Friday, September 12, 2008



For the sake of this topic/post, only Male circumcision as a traditional, cultural, religious, therapeutic or for non-therapeutic reasons is going to be considered.

Circumcision and religion:

A. Circumcision and Islam- Muslims are currently the largest single religious group practicing widespread circumcision as a rite/ritual. Although not mandated by the Qur’an, it serves to introduce males into the Islamic faith, and works as a sign of belonging to the wider Islamic community also viewed as an act of faith and compliance.

The Qur'an itself doesn't mention circumcision. In the time of Muhammad, circumcision was carried by many tribal Arabs, as well as by Jews for religious reasons. Muhammad himself was circumcised, and circumcised his sons. Many of his early disciples were circumcised to symbolize their inclusion within the emerging Islamic community. These facts are mentioned several times in the Hadith. Some Hadith group circumcision with the fitrah (acts considered to be of a refined person. Other such acts include: clipping or shaving pubic hair, cutting nails, cleaning teeth, plucking or shaving the hair under the armpits and clipping (or shaving) the moustache.

Despite its absence from the Qur’an, it has been a religious norm from the beginning of Islam. It is also considered hygienically clean.
Amongst Ulema, there are differing opinions about the compulsions of circumcision in Islamic law. The majority of Islamic legal opinion is that circumcision is obligatory. Imam Abu Hanifah, founder of the Hanafi School of Islamic jurisprudence, and Imam Malik maintain that circumcision is a Sunnah Mu'akkadah — not obligatory but highly recommended. Some scholars, including Imam Shafa’I and Ahmad ibn Hanbal see it as binding on all Muslims.

Time for circumcision

Islamic sources don’t fix a particular time for circumcision. It depends on family, region and country. A majority of Ulema however take the view that parents should get their child circumcised before the age of ten. The preferred age is usually seven although some Muslims are circumcised as early as on the seventh day after birth and as late as at the commencement of puberty. According to some Hadith (Abdullah Ibn Jabir and Aisha), Muhammad circumcised his children on the seventh day after their birth. This opinion is popular amongst the Hadith and Islamic jurists.


Islamic circumcision does not have a strictly mandated procedure, or form of circumcision. These tend to change across cultures, families, and time. In some Islamic countries circumcision is performed after Muslim boys have learnt to recite the whole Qur'an from start to finish. In Malaysia and other regions, the boy usually undergoes the operation between the ages of ten and twelve, and is thus a puberty rite, serving to introduce him into the new status of adulthood. The procedure is sometimes semi-public, accompanied with music, special foods, and much festivity. Traditional circumcisions however are steadily becoming rarer throughout the Islamic world, with many Muslim families preferring to have their sons done at birth or if they are done older it is normally done by a doctor under local anesthetic. Circumcisions are usually carried out in a clinic or hospital. The circumciser is not required to be a Muslim. The general ‘style’ of circumcision is the traditional stretch and cut which is typically reasonably tight but leaves a lot of the inner foreskin.

B. Circumcision and Christianity:

Christians, depending upon their viewpoint and denomination, either consider the Holy Bible to be an authority, or the sole authority for faith and practice.

Consequently, Christian parents may seek guidance from the Bible in reference to circumcision. Christian parents may wish to test circumcision by the scriptural guidance on parenting although there are also references to the falseness of those who advocate circumcision as a recurrent theme in the New Testament. For example, the Apostle Paul says circumcision is a false teaching (Gal. 2:4). To guide Christian parents who encounter false teachings, the text therefore contains references to false prophets, apostles and brothers.

Scriptures about circumcision

The gospels

Luke 1:59-60 Circumcision of John the Baptist.
On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, but his mother spoke up and said "No! He is to be called John."
Luke 2:21-39. the Circumcision of Jesus.
On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived.
John 7:21-24 Jesus teaches at the feast.
Jesus said to them, "I did one miracle, and you are all astonished. Yet because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a child on the Sabbath. Now if a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath? Stop judging by mere appearances and make a right judgment."

Acts of the Apostles

Acts 15:1-21 the Council at Jerusalem:
Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers: Unless you are circumcised according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved. This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed along with some other believers to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question. The church sent them on their way, and as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the brothers very glad. When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they had reported every thing God, had done through them.
Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, "The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the Law of Moses."
The apostles and elders met to consider this question. After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: "Brothers, you know that some time ago God made choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are."
The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling them about the miraculous signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them. When they had finished, James spoke up: "Brothers, listen to me. Simon has described to us how God at first showed his concern by taking from the Gentiles a people for himself. The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written:
`After this I will return
and rebuild David's fallen tent.
Its ruins I will rebuild,
and I will restore it,
that the remnant of men may seek the Lord,
and all Gentiles who bear my name,
says the Lord, who does these things'
that have been known for ages.
It is my judgment, therefore that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. For Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath."
Acts 15:22-35 the Council's Letter to Gentile Believers
Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose Judas (called Barnabus) and Silas, two men who were leaders among the brothers. With them they sent the following letter:
The apostles and elders, your brothers,
To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia:
We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling you minds by what they said. So, we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabus and Paul -- men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Thus, Circumcision is not required.

The men were sent off and went down to Antioch, where they gathered the church together and delivered the letter. The people read it and were glad for its encouraging message. Judas and Silas, who themselves were prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen their brothers. After spending some time with them, they were sent off by the brothers with the blessing of peace to return to those who had sent them. But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, where they and many others preached the word of the Lord.
Acts 21:17-25 Paul's Arrival at Jerusalem
When we arrived at Jerusalem, the brothers received us warmly. The next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James, and all the elders were present. Paul greeted them and reported in detail what God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.
When they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul: "You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law. They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to their customs. What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come, so do what we tell you. There are four men with us who have made a vow. Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses so they can have their heads shaved. Then everyone will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but you yourself are living in obedience to the law. As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, and from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality."

The general letters

Galatians 2:1-5 Paul Accepted by Apostles:
Fourteen years later I went up to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. I went in response to a revelation and set before them the Gospel I preach among the Gentiles. But I did this privately to those who seemed to be leaders; for fear that I was running or had run my race in vain. Yet not even Titus, who was with me was required to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. This matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. We did not give in to them for a moment so that the truth of the gospel might remain in you.

Galatians 5:1-12 Freedom in Christ:
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery.
Mark my words! I, Paul tell you that if you let yourself be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor non-circumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. "A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough." I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay the penalty, whoever he may be. Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate them!

Galatians 6:12-15 Not Circumcision but a New Creation:
Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. Not even those who are circumcised obey the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your flesh. May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified through to me, and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor non-circumcision counts for anything; what counts is a new creation. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God.

I Corinthians 7:17-20 Marriage:
Nevertheless, each one of you should retain the place in life that the Lord has assigned to him and to which God has called him. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches. Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not be uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing and non-circumcision is nothing. Keeping God's commandments is what counts. Each of you should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him.

Romans 2:25-28 the Jews and the Law:
Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law you become as though you had not been circumcised. If those who are not circumcised keep the law's requirements, will they not be regarded as though they had been circumcised? The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision are a lawbreaker.
A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man's praise is not from men, but from God.

Romans 3:28-31 Righteousness through Faith:
Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too, since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith? Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.

Romans 4:9-12:
Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham's faith was credited to him as righteousness. Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not afterward but before. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

Ephesians 2:11-13 One in Christ:
Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (that done in the body by the hands of men) - remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, with hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who one was far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.

Philippians 3:1-11 No Confidence in the Flesh:
Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.
Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh. For it is we who are of the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh - though I myself have reasons for such confidence.
If anyone else thinks he has confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness that comes from the law, but that which is found through faith in Christ - the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in those sufferings, becoming like him in death, and so somehow to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

The pastoral letters:
Titus 1:10-16
For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching thing they ought not to teach - and that for the sake of dishonest gain. Even one of their own prophets has said, "Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, and lazy gluttons." This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, so that they will be strong in the faith and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the commands of those who reject the truth. To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.

Circumcision is mentioned frequently in the bible. However, the Bible means different things to different religious groups. For example;
1.For Jews, the Bible consists of the 24 books in Hebrew (and some Biblical Aramaic) that are known as the Tanakh.
2.For Protestant Christians, the Bible consists of the 39 books of the Old Testament (following Jerome's Veritas Hebraica) plus the 27 books of the New Testament.
3.For Catholic and most Orthodox Christians, the Bible includes several other books known as the deuterocanonical books, the list being slightly different for each group. In addition, some Orthodox Christians have additional New Testament books, such as the Ethiopian Orthodox and Armenian orthodox, or less, such as the Syrian Orthodox Church.

Either way circumcision appears to be a purely elective procedure depending on geographical region and cultural influences. Today, most Christian denominations are neutral about biblical male circumcision, neither requiring it nor forbidding it. The first Christian Church Council in Jerusalem, held in approximately 50 AD, decreed that circumcision was not a requirement for Gentile converts. According to the Columbia Encyclopedia- The decision that Christians need not practice circumcision is recorded in Acts 15; there was never, however, a prohibition of circumcision, and it is practiced by Coptic Christians.

C. Circumcision and Jewish teachings:

There are references in the Hebrew Bible to the obligation for circumcision among Jews.
For example, Leviticus 12:3 says-On the eighth day a boy is to be circumcised.
And the uncircumcised are to be cut off from the Jewish people - Genesis 17:14:
Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.

According to the Jewish Encyclopedia article on circumcision of proselytes:
The issue between the Zealot and Liberal parties regarding the circumcision of proselytes remained an open one in 1st and 2nd centuries; some have asserting that the bath, or baptismal rite, rendered a person a full proselyte without circumcision, as Israel, when receiving the Law, required no initiation other than the purificative bath; while R. Eliezer makes circumcision a condition for the admission of a proselyte, and declares the baptismal rite to be of no consequence. A similar controversy between the Shammaites and the Hillelites is given regarding a proselyte born circumcised: the former demanding the spilling of a drop of blood of the covenant; the latter declaring it to be unnecessary. The rigorous Shammaite view, voiced in the Book of Jubilees, prevailed in the time of King John Hyrcanus, who forced the Abrahamic rite upon the Idumeans, and in that of King Aristobulus, who made the Itureans undergo, Septuagint, the Persians who, from fear of the Jews after Haman's defeat, "became Jews," and were circumcised.

Nonetheless, disputes over the Mosaic Law soon broke out and generated intense controversy in Early Christianity. This is particularly notable in the mid-1st century, when the circumcision controversy came to the fore. Alister McGrath, a proponent of Paleo-orthodoxy, claimed that many of the Jewish Christians were fully faithful religious Jews, only differing in their acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah. As such, they believed that circumcision and other requirements of the Mosaic Law were required for salvation, if one equates fully faithful religious Jews with Legalism theology, for a counterview, see Covenantal nomism. See also Judaism and Christianity. Those in the Christian community, who insisted that biblical law, including laws on circumcision, continued to apply to Christians were pejoratively labeled Judaizers by their opponents and criticized as being elitist and legalistic, besides others claimed sin.

Circumcision and other religious groups.... *****TO BE CONTINUED******

1 comment:

Mohamed said...

Schacht asserts that hadiths, particularly from Muhammad, did not form, together with the Qur'an, the original bases of Islamic law and jurisprudence as is traditionally assumed. Rather, hadiths were an innovation begun after some of the legal foundation had already been built. "The ancient schools of law shared the old concept of sunna or ‘living tradition’ as the ideal practice of the community, expressed in the accepted doctrine of the school." And this ideal practice was embodied in various forms, but certainly not exclusively in the hadiths from the Prophet. Schacht argues that it was not until al-Shafi`i that ‘sunna’ was exclusively identified with the contents of hadiths from the Prophet to which he gave, not for the first time, but for the first time consistently, overriding authority. Al-Shafi`i argued that even a single, isolated hadith going back to Muhammad, assuming its isnad is not suspect, takes precedence over the opinions and arguments of any and all Companions, Successors, and later authorities. Schacht notes that:

Two generations before Shafi`i reference to traditions from Companions and Successors was the rule, to traditions from the Prophet himself the exception, and it was left to Shafi`i to make the exception the principle. We shall have to conclude that, generally and broadly speaking, traditions from Companions and Successors are earlier than those from the Prophet.

Based on these conclusions, Schacht offers the following schema of the growth of legal hadiths. The ancient schools of law had a ‘living tradition’ (sunna) which was largely based on individual reasoning (ra'y). Later this sunna came to be associated with and attributed to the earlier generations of the Successors and Companions. Later still, hadiths with isnads extending back to Muhammad came into circulation by traditionists towards the middle of the second century. Finally, the efforts of al-Shafi`i and other traditionists secured for these hadiths from the Prophet supreme authority.

Goldziher maintains that, while reliance on the sunna to regulate the empire was favoured, there was still in these early years of Islam insufficient material going back to Muhammad himself. Scholars sought to fill the gaps left by the Qur'an and the sunna with material from other sources. Some borrowed from Roman law. Others attempted to fill these lacunae with their own opinions (ra'y). This latter option came under a concerted attack by those who believed that all legal and ethical questions (not addressed by the Qur'an) must be referred back to the Prophet himself, that is, must be rooted in hadiths.These supporters of hadiths (ahl al-hadith) were extremely successful in establishing hadiths as a primary source of law and in discrediting ra'y. But in many ways it was a Pyrrhic victory. The various legal madhhabs were loath to sacrifice their doctrines and so they found it more expedient to fabricate hadiths or adapt existing hadiths in their support. Even the advocates of ra'y were eventually persuaded or cajoled into accepting the authority of hadiths and so they too "found" hadiths which substantiated their doctrines that had hitherto been based upon the opinions of their schools’ founders and teachers. The insistence of the advocates of hadiths that the only opinions of any value were those which could appeal to the authority of the Prophet resulted in the situation that "where no traditional matter was to be had, men speedily began to fabricate it. The greater the demand, the busier was invention with the manufacture of apocryphal traditions in support of the respective theses."

In summary, Goldziher sees in hadiths "a battlefield of the political and dynastic conflicts of the first few centuries of Islam; it is a mirror of the aspirations of various parties, each of which wants to make the Prophet himself their witness and authority." Likewise,

Every stream and counter-stream of thought in Islam has found its expression in the form of a hadith, and there is no difference in this respect between the various contrasting opinions in whatever field. What we learnt about political parties holds true too for differences regarding religious law, dogmatic points of difference etc. Every ra'y or hawa, every sunna and bid`a has sought and found expression in the form of hadith.

And even though Muslim traditionalists developed elaborate means to scrutinize the mass of traditions that were then extant in the Muslim lands, they were "able to exclude only part of the most obvious falsifications from the hadith material." Goldziher, for all his scepticism, accepted that the practice of preserving hadiths was authentic and that some hadiths were likely to be authentic. However, having said that, Goldziher is adamant in maintaining that:

In the absence of authentic evidence it would indeed be rash to attempt to express the most tentative opinions as to which parts of the hadith are the oldest material, or even as to which of them date back to the generation immediately following the Prophet’s death. Closer acquaintance with the vast stock of hadiths induces sceptical caution rather than optimistic trust regarding the material brought together in the carefully compiled collections.

From Daniel Brown Muslim Scholar from America

The relevance of the past: classical conceptions of Prophetic authority

The word sunna predates the rise of Islam and is well attested in pre-Islamic sources. The word sunna was likely to be applied to Muhammad even during his lifetime (p8).

The Quran never mentions sunna-al-nabi (sunna of the Prophet). The application of the term sunna is likely to be post-Quranic, especially when applied exclusively to Muhammad.

Early muslims did not give precedence of Muhammad's sunna over other sunnas, such as the sunna of the early caliphs or early companions. The sunna term was not exclusive to Muhammad. There were no rigid distinctions about sources of religious law, i.e. it wasn't concrete that Muhammad's sunna could be used as a source of law.

Shafi was born in 204 AH (193 years after Prophet Muhammad's death). He was the first to argue the Prophet's sunna as a source of law, identified to authentic prophetic hadith, and give it an equal footing to The Quran. Different attitudes to sunna existed during Shafi, al-kalam (a particular group or school of thought) rejected hadith altogether in favour of The Quran alone. Shafi's view was also oppossed early by schools of jurisprudence in Hijaz, Iraq and Syria, who applied the term sunna to Muhammad, his companions and the early caliphs as well.
After Shafi, it is rare to find the term sunna applied to other than Muhammad. Al-kalam argued the sunna of Muhammad should never be allowed to rule on The Quran and described the science of hadith (as in the methods used to collect hadith) as arbitrary. Evidence of this was the hadith was filled with contradictory, blasphemous and absurd traditions. [top]

Challenges to the view of the organic relationship between The Quran and sunna are not completely unprecedented in the history of Islamic thought. Some of the opponents of Shafi argued that The Quran explains everything (e.g. 16:89) and needs no supplement, this was because one of Shafi's central arguments was the need to clarify The Quran. This opposing viewpoint was snuffed out after the triumph of the traditionist view. However and it was not until the 19th and 20th centuries that the argument was seriously revived. One of the reasons Daniel Brown gives for the defeat of the opponents of Shafi was that they could not deny the authority of the Prophet. If for example, you found a hadith that was truly authentic then there is no way you can deny it because as it states in The Quran the Prophet was a very good example. Also, Shafi emphasised that to obey the Prophet was to obey God. Under this pressure, the opponents of Shafi were defeated. Rarely does the author address how specific arguments were defeated unfortunately, which was the most disappointing aspect of this book.

The question arose: how is it possible to determine which hadith were authentic and which were not?

In the 19th and 20th centuries, increased criticism and scrutiny by Western scholars of Islam showed Muslims that the hadith could not stand up to the criticism, whilst The Quran could. It made Muslims look back on the hadith and reflect more and examine their basis and origin in Islam.

The authenticity of hadith

The great compilations of the hadith took place in the 3rd century AH (i.e. beginning about 189 years after Prophet Muhammad's death, with the 6 books being complete about 280 years after his death), p83. In the eyes of most Muslim scholars sahih (reliable/authentic) hadith could with a high degree of confidence be considered to represent the actual words and deeds of the Prophet. On the other hand, few scholars would have argued the system was full proof. Any information in the hadiths was no absolute truth, it had to be classified as conjecture. The opponents of the hadith at the start were a minority. It was not seriously questioned.
Goldziher was unquestionably the most important 19th century critic of hadith. He became the first scholar to subject the hadith to a systematic historical and critical method. His study was published in 1896. Joseph Schacht "origins of Muhammadan jurisprudence" in 1950 was published. Like Goldziher, he concluded that few, if any traditions originated with the Prophet.
Even the Prophet recognised that there were people among his companions or those living during his lifetime were spreading lies about him. This is testified to in a hadith in Bukhari (p85). There is documented evidence that the companions disagreed with each other and criticsed each other, for example Aisha and Ibn Abbas were reported to have criticised Abu Hurayra. A number of companions demanded evidence for the truth of reports passed onto them. Umar alledgedly questioned a report from Fatima bint Qays. Umar is also reported to have confined three companions to Medina to keep them from spreading traditions. Abu Huyrara was only with the Prophet for 3 years, yet he is alledged to have been the most prolific in transmitting hadith. Biographical literature provides ample material for criticism for Abu Huyrara's character, Umar called Abu Huyrara a liar for example. Aisha criticised Anas for transmitting traditions as he was only a child during the life of the Prophet. And Hassan called both Umar and Zubair liars.

The process of hadith transmission was primarily oral, at least through the first century. Even after written collections of hadith were compiled, oral transmission remained the ideal (p88). Abu Rayya argues that the late date when traditions began to be registered in written form more than 100 years after the Prophet's death became a major obstacle to the fidelity of hadith (p89). Emerged in final form only in the 3rd and 4th centuries

Those who argue that Muhammad's companions began to record hadith in writing during his lifetime must explain the Prophetic prohibition on writing of hadith. Contradictions within the hadith exist regarding this subject. (p91)

Under orders from Caliph Hisham, Shihab al-Zuhri was first assigned to collect hadith. This tradition has commonly been taken to mean that al-Zuhri, under duress, became the first traditionist to violate the Prophet's prohibition on recording hadith in writing. Al-Zuhri is reported to have said: "We disapproved of recording knowledge until these rulers forced us to do so. After that reason we saw no reason to forbid the Muslims to do so." In other words, before al-Zuhri writing was the rare exception; after him writing of traditions became commonplace. This argument is bolstered by numerous accounts that early generations of pious Muslims, including not only al-Zuhri and traditionists like him but also the first four Caliphs, strongly disapproved of writing hadith.
The evidence strongly suggests that early generations of Muslims did record traditions in writing, however having reports about written records is rather different than having the records themselves. Thus, the apparent aversion of pious Muslims to the recording of hadith should be interpreted as reluctance to record an official, public collection of hadith. (p92)

Scholars agree that forgery of hadith took place on a massive scale. The science of hadith developed gradually as a response to this problem. The early written compilations called suhuf were little more than random transcriptions or personal collections. Muslim sources identify the first systematic collection in recording of the hadith with the Ummad Caliph Umar and with the scholars Abu Bakr. No such collection has survived. The earliest systematic collection is the muttawata of Mailk bin Anas, 179 AH (168 years after Prophet Muhammad's death), p94. Isnad (checking of transmissions) was not applied until after the early 2nd century AH according to Schacht. The book studies in early hadith literature stated it was earlier than this. For middle ground see Juynboll: "Muslim tradition". Major works of hadith (p161 footnote 70).

According to some, forgers of hadith became active even during the lifetime of the Prophet. In the Caliphate of Umar, the problem became so serious that he prohibited transmission of hadith altogether. The degree of the problem that resulted can be seen from the testimony of the muhahadithin (those who collect hadith) themselves. Bukhari selected 9000 traditions out of 700 000 (p96). When Bukhari reports that he selected from over 700 000 traditions, he is counting every different transmission chain, even when the substance of the tradition are the same (p99). The point is that hadith criticism did not begin during the 3rd century but was practiced continually from the time of the companions onwards (p99).