Archive for July, 2007

Usool Al-Hadeeth

Principles of Hadeeth

Abu Ammar Yasir Qadhi



1. Legal Status of Sunnah – Why is the Sunnah so important? What is the proof Sunnah is a source of law? What importance does it hold?

2. Preservation of the Sunnah – Most important books written in Sunnah. History and compilation of the Sunnah.

3. Sciences of Hadeeth – What is sahih hadeeth, daeef hadeeth, etc?


            The vast majority of Muslims in the west are unaware of this topic. Muslims in the west speak about Islam without going back to the Sunnah (specifically USA and Canada) because of a movement known as modernism. Modernism seeks to change or revise Islam with the times, as part of this movement they must reject, either in totality or a major portion of the Sunnah in order for them to achieve their goals. This type of mentality is rooted in the minds of the vast majority of Muslims in the west. They say that the Sunnah it is not as important as the Quran. Modern Muslims may say that the Hadeeth is not really preserved; Imam Bukhari died 250 years after the Prophet (pbuh) – if we say this we are basically saying we don’t care about the Sunnah. If we deny that the Sunnah has been preserved the end result is the denial of the Sunnah itself. Unfortunately this is the majority mentality amongst the Muslims in the USA. For example in he UK, the idea of modernism is not as firmly rooted as it is in America.


Sunnah – Linguistically means a path, a way. A simple road. From a Shari point of view it has many meanings.

The scholars of fiqh define Sunnah to be: that which is not obligatory to do but if a person does so they are rewarded.

The scholars of hadeeth define it to be: all of the statements, actions, tacit approvals (an act was done in front of the Prophet (pbuh) and he approved it), and the physical characteristics (Seerah, dress, ate, what he did with his life, etc.)

The scholars of aqeedah define it to be: what a Muslim believes. Example: Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah – following the beliefs of the Prophet (pbuh) and the companions.

 Hadeeth – linguistically means something that is new. A person’s statements are called hadeeth. From a shari point of view we are talking about the statements of the Prophet (pbuh). Example: the Sunnah is the abstract concept of the Prophet’s life and the hadeeth is opening up Bukhari and Muslim and seeing it in print. The Sunnah is preserved in the hadeeth. We can not say it is a daeef or sahih Sunnah. Sunnah is what the Prophet did. We can say daeef or sahih hadeeth because hadeeth is a tangible method of how the Sunnah was preserved. The word Sunnah is more abstract than hadeeth. Sunnah was the methodology of the Prophet (pbuh). Hadeeth is a specific statement of the Prophet (pbuh) with a specific chain of narrators, it might be authentic or unauthentic, it might be of the Sunnah or it might not. The hadeeth basically preserved the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh).

 The Status of the Sunnah in Islam

 The scholars of Islam have 3 very similar opinions:

 First opinion: the Sunnah is second to the Quran in terms of legal weight. For example: if we find an ayah in the Quran and a hadeeth, we give preference to the ayah but we still take the hadeeth.

Second opinion: this is the opinion of the majority of the scholars. The Quran and Sunnah are equivalent in weight from a legal point of view, not from a blessing point of view. If we open the Quran and recite it we get blessings just for mere recitation, the Quran is the actual speech of Allah, it is preserved in word and meaning. The Quran is superior to the Sunnah in blessedness and holiness. In other words, if the Prophet (pbuh) says something is haraam or halaal, this is just as if Allah has something is haraam or halaal.

Third opinion: nobody actually explicitly states it but some scholars have hinted at it. They say that the Quran is more in need of the Sunnah than the Sunnah is in need of the Quran. In other words, we can not understand the Quran without the Sunnah. For example: Allah says in the Quran to cut off the hand of the thief but the Sunnah clarifies this issue. The Sunnah tells us that there is a minimum amount for the hand to be cut off and only the right will be cut off from the wrist according to the Sunnah. They said that that Quran is more in need of the Sunnah than the Sunnah is in need of the Quran. But no one actually explicitly said that the Sunnah is more important than the Quran, which would be disrespectful.

 The correct opinion is the second opinion, which is that the Sunnah is equivalent to the Quran in legal weight and status.

The Legal Status of the Sunnah

 There are seven categories or proofs of the legal status of the Sunnah. If these proofs were to be understood and memorized then no person would trivialize the status the Sunnah has in Islam. Therefore it is imperative especially; the person involved in dawah should understand and memorize these proofs and points, so that when the situation arises the person can defend the status of the Sunnah in Islam. When a person defends the Sunnah, realize that they are defending the Prophet (pbuh) because this is what we have left of him. The Sahaba were blessed that they could physically defend the Prophet (pbuh) because they were alive at his time. As for us, we have nothing left to defend except the Prophet’s (pbuh) Sunnah, honor, actions, and statements. This is why we are studying the sciences of hadeeth and making sure it is understood by the Muslims.

 Seven proofs of the Importance of the Sunnah

First Proof: The prophets, in general, all of them were infallible. Infallible means they could not commit sins or mistakes. All of the prophets were infallible when it came to spreading the message of Allah. No prophet ever, out of the 124,000 prophets and 315 messengers that were sent, ever lied or made a mistake in spreading the religion of Allah. Allah (swt) says:


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O Messenger proclaim the (message) which has been sent to you from your Lord. If you do not, you would not have fulfilled and proclaimed His message. And Allah will defend you from men (who mean mischief). For Allah guides not those who reject Faith. (Surah Maedah: 67)    



Allah (swt) says in the last verses of Surah Haaqqah:



Image of verse in Arabic                                     That this is verily the word of an honored prophet;


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                                                     It is not the word of a poet: little it is ye believe!



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            Nor is it the word of a soothsayer: little admonition it is ye receive.



Image of verse in Arabic                            (This is) a Message sent down from the Lord of the Worlds.



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And if the prophet were to invent any sayings in Our name (Allah’s name)



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                                            We should certainly seize him by his right hand,


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                        And We should certainly then cut off the artery of his heart:




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                                  Nor could any of you withhold him (from Our wrath).


                                                                  Surah Haaqqah (40 – 47)


Allah revealed this verse to show us that whatever comes from the Prophet’s mouth regarding Islam, it is from Allah (swt). When it comes to spreading the message of Allah, all of the prophets are infallible; they cannot make the slightest mistake, intentionally or unintentionally.

How about the sins? As for the major sins, the prophets can never commit major sins. As for minor sins, there is some ikhtilaaf. For example Prophet Adam (as) ate of the tree but Allah (swt) forgave him. But the correct opinion that can be clearly stated is that it is not possible that any of the prophets continually committed minor sins. They might fall into one mistake once and they are reprimanded and then they leave it. The prophets have reached a certain level that makes it imperative upon us to follow them because everything they say comes from Allah (swt).



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Alhamdulillah, a close friend of mine sent me these notes that he took based on the six part lecture series delivered by Shaykh Yasir Qadhi on Usul al-Hadeeth. He transcribed directly from the lectures which can be downloaded at the following site:


Inshallah I will be posting the notes in five parts since the whole thing is so long.

Dont forget to make dua for brother Farooq Yousuf who did the transcribing.

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Belief in the Angels:

What are the Mala’ikah (Angels)?

Linguistic definition: plural of malak

When you understand the root, it helps you understand the word itself.

Some say that it comes from the word maalik which means owner.

Other scholars say it comes from the word malk, when you take things with great strength

Strongest opinion, Ibn Hajar (rahimahullah) had, is that it came from al-alooka, meaning message (risaalah)

What about the technical definition in the Shariah?

Difference between the technical definition and linguistic definition will always be there. Sometimes the word may even have a customary definition. For example, as-salaat, is prayer. Technical definition is that it is a certain prayer, with certain actions, beginning with takbeeratul ihram and ending with tasleem. Linguistic definition is that it means dua.

Linguistic meaning of zakaah is that someone is adding to something. But technical definition is what it is.

Sometimes we have to look at customary definition. Saa’ah: was referring to the hour, meaning the day of judgement. Saa’ah doesn’t have a specific linguistic definition.

When the Prophet (ﺻﻠﻰ ﻋﻠﻴﻪ ﻭ ﺳﻠﻢ) mentioned the measurement, we call that mikyaa, linguistically and technically there is no definition. Customary definition, was known.

Traveling, there is no technical or linguistic definition. We have to know the custom of the Prophet (ﺻﻠﻰ ﻋﻠﻴﻪ ﻭ ﺳﻠﻢ) and how it was understood.

Technical definition of Mala’ikah: benevolent beings, created from light, without free will completely devoted to the worship of Allah and carrying out certain functions on His Command (azza wa jal).


“All the praises and thanks be to Allah, the (only) Originator [or the (Only) Creator] of the heavens and the earth, Who made the angels messengers with wings, two or three or four. He increases in creation what He wills. Verily, Allah is Able to do all things.”

Pagan Arab View: Said that the angels were the daughters of Allah.


Allah (azza wa jal) also said: ‘that they said great lies about Allah. They said that Allah has children. Did he have children and he will take daughters and no sons? He needs children to help him, but no sons? How do you judge?’

This verse shows was a response to the pagan arabs- they used to feel shame for their daughters and now they attribute this to Allah. Allah is saying that you feel this way and you attribute this to Allah.

more to come, inshaAllah!

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