I leave behind for you two things, which if you follow, you will never go astray: the Quran and my Sunnah (tradition).
this is a very oft quoted saying of the Prophet Muhammad (saw), and it is found in his Farewell sermon given at arafah.
i do not disagree with the statement, but there is one troubling aspect nonetheless. pretty much the only source of "the sunnah" is from the various hadith collections. you have sahih al bukhari, muslim, hadisi qudsi, et al. of course that is not the problem.
but then you have the shia, who contrary to popular sunni belief, do follow the sunnah of Prophet (saw) - they follow what they believe is the sunnah. so they have their own book of hadith, al Kafi.
now the problem is this: people quote the hadith left and right, and there is no dearth of information contained in it. however, there is also a plethora of hadith, that are contradictory to the spirit of the quran and to other hadith as well. many hadith are obviously not true or correct or models of good behavior or actions.
for example, many of us are aware of the "fact" that the Prophet consummated his marriage with Aisha when she was 6 years old. however, is there any proof of that in the Quran, the only infallible book on earth? sure there is proof in the hadith, but what kind of proof? all you have is a book written, nay compiled, by bukhari, or tirmidhi, or abu dawood which says that so and so said that such and such happened. since when is hearsay as good as gold?
even if you have a hadith where Abu Bakr or Aisha (ra) corroborate the standard accepted account, its still just a piece of paper that says that he or she said whatever.
it is fundemental in islamic aqueedah to believe that the quran is the 100% infallible word of God, but no such infallibilty is awarded to the hadith. most muslims know this, but few think about it at length.
so if even the most credible hadith is at best 99% chance that its true, it becomes both easy and necessary to dispose of the shady hadiths.
in my time, i have studied the arguments of the islamophobes at great length. i have come to see that they generally attack islam based upon the following:
- the aforementioned shady hadiths, which could NOT have been true to begin with, as I have already talked about above
- actions of so called muslims throughout history and the present day
of course given that, their claims are easily refuted for obvious reasons. however sometimes they do use the quran as a basis for their biggoted attacks. in these cases, they generally miss the point, fail to read between the lines, fail to read the context of revelation, history at that time and immediate past, as well as the greater tafsir of that particular passage. it is for this reason that the bulk majority of criticism, rather ridicule, is based upon the shady hadith and the rest is based on a flimsy understanding of quran. thus it can be ignored and/or refuted with ease.