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Does Rejecting a Hadith Take a Person Out of Islam?

22 May, 2021
Q Do we have to blindly believe all the authentic hadiths when there is controversy about the authenticity of some the hadiths ? Does someone become a disbeliever if he rejects just one authentic hadith? Examples of such hadiths are: the hadith that orders a wife to prostate to her husband; or the hadith in which the Prophet did allow Ali to take a second wife; or the hadith that state the execution of an apostate.


In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. 

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

In this fatwa:

1- A person goes out of the fold of Islam by denying the fundamental principles of the Quran and the Sunnah.

2- If you have doubts about the authenticity of a particular hadith or it opposes the principles of the Quran or sounds irrational, then such an action does not take a person out of the fold of Islam.

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In responding to your question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and an Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states;

Hadith: Second Source of Islamic Law

Hadith, as long it is deemed authentic and well-attested, constitutes the second source of Islam, next to the Quran. The Quran tells the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) that Allah sent down the Quran so that he explains it to them. {And We have sent down the Reminder unto thee that thou might clarify for mankind that which has been sent down unto them, that haply they may reflect.} (An-Nahl 16:44)

Allah also orders us to obey the Messenger; and that we can only earn the love of Allay by obeying him; {Say: If you love God, follow me, and God will love you and forgive you your sins. And God is Forgiving, Merciful.} (Aal Imran 3:31)

Furthermore, we read in the Quran:

{It is not for a believing man or a believing woman, when God and His Messenger have decreed a matter, to have a choice regarding the matter. Whosoever disobeys God, and His Messenger has strayed into manifest error.} (Al-Ahzab 33:36)

Can We Reject a Particular Hadith?

Consequently, it is not befitting for a believer to reject an order or imperative of the Prophet (PBUH) as long as we can ascertain its authenticity. If you believe that a particular tradition is authentic and you think that the Prophet has said so, then you have no choice but to accept it.

If you have doubts about its authenticity or it opposes the well-established principles of the Quran or sounds irrational; thus you do not believe the Prophet would make such a statement; then such an action does not take a person out of the fold of Islam.

If, however, a person believes that the Prophet has said so and yet interprets it differently from the commonly held version that does not constitute an act of disbelief.

The vast majority of traditions are known as isolated traditions; only a small portion of them has been transmitted through incontrovertible channels.

Suppose anyone rejects an isolated tradition based on sound reason and established principles of the Quran, that is not something to be condemned as being heretic. There is no shortage of eminent scholars who rejected some such traditions or explained it away.

Interpreting Controversial Hadiths

The traditions you have mentioned belong to this category. In other words, the first one is considered dubious and questionable by some. In contrast, the second one is simply a recommendation of the Prophet. The Prophet did not think that his daughter would be able to tolerate the presence of a second wife.

Anyone familiar with the literature of tafsir, hadith, and fiqh knows that diversity of interpretations has been a part of the Islamic tradition from the early times and continues to this day. So, no one should denounce another for holding on to a different view.

In conclusion, a person goes out of the fold of Islam by denying the fundamental principles of the Quran and the Sunnah, not by holding differences of opinion regarding secondary issues or minor details.

Almighty Allah knows best.