On Hadiths of Sahih al Bukhari- Draft #3 75%





On the Hadiths of Sahih al Bukhari

There are five versions of the Hadith of the Laborers in Sahih al Bukhari, each one possibly addressing different aspects of the parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard. Hadiths are collections of oral traditions and sayings of the prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him-pbu), which, are especially important in Sunni Muslim daily life and values. In Islamic theology, hadiths are completely separate from, and are not a part of, the Quran; they may be altered and are susceptible to the perspectives and cultural influences at the time they were first recorded. The Persian scholar Mohammad al Bukhari first recorded the hadiths, or traditional sayings, of the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) during the Abbasid Empire in 846, almost 200 years after the founding of the religion of Islam. From a very young age, Bukhari began his search through, what is the present day Middle East, for all the sayings of the prophet. He apparently began his search after Mohammad came to him in a dream, and Bukhari was holding a fan in front of him- he interpreted this to mean he was protecting the prophet from lies. From that, he was incited to compile the Sahih, or the correct. His compilation later gained the title of Sahih al Bukhari, which translates to mean ‘the authentic Bukhari’, and it is now considered to be one of the most authentic books or compilations of Islam after the Quran. [REFERENCES!]

Hadiths are sayings or collections of traditions told by the prophet Mohammad during the early 7th century CE. The root of the word hadith originates from the Arabic word for ‘it happened, or it occurred’. Today, these spoken traditions of the prophet are mainly followed by Sunni Muslims (the term Sunni means ‘well-taken path’). They resemble the parables of Jesus in their unique method of illustrating both the allegorical and literal basis behind interpretation of religion. One version of the hadith is number 468 in the Volume 3 of Book 36.

[The Prophet said, “Your example and the example of the people of the two Scriptures (i.e. Jews and Christians) is like the example of a man who employed some laborers and asked them, ‘Who will work for me from morning till midday for one Qirat?’ The Jews accepted and carried out the work. He then asked, Who will work for me from midday up to the ‘Asr prayer for one Qirat?’ The Christi- ans accepted and fulfilled the work. He then said, ‘Who will work for me from the ‘Asr till sunset for two Qirats?’ You, Muslims have accepted the offer. The Jews and the Christians got angry and said, ‘Why should we work more and get lesser wages?’ (Allah) said, ‘Have I with-held part of your right?’ They replied in the negative. He said, ‘It is My Blessing, I bestow upon whomever I wish].

The narrator begins by stating that the Prophet Mohammad (pbu) is the one who is narrating the hadith, and he is speaking to the Muslim community about themselves and the people of the two scriptures (or the Christians and the Jews). The narrator states that a man has employed laborers, but there is no mention of a vineyard. Furthermore, the employer directly states that the first workers will work from morning until ‘midday for one Qirat’- a Qirat is the equivalent of one silver coin. Here, the narrator specifies exactly how much the first wave of workers will get paid and the time period in which they will be working. Here, the man poses a question, and the Jews are the first to respond, accept, and carry out the work. The man then asks who will work for him ‘from midday to the ‘Asr (or late day) prayer for one Qirat’. This time, the Christians respond and fulfill the task. The employer asks one final time who will work for him, but this time, he says who will work for him ‘from ‘Asr to sunset for two Qirats’. Here, the verb of the man switches from asking to saying who will work for him. The two Qirats is double the wage that was offered earlier in the day. Now, the Muslims ‘have accepted’ the offer, but there is no mention of the work completing or being fulfilled. It is also important to note that in the tense of ‘having accepted’ the work, this means that the Muslims presently accepted the work, or more recently did they. The narrator continues explain that the Jews and Christians got angry and questioned why they should work for a longer time and receive less than the Muslims. Allah (God) responds to employees by asking them if any part of their right was with held. When they respond ‘No’, Allah continues to state that the ‘payment’ is his blessing that he ‘bestows upon whomever he wishes’. Moreover, the text clearly states that the Christians and Jews got angry in the past while the Muslims are currently fulfilling the task. There is a contrast in action tense. The narrator does not mention whom the people of the two scriptures question in the first place. Another of the hadith is number 469, and it is found in the same volume and book as the previous version with slight variations. [Allah’s Apostle said, “Your example and the example of Jews and Christians is like the example of a man who employed some laborers to whom he said, ‘Who will work for me up to midday for one Qirat each?’ The Jews carried out the work for one Qirat each; and then the Christians carried out the work up to the ‘Asr prayer for one Qirat each; and now you Muslims are working from the ‘Asr prayer up to sunset for two Qirats each. The Jews and Christians got angry and said, ‘We work more and are paid less.’ The employer (Allah) asked them, ‘Have I usurped some of your right?’ They replied in the negative. He said, ‘That is My Blessing, I bestow upon whomever I wish.’ “] In hadith 469, it is established that Allah’s Apostle is the narrator of the hadith. In Islam, an apostle could refer to a prophet of God- so it is not truly known whether the narrator is Mohammad (pbu) or Jesus, since they are both apostles and prophets of God. TO EXPAND ON?-àIt can be deduced that the narrator is Mohammad (pbu) because this narrator is also speaking directly to muslims. This is in contrary to hadith 468, which directly establishes that the narrator is the Prophet Mohammad who is speaking to the Muslims (can’t be Jesus, wasn’t around at the time). Both in hadith 468 and 469, a man employs laborers for one Qirat each, and the Jews carry out the work first, Christians second, and Muslims last for two Qirats. However, unlike hadith 468, the employer does not ask the question three times; he only asks the question one time, and the workers subsequently accept and fulfill the tasks. Like hadith 468, the Muslims are the last to accept the task, but the narrator states that the Muslims ‘are working from ‘Asr prayer up to sunset’. This implies that the Muslims are still working on fulfilling the task; the task is currently underway, and the Muslims will get paid when they complete it. Like in hadith 468, the Jews and Christians get angry because they are paid less, but in 469, they do not ask why this occurs like in 468, they make a statement that they “work more and are paid less”. Following this, it is asserted that the employer is Allah, and Allah responds to the angry workers. This implies that the man who employed the workers is actually God as well. In hadith 468, it is never stated that God is the employer, only that God replies to the angry workers. In hadith 469, God asks if he has usurped the right of the workers; this connotation differs from hadith 468 in which God asks if he withheld part of their right. Usurped typically means to take something illegally or by force whereas withhold means not to give out in full. Furthermore, in this version, God asks if he has usurped the right of the workers while in the previous Allah states or says (does not pose a question) if he has withheld the right. This emphasizes that fact that God already knew the answer to the question- it was a way to help Christians and Jews realize Allah bestows his blessings upon whomever (reference Hebrew Bible examples?). In both hadiths, the workers reply in the negative to Allah, and Allah states that he bestows his blessing upon whomever he wishes. Another version, which closely resembles hadiths 468 and 469, is hadith number 665 in Volume 4, Book 56.

[Allah’s Apostle said, “Your period (i.e. the Muslims’ period) in comparison to the periods of the previous nations, is like the period between the ‘Asr prayer and sunset. And your example in com- parison to the Jews and the Christians is like the example of a person who employed some laborers and asked them, ‘Who will work for me till midday for one Qirat each?’ The Jews worked for half a day for one Qirat each. The person asked, ‘Who will do the work for me from midday to the time of the ‘Asr (prayer) for one Qirat each?’ The Christians worked from midday till the ‘Asr prayer for one Qirat. Then the person asked, ‘Who will do the work for me from the ‘Asr till sunset for two Qirats each?’ ” The Prophet added, “It is you (i.e. Muslims) who are doing the work from the Asr till sunset, so you will have a double reward. The Jews and the Christians got angry and said, ‘We have done more work but got less wages.’ Allah said, ‘Have I been unjust to you as regards your rights?’ They said, ‘No.’ So Allah said, ‘Then it is My Blessing which I bestow on whomever I like.]

In this version, like in hadith 469, the narrator is established as Allah’s apostle and used interchangeably with the term ‘prophet’. In this version, like the two previous, the prophet is speaking directly to Muslims about their period and the ‘periods of previous nations’, most likely referring to the Christian and Jewish nations. The narrator here directly states and establishes a comparison between Muslim workers and Christian and Jewish workers with respect to a man who employs the three groups. The narrator continues to state that the first workers to reply to the ‘person’, and they worked for half a day, or 50% of the total day. The Christians are the second group to answer, and readers are told that they work from midday until Asr for one Qirat each, like the Jews. Here, since the Jews have already The hadith proceeds in the same manner as hadiths 468 and 469; the Muslims are the final group to “accept the offer”, but they have not completed the work yet. It is important to note however, that here the prophet is talking to the Muslims from the beginning of the hadith until the end, when Allah replies to the workers’ rebellion.

Hadith number 471 is also found in the same volume and book as the previous three discussed, but with substantial variations. In hadith 471, the narrator (Mohammad pbu) speaks in 3rd person to tell the example of the Muslims, Jews, and Christians and how it relates to a man who employed laborers. In this version, it is not specified how much each group of workers is paid nor which people of the scripture work in which order. Like in hadiths 468, 469, and 665, it can be assumed that the three groups working are the Christians, Jews, and Muslims. Instead, the narrator states that the first group worked for him, but at mid-day, they decided they did not need the money of the employer. The man tells them to finish the work and “take their full wages”, but they did not complete the work. It is important to note here that the man does not ask the workers if they will stay, he tells them to stay. This compares to the beginning of the hadith when readers are told a man hires workers, but never that he actively asks who would like to work. The man then hires a second group of workers and tells them to complete the task, and they will receive the wages of the first batch- they will get the wages that the first group would have gotten had they fulfilled the task. Once again, at ‘Asr prayer, this group told the employer they would like their work to be ‘annulled’ or cancelled, and they refused to complete the task even though the man told them they had ‘only a little of the day remains’. Finally, the man employs one final group of workers to work until the end of the day. Like in both previous hadiths, the final group of workers is promised double the amount of pay as the former. In hadiths 468, 469, and 665 it is never stated that the last group of workers completes the task, only that they have accepted it and will get a receive a double reward. The narrator of hadith 471, however, states that the final group accepted the task, completed it, and were paid the wages of both former groups (a double pay). Here, the previous two groups do not get angry or complain about the last group’s greater wage like in the previous three parables because, in this version, they were not accepting of the man’s work or payment anyway. Unlike the narrator both previous hadiths, the narrator of hadith 471 explains the allegorical meaning behind the example that was just given. Now, it is verified that the last workers were Muslim, and their willing acceptance of the task and payment from the man is analogous to the acceptance of the ‘light’ or guidance of God. However, much of the emphasis of this version is placed on the actions of the previous workers, and only one sentence is used to highlight the moral of hadith involving Muslims. A subsequent version of this hadith is Number 533, which is found in the early Volume 1, Book 10 of Sahih al Bukhari and more closely resembles version 471 than 468 and 469.

[The Prophet said, “The example of Muslims, Jews and Christians is like the example of a man who employed laborers to work for him from morning till night. They worked till mid-day and they said, ‘We are not in need of your reward.’ SO the man employed another batch and said to them, ‘Com- plete the rest of the day and yours will be the wages I had fixed (for the first batch). They worked Up till the time of the ‘Asr prayer and said, ‘Whatever we have done is for you.’ He employed another batch. They worked for the rest of the day till sunset, and they received the wages of the two former batches.” ]

In hadith 533, like 471, the prophet Mohammad (pbu) is established as the narrator, and he speaks in 3rd person to tell the example of the Muslims, Jews, and Christians and how it relates to a man who employed laborers. Here, from the first sentence, the premise of laborers working from morning until night is established. In previous versions, such as 468, the readers are gradually told the increments of work as the hadith progresses. In this version, the direct statement of the segments of workers implies a sense of assuredness, or predetermination, from the narrator of the story. In contrast, the gradual progression of time intervals in version 468 implies a ‘going with the flow’ scheme (find formal way of saying this). Once more, it is not explicitly stated which people of the scripture represent which group of workers. However, in contrast to hadith 471, the first two groups of workers do not state that they would like their work annulled. Instead, the first group states that they do not need the employer’s money, and the second group states that their work is for the man (possibly meaning it was an act of generosity that they do not require payment for). Here, the first and second groups of workers are not depicted with a negative connotation as in 471. Like hadith 471, the man employs one last group of workers that completes the task and receives the wages of the last two groups. However, in this version, there is no indication as to whether or not the last group was Muslim.

In 4 out of 5 hadiths, the man asks a question: who will work for him for this set amount of one Qirat? If the man represents God, then God here is not forcing anyone to work for him, the Christians, Jews, and Muslims accept the work, or guidance of God, willingly. Both the Christians and Jews accepted the task of Allah and completed it; in other words, their time has passed, and it is time for another group of people to accept the Guidance. Now, the Muslims are working with the guidance and light. If a Qirat represents the blessing of Allah, then why do Muslims receive two Qirats- metaphorically speaking, double the blessings of the previous groups? This is possibly answered through hadith 471, in which the narrator emphasizes the fact that the Muslims completed the work, or God’s task, until the end of the day (or end of time) without giving up or denying the man’s (God’s) payment (blessing). For this, they are rewarded with the ultimate blessings to complete the religion of the three scriptures. This differs, however, in hadiths 468 and 469 because the employer specifies that the first two groups of workers will only receive one Qirat. The Jewish and Christian workers accept and complete the tasks without refusal knowing the payment they would be given. In hadith 471, the narrator does not specify how much the workers ever receive.

In the hadiths in which the classification of the people working is given, the order of the workers is always the Jewish first, the Christians second, and the Muslims last. In Islamic ideology, this specific order could represent the order in which the scriptures were brought upon man. God sent Abraham to the Children of Israel (Judaism), Jesus to the Children of Israel once more (Christianity), and finally, Mohammad (pbu) to the surrenderers to God, or Muslims.

In version 471, the first and second group of workers states that they want the man (Allah) to annul their work, and they claim they do not need his money. Most likely, this desire of annulment of work represents the first two groups in their same desire to dissociate from the later God of Islam. Allegorically, it is possible that the previous groups, if they represent Jews and Christians, do not actually state that they “want their work annulled”, but instead their actions through historical time reflect their wish for dissociation for the Islamic God. The employer then pleads with the workers to continue work, but they refuse. It is important to note that the connection between the employer and God is never made in hadith 471, possibly because the Islamic God would never plead with human beings for their acceptance. The readers know that the final group to accept the Guidance of God in this Hadith was the Muslims.