Translations

Insights on the Usage of Computer Programs to Locate and Grade Hadīth

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Insights on the Usage of Computer Programs to Locate and Grade Hadīth

By Muftī ‘Abd al-Mālik al-Kumillā’ī

[Translator’s Preface: The following is an excerpt from Muftī ‘Abd al-Mālik’s book “al-Madkhal ilā ‘Ulūm images (3) al-Hadīth al-Sharīf[1] on the use of computer programs to locate and grade hadīths. In this excerpt, Muftī ‘Abd al-Malik, seeing the abuse of these programs, sets out to clarify several misconceptions regarding them. Although the author’s contention lies mainly in the usage of computer programs to locate and grade Hadith, his insights are equally applicable to internet searches, printed books, and computer searches in other sciences as well. No doubt computer programs have immense benefit and can open many avenues when searching for hadīth, but everything needs to be put into perspective, and that is what this article hopes to achieve. An idiomatic translation was adopted to make the article more reader-friendly. – Muntasir Zaman]


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Simple Words That Produced Great Men

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Translator’s Preface

“Your handwriting resembles that of the hadith scholars,” said al-Birzālī. These words resonated well with Image 1Muhammad ibn Ahmad such that it instilled within him the desire to pursue the science of hadith. [1] He went on to author countless works, assume lofty academic positions, and was eventually regarded as a leading authority in the field of hadīth.[2] Muhammad ibn Ahmad was none other than the Damascene hadith master and expert historian better known as Shams al-Dīn al-Dhahabī (d. 748 AH). There are countless examples in the annals of Islāmic history of apparently trivial remarks that changed the lives of laymen, thus, making them the great luminaries whose biographies decorate the pages of our prestigious history.

The following is an excerpt from the inspiring book of Shaykh Muhammad ‘Awwamah entitled, ‘Ma‘ālim Irshādiyyah li Sanā’at Tālib al-‘Ilm (Instructive Signposts for Developing a Seeker of Knowledge)”[3] In this section, the author highlights the influence kind words can have on people. He cites three examples of great luminaries whose turning point in their lives were kind words uttered by those who themselves had not expected such remarkable results.

In order to make the article more reader friendly an idiomatic translation was adopted in many places. May Allāh reward our pious predecessors for the noble example they left for us, and grant us the ability to follow in their footsteps. Āmīn.

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The Hadith of the Pen and Paper and the Allegations of the Shī‘ah

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Translator’s Preface

The belief of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jamā’ah in respect to the noble companions of the Messenger of Allāh (peace and blessings be upon him) has been clearly outlined by Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr (d. 463 AH) as follows:Pen&Paper

They are the best of generations, and the best of nations taken out for the benefit of mankind. Their uprightness is established by the praise of Allāh and His Messenger. No one can be more upright than those whom Allāh selected for the companionship and assistance of His Messenger. This is the greatest form of approval and the most complete form of accreditation.[1]

The Sahābah have undoubtedly secured a lofty rank in the court of Allāh, which is described in the following verse:

And the first forerunners [in the faith] among the Muhājirūn and the Ansār and those who followed them with good conduct, Allāh is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him, and He has prepared for them gardens beneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide forever. That is the great attainment.[2]

Accordingly, to disparage or slander any of the Sahābah, let alone the high ranking among them, is unacceptable and highly detested.

The following is a response by Mufti Taqī ‘Uthmānī to allegations leveled by the Shī’ah against our master ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb (Allāh be pleased with him) regarding the Hadith of the Pen and Paper.[3] To make the article more reader friendly, an idiomatic translation was adopted in many places.

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Have We Surpassed the Classical Scholars of Islām?

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Translator’s Preface

The following is an excerpt from our abridged translation of Athar al-Hadīth al-Sharīf fī Ikhtilāf al-A’immah al-Fuqahā’. In this excerpt, the author addresses a misconception, which has plagued many academic circles in recent times, i.e. the idea that we have surpassed the classicalMasjid scholars of Islām, due to the abundant availability of hadīth literature and means of acquiring knowledge.

The superficiality of such a notion is  quite apparent to those who have impartially studied the works of our early scholars. ‘Allāmah al-Dhahabi (d. 748 AH), one of the greatest historians and scholars of hadith, explains the stark contrast between the early and latter-day scholars and the inability of the latter to ever reach the ranks of the former. While discussing a particular work of Imām Abū Bakr al-Ismā‘īlī (d. 371 AH), he states, “I was amazed by the memory of this Imām and was convinced that the latter-day scholars have no hope in reaching the ranks of the early scholars in memorization and knowledge.”[1] It is important to note that he made this assessment in an era filled with great scholars of hadith, such as Ibn Daqīq al-‘Īd (d. 702 AH) and Jamāl al-Dīn al-Mizzzī (d. 742 AH), whose knowledge and expertise in hadith is undisputedly beyond the reach of modern day scholars!

The following is only an abridged translation and therefore several sections have been omitted and others were summarized. To make the article more-reader friendly, an idiomatic translation was adopted in many places.

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The Status of Imam Abu Hanifah in the Science of Hadith

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Translator’s Preface

The following is a brief, yet comprehensive, explanation of the rank of Imām Abū Hanīfah in the science of Hadīth. As was mentioned earlier, this is an excerpt from the previous section of our abridged translation of Athar al-Hadīth al-Sharīf fī Ikhtilāf al-A’immah al-Fuqahā’.images 2

In this excerpt, the author commences by differentiating between the amount of hadiths a scholar knew and the amount he imparted; the latter does not reflect the exact amount of the former. Just as the knowledge of Abū Bakr (Allāh be pleased with him) cannot be gauged at by the amount of hadīths he narrated, likewise, Imām Abū Hanīfah cannot be labelled as one who knew very few hadiths simply because he narrated a limited amount hadiths.

One can understand the amount of hadiths Imām Abū Hanīfah knew by the fact that he is accepted by scholars as a mujtahid, and one of the prerequisites to reach the ranks of ijtihād is to know thousands of hadiths as mentioned by Imām Ahmad and Imām Yahyā ibn Ma‘īn. Accordingly, Imām Abū Hanīfah was aware of that amount of hadiths if not more.

Thereafter, the author discusses the academic status of Kūfah by citing the influence of ‘Abd Allāh ibn Mas‘ūd and his students upon its inhabitants, such that ‘Alī mentions he has filled it with knowledge and understanding. He then follows this by proving the encompassing knowledge Imām Abū Hanīfah acquired from the scholars of Kūfah. He further explains that his knowledge was not confined to what he learnt from his townsmen; rather, he was well versed with the knowledge of Makkah, Madīnah, and other Islāmic cities, by virtue of his frequent travels to the holy cities during Hajj and his stay there for several years.

In conclusion, the author briefly mentions several scholars who in recent times have penned works regarding the status of Imām Abū Hanīfah in the science of Hadīth, among whom is the erudite scholar of Hadīth, ‘Allāmah Zafar Ahmad al-‘Uthmānī.

It should be remembered this is only an abridged translation. Therefore, several sections have been omitted and others were summarized. To make the article more-reader friendly, an idiomatic translation was adopted in many places. Those who are interested in more detail are advised to read the original work.

Muntasir Zamān

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Difference of the Jurists Due to Varying Degrees of Knowledge of the Sunnah

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Translator’s Preface

The following is an excerpt from our abridged translation of the masterpiece, Athar al-Hadīth al-Sharīf fī Ikhtilāf al-A’immah al-Fuqahā’, byimages 3 the Syrian Hadīth scholar, the teacher of our teachers, Shaykh Muhammad ‘Awwāmah. There were numerous requests for an abridged translation of the work for the benefit of non-Arabic readers, as the original work is relatively lengthy. We will post sections of it in installments and finally publish the complete abridgement in a separate post. We have previously posted the following sections of the book:

  1. Introduction/When is a Hadīth suitable for practice?
  2. The correct meaning of the statement, “When a Hadīth is authentic it is my opinion.”
  3. Is the authenticity of a Hadīth sufficient to practice upon it?
  4. Difference of the jurists in their understanding of a Hadith
  5. Difference of approach in dealing with apparently conflicting aspects of the Sunnah

The excerpt before you is an explanation of the fourth and final reason of differences among the jurist Imāms: varying degrees of knowledge of the Sunnah. In this chapter, the author commences by explaining that the idea of one scholar gathering the entire Sunnah independently is erroneous. He further explains that one cannot gauge at the knowledge of hadith a scholar possessed based on the amount of hadiths that he narrated. This is because a scholar does not necessarily impart every hadith he learnt. After discussing the vast amount of hadīths these Imāms were aware of, he acknowledges that there were times when they were also unaware of certain hadiths, albeit very few, for which he provides several examples. He concludes, by explaining the reason for delaying this cause as the last cause, although generally it is the first cause of difference that comes to mind when discussing the differences of the Imams. Further, he explains that often a scholar has proofs to substantiate his view, but others are unaware of them.

Towards the beginning of this chapter, the author discusses the knowledge of Imām Abū Hanīfah in the science of Hadīth. Since this discussion is quite important and well presented, we will publish it separately in a subsequent post.

It is important to remember that this is only an abridged translation. Therefore, many sections were omitted and some were summarized.  To make the article more reader-friendly, an idiomatic translation was adopted in several places. Those who are interested in more detail are advised to read the original work.

Muntasir Zaman

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Difference of Approach in Dealing with Apparently Conflicting Aspects of the Sunnah

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Translator’s Preface

The following is an excerpt from our abridged translation of the masterpiece, Athar al-Hadīth al-Sharīf fī Ikhtilāf al-A’immah al-new3Fuqahā’, by the Syrian Hadīth scholar, the teacher of our teachers, Shaykh Muhammad ‘Awwāmah. There were numerous requests for an abridged translation of the work for the benefit of non-Arabic readers, as the original work is relatively lengthy. We will post sections of it in installments and finally publish the complete abridgement in a separate post. We have previously posted the following sections of the book:

  1. Introduction/When is a Hadīth suitable for practice?
  2. The correct meaning of the statement, “When a Hadīth is authentic it is my opinion.”
  3. Is the authenticity of a Hadīth sufficient to practice upon it?
  4. Difference of the jurists in their understanding of a Hadith

The excerpt before you is an explanation of the third of four reasons of difference among the jurist Imām: difference of approach in dealing with apparently conflicting aspects of the Sunnah, which is regarded as one of the most important reasons of difference. In this chapter, the author explains three different approaches scholars have adopted in this regard: reconciliation (al-Jam‘), abrogation (al-Naskh), and giving preference (al-Tarjīh).

Moreover, he sheds light on the common error of immediately giving preference to narrations recorded in Sahīh al-Bukhārī and Sahīh Muslim over narrations recorded in other hadith works. He explains that this one of the last reasons of giving preference from a list of one hundred and ten reasons as mentioned by ‘Allāmah Zayn al-Dīn al-‘Irāqī (d. 806 AH). In addition, he explains the influence of the Fiqh of the hadith scholars upon their selection of hadiths in their respective compilations.

It is important to remember that this is only an abridged translation. Therefore, many sections were omitted and some were summarized.  To make the article more reader-friendly, an idiomatic translation was adopted in several places. Those who are interested in more detail are advised to read the original work.

Muntasir Zaman

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