Are The Gospels Like the Authentic Hadith?


Bassam Zawadi

I found it amusing to see this posted on Answering Islam's site:

The following might help Muslims understand the nature of the Gospels better:

The 4 Gospels are the "ahaadith a-sahiiha" (the correct traditions) on the life of Jesus. (Source)

There is no appropriate comparison between the Muslim's authentic hadith and the Christian Gospels regarding their authenticity. Let this fool no Muslim. I have seen that this idea is becoming widespread.

The only similarity that one can point out between the two is that they both speak about the lives of a certain individual.

However, Christians believe that inspired men recorded the Gospels, and its contents are inspired. However, Muslims don't believe that God inspired those who transmitted or collected the hadith like how Christians believe their Gospel authors. Thus, it wouldn't be a surprise to find mistakes in hadeeth even if they have an authentic chain of transmission (there are many ways to solve this problem, and this is in no way a threat to the reliability that we have in authentic hadith as a whole. This topic, however, is too detailed to discuss here). However, for the Christian Gospels, we should expect not to find any errors since those who transmit them are supposed to be directly inspired by God.

I would say that the major difference between the two is the reliability of their preservation. However, this topic is huge and all I can do is recommend the following readings so that the reader himself can reach his conclusions and make his comparisons.

I also recommend those interested in the sciences of hadith and its preservation to purchase the following three books by Dr. Mustafa Al Azami.

On Schacht's Origins of Muhammadan Jurisprudence

Studies in Early Hadith Literature (this book is more detailed than the one below)

Studies in Hadith Methodology & Literature

After one studies the science of hadith, he would realize that the authenticity of the gospels can be in no way compared to those of the authentic hadith. One who studies the preservation of hadith and the gospels would find the claim that the gospels are like the authentic hadith (which the Answering Islam author claimed) to be laughable since the gospels don't even pass the minimum criteria for acceptance by hadith scholars (for Christians don't have a chain of transmission to those who authored them and Christians are not even 100% sure of whether they have correctly attributed the authorship of the gospels to the right people)

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