Islamic Studies

In the Name of Allâh, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful. Choicest Blessings Upon The Holy Prophet Sayyidi Muhammad (s.a.w)

Name:

Assalamou ‘alai kum. Being an Education Officer of ISLAMIC STUDIES, I have acknowledged so many students' weaknesses at both S.C and H.S.C levels that I have deemed it important to bring my contribution to all those opting for ISLAMIC STUDIES as subject. May my involvement in this field be beneficial to each and everyone. Feel free to comment on any aspect of the Syllabus. May Allah bestow His blessings upon us. Wassalam.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

SINS

Sins

Sins (Ma‘siyah)

Major Sins

Hadrat Safwan bin ‘Assaal narrated how, when a Jew said to his friend, “Let us go to this Prophet,” his friend said to him, “Don’t say ‘Prophet’, for if he heard you, he would be greatly pleased.” They went to Allah’s Prophetic Messenger (may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) and asked him about nine clear signs. Allah’s Messenger (may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) said, “Do not associate anything with Allah (in worshipping Him), do not steal, do not commit fornication, do not kill anyone who Allah has declared inviolate without a just cause (according to Islamic law), do not bring an innocent person before a ruler in order that he may put him to death, do not use magic, do not devour usury, do not slander a chaste woman, do not turn in flight on the day the army marches, and, a matter which affects you Jews particularly, do not break the Sabbath.” When he said that, they kissed his hands and feet saying, “We testify that you are Prophet.” He asked, “What prevents you from following me?” ….. to which they replied, “David (Nabi Dawud ‘Alayhissalam) prayed to his Lord that prophets might never cease to arise from his offspring, and we are afraid that if we follow you, the Jews will kill us.” (Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud and Nasa’i)


Hadrat Abu Hurayra (may Allah be pleased with him) reported Allah’s Messenger (may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) as saying, “When one commits fornication, he is not a believer; when one steals, he is not a believer; when one drinks wine, he is not a believer; when one take plunder on account of which men raise their eyes at him, he is not a believer; and when one of you defrauds, he is not a believer; so beware, beware!" (Bukhari and Muslim)

Hadrat Abu Darda (may Allah be pleased with him) said: Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) said, “Do not associate any partners with Allah (in worshipping Him) on pain of being cut to pieces or being consigned to fire, and do not deliberately give up obligatory Prayers for he who deliberately gives up obligatory Prayers goes out of the bounds of Islam, and do not drink, for drinking is the root of all evil.” (Ibn Majah)

Narrated Hadrat Mughira (may Allah be pleased with him): Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) said, “Allah (The Glorified and the Exalted) has forbidden disobedience and harassment of your mothers, burying alive infant daughters, miserliness and beggary and He has disfavoured disputations, excessive asking and wastage of goods.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

Hypocrisy

Hadrat Mahmud bin Labid (may Allah be pleased with him) reported Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) as saying, “The thing I fear most for you is the lesser polytheism.” He was asked what the lesser polytheism was and he replied that it was hypocrisy. (Ahmad)

Narrated Hadrat Abu Hurayra (may Allah be pleased with him): Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) said, “On the Day of Judgement you will find the worst people among double-faced hypocrites.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

Mischief-making

Hadrat Hudhayfah reported Allah's Messenger (may Allah's blessings and peace be upon him) as saying: A mischief-maker will not enter Paradise. (Abu Dawud)

Back-biting and calumny

Hadrat Abu Hurayra (may Allah be pleased with him) said: Allah’s Messenger (may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) was asked: Ya RasulAllah! What is back-biting? He replied: It is saying something about your brother which he would dislike. He was asked again: Tell me how the matter stands if what I say about my brother is true? He replied: If what you say of him is true, you have been back-biting him, and if what you say of him is not true, you have heaped calumny on him.” (Abu Dawud)

Causing enmity between friends

Narrated Hadrat Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him): Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) once passed by two graves and said, “These two persons are being tortured not for a major sin (to be avoided). One of them never saved himself from being soiled with his urine, while the other used to go about with calumnies (to make enmity between friends).” The Prophet (may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) then took a green leaf of a date-palm tree, split it into (pieces) and fixed one on each grave. They said, “O Allah’s Messenger (may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him)! Why have you done so?” He replied, “I hope that their punishment might be lessened till these (the pieces of the leaf) become dry.” (Bukhari)

Envy

Narrated Hadrat Abu Hurayra (may Allah be pleased with him): Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) said, “Keep away from envy, for as fire burns wood, so does envy consume good action.” (Abu Dawud)

Foul Speech

Narrated Hadrat Ibn Mas‘ud (may Allah be pleased with him): Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) said, “A believer neither taunts, nor curses, nor speaks foul nor is garrulous.” (Tirmidhi, Bayhaqi)

Praising Evid-doers

Hadrat Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) said, “When an evil doer is praised, it invites the displeasure of Allah and the heavens shudder.” (Bayhaqi)

Inciting animals to fight

Hadrat Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) said that Allah's Messenger (may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) forbid inciting animals to fight with one another. (Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud)

Do not disclose your evil deeds

Narrated Hadrat Abu Hurayra (may Allah be pleased with him): I heard Allah’s Messenger (may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) saying, “All the sins of my followers will be forgiven except those who commit a sin openly or disclose their sins to the people. An example of such disclosure is that a person commits a sin at night and though Allah (The Glorified and The Exalted) screens it from the public, then he comes in the morning and says, ‘O so-and-so, I did such-and-such (an evil) deed yesterday,’ though he spent his night screened by his Lord (none knowing about his sin). And in the morning, he removes Allah’s screen from himself.” (Bukhari)

Monday, October 02, 2006

THE STYLE AND CHARACTER OF THE MECCAN AND MEDINAN SURAHS

One of the problems confronting any student of the Qur’an is the fact that the book not only has no chronological sequence but that the various surahs themselves are often composed of passages from both the Meccan and Medinan periods of Muhammad's (s.a.w) mission. Nonetheless there is a clear distinction between them which can be discerned in the nature of the two phases. While in Mecca Muhammad (s.a.w) saw himself primarily as a warner to draw his people away from idolatry and the surahs from this time are generally prophetic and exhortative in character. In Medina, however, Muhammad (s.a.w) was the leader of a community and the surahs from this period in contrast to the Meccan passages are often cumbersome and legalistic in content and style.
The Meccan surahs concentrate on the issues which first impressed themselves upon Muhammad (s.a.w), in particular the waywardness of his own people, the judgment to come, and the destiny of all men to heaven or hell. Perhaps the most striking issue here is al-Yaum, "the Day", the Great Day of Judgment to come. The Qur’an concentrates all its warnings around this awful event. Graphic language is used to describe it. For example it is described as "totally overwhelming" (Surah 88.1), hell itself will be brought face-to-face with mankind on it (Surah 89.23) and no soul shall have power to help another for the Command, that day, shall belong to Allah alone (Surah 82.19). The destiny of unbelievers shall be horrific:
Some faces on that Day will be humiliated, labouring, exhausted; roasting in a blazing fire, drinking from a boiling hot spring; no food for them but a thorny cactus, neither nourishing nor relieving hunger. Surah 88. 2-7.
On the other hand believers will be blessed that Day. They will laugh at the unbelievers (Surah 83.34), their surroundings will be as comfortable as they could wish with a light of beauty and joy over them (Surah 76.11), they will be lavishly adorned and will drink of a pure and holy wine (Surah 76.21). Much of the Qur’anic concept of heaven follows Biblical principles but the emphasis seems to be on the pleasure and ease of the believer's circumstances rather than the renewed knowledge of God's perfect character within them. In contrast to the terrors of hell in the passage quoted the text says of the inhabitants of paradise:
Other faces will be joyful, pleased with their efforts, in a sublime Garden, hearing no vain-talk. Therein will be a bubbling fountain, therein couches raised up and goblets set out, cushions arrayed and carpets spread out. (Surah 88. 8-16).
In all this the Prophet (s.a.w) is reminded that he is only a warner for those who are ready to fear the Day (Surah 79.45). Yet, once he became established in Medina, the tone began to change. In Mecca the Qur’an spoke directly to Muhammad (s.a.w) or to his countrymen generally, but in Medina one finds the majority of passages addressing the community of believers with the introduction "O you who truly believe". What follows is often of a legislative nature and most of the laws of Islam, the shari’ah, are derived from these sections. The concern here is chiefly the social ethics of the Muslim ‘ummah, the conduct of campaigns and battles, general customs and behaviour and religious scruples regarding such things as marriages and deaths.
The Medinan surahs deal with the abolition of usury and interest (Surah 2.278), the laws of inheritance (Surah 4. 11-12), the prohibited degrees of relationship (Surah 4.23), the property of orphans (Surah 4. 6-10), the prohibitions on wine and gambling (Surah 5. 93-94) and the like.
One of the great themes of these surahs is the person of the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (s.a.w) himself. While he is often addressed directly in the Meccan surahs, his own position is seen to be no more than to be a communicator of Allah's revelations. Here, however, he comes to the fore and one of the great injunctions in these later passages is to obey Allah and his Messenger (Surah 48.17) as loyalty to the one is seen to be inseparable from faithfulness to the other.
In the Medinan surahs passages dealing with the Great Day and the destiny of mankind give way to new revelations dealing with the personal concerns of the Prophet's private life. For example he is given a special licence to take to himself and marry any believing woman who is willing to devote herself to him -a permission expressly granted to him and not to believers generally "so that there should be no difficulty for you" (Surah 33.50). In the next verse of a book said to be eternal and of uncreated speech preserved on a special tablet in heaven, he is told that he can choose for himself which of his wives he would like to be with at any time and that he would be doing no wrong if he preferred one over another and showed partiality to her. Believers are also commanded to send their blessings on him and to salute him with all respect because Allah and all his angels do so (Surah 33.56). Furthermore those who annoy and irritate him (and, perforce, Allah as well) will be cursed by Allah in both this world and the next (Surah 33.57). His companions are even given strict details regarding etiquette to be observed when approaching his chambers:
O you who truly believe! Do not enter the houses of the Prophet until leave is given you for a meal and then without you watching for its hour. But when you are invited, then enter, and when you have had the meal, disperse without lingering for idle talk for this irritates the Prophet and he is ashamed before you-but Allah is not ashamed to tell you the truth! (Surah 33.53) The arrangement of the chapters of the Qur’an, whereby the early Meccan surahs are placed at the end of the book and the Medinan surahs at the beginning, is confusing and the casual reader will miss the clear transition but it is there-the sharp awareness of eternal issues giving way to concerns of a more practical, immediate and earthly nature.

PRESERVATION OF THE HOLY QUR'AN

The Glorious Qur’an, the Muslims’ religious Scripture, was revealed in Arabic to the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) through the angel Jibril (a.s). The revelation occurred piecemeal, over a period of twenty-three years, sometimes in brief verses and sometimes in longer chapters.
The Qur’an (lit. a “reading” or “recitation”) is distinct from the recorded sayings and deeds (Sunnah) of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w), which are instead preserved in a separate set of literature collectively called the “Ahadeeth” (lit. “news”; “report”; or “narration”).
Upon receiving revelation, the Prophet (s.a.w) engaged himself in the duty of conveying the message to his Companions through reciting the exact words he heard in their exact order. This is evident in his inclusion of even the words of God which were directed specifically to him, for example: “Qul” (“Say [to the people, O Muhammad]”). The Qur’an’s rhythmic style and eloquent expression make it easy to memorize. Indeed, God describes this as one of its essential qualities for preservation and remembrance (Q. 44:58; 54:17, 22, 32, 40), particularly in an Arab society which prided itself on orations of lengthy pieces of poetry. Michael Zwettler notes that:
“in ancient times, when writing was scarcely used, memory and oral transmission was exercised and strengthened to a degree now almost unknown.”
Large portions of the revelation were thus easily memorized by a large number of people in the community of the Prophet (s.a.w)
The Prophet (s.a.w) encouraged his Companions to learn each verse that was revealed and transmit it to others. The Qur’an was also required to be recited regularly as an act of worship, especially during the daily meditative prayers (salah). Through these means, many repeatedly heard passages from the revelation recited to them, memorized them and used them in prayer. The entire Qur’an was memorized verbatim (word for word) by some of the Prophet’s Companions. Among them were Zaid ibn Thabit, Ubayy ibn Ka’b, Muadh ibn Jabal, and Abu Zaid (r.a).
Not only were the words of the Qur’an memorized, but also their pronunciation, later which formed into a science in itself called Tajweed. This science meticulously elucidates how each letter is to be pronounced, as well as the word as a whole, both in context of other letters and words. Today, we can find people of all different languages able to recite the Qur’an as if they are Arabs themselves, living during the time of the Prophet.
Furthermore, the sequence or order of the Qur’an was arranged by the Prophet (s.a.w) himself and was also well-known to the Companions. Each Ramadan, the Prophet (s.a.w) would repeat after the angel Jibril (a.s) (reciting) the entire Qur’an in its exact order as far as it had been revealed, while in the presence of a number of his Companions. In the year of his death, he recited it twice. Thereby, the order of verses in each chapter and the order of the chapters became reinforced in the memories of each of the Companions present.
As the Companions spread out to various provinces with different populations, they took their recitations with them in order to instruct others. In this way, the same Qur’an became widely retained in the memories of many people across vast and diverse areas of land.
Indeed, memorization of the Qur’an emerged into a continuous tradition across the centuries, with centres /schools for memorization being established across the Muslim world. In these schools, students learn and memorize the Qur’an along with its Tajweed, at the feet of a master who in turn acquired the knowledge from his teacher, an ‘un-broken chain’ going all the way back to the Prophet (s.a.w) of God. The process usually takes 3-6 years. After mastery is achieved and the recitation checked for lack of errors, a person is granted a formal license (ijaza) certifying she has mastered the rules of recitation and can now recite the Qur’an the way it was recited by Muhammad, the Prophet of God.

A.T. Welch, a non-Muslim orientalist, writes:
“For Muslims the Qur’an is much more than scripture or sacred literature in the usual Western sense. Its primary significance for the vast majority through the centuries has been in its oral form, the form in which it first appeared, as the “recitation” chanted by Muhammad to his followers over a period of about twenty years… The revelations were memorized by some of Muhammad’s followers during his lifetime, and the oral tradition that was thus established has had a continuous history ever since, in some ways independent of, and superior to, the written Qur’an… Through the centuries the oral tradition of the entire Qur’an has been maintained by the professional reciters (qurraa). Until recently, the significance of the recited Qur’an has seldom been fully appreciated in the West.”
The Qur’an is perhaps the only book, religious or secular, that has been memorized completely by millions of people. Leading orientalist Kenneth Cragg reflects that:
“…this phenomenon of Qur’anic recital means that the text has traversed the centuries in an unbroken living sequence of devotion. It cannot, therefore, be handled as an antiquarian thing, nor as a historical document out of a distant past. The fact of hifdh (Qur’anic memorization) has made the Qur’an a present possession through all the lapse of Muslim time and given it a human currency in every generation, never allowing its relegation to a bare authority for reference alone.”
The entire Qur’an was however also recorded in writing at the time of revelation from the Prophet’s (s.a.w) dictation by some of his literate companions, the most prominent of them being Zaid ibn Thabit (r.a). Others among his noble scribes were Ubayy ibn Ka’b, Ibn Mas’ud, Mu’awiyah ibn Abi-Sufyan, Khalid ibn Waleed and Zubayr ibn Awwam (r.a). The verses were recorded on leather, parchment, scapulae (shoulder bones of animals) and the stalks of date palms.
The codification of the Qur’an (i.e. into a ‘book form’) was done soon after the Battle of Yamamah (11AH/633CE), after the Prophet’s (s.a.w) death, during the Caliphate of Abu Bakr (r.a). Many companions became martyrs at that battle, and it was feared that unless a written copy of the entire revelation was produced, large parts of the Qur’an might be lost with the death of those who had memorized it. Therefore, at the suggestion of Umar (r.a) to collect the Qur’an in the form of writing, Zaid ibn Thabit (r.a) was requested by Abu Bakr (r.a) to head a committee which would gather together the scattered recordings of the Qur’an and prepare a mushaf - loose sheets which bore the entire revelation on them. To safeguard the compilation from errors, the committee accepted only material which had been written down in the presence of the Prophet (s.a.w) himself, and which could be verified by at least two reliable witnesses who had actually heard the Prophet recite the passage in question. Once completed and unanimously approved of by the Prophet’s (s.a.w) Companions, these sheets were kept with the Caliph Abu Bakr (d. 13AH/634CE), then passed on to the Caliph Umar (13-23AH/634-644CE), and then Umar’s daughter and the Prophet’s widow, Hafsah (r.a).
The third Caliph Uthman (r.a) (23AH-35AH/644-656CE) requested Hafsah to send him the manuscript of the Quran which was in her safekeeping, and ordered the production of several bounded copies of it (masaahif, sing. mushaf). This task was entrusted to the Companions Zaid ibn Thabit, Abdullah ibn Az-Zubair, Sa’eed ibn As-’As, and Abdur-Rahman ibn Harith ibn Hisham (r.a). Upon completion (in 25AH/646CE), Uthman (r.a) returned the original manuscript to Hafsah (r.a) and sent the copies to the major Islamic provinces.
A number of non-Muslim scholars who have studied the issue of the compilation and preservation of the Qur’an also have stated its authenticity. John Burton, at the end of his substantial work on the Qur’an’s compilation, states that the Qur’an as we have it today is:
“…the text which has come down to us in the form in which it was organized and approved by the Prophet…. What we have today in our hands is the mushaf of Muhammad.
Kenneth Cragg describes the transmission of the Qur’an from the time of revelation to today as occurring in “an unbroken living sequence of devotion.” Schwally concurs that:
“As far as the various pieces of revelation are concerned, we may be confident that their text has been generally transmitted exactly as it was found in the Prophet’s legacy.”
The historical credibility of the Qur’an is further established by the fact that one of the copies sent out by the Caliph Uthman is still in existence today. It lies in the Museum of the City of Tashkent in Uzbekistan, Central Asia. According to Memory of the World Program, UNESCO, an arm of the United Nations, ‘it is the definitive version, known as the Mushaf of Uthman.’
A facsimile of the mushaf in Tashkent is available at the Columbia University Library in the US. This copy is proof that the text of the Qur’an we have in circulation today is identical with that of the time of the Prophet and his companions. A copy of the mushaf sent to Syria (duplicated before a fire in 1310AH/1892CE destroyed the Jaami’ Masjid where it was housed) also exists in the Topkapi Museum in Istanbul, and an early manuscript on gazelle parchment exists in Dar al-Kutub as-Sultaniyyah in Egypt. More ancient manuscripts from all periods of Islamic history found in the Library of Congress in Washington, the Chester Beatty Museum in Dublin (Ireland) and the London Museum have been compared with those in Tashkent, Turkey and Egypt, with results confirming that there have not been any changes in the text from its original time of writing.
The Institute for Koranforschung, for example, in the University of Munich (Germany), collected over 42,000 complete or incomplete ancient copies of the Quran. After around fifty years of research, they reported that there was no variance between the various copies, except the occasional mistakes of the copyist which could easily be ascertained. This Institute was unfortunately destroyed by bombs during WWII.
Thus, due to the efforts of the early companions, with God’s assistance, the Quran as we have it today is recited in the same manner as it was revealed. This makes it the only religious scripture that is still completely retained and understood in its original language. Indeed, as Sir William Muir states, “There is probably no other book in the world which has remained twelve centuries (now fourteen) with so pure a text.”
The evidence above confirms God’s promise in the Quran:
“Verily, We have revealed the Reminder, and verily We shall preserve it.” (Quran 15:9)
The Qur’an has been preserved in both oral and written form in a way no other book has, and with each form providing a check and balance for the authenticity of the other.
Later, dots were put as syntactical marks by Abu Al-Aswad Al Doaly, during the time of Mu'awiya Ibn Abi Sufian (r.a) (661-680 CE). The letters were marked with different dotting by Nasr Ibn Asem and Hayy ibn Ya'amor, during the time of Abd Al-Malek Ibn Marawan (685-705 CE). A complete system of diacritical marks (damma, fataha, kasra) was invented by Al Khaleel Ibn Ahmad Al Faraheedy (d. 786 CE).

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

DEMISE OF PROPHET MUHAMMAD (S.A.W)

Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) was seriously taken ill for several days. At noon on Monday (12th Rabi I, 11/June 8, 632), whilst praying earnestly in whisper, the spirit of the great Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) took flight to the "blessed companionship on high." So ended a life consecrated from first to last to the service of God and humanity. H.M. Hyndman writes in "The Awakening of Asia" (London, 1919, p. 9) that, "...this very human prophet of God had such a remarkable personal influence over all with whom he was brought into contact that, neither when a poverty-stricken and hunted fugitive, nor at the height of his prosperity, did he ever have to complain of treachery from those who had once embraced his faith. His confidence in himself, and in his inspiration from on high, was ever greater when he was suffering under disappointment and defeat than when he was able to dictate his own terms to his conquered enemies. Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) died as he had lived, surrounded by his early followers, friends and votaries: his death as devoid of mystery as his life of disguise." His apostleship lasted for 23 years, 2 months and 21 days; or 9 years, 9 months and 8 days in Madina and 13 years, 5 months and 13 days in Makka.
Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) was an embodiment or rather an institution by himself of many ethical code. No doubt, when a fair-minded person studies various aspects of the life of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) as a man, head of family, a member of the society, a judge, an administrator, a teacher, a military commander and a guide, he comes to the conclusion that his all round perfection is a definite proof of his being a Divine Messenger. Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) made wonderful contributions for the welfare of humanity at large. First, he himself acted upon the divine message and then he asked to follow him. He established the rights of the people when rights were being usurped; he administered justice when tyranny was rampant everywhere; he introduced equality when undue discrimination was so common; and he gave freedom to the people when they were groaning under oppression, cruelty and injustice. He brought a message which taught man to obey and fear God only, and seek help from Him alone. His universal message covers all the aspects of human life, including rights, justice, equality and freedom. Edward Gibbon writes in "The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire" (London, 1848, 5th vol., p. 487) that, "More pure than the system of Zoroaster, more liberal than the law of Moses, the religion of Mahomet might seem less inconsistent with reason than the creed of mystery and superstition which, in the seventh century, disgraced the simplicity of the gospels."
The European criticism seems to have lost the sense to deal with Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) justly. All rules of that criticism seem to be subject to the one consideration that whatever is unfavourable and damaging to Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w)'s reputation must be accepted as true. The negative views of the Europeans for Islam and Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) need here sufficient space to examine from its root. The readers may refer in this context a separate write-up, entitled "The Image of Islam and Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w)".

FAREWELL PILGRIMAGE

When peace and order had been restored throughout the Muslim realm and the period of warfare was over and the people joined Islam in multitude, till in the course of some two years, there was one and but one religion - Islam - throughout the vast Arabian peninsula with a few Jewish and Christian exceptions here and there. The cry of Allah-u-Akbar resounded on all sides. Now it took Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) but two brief years, not only to bring the whole of Arabia under the banner of Islam, but at the same time to work a mighty transformation, sweeping away all corruptions and uplifting the nation to the lofties height of spirituality.
In 10/632, Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) set forth with a large concourse of Muslims, ranging in strength between ninety to one lac and twenty thousand bound on a farewell pilgrimage to Mecca. On his arrival at Mecca, and before completing all the rites, he addressed the assembled multitude from the top of the Jabal-ul-Arafat in words which yet live in the hearts of all Muslims. H.G. Wells writes in "The Outline of History" (London, 1920, p. 325) that, "A year before his death, at the end of the tenth year of the Hegira, Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) made his last pilgrimage from Medina to Mecca. He made then a great sermon to his people....The reader will note that the first paragraph sweeps away all plunder and blood feuds among the followers of Islam. The last makes the believing Negro the equal of the Caliph....they established in the world a great tradition of dignified fair dealing, they breathe a spirit of generosity, and they are human and workable. They created a society more free from wide-spread cruelty and social oppression than any society had ever been in the world before." In the terminology of Hadith, this historical journey is called hajjatul wida (the farewell pilgrimage) and at times it is also named hajjatul balagha (the pilgrimage of the delivery of message).

TABUK EXPEDITION

With the conquest of Mecca, Islam marched with galloping speed throughout the length and breath of Arabia. The neighbouring Christian states, especially the Roman empire, were watching this unprecedented, triumphant march with a great concern and anxiety.
The fate of the Muslims in the battle of Mauta also emboldened the Arabs and Romans of the frontier regions to enhance their mischief-mongering towards the Muslims. Thus, to restore the loss of prestige and to teach lesson, Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) marched with an army of thirty thousand from Medina to Tabuk, a well known place about midway between Medina and Damascus. He on that very occasion, appointed Ali as his caliph in Medina, and as a result, Ali did not take part in the battle of Tabuk. In the mid-Rajab, 9/late October, 630, the Muslims set out for Tabuk. This was the largest army that had ever mustered under the command of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w). The army drawn up for the battle of Tabuk, known as the Jaish al-Usrah (the army of difficulty). So called because in the first place the journey had to be undertaken in the scorching heat of the summer and secondly, it was the time of reaping the harvest and ripening of fruit which made it very difficult to proceed.
Reaching the field of Tabuk, Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) encamped his army, where he came to know that the Romans in Jordan had withdrawn to Damascus, and dared not to come to arms with the Muslims, and therefore, Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) returned to Medina after a couple of days. This was the last campaign commanded by Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w).

CONQUEST OF MACCA

The Treaty of Hudaibiyya had been now nearly two years in force. Acting on the discretion allowed by the treaty, Banu Khuza’a and Banu Bakr, inhabiting Mecca and its neighbourhood, the former had become the allies of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w), the latter had entered into an alliance with Quraish. These two rival tribes had been fighting among them for a long time. Aided by a party of Quraish, Banu Bakr attacked by night an unsuspecting encampment of Banu Khuza’a, and slew several of them. The Khuza’a were forced to take refuge in the Ka’aba, where they were also persecuted. A deputation of forty men from the injured tribe, mounted on camels, hastened to Medina, and spread the wrongs of Banu Bakr before Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w), and pleaded that the treacherous murders be avenged. Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) sent a messenger to Quraish, offering three alternatives:-
a) Blood-money for all the men killed be paid.
b) The Quraish should withdraw their help for the Banu Bakr.
c) It should be announced that the treaty of Hudaibiyya has been abrogated.
Qaratah bin Umar, on behalf of Quraish, said that only the third alternative was acceptable. After the departure of the messenger, the Quraish regretted their reply, and sent Abu Sufian as their ambassador to get the treaty of Hudaibia renewed. Abu Sufian came to Medina, but he got no reply, and returned back to Mecca unsuccessful. Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) was therefore impelled to march with a force of ten thousand Muslims. The move of the army started from Medina on 10th Ramdan, 8/January 1, 630. Having no courage to resist, the Meccans laid down their arms. Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) triumphantly entered Mecca at the head of a formidable force after a banishment lasting for years, on 20th Ramdan, 8/January 11, 630. Many had lost their nearest and dearest at the hands of the people now completely at their mercy. All of them carried in their hearts bitter memories of cruelty, persecution and pain inflicted by their now humble enemies. Yet none thought of vengeance or retribution, and none raised his arm against a defenceless foe. Stanley Lane Poole writes in "The Speeches and Table-Talk of the Prophet Mohammad" (London, 1882. p. 47) that, "It was thus Mohammad entered again his native city. Through all the annals of conquest there is no triumphant entry comparable to this one."
As soon as Mecca was occupied, Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) went to Ka’aba, and circumambulated the House of God seven times. Ibn Hisham (2nd vol., p. 412) writes that Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) soon turned and looked at the Quraish. There was a hushed silence as the assembled populace gazed at him, wondering what their fate would be. "O Quraish!" called Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w), "How should I treat you?" "Kindly, O noble brother, and son of a noble brother!" the crowd replied. "Then go! You are forgiven." Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) now entered Ka’aba with Ali and saw the idols and deities arranged along its walls. In and around the Ka’aba, there were 360 idols which had long polluted its sanctity; being carved of wood or hewn out of stone, including a statue of Abraham holding divining arrows. Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) smashed these idols to pieces. When the task was finished, he felt as if a great weight had been lifted off his shoulders. The Ka’aba had been cleansed of the false gods; now only the true God would be worshipped in the House of God. The conqueror of Mecca ordered no celebration mark his glorious victory. Instead, the Muslims bowed themselves in genuflections of prayer and gave thanks to God.

INVITATION TO RULERS

The time had now arrived for the Islamic mission to travel beyond the confines of the Arabian peninsula. So Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) dispatched his messengers to all the kingdoms known to his people, to the Roman Caesar, and the emperor of Iran, the governor of Egypt and the Negus of Abyssinia, the king of Ghassan, and the chief of Yamama. The message was identical to them all and neither political nor diplomatic expedients dictated either the choice or the status of the powers addressed. Each epistle bore the impression of Prophet Muhammad's (s.a.w) seal, with the words Muhammad, the Apostle of Allah. At the top came Allah and the bottom Muhammad and between the two Apostle. Hence, the epistle established also the fact that Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) looked upon Islam as a cosmopolitan religion. In case of Chritianity, universality was never claimed. Hazrat Isa (a.s) himself laid no claim to such a position. He clearly said that he had come for the lost sheep of Israel. Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) however claimed from the inauguration of his dispensation that it was meant for the whole mankind.

TREATY OF HUDAIBIYYA

In 6/628, Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) marched from Medina with 1400 Muslims for the purpose of performing pilgrimage in Mecca. They went unarmed, clad in the ritual dresses. When this peaceful caravan approached its destination, tidings came that the Meccans were bent on mischief, and might stop their entry into the town by force. So, Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) halted his followers at a place, called Hudaibia, and his men encamped round a well. From here he sent a message to the Quraish of Mecca, saying that, "We have come on a peaceful and religious mission. We have come only to perform the sacred pilgrimage. We desire neither bloodshed nor war, and we shall be glad if the Meccans agree to a truce for a limited period." When the Muslim messenger was sent to Quraish, he failed to return, so another was dispatched. The enemies killed his mount and he did not return either. Finally, Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) sent one of his companions, Uthman (r.a) to negotiate with the Quraish. He too was detained and to provoke the Muslims, the Quraish engineered a rumour that he had been slain.
So Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) collected all his followers and asked them to swear that if God demanded of them the supreme sacrifice they would lay down their lives without demur. One by one they came and touched his hand and swore, to die willingly, if such was the will of God. This oath or pledge became famous in the annals of Islam as the Bai'at-ur- Ridwan (the pledge of God's pleasure). The Meccans heard of this and were afraid. Instead of directly attacking the pilgrim party as they originally intended, they now sent a messenger, a man named Suhail, to negotiate with Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w). He presented him with four demands on behalf of the Quraish, as follows:-
(a) The Muslims should return to Medina without performing pilgrimage.
(b) They would be permitted to perform pilgrimage in the following year, but would not be allowed to stay in Mecca beyond three days with their traveller-arms, namely, their swords in sheathes.
(c) They would not take any Muslim resident of Mecca with them to Medina nor forbid any Muslim from taking up his residence in Mecca, if he so desired.
(d) If any Meccan went to Medina, then Muslims would return him to Mecca, but if any Muslim went to Mecca, he would not be returned to Medina.
The Meccans deliberately made their terms as rigorous and provocative as they could, but Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) refused to be provoked. As always he wanted peace not bloodshed, therefore he accepted all the terms with all the hardships and all the humiliation they implied. This treaty is known as the Treaty of Hudaibia. It was one of the most outstanding events in the life of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w). According to R.V.C. Bodley in "The Messenger" (London, 1946, p. 257), "In point of fact, that the treaty was Mohammad's masterpiece of diplomacy. It was a triumph." Tor Andrae writes in "Mohammed the Man and his Faith" (London, 1936, p. 229) that, "The self-control which Mohammed revealed at Hodaibiya, his ability to bear occasional humiliation in unimportant issues, in order to achieve an exalted goal, shows that he was a person of unique ability."
This pact was the product of profound political wisdom and farsightedness. It was the first time after several wars that the Meccans acknowledged that Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) was an equal rather than a mere rebel or a runaway tribesman. It was the first time that Mecca recognised the Islamic state that was rising in Arabia. With it was terminated the struggle between the Muslims of Medina and the Quraish of Mecca, which had extended over nineteen years, and had, after the migration, assumed the character of an armed conflict. By virtue of the truce, peace had at last been established, and the major difficulty in the way of peaceful propagation of Islam had been removed.
Henceforward, Islam began to spread rapidly in the greater part of Arabia. Some estimate of the rate of this progress might be made on the basis of the number of Muslims who were present with Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) at Hudaibia, which was just short of 1400, and the number that accompanied him two years later during the conquest of Mecca, which was 10,000. This is eloquent testimony that the attraction of Islam lie in its spiritual power and not in armed conflict.
As soon as this pact was solemnly concluded by the two parties, the tribe of Khuza’a entered an alliance with Medina and that of Banu Bakr with the Meccans.

BATTLE OF DITCH

The enemies of the Muslims this time created a united front. This culminated in a solemn pact of alliance among the five principal tribes. When the news of this tremendous mobilization reached the Muslims in Medina, it struck them all with panic. It was Monday, the 1st Shawal, 5/February 24, 627 when a gigantic army under the command of Abu Sufian besieged Medina. The number of this invading force is variously estimated at something between ten and twenty-four thousands, the largest single army ever mustered on Arabian soil. The Muslims had fortified Medina from three sides, but it was exposed from one side. Salman al-Farsi (r.a), who knew far more of the techniques of warfare than was common in the Peninsula, advised the digging of a dry moat around Medina and the fortification of its buildings within.
Following the idea of Salman al-Farsi (r.a), Prophet Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) ordered the trenches to be dug in that open end of the city, and thus it is called the battle of Ditch (khandaq). The word khandaq is, no doubt, regarded as the Arabicized version of the Persian word kandah(dug-up). The ditch ran from Sheikhein to the hill of Zubab, and thence to Jabal Banu Ubaid. All these hills were included in the area protected by the ditch, and on the west the ditch turned south to cover the left flank of the western of the two hills, known as Jabal Banu Ubaid. Once the digging of the ditch was completed within six days, the Muslims established their camp just ahead of the hill of Sila'a. Their total strength was 3000 which included hypocrites whose fighting value and reliability were uncertain.
The invading force fell on Medina like an avalanche, where they found an impassable ditch surrounding the whole city, thus they failed to subdue the besieged. The Muslims, after transferring their women and children to securer places, manned their fortifications so well that the siege continued for over a month. Food ran out, essential supplies were exhausted, and when the pang of hunger became unbearable, the besieged warriors stilled them by tying stones to their empty stomachs. The armies were effectively separated by the trench around Medina, but known champions in arms occasionally challenged each other to single combat.
One of them was a famous Arab wrestler, named Amr bin Abdud-wudd. He found a point where the ditch was narrow, and succeeded in entering it on a fast jumping horse. He strutted forth haughtily and dared the Muslims to send a man against him. Ali (r.a) rode out at once and laid him low with a single stroke. Made with anger the invaders launched another furious attack to storm the trench, but were thrown back as before. Winter was approaching; the supplies of the besiegers were also running short and murmurs of discontent arose among their hordes. One night the wild wind terribly rose and soon gathered into a storm. It uprooted their tents, scattered their provisions, scared their mounts, and, what with the dark and unusual cold, spread so much terror and confusion in the camp that when the day dawned, the siege had been lifted and the invaders withdrew from the field. Each man carried as little as his camel, horse, or shoulders could bear and began to move while the storm continued to rage. The encounter at the battle of Ditch was the last time that the town of Medina ever faced an invader. After this battle, the strength of her enemies was for ever broken.

BATTLE OF UHUD

In Mecca, the news of their defeat preceded the subdued army, and proclaimed their resolve for vengeance. The aggressions of the Meccans reached their climax. The traders among them set aside a portion of their profits for the expenses of war. In 3/625, three thousand Meccan warriors, of whom 700 were clad in armour, bore down on Medina under the command of Abu Sufian. Their women accompanied them in front to applaud the brave and to chide the craven-hearted. Three miles to the north of Medina, the Meccans encamped at the foot of a hillock, called Uhud. It is a massive feature lying three miles north of Medina, and rising to the height of about 1000 feet above the level of the plain. The entire feature is 5 miles long. In the western part of Uhud, a large spur descends steeply to the ground, and to the right of this spur, as seen from the direction of Medina, a valley rises gently and goes up and away as it narrows, at a defile about 1000 yards from the foot of the spur. At the mouth of this valley, and at the foot of this spur, Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) took the position.
Against the enemy force of three thousand entrenched below Uhud, Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) mustered barely a thousand men. Of this number, three hundred were led by the traitor Abdullah bin Ubay, who marched with them only a little way and then deserted. This left only 700 men, of whom only 100 were mailed combatants. Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) went forth to command his force. To protect his rear against a surprise attack from the pass in the Uhud hills, he selected about fifty archers to cover this pass under the command of Abdullah bin Zubayr (r.a). According to Ibn Hisham (d. 218/833) in "Kitab Sirat-i Rasul Allah" (ed. F. Wustenfeld, Gottingen, 1860, 2nd vol., pp. 66-7), Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) told to the archers, "Use your arrows against the enemy cavalry. Keep the cavalry off our backs. As long as you hold your position, our rear is safe. On no account must you leave this position. If you see us winning, do not join us; if you see us losing, do not come to help us."
It was the morning of Saturday, 7th Shawal, 3/March 23, 625 - exactly a year and a week after the battle of Badr. The Meccans again made first inroad and once again the rout began a good number among them fled the field with the Muslims in hot pursuit. This would have been another consequent victory, but the Muslim archers posted on the adjoining mound, neglecting the injunctions of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w), rashly left their places to join them in the pursuit of plunder, leaving a critical gap in Muhammad's defence. Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) had commanded them never to leave their position regardless of whether the Muslims plunged into the enemy camp and won, but the archers violated the orders in greed of spoils of war. The Meccan general Khalid bin Walid at once perceived their error, who made the best of this opportunity. He wheeled his squadron and launched a reinforced attack on the rear of the Muslims, causing a great havoc. This turned the scales against them and the Muslims began to flee before the Khalid's lancers, who certainly took a heavy toll of Muslim lives.
Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) was also embosomed with the enemies, until his front teeth were broken. Ali (r.a) hurled himself into the fray, and shielded Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) and dashed the raiders. The Meccans, tired out by a long and gruelling day, began to retreat, and in their retreat vented their rage on the Muslims dead in the field mutilating the corpses. With a final taunt to the Muslims, Abu Sufian ordered withdrawal, and both the fighting men and the baggage train moved off. For a time it seemed that they might lay another ambush the town of Medina, but they left it alone and headed for Mecca. The Meccans lost twenty eight in the battle, while seventy men were killed among the Muslims. Among the slain, the body of Hamza (r.a) was found mutilated, who had been laid low by a spear thrust which pierced him. The fiend Hinda, wife of Abu Sufian, had cut open his body, and took a piece of his liver and gnawed it to quench her thirst for the vengeance of her father, Atba who was killed by Hamza (r.a) in Badr. Because of this, Muawiya, the son of Hinda was called the "son of the liver eater."
On his return to Medina, Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) directed a small body of the disciples to pursue the retreating Meccans, and to impress on them that the Muslims, though worsted in battle, were yet unbroken spirit. Abu Sufian, hearing of the pursuit, hastened back to Mecca. He however sent a message to Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w), saying that he would soon return to exterminate him and his people.
Shortly after the battle of Uhud, a famine broke out in Mecca and its environs. When Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) heard of their hardships, he immediately appealed the Muslims for help. Donation poured in and when a sizable amount was collected, he sent it to Mecca. This gracious gesture made little impression on his foes, who accepted the help but refused to soften their hearts or to relent in their opposition.
The Muslims were still beleaguered on all sides by their enemies, the Jews, the Bedouin tribes and the traitors from Medina. They kept nagging the Muslims with constant raids which were stoutly repelled and petty machinations which were effectively countered. The Jewish tribes had been expelled from Medina because of their inimical and treacherous behaviours, entrenched themselves in a place called Khaibar.

BATTLE OF BADR

Hazrat Muhammad (s.a.w) had hardly breathed a sigh of relief in Medina when he was confronted with the series of military expeditions against the fronts of the heathen Meccans. Attack was apprehended every moment from without and treachery from within. Small detachments of the Quraish of Mecca used to go out on marauding expeditions and scour the country right up to the outskirts of Medina. Once, one such party lifted camels from the very pastures of the town.
From the start of Ramadan, a report reached to Medina that a large trading caravan of Quraish was returning to Mecca from Syria under the leadership of Abu Sufian bin Harb, one of the most astute men, accompanied by a fifty armed guards. It has been pointed out that this richly loaded caravan constituted a grave threat to the security of Medina, therefore, Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) dispatched Talha bin Ubaidullah and Saeed bin Zaid (r.a), to gather intelligence about the caravan and to report back. Abu Sufian, apprehending the blockade by the Muslims, sent a fast rider to Mecca in advance to explain the situation to the Quraish and bring adequate force for the safeguarding of the caravan.
I
n the interim, Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) dispatched small reconnaissance parties to keep an eye on the movements of the enemy as well as to approach certain tribes to secure their neutrality. It so happened that one such party of eight persons was sent out under Abdullah bin Jahash (r.a). They were given sealed instructions by Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w), requiring them not to open the cover, until two days had passed. When opened as directed after two days' march, it was found to contain the orders that the party should proceed to Nakhlah, between Mecca and Taif, and there keep track of the movements of the Quraish. The party arrived at Nakhlah, and after few days, they encountered a small caravan of Quraish on its way from Taif to Mecca. They attacked the four persons, who were in charge of the caravan, of whom one Amr bin Hadharmi, was killed, two were captured and the fourth escaped. The scouting party took over the merchandise of the caravan and made haste to return to Medina. When news reached Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w), he was severely reprimanded Abdullah bin Jahash (r.a) for transgressing his express commands.
It may be pointed out that the sealed orders of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) to Abdullah bin Jahash (r.a) contained the word tarassadu, meaning "to keep a watch" and not to lay an ambush. Margoliouth, Dr. Zwemer and other European scholars have gloated over this incident and have made it a handle for attack. But might they know that, firstly, it was against the expressed orders of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w), and, secondly, even if Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) would have ordered Abdullah (r.a) to do so, his act would have been justified by the modern international law of the West, which reads:- "From the moment one state is at war with another, it has, on general principles, a right to seize on all the enemy's property of whatsoever kind and where so ever found, and to appropriate thus to its own use, or to that of the captors." (vide, "Elements of International Law" by Henry Wheaton, London, 1936, p. 419). The death of Amr bin Hadharmi, however, provoked Quraish and stimulated their hostile designs against the Muslims. According to Tabari, the murder of Amr bin Hadharmi was the root cause of the battle of Badr.
On the other side, when the emissary of Abu Sufian arrived in Mecca, and reported to the Meccans, a preparation was at once made to invade on Medina. Within three days, a well-armed force of over a thousand warriors set out from Mecca under the command of Abu Jahl. When they reached at Jahfah, a little half-way to Badr, an emissary of Abu Sufian brought the news that the caravan had passed through the danger zone safely and that it was not necessary to march towards Medina. On hearing this, some of them counselled that they should go back, but Abu Jahl and his party rejected the suggestion violently and proceeded towards Badr.
Badr is the name of a celebrated well and a market-place of Arabia, and is so named after a certain Badr bin Quraish bin Mukhlad bin an-Nadr bin Kananah, who hailed from the clan of Ghaffar. The first battle thus fought between the Muslims and the Meccans about 80 miles from Medina was that of Badr. The date given for the battle is 17th, 19th or 21st Ramdan, 2 A.H./March 13, 15 or 17, 624 A.D. The Muslims, who were unprepared for the engagement, numbered only 313 men who had only three horses, seventy camels and a few swords. This small force was marshalled out of Medina, and took suitable position near a stream of fresh water at Badr. The Meccans under the command of Abu Jahl, were a thousand with 300 horses and 700 camels. Numerically the Muslim force was hardly one-third of the Meccans. Besides, the latter were composed of skilled veterans, while the Muslims had recruited even inexperienced youths.
The two ill-matched armies collided on the morning of Friday, the 17th Ramdan. Sword clashed against sword and lance broke against lance. The men confronting each other in mortal combat were no strangers. Brother fought against brother, father against son, son against father. And when the battle was at its height, Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) prostrated himself before his God and prayed, "O God, if this handful band of men perish, there will be no one left to pronounce Your word to worship You truly and selflessly. Your true faith will be destroyed. Come to the aid of Your devotees, my Lord, and give them victory."
At the taunt of the Meccans, Ali bin Abu Talib (r.a) dashed out of the Muslim ranks, glittering in breastplate and helmet. He was closely followed by Ubaida bin Harith (r.a), a paternal cousin of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w), and Hamza (r.a), who wore an ostrich feather on his cuirass. They performed such outstanding feats of bravery against Shiba, Walid and Atba in a single combat, who were considered the cream of the Quraishite power. Hamza (r.a) killed Shiba, while Ali (r.a) killed Walid. Ubaida (r.a) was mortally wounded but, before he fell, Ali and Hamza (r.a) were able to come to his rescue. Hamza (r.a) hurled at Atba and, with a sweep of his sword, cut off his head. This single combat was an ominous start for the pagans, as thereby they lost three of their best warriors and commanders in the very first phase of the battle. After a fierceful and dreadful fighting, the Meccans army broke up and fled in a hurly-burly manner before the Muslims. Seventy of the bravest warriors of the Quraish were slain, and forty-five taken prisoners. Their commander, Abu Jahl had also fallen in the battle. On the Muslim side, fourteen men were killed.
This was the first opportunity of the Muslims after their long and bitter sufferings at the hands of the Meccans to wreak vengeance on them, if they chose. But how were they treated is well illustrated by the following incident. There was one among the captives, possessed of a remarkable force of eloquence which he used to exercise unsparingly while in Mecca, to arouse opposition against Islam. He was brought before Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w), and it was suggested that two of his teeth should be knocked out, as an appropriate punishment, to incapacitate him from stirring agitation against Islam. "If I disfigure any of his limbs," replied Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w), "God will disfigure mine."
Before Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) returned Medina with the Muslim warriors, Zaid bin Harith and Abdullah bin Ka'b (r.a) had galloped through the city on their horses, and announced the victory, mentioning the names of fallen idolaters in the field. The Muslims rejoiced to hear it and gathered in the streets, acclaiming this great victory.

THE HYPOCRITES

Though emigration to Medina had given Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) a certain amount of respite, it increased opposition to his cause tenfold. While at Mecca, the malice of the Quraish found vent in tormenting the Muslims, but now it was bent on the latter's destruction. The Bedouin tribes, who had so far been mere spectators of the Muslims' persecutions, were also stirred at the growth of Islam in Medina. The Jews, being at a distance, were also quiet so far, but now that the Muslims were their next door neighbours in Medina, they could not watch the steady growth of Islam without a sting of jealousy and they rose in opposition. Distinct from all these, and of a singular nature, another wave of opposition set in, in the camp, known in the Islamic phraseology as that of the hypocrites. These were the men who had not the pluck to come out into the open. So they joined the faith with an object of undermining it from within.
A certain man, Abdullah bin Ubay, was at their head. Before the immigration of Sayyidi Muhammad (s.a.w), both Banu Aws and Khazraj, wearied by their long drawn-out mutual hostility, which had often erupted into fighting and had exacted a heavy toll of life, had decided to put an end to this state of affairs and to set up a form of administration in Medina which should have the support of both tribes and should also be acceptable to the three Jewish tribes. For this purpose, it had been agreed that Abdullah bin Ubay bin Salul, chief of the Khazraj, should be elected king of Medina. This plan had not yet been put into effect when Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) was invited to come to Medina. But Prophet Muhammad's (s.a.w) presence eclipsed his personality, and he dwindled into a nonentity. He was deeply chagrined at the loss of a crown. At the outset, he offered some opposition, but beholding the rapid growth of Islam, he thought hypocrisy would be a best tool of revenge. Thus he put on the mask of Islam, and thenceforward till his last breath, he left no stone unturned to bring Islam into trouble.

COVENANT OF MADINA

Another important task before Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) was to determine and clarify the relations between the various tribes and the Muslims in Medina. The Jews were a considerable power in Medina. It appears that they were Arabs by descent, but formed a distinct unit by reason of their adoption of Judaism. They were subdivided into three clans, the Banu Qainuqa, Banu Nazir and Banu Quraiza. The other inhabitants of the town were the Aws and Khazraj, always at war with each other. Of the two chief clans of the Jews, the Quraiza were the allies of the Aws, while Banu Nazir joined the Khazraj. Now it so happened that the major portion of the Khazraj and Aws embraced Islam. So Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) concluded a pact with the Jews, known as the "Covenant of Medina" (mithaq-i-Medina), whose terms were as follow:-
Firstly, the Muslims and Jews shall live as one people.
Secondly, each one of the parties shall keep to its own faith, and neither shall interfere with that of the other.
Thirdly, in the event of a war with a third party, each was bound to come to the assistance of the other, provided the latter were the pary aggrieved and not the aggressors.
Fourthly, in the event of an attack on Medina, both shall join hands to defend it.
Fifthly, peace, when desirable, shall be made after consultation with each other.
Sixthly, Medina shall be regarded as a sacred by both, all bloodshed being forbidden therein.
Seventhly, Muhammad shall be the final court of appeal in cases of dispute.
James A. Michener writes in "Islam: The Misunderstood Religion" (New York, 1955, p. 68) that, "Muhammad thus became head of the state and the testimony even of his enemies is that he administered wisely. The wisdom he displayed in judging intricate cases became the basis for the religious law that governs Islam today."

BOND OF BROTHERHOOD

The old word Yathirab is found only once in the Koran, 33:13), now known as Medina, it was Prophet Muhammad's (s.a.w) next task to find shelter and livelihood for the men who had accompanied him from Mecca. In their own home-town many of them were prosperous, but now they were all equally destitute. As a preliminary step, Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) enjoined the Muslims of Medina, now known as Ansar (the helpers) to adopt as brothers their co-religionists from Mecca, now known as Muhajir (the refugees), to share with them like their own kith and kin whatever they possessed, in prosperity and in want. He thus created in Anas's house a bond of brotherhood, known as "Fraternization" (muwakhah), comprising forty-five (or according to another authority, seventy-five) pairs between the Ansars and Muhajirs. This was intended to prove that religion was a firmer basis for brotherly community than membership of the same tribe. These mandates thus resulted in a considerable extension of the Muslim community.
So strong, in short, was this new tie that it surpassed even the relationship of two real brothers. That occurred five months after his arrival in Yathirab

CONSTRUCTION OF THE MOSQUE

After Prophet Muhammad's (s.a.w) arrival in Medina, the first thing to be done was to build a cathedral mosque. It was constructed on the plot of two orphans, Sohal and Sohail, whom Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari (r.a) paid the price. The ground of the plot was levelled and a mosque, 54 yards width and 60 yards in length was built over it with unbaked bricks and mud, and was roofed with palm-wood rafters. This mosque became known as the "Prophet's Mosque" (Masjid-i-Nabawi) was free from all kinds of artificialities and was a monument of simplicity. Its walls were made of mud bricks, the roof supported by trunks of palm-trees and covered over with the leaves and twigs. The floor was strewn with gravel. In the corner of the courtyard, a sort of a platform with a shed was raised to accommodate those having no home or family. Those who lived there were known as the residents of the Suffa or Platform. This was, so to speak, a kind of seminary attached to the mosque, for these people devoted their whole time to the study of religion. Adjoining the mosque were erected two apartments for the household of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w).

Thursday, September 07, 2006

CLASSIFICATION OF HADITH

Sahih
Al-Shafi'i states the following requirement in order for a hadith which is not mutawatir to be acceptable:
"Each reporter should be trustworthy in his religion; he should be known to be truthful in his narrating, to understand what he narrates, to know how a different expression can alter the meaning, and report the wording of the hadith verbatim, not only its meaning. This is because if he does not know how a different expression can change the whole meaning, he will not know if he has changed what is lawful into what is prohibited. Hence, if he reports the hadith according to its wording, no change of meaning will be found at all. Moreover, he should be a good memoriser if he happens to report from his memory, or a good preserver of his writings if he happens to report from them. He should agree with the narrations of the huffaz (leading authorities in Hadith), if he reports something which they do also. He should not be a mudallis, who narrates from someone he met something he did not hear, nor should he report from the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) contrary to what reliable sources have reported from him. In addition, the one who is above him (in the isnad) should be of the same quality, [and so on,] until the hadith goes back uninterrupted to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) or any authority below him."
Ibn al-Salah, however, defines a sahih hadith more precisely by saying:
"A sahih hadith is the one which has a continuous isnad, made up of reporters of trustworthy memory from similar authorities, and which is found to be free from any irregularities (i.e. in the text) or defects (i.e. in the isnad).
"By the above definition, no room is left for any weak hadith, whether, for example, it is munqati', mu'dal, mudtarib, maqlub, shadhdh, munkar, ma'lul, or contains a mudallis. The definition also excludes hasan ahadith, as will be discussed under that heading.
Of all the collectors of hadith, al-Bukhari and Muslim were greatly admired because of their tireless attempts to collect sahih ahadith only. It is generally understood that the more trustworthy and of good memory the reporters,the more authentic the hadith. The isnad: al- Shafi'i --- Malik --- Nafi' --- 'Abdullah b.'Umar --- The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), is called a "golden isnad"because of its renowned reporters.
Some traditionists prefer Sahih al-Bukhari toSahih Muslim because al-Bukhari always lookedfor those reporters who had either accompaniedor met each other, even if only once in theirlifetime. On the other hand, Muslim wouldaccept a reporter who is simply found to becontemporary to his immediate authority inreporting.
The following grading is given for sahih ahadith only: (i) those which are transmitted by both al-Bukhari and Muslim;(ii) those which are transmitted by al-Bukhari only;(iii) those which are transmitted by Muslim only; those which are not found in the above two collections, but(iv) which agree with the requirements of both al-Bukhari and Muslim;(v) which agree with the requirements of al- Bukhari only;(vi) which agree with the requirements of Muslim only; and(vii) those declared sahih by other traditionists.
Hasan
Al-Tirmidhi means by hadith hasan: a hadith which is not shadhdh, nor contains a disparaged reporter in its isnad, and which is reported through more than one route of narration.
Al-Khattabi (d. 388) states a very concise definition, "It is the one where its source is known and its reporters are unambiguous."
By this he means that the reporters of the hadith should not be of a doubtful nature, such as with the mursal or munqati' hadith, or one containing a mudallis.
Ibn al-Salah classifies hasan into two categories:
(i) one with an isnad containing a reporter who is mastur ("screened", i.e. no prominent person reported from him) but is not totally careless in his reporting, provided that a similar text is reported through another isnad as well;
(ii) one with an isnad containing a reporter who is known to be truthful and reliable, but is a degree less in his preservation/memory of hadith in comparison to the reporters of sahih ahadith.
In both categories, Ibn al-Salah requires that the hadith be free of any shudhudh (irregularities).
Al-Dhahabi, after giving the various definitions, says, "A hasan hadith is one which excels the da'if but nevertheless does not reach the standard of a sahih hadith." In the light of this definition, the following isnads are hasan according to al-Dhahabi:
(i) Bahz b. Hakam --- his father --- his grandfather;
(ii) 'Amr b. Shu'aib --- his father --- his grandfather;
(iii) Muhammad b. 'Amr --- Abu Salamah --- Abu Hurairah.
Reporters such as al-Harith b. 'Abdullah, 'Asim b. Damurah, Hajjaj b. Artat, Khusaif b. 'Abd al- Rahman and Darraj Abu al-Samh attract different verdicts: some traditionists declare their ahadith hasan, others declare them da'if.
Example of a hasan hadith
Malik, Abu Dawud, al-Tirmidhi and al-Hakim reported through their isnads from 'Amr b. Shu'aib --- his father --- his grandfather, that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said,
"A single rider is a devil (i.e. disobedient), two riders are two devils, but three makes a travelling party."
Al-Tirmidhi declares this hadith to be hasan because of the above isnad, which falls short of the requirements for a sahih hadith.
Several weak ahadith may mutually support each other to the level of hasan
According to the definitions of al-Tirmidhi and Ibn al-Salah, a number of similar weak ahadith on a particular issue can be raised to the degree of hasan if the weakness found in their reporters is of a mild nature. Such a hadith is known as hasan li ghairihi (hasan due to others), to distinguish it from the type previously-discussed, which is hasan li dhatihi (hasan in itself). Similarly, several hasan ahadith on the same subject may make the hadith sahih li ghairihi, to be distinguished from the previously-discussed sahih li dhatihi.
However, in case the weakness is severe (e.g., the reporter is accused of lying or the hadith is itself shadhdh), such very weak ahadith will not support each other and will remain weak. For example, the well-known hadith,
"He who preserves forty ahadith for my Ummah will be raised by Allah on the Day of Resurrection among the men of understanding", has been declared to be da'if by most of the traditionists, although it is reported through several routes.
Da'if
A hadith which fails to reach the status of hasan is da'if. Usually, the weakness is one of discontinuity in the isnad, in which case the hadith could be mursal, mu'allaq, mudallas, munqati' or mu'dal, according to the precise nature of the discontinuity, or one of a reporter having a disparaged character, such as due to his telling lies, excessive mistakes, opposition to the narration of more reliable sources, involvement in innovation, or ambiguity surrounding his person.
The smaller the number and importance of defects, the less severe the weakness. The more the defects in number and severity, the closer the hadith will be to being maudu' (fabricated).
Some ahadith, according to the variation in the nature of the weakness associated with its reporters, rank at the bottom of the hasan grade or at the top of the da'if grade. Reporters such as 'Abdullah b. Lahi'ah (a famous judge from Egypt), 'Abd al-Rahman b. Zaid b. Aslam, Abu Bakr b. Abi Maryam al-Himsi, Faraj b. Fadalah, and Rishdin b. Sa'd attract such types of varying ranks as they are neither extremely good preservers nor totally abandoned by the traditionists.
Maudu'
Al-Dhahabi defines maudu' (fabricated, forged) as the term applied to a hadith, the text of which goes against the established norms of the Prophet's sayings (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), or its reporters include a liar, e.g. the forty ahadith known as Wad'aniyyah or the small collection of ahadith which was fabricated and claimed to have been reported by 'Ali al-Rida, the eighth Imam of the Ithna 'Ashari Shi'ah.
A number of traditionists have collected fabricated ahadith separately in order todistinguish them from other ahadith; among them are Ibn al-Jauzi in al-Maudu'at, al-Jauzaqani in Kitab al-Abatil, al-Suyuti in al-La'ali al- Masnu'ah fi 'l-Ahadith al-Maudu'ah, and 'Ali al- Qari in al-Maudu'at.
Some of these ahadith were known to be spurious by the confession of their inventors. For example, Muhammad b. Sa'id al-Maslub used to say, "It is not wrong to fabricate an isnad for a sound statement."
Another notorious inventor, 'Abd al-Karim Abu 'l-Auja, who was killed and crucified by Muhammad b. Sulaiman b. 'Ali, governor of Basrah, admitted that he had fabricated four thousand ahadith declaring lawful the prohibited and vice-versa. Maudu' ahadith are also recognised by external evidence related to a discrepancy found in the dates or times of a particular incident. For example, when the second caliph, 'Umar b. al- Khattab decided to expel the Jews from Khaibar, some Jewish dignitaries brought a document to 'Umar apparently proving that the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) had intended that they stay there by exempting them from the jizyah (tax on non-Muslims under the rule of Muslims); the document carried the witness of two Companions, Sa'd b. Mu'adh and Mu'awiyah b. Abi Sufyan. 'Umar rejected the document outright, knowing that it was fabricated because the conquest of Khaibar took place in 6 AH, whereas Sa'd b. Mu'adh died in 3 AH just after the Battle of the Trench, and Mu'awiyah embraced Islam in 8 AH, after the conquest of Makkah!
The author, in his Criticism of Hadith among Muslims with reference to Sunan Ibn Majah, has given more examples of fabricated ahadith under the following eight categories of causes of fabrication:
(i) political differences;
(ii) factions based on issues of creed;
(iii) fabrications by zanadiqah (enemies-within spreading heretical beliefs);
(iv) fabrications by story-tellers;
(v) fabrications by ignorant ascetics;
(vi) prejudice in favour of town, race or a particular imam;
(vii) inventions for personal motives;
(viii) proverbs turned into ahadith.
Similar to the last category above is the case of Isra'iliyat ("Israelite traditions"), narrations from the Jews and the Christians which were wrongly attributed to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace).

CONDITIONS OF COLLECTORS OF HADITH

Bukhari's Conditions

Though Bukhari (b. 194-d. 256-A.H.) in his magnum opus of Hadith literature, the Sahih Bukhari, does not mention any special conditions for the acceptance of reporters or traditions, later scholars such as, Hazami (d.584 A.H.) and Maqdasi (d. 507 A.H.) in their treatises under the title of Shuru al- A'imma (Conditions of the Imams) have deduced such conditions that were strictly followed by Bukhari and the other traditionists in their collections. According to them, Bukhari has maintained the following conditions:
1. All the reporters, beginning from the teacher/s of Bukhari to the companions of the Prophet (S.A.W,), should be reliable and trustworthy to the highest degree. Their reliability should also be agreed upon by the traditionists.
2. Bukhari has given preference to the reporters of higher ranks among the students of any particular teacher. For example, the students of Zuhri (d. 124.A.H.) are classified into five categories according to their credibility and long association with their teachers. It becomes apparent by a perusal of Sahih Bukhari that he mostly reported from the narrators in the first category. He accepted the reports of the second and third categories as well, but only as Mutaba'a (annotations) and not in the actual text.
3. Bukhari followed his teacher, ibn al-Madini (d. 234A.H.) in accepting a narrator reporting by usage of the particle 'an (from), if it was proven that the student had met the teacher.
4. Bukhari does not accept a Hadith with a discontinued Sanad.
5. Earlier traditionists, from among the Kufans in particular, differ about the validity of a Hadith reported by a boy who has not reached the age of Maturity. Bukhari presents his opinion by quoting Ahadith reported by young companions such as 'Abd Allah b. 'Abbas (d. 68A.H.) and 'Abd Allah b. 'Umar (d. 73A.H.), under the heading, "When a child comprehends what he hears, his reporting will be valid".
The Conditions of Muslim
Muslim's collection of Hadith is known as Sahih Muslim. He compiled more than twenty-four books related to Hadith. The principles followed by him in his collection demonstrate his method of discussing Hadith. Some of these principles are discussed by him in his preface to Sahih Muslim which are as follows:
1. Unlike Bukhari, he has given consideration to the distinction between Haddathana (teacher read to us) and Akhbarana (student read to us) following the footsteps of the earlier traditionists.
2. He accepts a narration conveyed by the usage of 'an (from), if the reporter is proved to be the contemporary of the one from whom he is reporting, unlike Bukhari who, as already mentioned, requires the meeting of both persons as well.
3. Muslim has classified the reporters in the following three categories: a) Those with a high standard of memory and credibility; b) Those who are less renowned than the first group in as far as the two qualities of memory and credibility are concerned; c) Reporters accused of lying and being rejected by most of the traditionists. Muslim confirmed that he gave preference to the reporters in the first category and seldom opted for those in the second. As for the third category he did not concern himself with them.
4. Muslim said about his collection: "I have only mentioned those Ahadith on which the consensus of the traditionists was obtained". A general consensus is not meant here, but rather that of eminent traditionists like Yahya b. Ma'in (d. 233 A.H.), Ahmad b. Hanbal (d.241 A.H.), 'Uthman b. Abu Shaiba and Sa'id b. Mansur al-Khurasani as explained by Balqini.
Conditions of Abu Dawud
Abu Dawud's collection of Hadith is known as Sunan Abu Dawud. He compiled twenty-one books related to Hadith and preferred those Ahadith which were supported by the practical example of the companions of the Prophet (S.A.W.). As for the contradictory Ahadith, he states under the heading of 'Meat acquired by hunting for a pilgrim': "if there are two contradictory reports from the Prophet (S.A.W.), an investigation should be made to establish what his companions have adopted". He wrote in his letter to the people of Makkah: "I have disclosed wherever there was too much weakness in regard to any tradition in my collection. But if I happen to leave a Hadith without any comment, it should be considered as sound, albeit some of them are more authentic than others". Hadith Mursal (a tradition in which a companion is omitted and a successor narrates directly from the Prophet) (S.A.W.) has also been a matter of discussion among the traditionists. Abu Dawud states in his letter to the people of Makkah: "if a Musnad Hadith (uninterrupted tradition) is not contrary to a Mursal or a Musnad Hadith is not found, then the Mursal Hadith will be accepted though it would not be considered as strong as a Muttasil Hadith (uninterrupted chain)".
The traditions in Sunan Abu Dawud are divided in three categories. The first category consists of those traditions that are mentioned by Bukhari and/or Muslim. The second type of traditions are those which fulfil the conditions of Bukhari or Muslim. At this juncture, it should be remembered that Bukhari said, "I only included in my book Sahih Bukhari authentic traditions, and left out many more authentic ones than these to avoid unnecessary length". He had no intention of collecting all the authentic traditions. He only wanted to compile a manual of Hadith. according to the wishes of his teacher Ishaq b. Rahaway (d. 238A.H.), and his function is quite clear from the complete title of his book Al-Jami', al-Musnad, al-Sahih, al-Mukhtasar, Min 'Umur Rasul AllAh Wa-Sunanihi Wa-Ayyamihi. The word al-Mukhtasar (epitome), itself explains that Bukhari did not attempt to compile a comprehensive collection. Muslim said that he condensed his Sahih from 300,000 Sahih Ahadith. This proves that there are many Ahaadith which are authentic in spite of their not being mentioned in either Sahih Bukhari or Sahih Muslim.
Nasai’s Conditions
Nasai's collection of Hadith is known as al-Sunan al-Sughra or al-Mujtaba. He compiled five books related to Hadith. The basic criteria of Nasa'i to evaluate a tradition was as follows:
1. Whenever contradictory remarks are found about a reporter, Nasa'i accepts his veracity until he is sure that all the traditionists have deserted him. What he meant by the consensus of the traditionists on deserting a reporter may be understood in the light of the following explanation; The critics among the traditionists in each period are of two types: The dogmatic and the lenient - for example, Shu'ba (d. 160A.H.) and Sufyan Thawri (d. 161A.H.) respectively in the first period; Yahya al-Qattan (d. 189A.H.) and 'Abd al-Rahman b. al-Mahdi (d.198 A.H.) in the second period; Yahya b. Ma'in (d. 233 A.H.) and Ahmad b. Hanbal (d. 241A.H.) in the third period. Nasa'i omitted a reporter if he happened to be deserted by both the dogmatic and lenient ones of that period. Following this principle, Nasa'i has omitted some reporters who are otherwise accepted by both Bukhari and Muslim. But it does not imply that his collection is more authentic than those of Bukhari and Muslim, as is mentioned by Ibn Kathir (d. 774A.H.), the author Al-Bidaya wa-al-Nihaya.
2. Nasa'i, like Ahmad b. Hanbal declares a Hadith as Munkar (rejected) if a reporter has reported something extra while other reporters have not reported it from the same teacher.
Certain Conditions of Malik
Malik (d. 179A.H.) forbids reporting from four types of people. They are:
1. A man known for his stupidity
2. A man with certain personal motives and engaged in propagating them
3. An ascetic who does not know what he is narrating.
4. A man who speaks lies while reporting from the Prophet (S.A.W.)
Conditions of Tirmidhi
Tirmidhi's collection of Hadith is known as Jami' Tirmidhi or Sunan al-Tirmidhi. According to the commentators of the Jami’ and 'Ilal, Tirmidhi has maintained the following conditions:
1. The traditions of any narrator who persistently commits errors in transmitting a Hadith or is considered weak due to his unmindfulness or weak memory, will not be cited in evidence.
2. It is not permissible to narrate a Hadith from persons who fabricate traditions.
3. The Ahadith in the Jami' are divided in four categories. The first category consists of those Ahadith which fulfil the conditions of Bukhari and/or Muslim. The second category consists of those Ahadith which comply with the conditions of Abu Dawud or Nasa'i. The third category are those Ahadith that have certain discrepancies either in the text or Sanad. The fourth type of traditions are those mentioned by Tirmidhi, in spite of their weakness, as some jurists relied on them. Tirmidhi was the only one amongst the six canonical traditionists, who quotes Ahadith from the fourth category unhesitatingly, whilst Abu Dawud also quotes from the fourth category but confines himself to the famous reporters of this category. The reporters who belong to the fourth category are persons who are truthful but have the tendency to speculate.
4. Tirmidhi has applied the term Mursal Hadith where a reporter between the successor and the Prophet (S.A.W.) is missing or where a reporter other than a companion is missing. To the later traditionists, the second type of Hadith is known as Munqati' (broken). Even a Mursal Hadith is valid according to Tirmidhi when supported by a Hadith with an uninterrupted Sanad. In Tirmidhi's opinion the majority of the scholars when classifying a tradition as Mursal consider it as weak. They have done so because Mursal narrations are narrated through either reliable or unreliable reporters and due to this doubt a precautionary stance is taken by classifying Mursal as weak.
5. Tirmidhi accepts a Hadith conveyed by the usage of 'an (from), if the reporter is proved to be the contemporary of the one from whom he is reporting, unlike Bukhari, who as already mentioned, requires the meeting of both persons as well.
6. Tirmidhi did not specify several conditions for the acceptance of Ahadith, since he included those traditions that were utilized by the jurists.
Having discussed Tirmidhi's conditions for the acceptance of a Hadith in comparison with those of other traditionists, the uniqueness of Tirmidhi in the particular terminology used, demands attention. What follows is an exposition on the terminology used by him.

HADITH

Allah says, "He it is Who hath sent among the unlettered ones a messenger of their own, to recite unto them His revelations and to make them grow, and to teach them the Scripture and Wisdom, though heretofore they were indeed in error manifest". (Qur'an 62:2) The four-fold objective of the apostleship of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.), specified by the Qur'an, comprises (a) recital of Divine Revelations, (b) purification of the people from all moral and spiritual filth, (c) teaching of the scripture, and (d) teaching of wisdom.
The Muslims are agreed that the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) is the second of the two revealed fundamental sources of Islam, after the Glorious Qur’an. The authentic Sunnah is contained within the vast body of Hadith literature. A hadith (pl. ahadith) is composed of two parts: the matn (text) and the isnad (chain of reporters). A text may seem to be logical and reasonable but it needs an authentic isnad with reliable reporters to be acceptable; 'Abdullah b. al-Mubarak (d. 181 AH), one of the illustrious teachers of Imam al-Bukhari, said, "The isnad is part of the religion: had it not been for the isnad, whoever wished to would have said whatever he liked." In fact a hadith is the saying, deed and the silent approval of the Prophet (s.a.w) and his companions.

Need for Traditions
History of religion is a witness to the fact that injunctions and commandments are not sufficient in themselves to make people comply to these commands. These commandments do not create the right conditions and environment conducive to moral behaviour of the people. For example, the command to establish prayer does not produce the mental awareness and conditions necessary for the preservation of its form. The act of prayer requires rules and formalities to render it effective and meritorious, thus the Qur'an has prescribed cleanliness and ablution for prayer.
Those who have studied the life of the Prophet (S.A.W.) are aware that the exhortations of the Prophet (S.A.W.) coupled with his personal example have exerted such an influence, that prayer has become the most efficacious instrument of self-purification. Likewise, the merits attached to ablution, its performance and intention, the etiquettes of entering the mosque, the blessings of the call to prayer, the reward of keeping the rows straight and many more acts make the prayer a superb and solemn means of inculcating an awareness of Allah in ones' heart. The same will apply to every other act of worship like fasting, payment of poor-due and pilgrimage to Makka. It will be difficult to visualize how these devotional exercises would be able to retain their effectiveness to stir the feeling of reverence, piety and eagerness for attaining divine consciousness, if the events of the Prophets life, his sayings and actions were not preserved. Religion is not a compendium of legal edicts, nor can any faith retain its warmth of feelings without presenting living examples of its teachings which infuse life-blood into its adherents.
The Reliability of the Traditions
Allah states in the Qur'an, "Lo! We, even We, reveal the Reminder (Dhikr), and lo! We verily are its Guardian". (15:9) In this verse the word Reminder (Dhikr) refers to the Qur'an and the Hadith, which is wahi khafi (hidden revelations). Thus, whatever was expounded by the Prophet (S.A.W.) is Divine Revelation. The Qur'an bears witness to this fact: "Nor doth he speak of (his own) desire. It is naught save an inspiration that is inspired". (53:3-4) These verses were revealed to counter the three allegations made by the Quraish of Makka against the Prophet (S.A.W.).
1. He was going astray either through the defect of intelligence or through carelessness.
2. He was being misled or deceived by evil spirits or was possessed by an evil spirit.
3. He was speaking out of his whim or impulse, or from a selfish desire to impress his own personality.
This confirms that the Prophet (S.A.W.) received direct inspiration from Allah which guided all his thoughts and actions. The real import of the above verses is that it shows the significance of the Hadith and the Sunnah in the interpretation of the entire message of the Qur'an. This proves that Allah's promise to safe-guard the Reminder (Dhikr) is applicable to both the Qur'an and Hadith, since both are Divinely inspired.
Methods to Determine the Reliability of the Traditions
According to the traditionists, a Hadith can only be considered reliable when its Sanad offers an unbroken series of credible and veracious authorities till the Prophet (S.A.W.). The critical investigation of the Sanad had caused the Muslim scholars to make thorough research. They endeavoured not only to ascertain the names and circumstances of the narrators in order to investigate where and when they lived, and which of them had been personally acquainted with the other, but also to test their reliability, truthfulness and accuracy in transmitting the texts, to make certain which of them were reliable. This criticism of the narrators was called "disparaging and authentication". The "character and background of the man" was considered indispensable for every student of Hadith, therefore all the commentaries on the collections of tradition contain more or less copious details concerning the narrators. Special works are also devoted to this subject, among them many of the so-called Tabaqat works (that is biographies arranged in categories of various scholars).
Gradually six collections, which were compiled in the third century of Islam succeeded in gaining such general approval that later generations, tacitly accepted them as the six Canonical Collections (Sihah Sitta). They are: Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, Sunan Abu Dawud, Sunan Nasai, Jami' Tirmidhi and Su-an ibn Maja.
In preparing their collections, these traditionists obviously used a critical technique of selection to decide what they would include and what they would reject. Their purpose was to assemble a corpus of traditions which would serve as a code of life for Muslims, so their primary interest was in selecting such traditions that would give clear guidance concerning what Muslim belief and practice should be, which things were permissible and approved, and which were not.
In their attempt to set up tests of authenticity which would exclude unauthentic material, these traditionists chose the Isnad (chains of transmitters) as the testing point and worked out an elaborate system for testing the trustworthiness of these "chains" and of the individuals who formed the links therein, so that a Isnad could be labelled "excellent", "good", "fair", "weak" and the tradition itself rated accordingly.
The primary aim of the reporters was to establish unerring authority for laws and customs; thus the narrators devoted scrupulous attention to the Isnad. Ibn Sirin (d. 110 A.H.), the famous interpreter of dreams, said that the traditionists did not ask about the Isnad, but did so when civil war broke out, and those men who adhered to the Sunna, their traditions were accepted and those who were innovators, their traditions were rejected. 'Abd AllAh b. Mubarak (d. 181 A.H.), a student of Abu Hanifa (d. 150 A.H.), was very outspoken with regards to the importance of the chains of narrators, and this is evidenced in the following statement by him, "The chains of narrators according to me are part of religion. If there were no chains of reporters, anybody would say whatever he liked and about whomsoever he wished". Ahmad Abu Wahb throws more light on the extent to which 'Abd Allah b. Mubarak regarded the Isnad by saying that he ('Abd AllAh b. Mubarak) would consider committing highway robbery rather than narrating from a narrator accused of lying.
Thus, there came into existence the science of criticism on Hadith relating to the Isnad and Matn (text). The following is a summary of the principles of criticism of the Isnad:
1. All the traditions must be traced to their original reporter through a chain of transmitters. These transmitters must be of excellent character, truthful and have a good retentive memory.
2. Every tradition which reports an event that occurred frequently in the presence of a large number of people, must have originally been reported by several narrators.
As far as the Matn is concerned, the following principles of criticism of Hadith are laid down:
1. The Hadith should not be contrary to the text or the teachings of the Qur’an or the accepted basic principles of Islam.
2. The Hadith should not be against the dictates, reasons or laws of nature and common experience.
3. The Hadith should not be contrary to the traditions which have already been accepted by the authorities as reliable and authentic.
4. A Hadith that contains the dates and minute details of future events should be rejected.
5. A Hadith that contains some remarks of the Prophet (S.A.W) which are not in keeping with the Islamic belief of Prophethood or the position of the Prophet (S.A.W.), should also be rejected.
According to the overwhelming majority of the traditionists, the rank of the six canonical works are as follows., (1) Sahih Bukhari (2) Sahih Muslim (3) Sunan Abu Dawud (4) Sunan Nasai (5) Jami' Tirmidhi (6) Sunan Ibn Maja. The relative status of the canonical works on Hadith are determined by the conditions laid down by each traditionist in his method of compiling Ahadith. There is unanimity among the traditionists that every reporter must be a Muslim, sane and a just person. Together with the above qualities a reporter must not be one who commits major sins nor should he be persistent on minor sins. Subsequently, there is a difference of opinion among the traditionists as to what the conditions will be to accept a Hadith.