Want to Tell a True Hadith? Do a Hypothesis Test! [Quote - 498]
One way to determine the truth-value of a Hadith is by testing it against facts. Both historical and contemporary facts -- in the real world.
In other words, with regard to any given Hadith Sharif, do a simple Hypothesis Test.
The specific argument I am making -- the hypothesis I am suggesting -- is this:
"If this particular Hadith -- any given Hadith -- is true, that means, if it is really from Allah, and if it really and truly came out of the blessed and unerring lips of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, then it is bound to fit reality, the events and situations of the real world, as we find them at any time or in any given place."
This is, if you will, an empirical test of a Hadith -- beyond the regular, established methods pursued by traditional Muslim Scholarship through the ages of Sanad and Matan (Matn).
Sanad Method means the critical examination of the Reporting Chain of the Hadith.
Matan (Matn) Method is the critical examination of the actual text or words of the Hadith.
While the Sanad Method is accepted by all, what I am calling the Matn Method is questioned by some.
That is because some people argue that a Hadith attributed to Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, must be accepted, or rejected, based entirely on the strength or weakness of its Chain of Narration.
And this should be regardless of any analysis or independent insight one may develop into the actual wording of the text itself.
It is an interesting debate in many ways.
But I do want to commend a Third Method to Islamic Scholarship at all levels: the Hypothesis Testing Method.
I want to submit it as an additional Third Method for the critical examination, verification and validation of a Hadith, beyond and in addition to, the other two established methods of historical Hadith Scholarship of Sanad and Matn analysis.
That means, just check to see how the content of a Hadith -- any given Hadith -- unfolded over time during the past 1400 years.
And, soon enough, you will know.
Wa La-Saufa Ta'alamoon!