Chapter XXIV - The Koran is The Greatest
Test For Judging Hadîth
In addition to the above rules of criticism, which left little to be desired, there is another very important test whereby trustworthiness of Hadîth may be judged, and it is a test that the application whereof was commanded by the Prophet himself. “There will be narrators,” the Prophet is reported to have said, “reporting hadîth from me, so judge by the Koran; if a report agrees with the Koran accept it, if otherwise, reject it.”
There is another saying of the Prophet:
“My saying do not abrogate the word of God (the Koran) but the word of God can abrogate my sayings.”
As already stated, hadîth is but an explanation of the Koran; and hence also the Koran must have precedence over the hadîth.
It is unquestionable that the Koran had been handed down intact every word and every letter of it, while hadîth could not claim that purity, and it was chiefly the substance of sayings that was reported.
Again the Koran deals with the principles of the Islamic Law while hadîth deals with the details, so that only such details should be accepted as are in accordance with the principles.
The Sunni Muslim community are agreed on the principle that a hadîth may be unacceptable either on account of there being some defect in its transmitters or because its subject-matter is unacceptable. Thus, all trustworthy collectors of traditions of the Prophet. are at one that among the most important reasons for which a hadîth may be rejected is its subject-matter. For instance, if a reported tradition contradicts the Holy Koran or the recognized Sunna or the unanimous verdict of the Muslim community or ordinary common sense, it is not accepted.
The following saying of the Prophet will explain the position, which he intended to assign to the oral law of hadîth or Sunna:
“That which the Prophet of God hath made unlawful is like that which God Himself hath made unlawful.”
“I am no more than a man, but when I enjoin anything respecting religion receive it, and when I order anything about the affairs of the world, then I am nothing more than a man.”
“Verily the best word is the word of God, and the best rule of life is that delivered by His Prophet Muhammad.”
“I have left you two things, and you will not stray as long as you hold them fast. The one is the Book of God and the other the law (Sunna) of His Prophet. ()
)) Vide : “Mishkât”, Book 1, Chapter VI.