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Regarding the Hadith on the Return of Jesus (pbuh)


Question

I have a curious question. I understand Shezad Saleem's explanation of the death of Jesus in the Qur'an, and the failure of the Qur'an to really mention his return to earth[1]. Is it possible that you could point-out why the hadiths are wrong? I understand that the argument that Imam Malik didnt have any of them in his collection. Could you point out something that proves them false such as an error in the chain of narration or the unreliability of the transmission? It seems like very well accepted people such as Ibn Abbas transmitted them.

Please Comment on this.

Jazakallahu Khairan, and I love your site.

May Allah keep you all well.

Salam



Question from United States of America
Answer

In my opinion, Shehzad Saleem's referred arguments, which mostly I agree with, are not really to establish that the referred narratives are faulty, but to raise pertinent questions that need to be answered before these narratives are accepted as correctly and accurately reporting a saying of the Prophet (pbuh).

There is a difference between rejecting a narrative, considering it faulty, and deferring decisions about it till all pertinent questions that hinder its unqualified acceptance are answered. The case of the narratives ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh) regarding the return of Jesus (pbuh) fall in the second category of narratives, about which all pertinent questions need to be answered before these narratives are accepted, without any qualification.

Some of the narratives that report the return of Jesus (pbuh) have a strong and reliable sanad (i.e. the chain of narrators who report these sayings are honest and reliable, in the case of some of the chains). However, as we know that the narration of every reliable and honest person is not necessarily the truth. Man is prone to errors of understanding as well as reporting. An honest and reliable person is no less a subject to these errors, as compared to a dishonest person.

It is primarily because of this reason that a narrative, before being accepted as a true reporting of a saying of the Prophet (pbuh) should be as thoroughly checked vis a vis its contents, as it is checked with reference to its sanad[2]. Thus, even if a narrative is reported by a strong and reliable chain of narrators it can only be accepted as a true and accurate reporting of an actual saying of the Prophet (pbuh) after analyzing its contents on the following two criteria:

  1. The narrative under consideration is not in contradiction to anything contained in the Qur'an or the Sunnah or the established human knowledge and information;
  2. If the narrative relates to a religious issue then its contents should have a clear basis in the Qur'an and the Sunnah, the two basic and independent sources of Islam. This, obviously, implies that no addition or deletion in the main corpus of religion is made on the basis of Hadith alone.

If the narrative falls short on these criteria, even if it is reported by honest and reliable people, then the decision regarding its acceptance would either be deferred till the time that an adequate explanation[3] is given for such a narrative or would be rejected as one wrongly ascribed (possibly due to the element of misperception of a saying or its misreporting) to the Prophet (pbuh).

The reasons for these checks should be obvious from the foregoing explanation. Nevertheless, to avoid being misconstrued, I would once again like to repeat that the reasons for these checks is that there is no other method of determining whether or not a narrator has accurately narrated a saying of the Prophet (pbuh) or not[4].

The points laid-down by Mr. Shehzad Saleem, in his referred response should, in my opinion, be taken as questions that need adequate answers before the narratives reporting the return of Jesus (pbuh) can safely be accepted as an accurate reporting of an actual saying of the Prophet (pbuh).

14th July 2000

[1] Reference is to Mr. Shehzad Saleem's answer to a question, posted at: http://www.renaissance.com.pk/junq997.html

[2] i.e. the reliability of its chain of narrators.

[3] an explanation which removes its contradictions with the Qur'an or the Sunnah, whatever the case may be and explains its positive basis in the Qur'an or the Sunnah. For further details, please refer to one of my earlier responses to a question titled 'More on the Position of Hadith', included in Volume 1 of this book.

[4] I am, therefore, in agreement with those who are of the opinion that no new element of faith can be added to the body of Islam on the basis merely of Hadith.




Answer published by Moiz Amjad