Munkareen e hadith/ disbelievers of hadith say that wahi is only what has been revealed in Quran and what are our Nabi’s ﷺ few practices which they call Sunnah (like salah, fasting, zakah and hajj) which have been made a part of Islamic culture and about which Muslims do not have differences. They plead that Sunnah is carried forward to the next generations through culture and as such Sunnah needs not be authenticated by narrators; the narrators are non-prophetic entities and as such cannot authenticate ‘wahi’ which can only be authenticated by the Nabi ﷺ himself. Disbelievers of hadith do not believe that ahadith are also ‘wahi’. They say ahadith are authenticated by ‘ravis’/ narrators and as such ahadith are not reliable; whereas cultural values, which are not authenticated by narrators, can reliably transmit Sunnah from one generation to the other.
Let us analyze these above mentioned views of disbelievers of ahadith.
On the one hand disbelievers of hadith maintain that ‘wahi’ cannot be authenticated by a non-prophetic entity like a narrator but on the other hand they believe that culture- which is also a non-prophetic entity- can transmit Sunnah/wahi to the next generations. They say that culture has nothing to do with ‘rawayat’/tradition; they deny obvious fact that it was rawayat/tradition which was established as cultural value through repeated practicing by the Muslims. Actually the only criteria to ascertain whether or not an Islamic cultural value is justifiable is to look into whether or not such cultural value is in accordance with the rawayat/tradition behind such cultural value. If we cannot use this tool to differentiate between right and wrong cultural values in Islamic culture, we would have to accept all prevailing cultural values in our Islamic cultures as true Islamic values. And this would be complete non-sense. If rawayat/traditions are not be basis of Islamic culture, the disbelievers of ahadith fail to substantiate how a cultural value was made a part of Islamic culture. They put forth an illusive idea that wahi/Sunnah was established in Islamic culture as PRESENCE; they cannot explain how it was made present. They say sunnah is as present as Quran is present; but they ignore the fact that Muslims believe in Quran because our Nabi ﷺ told us about Quran; in other words, it was our Nabi’s ﷺ saying/rawayat which is basis of our belief in Quran and which is basis of our compliance of Quran.
Secondly what disbelievers of ahadith declare as sunnah are a few directions of Quran, like salah, fasting, zakah and hajj etc. If these Quranic orders which they call as sunnah were made part of Islamic culture, what about the other orders contained in Quran? If only those few orders which they call as sunnah were established as cultural values of Islamic culture, why others so many Quranic orders were not made part of Islamic culture? If other Quranic orders were also made part of Islamic culture, in what form those other Quranic orders are found in Islamic culture today? Actually disbelievers have to believe those other Quranic orders are found in the form of ahadith in Islamic culture. And if what disbelivers call sunnah is established in Islamic culture as intact/ original form, on the same analogy, they have to believe that ahadith are also intact and present in original form. What we need is to exact those original forms of ahadith from the present body of ahadith. In fact like what they call as sunnah, there are many thousands of ahadith which are believed in and practiced by millions of Muslims in everyday life. We have to believe that ahadith are as much part of wahi as those Quranic commandments which disbelievers of ahadith call sunnah.
Thirdly, Muslims do not practice what disbelivers of ahadith call sunnah because these sunnah are cultural values; actually Muslims practice these sunnah because these are Deen and Deen is what is wahi and wahi is sayings and actions of our Nabi s.a.w.w. Wahi has never been initiated to the people as cultural values. Wahi is always initiated to people as action or saying of the prophet; such sayings and actions are further reported to other people; such reporting is called rawayat- whether it is Quranic wahi or non-Quranic wahi. However such rawayaat e wahi later on become cultural values, through repeated practicing of them by Muslims. If any cultural value is contradictory to Deeni rawayat, Muslims are bound to reject such cultural value.
Disbelievers of hadith believe that all actions and sayings of our Nabi ﷺ are not based on wahi; they maintain that some sayings/actions of our Nabi ﷺ are his ﷺ personal sayings/actions, and some his ﷺ sayings and actions are based on wahi.
This distinction between personal and wahi based sayings/actions of our Nabi ﷺ is baseless. For instance if a person acts according to wahi, his action would be his personal as well as wahi based action. In other words, if an action is according to wahi, such action would be called personal as well as wahi based action. Similarly all sayings/actions of our Nabi ﷺ are not only personal but also wahi based because our Nabi ﷺ always acted according to wahi revealed to him ﷺ. It may be appreciated that our Nabi ﷺ had capability to disobey the ‘wahi’; but he ﷺ never used this capability and never disobeyed wahi in his actions and sayings. It is the basic difference between a prophet and an Angel; an Angel does not have capability to disobey Allah, but a prophet has such capability but he does not use such capability.
Munkareen e hadith also propagate that Ijtihad is human modification of shariah; hence they do not believe in Ijtihad. This is a clear lie propagated by munkareen e hadith. What needs to be understood is that a mujtahid does not invent a law; he only discovers new implications of a laws enshrined in Shariah/wahi; a mujtahid applies implications of shariah to a new situation under consideration, keeping within the limits imposed by shariah. There is a difference between a Nabi and a mujtahid. When a Nabi extends a law enshrined in the Book to new situations, he does so under wahi. In this way extension of any law done by a Nabi is mandatory to be complied with by the people; but a mujtahid does not extend a law enshrined in the Book and Hadith under any prophetic wahi; therefore any extension of law done by him is not mandatory to be complied with in all cases by the people. If people/ other mujtahideen think Ijtihad is in line with the Quran and hadith, such Ijtihad would be acted upon; otherwise it would be rejected or modified by people/other mutahideen. Every mujtahid clearly differentiates between Ijtihad and shariah by believing that shariah cannot be amended whereas Ijtihadi exertions/laws may be amended, keeping within limits of shariah. Ijtihad is not source of shariah/wahi; Ijtihad is an attempt to discover implications of shariah.
From the foregoing we may see that disbelievers of hadith/ munkareen e hadith, by disbelieving in hadith and Ijtihad and by confining Sunnah only to a few practices of our Nabi ﷺ, actually want to deprive Muslims of the elaborate guidance contained in ahadith and accessed through Ijtihad; this elaborate guidance bestowed upon Muslims provide them basis to build their collective systems including political, social, moral and economic systems. By depriving Muslims of such elaborate guidance, munkareen e hadith want to reduce Islam only to a few religious rituals not likely to pose any challenge for un-islamic systems (continued).