There are some “Muslims” in our times who follow a recent new movement (19th-20th century) which rejects hadiths, hence, deviating from the path of mainstream Islam. They pose and comment on many issues related to Islam from their viewpoint and reject many fundamental aspects of our religion. Worst of all, they try to present their views as the mainstream opinion. It should be made clear that they do not represent mainstream Islam or Muslims in any way or form. The ummah (nation) of Muhammad (pbuh) accepts the Qur’an and hadiths as legitimate forms of sources for deriving Islamic laws. We, the mainstream Muslims, acknowledge that both, the Qur’an and hadiths, are a guidance from Allah.
During the colonial period, when most of the Muslim world came under the subjugation of the West, some “scholars” arose in places like Egypt (Taha Hussein), India (Abdullah Chakralawi and Ghulam Ahmed Pervaiz), and Turkey (Zia Gogelup), who began questioning the authenticity and relevance of hadith. It was not that some genius had found flaws in the hadith study that had eluded the entire ummah for thirteen centuries. It was simply that the pressures from the dominant Western civilization to conform were too strong for them to withstand. They buckled. Prophetic teachings and life example — Hadith — was the obstacle in this process and so it became the target. (Source)
About their movement:
It is a movement that holds the Qur’an to be the most authentic criterion in Islam. Quranists (a common name for them) generally reject the religious authority of Hadith (cataloged narratives of what the Prophet Muhammad is reported to have said and done), as they consider it inconsistent with the Qur’an. This in contrast to the Sunni, Shia and Ibadi doctrines which consider hadiths essential for the Islamic faith. (Source)
However, we the mainstream Muslims (whose ideology has existed since the time of the Prophet) believe that hadiths are necessary and are a legitimate form of extraction for divine guidance. We believe that Qur’an and hadiths go hand in hand and one explains the other. The Qur’an is general and the sunnah is specific and detailed. Hadiths are the interpretation of the Qur’an by the Prophet (pbuh). The Quranists’ rejection of hadiths have led them to turn the Qur’an into a toy which they interpret based on their own intellect and desires. The hadiths, the mainstream Muslims say, preserve the meaning of the Qur’an. This is why Allah tells us in the Qur’an [meaning of which is]:
And We revealed to you [O Muhammad] the message [Qur’an] that you may make clear to the people what was sent down to them and that they might give thought. [Qur’an 16:44]
His HADITHS are that clarification!
There are also verses in the Qur’an where Allah specifically commands the Muslims to obey the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), for example:
And We did not send any messenger except to be obeyed by permission of Allah. [Qur’an 4:64]
But no, by your Lord, they will not [truly] believe until they make you, [O Muhammad], judge concerning that over which they dispute among themselves and then find within themselves no discomfort from what you have judged and submit in [full, willing] submission. [Qur’an 4:65]
He who obeys the Messenger has obeyed Allah ; but those who turn away – We have not sent you over them as a guardian. [Qur’an 4:80]
This is how the companions of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) understood the religion as well. They understood that not everything is in the Qur’an. For example, it is narrated from Abdullah bin Khalid that he said to Abdullah bin Umar, the son of the second caliph of Islam:
“We find (mention of) the prayer of the resident and the prayer in a state of fear in the Qur’an, but we do not find any mention of the prayer of the traveler. Abdullah said to him: ‘Allah sent Muhammad (pbuh) to us, and we did not know anything, rather we do what we saw Muhammad (pbuh) doing.” (Reported by Ibn Majah, Ibn Qayyim said it is authentic)
The prophet (pbuh) warned us against them in a hadith:
“Soon there will come a time that a man will be reclining on his pillow, and when one of my hadiths is narrated he will say: ‘The Book of Allah is (sufficient) between us and you. Whatever it states is permissible, we will take as permissible, and whatever it states is forbidden, we will take as forbidden.’ Verily, whatever the Messenger of Allah has forbidden is like that which Allah has forbidden.” (Reported by Ahmad, Abu Daawood, Ibn Maajah and at-Tirmidhee, who declared it hasan. Al-Albaanee declared it saheeh in Saheehul-Jaami’ (no.8186))
These hadith rejectors will criticize the sunnis for relying on hadiths while it was these same sunnis who preserved the Qur’an generation after generation! For some reason, they have trouble understanding the fact that if they do not trust our preservation methods when it comes to hadiths, then why do they trust our preservation method when it comes to the Qur’an?! An ignorant among them once responded to me with: “because the Qur’an was compiled during the time of the Prophet (pbuh).” This is completely false! It was compiled after the time of the Prophet by the same people who today call themselves Ahlu Sunnah wal Jama’ah (a.k.a SUNNI)! The ironic thing is if one were to ask them about the history of the Qur’an, they would have to go to hadiths else there is no other way. The Qur’an itself does not give its history. Hence, they will go to hadiths when it suits their agenda and ideology.
There are numerous verses which cannot be understood without hadiths, for example:
Why [is it that] when a disaster struck you, although you had struck with one twice as great, you said, “From where is this?” Say, “It is from yourselves.” Indeed, Allah is over all things competent. [Qur’an 3:165]
When did this verse come down? What disaster is this verse talking about? What was struck twice as great?
And what struck you on the day the two armies met was by permission of Allah that He might make evident the [true] believers. [Qur’an 3:166]
What two armies? And on what day? Where is this information in the Qur’an?
And there are so many other examples.
Refutations against them:
Alhamdulillah, they have been refuted profoundly throughout the Muslim world. Following is a list of some refutations against them:
The Canonization Of Al Bukhārī And Muslim By Jonathan Brown
Hadiths: False Tales or Authentic Narrations? – A small article proving that hadiths were in fact written down in the first three generations, a fact that hadith rejectors and orientalists deny.
Book: Studies in Early Hadith Literature – This is an excellent work that refutes many of their claims. It was such a slap in the face of the hadith deniers that it was actually translated into Arabic. This is really rare in Islamic scholarship because usually Arabic works are translated into English.
Problems With Hadith Rejection – Nouman Ali Khan
The Quran Defends the Sunnah – Nouman Ali Khan
Why do we need Hadith if the Quran is enough? – Nouman Ali Khan
Hadith: Between Muslim Conviction & Western Criticism – Dr. Jonathan Brown
And there is so much more stuff out there!