In the face of rejecting the existence of a hadith
QUESTION: If one says, “I will not accept this hadith,” how do you react?
ANSWER: Non-acceptance is sometimes confused with the acceptance of non-existence, and gives rise to many mistakes. Non-acceptance is reasonable if the necessary proof for the existence of something is lacking. But the acceptance of non-existence requires proof for non-existence. The former is a doubt, while the latter is denial. For example, a report attributed to the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, as a Prophetic hadith is either accepted or not accepted as such, or its being such is rejected.
The first requires proof. The second is not a judgment based on proof; it is ignorance or doubt. The third is refutation and denial, which requires proof; it is a negation, and negation cannot be proven easily. If the report in question is proven to be wrong in meaning or not attributable to the Prophet, its being a Prophetic hadith is rejected.
(From Tulu‘at [“Flashes of Thoughts Rising in the Heart”])
Bediuzzaman Said Nursi