The danger of weak hadiths

{ Friday, June 24, 2011 }
A couple of days ago, after an exam, I passed by a Muslim friend of mine. Since I'll be inshaAllah inshaAllah inshaAllah getting married in the nearby future, she had put her collection of  Islamic books on the subjects ready for me to browse through. While she was talking with another friend, I picked up the first one and started to browse through it. I have to be honest, I don't like most Islamic books on the subject, because it's usually written by a man, telling a woman how to behave as a wife. I am in no need of a man telling me how to behave, thank you very much. Anyway, the book I picked up was no different. It was called "Mistakes of the wife and how to correct them" (or something like that, the book was a dutch translation ;-) ). I knew I wasn't going to like what I read, but I decided to give it a shot. After all, I'm not too proud for some constructive criticism. I came across a particularly distasteful hadith that really stunned me. The writer had put it as an example of the importance of obedience from a wife towards her husband:

"...By Him in whose Hand is my soul, if from his foot to the crown of his head there was a wound pouring forth pus, and she ( the wife ) came and licked that, then she would  still not have fulfilled his right….”

I could not believe that the Prophet (pbuh) would say something like that. So when I came home I went straight to my PC to research it, and I found this:

According to the source above the hadith was classified as sahih by al-Mundhiree in at-Targheeb 
wat-Tarheeb. al-Albani also accepted the complete hadith as authentic [ sahih ]. Others scholars 
however disagree with this view. They point out that the last segment of the hadith in question  
that reads: “…By the One in Whose Hand is my soul ! If the husband were from the bottom of his  
feet to the top of his head one big wound oozing with pus and matter , and she were to receive                    
him and lick him, she still would not be repaying him his right in full..” is in-authentic [ da’ef ].

Shu`ayb al-Arna’ût, in his marginal notes on Musnad Ahmad considers the addition about pus to 
be inauthentic. He writes: “…This phrase is narrated only by Husayn al-Marrûdhî from Khalaf             
b. Khalîfah. Khalaf was a narrator who tended to mix up his narrations before the time of his death .” 

So why, I wonder, does a hadith which is not considered authentic by all scholars get published in an Islamic book? It makes the whole book untrustworthy to me, since the author didn't (or didn't want to) check his sources. I sent a message to my friend to say that there was at least one weak hadith in the book, but she answered with "So what? that doesn't make the whole book bad". Apparently she likes to be told what to do by an author who doesn't check his sources. 
I am aware that Islam asks of women to be obedient towards their husband, but not in such an extreme way. 
I think a lot of hadiths are cited outside of their context, and worse, weak hadiths are being represented as authentic ones. I also saw it on an Islamic forum the other day. There was a topic called "The rights of the husband", supported by a bunch of hadiths, and at least two of them I knew to be weak. It's sad to see sisters replying with "we need to submit ourself to Allah and his Prophet" while some of those hadiths weren't even uttered by the Prophet (pbuh)!! So I want to give all my readers a word of caution (which I'm confident you already know ;-) ): not all hadiths out there, even on Islamic forums, even in books, are authentic ones. If you come across a hadith you feel bad about or doesn't seem like something the Prophet (pbuh) would say, it's best to check its authencity before you choose to submit. ;-)


DD said...

Definitely important to keep in mind thanks for this sis. There are some weird Ahadith, sayings out there which you can just tell were not uttered by Muhammad (pbuh) :S Sad to see them being used as a basis for religious interpretation and spread around to unsuspecting Muslims :S

CATGIRL !! said...

Thank u for this insight Safiyah. i also usually shirk away from books other than those relatign Quranic verses coz i m forced to folow them emotionally n wat if they are da'ef??

p.s. plz ermove the word verifictaion. many ppl. choose not to comment when it adds one more step..

Safiyah said...

@ DD: Yes it's very sad indeed, but it's also every Muslim's responsibility to seek knowledge and to not just accept anything they read ;-)

@Catgirl: Yes you are right, and I think some authors use the sources for their own purposes. I use the word verification as a protection against spam ;-)

Almost a Muslimah said...

great post! apparently there is a whole 'science of hadiths' thing but I could never find the strength of a given narration given just next to it.
can you assume that muslim and bukhari are reliable and contain hadiths with strong chain of narrations that you can cite without double-checkin? if not, is there a website where you can check every single one of them? or do you have to google each of them separately?

thank you :-) C.

Safiyah said...

@ Almost a Muslimah:

Yes, you are right, there is a whole science of hadiths thing going on ;-) Because after the death of the Prophet (pbuh) a lot of people would make hadiths up to fit their own interests, so it was really necessary to device a system to check the accuracy of the hadiths. I've been told that this system is very rigid and that it's almost impossible to get a made up hadith classified as "saheeh" (authentic). I know that the isnaad (the line of transmitters) is very important in this, and if there is a weak chain in this line, or if one of the transmitters is known to have produced or narrated false hadiths, then the hadith in question cannot be classified as authentic. Bukhari and Muslim are usually very trustworthy. I'm not aware of any website where you can check them all, what I usually do is type in the hadith on google and check what I find about it (while ignoring the anti-islam websites). When I have time, I will inshaAllah look into the matter more and make a post about the science of hadiths ;-)
Thanks for commenting! :-)

Almost a Muslimah said...

great, thanks Safiyah! I always stick to bukhari and muslim but i know there are also collection of hadiths by other authors such as abu dawud.
if you find a reliable source to check them, let me know ;-) thanks!

Noshi said...

There are a lot of ahadeeth in Bukhari and Muslim that are not authentic and in opposition to the character we know as our Beloved RasoolAllah (sawws). So, it is not safe to assume...because it's in those books, then the hadeeth is 'sahih.'

Safiyah said...

Thanks for your comment, Noshi :)

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