Sunday, April 6, 2008

Know your Hadith - Part IV

Part III here

How did Hadith spread during the lifetime of the Prophet (peace be upon him)?
As mentioned earlier, the early Muslims studied Hadith along with Quran in their study circles at Dar al-Arqam. Soon after that, the Prophet (peace be upon him) was ordered to spread Islam publicly. Eventually, Islam spread throughout the Arabian peninsula and the number of Muslims grew to thousands. How did the spread of Hadith happen during this time of vast expansion?

Several factors worked together to ensure the spread of Hadith during the first twenty-three years of Islam:

1. The tireless efforts of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him):
Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) did not spare any effort in calling to Islam and endured many hardships and challenges to ensure the spread of his message including meeting the different tribes and envoys during the pilgrimage and trade seasons.

2. The nature of Islam:
The novelty of this deen compared to the way of life in Arabia 1,400 years aroused the curiosity of some people and led them to meet the Prophet (peace be upon him) to inquire about this new religion. Many people would then accept Islam and travel back to their tribes to teach them what they learnt from their encounter with the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him).

3. The efforts of the Companions (peace be upon them):
The companions of the Prophet (may Allah be pleased with them) strove to learn as much as they could from the Prophet (peace be upon him) and pass on that knowledge. Despite being busy with their daily bread-winning activities (trade, shepherding...) the companions made sure to attend the study circles with the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him), or at least take turns in attending.

For example, Omar narrates that he and one of his neighbour from the Ansar (helpers) from the tribe of Ummayah ibn Zaid used to take turns at attending the study circle of the Prophet (peace be upon him). When it was his turn, Omar would return and convey to his neighbour the ahadith and verses he had heard, and his neighbour would do the same (reported in Fath al-Bari).

4. The Mothers of the Believers (may Allah be pleased with them):
Being in close contact with the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him), the Mothers of the Believers played an important role in the spreading of his sunnah, especially amongst women, some of whom would be too shy to approach the Messenger (peace be upon him) directly.

Aisha the daughter of Abu Baker (may Allah be pleased with both of them) was famous for her vast knowledge of hadith and fiqh rulings because she would constantly ask the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) about anything she did not know or understand. After the Prophet's death, she was a great reference and source for the students of knowledge.

5. The envoys and messengers of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him):
Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) sent messengers to all surrounding tribes and empires, both near and far, and would teach his messengers before they left the art of dawah (calling people to Islam) and instruct them to convey Islam in the best way, using their wisdom, without being too harsh on the people.

6. The Conquest of Makkah (al-Fath):
This is one of the greatest conquests in history which resulted in thousands of people coming to Islam. There was a very large number of Muslims in Makkah during the Conquest from different tribes and origins, which facilitated their encounter with the Prophet and the transfer of knowledge amongst them, including the knowledge of Hadith.

7. The Farewell Pilgrimage:
The Farewell Sermon which the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) gave on the mountain of Arafat during this pilgrimage, and which included many of the main principles and rulings of Islam, was heard by around 90,000 Muslims from all over Arabia who were performing the pilgrimage alongside the Prophet of Allah(peace be upon him).

What happened to hadith during the time of the companions and their followers (may Allah be pleased with them)?...To be continued in Part V insha'Allah.

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