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It is accepted that not all ahadith are authentic. One example is: What did Prophet Muhammad mean by “Seek knowledge even as far as China"? It is sensible, therefore, to reject some ahadith. Some Muslims go so far as to reject all ahadith, e.g.:

Quranism describes any form of Islam that accepts the Quran as revelation, but rejects the religious authority, and or authenticity of the Hadith collections.

This is a controversial stance in Islam, and thus far, I've only encountered scholars advising strongly against hadith rejection (although the Wikipedia page lists a few notable Quranists).

Question: What kinds of sin does hadith rejection lead to (if any)?


Among other criticisms, scholars claim that rejecting hadith can lead to sin:

Whoever... persists in denying and rejecting the hadiths is exposing himself to grave danger, because it is not permissible for a Muslim to reach a conclusion that is not based on proper methodology and without following any guidelines, and criticise other scholars (who disagree with him), otherwise he may fall into sin and error. -- Islam Q&A, article 115125

Islam Q&A asserts (a) those who reject ahadith they believe are sound are committing disbelief, (b) those who reject ahadith they believe are unsound are mistaken.

Those who reject the Sunnah as incontestable proof and accept only the Quran go against the collective consensus of the Muslim community at large, and this consists in extreme misguidance and deviation on their part. -- Islam Web, fatwa 284470

Islam Web questions "how those who reject the Sunnah would worship Allaah; the Quran does not provide a detailed description of or the conditions for the prayer, Zakaah or other religious rituals, for instance."

(What is the ruling regarding Hadith Rejecters? provides other examples.)

It may be that the authors of the above fatawa are primarily thinking of disbelief. However, presumably Quranists don't think of themselves as disbelievers (and no matter who you are, you'll be accused of being a disbeliever by somebody).

I'm trying to pinpoint some specific sins that hadith rejection would lead to---sins that are accepted by scholars as sins, but nevertheless are engaged in by those who reject ahadith because they reject ahadith. Are there any?

I could conceive of arrogance being one such sin, rejecting a major component of Islam despite being accepted by virtually all scholars throughout Islamic history. Although, the logic here goes the other way: arrogance would lead to hadith rejection, not the other way around.

  • Nice detailed inquiry, well done dear mate. Good luck. – اللهم صل علی محمد و آل محمد Oct 3 '16 at 13:01
  • As quoted in my answer some scholars consider this -in case of rejecting hadith totally- as kufr! If you reject a hadith and have your proof that's totally different. – Medi1Saif Oct 4 '16 at 14:42
  • 1 hadith, 2 hadith, 10 hadith (being weak) does not mean 10,000 are wrong.. thats like saying as one man is bad, 10 are bad, 50 are bad, so whole humanity is bad???? does it makes any sense? Ofcourse not. so if any muslim rejects all hadith, he is just being an extremist, nothing else. the only thing we need to do is to study science of hadith, to see how much authentic hadith are (very close to Quran) – user12159 Oct 6 '16 at 16:08
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My answer is with regard to someone who knows the relevant information about a set of ahadith, i.e. their isnads and the opinions of the muhadditheen (the scholars of hadith) about their status, and still rejects those ahadith.

Al-Ghazali in "faysal at-tafriqa" (available in a somewhat pricey translation by Prof. Sherman Abdulhakim Jackson) explicitly discusses this, and says the worst you can say about someone who rejects a hadith that is not mutawatir is that he is a fasiq (someone guilty of fisq, i.e. a major sin). I think I have read the same from Prof. Jonathan Brown somewhere, but I'm unable to find the source - I think it was in Misquoting Muhammad, but I may misremember. Hamza Yusuf relates the same distinction.

This is the judgement regarding someone who rejects individual ahadith; if any of them reach the level of tawatur, he is a kafir, and if none of the ahadith he rejects reach that level, he is "merely" a fasiq. However, someone who rejects ahadith per se is clearly a kafir; for one, he rejects the subset of mutawatir ahadith, and for another, he rejects the whole sunnah. At least one reason often given for rejecting ahadith - not trusting the transmitters - is inconsistent: they trust the transmitters when they say "this is the literal word of god" with respect to the Quran, but they don't ever trust them when they say "the prophet used to do this and that, which i know from A, who knows it from B, who knows it from C,... from Z, who saw the prophet do it".

(and no matter who you are, you'll be accused of being a disbeliever by somebody).

By the mere fact that Islam is not revealed to any one personally, but only via the transmissions of messengers, it is clear that authority in Islam rests with tradition. The Quran establishes this, the ahadith establish this, the history of Islamic discourse establishes this. It doesn't matter if a Jew accuses you of disbelief, or a Christian, or a Buddhist, or a Jain - because their opinions have no authority in Islam. The same with other kuffar. If someone who does not stand in the discursive tradition of Islamic doctrine accuses someone of disbelief, that accusation is irrelevant in Islam.

I'm trying to pinpoint some specific sins that hadith rejection would lead to---sins that are accepted by scholars as sins, but nevertheless are engaged in by those who reject ahadith because they reject ahadith. Are there any?

The only sin that Islam says is worth eternal suffering unseen in this world: rejecting the revelation of god. It really does not matter to Islam what your moral character is if you reject the revelation, and this is the only information rejection of which will land you in hell.

  • @RebeccaJ.Stones "Unanimous consensus" is ijma, not tawatur. I'll look up a specific quote. – G. Bach Oct 3 '16 at 9:50
  • @RebeccaJ.Stones Actually the quote you're looking for is on pages 112-113, the paragraphs there are clear on rejecting a mutawatir hadith being kufr. The paragraph you quote relates to ijma rulings based on an ahad hadith, where tawatur isn't present to establish kufr, but ijma might suffice to justify a judgement of kufr. – G. Bach Oct 3 '16 at 10:05
  • @RebeccaJ.Stones That's the one; he gives a few examples after to clarify where he thinks someone might just be wrong, and it all basically boils down to whether someone thinks Muhammad lied. Tawatur is just a vehicle for certainty, and accepting or rejecting the religious knowledge conveyed with certainty is the deciding factor for kufr. – G. Bach Oct 3 '16 at 10:38
  • So, if I understand correctly, the answer to the question is: (a) rejecting ahadith in their entirety [or even just a single tawatur hadith] amounts to declaring the Prophet a liar, and (b) those who declare the Prophet a liar are kufr? – Rebecca J. Stones Oct 3 '16 at 10:58
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    @RebeccaJ.Stones I'd like to point in this discussion at the fact that al-Ghazaly is following the shafi'i jurisprudence where the sunnah is set equal to Quran. And even if a-Shafi'i was a student of Imam Malik al-Muwatta' of Imam Malik is more binding for shafi'is than for malikis, as in cases the Muwatta' includes ahadith which Malik himself commented by saying: "this is not the situation with us" showing that he doesn't follow this special view or practice! Here the first example I could find sunnah.com/malik/7/21 (note this is strictly speaking not a hadith) – Medi1Saif Oct 5 '16 at 10:29
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I'll try to answer your question from an other perspectiv or at least point at some facts and beside this share some hopefully logical issue's and thoughts that came into my mind.

Most sunni scholars say if you perform a deed in the (deep) belief that this is a sunnah of the Prophet or the way our Prophet used to do it you may gain thawab (rewards) if it was so and might no be punished if it wasn't. This is assuming that you made some effort to find out whether it is or not or at least you have been thaught this by a person you trust.

From this persepctive a rejction of a hadith based on knowledge or based on the belief it is wrong can and should be accepted. Now people say that we have the two sahih books and should relay on them, but nevertheless you may find in most madhabs (especially the earlier ones: namely Hanafi and Maliki) views which are contradictory to some ahadith from this books. As they don't have trust in ahad narrations for example.

Examples of ahadith in the sahih books rejected by the four sunni Imams (taken from Jamal al-Bana's crtical book on the two sahihs (tajrid al-Bukhari wa Muslim mina-l-ahadhith al-laty la tulzim):

  • Abu Hanifa: rejected this hadith on the authorithy of Anas ibn Malik (whom he personally met as stated by some scholars) and called it irrational talk.
  • Malik: rejected this hadith because of the Quranic ruling "And no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another. (35:18)" he also commented this hadith saying "the hadith came and I don't know his reality". (al-Bana quoted six ahadith here which were rejected also by abu Hanifa)
  • A-Shafi'i: said this hadith is not attributet to 'Aishah.
  • Ahamd: before he died asked his son to delete the following hadith from his musnad manuscript because it was contradictory to the hadith of Anas.

Of course if we reject the hadith as whole, we will have major problems for example:

  • in defining the timing of some (not all) prayers,(4:103)

    ...Indeed, prayer has been decreed upon the believers a decree of specified times.

    we won't know how exactly one should pray. So we might sin in not praying on time and might pray in a kind of mess. Scholars of madhabs would say that the last one could be a reason for the prayer being invalid. But how would we expect a revert to pray? It takes time to learn how to pray and we often say Allah may accept your prayers as what counts is not the exact wording but the "communication" with your creator. Would a revert be asked to re-do "wrong prayers" or perform missing prayers...

  • We will pay zakat, but don't know the amount however Allah say (74:24-25)

    And those within whose wealth is a known right (24) For the petitioner and the deprived -

    One could object my statement that this doesn't mean the 2,5% of zakat, but says that good people are always willing to share their wealth or give money to the poor.

  • You could marry a mahram as hadith added the aunties of the wife to the women a man can't marry beside his wife. So this would be a sinful relationship from this persepctive.

  • We would cut both hands of a thief, as the quran (5:38) uses the dual plural. Which would lead to harder punishment as actually ordered and cause harm to those people whom might no more be able to be in charge neither for themselves nor their familly and would become dependent on the help of others after their first "mistake".

These are just some examples of daily life issues where one can be confronted with sins due to ignorance of hadith, but those situation can be discussed and I'm aware that there's one guidline in hadith itself saying something like "the intention counts"!

Note that some Quranists even say that there are no specific times for prayer or only those quoted in Quran, no specific amount of zakat, and no specific month for fasting ... etc. and in this case the Issue is bigger than what I've quoted earlier.

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    The point that the reason someone has for rejecting a specific hadith is important, and I should have pointed this out as you have; someone who is under the impression that a given mutawatir hadith has defects, perhaps thinks its isnads are faulty or made up, is simply under a misapprehension and will have to be informed about the real status of the hadith before he will potentially be considered a sinner. Perhaps I should edit my post to state that the rulings I relate are with regard to someone who knows the facts about the ahadith he rejects. In that sense, our answers are complimentary. – G. Bach Oct 5 '16 at 13:46
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This seems to be a concrete example:

Prayer during menstruation is haram according to scholars:

...if a woman is menstruating, it is unlawful (haram) for her to pray, fast, or allow her husband to have intercourse with her... --- Shaykh Hamza Karamali, Qibla.com, sourced from IslamQA.org (Shafi'i Islam)

It is haraam for a menstruating woman to pay both obligatory and naafil prayers, and they are not valid if she does them. -- Islam Q&A (Salafi Islam)

The following list the prohibited acts... 1 and 2 – Praying and fasting: Because it is not possible for a menstruating woman to be able to be in a state of wudu (which is a condition for both of these acts). -- Maraqi al-Falaah and Dhukr al-Muta’ahileen SeekersHub (Hanafi Islam)

Imam al-Haskafi (Allah have mercy on him) clearly mentions the impermissibility of offering Sajdah al-Shukr in the state of menstruation. He states: “It (m: menstruation) prevents one from performing prayer (salat) unrestrictedly (mutlaqan), even the prostration of thankfulness (sajdah al-shukr).” -- Muhammad ibn Adam al-kawthari, DarulIftaa.com (Hanafi Islam; bio)

It is not permissible for women to offer prayers or fast when they are in their menses. -- IslamQuest.net fa6929 (Shia Islam)

I could easily go on; it is widely accepted throughout Islam, and I have no reason to believe it is seriously doubted. In fact, many fatawa are based on the premise that women are forbidden to pray while menstruating. Here's what they typically look like:

Question: Is it necessary for a woman to compensate the prayers and fasts which she missed during menses?

Answer: A woman must perform the Qaza of the FASTS which she has missed during her menstrual period. However, Qaza of prayers is not obligatory on her. -- AL-Sayyid Ali Al-Sistani, rulings regarding menses (Shia Islam)

Searching IslamQA.org for menstruation prayer (here), we see many pages of questions and answers based on this premise.

Prayer during menstruation is halal according to Internet Muslims:

In fact, since prayer during menstruation is halal, it's regarded as obligatory.

I think it is clear enough that women are nowhere prohibited in the Quran from performing Salat while menstruating. -- Haroon

...menstruation does not nullify ablution. Please ask yourself why can't you accept that women could observe her religious duties of praying or fasting, etc during menstruation. -- Submission.org

To conclude, women must maintain their Salat and their fasting during menstruation except in the cases mentioned. Those who violate God's law and impose man made restrictions will indeed be held accountable on the Day of Judgement. -- Quran-Islam.com

Allah permits believing women to carry out all the acts of worship He has recommended in the Qur'an even during menstruation, except for what he has forbidden in verse 2:222. -- QuranicPath.com

Presumably, in this case, those who support hadith rejection consider hadith acceptance as leading to sin.

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