Chapter 3, Hadith & Seerah, The Authority of Sunnah / Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

The second source of preservation of Ahadith was by mutual discussions held by the companions of the Holy Prophet (SAWS). Whenever they came to know of a new Sunnah, they used to narrate it to others. Thus all the companions would tell each other what they learnt from the Holy Prophet (SAWS).This was to comply with the specific directions given by the Holy Prophet (SAWS) in this respect. Here are some Ahadith to this effect:

“Those present should convey (my Sunnah) to those absent.”(Bukhari)

“Convey to others on my behalf, even though it be a single verse.” (Bukhari)

“May Allah grant vigor, to a person who listens to my saying and learns it by heart until he conveys it to others.” (Tirmidhi)

“You hear (my sayings) and others will hear from you, then others will hear from them.” (Abu Dawood)

“A Muslim cannot offer his brother a better benefit than transmitting to him a good hadith which has reached him.” (Bayan ul Ilm)

These directions given by the Holy Prophet (SAWS) were more than sufficient to induce his companions towards acquiring the knowledge of Ahadith and to convey them to others.

The Holy Prophet (SAWS) also motivated his companions to study the Ahadith in their meetings. The word used for this study is Tadarus which means “to teach each other”. One person would narrate a particular hadith to the other, in turn, would repeat it to the first, and so on. The purpose was to learn it correctly. Each one would listen to the other’s version and correct his mistake, if any. The result of this tadarus (discussion) was to remember the Ahadith as firmly as possible. The Holy Prophet (SAWS) has held this described process of tadarus to be more meritorious with Allah than individual worship throughout the night. He has said.

“Tadarus of knowledge (of the Quran & Ahadith) for any period of time in the night, is better than spending the entire night in worship.” (Bayan ul Ilm)

Moreover, the Holy Prophet (SAWS) has also warned, that it is a major sin to hide a word of ‘knowledge’ whenever it is asked for:

“Whoever is questioned pertaining to such knowledge that he has and thereafter conceals it, will be bridled by a rein of fire.” (Tirmidhi)

At another occasion the Holy Prophet (SAWS) disclosed that concealment of ‘knowledge’ is in itself a major sin, even though the person having that knowledge is not asked about it. He said:

“Whoever conceals knowledge which can be benefited from, will come on Doomsday bridled with a bridle of fire.” (Bayan ul Ilm)

The hadith makes it clear that the disclosure of knowledge is an inherent obligation on each knowledgeable person, no matter whether he is asked about it or not.

As the knowledge of the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (SAWS) was the highest branch of knowledge in the eyes of his companions, they deemed it an indispensable obligation on their shoulders to convey to others what they knew of the Sunnah.

Thus, it was the most favorite hobby of the companions of the Holy Prophet (SAWS) whenever they sat together, instead of being involved in useless talks, to discuss his sayings and acts. Each of them would mention what he knew while the others would listen and try to learn it by heart.

These frequent discussions have played an important role in the preservation of the Sunnah. It was by the virtue of these discussions that the Ahadith known only by some individuals were conveyed to others, and the circle of narrators was gradually enlarged. Since these discussions were carried out at a time when the Holy Prophet (SAWS) was himself present among them, they had the full opportunity to confirm the veracity of what has been conveyed to them in this process, and some of them actually did so. The result was that the knowledge of Ahadith acquired a wide range among the companions, which not only helped in spreading the knowledge of Sunnah but also provided a check on the mistakes of narrations, because if someone forgets some part of a hadith, the others were present to fill in the gap and to correct the error.

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