[More on the necessity of the Sunna]

Why the Traditions are Mandatory for All Muslims


In the name of the Merciful, the Compassionate, Almighty Creator of the Universe

I, a Christian, had just finished recounting certain traditions(1) of dubious distinction to a young Muslim convert. He looked at me incredulously and stated, "Well, I don't believe in the hadith, only the Qur'an!"

This attitude seems to be infusing a portion of the Muslim community, especially if the individuals are involved in any type of dialogue with other religions. Rather than deal with the second most important written documents in Islam, there is a growing tendency to simply dismiss the traditions. The purpose of this booklet is to show that the traditions cannot be swept under the rug and forgotten. The traditions are the source of information about the prophet, necessary for the proper interpretation of the Qur'an, and as a basis for shari`a law. It probably comes as a surprise to most Christians that there is a need for this discussion. Why ought we to bother with the traditions? Should we not concentrate on the weaknesses of the Qur'an with regard to its historicity as an ancient document, the grammatical problems, the errors, and the contradictions? The answer is found by giving the conclusion of this work here at the beginning. It can be illustrated by the following picture:

What makes this entire subject so intriguing is that the shari`a and the sunnah (virtually the entire religion of Islam) are not built solely upon the Qur'an, as one might suppose, but upon the traditions! Our upside down pyramid is very unstable because while the Qur'an is claimed by Muslims to be inspired (hence, 'unassailable'), the traditions are not.(2) If one can clearly and logically argue that the traditions, as a whole, are illogical, corrupted, and in many cases simply ludicrous, the entire structure cracks and crashes completely.


Muslims can cite story after story of the Qur'an's ability to move men to tears. The words of the Qur'an are not the words of the prophet, but of God Himself. The Qur'an is the first source for all of Islam. In spite of this, the book does have its problems. When reading revelations given to the prophet, many times the reader is unaware of the context of the message. Why was the revelation given? Some of the statements are sweeping and broad, so how does one implement them into right practice? The Qur'an, unfortunately, leaves the reader asking for more details, more specifics, and more concrete information.

First, what do the general encyclopedias say?(3) Does the Qur'an need interpretation?

Although the Koran contains a wide variety of religious teaching and a number of specific rules ... it is obvious that so small a book could not supply all the specific directions needed for the Muslim community.(4)

Secondly, a dictionary of Islam In discussing how the interpretation of the Qur'an came about, the earliest Muslims approached it in the following manner. Notice that the author makes a point about the Qur'an's lack of details (in each quotation, the emphasis is mine, unless noted otherwise):

Since the Koran contains few specific legal prescriptions, the judges or Cadis (Qâdî, pl. qudâ) appointed by the earliest caliphs acted on the basis of local customs ...(5)
Thirdly, from an encyclopedia of religion:
Shafi` in his Risâla explains that there are prescriptions in the Kur'ân, the general form of which was only made precise in the Sunna.(6)

Fourthly, from two Orientalists of no small renown:

Readers of the Qur'an will perceive that the laws which govern Muslim custom (sunna) in these everyday affairs are adumbrated there, but they will look in vain for the details which make these customs into formal rites and rules of behavior. To find the underlying authority for these rules we must go to the books of traditions (hadith).(7)
Given its [the Qur'an] brevity and its context of events, the Qur'an proved an incomplete source of communal guidance ...The Qur'an, for example, contains no single comprehensive code of personal or commercial or social conduct, though there are several passages which suggest codes in embryo. It is full of detail on certain matters, especially those of personal status. But in other realms it is either completely silent or strangely brief.(8)

Finally, we give the Muslim scholars their due:

Any student of the Qur'an will see that the Holy Book generally deals with the broad principles or essentials of religion, going into details in very rare cases.(9)
The stories of these founding figures [which they told to the Muslim community after Muhammad's death] enhanced the Quran and helped to fill in the gaps by explaining the circumstances of a particular revelation or the meaning of a difficult word. It is quite clear that the Qur'an is a book of limited scope. The teachings of the book can, at times, be difficult to implement. What then is the criterion by which one arrives at a proper interpretation leading to an appropriate application in understanding the Qur'an?(10)


To transition from the general, broad and sweeping statements of the Qur'an, Muslims have come to rely upon the life of the prophet. His activities and statements put the Qur'an into detailed, illustrated examples for the Muslim. Interestingly, the notion that important people ought to serve as examples is not unique to Islam. In fact, the pre-Islamic Arabs held the exact same notion: important leaders' lives were to be emulated.(11) The result is that in order to grasp the teaching of the Qur'an, Muslims must do as Muhammad did. Therefore, the sunnah(12) of the prophet has become indispensable for Islam. How was this conclusion reached?

At the time of the death of Muhammad (A.D. 632), the Muslim community was faced with a great problem. Where would the information come from which was necessary to understand the Qur'an? Islam was expanding throughout Arabia and beyond. It was encountering new cultures, non-Arabic languages, and different ideas. The Qur'an did not provide the detailed answers for each situation so the community concluded

[w]here, if not from the same source as the scriptural mouth-piece, who by virtue of that consummated status had become the revelatory instrument of the divine word and could therefore be taken as an everlasting index to the divine counsel?(13)

In so many words, the Encyclopedia Americana agrees with the above:

For the purposes of both law and theology the Muslims organized other authorities to supplement the Koran. The most important of these became the tradition, or Sunna, of the Prophet ... [a] difficult controversy was resolved by the jurist al-Shafii (died 820), who held that the Sunna of the Prophet alone is authoritative. The same man also held that Sunna can be legitimately determined only by means of oral reports, or Hadith, that establish the sayings, doings and approbation of Mohammed.(14)

The role of the prophet in Islam is central for a genuine understanding of the Qur'an. Few Muslims have said it more succinctly than Nasr:

... the inner Substance of the Prophet is the hidden fountainhead of Islamic Spirituality . ... emulation of the being called the 'good model' (uswutun hasanah) in the Quran characterizes the whole program of Islamic spiritual life. His Sunnah is not only a basis for the Divine Law but is also the model that all those who aspire to spiritual realization seek to imitate in their lives.(15)

The President of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and Director of the Islamic Society of Orange County (Garden Grove, CA), Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, a highly regarded teacher among North American Muslims, answered a question about the sunnah on the Pakistan Link web site:

The Sunnah is the tradition and the way of the Prophet ... The Hadith contains the Sunnah and the Sunnah is known through the Hadith ... you should try to find out what is the Sunnah and for this purpose you should consult the authentic works of Hadith ... Allah told us in the Qur'an in many places that we must obey and follow the Prophet - peace be upon him. Logically then, we can say that since Allah commanded us to follow the Prophet - peace be upon him - then he must have preserved for us his words, deeds and example. Allah preserved the Qur'an by preserving the Sunnah. Actually, we can say that the Qur'an also we know through the Sunnah. How else could we find out what was the Qur'an, except through the Prophet.(16)

Fazlur Rahman was a prodigious author and conservative Muslim thinker. He wrote:

But now the only tradition is the verbal one, since the living Sunna, in so far as it is there, now derives its validity from the Hadith through which lies the only avenue of our content of the Prophet and fundamentally also with the Qur'an as it was delivered to and understood by the Community.(17)

What we have seen thus far is that the Qur'an presents general statements which need interpretation. The proper interpretation comes from the life of the prophet found in the sunnah. The question then arises, finally, where do we find the authentic description of the sunnah in order to understand the Qur'an?


The Hadith tradition within the various traditions had by then [the 3rd century A.H., or 9th century A.D.] become a permanent and disciplined element in the authority structure of Islam - the second great source of law and practice, complementary to the Qur'an and available for analogical handling (qiyas) and for consensus (ijtihad) ...(18)

Notice, the NEB states that the traditions were a permanent part of the Islamic framework of authority and complementary to the Qur'an. Does this seem like a source which ought to be lightly dismissed by Muslims? A source which is complementary, even explanatory ought not be forgotten! Indeed, for the traditions had the effect of "enlarging Qur'anic legislation"(19) and understanding of the meaning of the Qur'an.

The sunnah of Islam is founded upon the traditions, hence the upside down pyramid we presented earlier. The sunnah is not something to be ignored by any Muslim. If one dismisses the traditions, by default, the sunnah is thrown out with it. Ought this to be done by any serious, conscientious Muslim?

In modern times, the a uthenticity of Hadith ... has come under general attack ... but the `ulam have strenuously resisted these attacks because a large majority of Islamic social and political institutions and laws are either based on Hadith or rationalized through it.(20)

This "general attack" has been by both Western and Muslim scholars. The resistance to enemies of the traditions continues to remain strong because the traditions are so important to the foundation of Islam. Yet, it appears that there is a growing number of ordinary Muslims who consider themselves orthodox and conservative in spite of their rejection of the traditions.(21)

Most Christians have heard of the shari'a (Islamic law). For many it brings visions of repression and barbarism. For Muslims, it is merely the anticipated result of following the sunnah of the prophet and the Qur'an. The situation of the interpretation of this law is analogous to the need for a proper interpretation of the Qur'an. The basis for both is the tradition:

... al-Shâfi`î (d. 820), the true founder of Islamic jurisprudence, succeeded in imposing almost universally the traditionalist thesis that sunna ... could be determined only on the basis of traditions from the Prophet.(22)

Muslims are again reminded, without the traditions to explain, complement, and describe the actions of the prophet, the Qur'an becomes difficult to understand.

... the hadith perpetuate Muhammad's mission so that he remains a living example for each generation of Muslims. Likewise, they link Muhammad as a model with the law as a guide for the conduct of daily life. The hadith, therefore, share in the symbolic character of Muhammad as leader of the community and in the prescriptive function of the law to apply the Qur'an and sunna normatively to human behavior.(23)

Cyril Glassť makes a comment which shows the importance of the traditions. He brings out the idea that they provide understanding of the Qur'an and are integrally tied to shari`a:

Hadith may enunciate doctrine or provide a commentary upon it. They deal with the contents of the Koran, social and religious life, and everyday conduct, down to the tying of sandals. They are the basis, second only to the Koran, for Islamic law.(24)

If the traditions are so important second only to the Qur'an why would some Muslims refuse to accept them as authoritative? This seems foolish at best; dangerous at worst.

Why? The Qur'an is the inspired book of Islam. It contains the words and meanings of the Almighty. Although it was revealed over 1300 years ago, Muslims assure onlookers that the book is still up-to-date and applicable to today's situations. Of course, most Muslims do not understand much of the Qur'an without consulting the tafsir (explanatory notes) of al-Ghazzali, at-Tabari, al-Qurtabi, Ibn Kathir, Baydawi or the renown Zamakhshari. These commentators lived long after the Qur'an was revealed to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel. What then, are the bases for their comments if they were not present at the time of the prophet? Where would they have found the details which make the Qur'an's oblique passages unstandable? Where might these commentators have read about the context, the situation and the specifics surrounding the revelation of the Qur'an? Might it have been from the traditions? Are not the traditions at the very foundation of Islam?

The Holy Qur'an and Hadith, as well as the oral instructions and the grace of barakah issuing from the revelation of the Holy Qur'an and its recipient, the Blessed Prophet, are like the roots and the trunk for the tree of the Islamic tradition.(25)

And as the death knell of the notion that the traditions are not important for Muslims to believe, Rahman wrote:

For, if the Hadith as a whole is cast away, the basis for the historicity of the Qur'an is removed with one stroke.(26)

The traditions provide evidence for the historicity of the Qur'an, yet some Muslims want to forget about them? One of modern day Islam's most respected scholars, not a liberal Muslim scholar by any means, makes this bold claim: If the ahadith are dismissed, the very foundation of the understanding of the Qur'an is dismissed with it. Ought the traditions be ignored or investigated?

The traditions are vital because they explain the Qur'an. They are directly tied to the prophet and he was the conveyor of the Qur'an. Therefore, the traditions impart necessary details about the Qur'an. Dr. Siddiqi again:

... let me say that I strongly believe in the Hadith of the Prophet - peace be upon him. I believe that we do have many authentic sayings of the Prophet ... for correct understanding and application of Allah's rules as given to us in the Qur'an. I believe that Imam Bukhari's collection of Hadith is one of the best that is available. I believe that all those people who doubt the Ahadith of the Prophet and/or those who consider them unnecessary for understanding Islam are wrong and have no rational, logical or objective reasons for their doubts.(27)

In a tract promoted by American Trust Publications, Dr. Khalid Alvi gives the clear understanding of the orthodox Islamic view of the traditions. First, he explains the crucial role of the prophet by quoting from the Qur'an:

The learned men of the Muslim Millat are of the unanimous view that only the third point [the sayings and actions of Muhammad are a source of guidance forever] is the correct assessment of the Prophet's position in Islam. The Qur'an contains dozens of reminders of the important position of the Prophet. For instance the Qur'an says: And verily in the messenger of Allah ye have a good example for him who looketh unto Allah and the last day and remembereth Allah much. (Al-Ahzab: 31)(28)

Can a Muslim reject the sunnah which is found in the traditions? Not according to Dr. Alvi:

No one remains Muslim if he does not accept the Prophet's decisions and judgments: But no, by thy Lord, they can have no real faith until they make thee judge in all disputes between them and find in their souls no resistance against thy decisions but accept them with the fullest conviction. (An-Nisa: 65) ... I am reminded of another important verse of the Qur'an, which is actually a verdict against those who do not believe in Hadith as an authentic source of law: If any one contends with the Prophet even after guidance has been plainly conveyed to him, and follows a path other than that becoming to men of faith, We shall leave him in the path he has chosen and land him in Hell, what an evil refuge. (An-Nisa: 110)(29)

The conclusion to all this is quite simple. The traditions are not to be dismissed or ignored by Muslims (or Christians!!). While the traditions are only the second source of law and practice in Islam, it is ironic that the first source, the Qur'an, is understood and explained by the less authoritative! Imagine a Christian holding to a similar notion, such as the Bible, the first source of knowledge and practice, could only be understood and explained by the writings of the early church fathers. No Christian holds to such an idea.

By the admission of Western and Muslim scholars alike, the traditions are not to be neglected. They are to be read in order to fully understand and appreciate the Qur'an. There is an equation which every Muslim knows, or ought to know: No Prophet, no Qur'an. No Qur'an, no Islam.(30)

The result is the upside down pyramid with instability as its primary characteristic. Remove the lowest, most important layer (the traditions), and the sunnah of the prophet crumbles. Should the sunnah crumble, the Qur'an topples as a revealed book from Heaven.

Some Interesting Traditions

Having discussed the importance of the traditions for the proper understanding of the prophet's life, the Qur'an and the shari`a, let us look at some traditions. Remember, the traditions must be defended and accepted because "if the Hadith as a whole is cast away, the basis for the historicity of the Qur'an is removed with one stroke."

Think about the following traditions. Are they logical, reasonable and practical? Do they present the side of Islam which Westerners often are shown or is there another side which many never see?

Traditions in Which Inanimate Objects Speak

Jaber reported: Whenever the prophet delivered sermon (sic), he used to lean against the stem of a date tree out of the posts of the mosque when a pulpit was prepared for him . . . The date stem near which he was delivering sermon (sic) cried aloud till it was about to be split up ... Then it began to groan the groaning of a child which is silenced ... Bukhari (v. 4, pp. 422-3)(31)
Ali-b-Abu Taleb reported: I was with the prophet at Mecca and we came out by one of its sides. No mountain or tree met him but it was saying: Greeting on thee, O Apostle of Allah. Tirmidhi and Darimi (v. 4, p. 435)
Ma'n-b-Abdur Rahman reported: I heard from my father who said: I asked Masruq: Who gave information of jinn to the Prophet in the night wherein they heard the Qur'an? He said: Your father, that is Abdullah-b-Mas'ud, informed me that he had said: A tree informed their (sic) arrival. Bukhari and Muslim (v. 4, p. 442)

Traditions in Which Immovable Objects Move

Ibn Abbas reported that a Beduin Arab came to the Apostle of Allah and asked: How shall I know that you are a Prophet? He said: In case I call one of these date trees bearing witness that I am the Apostle of Allah. Then the Apostle of Allah called it and it began to come from the date-trees till it fell down near the Prophet. He said: Return. Then it returned. Whereupon the Arab accepted Islam. Tirmidhi correct (v. 4, p. 436)
Jaber reported: ... The Apostle of Allah went to finish his call of nature, but found nothing to screen him therewith when lo! there were two plants by the side of the valley. The Holy Prophet went to one of these two, took a branch out of its branches and said: Follow me (to cover me) with permission of the Almighty Allah. So it followed him like a docile camel . . . Till he came to the other branch ... So it followed him in like manner ... he said: Join to cover me with the permission of Allah. So they came together ... I saw the Apostle of Allah coming and lo! I saw the two plants became separate and each of the two stood over its root. Muslim (v. 4, p. 409)

Traditions in Which Women are Mentioned(32)

Abu Sayeed al-Khodri reported that the Apostle of Allah came out for I'd-ul-Azha or I'd-ul-Fitr towards the praying place and passed by some women. He said: O assembly of women, give alms, and verily I see majority of you as the inmates of hell. They asked: ... And what is the defect in our religion and intelligence, O Messenger of Allah? He said: Is not the attestation of a woman like half the attestation of a man? 'Yes' they said. He said: And that is on account of her short intelligence ... Bukhari and Muslim (b. 3, pp. 137-8)
Usamah ibn Zaid relates that the Holy Prophet said: I am not leaving a more harmful trial for men than women. Bukhari and Muslim(33)
Abu Bakrah reported: When it reached the prophet that the Persians had enthroned a daughter of the Chosroe as queen over them, he said: Never shall a people prosper who appoints a woman to conduct their affairs. (v. 2. p. 584)(34)

Traditions of Questionable Ethics

Asma'a-bn-Yezid reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Falsehood is not lawful except in three (things): falsehood of a man to his wife to please her, falsehood in war and falsehood in war, and falsehood in restoring peace among men. Ahmad and Tirmidhi (V.1, p. 467)
Allah's Apostle said, "Who is willing to kill Ka'b bin Al-Ashraf who has hurt Allah and His Apostle? Thereupon Muhammad bin Maslama got up saying, "O Allah's Apostle! Would you like that I kill him?" The Prophet said, "Yes." Muhammad bin Maslama said, "Then allow me to say a (false thing) (i.e. to deceive Ka'b)." The prophet said, "You may say it." ... So they killed him and went to the prophet and informed him, (Abu Rafi ) was killed after Ka'b bin Al-Ashraf.(35)

Traditions Which Make One Scratch One's Head

Ibn Mas'ud reported that the Messenger of Allah said: The devil takes the form of a man and then comes to a people and tells them falsehood. One of them says: I heard a man whose face I recognise but whose name I do not know telling such as such. (v. 1, p. 467)(36)
Abu Sayeed-Al-Khodri reported that the Messenger of Allah said: When one of you yawns, let him hold his hand upon his mouth because the devil enters. Muslim (v. 1, p. 591)
Zaid-b-Arqam reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Verily these privies are haunted. So when one of you comes to the privy, let him say: I seek refuge to Allah from male and female spirits. Abu Daud, Ibn Majah (v. 1, p. 684)
Jaber reported: the Messenger of Allah ordered us to kills dogs (of Medina). Even a woman who was coming from the desert with her dog was about to kill it when the prophet prohibited her from killing it and said: It is incumbent upon you to kill the black dog having two spots (in eyes), because it is the devil. Muslim (v. 2, p. 181)
Jaber reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Verily a woman comes near in the form of a devil, and goes behind in the form of a devil ... Muslim (v. 2, p. 669-70)
Ayesha reported: The Messenger of Allah told me: Are the Mugarrebun seen among you? I asked: What are the Mugarrebuns? He said: Those with whom Jinn participate (in sexual intercourse). Abu Daud (v. 2, p. 670)(37)


These types of hadith are bountiful. A careful scrutiny ought to show the clear-thinking reader that something is very strange about these traditions: moving date trees, crying date trees, women are half as smart as men and not suited for politics, the devil entering one's mouth during a yawn and jinns involved in sexual intercourse with humans. Perhaps there is a valid reason some Muslims do not wish to be held accountable by the traditions. Perhaps the reasons are self evident?

A Muslim response


1. The traditions (hadith; plural is ahadith) are the collected stories and sayings of Muhammad. They have been gathered by six men who did their best to weed out the forgeries, presenting the genuine words and works of the Messenger of Allah. The six collections are Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Daud, Tirmidhi, Al-Nisai, and Ibn Majah. Bukhari is considered the pinnacle of the group, that is, the most reliable and critical.

2. This perspective is briefly delineated by Seyyd Hossein Nasr (Islamic Spirituality, S. H. Nasr, editor; Crossroad, NY: 1991, p. 9):

"As viewed by Muslims, what is called higher criticism in the West does not at all apply to the text of the Quran. Elaborate sciences concerning conditions in which the verses were revealed (sha'n al-nuz l), how the Quran was compiled, how the verses were enumerated, as well as the science and art of recitation of the Quran, have been developed by Muslim scholars over the centuries."

In a paper uploaded onto several Muslim web and conference sites, I gave a tongue-in-cheek examination of the Qur'an in light of the principles of higher criticism. The response was underwhelming. Most who read it did not catch the irony of the work. They did not realize that the presuppositions, perspectives, and methods of literary criticism, while 'validly' used on the Bible, produce the same conclusions about the Qur'an. Nasr's observation about the Islamic view of the Qur'an seems to be correct: Higher criticism does not apply to the Qur'an. Trying to do this is as tricky as nailing jello to a tree.

3. I will follow this basic format throughout: General knowledge sources to general religious sources, to Islamic encyclopedias to conservative, orthodox Muslim sources.

4. "Islam", Encyclopedia Americana, Grolier Inc,; Danby, CT: 1998; vol. 15, p. 495.

5. R. M. Frank, "Islamic Law", Encyclopedic Dictionary of Religion, edited by Meaher, O'Brien and Ahern; Corpus Publications, Washington, D. C.: 1979, p. 1845.

6. H. A. R. Gibb and J. H. Kramers, The Shorter Encyclopedia of Islam; Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY: n.d., p. 553.

7. Alfred Guillaume, Islam; Pelican books, Baltimore, MD: 1962, p. 88. While most Muslims do not accept the conclusions of Western scholars (as Christians do not accept the conclusions of liberal Western scholarship), it is important to read what is written about the traditions. The statements of these Western scholars, far from being negative, state positively the incredible importance of the traditions within Islam.

8. Kenneth Cragg, The Call of the Minaret; Oxford University Press, New York: 1956, p. 97.

9. Maulauna Muhamad Ali, The Religion of Islam; The Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha'at Islam, Lahore, Pakistan: 1950, p. 58. While Ali is of the Ahmadiyya sect of Islam, a group which the orthodox have put outside the scope of true Islam, he does, however, accurately state the orthodox perspective of the Qur'an.

10. Maulauna Muhamad Ali, The Religion of Islam; The Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha'at Islam, Lahore, Pakistan: 1950, p. 58. While Ali is of the Ahmadiyya sect of Islam, a group which the orthodox have put outside the scope of true Islam, he does, however, accurately state the orthodox perspective of the Qur'an.

11. See The Encyclopedia Americana, v. 15, pp. 495-6: " ... the pre-Islamic Arabs had a strong respect for the tradition of the past. They looked upon the way of their forefathers as right and proper and tried to preserved that way of life in their own ... The effect of Islam ... was not to destroy the principle of traditional authority but rather to substitute the tradition of the Prophet and his community for that of the heroes of the Arab past ... the closest equivalent to 'orthodoxy' in Arabic is the phrase 'ahl-l-sunna wa-l-jamaah,' meaning 'people who adhere to the customary way of doing things and to the community.' "

12. The sunnah: 'trodden path', is not completely synonymous with 'tradition.' While the sunnah does include the hadith, not all are sunnah (that is, some traditions are actually spurious - surprise!). Specifically, the sunnah is the path, the lifestyle, the orthopraxy if you will, set out by the prophet for the 'ummah (community). The action of the prophet, both enjoined and prohibited, is the sunnah or path for Muslims to follow. The ahadith particularly refer to the statements of the prophet.

13. "Islam", The New Encyclopædia Britannica (Macropædia), 15th edition; Chicago, IL: 1998, p.10.

14. Encyclopedia Americana, v. 15, pp. 495-6.

15. Seyyed Hossein Nasr, op. cit., p. 64.

16. This and all citations from Dr. Siddiqi are from this web site: www.pakistanlink.com/religion/98/re-05-30.html.

17. Fazlur Rahman, Islam; Anchor Books, New York: 1968, p. 73.

18. The New Encyclopædia Britannica, v. 22, p. 12.

19. Ibid., p. 12.

20. The Encyclopedia of Religion, Mircea Eliade, editor-in-chief; Macmillian Pub. Co., New York: 1987, p. 310.

21. I have neither poll nor statistics to confirm this statement. While my evidence is anecdotal, it is also the observation of others who are involved with Muslims on a regular basis.

22. Encyclopedic Dictionary of Religion, p. 1845.

23. The Encyclopedia of Religion, v. 6, p. 144.

24. The Concise Encyclopedia of Islam; Harper & Row, Inc., San Francisco: 1989, p. 141.

25. Nasr, op. cit., p. 1.

26. Rahman, op. cit., p. 73.

27. See note 16.

28. This and the following quote from Dr. Alvi's tract, Indispensability of Hadith: The Place of Hadith in Islam; American Trust Publications: 1977, can be found at www.islaam.com/articles/indispensability_of_hadith.htm.

29. Alvi, Ibid.

30. Akbar S. Ahmed, Postmodernism and Islam: Predicament and Promise; Routledge, New York: 1992, p. 169. I have culled this statement from Ahmed in the midst of his discussion of Salman Rushdie and the West. The point is, as Ahmed goes on to say later, the West does not fully realize the centrality of the beloved prophet. He is the insan-i-kamil, the perfect man. Ahmed also points out that some Muslim writers have connected Rushdie's book with the crusades! There is a lesson to be learned here: The focus of Islam is the prophet. 'Touch' the prophet and one takes the risk of inciting the wrath of the entire Muslim community. Let us not be guilty of a "Rushdie" to judgment!

31. This and most of the following hadith come from the Sunni anthology, Mishkat-ul-Masabih, translated by Al-Haj Maulana Fazlul Karim; Law Publishing Company, Lahore, Pakistan: n.d. The names at the end of each hadith are those in whose collections they are found. The volume and page number are in parentheses.

32. It is worth mentioning that the Muslims of North America have made a concerted effort to prove to the 'Christian West' that the position of women in Islam is an elevated one, of worth and value. We are told that women have rights of inheritance and equality under the law. These things are true and are not contested. The problem is what we are NOT told. The traditions speak many times about the position and status of women. Why are Muslims not quoting these authoritative traditions alongside of the more positive statements? For instance, in the index of The Gardens of the Righteous (another collection of hadith), the headings under 'Women' are as follows: Greeting, Husband's right concerning wife, Kindness towards, Period of mourning to be observed by a widow, and Prohibitions concerning. Why were such headings as Lack of Intelligence, Husbands can lie to, and Inhabitants of Hell not provided? What is there to hide?

33. Gardens of the Righteous, translated by Muhammad Zafrulla Khan; Curzon Press, Ltd., London: 1975, p. 69.

34. In a footnote, the translator adds this bit of masculine wisdom: "It is evident that women have got less administrative aptitude than men as soft elements in them are by nature preponderating. They are not at all fit for public offices."

35. Shahih Bukhari, volume 5, hadith 369. This is a very interesting hadith on several fronts. First, it shows that lying is allowed in order to deceive an enemy of God and the prophet, hence Islam. This quite different from the ethic of Jesus. Secondly, that the prophet would allow deception for this purpose contradicts another hadith (see the first hadith listed under Traditions of Questionable Ethics). The lie told to Ka'b does not fit these categories.

36. Translator's note: "This applies to cases of false traditions without any authority. It is deduced from this that nothing should be taken as true which has got no authority or reliable source." Muslim scholars have an exacting science for determining the genuineness or falsity of the traditions. We must take note, however, that in spite of this advanced science, there can be little doubt that some disingenuous traditions have slipped in. " 'Abd Allah b. Lahi`a (d. 174) tells of a converted heretic [either Rajul min ahl al-bida or Shaykh min al-khawarij] who pointed out to him that he must be careful when taking over hadiths because 'when we advanced one of our opinions, we used to give it the form of a hadith' " (Ignaz Goldziher, Muslim Studies, volume 2, translated by C. R. Barker and S. M. Stern; Aldine, Atherton: 1971, p. 126).

37. Translator's note: "This hadis indicates that before the actual coition, Allahs's (sic) name must be taken. If not devils participate in the act of coition." No further comment is necessary!