Lesson Four . Chapter 3 The Sunnah The Quran’s Partner in Legislation. Definition . Literally, Sunnah means a clear path or a beaten track الطريقة المتبعة but it is also used to imply normative practice , or an established course of conduct.
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The Quran’s Partner in Legislation
To the uluma of usul al-fiqh, Sunnah refers to a source of the Shariah and a legal proof next to the Quran.
The majority of uluma have used hadeeth, khabar and atharsynonymously, whereas others have distinguished khabar from athar.
The sayings of Companions such as ‘we used to do such and such during the lifetime of the Prophet’ constitute a part of Sunnahتقريريةonly if the subject is such that it could not have failed to attract the attention of the Prophet.
As for the acts and sayings of the Prophet that related to particular circumstances such as the strategy of war, including devices that misled the enemy forces, etc. these are considered to be situational and not part of the Shariah.
(1) In his capacity as Messenger of God, the Prophet has laid down rules which are, complementary to the Quran, but also established rules on which the Quran is silent. In this capacity, the Sunnah may consist of a clarification of the ambiguous (مجمل) parts of the Quran or specifying and qualifying the general and the absolute contents of the Quran.
If the ambiguous of the Quran is known to be obligatory, the explanatory Sunnah will carry the same value.
All the rulings of Sunnah which originate from the Prophet in his capacity as imam or head of state, such as the distribution and expenditureof public funds, decisions pertaining to military strategy and war,appointment of state officials, distribution of booty, signing of treaties, etc., partake of the legal Sunnah which does not constitute general legislation (tashri’ ‘amm).
Sunnah if this type may not be practiced by individuals without obtaining the permission of competent government authorities first.
Sunnah which originates from the Prophet in his capacity as a judge in particular disputes usually consists of two parts:
the part which relates to claims, evidence and factual proof, and the judgment which is issued as a result. The first part is situational and does not constitute general law, where the second part lays down general law, however, that it does not bind the individual directly, and no one may act upon it without the prior authorization of a competent judge. Since the Prophet himself acted in a judicial capacity, the rules that he has enacted must therefore be implemented by the office of القاضى.
To distinguish the legal from non-legal Sunnah, it is necessary for the mujtahid to determine the original purpose and context inwhich a particular ruling of the Sunnah has been issued andwhether it wasdesigned to establish a general rule of law.
(السنة قاضية على القران) means mubayyinah(explanatory) and does not imply the priority of the Sunnah over the Quran.
وَأَنْزَلْنَا إِلَيْكَ الذِّكْرَ لِتُبَيِّنَ لِلنَّاسِ مَا نُزِّلَ إِلَيْهِمْ وَلَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ (16:44) where the Prophet is addressed, that the Sunnah is explanatory of the Quran, and is subordinate to it.
all hadeeth pertaining to the five pillars of the faith and other such matters like the rights of one’s parents, respect for the property of others, and hadeeth which regulate homicide, theft and false testimony, etc., basically reaffirm the Quranic principles on these subjects.
This variety of Sunnah, referred to as السنة المؤسسة, or ‘founding Sunnah’, neither confirms nor opposes the Quran, and its contents cannot be traced back to the Holy Book. It is only this variety of Sunnah that lies at the centre of the debate as to whether or not the Sunnah is an independent source of law.
The majority explain that some of the rulings of the Sunnah consist of analogies with the Quran. The Quran is indeed more than comprehensive and provides complete guidance on the broad outline of the entire body of the Shariah.
(I) deliberate forgery, which is usually referred to as الحديث الموضوع’;
(2) unintentional fabrication, which is known as الحديث الباطلand is due mainly to error and recklessness in reporting.
Signs of forgery in the text (المتن) of a hadeeth are identified by reference to at least seven factors:
Racial, tribal and linguistic fanaticism was yet another context in which hadeeth were fabricated. Forgeries relating to the virtues or superiority of certain tribes, cities, and periods of time over others have been isolated by the ‘uluma of hadeeth and placed in the category of الموضوعات .
Signs of forgery in (isnad) are identified mainly by reference to the reputation and biography of the transmitters. There is a wealth of literature on the names and biographies of the transmitters of hadeeth and those who are known to have indulged in lying and forgery.
Another tool in identifying forgery in the isnad is to determine the time factor and dates in the transmission of hadeeth. This is achieved by verifying whether the reporter has actually met the person he has quoted as his immediate source.
Corruption in the purpose and meaning of a reported hadeeth also provides evidence of its fabrication.
The authority of a mutawatir hadeeth is equivalent to that of the Quran. Universal continuous testimony (التواتر) creates certainty (يقين)
The عدالة of a narrator may be established by various means including التزكية, that is, when at least one upright person confirms it, or when the transmitter is known to have been admitted as a witness in court, or when a فقيه or a learned person is known to have relied on or acted upon his report.
The grounds of الجرحto be ten, namely fabrication of hadeeth, attribution of lies to the Prophet, gross error, negligence (الغفلة), transgression (الفسق) other than lying, (الوهم), ignorance (الجهالة), heresy and pernicious innovation (البدعة), bad memory, insertion of one’s own statements in a report so that it causes confusion (تدليس المتون), and indulgence in outlandish reporting that goes against more reliable information.
The narrator of ahaad must possess a retentive memory so that his report may be trusted.
The faculty of retention, or ضبط, is the ability of a person to listen to an utterance, to comprehend its meaning as it was originally intended and then to retain it and take all necessary precautions to safeguard its accuracy.
The narrator should not be implicated in any form of distortion (تدليس), either in the textual contents (matn) of a hadeeth or in its chain of transmitters.
Tadlis in the isnad is to tamper with the names and identity of narrators, which is, essentially, not very different from outright forgery.
This is a hadeeth whose chain of transmitters does not extend all the way back to the Prophet.
The other two varieties of disconnected hadeeth are the munqati’ and the mu’dal.
The narrators of hadeeth have been graded into the following categories:
(I) the Companions;
(2) thiqat thabitun(ثقات ثابتون), or those who rank highest in respect of reliability next to the Companions;
(3) thiqatثقات those who are trustworthy but of a lesser degree than the first above two;
(4) saduq,صدوق or truthful, are not known to have committed a forgery or serious error;
(5) saduq yahim, truthful but committing errors;
(6) maqbul,مقبول accepted, implying that there is no proof to the effect that his report id unreliable;
(7) majhul, مجهولa narrator of unknown identity
A hadeeth is classified as صحيح authentic, when its narrators belong to the first three categories mentioned above.
There are several varieties of ضعيف: