Khalid Zaheer
“I am convinced about the veracity of my opinions, but I do consider it likely that they may turn out to be incorrect. Likewise, I am convinced about the incorrectness of the views different from mine, but I do concede the possibility that they may turn out to be correct.” — Imam Shafa’i
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Status of Hadith (4)

Question:
A psychological satisfaction is exactly what it is. If I, as a lay man, were to try and find an answer to a question regarding Islam and its teachings, I would rather take the word that is claimed to be the prophet's, than any other's. I understand that such reports do NOT "promise to provide authentic religious information which everyone should accept because that's how God designed His religion to be delivered and understood", but we can never have all the reports and comments, on a certain hadith, and we must make do with what we have, each according to the extent of his will to study religion.


As the very FIRST approach, to look up answers on google, and try to reach one based not on what others tell me, but what I can see for myself to be claimed to be said by the prophet and whether it is considered authentic by scholars, and then authenticating it further [at least for my own satisfaction, if not in reality] by consulting known and trustworthy published hadith, is a yardstick from which my will to study religion may be judged at present.

Response:
There are three approaches possible to be adopted regarding hadith:

We claim that prophet said such and such thing knowing that it could turn out to be incorrect and misleading but insist that we must rely on it, because, as you say, after all, the name of the prophet, alaihissalam, is there and we get a psychological satisfaction as a result of it.

The fact that there is a possibility that the hadith may not mention accurately what the prophet said we must not accept any hadith at all.

A third approach could be that because of the importance associated with a statement attributed to the prophet on the one hand and the accompanying apprehension that it may not be correct on the other, we must look at the text of it (and of course reliability of its narrators) and see if it is not inconsistent with Qur'an, other ahadith, and common sense, we should accept it. Otherwise we should be careful by not associating with the prophet a statement which doesn't seem to be originating from him.

Also, since collection of hadith was done through a human effort -- indeed a tremendous and praiseworthy one -- and not through divine arrangement, as was done in the case of the Qur'an and Sunnah, the contents of hadith cannot anything to the list of expectations of God's religion. The source can only explain and clarify what has already been delivered by the more reliable sources.

I believe the third one is the right approach.

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