The aim of this article is to provide a synopsis of the historical development, role, and influence of the hadith on Islamic theology. This analysis provides a foundation for understanding how the hadith has influenced the Islamic doctrine of jihad. This purpose will be achieved through an examination of the development of the hadith, as well as an overview of how the hadith has shaped Islam, giving attention to the hadith’s influence on Islamic theology. Furthermore, throughout this evaluation, this author contends that the contemporary anti-Christian and anti-Jewish ideology that undergirds the modern jihadist doctrine has been primarily shaped by various interpretations of Surah Al-Tawbah 9:29 (i.e., Qur’an 9:29). I argue that these interpretations of Surah 9:29 have been primarily shaped by the hadith. Likewise, I contend that Surah Al-Haj 22:39-40 (i.e., Qur’an 22:39-40) was a command to defend all houses of worship, and reveals the ecumenical ideology of early Islam that was later reversed by the influence of the hadith.
As Kecia Ali and Oliver Leman correctly point out, the Sunni and Shi’a hadith generally cover the same topics and share some of the same transmitters. However, the primary difference between the two is the Shi’a rejection of some of the companions and followers of Muhammad who later refused to acknowledge Ali as Muhammad’s rightful successor. For the purposes of this article, only the hadith recognized by the majority Sunni Muslim sect will be considered. The two most well-known compilers of hadith were Bukhari (d. 256-870) and Muslim (d. 261/874). Thus, for the purposes of this article, they will serve as the primary references.
An Introduction to the Hadith
Due to the often chaotic and sporadic nature of the Qur’an’s teachings, early Muslims looked to the actions and sayings of their prophet for guidance in religious life, judgment in legal matters, and as a tool to interpret their sacred book. The practices, habits, and commands of the prophet are referred to as the Sunna, or sacred custom. The hadith is not the sunna, but the documentation of it. This distinction is important when attempting to evaluate the legitimacy of various hadith, especially those that contradict one another. The differences between the various sunnas required the collection and examination of hundreds of thousands of hadith in order to test the legitimacy of each act and command that was attributed to Muhammad. This need gave rise to the science of hadith, known as asma’ ar-rijal, which primarily focuses on the authenticating and categorizing of hadith.
According to Marshal Hodgson, the term “hadith” differs from the Arabic concept of custom, and should be understood as a documented narration. It is incorrect, therefore, to interpret the hadith as merely a collection of Muslim traditions. Instead, the hadith should be regarded as a “narration” or “report” of the alleged sayings and actions of Muhammad. Hodgson goes on to say, “The hadith report was documented, not anonymous, it was explicit and written, not oral, immemorial, and imprecise; it was very often just contrary to custom as practiced.” Any attempt to interpret or apply the hadith, consequently, must begin with the realization that the majority of Muslims believe that approved hadith are historically accurate and verifiable accounts of Muhammad’s choices and commands, as well as his imparted wisdom. To ensure that the hadith consisted of accurate reports of Muhammad, each one is accompanied by an isnad, a list of names that traces the hadith back to someone who had access, either directly or indirectly, to Muhammad. The isnad is meant to extend historical credibility to the reported material.
In hadith studies, a great deal of attention has been placed on the isnads and their authenticity, or lack thereof. On the other hand, the actual text or body of the hadith, the matn, has often been taken for granted. If the isnad was validated, then it follows, though not logically, that the matn is therefore reliable. In hadith studies, the persons listed in the isnad are placed under immense scrutiny. For example, Mohammad Kamali states, “Hadith scholars have specified certain conditions that must be met by anyone who receives and carries the hadith and then delivers and transmits it to others. These conditions are basically concerned with the legal capacity of the receivers and transmitters of hadith.” It is important, however, to note that these standards were developed in response to the plethora of fabricated hadith. Because it was developed largely on faulty presuppositions, the foundations of the science are questionable at best, and faulty at worst. For example, Kamali acknowledges that a reporter must have been a “discerning person who has attained an age that enabled him to listen to and retain the hadith to convey it to others.” There is nothing scientific about this criterion. How can a person’s ability to discern be measured, or how does his age affect this ability either positively or negatively? Moreover, at what age is he too old and feeble to be discerning of what was received, or at what age is he no longer competent to transmit the report? An interpreter can contend that each criterion in the science of hadith has the potential to raise more questions than it answers. Then there is the question of whether or not an unbeliever (non-Muslim) can be considered a faithful transmitter of reports. Kamali contends that an unbeliever is not qualified to transmit because this would place him in a position to communicate with authority, and as a result, Muslims would be obligated to accept what he reported as part of their religion. Eliminating transmitters, who in some cases may have been eyewitnesses, solely on their religious beliefs, is not scientific.
In addition to the gift of discernment and prior commitment to Islam, Kamali gives two additional requirements for the reporters of the sunna. The person must be of just character, which is entirely subjective, and, given that the tendency of people to portray deceased loved ones as far more righteous than they really were, is not a scientific way of evaluating the authenticity of transmitted material. Finally, the reporter must have had a great memory. How were Bukhari, Muslim, and the other hadith collectors able to evaluate the mental ability of persons, some of whom had died nearly two hundred years earlier? It is impossible to state with any certainty that a person whom you never met had a good memory. Like the other criteria, this expectation falls short of providing a reliable and legitimate means of evaluating the authenticity of the isnad.
After evaluating the legitimacy and authenticity of the isnad, Muslim scholars grant hadith one of the five primary classifications. The worst possible classification a hadith can receive is mawda. In other words, it has been fabricated, or, in some cases, one of the reporters is found to be a liar. This rating is meant to prevent Muslims from referring to fabricated hadith as authoritative; however, since scholars will vary on their classifications, it is possible that mawda hadith can still be referred to as reflecting the words of Muhammad. Da’if, or weak, is a grade given to hadith that have a gap or inconsistencies in their isnad, or again if one of their reporters lacked character. Good hadith are known as hasan, because the source of the report is known and the reporters are unmistakable. The next classification of hadith is good authentic or hasan sahih. This category, however, is not recognized by all Muslim sources. In some taxonomies, hasan sahih is replaced by the highest classification which is sahih, which means the hadith has been declared acceptable because each reporter was a faithful Muslim, knew the meaning of the narration, as well as how certain pronunciation could alter the meaning, and, when transmitting the sunna, declared it verbatim.
An Overview of the Early Development of the Hadith
The hadith, as a collection of Muhammad’s commands and choices, were supposedly developed in the minds of his companions during the time in which he was dictating the Qur’an. Siddiqi claims that “the companions did not simply commit as many as they could of the prophet’s words to memory. Some of them collected them in written books known as sahifas.” Muslims believe, therefore, that the sunna of their prophet (as an authoritative guide) was established during his life. However, this does not guarantee that what is recorded in the hadith is an unbroken chain of the original sunna. Arguably, since no collections of the hadith existed in the first century of Islam, the companions and successors would have relied upon the collective memory of the community to form the sunna.
By establishing himself as the prophet of Allah, Muhammad became the de facto model for Muslims to imitate. His life, therefore, was just as important as his message. Consequently, one could argue that while the Qur’an is (in theory) more authoritative than the hadith, given the role the hadith plays in shaping Qur’anic interpretation, a strong hadith is just as, if not more, influential. With the death of Muhammad, which in the minds of his followers signaled the end of direct revelation, the importance of the hadith inevitably increased. The hadith’s influence, therefore, precedes its own genesis. In early Islamic theology, the hadith had already been established as authoritative; although the sayings and actions of Muhammad had not yet been formally collected and classified, nor had the contents been validated.
The historical development of the hadith reached its zenith in the works of Bukhari and Muslim, the two most prominent figures in the history of the hadith. Both of their collections have been given sahih grades (i.e., the highest grade). This rating has served to establish the works of both men as an authority in Islamic life. Commenting on the canonization and authority of Bukhari and Muslim, Jonathan Brown states,
Canons form the nexus of text, authority and communal identification. Their formation, however, is neither a random nor an inevitable process. Canonization involves a community’s act of authorizing specific books in order to meet certain needs. It entails the transformation of text, through use, study, and appreciation, from nondescript tomes into powerful symbols of divine, legal or artistic authority for a particular audience. In their own time, al-Bukhari and Muslim were accomplished representatives of the transmission-based tradition of Islamic law. Like their teacher, Ahmad Ibn Hanbal (d. 241/855), they saw collecting and acting on the reports of the early Muslim community as the only legitimate means by which believers could ascertain God’s will and live according to it.
Prior to their work, Islamic jurists had recorded various rulings that were allegedly based on the sunna of Muhammad that had been verbally transmitted and preserved as a living law. The need for a systemized way to validate and collect the sunna of Muhammad was the result of the desire of the Muslim community to know what to believe (Qur’anic Interpretation) and how to live (Islamic Law), as well as a need to counteract the impact of forged hadith. Commenting on this problem, Brown states,
Although Muslim scholars of the first three centuries strove to prevent forged hadith from being attributed to [their] prophet, even in the case of dubious transmissions the powerful formula “the Messenger of God said…” made reports from Muhammad prima facie compelling to many jurists. Al-Bukhari’s and Muslim’s compilation of works limited to authenticated reports was thus a revolutionary act.
While it might appear that the work of the hadith collectors alleviated the problem of forged hadith, it would be a mistake to assume that only authorized reports would influence Islamic theology.
Seeking to establish laws that would govern the community and recognizing that the Qur’an did not provide the needed legal declarations, the Muslim jurists began to use the sunna of Muhammad to establish laws. It is possible that during the time in which Bukhari and Muslim were collecting reports, Muslim scholars were incorporating these hadiths, the sayings of Muhammad’s companions, and the sayings of the successors with the opinions of early jurists. The totality of tradition was then combined with the interpretations of leading Islamic jurists and projected back on to Muhammad. Ignaz Goldziher, a renowned Islamic scholar claims that the “Islam of Muhammad and the Qur’an was unfinished,” and found its completion in the work of later generations. This theory supports the notion that modern Islamic theology was developed over centuries and would later include an increasingly hostile view toward both Jews and Christians. Due to the destruction of nearly all variant texts by either Uthman in 653 or Yusuf, governor of Iraq, in the 690s, reconstructing the actual theology of Muhammad is difficult. This fact is undeniable, because the existence of the hadith establishes that such a challenge was present as early as two centuries after his death. Even if the Qur’an now exists in its original form, which is certainly questionable, the interpretive challenges presented by its random and sporadic nature would have still called for a vehicle by which to interpret it. Thus it is reasonable to conclude that as the hadith was being codified by Bukhari and Muslim, it became the lens through which the Qur’an was interpreted and applied.
A Concise Survey of the Role of the Hadith in Islamic Faith and Practice
It would be an understatement to say that the hadith has influenced every significant area of the Islamic faith. Due to the Qur’an’s limitations, the Muslim community looked to the sunna of Muhammad as an authoritative guide in both Islamic law and customs. According to Siddiqi, “All his [Muhammad’s] actions served them as an ideal, and hence precedent; every word which he uttered was a law to them, while his moral choices, so different from those of their age, yet so immediate in their impartial wisdom, provided them with a system of personal and social virtue which they tried to follow faithfully as they could.” For the faithful Muslim, the sunna of Muhammad represents the straight path of Islam. To know how he lived, worshipped, spoke, and acted in every area of life, is to know the path to Allah. Therefore, the sunna, as recorded in the hadith, is the Islamic guide for what Muslims should believe and how they should live. To underestimate the influence of the hadith on Islamic faith and practice is to misunderstand Islam. Commenting on the scope of the hadith’s influence, Siddiqi states, “it has played a decisive role in establishing a common cultural framework for the whole of the Islamic world and continues to wield substantial influence on the minds of the Muslim community.”
The hadith’s influence on Islamic law, according to Montgomery Watt, was so significant that “some points of law came to be justified by quoting a hadith about something Muhammad had said or done; this, of course, was in those cases where there was no clear Qur’anic statement.” This practice led to the hadith being recognized by some Islamic jurists, such as Shafi’i, as equally authoritative as the revelation in the Qur’an. It is clear that the hadith’s influence on the jurisprudence demanded that they be recognized as a legitimate means of determining how the Islamic community should be governed.
A Brief Assessment of the Influence of the Hadith on the Islamic Theology
The foundation of Islamic theology is the Qur’an; however, the framework is the sunna as recorded in the hadith. Consequently, the hadith, regardless of its origins, has served to influence and shape Islamic laws and customs, as well as theology. Speaking on the centrality of the hadith, Spencer says, “However questionable many hadith may be… [they] are pivotal because of the tremendous importance that Islamic theology and tradition attaches to Muhammad, whom the Qur’an terms as a ‘good example…for whosoever hopes for God and the Last Day’ (33:21).” The hadith has been used as a means to legitimize and propagate various legal rulings, cultural trends, and theological presuppositions. Goldziher contends,
For not only law and custom, but theology and political doctrine also took the form of hadith. Whatever Islam produced on its own or borrowed from the outside was dressed up as hadith. In such form alien, borrowed matter was assimilated until its origin was unrecognizable. Passages from the Old and New Testaments, rabbinic sayings, quotes from apocryphal gospels, and even doctrines of Greek philosophers and maxims of Persian and Indian wisdom gained entrance into Islam disguised as utterances of the Prophet. Even the Lord’s Prayer occurs in a well-authenticated hadith form.
Irrespective of the authenticity of any group or particular hadith, one cannot ignore the influence that it has had in shaping and, at times, reshaping Islamic theology. For example, the debate among Muslim theologians over the doctrine of predestination has been driven by the statements made in the hadith. W. Montgomery Watt, in his discussion on the eighth-century debate over free will and predestination, states that as a result of the debate that “many predestinarian hadith began to have a wide circulation. One such hadith claims that Muhammad described how God instructs the angel in charge of the child in the womb to predetermine four things: (1) the child’s gender; (2) whether the child will be fortunate or unfortunate; (3) what is to be the child’s provision; and (4) what will be the length of the child’s life. It was not uncommon for the adherents of competing Islamic ideologies to discover hadith that supported their view. Conversely, the opposing position seemed to conveniently discover hadith that supported their position as well. Thus, those who maintained the doctrine of free will able to acquire hadith to bolster their view, and those who believed in predestination did likewise.
In his book, The History of Islamic Theology, Tilman Nagel claims that when a Sunni Muslim reads a hadith, he “has the impression that he is directly involved in what Muhammad says and does.” Therefore, as Tilman suggests, “the perfectly structured hadith…turns the sunna into a surrogate institution for the prophets’ guidance.” According to Spencer, however, “there is absolutely no evidence that the Muslims who actually knew the prophet of Islam kept records of what he said and did.” The obvious objection would be that Muhammad’s companions memorized nearly everything he said and did, and they passed it on orally. Even if, as Nabia Abott contends, there is “no record of early caliphs invoking the hadith of Muhammad because the caliph Umar (634-644) ordered hadith destroyed,” one cannot ignore their influence on Islamic theology after the second century of Islamic history. The hadith filled an obvious void in Islamic life: namely, by demonstrating how Muslims could be certain of what to believe and how to live. Providing a systematic and accessible link to Muhammad, the hadith became the most important source of Islamic theology.
Furthermore, the sunna of Muhammad, as recorded in the authoritative hadith of Bukhari and Muslim, granted the Islamic community a continuity of belief that it had previously lacked. The community of Islam had quickly splintered into numerous groups whose theology and practice began to look different from the majority of Muslims. For example, the Kharijites and Shiites both presented an alternative view of Islamic theology based on each sect’s understanding of the traditions and obligations passed down from the prophet of Islam. The approved hadith, therefore, provide the majority Sunni sect with an authoritative record of what Muhammad had established and taught to his companions. Even though many minority sects were accused of heresy, they continued to look to their hadith as justification for their theological positions. Commenting on this phenomenon, Goldziher states, “The Prophet’s authority was invoked by every group for every idea it evolved: for legal precepts couched in the form of tradition, as well as for maxims and teachings of an ethical or simply edificatory nature.” Therefore, one can conclude that what really made a hadith authoritative and influential was the matn, or the content. If the content supported the theology that one wanted to propagate, then an isnad would be provided and authority would be granted. Fabricating hadith was, according to Goldziher, “hardily dishonorable if the resulting fictions served the cause of the good.” Thus, it is hard to imagine (in light of these practices) that Muhammad said or did even half of what is alleged in the hadith. Likewise, it is nearly impossible to support the notion that Muhammad would have spoken on every subject, custom, and law in Islamic life. Yet, the pious frauds who invented hadith, placing phrases that he never said on the lips of the prophet of Islam, were treated with universal respect as long as their reports provided a moral or theological concept that promoted Islam.
A Synopsis of the Role Hadith in Shaping the Doctrine of Jihad
An evaluation of the development of the hadith in light of the contemporary Islamic view of jihad would not be complete without consideration given to the strong anti-Jewish and anti-Christian polemic found throughout the Qur’an (2:120; 3:110, 118; 5:51, 73). These polemics were possibly later additions that were influenced by the exegetical and explanatory additions made by collectors and scribes. These changes were at best explanations of the alleged revelation given to Muhammad, or, at worst, alterations. Either way, the modifications, as this article will refer to them, were shaped by other sources. Due to its influence on early Islamic law, as well as its place in the formation of Islamic theology, the sunna as recorded in the hadith is the most plausible source of influence on the Qur’anic modifications.
In Islam, the word jihad is used to describe three types of struggles. Of primary importance for the Muslims is the inner struggle. In this internal battle, the Islamist must wage war against his evil desires and passions. This struggle is similar to the Christian idea of warring against the flesh. In addition to the internal struggle, the Muslim believes he is engaged in a constant spiritual conflict with Satan. The final, and most discussed, aspect of jihad is the struggle against infidels and hypocrites. It is not uncommon for Muslim apologists to quote weak or fabricated hadith to downplay the clearly jihadist teachings of both the Qur’an and sunna. The strongest hadith on the subject, however, states that jihad is the highest deed in Islam. The following is hadith is recorded in Sahih Bukhari:
Narrated Abu Huraira RadhiAllahu anhu, A man came to Allah’s Apostle Salallahualaihiwasallam and said “Instruct me as to such a deed as equals Jihad (in reward).” He Salallahu-alaihiwasallam replied, “I do not find such a deed.” Then he added, “Can you, while the Muslim fighter is in the battlefield, enter your Masjid to perform prayers without ceasing and fast and never break your fast?” The man said, “But who can do that?” Abu Huraira RadhiAllahu anhu added, “The Mujahid (i.e. Muslim fighter) is rewarded even for the footsteps of his horse while it wanders about (for grazing) tied on a long rope” (Sahih Bukhari 61:2633).
The following discussion of jihad, therefore, will be based on the third definition, which requires Muslims to struggle against infidels and hypocrites. Before examining the jihad texts in the hadith, it will be beneficial to examine two essential passages in the Qur’an that provide the foundation for understanding the doctrine of jihad.
Jihad in the Qur’an Surah Al-Tawbah 9:29
After evaluating the primary references to jihad in the Qur’an (4:74, 76, 95; 8:12, 15, 16, 39, 41, 64; 9:5, 29, 73, 111, 123; 2:191, 216, 217, 218; 48:20), only Surah 9:29 makes references to Jews and Christians as the target of jihad. The fact that only one of these verses mentions “the People of the Book” makes it difficult to justify the popular, yet misinformed, view that jihad against other monotheists is based solely on the Qur’an. In English, Surah 9:29, is translated as, “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the last day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and his apostle, nor acknowledge the religion of truth even if they are the people of the book, until they pay the jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” he most common explanations of this verse state that Muhammad gave this command nine years after the hijra, and that it was the result of his desire to conquer northern Arabia. In the Tafsir Ibn Kathir, the justification for the initial jihad and following subjugation of Jews and Christians is not substantiated by cross references in the Qur’an, but by a reference to a hadith reported by Muslim (4:1707) recorded from Abu Hurayrah claiming Muhammad said, “Do not initiate the Salam to the Jews and Christians, and if you meet any of them in a road, force them to its narrowest alley.” This hadith, quoted by Ibn Kathir, in no way justifies a holy war against fellow monotheists. It is one thing to refuse to greet a person or to treat him with disrespect; however, it is outrageous to use this hadith as a justification for what appears to be a declaration of open war against Jews and Christians. Theories such as the one proposed by Ibn Kathir, also ignore the historical fact that as the Muslims armies moved north, even after the death of Muhammad, Christian Arab tribes joined to support the Muslims.
The anti-Christian position was developed through two major Muslim-Christian conflicts. The first such conflict was the result of the Muslim conquests and subsequent defeat of the Byzantine empire. The second and most damaging conflict that served to shape the anti-Christian doctrine of jihad was the Christian crusades that sought to free the Holy Land from Muslim rule.
Based on the previous arguments in this article that much of what is found in the hadith are the opinions of Muslim theologians and jurists who would impose their polemics against Judaism and Christianity back on to Muhammad and taking into consideration that the Qur’an was not collected and edited until nearly a century or more after Muhammad claimed to have received revelation from God, it is not unreasonable to believe that the phrase “the People of the Book” did not originate with Muhammad, but was inserted later to validate and justify numerous hadith that made similar claims. Dr. Richard’s Bell’s explanation of Surah 9:29 argues that,
Verse 29 begins somewhat abruptly, and the phrase min alldhina ‘utu l-kitab comes in rather awkwardly. It is also an unusual charge against the People of the Book that they do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day. It looks as if this verse had first been used with regard to the polytheists, and later made the beginning of the declaration of war against “those who have been given the Book.” jizyah—only here in later Muslims law was the specials poll-tax levied upon non-Muslims living under Muslims rule, and was distinguished from the kharaj which rested on the land. But it is doubtful if this distinction was introduced before the second century.
If surah 9:29 is read in its context, Bell’s assessment does appear to have some merit. For example, in surah 9:28 Muslims are commanded not to allow idolaters into the sacred mosque. The Qur’an makes numerous favorable references to both Jews and Christians (3:113-116; 4:137; 5:47-48, 83; 29:46-48; 42:13-14), many of which acknowledge the Torah and Gospels as revelation from God. On the other hand, it does not always speak favorably of Jews and Christians who have allegedly distorted their religion (2:59, 140; 3:78, 187; 5:14, 83). However, in light of the above mentioned Qur’anic passages on jihad, the way in which the Qur’an portrays Muhammad’s views of the People of the Book as recipients of revelation (4:136; 7:157), and the acknowledgment that Christians are people devoted to God (3:113-115; 5:85), it is hard to believe that Muhammad would abruptly order his followers to fight Jews and Christians as idolaters (Surah 9:28).
Additionally, in Surah 9:5 Muslims are commanded to kill the “polytheists wherever you find them.” It is hard to imagine that the references to polytheists and idolaters could refer to monotheists. Clearly, Jews were not considered polytheists, and Christians were considered monotheists who, along with Jews and Sabaens, are promised that they will be rewarded on Judgment Day (2:62). Thus, the sudden and unexplainable addition of the phrase “the People of the Book” cause and contextual problem in Surah 9.
In addition to the aforementioned evidence, the words jizya and yadin, which only appear once in the Qur’an (9:29), have created difficulties for interpreters, because neither word appears in the Arabic language before the Qur’an. Jizya is believed to have originated as a Syriac word, and yadin has defied interpretation. Furthermore, the regulations surrounding the jizya were not codified until several centuries after the death of Muhammad. This was the time in which the hadith collectors were becoming influential and claiming a unique place of authority in the formation of Islamic law. Thus, it is likely that the concepts of the poll tax and the declaration of war against fellow monotheists both came into vogue during the same period and required a Qur’anic passage for legitimacy. It is reasonable to believe that the later conflicts with the People of the Book, and especially the conflicts with the Byzantine empire, demanded sunnas wherein Muhammad commanded that Muslims declare jihad against them. These sunnas, which form the hadith and are only considered authoritative through a flawed and bias process of evaluation, were then read back into the Qur’an, which impacted later revisions and additions.
Furthermore, because there is no textus receptus, or generally accepted form of the text of the Qur’an, it is nearly impossible to contend that the sacred book of Islam has not been altered or changed. Instead, based on the manuscripts that have been made available to western scholars, a great number of variants have been discovered. This fact has led some scholars to question the reliability of the modern Qur’anic text. Ibn Warrag contends that scholars have found “cases in some early manuscripts where whole words, or even whole verses, have been left out but cannot be assumed to be scribal errors.” He goes on to say of these omissions, “they could indicate that the manuscript concerned represents the Qur’an at a stage when the contents were not fixed or standardized.” This evidence should cast doubt on the Qur’an as a whole, and especially verses that are in conflict with the historical evidence, as well as with other verses.
The hypothesis that Surah 9:29 should not be interpreted as commanding jihad on Jews and Christians is based on Bell’s contention that the phrase “People of the Book” was inserted later and is supported not only by the linguistic evidence, but also by the argument that the Qur’an went through numerous revisions as Islamic theology and law were being decided amongst the jurists. In fact, Ibn Warrag demonstrates extensively in his aforementioned work that Surah 9 is full of variants. This fact suggests that what is presented in the contemporary versions of the Qur’an should be viewed, at best, as an altered and edited version. Furthermore, the history of fabricated hadith and the role they have played in shaping Islamic theology provides fertile ground for questioning any Islamic doctrine, especially the doctrine of jihad.
Surah Al-Haj 22:39-40
According to Asma Afsaruddin, Qur’an 22:39-40 is widely believed to be the first verses revealed by Muhammad permitting the Islamic community to engage in armed combat with non-Muslims. Qur’an 22:39-40 says,
Permission to fight is granted to those who are attacked, because they have been wronged— God indeed has the power to help them—they are those who have been driven out of their homes unjustly, only because they said, ‘Our Lord is God.’ If God did not repel the aggression of some people by means of others, cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques, wherein the name of God is much invoked, would surely be destroyed. God will surely help him who helps His cause—God is indeed powerful and mighty.
It appears that the objective of these verses is to authorize Muslims to engage in a just war to protect all houses of worship. To reinforce this straightforward interpretation of these verses, Afsaruddin provides the rulings of early Islamic commentators such as Mujahid ibn Jabr (d. 720) and Muqatil ibn Sulayman (d. 767), as she contends that these early commentators recognized the ecumenical nature of these verses to protect all monotheistic houses of worship.
It is true, however, that the later commentators of the Qur’an began to change the meaning of these verses. For example, Afsaruddin demonstrates how beginning with al-Tabari (d. 923) a variety of compromises were being read into the meaning of these verses to accommodate the prevailing anti-Christian Islamic ideology of the day. If both the straightforward reading of these verses and the early interpretations agree that the just war being commanded here is to protect religious freedom, then how can this command be reconciled with what is revealed in Quran 9:29? This problem, like many other obvious contradictions in the Qur’an, is supposedly justified through the doctrine of abrogation. Surah 2:106 says, “If We abrogate a verse or cause it to be forgotten, We will replace it by a better one or one similar to it.” The obvious and logical objection to this doctrine is the way it portrays Allah as inconsistent, which would reveal that the one in question is not omniscient. Therefore, the objective scholar must sit aside this illogical Islamic apologetic and return to the question of how such a clear ecumenical command can be reconciled with a declaration of open war. After reviewing countless Islamic commentators on these verses, it is clear that anti-Semitic and anti-Christian views developed and increased over time. If the Qur’an even remotely represents early Islam, then it follows that there were some negative feelings towards other monotheists. This anger, however, was directly related to the political maneuvering of several Jewish tribes who opposed Muhammad both politically and religiously. These feelings were held in tension by the fact that Muhammad recognized both the Torah and the Gospels as divine revelation. Thus, to say that Muhammad would call for the defense of all (monotheistic) houses of worship because they are places where the name of God is invoked, and then order the slaying of fellow monotheists referring to them as idolaters, is irreconcilable. Commentators such as al-Razi, al Qurtubi, and Ibn Kathir reveal that as the conflicts between Christians and Muslims increased, Muslim sensibilities were being drastically altered. These changes led to the adoption of exclusive views of these ecumenical verses that not only removed the protection over monotheistic houses of worship, but also opened the door for jihad against Jews and Christians. This exclusive position is in direct conflict with statements in the Qur’an such as the declaration that “Believers, Jews, Sabaeans, and Christians—whoever believes in God and the Last Day and does what is right—shall have nothing to fear nor shall they grieve” (5:69). The view that Jews and Christians, as well as other monotheists, were the enemy did not originate with the Qur’an, but with the second-century (9th century on the Western calendar) hadith collectors who sought to propagate a message of Muslim superiority, whose reports were being used to alter and interpret the message of Muhammad.
Jihad in the Hadith Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim
It is widely recognized that the hadith in its contemporary form was not collected and systemized until nearly two centuries after the life of Muhammad. Thus, for the first centuries of Islam, each caliph, as well as the numerous Islamic jurists, had the opportunity to bend Islam and portray its founder as being in line with each one’s own theological persuasions. Prior to the formal collections of the hadith, a person could easily credit the prophet of Islam with having endorsed any number of ideologies. It is universally recognized that countless fabricated reports of the prophet of Islam were being widely circulated. The hadith that supported the theology, ideology, or philosophy of the collectors were advanced as legitimate. In other words, the victors were the ones who not only wrote Islamic history, but also set the foundation and built the framework for its theology.
With the recognition of the Sunni hadith canon came a new and permanent means of propagating the anti-Jewish and anti-Christian views of the Muslims who now view both groups as the enemies of Allah. It should be noted that several of the references to jihad found in Sahih Bukhari (Vol. 4 bk. 52, no. 4, no. 42, no. 44, no. 46, no. 48, no. 49, no. 50, no. 52, no. 53, no. 61, 63, no. 64) and Muslim (Chap.1 no. 4292; Chap. 2 no. 4294; Chap. 6 no. 4313, no. 4314; Chap. 7 no. 4315, no. 4318; Chap. 8 no. 4319, 4320; Chap. 9 no. 4321; Chap. 10 no. 4324) make no direct or explicit mention of fighting either Jews or Christians. As is often the case, however, only the hadith that support the jihadist view of the People of the Book are mentioned. In other places, however, Bukhari and Muslim record very clear statements that Muslims should fight both Jews and Christians. The following are reports collected by Bukhari and Muslim reflecting the jihadist philosophy of the second century of Islam:
Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar: “I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, ‘The Jews will fight with you, and you will be given victory over them so that a stone will say, ‘O Muslim! There is a Jew behind me; kill him!’” (Sahih Bukhari 4:56:791).
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle said, “The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say. “O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him” (Sahih Bukhari 4:52:177).
It has been narrated by ‘Umar b. al-Khattib that he heard the Messenger of Allah (May peace be upon him) say: I will expel the Jews and Christians from the Arabian Peninsula and will not leave any but Muslim (Sahih Muslim 19:4366).
Ibn ‘Umar reported Allah’s Messenger (May peace be upon him) as saying: You will fight against the Jews and you will kill them until even a stone would say: Come here, Muslim, there is a Jew (hiding himself behind me); kill him (Sahih Muslim 41:6981).
Abdullah b. ‘Umar reported Allah’s Messenger (May peace be upon him) as saying: You and the Jews would fight against one another until a stone would say: Muslim, here is a Jew behind me; come and kill him (Sahih Muslim 41:6983).
Abdullah b. ‘Umar reported that Allah’s Messenger (May peace be upon him) said: The Jews will fight against you and you will gain victory over them until the stone would say: Muslim, here is a Jew behind me; kill him (Sahih Muslim 41:6984).
Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him; but the tree Gharqad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews (Sahih Muslim 41:6985)
As already demonstrated in this article, the content of these hadith do not accurately reflect the early era of Islam. Additionally, the first command of jihad in the Qur’an instructed Muslims to protect all (monotheistic) houses of worship. And the only verse that supports jihad against Jews and Christians has been shown to be unreliable and likely altered by later jurists. Conversely, the reports in the hadith reveal a clear and unapologetic hatred of the “People of the Book.” As already stated, the hadith was used to interpret the Qur’an, and as such, became the vehicle for determining Islamic theology. Therefore, it is plausible that as the doctrine of jihad grew to include Jews and Christians, the phrase “People of the Book” was later added to Surah 9:29. Unfortunately, Surah 9:29 has since been used to do unspeakable acts in the name of religion against people who the Qur’an declares worship God (22:39-40). When someone examines the rhetoric being promoted by modern-day jihadists, he will quickly recognize the influence of the hadith over and against that of the Qur’an. This is not to suggest that the Qur’an is not culpable in the twisted and evil doctrine of jihad, because it does speak negatively of both Jews and Christians (2:120; 3:110, 118; 5:51, 73). However, to justify the doctrine of Jihad against Jews and Christians solely on the Qur’an in light of what has been presented in this article is not possible. The role of the hadith in shaping and influencing the doctrine of jihad can be demonstrated by examining the above reports recorded by Bukhari and Muslim with the terroristic acts over the past fifty years. While some Muslims might contend that the hadith is secondary in importance and is not as authoritative as the Qur’an; after reading only a few reports by Bukhari and Muslim, one will quickly recognize the true source of the hatred proliferated by jihadists. The proof of the hadith’s authority is in the message of modern-day jihadists who are quoting, whether consciously or not, the reports of Bukhari and Muslim that Jews should be killed (Sahih Bukhari 4:52:177), and that the last day will not come until Muslims fight Christians and Jews (Sahih Muslim 41:6985).
After a brief survey of the evidence, one can easily conclude that Qur’an is in greater need of the sunna than the sunna is of the Qur’an. Furthermore, since the only access one has to the sunna of Muhammad is the hadith, then it follows that the hadith is the most influential element in Islamic faith and practice. It would be a mistake to assume that since ignorance of the formal science of hadith is pervasive among the majority of Muslims, that it yields no influence on their beliefs or practices. One only needs to attend a local mosque or Islamic center to realize that a great deal of the teaching is based on the hadith. It should, therefore, come as no surprise to discover that the hadith has yielded significant influence on Islamic theology, and especially the doctrine of jihad against other monotheists.
This article has sought to show that the influence and authority of the hadith has served to alter the once ecumenical spirit of Islam towards other monotheistic religions. This theory is supported by the literary evidence that Surah 9:29 has been altered and is likely the result of anti-Christian views that were born out of the Arabic expansion into Christian lands. Furthermore, this argument is supported by the clear anti-Semitic and anti-Christian doctrines propagated by the hadith of Bukhari and Muslim, who themselves were influenced by the prevailing theology of their day. Additionally, the Qur’an itself reveals that the doctrine of jihad in early Islamic history was ecumenical (22:39-40) and supported an inclusive attitude toward all monotheists (2:62; 5:69).
Moving forward, it would be helpful for Muslim, Jewish, and Christian scholars to take another look at Surah 9:29, and at the same time draw more attention to verses such as Surah 22:39-40. Neither of these suggestions should be understood as a recognition of the Qur’an as a revelation from God, but instead, as a very influential book that must not be ignored if people desire to reshape the conversation and possibly change the course of history.
Author’s Note: I do not believe that Muslims and Christians worship the same God. Historically, Christianity has espoused a view of a Triune God who is One God (one Being) and exists in Three Persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). Muslims believe that God exists as One Being and One Person, which is referred to as a Unitarian view of God. These views are irreconcilable. Furthermore, Christianity believes that Jesus was the Son of God, fully divine and fully human. This view cannot be reconciled with the Islamic view that Jesus, although he was a prophet, was only a man.
The separation between the sacred and secular is primarily a western concept that began in the 16th and 17th centuries during the European enlightenment. In an Islamic worldview, however, no such dichotomy exists. Since its genesis, Islam has been a religion that seeks to shape every area of society. Thus, an evaluation of the role of the hadith in Islamic society and religion will involve a great deal of overlap in the two areas.
Abdullah Saeed, Islamic Thought: An Introduction (New York: Rutledge, 2006). Saeed contends that “one of the areas in which a literal reading of the texts of the Qur’an and hadith is applied is in the area of relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims” (147). This idea is supported by the contemporary Islamic scholar Muhammad b. Salih al-Uthaymin who writes that even a weak hadith can be used authoritatively in Muslim and non-Muslims relations (148). The inconsistent use of both the Qur’an and hadith reveal that the question of jihad against Jews and Christians does not enjoy early support the Islam of Muhammad. It is historically verifiable that Muhammad led his followers to fight the Jews of Medina and the surrounding area. These attacks, however, were not motivated by religious fervor or superiority, but instead, where the result of the alleged Jewish alliance with the Quraysh of Mecca.
Kecia Ali and Oliver Leaman, Islam: The Key Concepts (New York: Rutledge, 2008), 46.
Saeed, Islamic Thought, 36. Sunni Muslims also recognize the collections of Abu Dawud (d. 275/883), Tirmidhi (d. 279/892), Ibn Maja (d. 273/886), Nasa’i (d. 303/915), and Ahmad Ibn Hanbal (d. 233/847).
Ignaz Goldziher, Introduction to Islamic Theology and Law Translated by Andras and Ruth Hamori (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1981), 38. Goldziher contends that “since the sunna is the embodiment of the views and practices of the oldest Islamic community, it functions as the most authoritative interpretation of the text of the Qur’an.” He demonstrates this point by quoting Ali’ who instructed his young protégé to not use the Qur’an to contend with opponents of Islam, because it could be interpreted in numerous ways. Instead, the apologist for Islam was commanded to use the sunna, that, according to the Ali’, would leave the opponent with no room for escape (380).
Aisha Y. Musa, Hadith as Scripture: Discussions on the Authority of Prophetic Traditions in Islam (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008). In the introduction, Musa points out that the hadith has not always enjoyed widespread acceptance and authority (1). She contends that while many Muslim scholars claim that the questions concerning the hadith’s authority are the result of western and non-Muslim scholarship, history does not agree. Throughout Islamic history, according to Musa, there has existed “two trends evident in opposition to the hadith: opposition to Hadith as a source of scriptural authority that might rival the Qur’an and to particular hadith whose absurd or even outrageous content made the religion a potential object of ridicule” (2). Additionally, she argues that key Islamic figures such as Muhammad ibn Idris al-Shafi’i (d. 204/820) was the pioneer for the concept of the duality of revelation. The need to establish the authority of the hadith implies controversy surrounding the use of it as such. Thus, questions about the authority and role of the hadith have existed since the second century of Islamic history.
For a more detailed discussion on the science of hadith see, Jonathan Brown, The Canonization of alBukhari and Muslim: The Formation of Function of the Sunni Hadith Canon (Boston: Brill, 2011). Mohammad H. Kamali, A Textbook of Hadith Studies: Authenticity, Compilation, Classification, and Criticism of Hadith (Leicestershire, UK: The Islamic Foundation, 2005).
Marshal G. S. Hodgson, The Venture of Islam: Conscience and History in a World Civilization, Vol. 1. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1977), 64, 254.
Ibid., 327. Not all hadith have an isnad that originates with a companion. As Marshal Hodgson points out, that the chain might or might not have begun with an immediate associate of the Prophet. In hadith studies, before one could be considered a companion, he or she must meet at least any of the basic qualifications. First, he or she must have been a Muslim who saw the prophet. Second, the person must have had a long association with the prophet. And finally, any adult Muslim must have been associated with the prophet for any length of time to be considered reliable. The two most famous collectors of the Hadith are Al-Bukhari and Muslim, and both report more than 200 companions of Muhammad. For more on the requirements for one to be considered a companion see Muhammad Zubayr Siddiqi, Hadith Literature: Its Origin, Development, & Special Features (Cambridge, UK: The Islamic Text Society, 1993).
It is widely recognized that during the Umayyad period the sunna that was being handed down did not contain an isnad. The isnad was a later addition that was meant to combat fabricated hadith. Ironically, all a fabricated hadith need to become legitimate was a fabricated isnad. For more on fabricated hadith see, Ignaz Goldziher, Introduction to Islamic Theology and Law (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1981).
Malise Ruthven, Islam in the World, 3rd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), 132.
Musa, Hadith as Scripture, 7-8. In her discussion on the authenticity versus authority of the hadith debate, Musa argues that, “for modern non-Muslim scholars, the primary question regarding the hadith has also been of their authenticity, but from an historical-critical perspective. Rather than focusing on the reliability of and linkages between individuals in the chains of transmission, non-Muslim scholarship has been skeptical of the use of isnads and has focused on the textual content (matn) of hadith and the historical milieus in which they might have spread (in an attempt to date them).” Among some Muslim scholars, however, this is disdain for the western approach. Musa adds that, “Fuat Sezgin, Nabia Abbott, and Mustafa Azami have challenged the skepticism of Western scholarship and have come to the conclusion—that hadith are a product of the earliest years of the Muslim community, which were written down during the lifetime of the Prophet and his companions (8).” Since these Muslim scholars believe that hadith were being transmitted very early in Islam, then it follows that their chief concern would be authenticating the isnad. If the isnad is reliable, then the hadith would be considered authoritative.
Mohammad H. Kamali, A Textbook of Hadith Studies: Authenticity, Compilation, Classification, and Criticism of Hadith (Leicestershire, UK: The Islamic Foundation, 2005), 12.
“Islamic Awareness: The Science of Hadith,” USC Muslim Student Association Islamic Server [online]; accessed 2 April 2013; available from http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Hadith/Ulum/hadsciences.html; Internet.
Siddiqi, Hadith Literature, 3.
Musa, Hadith as Scripture, 5-6. The doctrine of the duality of revelation was made popular by Muhammad ibn Idris al-Shafi’i (d. 204/820) in the third century of Islam. This doctrine, according to Musa, “is now a standard part of mainstream Sunni Muslim belief.” This view, however, is not shared by all Muslims. The Quranists contend that the hadith is not a legitimate authoritative source in Islam, and claim that Muslims must rely only upon the Qur’an as the source of religious law and guidance (6).
In my frequent visits to the Islamic Center of Northern Kentucky, I heard the Imams referring to both Muslim and Bukhari in the Friday sermons. They freely quote and use them as authorities that appear to be on par with the Qur’an. In fact, in one Friday sermon, I heard the Imam quote Bukhari and Muslim more than the Qur’an.
Jonathan Brown, The Canonization of al-Bukhari and Muslim: The Formation and Function of the Sunni Hadith Canon (Boston: Brill, 2011,) 7-8.
Saeed, Islamic Thought, 39. Saeed is not endorsing the theory that the hadith was developed and altered at a later date. Instead, he is claiming that some western Islamic scholars such as Ignaz Goldziher doubt the authenticity of the hadith collections.
Goldziher, Introduction to Islamic Theology and Law, 32.
Siddiqi, Hadith Literature, 3.
W. Montgomery Watt, Islamic Philosophy and Theology: An Extended Survey (Edinburgh, UK: University Press, 1985,) 56.
Robert Spencer, Did Muhammad Exist?: An Inquiry into Islam’s Obscure Origins (Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, 2012), chap. 3, under “The Centrality of the Hadith,” Kindle ebook.
Goldziher, Introduction to Islamic Theology and Law, 40.
Watt, Islamic Philosophy and Theology, 28-29.
Tilman Nagel, The History of Islamic Theology: From Muhammad to the Present (Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener Publishers, 2000), 78.
Spencer, Did Muhammad Exist?, chap. 3, under “The Countless Sunna.”
Nabia Abott, Studies in Arabic Literary Papyri, Vol. 2: Qur’anic Commentary and Tradition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1967), 7-11, quoted in Robert Spencer, Did Muhammad Exist?, chap. 3, under “The Countless Sunna.”
Goldziher, Introduction to Islamic Theology, 43.
It is strongly argued that the Qur’an, in its contemporary form, is the product of the authorized work done during the caliphate of ‘Uthman. Malise Ruthven, Islam in the Word, 3rd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), convincingly argues that that “Quran as we know it was assembled at a much later date out of a fragmentary oral tradition deriving from the Arabian Prophet, but which also included a large quantity of exegetical or explanatory matter developed in the course of polemical disputes with Jews and Christians after the Arab conquest” (81).
Goldziher, Introduction to Islamic Theology and Law, 33. Goldziher convincingly argues that early Islamic law was tolerant of other religions. He states, “It is undeniable that, in this earliest phase of development of Islamic law, the spirit of tolerance permeated the instructions that Muslim conquerors were given for dealing with the subjugated adherents of other religions” (33). Furthermore, he adds that “in the earliest times the Arabs were not fanatic; their intercourse with their Christian Semitic cousins was nearly fraternal” (33). As evidence of this claim, he offers the example of a mosque that Umar ordered demolished because the local civic leader had appropriated the house of a Jew in order to build the mosque in its place (36).
Muslim, Sahih Al-Muslim, 19. Kitab Al-Jihad Wa’L-Siyar (The Book of Jihad and Expedition). According to the introductory notes, “Jihad in Islam is not an act of violence directed indiscriminately against nonMuslims; it is the name given to an all-round struggle which a Muslim should launch against evil in whatever form or shape it appears.” In addition to this white-washed definition of jihad, the author adds that it is not different than what is known among Westerners jurists as “just war.” The author goes on to add that Qur’an 8:45-46 exhorts Muslims to observe five principles of war: (1) Be steadfast in the face of the enemy; (2) Have full reliance on the help of Allah; (3) Have the unity of purpose and solidarity of corporate life always before your eyes; (4) Be fully aware of the lofty purpose before you in fighting; and (5) Don’t be proud and boastful in your attitude and behavior. The author’s intention here is to portray jihad as both a struggle against evil and as the heroic efforts of Muslims who have justified reasons for engaging in war.
One such example of the use of weak hadith to mislead is the often quoted “Upon his return from battle Muhammad said, ‘We have returned from the lesser jihad to the greater jihad.’” The fact that this hadith has been classified as either weak or as fabricated does not prevent it from being listed in Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri’s book Reliance of the Traveler: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law, Rev. ed. Translated by Nuh Ha Mim Keller (Beltsville, MD: Amana, 1994,) 599.
In Surah 9:29 Jews and Christians are referred to as “the People of the Book.”
Shaykh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarkpuri, Tafsir Bin Kathir, Vol. 4, 2nd ed. (New York: Darussalam, 2003), 404-405. The explanation given in the Tafsir Bin Kathir is considered to be a reliable and conservative commentary amongst Sunni Muslims. The comments on Surah 9:29 read, “When the People of the Scriptures disbelieved in Muhammad, they had no beneficial faith in any Messenger or what the Messengers brought. Rather, they followed their religions because this conformed with their ideas, lusts and the ways of their forefathers, not because they are Allah’s Law and religion.” This explanation is rather juvenile and does not deal with the structure or syntax of the verse. Furthermore, the explanation of the context does reveal that the commentator does realize that the verse appears to be at odds with earlier revelations of Muhammad. Thus, he feels it is important to explain that this revelation came to Muhammad after the pagans of Arabia were defeated and as Allah was preparing Muhammad to fight the Romans (405).
Unfortunately, among some western religious writers there is a tendency to overlook this aspect of Islamic history. Karen Armstrong, Holy War (London: MacMillan, 1988). Armstrong’s history of the Muslim-Christian conflict conveniently begins with the Christian crusades. She goes so far as to claim that “Islam was in effect a tolerant religion and its polity provided for peaceful existence (30). Worse, in her definition of jihad she writes, “But most frequently the struggle referred to is the war Mohammad was forced to wage against the nonMuslim Arabs of Arabia (xv). Thus, her argument ignores, and in some ways attempts to rewrite the first five hundred years of Islamic history.
Andrew G. Bostom, ed. The Legacy of Jihad: Islamic Holy War and the Fate of Non-Muslims (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2005), chap. 3, under “Richard Bell (D 1952), A Commentary on the Qur’an.” In his chapter on interpretations of Surah 9:29, Bostom is quoting Rev. Dr. Richard Bell, Commentary on the Qur’an, Vol. 1, 1991. According to Boston, Richard Bell was educated at Edinburg University, where he studied Semitic languages and divinity. After fourteen years in the parish ministry, Bell returned to Edinburg as lecturer in Arabic, attaining the position of reader in Arabic in 1938, a position held until his retirement in 1947. Dr. Bell’s major writings include The Origin of Islam in its Christian Environment (1925), The Qur’an, translated, with a critical re-arrangement of the Surahs (1937-1939), Introduction to the Qur’an (1953), and A Commentary on the Qur’an (1991), edited by C.E. Bosworth.
For a more detailed discussion on the Surah 9:29 and the words jizya and yadin see Ibn Warrag, ed. What the Koran Really Says: Language, Text, and Commentary (New York: Prometheus, 2002).
The fact that the doctrine of Dhimmah, that means protected ones, comes into vogue under Umar bin Al-Khattab, the second Caliph, is no coincidence. It was under Umar’s reign that Islam became a regional power as his Muslim armies conquered vast territories that stretched the Islamic empire as far as modern day Pakistan in the west, modern day Libya in the East, modern day Turkey in the north, and covered the entire Arabian peninsula in the south. In order to justify the armed conquest and subjugation of Jewish and Christian lands and people, Umar would have needed sunnas wherein Muhammad allowed for jihad to be executed against the People of the Book.
Ibn Warrag, ed. Which Koran? Variants, Manuscripts, Linguistics (New York: Prometheus Books, 2011), 407.
Asma Afsaruddin, “In Defense of All Houses of Worship?: Jihad in the Context of Interfaith Relations,” in Just Wars, Holy Wars, & Jihads: Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Encounters and Exchanges, ed. Sohail H. Hashmi (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), 47.
The Arabic word for God “Allah” was in use by both Jews and Christians before the inception of Islam. For more on the use of Allah by Arabic speaking Jews and Christian see the article “One God Overall? A Study of Allah in Islam and Christianity,” by Dr. Raouf Ghattas, Publication Unknown, March 2005.
Afsaruddin, In Defense of All Houses of Worship, 65.
It is interesting to note a hadith in the same collection in Buhkari’s hadith, that Muhammad commands his followers to fight the Turks (Sahih Bukhari 4:52:179).. Muhammad’s raids and battles were in large part concentrated on the Arabian peninsula. Yet, one is led to believe that the prophet of Islam had the foresight to order his followers to declare jihad against the Turks. This hadith serves as further justification for believing that views of the Islamic jurists of the second century of Islamic history were imposed upon Muhammad through the hadith.
Ruthven, Islam in the World, 137.