By Huda Shaka`
How did the Hadith spread during the lifetime of the Prophet (s)?
As mentioned in previous posts, the early Muslims studied Hadith along with the Qur’an in their study circles at Dar al-Arqam. Soon after that, the Prophet (salla Allahu `alayhi wa sallam) was ordered to spread Islam publicly. Eventually, Islam spread throughout the Arabian Peninsula and the number of Muslims grew into thousands. How did the spread of Hadith happen during this time of vast expansion?
Several factors worked together to ensure the spread of Hadith during the first twenty-three years of Islam:
1. The tireless efforts of the Messenger of Allah:
Prophet Muhammad (s) did not pass up any opportunity to call to Islam, and he endured many hardships and challenges to ensure the spread of his message, including meeting different tribes and envoys during pilgrimage and trade seasons.
2. The nature of Islam:
The novelty of this Deen compared to the way of life in Arabia 1,400+ years ago aroused the curiosity of some people and led them to meet the Prophet (s) to inquire about this new religion. Many people would then accept Islam and travel back to their tribes to teach them what they learnt from their encounter with the Prophet of Allah (s).
3. The efforts of the Companions (peace be upon them):
The companions of the Prophet (may Allah be pleased with them) strove to learn as much as they could from the Prophet (s) and pass on that knowledge. Despite being busy with their daily bread-winning activities (trade, shepherding, etc.) the companions made sure to attend the study circles with the Prophet of Allah (s), or at least take turns in attending.
For example, Umar (raa) narrates that he and one of his neighbors from the Ansar (helpers of Madinah) from the tribe of Umayyah ibn Zaid used to take turns in attending the study circle of the Prophet (s). When it was his turn, Umar would return and convey to his neighbor the ahadith and verses he had heard, and his neighbor would do the same (reported in Fath al-Bari).
4. The Mothers of the Believers (may Allah be pleased with them):
Being in close contact with the Prophet of Allah (s), the Mothers of the Believers played an important role in the spreading of his Sunnah, especially amongst women – some of whom would be too shy to approach the Messenger (s) directly.
`A’isha, the daughter of Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with both of them), was famous for her vast knowledge of hadith and fiqh rulings because she would constantly ask the Prophet of Allah (s) about anything she did not know or understand. After the Prophet’s death, she was a great reference and source for the students of knowledge.
5. The envoys and messengers of the Messenger of Allah (s):
The Prophet Mohammad (s) sent messengers to all surrounding tribes and empires, both near and far, and would teach his messengers the art of da`wah (calling people to Islam) before they left and instruct them to convey Islam in the best way – using wisdom and not being too harsh on people.
6. The Conquest of Makkah (al-Fath):
This is one of the greatest conquests in history, which resulted in thousands of people coming to Islam. There was a very large number of Muslims in Makkah during the Conquest from different tribes and origins, which facilitated their encounter with the Prophet and the transfer of knowledge amongst them (including the knowledge of Hadith).
7. The Farewell Pilgrimage:
The Farewell Sermon that the Prophet of Allah (s) gave on the mountain of `Arafat during this pilgrimage included many of the main principles and rulings of Islam. It was heard by around 90,000 Muslims from all over Arabia, who were performing the pilgrimage alongside the Prophet of Allah (s).
Originally posted at Muslamics.
Stay Tuned for Part V – What Happened to Hadith During the Time of the Companions and their Followers?