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How Do I Understand a Hadith That Appears to Contradict the Fundamentals of Islam?

Answered according to Shafi'i Fiqh by Seekersguidance.org

Question: How is it that “the child-burier and the buried child are in Hell,” as mentioned in a hadith when children are not morally responsible?

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

Dear questioner,

Thank you for your important question.

Whenever we come across a hadith that seems to be at odds with what we know about Islam, we must first ascertain the authenticity of the hadith. The next step is to see if we have understood the hadith correctly.

When we look to see if this hadith is actually authentic, we find that it is indeed sound. [Sahih Ibn Hibban; al Tamhid, Ibn Abd al Barr] The question then is what it means.

According to Munawi, the most likely understanding of the hadith is “the child-burier and the woman for whom the child was buried are in Hell.” That is to say that it is referring to a woman having another woman (possibly the midwife) bury the baby girl alive. [Fath al Qadir, Munawi] This interpretation would avoid the whole issue. There are other interpretations as well. [Al-Qada wa al-Qadar, Bayhaqi; Mirqat al Mafatih, Mulla Ali Qari]

In general, the fundamental Islamic creed, such as the fact that no soul shall bear the sin of another, does not change. If a verse of the Qur’an or a hadith seems to contradict what well known and obvious from the core teachings of Islamic, it usually means that we have misunderstood the text, to begin with.

I pray this helps.

[Ustadh] Farid Dingle

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Farid Dingle has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies, he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years he has developed a masterful ability to craft lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language.

This answer was collected from Seekersguidance.org. It’s an online learning platform overseen by Sheikh Faraz Rabbani. All courses are free. They also have in-person classes in Canada.

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