Continuity of Hadith from Generation to Generation

Chapter No.: 

Sahaabah-al-Kiram were living books of Hadith, as already mentioned they had dedicated themselves for learning and onward transmission of Hadith. The people who raise objections on Hadith by saying that Bukhari and Muslim and other books on Ahaadith were written much later after Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) forget to see the fate of Hadith in the time of Sahaabah and Taabaeen i.e., first two generations after Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). In these two generations there were not one or two but thousands of highly pious and authentic scholars and narrators of Hadith. In books you will get only written material, Sahaabah and Taabaeen would also demonstrate practically the actions of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) while narrating the Hadith. These people have not transmitted onwards to next generations only words but also practical actions as well, that is why we say that a large portion of Hadith is continuous or Mutawatir as well, which was transmitted by millions of people from one generation to another. Take the example of ablution, Salaah, Haj, Saum, permissible things, forbidden things and hundreds of such things which Muslims have learned from their senior generations and not from just a single or few books. Even an illiterate person knows many practical Ahaadith of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) which he has learned from his elders.

Hadith in Written Form

In addition to the verbal transmission of Ahaadith from generation to generation, the process of preserving Ahaadith in written form had started right during the period of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). It is not true that there was no written form of Ahaadith before Bukhari and Muslim, the noted books of Hadith. Famous Sahaabi Umru bin Umaya’s son narrates: I narrated a Hadith in front of Hadhrat Abu Hurairah, he refused, I said that I have heard it from you only. Hadhrat Abu Hurairah said if I have narrated it then it would be in written form with me. He caught my hand and took me inside his room. There were many books of Ahaadith of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), and in that treasure of Ahaadith we found this Hadith as well. Then Abu Hurairah (RA) said that didn't I tell you that that if I have narrated the Hadith, it would be in the written form with me. (Fathul Bari, Tadween-e-Hadith)

This narration clearly proves that Hadhrat Abu Hurairah (RA) had compiled Ahaadith in written form as well. It is well known that Hadhrat Abu Hurairah (RA) has narrated over five thousand Ahaadith which means that he had over five thousand Ahaadith in written form also, then how can one say that Ahaadith were written much later after Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). As per Imam Bukhari Hadhrat Abu Hurairah (RA) had over eight hundred students and many of them had prepared written copies of Ahaadith after learning them from Abu Hurairah (RA).

Darmi has reported on the authority of Bashir bin Nuhaik, who was a student of Abu Hurairah (RA). Hadhrat Bashir bin Nuhaik says:

"I used to write every Hadith which I learned from Hadhrat Abu Hurairah (RA). When I decided to part with him, I read all those Ahaadith in front of Hadhrat Abu Hurairah (RA) and I told him that these were the Ahaadith which I learned from him. He said, yes.” (Darmi)

This narration clearly proves that the students of Hadhrat Abu Hurairah (RA) used to write Hadith.

Abdullah bin Umru Al-Aas (RA) and Compilation of Hadith

Abu Hurairah (RA) narrates:

"There is no one who narrates more Hadith than me except Abdullah bin Umru” (Bukhari)

As Hadhrat Abu Hurairah (RA) narrated over five thousand Ahaadith, it means that Abdullah bin Umru has narrated more than that. It is well documented that he used to write Hadith during the time of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam).

He says:

Once I asked Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam):“Should I write everything whatever I listened from you?” He said, “Yes”. I asked, both what you say happily and angrily. He said, “Yes”, as I don’t say anything except truth in all these states.”

(Haafiz bin Abdul-Bar)

This book was known as ‘Sahifa-Saadiqah’. This proves that there were books of Hadith before Bukhari Shareef and Muslim Shareef also.

Hadhrat Anas (RA) and Written Hadith

He used to tell his sons, who were many in number,

“My sons, write down this knowledge of Hadith” (Darmi)

It is reported on the authority of Sayeed bin Halaal, He says:

“When we used to ask more from Hadhrat Anas (RA), he used to bring out his bag and tell us that these were the Hadith he learned and wrote from Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and then he presented them to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) (for cross checking)" (Mustadrak Haakim)

Hadhrat Anas (RA) has narrated one thousand, two hundred and eighty six Ahaadith and from above narration it is evident that these were all in written form.

Hadhrat Jabir bin Abdullah (RA) and Written Hadith

Ibne Jowzi has reported in ‘Talqeeh’ that Hadhrat Jabir (RA) has narrated one thousand five hundred and six Ahaadith.

Ibne Hajar has quoted in ‘Tahzeeb’ that Wahab bin Munabbah, a student of Hadhrat Jabir used to write Hadith from Hadhrat Jabir ”.

Hadhrat Aayeshah (RA) and Written Hadith

Hadhrat Aayeshah (RA) is amongst the leading narrators of Hadith and her narrated Ahaadith have been estimated as much as two thousand and ten. Whether she has written or not is not known but her students like Urwah bin Zubair, Umrah bint Abdul Rehman and Qasim bin Muhammad compiled Ahaadith in written form after learning from Hadhrat Aayeshah (RA). Umrah bint Abdul Rahman and Qasim bin Muhammad did so on the direction of Hadhrat Umar bin Abdul Aziz as quoted by Haafiz Ibne Hajar. Hadhrat Umar bin Abdul Aziz then circulated these copies in all Muslim countries.

Hadhrat Ibne Abbas and Written Hadith

The number of Ahaadith narrated by him has been estimated as much as two thousand six hundred and sixty. It is quoted in Tabaqat Ibne Sa’d that his distinguished student Sayeed bin Jubair wrote Hadith from Hadhrat Ibne-Abbas (RA) and whenever he went short of paper, he used to write on anything available around.

Hadhrat Ibn Umar (RA) and Written Hadith

He has narrated one thousand six hundred and thirty Ahaadith. It is not known whether he himself had written Hadith or not but it is certain that Naafia Maula Ibne Umar wrote Hadith from Hadhrat Ibne-Umar (RA) as quoted in Tabaqat Ibne Sa’d. Hadhrat Imam Maalik has extensively quoted from Naafia and this chain of transmission from Ibne Umar (RA) to Naafia to Imam Maalik is called Golden Chain amongst Muhadditheen.