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Offline Reader Questions

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Peace Joseph,
 
While I was about to pray Isha, I had some thoughts and I wanted to share them with you....perhaps if you deem it worthy you can include in some article(s) of yours.
 
1. The Qur'an is serious about having important things put to writing, hence the verse 282, the longest verse in the Qur'an or at least Surah 2 about having transactions written down....
 
This therefore puts some doubt on ahadeeth for couple of reasons. One is that if the Prophet thought it so important to have his words known to all time, why did he not have them written down or at least made some emphasis that it should be written in the future.
 
I say "some" doubt because there is ahadeeth where Prophet allowed or perhaps even told companions to write his statements...i think "allowed" was more likely but I forget.
 
Aslo it was extremely hard to get things written down back then...no paper....parchment very expensive and not very available....only so much room on sheep shoulder blades, etc....also not too many who knew how to write.
 
So the difficulty of writing them down along with the danger that some might confuse the Prophet's own sayings with the Divine speach of the Qur'an may have led Prophet to not want his speech written but he wanted it "remembered" and "to be taught" to others.
 
2. Qur'an's order of witnesses for claimants and implication on ahad ahadeeth
 
The Qur'an says there needs to a witness of each side of the transaction...so if John is byring from Peter, then a witness for John and a witness for Peter....so in a transaction there ware 4 people required....one as each claimant and one witness for each claimant....2 + 2 =4....... now a hadeeth is as important if not probably much more important than a financial transaction....so would this Qur'anic verse imply that we need's 2 narrators (at each level of the isnad chain) or 4 as discussed above or is even 1 narrator enough if we disregard the number of "claimants" and jsut require the "witness"...but do we need 1 witness as if only one claimant is important or 2 witnesses?
 
Anyhow, if more than 1 narrator is needed or preferred, how does that impact confidence in ahad ahadeeth?
 
3. And does the Qur'anic verse somehow validate mutawattir ahadeeth because we have multiple witnesses at each level?
 
4.  But it may get more complicated...because the ahadeeth are based on the rijal system....so would we need 1 or 2 or 4 witnesses to verify if a narrator is trustworthy?
 
And if there are variances whether someone is trustworthy or not, when we sort out the differences, do we need an absolute number of multiple number of 1 or 2 or 4 more people vouching for a given narrator than those saying ill of him/her?
 
5. It can get a little more complicated because we don't necessarily know all the people lin detail isted in the rijal books as being  who are saying so and so is good and so on...sometimes we know like ...we know that hasan basri was virtually unanimously recognized as pious....but what if there was someone who is judging a narrator but that theperson judging himself is not universally recognized as very prious?
 
Just some random but I think important thoughts because they are based on the Qur'anic verse 282 in Surah 2
 
5. Perhaps the other Qur'anic verses asking for witnesses might also have some implication like 4 witness for adultery...
 
so if something as important as 4 witnesses of adultery leading to some serious punishment against a person...maybe 4 is an adequate number to give confidence in a hadeeth if we have at least 4 at each level of the isnad.
 
Please let me know what you think for each number...1-5....I realize that you might view all this as irrelevant if you don't think ahadeeth have any authority...but if you assume they have some authority...then do you have any thoughts on the above points?
 
Peace,
 
In sincere pursuit of both knowledge and of true sources of knowledge.
 

Offline Joseph Islam

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Re: Requirement of at Least Two Witnesses (2:282). What about the Ahad Hadith?
« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2011, 03:05:58 AM »
Salamun Alaikum.

Thank you for your email.

This has also been the crux of my argument when I do 'delve' in the area of authenticity. As you know even though the question of 'authority' is more pertinent to me from a Quran's perspective and as a 'believer', the question of 'authenticity' is just as relevant to me as an 'academic'.

Verse 2:282 clearly underscores the requirements for basic transactions. Also the claim of not having writing materials at the time of the Prophet is seriously debateable in my opinion given that previous scriptures were already being written down into parchments (6:91, 6:71 qaratisa) even by people of the Book at the time of the Prophet. Why could they just not borrow their materials? These claims of bones, skins, scraps etc are from Islamic secondary sources not the Quran. 'qirtas' means parchment, sheet of paper, skin, scroll of paper, writing, book, or what one writes upon.

I actually say in my following article that:

'The vast majority of the Ahadith corpus is based on 'khabar-e-wahid' which merely provides a single source of evidence. So in effect, what one originator narrates, no other narrator passes on the same hadith. It is argued whether there exist any 'Khabar-tawwatur' (multiple sources of hadith) and if so, what they actually are. This single source of evidence which qualifies the vast Ahadith reports which make up the corpus should be noted in the light of the Quran which even for basic debt transactions, demands for at least two witnesses (2:282).'

http://quransmessage.com/articles/hadith%20and%20sunna%20FM3.htm

The simple question remains. The Quranic 'golden standard' is at least two witnesses are required in a basic transaction (2:282). Most Ahadith are 'ahad' narrations. It is disputed even if any 'mutawattir' hadith actually exist. Against the Quranic standard, the majority of the Ahadith corpus fails.

This in my view is a very powerful assertion from the light of the Quran and can only be 'challenged' from the Quran. The Quran clearly has to say that in case of 'reports' one transmission is allowable as an exception to the rule established firmly in 2:282.

Your thought during Isha prayer was no accident in my humble view. I hope you can see that.

Your brother,
Joseph.
'During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act' 
George Orwell

Offline Reader Questions

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Re: Requirement of at Least Two Witnesses (2:282). What about the Ahad Hadith?
« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2011, 07:12:39 AM »


RESPONSE FROM ANOTHER READER


Br When I read Aya 2:282 I found it relates to witness to a  contract. How is applicable to narration of Ahadiths?


Offline Joseph Islam

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Re: Requirement of at Least Two Witnesses (2:282). What about the Ahad Hadith?
« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2011, 07:14:55 AM »
Salamun Alaikum.


The argument is that even for a basic transaction one requires at least two witnesses on the basis of verse 2:282. What the Prophet may have said or done is far more important than a business transaction!
 
So Hadith which often only has only 1 person witnessing what the Prophet may have said (ahad hadith), in 'light' of 2:282 where even for a simple business transaction you need a minimum 2 witnesses, leaves the Hadith in a difficult situation.
 
Don't think about the 'subject' (transaction) in 2:282, look at it from the point of view of the 'principle' in 2:282.
 
Ahadith (What the Prophet may have said) are far more important than transactions as I'm sure you will agree.
 
I hope that helps.
'During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act' 
George Orwell

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Re: Requirement of at Least Two Witnesses (2:282). What about the Ahad Hadith?
« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2011, 07:15:45 AM »
Yes I agree. Thanks for the clarification.