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The Hadith Vs. The Gospels

 

[Part I] [Part II]

 

Written by Abdullah Smith

 

 

The oral tradition plays a significant role in preserving the words, the Gospels and Hadith are products of the oral tradition. The Christian missionaries allege that the Hadith did not exist until 200 years after the Prophet Muhammad, yet the evidence proves the contrary.

Allah (SWT) preserved the Sunnah by enabling the companions and those after them to memorize, write down and pass on the statements of the Prophet (PBUH), and the descriptions of his way, as well as to continue the blessings of practicing the Sunnah.

Later, as the purity of the knowledge of the Sunnah became threatened, Allah (SWT) caused the Muslim Ummah to produce individuals with exceptional memory skills and analytical expertise, who travelled tirelessly to collect thousands of narrations and distinguish the true words of prophetic wisdom from those corrupted by weak memories, from forgeries by unscrupulous liars, and from the statements of the large number of Ulama (scholars), the companions and those who followed their way. All of this was achieved through precise attention to the words narrated, and detailed familiarity with the biographies of the thousands of reporters of hadith. [1]

 

Examples Of First Century Hadith Collections

The Sahifa Of Hammam bin Munabbih: This is perhaps one of the earliest known hadith collections. Hammam bin Munabbih was a student of Abu Hurrairah and well-known among the scholars of the hadith to be trustworthy. According to the book Arabic Literature To The End of Ummayyad Periodt:

An example is the Sahifah of Hammam bin Munabbih, (d. 110/719), a Yemenite follower and a disciple of companion Abu Hurrayrah, (d. 58/677), from whom Hammam wrote this Sahifah, which comprises 138 hadith and is believed to have been written around the mid-first AH/seventh century.[1]

The author went on to say:

It is significant that Hammam introduces his text with the words: "Abu Hurrayrah told us in the course of what he related from the Prophet", thus giving the source of his information in the manner which became known as "sanad" or "isnad", i.e., the teacher of chain of teachers through whom an author reaches the Prophet, a practice invariably and systematically followed in Hadith compilations.[2]

We can see that of the 138 narrations in the Sahifa, 98 of them are faithfully witnessed in the later collections of al-Bukhari and Muslim, both through narrations of Abu Hurrairah and witnessing narrations from other Companions.

We also see that all but two of the narrations are found in one section of the Musnad of Imam Ahmad, again witnessing the preservation of hadith and that earlier works were faithfully rendered in later documents.[3]

Using the first century Sahifa of Hammam bin Munabbih as a "control group" Marston Speight compared it (i.e., the Sahifa) with about the 1500 variant readings of the same ahadith found in the collections of Ibn Hanbal (Musnad), al-Bukhari (Sahih) and Muslim (Sahih); the last three collections date from 3rd/9th century. Speight says:

... the texts in Hammam and those recorded in Ibn Hanbal, Bukhari and Muslim with the same isnad show almost complete identity, except for a few omissions and interpolations which do not affect the sense of the reports. On the other hand, the same ahadith as told by other transmitters in the three collections studied show a rich variety of wording, again without changing the meaning of the reports.[4]

Further he comments about the reports of Hammam found in the later compilations of Ibn Hanbal, al-Bukhari and Muslim by saying that:

... I have found practically no sign of careless or deceptive practices in the variant texts common to the Sahifa of Hammam bin Munabbih.[5]

In other words, it shows the meticuluous nature of hadith transmission as well as high moral and upright characters of the transmitters as well as collectors of the hadith; a fact that Islamic traditions had always asserted and now the western scholarship endorses it.

The Musannaf of `Abd al-Razzaq al-San`ani:[6] An article by Harald Motzki appeared in the Journal of Near Eastern Studies that mentioned about the the Musannaf of `Abd al-Razzaq al-San`ani as a source of authentic ahadith of the first century AH. Since the article is quite huge (21 pages), we will deal with only the conclusions of the author.

While studying the Musannaf of `Abd al-Razzaq, I came to the conclusion that the theory championed by Goldziher, Schacht, and in their footsteps, many others - myself included - which in general, reject hadith literature as a historically reliable sources for the first century AH, deprives the historical study of early Islam of an important and a useful type of source.[7]

Some important hadith collections from second century of hijra are the following:[8]

The Muwatta' of Malik bin Anas: Malik bin Anas (d. 179/795) was the founder of Maliki school of jurisprudence. The Muwatta' of Malik was compiled in mid-second century AH. It is not a corpus of hadith in a true sense but a collection of practices of people of Madinah.

Musannaf of Ibn Jurayj (d. 150 AH)

Musannaf of Ma`mar bin Rashid (d. 153 AH) (Source: http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Hadith/hadith.html)

In contrast, the Gospels are productions of the late 2nd century!  We have scholarly evidence to support our claims:

 

“In reality, the four gospels selected for inclusion in the New Testament do not make any appearance in the literary and archaeological record until the last quarter of the 2nd century, between 170 and 180 C.E., and even then they are not much mentioned for a couple of decades. In this regard, Church Fathers and archbishop of Constantinople John Chrysostom (c. 347-407) stated that the names traditionally attached to the canonical gospels were first designated at the end of the second century” (Acharya S. The Suns of God)

 

"The Four Gospels were unknown to the early Christian Fathers. Justin Martyr, the most eminent of the early Fathers, wrote about the middle of the second century. His writings in proof of the divinity of Christ demanded the use of these Gospels had they existed in his time. He makes more than 300 quotations from the books of the Old Testament, and nearly one hundred from the Apocryphal books of the New Testament; but none from the four Gospels. (Tim C. Leedom, The Book Your Church Doesn’t Want You to Read)

 

Some Hadith are divinely inspired by God, yet none of the Gospels are inspired by God. The Divine Hadith is known as Hadith Qudsi, the sayings of Prophet Muhammad dictated by Gabriel. These Hadith are not mixed with the Holy Quran, they are completely separate. 

 

Hadith Qudsi (or Sacred Hadith) are a sub-category of hadith, which are sayings of Muhammad. Muslims regard the Hadith Qudsi as the words of Allah, repeated by Muhammad and recorded on the condition of an isnad (chain of verification by witness(es) who heard Muhammad say the hadith). At first, there seems to be no reason for distinguishing Qur'anic verses from the verses in the Hadith Qudsi, as both are regarded as directly inspired from God. However, according to as-Sayyid ash-Sharif al-Jurjani, the Hadith Qudsi differ from the Qur'an in that the former were revealed in a dream or through revelation and are "expressed in Muhammad's words", whereas the latter are the "direct words of God". [2]

 

"A Hadith Qudsi (plural Ahadith Qudsiyyah) is a statement where Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) reports a statement and he refers it directly to Allah. The regular Hadith or what is generally known as a Hadith Nabawi is a Hadith where one of the Companions reports the Prophet's statements, his deeds, or things that happened in his presence and he approved of them. There are more than one hundred Ahadith Qudsiyah. They are very beautiful and deal mostly with spiritual and ethical subjects. [3]

 

In contrast, the Gospels are not inspired by God; they don’t have chain of transmission. Luke admits that he used written material to forge his Gospel (Luke 1:3) John admits that he wrote his Gospel ‘for the faith’ (John 20:31).

 

The Gospels were composed after the early Christians had become divided into different factions. They were in fact composed to propagate the special teachings of the various schools and their authors showed no hesitation in tampering with the earlier documents and other traditional material regarding the life and teaching of Jesus to bring them in line with the views of their schools. (Ulfat Aziz-us-Samad, Islam and Christianity, p. 5)

 

“Thus Gospels were produced which clearly reflected the conception of the practical needs of the community for which they were written. In them the traditional material was used, but these was no hesitation in altering it or making additions to it, or in leaving out what did not suit the writer’s purpose. (T.G. Tuncker: The History of the Christians in the Light of Modern Knowledge, p. 320)

 

“…The Gospels, however, were religious dramas used for worship and as a form of evangelism. They were meant not to impart history but to buttress and convey belief. The editor of John’s Gospel (the least historical of them all) boldly and honestly states his aims in the text itself when he says, “But these things are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah”. The goal is to establish the faithful and to create new converts, not to create an authentic biography. (Tom Harper, The Pagan Christ, p. 126)

 

 

As a Christian literary genre, a gospel is a brief, popular writing in the language of the common people that probably arose outside Palestine in Gentile regions. Its purpose was as propaganda for the early Christian movement. Gospels contain reminiscences of Jesus and his ministry; but their use was to be evangelistic, and their interest was religious, not strictly historical or biographical in the modern sense of those terms. The aim of gospels, as John 20:31 asserts, is to evoke and strengthen faith in Jesus the Christ: “these are written as that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name”. Certainly the center of a gospel is Jesus of Nazareth, but its primary concern is not facts about him but faith in him. (ibid, p. 127)

 

The gospels were written by people more interested in a living Lord present in their midst than in Jesus the historical man from Nazareth. Many scholars now hold that much of what is placed on the lips of Jesus in the Gospels was put there by Gospel writers (just as the writers of Hellenistic history placed speeches on the lips of famous persons). It is really the understanding that Gospels are faith documents that has led to what is called the “quest for the historical Jesus”. (Bonnie Thurston, Women in the New Testament, p. 63) 

 

The New Testament contains unreliable surmises…Let me cite one fairly typical and significant example, from the opening page of the first chapter of Norman Perrin’s important and influential book, Rediscovering the Teaching of Jesus. Perrin gives his reasons why teaching ascribed to Jesus is likely to be rather a teaching that stems from the early Church, not from Jesus himself. I quote the first three reasons, “The early Church made no attempt to distinguish between the words the earthly Jesus had spoken and those spoken by the risen Lord through a prophet in the community…” “The early Church absolutely and completely identified the risen Lord of her experience with the earthly Jesus of Nazareth…” “Further, the gospel form was created to serve the purposes of the early Church, but historical reminiscence was not one of those purposes”. (John C. Meagher, The Five Gospels, 1989, p. 9)

 

The Gospels contradict each other, so they are not inspired by God.

The truth of these matters must lie in that which is seen by the mind. If the discrepancy between the Gospels is not solved, we must give up our trust in the Gospels, as being true and written by a divine spirit, or as records worthy of credence, for both these characters are held to belong to these works. (Origen, Commentary on John, [online Source])

The evidence is clear for anyone to see; the Gospels contain historical errors and contradictory statements. Jesus is forced to misquote the Old Testament, and tell false prophecies. The NT is filled with events that never happened; they are episodes of mythology that get played over and over in the lives of sun-gods like Bacchus and Mithra.

 

The rising saints of Matthew, the earthquake, resurrection, and the “crucifixion” itself are mythological events; they were NOT recorded by historians who lived during that period of time. Philo Judaes lived around 50 CE and never mentions the Gospel events. Matthew is the only Gospel that records “Herod’s slaughter of the innocents”.  This is just another recapture of pagan mythology.

Let us further expose the Gospels:

 

From the Fathers of the Church until the end of the Eighteenth century A.D., one and a half millennia passed without any new problems being raised on the sources of the evangelists: people continued to follow tradition. It was not until modern times that it was realized, on the basis of these data, how each evangelist had taken material found in the others and compiled his own specific narration guided by his own personal views. Great weight was attached to actual collections of material for the narration. (Maurice Bucaille, The Bible The Quran and Science, p. 86)

 

How can a literary plagiarist be inspired by God?

 

“…Some of these apocryphal writings contain imaginary details, the product of popular fantasy. Authors of works on the apocrypha also quote with obvious satisfaction passages which are literally ridiculous. Passages such as these are however to be found in all the Gospels. One has only to think of the imaginary description of events that Matthew claims took place at Jesus’ death. It is possible to find passages lacking seriousness in all the early writings of Christianity: one must be honest enough to admit this. (ibid, p. 90)

 

The scholar Randel Helms exposes the Gospels:

 

Matthew was a careful student both of the Old Testament and of Mark, which in his time was not yet accepted as canonical Scripture and thus could be changed at need. His study revealed how frequently Mark’s Gospel was transparent upon Scripture (or based upon it), and in ways that Mark himself apparently did not recognize. Mark had composed his Gospel on the basis of earlier oral and written sources, which in turn had found much of their information about Jesus in the Old Testament. Though Mark seems not to have realized that this was so, Matthew readily recognized the relationship between Mark and the Old Testament, and even took it upon himself to correct them. (Randal Helms, Gospel Fictions, p. 134)

 

John is the most unreliable Gospel; it does not contain any historical events.

 

“…Its Christology is not that of the earliest disciples during Jesus’ earthly ministry but rather that of the post-Resurrection Church. In other words, it is a reading back into the life of Jesus of beliefs formed after the first Easter. Some experts believe that much of the actual discourse material – the long passages where Jesus is made to sound more like a Greek philosopher than a Jew in Palestine (see, for example, Chapters 15 and 16)—had their origin in prophecies or ecstatic utterances by charismatic leaders in the early Church. Thus the open claims to unique Sonship are to be seen not as utterances of the historical Jesus, but as statements of later dogma placed on his lips. This would explain why, for instance, the absolutist claim (which has led to Christianity’s “theology of hostility”)—“I am the way, the truth, and life. Nobody comes to the father but by me” (14:6)—is not recorded by Matthew, Mark, or Luke. It is something the historical Jesus never uttered. (Tom Harper, For Christ’s Sake, p. 70)

 

In the Fourth Gospel, that of John, Jesus has become unrecognizable. He uses no parables, nor any idiosyncratic rabbinical expressions; instead he spouts grandiose Hellenistic mysticism and proclaims himself a divine personage. Here the authentic Jesus has been lost in the post-Jesus myth. It is not here that we find the genuine Jesus, rooted in the Jewish religion of his time, and pursuing aims that were intelligible to his fellow Jews. (Hyam Maccoby, The Myth-Maker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity, p. 44)

 

The Gospels were composed by multiple hands:

 

“Bible students today do not know whether the four Gospels are the work of just four men or of many, but the evidence is all on the side of the many. We find in them the same abrupt endings and interpolated excerpts as we did in the Old Testament. In some chapters there are as many as ten or twelve of these, some reasonably sequential and others not; that is, the subject may be the same but the literary sequence is not such as we would expect in a holograph. (Lloyd Graham, Deceptions and Myths of the Bible, p. 384)

 

The Gospels are false and fabricated books:

 

"In the four Gospels, therefore, the main documents to which we must go if we are to fill-out at all that bare sketch which we can put together from other sources, we find material of widely differing quality as regards credibility. So far-reaching is the element of uncertainty that it is tempting to 'down tools' at once, and to declare the task hopeless. The historical inconsistencies and improbabilities in parts of the Gospels form some of the arguments advanced in favor of the Christ-myth theory. These are, however, entirely outweighed- as we have shown- by other considerations. Still the discrepancies and uncertainties that remain are serious- and consequently many moderns who have no doubt whatever of Jesus' real existence, regard as hopeless any attempt to dissolve out of the historically-true from the legendary or mythical matter which the Gospels contain, and to reconstruct the story of Jesus' mission out of the more historical residue." Mr. C.J. Cadoux "The life of Jesus"

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

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Articles by Abdullah Smith.


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