Author [EN] [PL] [ES] [PT] [IT] [DE] [FR] [NL] [TR] [SR] [AR] [RU] Topic: If historians accept Hadiths as the historical truth, then why shouldn't we?

Offline Lobotomize94

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I'm really sorry for asking these questions. I have been thinking about these for a while and I understand this is my third on here. I do need your help and guidance.

Many historians accept Hadiths as historical truth. For example, when talking about Khadija, they say she was a businesswoman etc etc. These are acknowledged facts by historians. If academic institutions accept them, and they know better than us, isn't that a significant attack on what we believe?

The one question that I want answered is:
"If many different sources said X, then why should be deny X"?

For example, there are SO MANY independent Hadiths on the Dajjal, doesn't that mean that they had a concept of Dajjal that came from the prophet? If so many testify to the truth of it, isn't that significant?

Some contradictions in the hadith does not mean that they are all false, of course some may be false, but the idea is if one concept (Dajjal, Khadija etc etc) is mentioned so many times---then we can reasonably say this is what happened? Right?

Offline Lobotomize94

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Yes, any academic historian who talks about the life of the prophet cites the Hadiths and Sirat of the prophet as facts. This is quite widespread in western scholarship. I'm not aware of any historian who the cited aspects of the life of the prophet.

I had recently taken a class on Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and the details of the life of the prophet were taught. Details not necessarily in the Quran. The professor of that class was a Christian historian. And again, the state of pre-islamic Arabia was discussed, the reforms that happened and the life of the prophet and so on and so forth.

I want to emphasize, that I am not challenging a Quran Centric approach. I follow the same approach, but it strikes me that historians/academics accept the life of the prophet and his hadith teachings and we don't.

Offline Athman

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Dear Labotomize94,

Salaamun 'alaikum,

In my opinion, I think it all narrows down to priorities in matters of truth. In my humble submission, a distinction has to be made between what is to be taken as a matter of fact together with the source with which one attains certainty of the same and matters of opinions together with sources that can be ranked in accordance to their epistemic value/ academic function. History as a tool cannot be considered a source that guarantees certainty or indisputable truth. On the other hand, to consider a given human source as a source of indisputable truth, perfect and certain is as precarious as denying that human is errant.

As for the question of historians citing hadeeth as a historical source, this does not in any way raise its epistemic value over the fence into the realm of certainty. It just remains that way – literally a historical source with some academic value. We should also not ignore the much scholarship that criticizes it – arguably with a valid footing. In fact, most importantly, we should check it against the very central source (Qur’an) that it allegedly seeks to support. Strangely though, as you may agree, it has no religious authority nor the subordinacy it is allegedly claimed to have to the Qur’an.

Therefore, in my view, while one may want to consider the hadeeth as a historical source, one should as well not turn a blind eye to the warranted scholarly criticism levied against it. For matters not confirmed by the Qur’an which it allegedly purports to support, I personally find it religiously dangerous upholding them as indisputable truths. They may well be but unless one brings with them indisputable proof corroborating the same, for me, I would consider withholding/ suspending judgment as to accepting them as matters of fact a justified alternative. Thus, as a believer, I find it safer to take hadeeth claims as generally simple possibilities and not historical truths especially when the position argued for is that of religious import and not merely academic.

Hopefully that is relevant.

And God knows best.


Offline Wakas

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Academic historians may cite Traditional Muslim sources such as the ones you mention in their works or when teaching etc but I would be surprised an academic of any merit would say something along the lines of "these are indisputable facts that occurred in the life of the prophet". That is why I asked for references.

For example, I have watched some lectures by Professor Fred Donner (and read some of his works) and he often adds phrases such as "if these reports are to be believed.." etc.