to Allah. In this hadith, the Prophet ﷺ informed us that the hellfire is hidden behind unlawful desires, which teaches us that actively pursuing such desires will make us end up at that cursed destination. We should not be blinded or mesmerized just because we cannot ‘see’ the hellfire but it is what is behind the curtain, thus, we should take precautions to safeguard ourselves and our families from following unlawful desires.

The Prophet ﷺ also informed us in this hadith that paradise is hidden behind difficulties. The ‘difficulty’ here is in reference to whatever we have been commanded to do by Allah in this

Loss of a Child: Hadiths on Losing Children Provide Some Comfort

A few days ago, one of my cousin’s youngest daughter, 6 years old, was killed in a tragic accident in Pakistan. A water tanker accidentally ran over her small precious body while playing with her friends in the street right in front of her house. Her parents are, quite understandably, in a complete state of shock, especially her mother who carried her lifeless, fragile, flattened body to the hospital in her own arms. I cannot even imagine what her parents are going through right now and the pain they must be feeling.

I pray she continues her play with new friends in paradise in the verdant garden as the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said about children who die before puberty:

We set off, and we came to a verdant garden, in which were all the colors of spring, where there was a man who was so tall that I could hardly see his head in the sky. Around the man was the largest number of children I had ever seen…As for the tall man who was in the garden, that was Abraham. As for the children who were around him, these are all the children who died in a state of fitrah.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari (7047)

I also hope Allah accepts her as a martyr as the hadith says:

الشُّهَدَاءُ خَمْسٌ الْمَطْعُونُ وَالْمَبْطُونُ وَالْغَرِقُ وَصَاحِبُ الْهَدْمِ وَالشَّهِيدُ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ

The martyrs are five: Those who die of the plague, stomach illness, drowning, being crushed, and the martyr in the cause of Allah.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi (1063)

Death is not the end but a doorway to transfer from one form of existence to another. Eventually, we all must go through it.

We don’t deserve our children, they are gifts and favors from Him and can be taken back anytime from any parent no matter their station. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) buried all his children in his own lifetime, which included at least two infants, except for Fatima. So we should cherish the time we have with them and fill it with love, care, and play while we still can, because we don’t really know how long we have with them.

Many years ago, I came across a hadith which has never left my mind on this topic from Abu Moosa al-Ash’ari:

Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “When a person’s child dies, Allah says to His angels, ‘You have taken the child of My slave.’ They say, ‘Yes.’ He says, ‘You have taken the apple of his eye.’ They say, ‘Yes.’ He says, ‘What did My slave say?’ They say, ‘He praised you and said “Innaa lillaahi wa inna ilayhi raaji’oon (Verily to Allah we belong and unto Him is our return).’ Allah says, ‘Build for My slave a house in Paradise and call it the house of praise.’” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi (942)

Finally, such tragedies could be seen as a form of mercy for the parents because there are some hadiths which speak of children, who died before puberty, interceding on behalf of their parents.

It was narrated that Abu Hassaan said: I said to Abu Hurayrah, “Two sons of mine have died. Will you not narrate to us a hadith from the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) that will comfort us in our loss?”

He said: “Yes, their children are the little ones of Paradise, and one of them will meet his father – or his parents – and take hold of his garment – or his hand – as I am taking hold of the edge of this garment of yours, and he will not let go until Allah admits him and his father to Paradise.” Narrated by Muslim (2635).