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The Concept of Islam
by Haroon Saadiq
We are living in a time, in which everyone claims to be a Muslim yet lacking the correct knowledge about Islam. Is it not surprising that a person claims to be a Muslim and does not know what Islam is! Problem arises when Muslims think that they are Muslims because they were born to Muslim parents in a Muslim country. They dont have that urge of knowing Why? they are Muslims and What? is Islam all about. Organize a survey and ask the born Muslims to define what Islam is. All sorts of statements, opinions, explanation and definitions would be presented, but it would be shameful to know that except for a few percentage, majority would be blank regarding the meaning of Islam. Reason being that no one bothers to read the Qur’an. Even if it is read occasionally (subject to mood), understanding it, is considered to be the job of the scholars. People want to treat it as a magician’s crystal ball. No one is really bothered to know what Allah is trying to tell us in His book about Islam. So why not behave like a Muslim and open the Qur’an and see for ourselves what this book says about Islam. Allah (s.w.t) says:
” O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger
and make not your deeds vain! “ [47:33]
This verse clearly shows that if anyone does not obey the orders of Allah and the Prophet then his deeds are not acceptable to Allah. Second message which we get from this verse is that in addition to following the message given to us in the Qur’an we also have to obey the orders given to us by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.), only then our deeds would be acceptable to Allah. If we do as we like or by anyone else’s thinking something (which is not defined by hadith ) then Allah has clearly told us that our deeds would be useless.
Thus this verse explains the standardization in Islam. Islam is what is in the Qur’an and Hadith only! Anything outside this is not Islam whether it is done by Sunnis, Shias, Ismailis or Mirzais. Islam is not what the Muslims do, Islam is what Muhammad (s.a.w.) did. The Holy Prophet left amongst us two things i.e. The Qur’an and his sayings (Hadith). By holding on to them fast one cannot go astray (Insha Allah).
And hold fast, all together, by the rope of Allah
and be not divided among yourselves [3:103]
What is the rope of Allah? It is the Book of Allah i.e. The Qur’an and indirectly includes the Hadeeth since Qur’an orders to follow the way of The Prophet. Allah says:
Say, If you do love Allah, follow me (i.e.Muhammad S ), Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. For Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful [3:31]
Thus it is very clear that one can love Allah only if one follows the footsteps of Muhammad (s.a.w.). If one does not follow the Sunnah or Hadith then he is in no position to claim for the love of Allah or Islam. The very next verse of the same surah says,
Say, Obey Allah and His apostle, but if they turn back
Allah surely loves not the disbelievers [3:32]
So it becomes crystal clear that obeying Allah and His prophet is compulsory for anyone who claims to be a Muslim. If we do not obey them or if we say that we believe in Qur’an only and not the Hadith ( because hadith are suspicious nowadays ) or if we interpret the Qur’an our own way without taking the Hadith into account, then Allah says that He does not love the disbelievers. We might be certified by the president of a Muslim country on our passports as Muslims but it would not be the case up there.
It is not fitting for a believer, man or woman when a matter has been decided by Allah and His apostle to have any option in their decision. If anyone disobeys Allah and His apostle, he is indeed on a clearly wrong path [33:36]
Now this is so clear that anyone reading this verse can easily understand the importance of following the Hadith in addition to the Qur’an. Some other references from The Qur’an regarding the importance of following the Hadith are as under:
“… So take what the Apostle assigns to you and deny yourselves that which he withholds from you. And fear Allah, for Allah is strict in punishment “ [59:7]
” O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Apostle, and those charged with authority among you, If you differ in anything among yourselves refer it to Allah and His apostle, if you do believe in Allah and the last day, that is best and most suitable for final determination “ [4:59]
” When it is said to them, come to what Allah has revealed and to the Apostle, You see the hypocrites avert their faces from you in disgust.” [4:61]
” We sent not an Apostle, But to be obeyed , in accordance with the will of Allah. If they had only, when they were unjust to themselves , come unto you and asked Allah’s forgiveness, and the Apostle had asked forgiveness for them , they would have found Allah indeed oft-returning, Most Merciful “ [4:64]
” But no, By the Lord, they can have no Faith, until they make you (Muhammad s.a.w) judge in all disputes between them, and find in their souls no resistance against your decisions, but accept them with the fullest conviction “ [4:65]
” He who obeys the Apostle obeys Allah, but if any turn away, We have not sent you (Muhammad s.a.w.) to watch over their (evil deeds) [4:80]
” If anyone contends with the Apostle even after guidance has been plainly conveyed to him, and follows a path other than the way of the believers. We shall leave him in the path he has chosen, and land him in hell – what an evil refuge! “ [4:115]
This was some fraction from the Holy Qur’an which clearly defines that a Muslim on the right path is the one who follows Qur’an and Hadith Only & Purely. Anyone following anything else other than this is not following Islam as mentioned in the book of Allah.
Now some ahadeeth.
Hazrat Irbaz bin Saaria said: Once Allah’s apostle after leading us in prayers delivered to us a speech that made everyone weep. Upon the request of a person, Allah’s apostle gave them a piece of advice, to Fear Allah and to listen to one’s Ameer even if he is a Negro slave. He also stated that those living after him would encounter a lot of discrepancies in religion, in that case he advised to hold fast to his sunnah (hadith) and to the sunnah of khulfa-e-rashideen who are on the right path (they follow Qur’an and Hadith only) [Mentioned in Abu Dawud]
Once Allah’s apostle said: ” Remember I’ve been given the Book (i.e. Qur’an) and something like it (i.e. hadith) alongwith it. He warned to be aware of the time when a person (wealthy and proud) would say (to people) that Qur’an is enough for you, consider lawful (halal) whatever you find lawful in it (i.e. in Qur’an) and consider unlawful (haram) whatever you find in it unlawful. The Prophet warned (about this erroneous belief of not believing in the hadith) and mentioned (to his companions) that it is unlawful (i.e. haram) for you to eat the meat of a domestic donkey (thus giving an example that Hadith is necessary to understand the Qur’an since Qur’an does not mention about the meat of a domestic donkey, whether it is halal or haram to eat) ” [Sunan Abi Dawud]
Look at some major sects in Islam which people have invented. To name a few Hanbalis, Hanafis, Shaafis, Maalikis, Shias, Ismailis, Mirzais. It is acceptable as long as one takes help from any scholar regarding religion, but it is absolutely anti Islamic to blindly follow any scholar without reasoning from the Qur’an and Hadith. No one says that the Imams (May Allah be pleased with them all) did not follow the Qur’an and the Hadith. Sure they did! But being human beings were prone to make mistakes and it was very likely that they did not obtain all the ahaadith of the Prophet. Lets see what Imam Abu Hanifa says:
Imam Abu Hanifa:
” O people don’t interpret religion by your own thinking and absolutely follow the Sunnah, for whosoever goes away from it goes astray! “
” People will try to interpret religion without Ahaadith, then they will develop trouble among themselves …” [Aqdul Jayyed & Meezan by Shairani]
Even after knowing all this, some people follow his fiqah blindly though they have the knowledge of high order healthy Ahaadith. Thus following the fiqah of any imam or scholar blindly without reasoning is what makes divisions among Muslims. This is basically called ” Taqleed ” i.e following someone blindly without reasoning. Only Muhammad (s.a.w.) the Messenger of Allah is to be followed without reasoning and this is ordered in the Qur’an and is called ” Ittiba “. Some verses from The Qur’an clearly explain that taqleed is anti Islamic,
” What! Have they partners (In godhead), who have established for them some religion without the permission of Allah? Had it not been for the decree of judgment, the matter would have been decided between them (at once) but verily the wrong doers will have a grievous penalty “ [42:21]
” They take their priests and their anchorites to be their Lords in derogation of Allah and (they take as their Lord) Christ the son of Mary, yet they were commanded to worship but one Allah, There is no God but He, Praise and Glory to Him (far He is) from having the parents they associate.” [9:31]
Once the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) asked Adi bin Haatim, (before he accepted Islam) to remove the cross which he was wearing around his neck, Hazrat Muhammad (s.a.w.) also recited the above mentioned verse. Adi told Allah’s apostle that they (christaian and jews) never made their priests or leaders their Lords. Hazrat Muhammad (s.a.w.) said that they (christian and jews) used to accept as halal what their priests declared halal and considered haram what they declared haram? And thus explained that this act meant that they were making their priests their Lords. [Tirmizi]
” The day that their faces will be turned upside down in the fire, they will say, Woe to us! would that we had obeyed Allah and obeyed the Apostle!. And they would say, Our Lord! we obeyed our chiefs and our great ones, and they mislead us as to the (right) path “ [33: 66,67]
Thus in the presence of Qur’an and Hadith if we follow anything else then we are out of Islam making a new sect. Lets see what other Imams say:
” Being a human being my sayings can be right or wrong so take those to follow which are in accordance with the Qur’an and the Hadith, and leave those which are against it “ [Ref: Jaame by Ibne Abdul Bar]
” If anyone finds something against the Sunnah, it should be
left and Hadith / Sunnah should be followed “
[Ref: said by Ibne Asakar and Ibne Qaym]
” Don’t be my muqallid (person who follows someone without reasoning) or of Imam Maalik, Shaafi, Auzai or Imam Nawawi. Take the orders (regarding religious issues) from where these Imams have taken (i.e Qur’an and Hadith).“ [Ref: said by Fulani]
Some people quote the hadith in which the Prophet said that Difference of Opinion in my Ummah is Blessing. Regarding this Hadith, the muhaddisins could not prove its authenticity even after a great effort. Imam Subki said that this Hadith is not recognized among the Muhadditheen. Allama Ibne Hazm in the book ” Alahkam Fiasool Alahkam ” denies the authenticity of this Hadith. He declared this Hadith as false and incorrect. More can be checked out regarding this Hadith in the book titled ” Collection of weak Ahaadith ” by Sheikh Naasir-ud-Din Albaani.
” If Qur’an was from other than Allah then they would
have found a lot of discrepancies in it “ [4:82]
Thus it shows that Allah is not in favor of discrepancies in religion, how can it be a blessing ? At another place The Qur’an says:
” And Obey Allah and His apostle and fall into no disputes, lest you get weak hearted and your power depart, and be steadfast, for Allah is with the steadfast “ [8:46]
” Mankind is a single nation. So Allah raised Prophets as bearers of good news and as warners, and He revealed with them the book with truth, that it might judge between people concerning that in which they differed . And none but the very people who were given it, differed about it after clear arguments had come to them, envying one another. So Allah has guided by His will those who believe to the truth about which they differed. And Allah guides whom he pleases to the right path “ [2:213]
In Sahih Muslim the authentic book of ahadeeth:
” Hazrat Ayesha reported that when Prophet stood at night, he opened his prayers and said; O Allah! Lord of Gibraeel, Michaeel and Israfeel! Creator of the skies and the earth! Knower of the unseen and the seen! You do judge among your servants in what they differ. Guide me in what they differ from truth with Your permission, verily You guide whom You like to the straight path “ [Muslim]
In the prayers, Allah’s apostle used to curse the disbelievers and prayed to Allah to put differences among them. On the contrary he prayed for the development of love among the Muslims and for their correction.
Thus disputes and discrepancies are definitely not blessings, even if they occur. They certainly do occur but the positive attitude is to finish them by consulting the issue with Qur’an and Hadith. Maintaining these differences provides the raw material for the development of sects and the Muslim community as a whole gets weak and their power departs. A question is raised about the differences in opinion among the companions of the Prophet. Answer to this is simply that those differences did not lead to various sects or religions like it is the case nowadays. Those differences were due to the unavailability of the Ahaadith to those people (a human limitation), despite their strong effort in getting the knowledge of Ahaadith. Those people spent their lives for the knowledge of Ahaadith and Qur’an. As soon as they were informed about the Hadith regarding the issue in which they were differing, they used to accept the Hadith and finished the dispute by giving up their thinking. Some of the examples would be described next.
Some people state that Hazrat Omer had the courage to say that Qur’an was sufficient for them and they did not need anything else. The actual incidence was:
During the illness of the Prophet he once said: Bring me something to write so that I may give you some instructions which you can follow and stay on the right path. Hazrat Omer expressed that Qur’an was sufficient for them. While others opted the other way round. There was a quarrel over there and the Prophet got annoyed, asking every one to leave. Scholars have mentioned the following possibilities regarding this difference of opinion,
1) The Prophet himself could not write and obviously had to ask someone else to write for him. According to scholars, at that time the matter of choosing the caliph (after the death of the Prophet) was the main issue and maybe Hazrat Muhammad (s.a.w.) wanted to appoint one among them, for which he asked for the writing material. Some of his companions objected because they thought that after his death, people would not believe that this was ordered by the Prophet, as the orders would not have been in his writing. Thus there was no guarantee that the orders were by the Prophet or someone had just written a fake statement. To avoid the trouble, some of his companions thus gave their opinion like this. Obviously the Prophet could not have written all the ahaadith (explained over a great span of time) at one time, so it had to be some other piece of advice. So it is not correct to think that his companions were not in the favor of ahaadith and wanted to think their own way out regarding religious issues.
2) Second explanation given by the scholars is that the Prophet had spent a good amount of time among his companions explaining everything in detail and very clearly regarding religion. Thus the companions thought that they were capable of handling the issues even if they dont have anything in writing by the Prophet.
Now even if we don’t know for sure, what actually the Prophet wanted to write, still this does not mean that Prophet’s companions did their own interpretation from the Qur’an. They all followed the Qur’an as explained by the Hadith/Sunnah, as this is evident by examples mentioned below, (especially concerning Hazrat Omer proving that he did not interpret religion his own way, but followed the Sunnah and Hadith only).
Once Hazrat Abdullah bin Aus went to Hazrat Omer and asked him, for what should a woman do if she suffers from menstruation on the day of slaughtering after the Tawaaf-e-Ziaarat. Hazrat Omer said that her last act should be the Tawaaf of Khaana Kaaba (after she gets clean). Hazrat Aus said that Allah’s apostle also gave him the same answer. Hazrat Omer got so angry that he replied, may your hands break! you are asking me something which you have already asked Allah’s apostle, Can I declare anything against the Sunnah (hadith)?
Hazrat Omer said that he only kissed Hajre Aswad (the black stone lying near Khaana Kaaba) because he saw Allah’s apostle doing that, otherwise he himself did not want to do that.
Once Hazrat Omer asked if anyone knew the issue of diyyat. A person stood up and said that Allah’s apostle had sent him the issue of diyyat in writing. Hazrat Omer then gave his verdict regarding that issue according to the Sunnah / Hadith.
Hazrat Omer did not take jizya (tax taken from non-Muslims) from the majoosis (star / fire worshippers) , but when Hazrat AbdulRehman bin Auf declared that Allah’s apostle used to take jizya from the majoosis, Hazrat Omer also started to take jizya from them.
Hazrat Jaabir said that once Hazrat Omer was reading Torah (book of Allah which was revealed upon Hazrat Musa) in front of Allah’s apostle. Allah’s apostle got annoyed. Hazrat Abu Bakar asked Hazrat Omer to look at Hazrat Muhammad’s (s.a.w.) face, as he was looking very angry. When Hazrat Omer looked at his face he said: ” I seek shelter from Allah’s and His apostle’s anger, We are satisfied with Allah as our God, Islam as our religion and Muhammad (s.a.w.) as our Prophet “. After this Hazrat Muhammad (s.a.w.) said ” By Him (Allah) in whose hands my life is, you people will go astray if Hazrat Musa comes and you start following him instead of me “. He further said: ” Hazrat Musa would also be following me if he was alive living in my time “
Now these examples clearly proves that the companions of the Prophet followed only and only the Hadith to understand the Qur’an, they did not interpret it their own way. Thus following Imams, Scholars, Kings and Leaders would not define Islam. Islam is simply following The Qur’an of Allah and Hadith of Muhammad (s.a.w.). One can and should take help from a scholar or an imam but following them blindly without reasoning from Qur’an and Sunnah is what goes against the spirit of Islam. No one is perfect to be followed without questioning, except the one for whom Allah has revealed the verses in His book i.e. Hazrat Muhammad (peace be upon him).
May Allah give all of us the strength for reading and understanding the Qur’an so that we can have a proper concept of our religion.
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