25 April, 2018 | 9 Sha’ban, 1439 H

"A man who sits with his family is more beloved to Allah (swt) than spending the night in worship (itikaf) in my masjid"

- The Prophet Muhammad (s)

Learning
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Core Curriculum

Section 1 - God, Religion and Islam: An Introduction
  • Topic 1.1 - The Problem of Evil, Suffering and Pain

  • Topic 1.2 - God, Allah and Religion

  • Topic 1.3 - Introduction to Islam

  • Topic 1.4 - What is “Religion” and What’s the Point of it Anyways?

  • Topic 1.5 - A Brief Introduction to the Prophet Muhammad (s), the Prophet of Islam

Section 2 - Foundations of Islam - Theology
  • Topic 2.1 - Entering Islam: The Shahada

  • Topic 2.2 - The Usūl al-Dīn: The Fundamental Beliefs of Islam

  • Topic 2.3 - Tawhīd: The Unity and Oneness of God in Islam

  • Topic 2.4 - Adala: Divine Justice in Islam

  • Topic 2.5 - Nubuwwa: The Purpose of Prophethood in Islam

  • Topic 2.6 - Imāmah or divinely guided leadership in Islam after the Prophet Muhammad.

  • Topic 2.7 - Maʿād: The Day of Judgment in Islam

  • Topic 2.8 - The Sharīʿa: Purpose and Practice

  • Topic 2.9 - The Islamic Concept of the Nafs: Battling the Human Ego

  • Topic 2.10 - Satan, Jinns and Angels: Their Influence in the World

  • Topic 2.11 - The Problem of Evil, Suffering and Pain

Section 3 - Foundations of Islam - Obligatory Acts
  • Topic 3.1 - Accepting Islam: Putting Faith into Action

  • Topic 3.2 - Jihād in Islamic Law and Spirituality

  • Topic 3.3 - Salāt: Obligatory Ritual Prayers in Islam

  • Topic 3.4 - Ritual Purity in Islamic Law: Understanding Tahāra and Najāsa

  • Topic 3.5 - The Five Categories of Islamic Law

  • Topic 3.6 - Tawalla and Tabarra, its Basics and Purpose

  • Topic 3.7 - The Purpose of Zakat and Khums in Islamic Law

  • Topic 3.8 - The Hajj Pilgrimage

  • Topic 3.9 - The Furūʿ al-Dīn: The Fundamental Practices of Islam

  • Topic 3.10 - Fasting in Islam, its Purpose, Dos and Don’ts

  • Topic 3.11 - Other Obligatory and Forbidden Acts in Islam

  • Topic 3.12 - Niyya: Religious Intention as the Foundation of Islamic Practice

  • Topic 3.13 - Commanding the Good and Forbidding Evil in Islam

Section 4 - Prophethood in Islam
  • Topic 4.1 - A Brief Biography of the Prophet Muhammad (s): The Prophet’s Childhood (PART I of III)

  • Topic 4.2 - Bio: The Prophet Muhammad as a Prophet of God (PART II of III)

  • Topic 4.3 - A Brief Biography of the Prophet Muhammad (s): The Prophet’s Character (PART III of III)

  • Topic 4.4 - The Prophet Muhammad (s) as Messenger and Teacher

  • Topic 4.5 - The Prophet and his Relationships

  • Topic 4.6 - The Prophet’s Sunnah and Hadith

  • Topic 4.7 - Ghadīr and Arafah: The Two Last Sermons of the Prophet

  • Topic 4.8 - Jesus and Mary in Islam

Section 5 - The Qur'an and Hadith
  • Topic 5.1 - Islam and Other Religions

  • Topic 5.2 - What is the Qur’an? A Short Introduction to Islam’s Holy Book

  • Topic 5.3 - The Structure of the Holy Qur’an

  • Topic 5.4 - The Quran and Islamic law

  • Topic 5.5 - The Qur’an, Allah and Humankind

  • Topic 5.6 - Hadith and Sunnah, difference and variations

  • Topic 5.7 - The Reliability of Hadiths

  • Topic 5.8 - A Reflection on Verses of the Holy Qur’an

  • Topic 5.9 - Hadith al-Thaqalayn

  • Topic 5.10 - Imam Ali (as) and Nahj al-Balagha.

  • Topic 5.11 - Taqlid and Tawḍih Al Masail Genre of Literature

Section 6 - Measuring Good and Bad in Islam
  • Topic 6.1 - The Effects of Our Actions in this World

  • Topic 6.2 - The Gray Areas of Islamic Law and Morality

  • Topic 6.3 - Heaven and Hell in Islam

  • Topic 6.4 - Life and Death in Islam

  • Topic 6.5 - Guidance According to Islam

  • Topic 6.6 - Fate and the Consequences of our Choices in Islam

  • Topic 6.7 - The Effect of Culture and Environment in Shaping our Religious Choices

  • Topic 6.8 - Major Sins in Islam

  • Topic 6.9 - Why Allah Allows People to Sin

  • Topic 6.10 - Repentance and Forgiveness of Sins in Islam

  • Topic 6.11 - The Three Kinds of Rights in Islam

  • Topic 6.12 - Sinning Against Others and their Delayed Punishment

  • Topic 6.13 - Kufr in Islam

  • Topic 6.14 - Trivializing the Harām

  • Topic 6.15 - Benefits of Islamic Law in this World

  • Topic 6.16 - Good and Bad Deeds: The Spiritual Consequences of our Choices

Section 7 - The Legacy of the Prophet Muhammad (s) and his Ahl al-Bayt (as)
  • Topic 7.1 - Islam and Knowledge: the Importance of Islamic Education

  • Topic 7.2 - The Ahl al-Kisa

  • Topic 7.3 - Imamah in the Qur’an

  • Topic 7.4 - Fatima al-Zahrah (as)

  • Topic 7.5 - A Brief Look at the Lives of the Imams (Imam al-Hasan until Imam Muhammad al-Baqir)

  • Topic 7.6 - A Brief Look at the Lives of the Imams (Imam Jafar al-Sadiq until Imam Hasan al-Askari)

  • Topic 7.7 - A Brief Look at the Life and Importance of Imam al-Mahdi (aj)

  • Topic 7.8 - Salawat and Atonement in Islam

  • Topic 7.9 - The Companions (Sahaba) of the Prophet According to the Qur’an

  • Topic 7.10 - Clerical Hierarchies in Muslim Communities

  • Topic 7.11 - Mosques in Islam

  • Topic 7.12 - The Philosophy of Karbala and Majalis

  • Topic 7.13 - A Brief Biography of Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (as)

  • Topic 7.14 - The Battle of Karbala: A Brief History

Section 8 - Islamic Relationships, Sects and Conflicts
  • Topic 8.1 - Misconceptions about Shi’ism

  • Topic 8.2 - Major Sects of Islam

  • Topic 8.3 - Islam and Religious Conflicts

  • Topic 8.4 - Islam and Rights

  • Topic 8.5 - Sunnism and Shi’ism, beginnings and historical developments.

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Special Topics

Section 9 - Independent Topics
  • Topic 9.1 - Muslim Converts – Welcome to Islam!

  • Topic 9.2 - Basic Dos and Don’ts of Being a Muslim

  • Topic 9.3 - Halal Food and Zabiha

  • Topic 9.4 - Family, Parents and Marriage in Islam

  • Topic 9.5 - Marriage in Islam

  • Topic 9.6 - Islam and Sex

  • Topic 9.7 - Modesty in Islam

  • Topic 9.8 - Women’s Menstruation in Islam

  • Topic 9.9 - Music, Alcohol, Drugs and Pork in Islam

  • Topic 9.10 - Islam and Science

  • Topic 9.11 - A Reading List of Islamic Knowledge

  • Topic 9.13 - Ritual Prayers and Supplications in Islam

  • Topic 9.14 - Death & Burial Rituals in Islam

  • Topic 9.15 - The Battle of Armageddon: An Islamic View

  • Topic 9.16 - The Muslim Calendar

  • Topic 9.17 - Muslims and non-Muslims in the Shariah

  • Topic 9.18 - A Timeline of Major Events in Islamic History

  • Topic 9.19 - Introducing the Qur’an: Why it is the way it is

  • Topic 9.20 - The School of Imam Jafar al-Sadiq

  • Topic 9.21 - Major Fields in Islamic Studies

  • Topic 9.22 - The Caliphate in Sunni and Shia Islam

  • Topic 9.24 - Islam, Racism and Anti-Semitism

Section 10 - Islam, Religion, and Modern Controversies
  • Topic 10.1 - Modern Fallacies about God: where Theists and Atheists Agree

  • Topic 10.2 - Tawhīd: The Muslim God according to the Prophet Muhammad and the Ahl al-Bayt (as)

  • Topic 10.3 - God’s Existence: The Argument From Being (Wujūd)

  • Topic 10.4 - God’s Existence: The Kalam Cosmological Argument

  • Topic 10.5 - God’s Existence: The Argument From Design

  • Topic 10.6 - The Problem of Evil, Suffering and Pain

  • Topic 10.7 - Why did God Create Us? The Purpose of our Creation

  • Topic 10.8 - Why Humans Need Religion according to Islam

  • Topic 10.9 - Jahl and Spiritual Ignorance in Islam

  • Topic 10.11 - Do Non-Muslims Go to Hell?

The Reliability of Hadiths

Abstract

This lesson discusses how the reliability of hadiths are assessed by Muslim scholars. It also examines some of the basic differences between the major hadith books among Sunnis and Shias.

INTRODUCTION

 Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.

 Welcome back to our channel!  

 The greatest elephant in the room when discussing hadiths is the question of their reliability. As we saw last time, a hadith is a saying of the Prophet or the Ahl al-Bayt (as) that is orally transmitted through a short or long chain of transmitters.  

 The objection that is often raised is, how do we know this system is reliable? Isn’t this just hearsay? Hearsay, as we often experience nowadays, is not something that is reliable. In fact, it is often inadmissible in courts!

 Any introductory study of hadiths will make us realize that Muslim scholars already pondered these self-evident questions from day one and as a result, set a system or science of verifying and sorting out what hadiths are reliable and which ones are not. In this lesson, we’re going to go into some of the mechanisms that Muslim scholars developed over the centuries in trying to overcome some of these problems.

 BODY OF TEXT

 And whatever the Messenger has given you - take; and what he has forbidden you - refrain from. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is severe in penalty (Chapter 59, verse 7 of the Holy Qur’an)

 When Islam is attacked, it is often through the means hadiths. The idea is that hadiths are just hearsay and there is no way to know if people made mistakes or if the transmitters of the hadith are liars. Perhaps an issue that makes the matter even more complicated is how we have contradicting hadiths. Obviously if hadiths contradict each other, that means that they aren’t reliable, right? Well, not necessarily!  

 So let’s begin. Muslim scholars grade hadiths into a number of categories, the most popular of these categories are called sahīh (meaning reliable) and daʿīf (meaning weak). Obviously this does not exhaust the grading of categories for there are many more, but we just want to get an idea across at this point.  

 So a hadith is composed of a chain of transmitters. A chain of transmission in a hadith works like this. Imagine person A hears that the Prophet said X from person B. Person B says he heard the hadith from person C, and person D says he heard it from a companion of the Prophet (s) who was present when the Messenger of Allah (s) stated X.  

 So now if we go back to our question, how do we know these people are truthful? Early in Islam’s history, Muslim scholars painstakingly researched about narrators. Often enough, they were contemporaries of these narrators. Through in depth study of these individuals, Muslim scholars would compile biographical dictionaries outlining their assessment of hadith narrators.  

 If all the narrators were reliable (both in their moral integrity and their memory) and the chain of transmission was unbroken, then the hadith would be labeled as sahīh, meaning authentic or reliable. If the chain of transmission contained people of dubious character, known to be dishonest, or at the very least, someone with a bad memory, then the hadith would be considered daʿīf or weak.

 By no means did this mean that the hadith was reliable from a historical perspective. All it meant was that Muslims were giving the hadith the benefit of the doubt and a probable chance of being an authentic utterance of the Prophet (s) or his Ahl al-Bayt (as).  

 If there were two hadiths that contradicted one another, then Muslim scholars set a number of mechanisms to resolve them. For example, if a hadith stated that something X was haram, and another stated that it was halal, Muslim scholars reconciled them by stating that the prohibiting hadith simply meant that the issue was disliked (makrūh) and not literally forbidden.  

 If reconciliation was not possible, Muslim scholars often opted for the more reliable hadith and put aside the less reliable one.

 As we said before, assessing chains of transmissions were not necessarily a means of establishing the historical veracity of the hadith. The way we know whether or not a hadith is historically reliable is by assessing its tawātur, that is, the number of times it has been narrated through independent chains of transmission.  

 If there were enough independent chains of transmission relaying the same hadith, then it was understood that there would not have been a lapse of memory, or any kind of conspiracy to fool people into believing the hadith.  

So for example, the hadith of Ghadīr is considered to be mutawātir, or having a high level of tawātur as it has innumerable independent chains of transmission. On this basis, we are certain that the Prophet (s) uttered the sermon concerning Imām ʿAlī’s (as) appointment as the Messenger of Allah’s successor.  

 Sunnis and Shias have their own major compendiums of hadith. The major hadith books of our Sunni brothers and sisters are the following:

 Sahih al-Bukhari

Sahih Muslim

Sunan Abu Dawud

Jami al-Tirmidhi

Sunan al-Nasa’i

Sunan ibn Majah

Muwatta Imam Malik

 The major compendiums of Shia hadiths are the following:

 Kitab al-Kafi

Man Lā Yahduruhu al-Faqih

Tahdhib al-Ahkām

Al-Istibsār

 Both of these sets of compendiums contain hadiths from the Prophet (s). Their major differences are the following:

 The Prophetic hadiths in the Sunni compendiums are mostly transmitted through a select number of companions of the Prophet whereas most of the Prophetic hadiths in Shia books are transmitted through the Ahl al-Bayt (as) of the Messenger of Allah (s).

The Sunni hadith books contain many narrations from companions, whereas the Shia books will contain many, if not mostly, hadiths from the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (as). However, despite the Imams narrating most the hadiths, the Imams made sure to state that whatever they taught originated first from the Prophet. As such, nothing the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) said were from their own thoughts, they were all the teachings of the Messenger of Allah (s).  

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh

Sahih

authentic hadith

Daʿīf

Weak hadith

Tawātur/mutawātir

Hadith that has many independent chains of transmission

Chain of transmission

A chain of narrators who relate a hadith from the Prophet or the Ahl al-Bayt (as)

Q1

What is a hadith?

Saying of the Prophet  

Q2

What is a chain of transmission?

A chain of narrators who relate a hadith from the Prophet or the Ahl al-Bayt (as)

Q3

What is a sahih hadith?

Authentic, reliable hadith

Q4

What is a weak hadith?

A hadith that has a questionable chain of transmission, like a liar among its narrators

Q5

What are the major compendiums of hadith in the Shia Muslim world?

Kitab al-Kafi

Man Lā Yahduruhu al-Faqih

Tahdhib al-Ahkām

Al-Istibsār

Muslim
God
Allah
Hereafter
Prophet Muhammad
Messenger of Allah
Religion
Ahl al-Bayt
hadith
sahih
daʿīf
tawātur
mutawātir
chain of transmission