How can we be sure that hadiths reach us without changing?
Prophet Muhammad (peace e upon him) took the first precaution himself in this matter with his words: “Whoever lies about me, let him prepare his place in the hell” (1) and led his companions to be careful. For this reason, the Companions paid great attention to the narration of hadith. For instance, Ali (may God be pleased with him) would say: “When I tell you something from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) I pay such attention and say it in such a way that it is easier for me to fall down from the sky and to be torn to pieces than to lie about him.” (2)Prophet Muhammad (peace e upon him) took the first precaution himself in this matter with his words: Whoever lies about me, let him prepare his place in the hell (1) and led his companions to be careful. For this reason, the Companions paid great attention to the narration of hadith. For instance, Ali (may God be pleased with him) would say: When I tell you something from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) I pay such attention and say it in such a way that it is easier for me to fall down from the sky and to be torn to pieces than to lie about him. (2) After the protection of Quran and its verses, the Companions worked to protect the words and deeds of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and especially to protect the words and deeds concerned with the Islamic judgments and the judgments about faith and with the miracles of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). As can be seen in the books of Hadiths and the life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), they did not neglect any small act or word of the Prophet. In the Age of Asr-i Saadah (Age of bliss and tranquility in which Prophet Muhammad lived) (3), a great number of the companions recorded the words and deeds of the Prophet. Especially the companions spiritually responsible for recording hadiths called Abadile-i Seba (4) and among them especially Abdullah Ibn-i Abbas and Abdullah Ibn-i Amr Ibnil-As recorded the hadiths about the principles of faith, the pillars of Islam and about the miracles of the Prophet. In that point, the Companions behaved with utmost care and sometimes hesitated in relating even the hadiths they knew very well and did not want to say. Furthermore, Anas bin Malik (may God be pleased with him) who stayed with Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) for approximately ten years said one day: If there were no fear of making a mistake, I would relate much more things from the Prophet. (5). Likewise, when it was asked from Abdullah Ibn-i Abbas (may God be pleased with him) to relate a hadith, he would feel reluctant and embarrassed and when he finally told the hadith, he would not forget to warn saying: Look, I tell you something from my memory but know that the Messenger said something similar or close to what I said. (6) (7) Another similar incident: narrated by Abdullah bin Az-Zubair, who was among the ten people given the good news of paradise in their lives, narrated so few hadiths that one day his son asked him: I said to my father, 'I do not hear from you any narration (Hadith) of Gods Messenger as I hear (his narrations) from so and so?" Az-Zubair replied. l was always with him (the Prophet) and I heard him saying "Whoever tells a lie against me (intentionally) then (surely) let him occupy, his seat in Hell-fire. (8) After the Companions, too, thousands of learned people who grew up beside the Companions and who were named Tabiin recorded the hadiths they took from the Companions by writing or memorizing with the same attention and care. Let us give some examples about the sensitiveness shown to Hadiths by Tabiin. Said Ibnul-Musayyib said, he covered great distances for days just for a single hadith when it was needed (9); Masruk Ibnul-Ecda traveled for even a single letter of a hadith (10); as is narrated by Kasir Ibn Kays, a lover of knowledge came to Damascus from Medina to take from Abud Darda a single hadith and many a travel in that sort can be given as examples to this (11). Abdurrahman Ibn Layla, who is said to have met five hundred Companions and who was welcomed in towns with, A person who has seen five hundred companions is coming says: I got acquainted with one hundred and twenty companions who always look each other in their faces when something known to them is asked even if all the one hundred and twenty of them are present in a place at the same time; and who wait for others to answer with the fear I may insert a word into the words of the Messenger; and when no one answers, eventually one of whom bears it and depending on God narrates the hadith, just as Ibn Masud does, with the warning: I am telling something from my memory, but know that the Messenger said something similar or close to what I said. (12) After the Tabiin, Imams of the four sects first and then the muhaddiths-people who narrate hadiths- became responsible for the protection of hadiths related and protected them on paper. Ahmad Ibn-i Hanbel, one of these Imams of sect, is said to have memorized one million hadiths including sound, healthy and weak ones and from different sources and with different references and texts-i.e. even if the content is the same; and he produced his renowned Musnad, which contains forty thousand hadiths, by picking them out from three hundred thousand hadiths. (13) Yahya Ibn Main, who dedicated his entire life to hadiths and to the holy sayings of the Messenger, memorized the hadiths called mawzu, too, which did not belong to the Prophet even if their meanings were correct. When Ahmad Ibn Hanbel asked him one day why he did this, he answered: I say to the ones who come to me: This is mawzu, and that is, too; take whatever you can other than these. (14). Many other hadith reciters stretching from Imam Zuhri to Yahya b. Said al Kattan, from Bukhari and Muslim to Darakutni and Hakim had been trained. Two hundred years after the Hegira, first of all such scholars of hadith as Bukhari and Muslim, the writers of sound hadith books called Kutub-u Sitte took the responsibility of protecting the hadiths. Thousands of serious researchers like Ibn-i Jawzi picked out the mawzu hadiths or the words intentionally added to hadiths in order to cause doubt about them, which were possible to have been inserted into hadiths and cleared them away. Aside from these, though not present in the method of hadith narration, there occurred the instances of hadiths being asked to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in person and searching for their correctness, by great muhaddiths having surpassed space and time in conditions between sleep and dream. For example, it is related that the great Imam Jalaleddin As-Suyuti talked with Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) many times, even while awake. Again, for every hadith he acquired through his means, Imam Bukhari would take ablution, perform two part-prayer and would refer the issue to the holy soul of the Prophet and say: Is it true o Messenger of God?; and according to the indication he received special to him, he would record this hadith in his book. (15) So, based on these facts, the question: How can we know for sure that these hadiths coming over to us through such a long time as 14 centuries are correct? should not come to the mind. This article is prepared benefiting form the Letters by Bediüzzaman Said Nursi. Footnotes (1) Bukhari, Knowledge, 38; Muslim, Piety, 72; Abu Davud, Knowledge, 4; Tirmizi, Tricks, 70; Musned, 1/70. (2) Bukhari, Call to repentance, 6; Abu Davud, Sunnats, 28. (3) The period when Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) lived is called the Period of Bliss. The reason is that out of the nomadic tribe before Islam, a most civilized and virtuous community emerged and they were honored with the favor of faith that would lead to the bliss of both worlds after their being honored with Islam. For further information: http://www.sorularlaislamiyet.com/index.php?s=article&aid=287 (4) Abdullah Ibn-i Abbas, Abdullah Ibn-i Omar, Abdullah Ibn-i Mes'ud, Abdullah Ibn-i Ravaha, Abdullah Ibn-i Selam, Abdullah bin Amr bin As, Abdullah bin ebi Evfa (may God be pleased with them all) (5) Darimi, Mukaddime, 25. (6) Ibni Mace, Mukaddime, 3. (7) In this subject, there are many more examples about the care taken by the Companions in relating hadiths. (8) Bukhari, Knowledge, 38. (9) Zehebi, Tezkiretul-Huffaz, 1/56; er-Rihle, p.127-129. (10) M.Accac el-Hatib, as-Sunnetü Kablet-Tedvin, p:178. (11) Er-Rihle, p.78; Ibn-i Mace, Mukaddime, 17. (12) Zehebi, Siyer-u Alâmin-Nubela, 4/263. (13) M.Accac el-Hatib, as-Sunnetu Kablet-Tedvin, p:229. (14) Ibn Hacer, Tehzibut-Tehzib, 9/49.