Page images

words wrongly will find a place for himself nowhere but in fire.” To enforce this rule, it was laid down that the relator of a Tradition must also repeat its “Isnád,” or chain of authorities, as : "I heard from such an one, who heard from such an one,” and so on, until the chain reaches the Prophet himself. Each person, too, in this “Isnád,” must have been well known for his good character and retentive memory.

memory. This failed, however, to prevent a vast number of manifestly false Traditions becoming current; so men set themselves to the work of collecting and sifting the great mass of Tradition that in the second century of Islám had begun to work untold evil. These men are called

Muhadisín,” or “collectors of Tradition." The Sunnís and the Wahhábís recognise six such men, and their collections are known as the “Sihah-Sittah," or six correct books. They are the following :

(1). The Sahih-i-Bukhárí, called after Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn-i-Ismá'íl, a native of Bukhárá. He was born A.H. 194. He was a man of middle height, spare in frame, and as a boy totally blind. The grief of his father was on this account intense ; but one day in a dream he saw the Patriarch Abraham, who said to him: “God on account of thy grief and sorrow has granted sight to thy son.” The sight being thus restored, at the age of ten he went to school, and began to learn the Traditions by heart. After his education was finished, a famous Muhadis named Dákhlí came to Bukhárá. One day the youthful Bukhárí ventured to correct the famous man. It was an astounding piece of audacity, but the youth was proved to be in the right. This set him on the work of collecting and sifting the Traditions. At the early age of sixteen he was able to remember fifteen thousand. In course of time he collected 600,000 Traditions. The result of his examination and selection was that he approved of seven thousand two hundred and seventy-five. These are now recorded in his great work, the Sahih-i-Bukhárí. It is said that he never sat down to examine a Tradition without first performing a legal ablution, and repeating two rak'at prayers. He then said : “O Lord, let me not make a mistake.” For sixteen years he lived in a mosque and died much respected at the age of sixty-four.

(2). Sahih-i-Muslim. Muslim Ibn-i-Hajjáj was born at Nishápúr, a city of Khorásán. He collected about 300,000 Traditions, from which he made his collection. He is said to have been a very just man, and willing to oblige all who sought his advice. ' In fact, this willingness to oblige was the indirect cause of his death. One day he was sitting us usual in the mosque when some people came to ask him about a Tradition. As he could not discover it in the books he had with him, he went to his house to search there. The people brought him a basket of dates. He went on eating and searching, but unfortunately he ate so many dates that he died. (A. H. 261.)

(3). Sunan-i-Abu Dáúd. Abu Dáúd Sajistání, a native of Seistán, was born A.H. 202. He was a great traveller, and went to all the chief places of Musalmán learning. In knowledge of the Traditions, in devotion, in piety, he was unrivalled. He collected about 500,000 Traditions, of which he selected four thousand eight hundred for his book.

(4). Jámí'-i-Tirmizi. Abu Isa' Muhammad Tirmizí was born at Tirmiz in the year A.H. 209. He was a disciple of Bukhárí. Ibn Khallikan says this work is “the production of a well-informed man: its exactness is proverbial.” 1

(5). Sunan-i-Nasáí. Abu Abd-ur-Rahman Nasáí was born at Nasá, in Khorásán, in the year A.H. 214, and died A. H. 303. It is recorded of him, with great approbation, that he fasted every other day, and had four wives and many slaves. This book is considered of great value. He met with his death in rather a sad way. He had compiled a book on the virtues of 'Ali, and as the people of Damas

1. Biographical Dictionary, vol. ii, p. 679.

cus were at that time inclined to the heresy of the Khárigites, he wished to read his book in the mosque of that place. After he had read a little way, a man arose and asked him whether he knew aught of the praises of Muavia, ’Alí’s deadly enemy. He replied that he did not. This answer enraged the people, who beat him so severely that he died soon after.

(6). Sunan-i-Ibn Májah. Ibn Májah? was born at 'Irak A. H. 209. This work contains 4,000 Traditions.

The Shía’hs reject these books and substitute five books 2 of their own instead. They are of a much later date, the last one, indeed, having been compiled more than four hundred years after the Hijra.

The belief which underlies the question of the authority of the Traditions is that before the Throne of God there stands a' preserved Table,' on which all that can happen, and all that has ever entered, or will enter, the mind of man is noted in a distinct writing. Through the medium of Gabriel, the Prophet had access to this. It follows then that the words of the Prophet are the words of God.

Of the four great “Canonical Legists” of Islám, Ahmad Ibn Hanbal was the greatest collector of Traditions. It is said that he knew by heart no less than one million. Of these he incorporated thirty thousand into his system of jurisprudence. That system is now almost obsolete. Abu Hanífa, who is said to have accepted only eighteen Traditions as authentic, founded a system which is to this day the most powerful in Islám. The Hanifites, however, as well as other Muslims, acknowledge the six standard collections of Traditions as direct revelations of the will of

. 1. “ He ranked as a high authority in the Traditions and was well versed in all the sciences connected with them.” Ibn Khallikan, vol. ii.

p. 680.

2. The Káfi, by Abu Ja'far Muhammad, a. 1. 329. The Man-lá.yastah. zirah-al-Faqih, by Shaikh 'Alí, A. H. 381. The Tahzib and the Istibsár by Shaikh Abu Ja'far Muhammad, A. H. 466. The Nabaj-ul-Balágbat by Sayyud Razí A. H. 406.

[blocks in formation]

God. They range over a vast number of subjects, and furnish a commentary on the Qurán. The Prophet's personal appearance, his mental and moral qualities, his actions, his opinions, are all recorded over and over again. Many questions of religious belief are largely founded on the Traditions, and it is to them we must go for an explanation of much of the ritual of Islám. It is very difficult for any one, who has not lived in long and friendly intercourse with Muslims, to realize how much their religious life and opinions, their thought and actions, are based on the Traditions.

Having thus shown the importance of the Traditions, I now proceed to enter a little into detail on the question of the rules framed concerning them. The classification adopted by different authors may vary in some subordinate points, but the following account is adopted from a standard Muhammadan work. A Tradition may be Hadís-i-Qualí, that is, an account of something the Prophet said; or Hadísi-Fa’lí, a record of something which he did; or Hadís-iTaqrírí, a statement of some act performed by other persons in his presence, and which action he did not forbid.

The Traditions may be classed under two general heads :

First.-Hadis-i-Mutawátír, that is, “an undoubted Tradition,” the Isnád, or chain of narrators of which is perfect, and in which chain each narrator possessed all the necessary qualifications for his office. Some authorities say there are only a few of these Traditions extant, but most allow that the following is one :

“There are no good works except with intention,” for example, a man may fast, but, unless he has the intention of fasting firmly in his mind, he gains no spiritual reward by so doing.

Second.-Hadis-i-Ahád. The authority of this class is

1. If the Isnád is good, internal improbability carries with it little weight against the genuineness of a Tradition. There is a saying current to this effect :--"A relation made by Sháfa'í on the authority of Málik, and by him on the authority of Nafi, and by him on the authority of Ibn Omar, is really the golden chain.”

s, and

's per ctions,

Many n the nation

or any


life and

on the


question Efication ordinate tandard -i-Qualí, Hadis

. Tadiss


theoretically somewhat less than that of the first, but practically it is the same.

This class is again sub-divided into two:

(1). Hadis-i-Sahih, or a genuine Tradition. It is not necessary to go into the sub-divisions of this sub-division. A Tradition is Sahih if the narrators have been men of pious lives, abstemious in their habits, endowed with a good memory, free from blemish, and persons who lived at peace with their neighbours. The following also are Sahih, though their importance as authorities varies. I arrange them in the order of their value. Sahih Traditions are those which are found in the collections made by Bukhárí and Muslim, or in the collection of either of the above, though not in both ; or, if not mentioned by either of these famous collectors, if it has been retained in accordance with their canons for the rejection or retention of Traditions; or lastly, if retained in accordance with the rules of


other approved collector. For each of these classes there is a distinct name.

(2). Hadis-i-Hasan. The narrators of this class are not of such good authority as those of the former with regard to one or two qualities; but these Traditions should be received as of equal authority as regards any practical use. It is merely as a matter of classification that they rank second.

In addition to these names, there are a number of other technical terms which have regard to the personal character of the narrators, the Isnád, and other points. A few may be mentioned.

(1). Hadis-i-Z’aíf, or a weak Tradition. The narrators of it have been persons whose characters were not above reproach, whose memories were bad, or who, worse still, were addicted to “bid'at," innovation, a habit now, as then, a crime in the eyes of all true Muslims. All agree that a


[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

- him

1. Núr-ul-Hidayah, p. 5.

« PreviousContinue »