What is the proof of the authenticity of the Traditions of the Prophet?

31 Aug

Some Western Orientalists doubt the authenticity of the traditions of the Prophet. For example, Goldziher considers them to be the invention of Muslims in the early time of Islam. The answer to all these allegations is as follows:
1. The Prophet’s Traditions are the second source of the Faith of Islam after the Qur’an. The Prophet was commanded by God to relate to all the people everything that had been inspired to him by God and in addition the explanation of the Qur’an’s verses. [5/67, 16/44, 64]. The Prophet’s interpretation of the Qur’an, his conduct, his actions, and his advice are all essential elements of his Traditions. The Prophet himself referred to the necessity of adhering to his traditions in his famous farewell speech in which he said: "I have left two matters for you, and if you adhere to them both you will never be misled. They are God’s Book, the Qur’an, and my Traditions".
2. There is no denying that there are many false fabricated traditions and sayings that have been attributed to the Prophet, but the learned scholars of Islam were always aware of this possibility and accordingly scrutinized every single tradition attributed to the Prophet. The Qur’an has stated the most important method for judging any matter, namely: "O you who believe! If a wicked person comes to you with any news, ascertain the truth…" [49/6]. The personality, character, and conduct of the person who relates the tradition are important factors to be taken into consideration when judging the authenticity of his version of the Tradition. This rule has assisted the Muslims who applied it to the people who narrated the Prophet’s Traditions. This method of criticism has led to the development of the science of historical research.
3. As a result of the importance of the Prophet’s Traditions, Muslim scholars have done their utmost to confirm the authentic Traditions and to reject the false and fabricated versions. They also established new branches of learning related to the Traditions of the Prophet. These new branches of learning include the science of ascription, of challenging and contesting a point of investigating the character, conduct, way of life, and the credibility of those who related the Traditions of the Prophet. The Prophet Muhammad had warned the people of attributing any false sayings or actions to him saying: "He who attributes falsehoods to me intentionally shall dwell in the fire of Hell".
4. One of the many scholars who devoted their life to the study of authenticating the Prophet’s Traditions is Imam Al-Bukhari (810-870 H) . He collected more than half a million traditions attributed to the Prophet, which he scrutinized, examined, and studied painstakingly and methodically. After applying the strict academic elimination of doubted traditions, he finally approved of only nine thousand Traditions. If we omit the Traditions which convey the same meaning we are left with only three thousand traditions. Other Muslim scholars followed Al-Bukhari’s method of authenticating the traditions that they studied.
5. Following the painstaking efforts made by the Muslim scholars to authenticate the Traditions, six books on the Prophet’s Traditions were approved and acknowledged. They are entitled: Bukhart’s Authentic Traditions, Muslim’s Authentic Traditions, The Prophet’s Traditions by Al-Nasa’;y, by Abu Dawood, by AlTirmidhy, and by Ibn Maja. There are also many books which mention and reject tens of thousands of unauthenticated and fabricated traditions. Thus it is evident that the Muslim scholars have studied and authenticated the Prophet’s Traditions with unparalleled devotion and accuracy and that casting any doubt upon this matter is totally unjustified.

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