Oral Torah, Sacred Tradition, Ahadith

Discussion in 'Abrahamic Religions' started by Cino, Feb 2, 2019.

  1. Cino

    Cino Big Love

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    A common theme in (at least) the Abrahamic faiths: the dual authority of written and (initially) oral transmission.

    Torah and Mishnah, and later Talmud. Both trace their authority back to the revelation at Mount Sinai.

    The Gospel and the Sacred Tradition (and later, Protestant efforts to derive it purely from scripture). Inspired by the Holy Spirit, legitimized by apostolic lineage.

    The Quran and the Ahadith, both traced back to the Prophet, either his revelation or his example.

    Scripture and tradition have this interesting relationship, either one is meaningless without the other, and yet people have gotten seriously angry at each other about the authority and content of oral tradition. Schisms, sects, and worse.

    Where do you all stand regarding the oral traditions of your faiths? And I'd love to include the Baha'i members in this discussion as well.
     
  2. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    From a Catholic viewpoint, the two go hand-in-hand. The Protestant rejection of Tradition was a means of rejecting the authority of Rome, rather than any criticism of Tradition as such.

    For myself, I always think the Tradition gave rise to the Scripture, not the other way round.
     
  3. OrtaYol

    OrtaYol Member

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    As a Muslim I reject hadith, in my view there is no support for them to be followed. I disagree that one is meaningless without the other, at least in the case of Islam.

    The Quran claims that it is complete, fully detailed and nothing has been left out of it. Muslims who follow hadith claim for example that you cannot do your daily prayers properly without hadith as the full instructions are not in the Quran, which if they are correct proves the Quran wrong.

    Circumcision is another point, there is absolutely no mention of it in the Quran. In fact the Quran states:

    4:117-119 - They do not call besides Him on anything but idols, and they do not call on anything but a rebellious Shaitan. Allah has cursed him; and he said: Most certainly I will take of Thy servants an appointed portion: And most certainly I will lead them astray and excite in them vain desires, and bid them so that they shall slit the ears of the cattle, and most certainly I will bid them so that they shall alter Allah's creation; and whoever takes the Shaitan for a guardian rather than Allah he indeed shall suffer a manifest loss.
     
  4. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    But the Quran was written down by, collated by, edited by, the tradition.

    As for hadith, in the Christian Tradition we have the 'Patristic Fathers'. Their writings provide the first commentaries, exegesis, etc., but they are not 'gospel', rather they're guides.

    It's said that where all the Fathers are in accord, you can pretty well rely on what they say. Where they differ, you can make your choices. Only one, as far as I know, is agreed to be entirely without fault in everything he wrote.

    Same with popes. Only when a teaching is delivered ex cathedra is it regarded as doctrine. That's why Pope Francis makes the off-the-cuff statements he does — they won't change anything.
     
  5. OrtaYol

    OrtaYol Member

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    I'm not sure what you mean by this and how it relates to hadith.

    Similar things are said about hadith and Quran, that if the hadith is inline with Quranic teachings then it can be considered authentic.. however if it is inline with Quranic teaching then what's the point of it?
     
  6. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    The Quaran as Scripture, is the product of the Tradition.
     
  7. Arif Ghamiq

    Arif Ghamiq Active Member

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    The point - for me - is Tafsir of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) which details the specifics of The Revelation, such as the specifics Salah.

    The Tafsir of many Scholars & Imams (or just fellow Muslims) are valued, while the words of The Prophet are ignored.

    I also believe that the historic context of many Quranic passages is extremely important in understanding the meaning of the Revelation.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2019
  8. Cino

    Cino Big Love

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    Interesting points! I didn't know those details about the Patristic Fathers, or that the Hadith are considered Tafsir in themselves.

    It occurred to me that in Buddhism, the commentaries are kept well separate from the Suttas, and that the Abhidamma (also ascribed to the Buddha), an early systematization of the doctrine, was maybe a similar phenomenon to oral tradition as discussed here, in that different schools had the same sutras but different Abhidarma. This was then overlaid by the development of Mahayana Sutras, which had their own commentarial traditions... similar but more complex situation.
     
  9. Arif Ghamiq

    Arif Ghamiq Active Member

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    The systematization of doctrine in Islam primarily took place with the Four Madhahib beginning roughly 150 years after the death of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
     
  10. Abdullah

    Abdullah Member

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    It is through the oral tradition the the Holy Quran and hadith has been preserved

    Whereas writings can get distorted, preservation in from of memory by many people that can corroborate with another is the undistortable form of preservation

    And to this day there continue to be thousands of Hafiz (those who have memorized the entire Quran) and Muhaddithin (those who have memorized tens of thousands of hadith).

    Oral form of carry this religion is considered the way true knowledge enters one's heart. A story is a prime example:

    This great pious Scholar used to carry his hundreds of books around on his cart. One day a robber started to rob him.. he said, 'take what you like but please don't take my knowledge', the robber laughed and replied, 'stupid man, people carry knowledge in their hearts and not in books'. The Scholar realised this is true and that if that robber robs all his books then away goes his knowledge too, so after this incident, he memorized every single book he had and became a true scholar!
     
  11. Cino

    Cino Big Love

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    Thank you, @Abdullah!

    I know a fun story too, about one of the ancient Jewish sages, I don't remember which one, unfortunately.

    A would-be convert approached the sage wanting to learn - but the written Torah only, not the oral tradition. The sage told him he'd have to learn the alphabet first, and taught him the first few letters. After a week, they repeated last week's lesson - but this time, the letters the student had learned suddenly looked different! What he had learned as Alef, was now Bet, and Gimel was Alef and so on. When the confused student asked about this, the sage told him, "The written letters are still the same. So how did you learn what they letters mean? By listening! That is why you can not have the written tradition without the oral one."
     
  12. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    I'm glad to see the idea of oral tradition, Tradition as such, taking its rightful place in the dialogue.
     
    Cino likes this.
  13. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet Deus Pascus Corvus

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    The reason that African shamans, Irish bards etc, were 'protected species' is that they remembered tribal history in long poems. The rhyming form was an aid to memory. They were the archives of history, before writing?

    They were highly trained through years of initiation.
     
  14. RabbiO

    RabbiO הרב יונה בן זכריה

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    Hillel.

    It is from the Talmud, Shabbat 31a to be precise.
     
  15. Cino

    Cino Big Love

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    Thank you, @RabbiO! That's an interesting loop-back.
     
  16. rosends

    rosends Member

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    That story is somewhat different from the one posted here. Same idea, though.
     
  17. Cino

    Cino Big Love

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    I probably mangled it in my retelling.
     
  18. rosends

    rosends Member

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    From dafyomi.co.il

    The first day, Hillel taught him Aleph, Beis, Gimel, Dalet; the next day, Hillel reversed the order of the letters.

    5.The non-Jew: Yesterday you taught differently!

    6.Hillel: You rely on me to know the letters - you can also rely on me regarding oral Torah!

    -----------
    The story ends up being about rabbinical authority more than about the specific information in the oral code.
     

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