Quran and Hadith
People often consider Hadith as an explanation of the Quran. That’s true but not quite as simple as that.
Quran is a fully preserved word of God which by its own description is clear. It’s a guidance which needs no further clarification for its text to be understood. However, its message was meant to be understood and practiced. The best example of that practice was the life of the prophet, alaihissalam. What he explained and practiced is contained in Hadith. Hadith therefore can’t be ignored.
Hadith however has a few difficulties. There are three to four generations between Hadith and the prophet alaihissalam. We can never be absolutely certain if what is claimed is what exactly happened or was said. We can never be confident about the context of what is claimed to have been said or done. And, most significantly, there is a huge gap of two centuries or more when the earliest generations of Muslims were by and large without Hadith.
Hadith therefore has to understood in the light of the Qur’n even while it explains the latter. It can never say anything against or uniquely different from the Quran. This very strong relationship of mutual interdependence of the two sources should never be ignored.
For example, there is a strong condemnation of lowering of trousers beneath the ankles for men in Hadith. Proper contextualizing of Hadith shows it was in reality a condemnation of the arrogant ways of the people of the earlier times. Hadith criticizes men wearing gold and silver. Viewing it from the Quranic perspective, it is evident that the criticism has to do with arrogance and extravagance, both of which have been condemned by the Quran. Hadith looks down upon pictures of living beings. Trying to understand the narratives on the issue, one can clearly see that it was in reality the implementation of the Quranic condemnation of ascribing partners with God. Most of the non-God deities were worshiped through their images that were made in the form of statues and pictures. One finds music described as strongly undesirable in Hadith. When one looks at the Quran one discovers that while it promotes beauty as God’s blessing on the one hand, it condemns all manifestations of obscenity on the other. Condemnation of obscene music fell into that category.
There is a dire need to understand Hadith in the light of the Quran. If it is read in the light of the book of God, it is an unquestionable blessing. However, if Hadith is read in isolation from the Quran, at times it creates a completely new religious understanding. Indeed reading Hadith without the light of the Quran is no service to Islam, nor the Quran, nor Hadith itself.