The History of Hadīth Rejection: The Roots of Modernist Deviance

First Instance

Amongst the initial fitan that arose in the Muslim Ummah was the fitnah of the Khawārij. This fitnah caused major problems from its onset. The Khawārij had openly stated their dissociation from the senior and high-ranking Sahābah radiyallāhu ‘anhum. They had classified Sayyidunā ‘Uthmān radiyallāhu ‘anhu, Sayyidunā ‘Alī radiyallāhu ‘anhu, and the Sahābah radiyallāhu ‘anhum who accepted the arbitration as disbelievers. As a result of this ex-communication of the Sahābah radiyallāhu ‘anhum, the Khawārij had rejected all the reports and Ahādīth that these Sahābah radiyallāhu ‘anhum had reported and transmitted from Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam. In addition, the Khawārij had rejected these reports from being Sahīh. This is because the first and most important condition for a narrator is that he or she should be a Muslim, something which the Khawārij reject. In this way, the terrible fitnah of Hadīth and Sunnah rejection began.

Second Instance

On the other extreme, the fitnah of Shiasm raised its head. In reality, Shiasm is simply a political stunt. The adherents of this false path utilize the ‘love for the family of Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam’ slogan whilst they desire authority and rule. The Sabā’īs, i.e., followers of ‘Abdullāh Ibn Saba, had then come out as a fully fledged sect. They had excommunicated all the Sahābah radiyallāhu ‘anhum, besides Sayyidunā ‘Alī radiyallāhu ‘anhu and a few others. The natural result of this fitnah was that its adherents supported the few they wanted to and refused to accept the reports and Ahādīth narrated by the rest of the Sahābah radiyallāhu ‘anhum.

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Third Instance

After this, the era of I’tizāl dawned. I’tizāl can be briefly described as extreme rationalism, or, authority being given to unbounded rationalism. Subsequently, this worship of rationalism led the Mu’tazilah to interpret all the Ahādīth according to their so-called rationalist ideology. When this could not be achieved, they denied the authenticity of the Hadīth altogether. During the time of the ‘Abbāsid King, Al-Ma’mūn, when the books of the Greek philosophers were translated into Arabic, the Mu’tazilite religion took root and spread far and wide.

Fourth Instance

The Khawārij and Mu’tazilah resorted to extremism regarding īmān and its essential parts, then the Murji’ah came out in opposition to them. The belief of irjā’ came out in the open and they openly stated, ‘Whilst a person has īmān, sin cannot harm him in any way, just as the person who is in disbelief, i.e., kufr, cannot be benefitted by any good deed.’

As a result of this belief, the Murji’ah refused to accept all the Sahīh reports and Ahādīth narrated from Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam that deal with major sins and warning of the punishment of Jahannam.

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Fifth Instance

Around the same time, the famous deviant, Jahm Ibn Safwān, came out in the open. His followers were referred to as the Jahamiyyah. They denied the Ahādīth dealing with the qualities of Allāh Ta’ālā. The belief of the ‘creativeness of the Noble Qur’ān’ was spread with great force and fury too.

In short, the Khawārij, Shia, Murji’ah, and Jahamiyyah were the large deviated groups that came about during the early centuries of Islāmic history. These were the groups and sects that destroyed the unity of the Ummah. They denied all the Sahīh Ahādīth that contradicted their belief system. Due to this, the concept of denial of Hadīth came about as an independent fitnah.

This is a brief look at the denial of the Sunnah and the Ahādīth. The deviated groups discussed above had also opened the door of interpolation in the meanings of the Ahādīth or fabricated far-fetched explanations as done by modernists, feminists, and super deviants of today. The reason for this is that the Khawārij, Shia, Jahamiyyah, and Murji’ah did not deny the entire Hadīth corpus. They could not deny the reports and Ahādīth that they tried to use to prove and establish their deviance. They denied the reports and Ahādīth that contradicted their beliefs and ways. In so doing, they laid out the path for the heretics and zindīqs to deny the entire Hadīth corpus in order to free themselves completely from the belief system of Islām and shar’ī law. The door to irreligiousness and heresy was thus opened by these sects.

May Allāh Ta’ālā accept us to protect the entire structure of Islām from every form of heresy and deviance. Āmīn


‘Awārif-ul-Minan: Muqaddimah Ma’ārif As-Sunan [Muntakhab Mabāhith ‘Ilm-e-Hadīth], Maktabah Bayyināt, Karachi, 2016

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When describing early sects , it would have been prudent to mention ifraat wa tafreet.
It has been said that when one group took matters to an extreme the other group took the matter to it’s polar opposite.

Rawafidh – Nawasib
Mu’tazila – mushabbiha
Qadariyya – jabariyyah

It would be immensely important to derive the significance and meaning of sirat Al mustaqeem to understand the diverging opinions about extreme opposites.

Last edited 4 months ago by A R
Rehan Ahmad

This article misrepresents these deviant groups and their deviances. I have no sympathy with these groups but it is zulm and dishonesty to allow all kind of false arguments to be made on the basis of these deviant groups. It would be an intellectual fraud to allow such arguments to be approved and published on this forum.

The terminology of hadith was literally non existent in the times of khawarij. There was no ahadith to be rejected or be declared non Sahih as the article suggests. The term Sahih was yet to be born around 300 years later. But the article shamelessly claims that khawarij rejected ahadith narrated by Ali and Uthman RAA! Which hadith did they reject exactly?

I do understand that the purpose of the article is to highlight the evil of hadith rejection and perhaps the author is using some literary leeway in this regards… but this is a complete fabrication and unjustified exaggeration that has no intellectual basis at all.

Furthermore the commonality among these groups is not that they rejected hadith (only some of them did so as a minor claim) but perhaps a more powerful commonality could be claimed in them rejecting “agreement of the scholars” (ijmaa). I think this might have presented a stronger case that would be more in line with truth, reason and history.

Rejecting hadith in itself is not a root evil that the author seems to imply. Rejecting hadith is a scholarly exercise that has been practiced by the most noblest of our scholars like Imam Bukhari, Imam Muslim, Imam Malik etc and more recently Sheikh Albani. All these scholars made intellectual criteria to sift right from the wrong, good from the bad, strong from the weak reports, and as a result of these criteria they ended up rejecting a large proportion of the hadith reports in circulation at the time. For example Imam Bukhari accepted only 6000 odd ahadith from around 300K and Sh Albani has declared some of the ahadith from Sahih Bukhari to be non-sahih. Would you consider their “rejection” of hadith as EVIL as well?

Much more nuance is needed when writing about these matters.

Last edited 4 months ago by Rehan Ahmad
Rehan Ahmad

Jazakallah khair for your reply. On your prompting I have consulted the source. To be honest within its full context the argument does not seem as bad as presenting it as an extract divorced from its context. However some of the claims are still technically quite weak/loose even in the book. Especially the claim of khawarij rejecting “hadith” remains unjustified. As we say in urdu: بہت دور کی کوڑی لانا۔۔۔۔. But such weak points are compensated by the other strong points in the book so these do not cause alarm there. But when you present such long shot side notes as the main content of an article its weaknesses becomes quite glaring.

In the world of ilm the strength of argument has more weight than personalities or the status of the author.


Assalam o Aliekum.
Can anyone recommend some books on these specific topics?