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Understanding the Hadith

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Noted Indian writer and polymath Ram Swarup explores the meaning of Islam through the words of the Sahih Muslim, considered by Muslims to be one of the most authoritative of the collections of "traditions" (Arabic Hadith) about the life of the Prophet Muhammad. Like the Koran, these traditions are believed to be divinely revealed by Allah and they complement the verses of Noted Indian writer and polymath Ram Swarup explores the meaning of Islam through the words of the Sahih Muslim, considered by Muslims to be one of the most authoritative of the collections of "traditions" (Arabic Hadith) about the life of the Prophet Muhammad. Like the Koran, these traditions are believed to be divinely revealed by Allah and they complement the verses of the Koran, in many cases expanding upon them and explaining the context of their revelation. As Swarup notes in his introduction, to Muslims the Hadith literature represents the Koran in action, stories of "revelation made concrete in the life of the Prophet." Among the orthodox they are considered as sacred as the Koran itself. Swarup is plainly skeptical of the claim that the Hadith literature is divinely inspired. In the introduction he says, "The Prophet is caught as it were in the ordinary acts of his life - sleeping, eating, mating, praying, hating, dispensing justice, planning expeditions and revenge against his enemies. The picture that emerges is hardly flattering. . . . One is . . . left to wonder how the believers, generation after generation, could have found this story so inspiring. The answer is that the believers are conditioned to look at the whole thing through the eyes of faith. To them morality derives from the Prophet's actions. . . .his actions determine and define morality." The Sahih Muslim, a massive work consisting of 7,190 traditions divided into 1,243 chapters, is hardly accessible to the average reader; so Swarup quotes representative selections that touch upon the main tenets of Islam: faith, purification, prayer, fasting, pilgrimage, marriage and divorce, crime and punishment, religious wars (jihad), paradise, hell, repentance, and many other features of the religion. To non-Muslims this work provides many insights into the mindset of the average Muslim who is raised on these traditions about Muhammad. It also underscores the gulf that exists between the sanctum of orthodox Islam and an increasingly secularized Westernized world.


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Noted Indian writer and polymath Ram Swarup explores the meaning of Islam through the words of the Sahih Muslim, considered by Muslims to be one of the most authoritative of the collections of "traditions" (Arabic Hadith) about the life of the Prophet Muhammad. Like the Koran, these traditions are believed to be divinely revealed by Allah and they complement the verses of Noted Indian writer and polymath Ram Swarup explores the meaning of Islam through the words of the Sahih Muslim, considered by Muslims to be one of the most authoritative of the collections of "traditions" (Arabic Hadith) about the life of the Prophet Muhammad. Like the Koran, these traditions are believed to be divinely revealed by Allah and they complement the verses of the Koran, in many cases expanding upon them and explaining the context of their revelation. As Swarup notes in his introduction, to Muslims the Hadith literature represents the Koran in action, stories of "revelation made concrete in the life of the Prophet." Among the orthodox they are considered as sacred as the Koran itself. Swarup is plainly skeptical of the claim that the Hadith literature is divinely inspired. In the introduction he says, "The Prophet is caught as it were in the ordinary acts of his life - sleeping, eating, mating, praying, hating, dispensing justice, planning expeditions and revenge against his enemies. The picture that emerges is hardly flattering. . . . One is . . . left to wonder how the believers, generation after generation, could have found this story so inspiring. The answer is that the believers are conditioned to look at the whole thing through the eyes of faith. To them morality derives from the Prophet's actions. . . .his actions determine and define morality." The Sahih Muslim, a massive work consisting of 7,190 traditions divided into 1,243 chapters, is hardly accessible to the average reader; so Swarup quotes representative selections that touch upon the main tenets of Islam: faith, purification, prayer, fasting, pilgrimage, marriage and divorce, crime and punishment, religious wars (jihad), paradise, hell, repentance, and many other features of the religion. To non-Muslims this work provides many insights into the mindset of the average Muslim who is raised on these traditions about Muhammad. It also underscores the gulf that exists between the sanctum of orthodox Islam and an increasingly secularized Westernized world.

47 review for Understanding the Hadith

  1. 4 out of 5

    Czarny Pies

    This book is hatchet job on the Islamic religion written by a Hindu who has read the Hadith in English and in Urdu. Ostensibly Swarup has taken the "key" points from the multiple volumes of the Hadith in order to give the reader an understanding of Islam. The result is a horrifying picture of Islam. Mohammed is presented as lecherous, blood thirsty, opportunistic, superstitious and given to capricious pronouncements that would then become enshrined in fiq (i.e. Islamic Jurisprudence). The extract This book is hatchet job on the Islamic religion written by a Hindu who has read the Hadith in English and in Urdu. Ostensibly Swarup has taken the "key" points from the multiple volumes of the Hadith in order to give the reader an understanding of Islam. The result is a horrifying picture of Islam. Mohammed is presented as lecherous, blood thirsty, opportunistic, superstitious and given to capricious pronouncements that would then become enshrined in fiq (i.e. Islamic Jurisprudence). The extracts that Swarup pulls from the Haddith are often comical and more often horrifying. The prophet is against chess and dogs. He appears to be obsessed with enforcing his right to choose from war booty before any of his followers. He is an aggressive warrior who often massacres all his prisoners. He prescribes ritualistic prayer but has no notion of using prayer to establish a personal relationship with God. He cheerfully orders hands to be amputated from thieves, fornicators to be whipped and adulteresses to be stoned. Before going to the married bed, the man and wife must bath to be in a state of ritual purity. If they decide to make love a second time that night, they do not need to bathe again but are required to wash their sexual organs before committing a second act. The prophet's last bride was nine years old when he consummated the marriage. Swarup is a Hindu who appears bent on showing Islam in the worst possible light. His book is a nasty polemic. Other more balanced writers on Islam have acknowledged many of the contentious pronouncements that Mohammed made his life. As a practicing Catholic I feel that the religion which I subscribe to offers a far better means of discerning the will of God and am grateful Jesus for having asked to follow in his footsteps. Thus I am by no means a Muslim but I feel that Swarup's attack on Islam is absolutely scurrilous. However, many people love scurrilous books and you might be one of them.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sagar

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jai Lakshman

  4. 4 out of 5

    A

  5. 5 out of 5

    Khubaib1

  6. 5 out of 5

    N Aum

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kundan Pandey

  8. 5 out of 5

    Shreyansh Thakur

  9. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Cottle

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ajay

  11. 4 out of 5

    Daniƫl De waele

  12. 5 out of 5

    Varaprad Pitkar

  13. 5 out of 5

    Khawaja Naeem

  14. 5 out of 5

    Shiv Pujan

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lynne

  16. 4 out of 5

    Gau

  17. 5 out of 5

    Siddharth Sharma

  18. 5 out of 5

    Veeresh Sharma

  19. 4 out of 5

    Charles Kristofek

  20. 5 out of 5

    SHIV MANI SHUKLA

  21. 5 out of 5

    Wolfgang Leatherman

  22. 4 out of 5

    Benton Howells

  23. 5 out of 5

    Malisa

  24. 5 out of 5

    Negsor

  25. 5 out of 5

    Christine Arella

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jacque

  27. 5 out of 5

    nikki

  28. 5 out of 5

    Heather

  29. 4 out of 5

    Donald Harvill

  30. 5 out of 5

    yellow tree

  31. 5 out of 5

    Pankaj Saksena

  32. 4 out of 5

    Mehul

  33. 5 out of 5

    Austin Boyd

  34. 5 out of 5

    David Broome

  35. 4 out of 5

    Vishal

  36. 4 out of 5

    Gally

  37. 4 out of 5

    Gregory

  38. 4 out of 5

    Jake Gray

  39. 5 out of 5

    Zulqarnain Zulqar

  40. 4 out of 5

    Nugroho Herucahyono

  41. 4 out of 5

    Rob Gleich

  42. 4 out of 5

    Jjbh

  43. 5 out of 5

    Gopal Pradhan

  44. 5 out of 5

    James

  45. 5 out of 5

    Mark

  46. 4 out of 5

    Prabu Siddharth

  47. 5 out of 5

    Beram Slaven

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