July 30th, 2008 by mjaga
Pasted below is a transcript of an email (coloured) received by me on the subject of Prophets and Books, along with my response (in black) to the points raised therein within the text of the email. I think the issues involved to be of vital importance for resurgence of the Muslim Ummah. Their resurgence depends on how the majority of the Muslims respond to these issues. I am therefore circulating the transcript here for wider publicity.
Prophets and Books
According to a report in Musnad Ahmed collection of Ahadith, Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, said: “From Adam to me, Allah sent a hundred and twenty-four thousand Prophets, of whom three hundred and fifteen were entrusted with a Book.” The question is why were there so many more Prophets than Books? To reflect on this is to gain an understanding about the very institution of Prophethood. If the role of a Prophet were simply to deliver the Book, as some mis-guided people in our time try to argue, there should have been as many Books as Prophets. But the very fact that there have been many Prophets without a new Book, firmly establishes the need for the Prophets as a source of guidance in its own rights.
Allah’s guidance is the Guidance (2.120). There is no other independent source for it. Prophets and Messengers guided mankind only as per Allah’s guidance. Theirs was not an independent source of guidance besides Allah’s. They were no doubt teachers; for, mankind needs teachers. No man can learn things by himself. Prophets, who had not brought any new divine Book, were sent as divinely accredited teachers to bring back prople, who had gone astray, to the divine teachings in the divine Book existing then.
When a teacher of any subject, say, science, teaches his students, he draws his information from the scientific literature existing at his time. It cannot be that he is a source by himself, independent of that existing source of scientific literature.
In the pre-historic times, with little means of preserving literature, Allah Ta’ala sent Prophets after Prophets to serve as teachers to mankind on correct ways of leading their lives. Now that Allah’s last Message, the Qur’aan, is preserved, there is no need for Prophets. Ordinary human beings can now serve as teachers on the basis of the preserved Qur’aan. The author’s argument, that the number of Prophets in the pre-historic age being more than the number of divine books is a proof of the Prophets being additional sources of guidance besides the divine books, is therefore fallacious.
The Qur’aan was revealed in parts during a long period of 23 years. Pending the completion of the Book, the Prophet was of course the source of divine guidance besides the incomplete Qur’aan. The instructions in the Qur’aan to obey the Prophet and to obey Allah was in that context. But once the Qur’aan was complete, the Prophet was taken away from this world. Now there is only Allah to obey. There is no Prophet. Allah’s instructions were to obey the Prophet and not any hearsays reported centuries after his death as his sayings. All his genuine sayings are already divinely preserved in the Qur’aan.
It had to be so because life emulates life. We need live human beings to inspire us; to show right from wrong in every day struggles of life; to confront us and pose questions; to answer questions; to clarify misconceptions; to hold our hand; to be the model. We certainly need principles to guide our thoughts and actions. But we also need real life examples to relate the principles to real life situations. For most of our living experience involves judgment calls. Politeness is a desirable moral value. But when does politeness turn into weakness? Firmness is also a desirable attribute. But when does it turn into arrogance? How do we balance our duties towards Allah with those towards other human beings? How do we balance both with duties towards ourselves? We are constantly faced with conflicting claims on our resources, energies, and attention. How do we resolve those conflicts, without doing any injustice? These are real life questions that require real life answers.
This point is beautifully established in the Opening Chapter (Surah Fatiha) of Qur’an. It is a short surah, consisting of only seven verses, and it consists of a prayer for guidance: O’ Allah! Show us the Straight Path. Yet two of the seven verses are used to describe the Straight Path in terms of people. “The path of those on whom Thou has bestowed Thy Grace. Not the path of those who earn Thine wrath nor of those who go astray.”
It would have been simpler to just refer to the Straight path as the Path of the Qur’an. But the longer description has been used to emphasis the fact that human beings need a human model to provide complete guidance.
Surah Fatiha is in the form of a prayer of the created to the Creator. The created do not know what the Straight Path is. They simply implore the Creator to show them the Path. They do not ask Him to show them the persons who tread that Path. The emphasis is not on the persons, but on the Path. Surah Fatiha does not describe what the Straight Path is. It is described elsewhere in the Qur’aan as in Verses 2.51, 6.152-153 etc. The author’s citing the Surah in support of his plea that the ahaadeeth are a must, besides the Qur’aan, for proper guidance of mankind, is ill-conceived. It smacks of shirk and blasphemy; for, Allah Ta’ala makes it abundantly clear in the Qur’aan that His Message is self-sufficient for guidance of mankind.
Of course Prophets were sent to provide the needed guidance.
The divine messages that the Prophets brought provided the needed guidance. The Prophets were the teachers.
It is also obvious that whatever a Prophet declares is binding on all his followers. “To accept a person as a Prophet of God and then to refuse to accept his commands, is so ridiculous that I would not have believed any sensible person would ever offer this proposition,” says prominent Hadith scholar Maulana Manzoor Naumani.
The Maulana is absolutely right.
But this most irrational of ideas has been promulgated by a segment of Western educated Muslims. They say, without a sense of irony, that we accept the Qur’an but not the Hadith.
The Hadith is not the Prophet! It is hearsay that is not divinely guaranteed to be true and not divinely protected as such. Only the Qur’aan is so guaranteed and protected. It (the Qur’aan) contains all the genuine commands of the Prophet. The Prophet’s commands are Allah’s commands. He (the Prophet) was after all Allah’s Messenger.
Anyone who says that he accepts the Qur’an but rejects the hadith cannot be serious. Or he has not read the Qur’an either. For the Qur’an says:
“And We have sent down unto you the Message so that you may explain clearly to the people what is sent for them and so that they may give thought.” (Al-Nahal 16:44).
The Prophet is directed here clearly to make known to the people what is sent down for them. The Qur’aan is otherwise easy to understand as is repeatedly asserted therein. The commandments therein are by themselves entirely clear (Verse 3.7) and the Qur’aan itself gives the best interpretation of its Verses. In view of this, it is wrong on the part of the author to so interpret the above Verse that it (the Verse) gives ahaadeeth the authority to further explain the Qur’aanic Verses. The Verse gives no such authority.
It also declares:
“Allah did confer a great favor on the believers when He sent among them a Messenger from among themselves, rehearsing unto them the Signs of Allah, purifying them, and instructing them in Scripture and Wisdom, while before that they had been in manifest error.” (Aale Imran 3:164). So it is the job of the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, to explain the Qur’an. And it is the job of the believers to obey him.
The believers obey the Prophet by obeying what is laid down in the Qur’aan.
“He who obeys the Messenger obeys Allah indeed” (Nisa 4:80).
And he who obeys what is laid down in the Qur’aan, obeys both Allah and His Messenger.
And even more emphatically it says:
“And obey Allah and obey His Messenger.”( Al-Taghabun 64:12).It is to be noted that here the Qur’an did not say “Obey Allah and His Messenger.” By using the command “obey” independently the fact has been firmly established that the status of an order given by the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, is the same as that given by Allah.
There is no divine guarantee that the commands in the ahaadeeth are the genuine commands of the Prophet. His genuine commands are all incorporated in the Qur’aan, which is divinely protected from all human mischief. And remember, the Prophet was only a Messenger of Allah. He did not give any command of his own without the sanction of Allah Almighty.
Even a casual reader of the Qur’an can notice that
it gives commands without giving many details. For example it refers to salat
(ritual prayers) 67 times. But it never explains how the salat has to be
performed. The question is not just how a follower of the Qur’an is to follow
that command, but the bigger question is: why the omission in the first place?
Is it an oversight, in which case one cannot consider it to be the Book of
Allah, or is it simply because another source for those details had been
You are openly contradicting the Qur’aan, Brother! Whereas the Qur’aan repeatedly asserts that all necessary things are explained in details within the Qur’aan, you say it does not give many details! You say it never explains how salat is performed. What a lie, that too against Allah!! See Verses 2.238, 4,.103, 7.29, 7.56, 7.205, 11.114, 17.78, 17.110, 20.14, 23.2, 23.9, 70.23, 107.5 (the list is not complete) wherein you will find necessary details on how to perform a Salah. Allah does not want His worshippers to be burdened with things which they cannot honestly do. But our religious leaders take pleasure in imposing so much burden on them that they find it impossible to concentrate on Allah during the prayers, and, no wonder, their minds wander.
Similarly the Qur’an approvingly mentions many
other practices, like the call to prayer (adhan) and the Friday prayer, but
never gives commands about them. Again, why? Is there any other explanation
possible except for the obvious one that there is a parallel source of
instruction in the person of the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam?
Of all the living creatures, human beings are endowed with the highest deree of intelligence. Allah Ta’ala has left certain simple things to be tackled by human intelligence. Call to prayer is one of those simple things. The form of the call was not even given by the Prophet. It was suggested by one of the Sahaba and accepted by the group, which included the Prophet, discussing the issue. In the continuing human life, such issues crop up every now and then. Believers are expected to solve them by using their intelligence, but their course of action has to be within the broad Qur'anic framework. This is not indicative at all of a parallel source of instruction besides the Qur’aan. And the Prophet (peace be upon him) is not there in person in this world now, Brother!
Actually in the form of Hadith, Muslims have an
unprecedented branch of knowledge. Just a list of all the books written on the
subject would take several thousand pages, says prominent hadith scholar
Habib-ur-Rahman Azami. Other religions also claim to possess revealed
scriptures. But no other religion has an example corresponding to Hadith.
“Hadith is a branch of knowledge whose equivalent is not to be found in other
religions,” says Dr. Hamidullah.
This (Hadith) branch of knowledge is man-built, and, at best, it may be considered as a good historical record. And, like all human record, it is prone to errors, mistakes and manipulations. The Muslim community is committing a grave error in equating this error-prone record with divine revelation. Nay, in doing so, they are committing the unpardonable sin of shirk. No human record can equal divine revelation.
For the design-your-own-religion crowd, that may be
They who sincerely believe in the Qur’aan and try to follow it diligently, do not design their own religion. It is designed for them by Allah Almighty. Every action of theirs is controlled by Qur’aanic injunctions.
But for the sincere follower, it is a great favor
and blessing of Allah. We have been entrusted with a unique treasure trove of guidance.
An appreciation of that favor is the first step towards benefiting from that
The unique treasure trove of guidance is none other than the Qur’aan! By crediting this unique attribute instead to the ahaadeeth, you are betraying your lack of faith in the Qur’aan, which really is the great favour and blessing of Allah on mankind. The disgrace generally faced by the Muslim community today is the direct result of their failure to appreciate Allah’s favour and blessing in the form of the Qur’aan.
May 22nd, 2008 by mjaga
Qur’aanic Verse 7.31:
31. Ya banee adama khuthoo zeenatakum AAinda kulli masjidin wakuloo waishraboo wala tusrifoo innahu la yuhibbu almusrifeena
31. O children of Adam! Be well-dressed, clean and tidy at every place of worship,10, 11 and eat and drink, but indulge not in extravagance. HE does not indeed like those who indulge in extravagance.
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