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Student: Bilal Mahmud
Course: The Authority of the Sunnah
Course Number: 121
Instructor: Dr. Hassen A. Laidi
13 Rajab 1420 A.H.
>1. Sunnah as it applies to the Authority of the Sunnah. According to the teaching of Islam the Quran and Sunnah are the two sources from which the Muslim draw our guidance in obeying the dictates of Islam. The Quran and the Sunnah are both from Allah, and both must be obeyed and followed.
>We know that the Quran is the word of Allah revealed to our Prophet, and the Sunnah or the explanation of the Quran as revealed to our Prophet by way of inspiration from Allah. The instructions of the Prophet, with regard to the explanation of the Quran are just as obligatory upon the Muslim as is the Quran. Therefore the Sunnah is the second source of guidance in Islam, and must be followed by the Muslim. Thus the sayings of the Prophet become the authority along with the Quran, with regards to making laws, interpreting the Quran and giving the much needed guidance in all aspects of human life.
>2. The origin of the Sunnah is in the example of our Prophet. It’s origin is with Allah, and is manifested and clarified by the Prophet, through his many methods of teaching. We see the Sunnah of the Prayer being taught by the Prophet performing the prayer in the presence of the Muslim and thus instructing them to pray as they have seen him pray. We see him teaching the Sunnah through logical argument in the incident where a man came to him and informed him about the complexion of his child being different from that of his or his wife. The Prophet taught and appealed to him through a method that was easy for him to understand, by asking if his camels all came the same color as their parents, to which he was answered no. Then he reminded him that that was because of something in the blood.
> Many times he would see something that would be occurring with the Muslim and would remain quiet. His silence was taken as consent and thus became part of the Sunnah.
>3. The legal ruling regarding those who reject the Sunnah is tantamount to those who reject the Quran. The obedience to the Prophet and following the Sunnah is mention side by side with the obedience of Allah. This side by side reference gives us the importance of obeying the Prophet, to the point that such are referred to as disbeliveers.
>Surah: al Imran: 32
>Say, obey Allah and the Messenger but if they turn their backs, Allah loves not the disbeliveers.
>4. During the time of the Prophet the companions did not make any distinction between the Quran and Sunnah. Just as they eagerly awaited and memorized the ayyat of Quran, they did the same with regards to memorizing the Sunnah of our Prophet. Many of them spent all their time with the Prophet, leaving him only when it became necessary for him to attend to some personal need. Those that were unable to spend all their time with the Prophet, would split that time with another companion, thus spending time with the Prophet on alternate days. At the end of the day they would inform one another as to what had happened that day. They would also exchange information with other companions that they would meet for time to time.
>5. The Sunnah was preserved by the companions of the Prophet from the very beginning. This preservation initially was done under the direction of our Prophet. A large number of hadith were dictated and directed to be recorded by the Prophet himself. One such example is "Kitab al Sadaqah", which is a detailed description on the rules for collecting and distributing Zakat. The text of which can be found in the Sunan Abu Dawood.
>Another example of the Prophet’s instructing the documentation of Hadith is when Najran came under the control of the Muslim. The Prophet appointed Amr ibn Hazam as governor of Yemen. At which time the Prophet dictated a detail book to Ubayy ibn Ka’b to be handed over the Amr. Ibn Hazm. Then we also have the collections of individual companions such as Abu Huraira, Abdullah ibn Amr, Anas ibn Malik, and Ali ibn Abi Talab just to name a few.
>All of the above companions took great pains to document and preserve the hadith of our Prophet, because they understood from the very beginning the importance of the Quran and Hadith in the preserving of Islam and teaching it to future generations.
>6. Isnad- is the chain of transmitters of a hadith all the way back to the Prophet. This chain must consist of reliable, trustworthy, and upright transmitters all the way back to the Prophet. The memory of the transmitters was also looked at very closely. The Isnad is important in that it determines how the hadith will be classified. Depending on the consistency of the chain of transmitters the hadith will be categorized Sahih, Hasan, Daif, or Mandu. The first two are held to be the most reliable.
>7. As time went on during the first four centuries, the time span between the Prophet and the people of that time became larger. With the chain of transmitters being longer it thus necessitated more scrutiny be taken in the collection and compiling of hadith. Thus the science of criticism of hadith was developed. Before a hadith can be classified as Sahih or Hasan the following test is applied:
>a. Scrutiny of it’s narrators.
>b. Scrutiny of the constancy of the chain of narrators.
>c. Comparison of it’s chain and text with other available ways of narration in the same matter.
>d. Examination of the chain and text of the hadith in light of other material available on the subject, and to ensure that there is no defect in the chain or in the text.
>8. During the initial stage of Islam there was a great importance placed on the memorization of the Sunnah , verses to the writing of it. As time went on the practice of recording the Sunnah in written form became more commonly practiced. This practice of reducing the Sunnah was encouraged and indorsed by the Prophet. On numerous occasions when assigning Muslim governors to newly opened territories, he would dictate for them guidelines by which they would carry out their responsibilities. Many companions out of their love for Islam, and the Prophet, and their crystal clear understanding of the Sunnah in relationship with the Quran, took advantage of every opportunity to record the sayings and actions of the Prophet.