The documentation of Hadith “Chinese Whispers”

The documentation of Hadith

Chinese Whispers

All the documentation of hadith present today, and which is regarded as ‘sahih‘, i.e. authentic, was collected over two hundred years after the death of the prophet Muhammad. The Prophet prohibited the writing of his hadith, and as a result, all the four khalifas who succeeded the Prophet also prohibited the writing of any hadith about the Prophet

(see: History of Hadith)

The prophet Muhammed himself when he died had no idea about any hadiths books.

We have more than one hadith in which the Prophet ordered the true believers not to write anything from him other than the Quran.

(1) Ibn Saeed Al-Khudry reported that the messenger of God had said,

“Do not write anything from me except Quran. Anyone who wrote anything other than the Quran shall erase it.” [Ahmed, Vol. 1, Page 171, and Sahih Moslim, Zuhd, Book 42, Number 7147]

(2) From Ibn Hanbal;

Zayd Ibn Thabit (The Prophet’s closest revelation writer) visited the Khalifa Mu’aawiyah (more than 30 years after the Prophet’s death), and told him a story about the Prophet. Mu’aawiyah liked the story and ordered someone to write it down. But Zayd said. ” the messenger of God ordered us never to write anything of his hadith”.

(3) The famous book, “Ulum Al-Hadith” by Ibn Al-Salah, reports a hadith by Abu Hurayra in which Abu Hurayra said the Messenger of God came out to us while we were writing his hadiths and said; “What are you writing?” We said, “hadiths that we hear from you, messenger of God.” He said, “A book other than the book of God?” We said, “Should we talk about you?” He said, Talk about me, that would be fine, but those who will lie will go to Hell. Abu Hurayra said, we collected what we wrote of hadiths and burned them in fire.

(4) In the famous book, “Taq-yeed Al-Ilm”, Abu Hurayra said, the Messenger of God was informed that some people are writing his hadiths. He took to the pulpit of the mosque and said, “What are these books that I heard you wrote? I am just a human being. Anyone who has any of these writings should bring it here. Abu Hurayra said we collected all these and burned them in fire.

(5) Ibn Hanbal in his Musnad book, narrates a hadith in which Abdullah Ibn Omar said, “the Messenger of God one day came out to us as if he was going to depart us soon and said, “When I depart you (die), hold to the book of God, prohibit what it prohibits and accept as halal what it makes halal.” 

(6) Again, in the book “Taq-yeed Al-Ilm”, Abu Saeed Al-Khudry said, ” I asked the Messenger of God a permission to write his hadiths, but he refused to give me a permission.”


(7) The farewell Pilgrimage of the prophet Muhammed is a corner stone in the Muslim history. The Final Sermon given by the Prophet during this pilgrimage was witnessed by thousands of Muslims. There are however three versions of this sermon in the hadiths books. This by itself reflects the degree of corruption of the hadith books as this is the most witnessed speech of the prophet Muhammed.

1- First version, ” I left for you what if you hold on to, you will never be misguided, the book of God and my family. Moslim 44/4, Nu2408; Ibn Hanbal 4/366; darimi 23/1, nu 3319.

This is the version made up by the Shi’te Muslims.

2-Second version, “I left for you what if you hold on to, you will never be misguided, the book of God and my sunnah” . Muwatta, 46/3

This is the version made up by the Sunni Muslims.

3- Third version, “I left for you what if you hold on to, you will never be misguided, the book of God.” Moslim 15/19, nu 1218; Ibn Majah 25/84, Abu dawud 11/56.

This last version is the version hated by the Sunni and Shiite Muslims alike. This is the only version which conforms with the repeated assertion in the Quran that Muhammed’s message was only the Quran. Many Sunni Muslims and Shiite Muslims do not even know that this version of the sermon exists. In reality, they do not want to know, the truth hurts

Now to the “Chinese whispers” ……….

The process of corruption of any piece of information through the verbal transmission of that information through a number of people is what is called “Chinese Whispers“.

The following is an example:

The lecturer in a college course was talking about the verbal transfer of information, demonstrating the effect of verbal transfer of information on altering an original message.

He asked 10 people to come forward from his audience. He then asked 9 of them to leave the hall, and then gave the one in the hall a small piece of paper to read out to the audience …..

The man read the following extract from the Bible :

“After this Jesus went down to Capernaun in company with his mother and followers and his disciples, but they did not stay there long. As it was near the time of the Jewish passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. There he found in the temple the dealers in cattle, sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers seated at their tables. Jesus made a whip of cords and drove them out of the temple, sheep, cattle, and all.”

After that, the lecturer took the piece of paper from the first man and put it in his pocket. He then called the 2nd man in, and asked the first man to repeat to the 2nd man the words that he had just read out from the paper.

The man said the following:

“After this Jesus went down to Capernaun in company with his mother and his disciples, and they stayed a long time. After that Jesus went back to Jerusalem. Beside the temple he saw people who were buying cattle and pigeons, he also saw money-changers. Jesus kicked them all out.”

Now the lecturer asked the third man to come in and asked the second man to repeat what he had just heard from the 1st man. He in turn said:

“After this Jesus went down to Jerusalem with his mother and some of his disciples and stayed for a couple of days …. After that Jesus went back to the temple. Beside the temple he saw people who were buying cattle and pigs, he also saw money-changers. Jesus shouted at them and told them they were wicked.”

Once again the next man came in , and the message was repeated as follows:

“One day Jesus was in Jerusalem with his mother where he was was for many years …. but one day Jesus left Jerusalem and went to a far away. Beside the temple he saw people who were buying horses and pigs, he shouted at them for having so much money and told them that money was wicked.”

By the time the next man narrated the same story it became:

“Jesus was born in Jerusalem and lived with his mother for many years there …. one day Jesus went to the market place in Jerusalem and in the market he saw people who were riding horses and selling pigs, he shouted at them for having so much animals and money asked them to give their money to charity for it is wicked.”

In turn, the next man said the following:

“Jesus was born in Jerusalem and lived with his mother all his life …. one day Jesus went to the market place in Jerusalem and in the market he saw people who were riding horses and selling pigs, he shouted at them for their cruelty to the animals and asked them to give up all their money or to make sure their animals are well fed.”

In turn, the next man said the following:

“Jesus was born in Jerusalem and lived near a market place where there were lots of people mistreating the poor pigs and whipping their horses ……… one day Jesus went to the market place and saw those wicked people who were only interested in selling their pigs, they were very loud and rude to him, so he did not reply back but cursed their money and left …”

The reader is now invited to go back and read the first account of this story and then once again read this last one which was only the 6th new narration!

What is also important to note is that this incident took place in a period of 10 minutes in a lecture, which would mean all participants would have good reason to remember the content of the message. What would be the case of thousands of hadith, most of them many pages long that were transmitted through many people and over a period of 200 years?

We must also note that the ten men in the lecture were all honestly trying to repeat the story as best as they can remember. We cannot accuse any of them of deliberately trying to corrupt the story they were narrating.

What this indicates is that the corruption in transmission is not due to bad character or the dishonesty of the narrator, but rather due to the altering of the facts through a sequence of verbal transmissions. These transmissions were from humans who cannot be expected to have tight proof memories.

Sadly, the scholars have assessed the authenticity of any hadith through a character reference of the narrators! If the narrator was of good character then they would label the hadith as authentic! How naive is this?

A story narrated across 200 years and by 6 to 10 different men in a chain, cannot in any way be authentic.

We should not be surprised to see God clearly telling us in the Quran to follow no hadith other than the Quran.

“Which hadith, other than this (Quran), do they uphold?” 77:50

“These are God’s revelations that we recite to you truthfully. In which hadith other than God and His revelations do they believe?” 45:6

“Among the people, there are those who uphold baseless hadith, and thus divert others from the path of God without knowledge, and take it in vain. These have incurred a shameful retribution.” 31:6

“God has revealed herein the best hadith; a book that is consistent, and points out both ways.” 39:23

“Let them produce a hadith like this, if they are truthful.” 52:34

“Therefore, let Me deal with those who reject this hadith; we will lead them on whence they never perceive.” 68:44

For a detailed historical account of the compilation of hadith please check the article: The History of Hadith

The correct Testimony (Shahada)

The correct Testimony (Shahada)

The core of the faith is the “Shahada” (Testimony). This very first pillar of Islam is clearly stated in the Quran as it was also revealed to the recipients of previous Scripture. The Testimony of faith in the Torah (Old Testament) reads:

“Hear, O” Israel : the Lord our God, the Lord is One” Deuteronomy 6:4-5

The Testimony given in the Quran affirms the same truth:

“God bears witness that there is no god except He, and so do the angels and those who possess knowledge” 3:18

The correct Testimony has no name in it except the name of God.


First and foremost, the only Testimony authorised by God in the Quran is:

“God bears witness that there is no god except He, and so do the angels and those who possess knowledge. Truthfully and equitably, there is no god but He, the Almighty, Most Wise” 3:18

The words “there is no god but God“, which in Arabic are (La Ilaha Ila Allah), are the exact words which God Himself utters, also the angels and those who possess knowledge.

The majority of Muslims today are not satisfied with the Shahada given in 3:18 and they add to it the words: and I bear witness that Muhammad is His messenger”.

To add any words or names to the Testimony given by God is in fact to imply that the Testimony given by God in the Quran is incomplete, or that God forgot the second half of the Testimony! Needless to say, God is not forgetful nor does God make misatkes!

We are commanded clearly in the Quran to follow the Quran and nothing else (see: Quran Alone). As a result, all those who utter the shahada which includes the name of the prophet Muhammad are not following the Quran.


Many people are oblivious of the fact that the utterance of the Shahada is indeed an act of worship and not just a statement of fact. Consequently, whenever we utter the Shahada we are performing one of the acts of worship of God. 

The Quran states very clearly that all our worship practices must be devoted to the name of God alone:

“Say, “My Contact Prayers (Salat), all my worship practices, my life and my death, are all devoted absolutely to God alone, the Lord of the universe. “He has no partner. This is what I am commanded to believe, and I am the first to submit.” 6:162-163

The words “all my worship practices” are very clear, they must all be devoted to the name of God alone. 

The following Quranic verse also confirms this issue:

“Those who hope to meet their Lord shall work righteousness, and never include any one when they are in the act of worship of their Lord.” 18:110

God’s Greatness is far beyond human understanding, so much so that we are not to associate anything or anybody with the name of God.

“You shall worship God alone, do not associate anything with Him.” 4:36

Note the words in 4:36: “do not associate anything

and in 18:110 we have the word: “never include any one

These words are very clear, they emphasise that we should never place the name of anything nor anybody next to the name of God, and certainly never utter any name other than the name of God when we are in an act of worship of God.

Also in the following verse we are told to dedicate all our religion (Shahada, Salat, Hajj …etc) to God alone:

“We sent down to you this scripture, truthfully; you shall worship God, devoting your religion to Him aloneAbsolutely, the religion shall be devoted to God alone. Those who set up idols beside Him say: “We idolize them only to bring us closer to God; for they are in a better position!” God will judge them regarding their disputes. God does not guide such liars, disbelievers” 39:2-3

We note that the message of devoting all the religion to God alone is repeated twice.

It is also interesting that all those who praise the name of Muhammad day and night say that they do this because God loves Muhammad so much and therefore this will bring them closer to God! Sadly, by doing so, they demonstrate how they are among those spoken of in the following Quranic words:

“Those who set up idols beside Him say, “We idolize them only to bring us closer to God; for they are in a better position!” 39:3

In reply to this claim, God says:

“God does not guide such liars, disbelievers” 39:3


According to the Quranic definition (2:285), the concept of Al-Iman (Belief/Faith) comprises belief in the following:

1- God

2- The Angels

3- The Scripture

4- The messengers

Belief in all four is required in order to qualify a person to be a believer. However there is no testimony required from the believers except for God. No testominy is required for the angels, the scripture or the messengers.

There are those who try to justify their inclusion of the name of Muhammad in their Testimony by saying that when the Quran was revealed and Muhammad was sent by God, the Jews and Christians rejected him as a true messenger of God, and thus they testify that Muhammad is the messenger of God to proclaim their acceptance of him, as opposed to the Jews and Christians who rejected him.

This argument is clearly flawed. It is true that the Jews and Christians reject the prophet Muhammad, but they also reject the Quran as being the true word of God. Hence, if these Muslims are sincere in merely wanting to proclaim their belief in what the Jews and Christians have rejected, then they should (by the same logic and motives) utter an additional testimony to say:

“There is no god but God and the Quran is the word of God” …. but do they?

Why aren’t any of these Muslims uttering such a testimony to declare their acceptance of the Quran? In reality, their disguised motive is one of idolising Muhammad above all other messengers and placing his name alongside God’s name in everything.

Indeed, God invites us to believe in the Quran, to believe in Muhammad, as well as to believe in the angels, the Scripture and all other messengers. As mentioned, God does not command us to testify to any of these. The only Testimony sanctioned by God is dedicated to the name of God Almighty alone. The reason for that belief (belief in God, the angels, scripture and messengers) is an attribute of the hearts. However, the utterence of the Testimony (as mentioned above) is an act of worship.


The fourth reason why the correct Testimony must contain the name of God and no one else is the fact that we are commanded in the Quran not to make any distinction between any of God’s messengers:

“The messenger has believed in what was sent down to him from his Lord, and so did the believers. They believe in God, His angels, His scripture, and His messengers: “We make no distinction among any of His messengers.” They say, “We hear, and we obey. Forgive us, our Lord. To You is the ultimate destiny” 2:285

Muhammad is indeed the messenger of God , but so is Abraham, Moses, Jesus, David and all the others. We should not make special preference for Muhammad because we are told in the Quran that he is only God’s servant and he is not any different from any of the other messengers of God.

“Say (O Muhammad), “I am not different from other messengers. I have no idea what will happen to me or to you. I only follow what is revealed to me. I am no more than a profound warner” 46:9

Those who insist on making Muhammad greater than all the other messengers of God and call on him with such preferential titles such as “Sayeduna Muhammad” (Our Lord Muhammad), and “Sayed Al Khalq” (the Lord of all creation) and “Ashraf Al- Mursaleen” (the Most honourable of all the messengers), and “habib Allah” (God’s sweetheart!) …. etc, are those who in their blind idolising of Muhammad have rejected God’s words in the Quran, such as:

Say (O Muhammad), “I am not different from other messengers


“Say (O Muhammad), “I am no more than a human like you …” 18:110

It is indeed interesting how God places words in the Quran! the words above which confirm that Muhammad was only human like anyone else are followed in the same verse by the words: “never include any one when they are in the act of worship of their Lord.”.

Moreover, if the ones who utter a shahada for Muhammad say they do so in order to testify to his messengership, the question which they need to answer is: why dont they ever say:

“There is no god but Allah and Moses is His messenger” ?

Moses was also a the messenger of God among many others, why do they not testify to any of the other messengers?

A small advice here to the reader: Never go into a masjid and make a testimony for any other messenger …… the Muslims there would probably stone you to death!


The Quran speaks of another testimony. This other testimony is only spoken by the hypocrites:

“When the hypocrites come to you they say “We bear witness that you are the messenger of God” God knows that you are His messenger, and God bears witness that the hypocrites are liars” 63:1

From this verse we note a very significant observation. This observation becomes clear when we examine three important verbs in the verse:

1- The hypocrites saying “we bear witness that you are the messenger of God”

2- “God knows that you are His messenger”

3- “God bears witness that the hypocrites are liars”

We note that the verse starts with the words “bear witness” and ends with the same words, so why does God use the word”knows” when God speaks about Muhammad being a messenger? Why did God not say (God bears witness that you are His messenger)? Since nothing in the Quran is a coincidence, we must indeed be alerted to God’s deliberate choice of the word” knows“.

It is clear that God is telling us that the Testimony He authorised for us does not include a testimony for Muhammad. Surely if God had said (God bears witness that you are His messenger) then this would have constituted an integral part of the Testimony, and we would have been obliged to utter the same.

The fact that God declines from saying “bear witness that you are His messenger” and instead says (God knows that you are His messengerconfirms that the only lawful Testimony authorised by God is for the name of God alone (3:18), and that all other testimonies are false and are acts of idol worship.


We are given in the Quran a great criteria for distinguishing the sincere believers from the hypocrites. In 39:45, we are told that those who do not believe will not be able to proclaim God’s name on His own, they must include the name of their idol/s in order to be satisfied:

“When God alone is mentioned, the hearts of those who do not believe in the Hereafter shrink with aversion. But when others are mentioned beside Him, they become satisfied” 39:45

The Testimony is one such criteria where true believers are tested in the purity of their faith. The true believers will have no problem uttering the correct Testimony which is given in the Quran (3:18) and which has no name in it except the name of God. On the other hand, the ones who have set up idols besides God, will never be satisfied with the Quranic Testimony on its own. They will not be able to utter the Quranic Shahada without adding to it a further testimony for Muhammad.