2. THE HADITH: Traditions of words and deeds of Muhammad, also called Sunnah (part 1)
HOW DO I STUDY ISLAM ???
Muslims say they follow the Quran and the "Sunnah" of their Prophet. The Sunnah, the words and deeds of Muhammad, have a legally binding character for Muslims. After his death, several people started to collect testimonies of what Muhammad had said and done. The collection and evaluation of these traditions has even become a science. The focus of this science is to check that the traditions are not contrary to the Quran, that they are "logical" and that the chain of transmitters is reliable. These collections are known as "Hadith" in Arabic. The traditions are (in the original version) always accompanied by a list (the Isnad) of the people who passed them on, e.g. Ahmed heard it from Abdullah, who heard it from Ali who heard it from Aisha who heard it from Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam. It must first be ascertained whether Ahmed, Abdullah, Ali and Aisha are reliable sources. The reliability of each tradition increases as its chain of authors is authenticated. Islamic scholars of the Sunni schools consider 6 collections of Hadith as "Sahih" (authentic): 1. Bukhari 2. Muslim 3. Abu Dawood 4. Nasa’i 5. Tirmidhi 6. Ibn Majah The collections of Bukhari and Muslim are regarded as the top 2. They consist ONLY of reliable traditions. The other collections are good as well, but contain some less reliable traditions. The Movement of Belgian Former Muslims mainly uses those of Muslim and Bukhari, reserving the other four only for illustration or explanation. The best site to consult the Hadith is MSA, the Muslim Student Association of America. The 3 most important Hadith collections (Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawood) are under the following chapter "LARGE COLLECTIONS" on this link: http://www.usc.edu/org/cmje/religious-texts/hadith/ This site contains ALL Hadith of the 2 most reliable traditions, Bukhari and Muslim, uncensored. This is unusual, since most sites only contain a selection of Hadith. The "unpleasant" Hadith, the ones that contradict what Muslims want us to believe ("Islam is the religion of Peace" and "Muhammad is the perfect human being" etc.) are safely hidden. From the 3 other Hadith collections (Nasa'i, Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah), we are not aware of the existence of complete English translations.