Thursday, September 07, 2006

Reading hadith books 2

Question: i want to purchase the hadith so that i can gothrough it and understand it (inshallah) and want to know what exactly our prophet followed.presently i am in US so which hadith i should i follow. So please reply me a specific name of the book of hadith so that i can buy and read it.

Answer: The study of hadith differs from the study of fiqh. Hadith study focuses mainly on simply narrating what has been narrated, and judging the quality of the chain of narration (weak, hasan, sahiih, etc.) It tells you lnothing about how to understand these hadiths, because for this one needs a comprehensive view of all relevant information from other hadiths, Quran, scholarly sayings, Arabic linguistics, etc. To read hadith books with the purpose of knowing haram and halal by oneself is a gateway to Hell.

Fiqh on the other hand, focuses on the bottom line of what is fard, sunnah, mubaah, haram, etc. based on Hadith, Quran, Ijmaa^ and Qiyaas all at the same time, and in context. One does not learn fiqh by reading hadith books, nor is only likely to know much about proofs simply from reading hadith books; it is a large and intricate subject unlike some people apparently think.

If you simply want to read hadith, then Bukhaariy, Muslim etc. will do. I don't think, however, there are translations out there that are reliable. If you want to know the hadith proofs of the Hanafi school, that is a hadith book with a fiqh perspective, then I don''t know any books except in Arabic. An exception is I have seen a book in English that claims to show the hadith proofs of the Hanafi school with regards to prayer only. Do an internet search and you might find it.

All in all, I am not at all enthusiastic about reading books by oneself, certainly not books of hadith, for it contains much that can be very seriously misunderstood by a lay person. Sometimes the apparent meaning of a hadith with an authentic chain may have an apparent meanin that is impossible, and blasphemy to believe, which means that it is either discarded or given a figurative interpretation, as Al-Khatiib Al-Baghdaadiy and Al-^Uqayliy both stated. These two are imams in hadith knowledge.

One must learn from a qualified teacher that can protect one from such slips. Moreover, I am even less enthusiastic about using translations for such learning. There is very little out there that is any good, and most of it has very serious problems. I have yet to find a so called translation of the Quran that does not have plain blasphemy in it of the anthropomorphist kind. It is also different from the Sunni tradition of learning Arabic to learn the religion beyond the basics. I therefore strongly advice you instead to use your reading time for learning Arabic instead of reading translated books on religion.