For Marissa: When I first reverted to Islam I stated I would only follow the Qu'ran, which is perfect, and never go with the confusing and sometimes falsified hadith. Alhamdulilah, knowledge has revealed to me that in order to obey the Qu'ran one MUST follow the ahadith (sayings and actions of the Prophet Mohammed (sallalahu alahi wa salaam): of course, only those with authentic chains of narration. And this is where one cannot be lazy Muslim but instead must be a seeker of knowledge. Like me, you would probably want evidence from Allah subhanhu wa ta'ala to come to this understanding.
The Qu'ran says:
Qur'an 4: 64 "We sent not a messenger but to be obeyed, in accordance with the will of Allah." Qur'an 4:80 "He who obeys the Messenger obeys Allah." Qur'an 5:92 "Obey Allah and obey the Messenger, and beware!" Qur'an 24:53 "Say: 'Swear not; Obedience is (more) reasonable.' Say: 'Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger." Qur'an 48:10 "Verily those who swear allegiance to you (Muhammad), indeed swear their allegiance to Allah." and of course, the most valid ayah for me pertaining to following the Prophet's sunnah: "And whatever the Messenger gives you, take it; and whatever he forbids you, abstain from it." (59:7).
If you did not follow the ahadith, you would not know how to make wudu (only that you would have to wash), and your would not know how many rakat you have to pray, or how to do so. You also wouldn't have some of the most beautiful sayings about women, such as that they are not to be beaten (i.e harmed), and that temporary marriage marriage is forbidden till the day of judgement (yet it is not forbidden in the Qu'ran at the point when the ayah was revealed) or explaination through example of many of the commands in the Qu'ran that would have been clear to the Sahaba (such as how the khimar should be worn) but less so to us today as we forget how the Jewish and Christian women covered at the time, and how we did so to differentiate ourselves from them.
The hadith are the recorded sayings and actions of our messenger, may peace and blessings be on him and his family. InshaAllah I will write another post soon on about how to research a ruling (first taking into account the source of the hadith, then its chain of narration, what it meant in context, and what stage in the seerah (Prophet's life) was it revealed, and then, what other hadiths there on the subject, and the same for them, so one as a complete picture. If it is a hadith where Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala is commanding something be forbidden or something be now halal that is already and before halal or forbidden in the Qu'ran, the authentic hadith actually overrides this because the Qu'ran says: "If We abrogate [overule with something better] a verse or cause it to be forgotten [its true purpose no longer adherred to], We will replace it by better one or one similar." 2:106. The Qu'ran continuously commands us and advises us to follow the actions of the Prophet Mohammed sallalahu alahi wa salaam, and if one is to study the seerah (story) of the Prophet's life, one will see this is exactly the manner the sahaba acted in. So to do that we have to rely on valid hadith, and Bukhari's ahadith are the most widely researched, he having sought his whole life to collect hadith, find their chain of narration, and eliminate any of those that have been falsified.
It has been unanimously agreed by scholars that Imam Bukhari's work is the most authentic of all the other works in Hadith literature put together. The authenticity of Al Bukhari's work is such that the religious learned Scholars of Islam said concerning him: The most authentic book after the Book of Allah is sahih Al Bukhari.' Imam Bukhari was born on 13th Shawwal in the year 194 A.H in Bukhara in the territory of Khurasan (West Turkistan). His real name is Muhammad bin Ismail bin Al-Mughirah Al-Bukhari. His father died when he was still a young child and he was looked after by his mother. At the age of ten he started acquiring the knowledge of Hadith. He travelled to Makka when he was sixteen years old accompanied by his mother and elder brother. It seemed as though Imam Bukhari loved Makka and its learned religious scholars for he remained in Makka after bidding farewell to his mother and brother. He spent two years in Makka and then went to Al-Madina. After spending a total of six years in Al-Hijaz which comprises MAkka and Al-Madina, he left for Basra, Kufa and Baghdad and visited many other places including Egypt and Syria. He came to Baghdad on many occasions. He met many religious learned scholars including Imam Ahmad Bin Hanbal. Owing to his honesty and kindness and the fact that he was trustworthy he used to keep away from the princes and rulers for fear that he may incline to say things to please them.Many a story has been told about Imam Bukhari regarding his struggles in collecting Hadith literature. He travelled to many different places gathering the precious gems that fell from the lips of the Noble Prophet Muhammad. It is said that Imam Bukhari collected over 300 000 Ahadith and he himself memorized 200 000 of which some were unreliable. He was born at a time when Hadith was being forged either to please rulers or kings or to corrupt the religion of Islam. It was a great task for him to sift the forged Ahadith from the authentic ones. He laboured day and night and although he had memorised such a large number he only chose approximately 7275 with repetition and about 2230 without repetition of which there is no doubt about their authenticity.Before he recorded each hadith, he would make ablution and offer a two Rakat prayer and supplicate his Lord (Allah). Many religious scholars of Islam tried to find fault in the great remarkable collection, but without success. It is for this reason, they unanimously agreed that the most authentic book after the Book of Allah is Sahih Al-Bukhari.Imam Bukhari died on first Shawwal in the year 256 A.H and was buried in Khartank, a village near Samarkand. May Allah have mercy on his soul.
More about following the Prophet's Example In Order to Understand and Obey the Qu'ran: Qur'an 33.21 "Verily in the Messenger of Allah you have a good example for him who looks unto Allah and the Last Day." Qur'an 60.4 "There is for you an excellent example, a pattern in Abraham and those with him[ie: Mohammad], when they said to their people: 'We are through with you and with what you worship besides Allah. We reject you. Hostility and hate have come between us forever, unless you believe in Allah only.'" Qur'an 6.83 "And this was Our argument which we gave to Abraham against his people. And We gave him Ishaq (Isaac) and Yah'qub (Jacob) [; each did We guide, and Nuh (Noah) did We guide before, and of his descendants, David and Solomon, and Job and Joseph and Moses and Aaron; and thus do We reward those who do good (following Muhammad's example in the Sunnah). And Zachariah and Yahya (John), Isa (Jesus) and Elias; every one was of the good [i.e. Muslims]; And Ishmael and Elisha and Jonah and Lot and every one We preferred above men and jinn."
The one thing you have to do sometimes, is seek out a scholar, and see if a hadith is authentic, i.e, has a solid chain of narration. For example, the hadith about Asmaa coming to the Prophet sallalalhu alahi wa salaam and her clothes being thin and a bit see-through, and him telling her to cover everything but her face and hands? Its narration actually has not connection to the person who is supposed to be narrating it. Also, if the hadith seems harsh, knowing its context often helps. There are alot of weak (no solid chain of narration) hadiths out there, and even worse, some fabricated ones, so I often use scholars who can research chains of narration. But there is a direct command in the Qu'ran to take what the Messenger recommends us, and to leave what he forbids us, so... that is why I follow the sahih ahdith and the Qu'ran. I find Qu'ran-alone Muslims lacking in some of the five pillars, and actually disobeying multiple commands in the Qu'ran.