Understanding Ahadeeth according to the Salaf

How do we understand ahadeeth, which we may be unable to comprehend?

"Mu'awiyah (رضى الله عنه) brought a slave girl and he wanted to free her. Prophet () asked her, “where is Allah?” and she said, “Above the heavens” and then he () asked her, who am I, to which she said, “you are the messenger of Allah (ﷺ). He (ﷺ) said, free her because she is a true believer." [1]

For those who claim Allah is everywhere who would use the same verse as proof, as support to their argument that Allah is everywhere. What do they do with the hadeeth, which is mentioned in Saheeh Muslim, the authentic hadeeth? They say this hadeeth was not Mutawaatir. Mutawaatir mean that ten or more Sahabah narrated it. Ten or more Tabi'een conveyed it. Hadeeth, which are not Mutawaatir, cannot be used as evidence in Aqeedah, we can use it in Fiqh and not in Aqeedah. This idea was invented by Asha’ries, in order to escape the hadeeth which contradicted their Aqeedah and logic. Hadeeth Mutawaatir gives us sure knowledge and hadeeth, which are not Mutawaatir, is not sure, doubtful knowledge. In Fiqh we can go with doubtful matters, but in Aqeedah we cannot. Prophet (ﷺ) did not make this distinction. The first generations and after them, never made this distinction. This came up hundreds of years later, mainly to refute the Aqeedah developed, which came hundreds of years later.

The way of the Salaf was to accept the evidence as long as it was narrated authentically. Muadh ibn Jabal (رضى الله عنه) was sent to Yemen. He taught the people both Fiqh and Aqeedah. The people did not require him to bring someone else as proof for Aqeedah. ‘We will accept from you the fiqh, but the Aqeedah we won’t accept’. No, it was not like that. So we are to understand Allah as He revealed himself in the Qur'an and the Sunnah. We have to stick to that which the first generation understood.

The sun prostrates under the throne of Allah, they didn’t ask Him how it does? How does the sun prostrate? Today people ask and they reject the narration based on their inability to comprehend, the how. They say the hadeeth has to be inauthentic. Allah says in the Qur'an that His creation glorifies Him but we just can’t hear it. The stone and the trees greet the Prophet (ﷺ). He (ﷺ) said it, and it is narrated in authentic ahadeeth. It is recorded authentically from Prophet (ﷺ) that stones and trees gave salaams to him (ﷺ). We don’t need to go into hows, miracles happen, we believe in the miracle of Prophet Musa (عَلَيْهِ السَّلاَمُ) when he threw down his staff and it turned into a snake. Not as Sufis have interpreted it, in Sufi tafseer, that the staff represented the duniya. So when Allah told him to throw it down, He is telling him to give up the duniya, and turning it into snake was just showing him what the reality of duniya is, but that is not what it refers and is understood. We accept what Allah and how Allah describes Himself whatever comes to us in the the Qur'an and the Sunnah, we accept it as literal first and foremost. Only shifting to allegorical where literal cannot be understood. Not because we are incapable of understanding the how’s, but because what is said in the literal contradicts the, ‘we know of the rest of the deen’ there is so much which we don’t understand. The wine of paradise, which does not intoxicate and all of the other things that describe we don’t know as Prophet (ﷺ) said,

“Paradise is something which no  eyes have ever seen, no mind has ever crossed it”[2]

and to help us better understand Allah has described in the Qur’an. We use the methodology used by first generation whenever authentic information comes to us, it is our deen, this is the method of early generation.


[1] [Saheeeh Muslim, hadeeth number 537]

[2] [Jami at-Tirmidhi, Book 47, Hadith 3603]

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