The Ummah Of The Isnaad System
After the Messenger of Allaah (saw) died, the Companions took from one another without doubting in the other person’s honesty.
This sort of trust in society continued until the fitnah came to pass, and the miserable Jew, ‘Abdullaah Ibn Saba, proclaimed his evil claim, one based on extreme Shee’ah ideas, that ‘Alee (ra) had qualities of godhood or of a deity.
In the introduction of Saheeh Muslim, Imaam Muslim related that Ibn Sireen said:
“They would not ask for the chain (of narrators), but when the fitnah occurred, they said, ‘Name us your men.’ They would see who was form the people of the Sunnah and take their hadeeth, and they would see who was form the people of innovation and not take their hadeeth.” [Muqaddimah Saheeh Muslim, 1/13-15]
He also relates that Ibn ‘Abbaas said:
“There was once a time in which when a man would say, ‘Allaah’s Messenger said…’ our eyes would hasten to him and our ears would open wide (to listen) to him. But when the difficulties and disgrace befell the people, we did not take from the people except for that which we knew.” [Muqaddimah Saheeh Muslim, 1/13-15]
The Taabi’oon followed suit and began to demand from narrators the chains of narrations, and they tried to take as much as they could from the Companions
Aboo Al-‘Aaliyah said:
“We used to hear narrations, the source of which were the Companions, and we would not be satisfied until we rode to them and heard from them ourselves.”
Ibn Al-Mubaarak said:
“The chain (of narrators) is part of the Religion. Were it not for the isnaad (the chain), anyone who wished could say whatever he wanted.”
[Taken from “The Sunnah And Its Role In Islamic Legislation” by Shaykh Mustafa As-Sibaa’ee,128-129]