Mu' meneen Brothers and Sisters,
As Salaam Aleikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh. (May Allah's Peace, Mercy and Blessings be upon all of you)
One of our brothers/sisters has asked this question:
Are the Sihah-sitta perfect books for Hadith. Should we believe that they are completely devoid of any human errors?
(There may be some grammatical and spelling errors in the above statement. The forum does not change anything from questions, comments and statements received from our readers for circulation in confidentiality.)
All hadiths true sittah
In the name of Allah, We praise Him, seek His help and ask for His forgiveness. Whoever Allah guides none can misguide, and whoever He allows to fall astray, none can guide them aright. We bear witness that there is none worthy of worship but Allah Alone, and we bear witness that Muhammad (saws) is His slave-servant and the seal of His Messengers.
It is We (Allah), Who has sent down this Remembrance (the Al-Quran), and We will assuredly guard it against corruption.
Allah says in the Holy Quran Chapter 17 Surah Isra verse 88:
Declare this! ‘Even if human beings and the jinns should co-operate with one another to bring forth a book like the Quran, they would never be able to bring anything like it, even though they all helped one another!”
The only Book in existence which is devoid of absolutely any errors, mistakes, contradictions, etc. is the Divine Book which was revealed by the Lord Most High Himself upon His Last and Final Messenger (saws); ie. the Glorious Quran, which is preserved today in its exact verbatim text as revealed by the Lord Most High, and will remain so until the end of time, Insha Allah.
Your Question: Are the Sihah-sitta perfect books for Hadith. Should we believe that they are completely devoid of any human errors?
At the time of the death of the Noble Prophet (saws), his Sunnah or way was witnessed by tens of thousands of believers, and his Sunnah was established and practiced by the believers who saw him, and by the believers who saw the believers who saw the Prophet (saws), and so on.
With the passage of time, many believers and scholars started making a record of the practice and narrations of the Prophet (saws) in a text form for the use of future generations. Amongst the thousands of records kept through time, the works of six eminent, pious, and God-fearing scholars was accepted by the believers to be the most authentic amongst them; namely:
The records of the above six eminent scholars later came to be recognized as the ‘Saha Sitta’ or the ‘Six most authentic’ records.
These great and eminent scholars have done an exhaustive research and investigation in each of the hadiths to determine their authenticity, and only when they were completely satisfied, they recorded these hadiths in their ‘Sahih’ or Book of Authentic Hadiths. They investigated each aspect of the saying or deed whether it was in conformity with the Quran or not, for it is inconceivable for a believer to assume that the Messenger of Allah (saws) would have done or said anything against the dictates of the Quran. Then they thoroughly checked and investigated the chain of narrators to see whether they were truthful people or not, or whether one who claimed to have heard it from the other was alive at the same time or not, and if alive, did they ever meet each other or not! If there was even a slight doubt in any event or chain of events, these eminent scholars refused to accept the hadith as authentic.
Even after all their exhaustive efforts and thorough investigations, it is impossible to claim, nor does anyone ever claim, that each and every hadith in their collection of ‘saha sitta’ is absolutely authentic; for after all, this is a work of man, and man is prone to shortcomings and error. For the believers, the only guaranteed authentic Book of Guidance has to be the Glorious Quran, whose authenticity is guaranteed until the end of time by none other than Allah Subhanah. For every aspect of guidance, ‘emaan’, belief, faith, ‘aqeedah’, ‘tawheed’, ‘shirk’, etc., one need not look beyond the Quran. The hadiths, once they have been declared authentic by the scholars, will only be used when one finds the Quran silent on a practical subject.
Thus in conclusion, none can say with absolute conviction that every hadith recorded in the ‘saha sitta’ is absolutely authentic and free from human error; the absolute most one can claim that amongst all the available hadeeths attributed to the Prophet (saws), the records that find mention in the ‘saha sitta’ are the most authentic.
It is indeed unfortunate that some people have gone to the two extremes when dealing with the ‘ahaadiths’ of the Messenger of Allah (saws). One extreme declares belief in each and every hadith of the Prophet (saws), without confirming whether the hadith is authentic or not! The other extreme declares their complete opposition and rejection of any and all ahaadiths, regardless of whether they are fabricated or not!
The true muslims must take a balanced view or the ‘middle way’ when dealing with anything. Just because someone calls a statement or a deed a hadith, we are not to completely submit to it, nor completely reject it; but the right and correct mode of conduct would be to do a thorough investigation to determine whether the Messenger of Allah (saws) indeed did do or say the thing claimed by the narrator.
There are a few rules, if followed, one can easily realize if the hadith is genuine or not.
1. If any hadith is directly against any commandment or statement of the Holy Quran, it will be immediately rejected. Simply because, it is inconceivable that the Prophet (saws) did or said anything against the Holy Quran. His whole life was a practical example of following the Quran, and Allah Himself certifies in the Holy Quran that the Prophet (saws) is a good example to follow for anyone who believes in Allah and the Last Day.![endif]>![if>
2. If any hadith is directly against any established Sunnah of the Prophet (saws), it will be rejected. For example, if one hadith says the Prophet (saws) prayed four rakahs for ‘magrib’ prayers, it will not be accepted.![endif]>![if>
3. If any hadith goes against the foundation of Islam, it will not be accepted. For example, if one hadith says that the Prophet (saws) went to an idol or grave and invoked it, it is against the basic foundation of Tauheed or worship and invocation of one-God, and will thus be rejected. It would just be inconceivable for the Prophet (saws) to do such an act!![endif]>![if>
4. If any hadith is against basic common-sense, it will not be accepted. For example if one hadith says that a man talked to a tree and the tree started walking! This sort of things are absolutely against basic common sense, and will be rejected. ![endif]>![if>
Whatever written of Truth and benefit is only due to Allah’s Assistance and Guidance, and whatever of error is of me alone. Allah Alone Knows Best and He is the Only Source of Strength.
Your brother and well wisher in Islam,