Studying the Hadith Sciences

Yesterday, I wrote about the importance of learning the life of the Prophet (ﷺ) known as the Seerah. His teachings were recorded in by his companions, the Sahabah (may Allah be pleased with them all), and passed down to their children and recorded in the collections of Sunnah and Hadith. We have an amazing amount of detail recorded about the personal and public aspects of the Prophet’s life, so much so that there is no one in history, specially from fourteen centuries ago, whose life is so meticulously recorded and preserved.

The science of Hadith is simply amazing. I’m not just saying that. Check it out for yourself. There are books on the Science of Hadith written by qualified scholars that are available in English. I recommend Dr Bilal Philips’ book entitled Usool Al Hadith to get you started. Or watch the lectures on YouTube on the subject, the Sciences of Hadith (also by Dr Bilal).

We know what he looked like, what he liked, disliked, approved or disapproved, what he did and didn’t do, what he avoided and didn’t avoid, what he said and didn’t say with remarkable certainty because of the great work done by the Hadith collectors in authenticating and preserving the authentic Sunnah along with the chains of narrations so we not only have the knowledge about the Prophet’s life but we also know how that knowledge reached, who originally recorded and who passed it down and how it came to be in the authentic collections of Hadith books. This is better recording than ANY literature, religious or scientific or others, specially from that long ago.

When we try to understand the Quran and Islam itself from the lens of western authors or authors who have been influenced by westerners, we are doing ourselves a great disservice. It’s akin to trying to understand how to cope with winter in Canada from the point of view of someone who has never been to Canada or any other country where the winters are harsh. Just a crude example but you get what I mean. In reality there is a hidden agenda behind western explanation of Islam by so-called Orientalists to undermine Islam by writing about Islam in a negative manner. In order to avoid falling into that trap, we need to read literature after choosing it carefully.

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Studying the Life of the Prophet (ﷺ)

The Quran is the book of guidance for all of humanity. The Prophet (ﷺ) was the practical embodiment of the message contained in the Quran. The blessed life of the last Prophet & Messenger of Allah (may the peace & blessings of Allah be upon him) is a source of guidance for all of us. He showed us practically how to live life according the teachings of the Quran.

In order to understand the Quran and really appreciate the message of Islam, we must invest the time and energy to study the life of the Prophet (ﷺ). We have to understand Islam from the lens of the Hadith (which is essentially the recorded actions and sayings of the Prophet (ﷺ). Learning Islam from the right context is extremely important. This is particularly true these days when a lot of made up propaganda and false information is heavily marketed and readily available.

We are extremely lucky to have many books on the subject in every language available to us these days. These are called books of Seerah (books on the life of the Prophet (ﷺ). The books that are written by qualified scholars taking only from the authentic sources (Quran and authentic Hadith) should be read by every Muslim to personally learn about the life of the Prophet (ﷺ). There are also audio and video materials available online today that are very useful in acquiring this much needed knowledge.

One of the best books available in English is the Sealed Nectar (which is the English translation of the Arabic book Ar-Raheeq al-Makhtoom by SafiurRahman Mubarakpuri). There are lectures on the Seerah by prominent lecturers in English. The most detailed ones are by Dr Sheikh Yasir Qadhi available on YouTube.

There are plenty of other resources available as well but these should get anyone get started on this journey of acquiring knowledge. Start today and learn. May your path to knowledge be easy and fruitful.

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