A common misconception among many people is that they believe the texts of the Qur’an and Hadith are intended for all of mankind and are so clear that anyone fairly literate should be able to read them and understand what they mean. The first part of this idea is correct, the Qur’an and the teachings of the Prophet are intended for everyone. However, the idea that anyone reading the texts irrespective of their background knowledge will be able to fully understand each and every intended meaning is very wrong.The post goes on to explain the different arguments on this issue and the methodology used to derive rulings in this particular case, and in general. The post then concludes with this:
Let’s take a practical example in order to demonstrate the truth of this claim. If someone were to open up Sunan Al-Tirmidhi, which is one of the very famous early collections of narrations [Ahadith], they might come across the following:
Hannad and Mahmud ibn Ghaylan informed us that Waki’ informed us on the authority of Sufyan on the authority of Abi Qays on the authority of Huzayl ibn Sharhabil on the authority of Al-Mughira ibn Shu’ba who said: “The Prophet r made ablution [wudu] and wiped over his socks and sandals.”Abu Isa (At-Tirmidhi) said: “This narration is authentic [hasan sahih].”
Whether this was read in Arabic or in English you might conclude from it that you can wipe over your feet when making wudu without having to take off your socks or sandals. You might naturally go even further and consider it ridiculous that anyone could have a doubt about this since it is so clear. The Prophet did it and the narration is authentic so we can do it too.
One of the beautiful things about Islam is that there are no Divinely appointed clergy or priests. Anyone can study, increase in knowledge, and understand the Qur’an and Sunnah for themselves. If you only read this article with the hope of knowing whether or not you can wipe over the socks that you are wearing then go ask your local scholar rather than reading a collection of hadith. If that idea bothers you then set out on the path of knowledge, the Muslim ummah is in need of more knowledgeable people.
I think the author makes his point very well. Enjoy the post (but don't expect to get an answer on whether or not you can wipe on your socks!).
This is also another (shorter) post worth reading on Br. Mustafa's blog related to understanding hadith.
P.S. Jazakum Allah khairan Br. Mustafa and the brother who emailed me the link to the blog - may Allah (swt) increase us all in useful knowledge.