Discussing Taqlid

Discussion in 'Islam' started by Abdullah, Apr 19, 2007.

  1. Muslimwoman

    Muslimwoman Coexistence insha'Allah

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    This is from the same post:

    the realm of the common people (al-`amma) for whom it is permissible to imitate the scholar upon asking him something, even without knowing the bases of the answer...

    So as a common person you are only allowed to ask questions of scholars from your own school?

    Also, I was led to believe that all Muslims are told to gain education, so why is it not incumbent upon you to ask for the basis of the answer?

    Salaam
     
  2. Abdullah

    Abdullah Well-Known Member

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    Assalamu alaikum wr wb

    It is not incumbent upon a person to ask questions, but it is verry much reccomended to do so [as learning general knowledge is highly reccomended and stressed for everyone]; not in suspicion that the answer may not be true, or not in order to judge wether the opinion is correct, as one needs to be a Mujtahid to do that, but in order to learn about his deen and increase his knowledge, for the sake of Allah.

    As the laymen is not a mujtahid and he cannot acurately judge the evidences [of wether the opinion extracted from them is correct or not] from a comprehensively contextual point of view, that is why there is no point of it being incumbent on him to ask for the evidences that it is based on. Also, for it to be incumbent to ask for the evidences that an opinion is based on, suggests two things, one, that he must check with the evidences that the opinion is correct [and he is not capable of doing that, as explained] before he accepts it, or that it is incumbent upon him to immediately learn the basic knowledge that an opinion is based on straight away in order to increase on his knowledge, and as it's not absolutely neccassary to know the basic knowledge that an opinion is based on, to save himself from sin, that is why there would be no logical reason for it to be incumbent on him to learn it straight away on hearing the opinion.

    What is faraidh e ayn [obligation that must be met] for each and every muslim to learn, is the knowledge he must know in order to live a 24/7 life without sin. So therefore, it is faraidh e ayn for each and every Muslim to learn about how to peform salaat, how to perform wudhu, what times are salaat, what is haraam...what is halaal... etc, etc. In order to live a 24/7 life without sin, each and every person does not need to learn, for example, what the evidence of the view that reciting tashahud in salaat is waajib, is based on, he/she just needs to know as an absolute neccessity, that it is waajib and that he has learnt that opinion from a trustworthy Scholar, thus he can rely on it being correct.

    General knowledge [knowledge that isn't absolutely neccassary for one to learn in order to save himself from sin in his day to day life] and the sciences of ijtihad, falls under the catagory of faraidh e kiffayah, that is that if a sufficient number of Muslims learn it, in order to teach the rules and regulations of the religion to the rest of the community, then the rest of the community are not under obligation to learn it, but nonethless, it is highly reccomended for them to learn as much as they can.

    Allah [swt] says in the Quran:

    9:122. Nor should the Believers all go forth together: if a contingent from every expedition remained behind, they could devote themselves to studies in religion, and admonish the people when they return to them,- that thus they (may learn) to guard themselves (against evil).

    Now the above verse, although it is in regards to jihad, but yet it's implications are general, that there should be some Muslims that prioritise learning knowledge, while other Muslims are preoccupied with other duties, so that the group that are pre-occupied with other duties, can take heed from those that remain engaged in learning. The verse gives a clear indication that laymen should take heed of Scholars, and act upon their advice

    If it should have been an obligation for each and every Muslim to only accept opinions that they themselves can see from the Quran and Sunnah to be correct, then each and every Muslim would have had to be engaged in the seeking of knowledge untill they become a Mujtahid [which could take decades] and thus they would not have the time to work for a living, and take care of other wordly matters and duties.

    The world takes many kinds of craftsmanship and involvement in many different aspects of life, in order to maintain a healthy and vibrant society, and if every Muslim was required to become a Mujtahid, then who will take care of the other aspects of life, other than the one of seeking knowledge and becoming major Scholars? Therefore, as long as there are sufficient numbers of Mufti's/Mujtahid's in the community that can admonish the rest of the people, then it is not incumbent on the rest to strive to become Scholars, but as learning is highly beneficial, and the more one learns the more pious/enlightened he is, that is why learning general knowledge remains highly reccomended for each and every Muslim.

    Also, in order for a person to qualify as a Mujtahid, he/she needs to be of a verry high intellectual calibre and have exceptional memory power, and not all people have such qualities, so therefore it would not befit the nature of vast numbers of people, for it to be an obligation on them to become a mujtahid before they can practice their deen...

    As a common person [non-Mujtahids], we are only allowed to follow the opinions of the school of thought that we adhere to [and they should be one of the four schools], in order to prevent ourselves from following our desires, thus we should prioritise learning opinions of our schools in matters that are neccassary for us to practice, and in general matters, but we are free to learn the opinions of other schools as well [even encouraged/reccomended] for the opinions of other schools fall under the catogory of general Islamic knowledge, so we can admonish adherants of other schools according to their madhab, and just increase our knowledge about what opinions are valid/held amongst the ahlus Sunnah.

    The four madhabs agree upon a relatively vast number of opinions, and as even the differences amongst them are correct, and as here in Britain, it is not allways easy to find a Hanafi Mufti at hand to ask your questions, what I tend to sometimes, is learn from any reliable Scholar [I do do backgrounds checks on Scholars, and see wether other Scholars, that I know to be trustworthy and of high intellectual calibre and sound judgment, have endorsed and aproved of the Scholar] that represents any one of the four madhabs, and then if I come across the opinion of my madhab regarding a certain issue, and it differs from one that I've adopted from a Scholar/the fiqh of another madhab, then I adopt the one of my madhab over the others.

    hope that helps

    Salaam

    ps: Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah, a righteous Scholar who specialises in contemporary fiqh of minorites, has said that, Muslims living in the west can resort to taking from all four Schools of thought, to resolve serious problems that living in the west can present for them, that their own madhab cannot solve.
     
  3. Abdullah

    Abdullah Well-Known Member

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    Edit: I said in the above post that a Mujtahid needs to have an exceptional memmory power; I've checked with the 'pre-requisites of a Mujtahid' thread, and have seen that it does not say that there, and that it does say that a Mujtahid needs to know the sources of where he will find his answer, without having to memorise it, thus I'd like to revoke my statement as I dont want to say what the experts are not saying about this issue.

    Salaam
     
  4. Muslimwoman

    Muslimwoman Coexistence insha'Allah

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    Wa aleykum salaam brother Abdullah

    Thank you for your reply, I am starting to understand your thought process, even though I don’t always agree with it.

    So if a scholar from your school tells you an opinion you know to be against the Quran, you will not question this. Why, because you believe he must know something you do not?

    So if you go to a doctor, with a pain in your ear and the doctor says you need to have your left leg removed will you just accept this or go for a second opinion? After all doctors are only human and can be wrong. Most people would ask questions and go for a second opinion, because logic and reason tells them a pain in the ear should not result in amputation of the leg. It may be that the second doctor explains the reason this is correct but at least that way you feel more confident that you are following the right advice. And we are not talking about losing a leg, we are talking about sinning against G-d and the possibility of eternity in hell fire.

    May we discuss a similar situation for a moment in order for me to explain my views more clearly? Please bear with me on this one, it does become relevant. Have you ever heard of William Tyndale? In 1536 he was convicted by the church of heresy and treason, they tortured him, strangled him but because he still lived they then burnt him alive. What was this mans great crime against G-d? He translated the bible into English so that the common man could read it. Everyone feared the Pope (who interestingly enough at that time was very anti Christ) and the Pope insisted that the bible could only be read by priests, all church services were held in Latin and it was forbidden for the common folk to read or be taught the bible. This is said to be a conversation between Tyndale and another priest "We had better be without God's laws than the Pope's." In a swelling of emotion, Tyndale made his prophetic response: "I defy the Pope, and all his laws; and if God spares my life, I will cause the boy that drives the plow in England to know more of the Scriptures than the Pope himself!". If you put Tyndale into your search engine you will find the word Reformation again and again. He, among others, changed the face of Europe and challenged the strangle hold the Pope had over Europe and he is one of my favourite historical figures for this reason.

    So why is this relevant? When you begin to look at the history of other religions you see many parallels, most of which are abuses by man to gain power and control the population. If you read about the Catholic church of that time and the Pope’s unbelieveable power you will see again and again statements by the church such as “asking questions makes hardship for you”, “you are not capable of understanding, only the priests can understand the word of G-d” and “it is a sin against G-d not to follow the orders of priests, no matter what they have you do”. Does that sound at all familiar? The message and mission of Jesus (pbuh) was to spread the word of G-d to as many people as possible in the world, yet Pope after Pope made this impossible. Why? Power, if they kept the masses ignorant they could control them. All of this is clearly held in history books and easy to verify. There were very pious priests and scholars at that time, all over Europe, that did not desire power but believed the Pope could not be wrong and so followed his every word. So really there is no blame on the priests, other than blind following. There were also very bad priests, who worked very hard and outwardly ‘piously’ to gain as much land, power and money as possible.

    So back to Islam, we hear again and again that only a certain number of people can understand the Quran and Sunnah and that it is a sin not to follow these people because without their knowledge we go astray. It is such a parallel to the Catholic church. No doubt at all, we have some wonderful scholars, who work hard every day to gather knowledge and transmit this to the masses without any attempt to mislead. There is also no doubt that some scholars are afraid to speak out against certain issues, so they ‘go with the flow’ in order to keep the majority. There are also scholars with political agendas, who work very hard to control the masses in the way various Pope’s have done. This is my issue, the scholars are only men and are liable to the same mistakes, political greed and arrogance as everyone else in the world.

    Remember I have been to al-Azhar many times, where I have spoken to numerous scholars. Some of them are delighted that I wish to learn and ask questions, they devote a lot of time and patience to explaining certain issues to me. Others are more arrogant, give a short answer, do not allow me to ask questions and send me away. One even shouted at my husband to take me home, not allow me any reading materials, beat me and lock me in the home until I understood that to be a Muslim woman was to be a pleasing and subservient wife and I quote “she was born to serve you not to speak and make a nuisance of herself”. Please note he did not say I was born to serve G-d but only my husband – this is the attitude some women have to face from these scholars. I am delighted to say that my husband told him exactly where to stick his bad attitude. So, from these experiences I believe that there are wonderful scholars with no ‘agenda’ but there are also extremists within the four schools who do have an ‘agenda’.

    It is a matter of trust and to tell me I must treat all of these men with the same respect and trust all of their judgements to the same extent is quite frankly against all logic and reason. And I do not mean westernized logic and reason, any Arab Muslim I have discussed the incident with has either been very angry about it or laughed and said “there are some very crazy scholars, we just ignore them”. If G-d wanted us to sheep we would have wool and say baaah. He gave us brains, intellect and a desire to question the world we live in. The Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) did not say “only the scholars should search for knowledge, even unto China”.

    Salaam :)
     
  5. Abdullah

    Abdullah Well-Known Member

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    Taqleed is nothing more then the fact that someone who does not have the academic capability to extract rules from the Quran and Sunnah, chooses someone who'm he regards as an expert in the interpretation of the Quran and Sunnah, relies upon his understandind, and adheres to his opinion. The validity - if not the mandate - for this approach apears in numerous proofs in the Quran and Sunnah:

    "O You who Believe, follow Allah, Follow the Messenger, and those of authority [amr] amongst you" [Surah Al-Nisa, 59]

    "Those of authority amongst you", means the Scholars and the Rulers.

    Major Scholars are authorised to interpret Quran and hadith, for they have the pre-requisite knowledge and qualities to do so, thus they are the authority in the interpretation of the Quran and Sunnah, and that makes them 'those of authority' amongst us, to interpret the Quran and Sunnah.

    The legal term for the 'following' that we are to do of the Scholars is 'Taqlid'.

    "And if you dispute, then refer it to Allah and the Messenger if you really do believe in Allah and the last Day" [Surah Al-Nisa 59].

    The fact that Allah says here "And if you dispute", goes to show that those of 'amr', are indeed the Jurists, for Allah first has ordered everyone else to follow them, and then proceeded to say "And if ye dispute", this shows that 'if ye dispute" is refering to the 'amr' [Jurists] for it isn't a matter to 'dispute' for one who follows [and also, the laymen does not have the qualifications to know how to "refer it to Allah and His Messenger saw", i.e, how to refer to the Quran and Sunnah and derive the correct ruling from them]. Thus it is established that the second command refers to the Scholars, and the first command refers to the laymen.

    "And when there comes to them a matter concerning [public] saftey and fear, they relay it, if they had only reffered it to the Messenger and those of authority [Amr]. Those who can investigate and extract [information] among them would know [the rumours validity]. [Surah Al-Nisa 83]

    There is a general principle to be extracted from the above verse, and that is that, people who do not have the tools of investigation, should refer refer to thsoe who can. This is precisely taqlid.

    "If a contingent from every expedition stayed behind, in order to understand Deen, and so that they could admonish their people when they return home that thus they [may learn to] guard themselves [against evil]. [Surah AtTawabah 122]

    This verse establishes that those who learn and understand, to depart knolwedge to others, and that laymen should take heed from Scholars' warnings and to act upon their advice.

    "...So if you do not know, ask those of rememberance" [Surah Al-Nahl 43]

    This verse establishes that those who do not know, should learn from those who do, i,e, laymen should learn from Scholars.

    Hadiths:

    Hudhaifa [ra] said that the Prophet [saw] said: I do not know how long I will remain with you, so follow these two people [who will remain] after me: Abu Bakr [ra] And Umar [ra] [Tirmidhi Ibn Majah and Ahmed]

    The arabic word 'Iqtidaa' [follow] in the above hadith, means to follow in a religious sense, and not organisational sense. the same word has been used in the Quran by Allah to mean to follow the Prophets and good people in religious affairs:

    "These are ones who'm We guided so follow their guidance" [Surah Al-Anam 90]

    The following hadith gives ample proof of this approach [of following people in the example they set]:

    "Abu Bakr was following the prayer of the Prophet and the people were following the prayer of Abu Bakr" [Bukhari]

    Imam Ahmed narrated in his musnad from Abu Wail:

    "I sat with Shaibah, the son of uthman, who said: Omar sat in this verry place where you are sitting. Omar [ra] said: sometimes I want to distribute every peace of gold and silver that is here in the Ka'aba, I [Shaibah] asked him [omar] "Dont you have authority to do so"?, Omar [ra] said: "Your two companions [The prophet [saw] and Abu Bakr ra], preceded you and did not do so, they are two people who should be followed".

    ...The prophet [saw] stated: A person who is entitiled to paradise, will shortly enter this gathering", so a person from the answer entered...Abdullah said to the Ansar, "I wanted to spend the night with you so I could watch your actions and follow you..." [Ahmed, Musnad]

    In all of these instances the word 'iqtidaa' has been used...

    Abdullah Ibn Amr narrated that the Prophet [saw] said: Allah will not snatch away knowledge abruptly from people, but rather he will snatch knowledge by removing Scholars. This will happen to the extent when no Scholars remain. People will take ignorant leaders as their guides. These leaders will be asked and they will give opinions [fatwas] without knowledge. So they will be misguided and they will misguide. [Bukhari and Muslim].

    The above hadith establishes that giving religious legal opinions [fatwas] is the occupation of a Scholar, and that people refer to them concerning religious and legal issues and act according to answers recieved. This is the verry nature of Taqleed.

    These are just some of the evidences from the Shariah sources for the validity of Taqleed.

    Now sister muslimwoman, I know your probably not going to accept any of the above evidences, as it will go against your aims to do so, but this is just to show that there is ample evidence for taqlid out there in the Shariah sources, and they are backed up by sound logical, and undeniable common sense arguments, so I hope this shows you how futile, naive, and impossible a task it is to try and convert Muslims to liberal modernism :p

    Here are a few more hadiths:

    "The Prophet [saw] said "...Follow me [by observing what I do], and those who come after you shall follow you [by observing what you do]" [Bukhari and Muslim].

    The above hadith gives the general meaning of, that each generation of Muslims should follow one another [by observing their actions], till the last Day.

    Sahl Ibn Sa'ad narrated from his father that, "A woman came to the Prophet [saw] and said: "My husband has gone out in war and I used to follow him in his prayer when he prayed and in all other affairs. Show me an act which will match his act of Jihad untill he returns".

    If following in all affairs [of a Muslim who can be trusted to be following the Prophet [saw] correctly] was not allowed, then the prophet [saw] would have rebuked the women in the above hadith, and the fact that he never, goes to show the consent of the Prophet [saw] in the matter of taqlid.

    Ibraheem Ibn Abdurrahman narrated that the Prophet [saw] said:

    "Reliable people from each succeeding generation will carry this knowledge. They [the reliable people] will refute the distortions of those who exagarate, and the [erroneous] explanations of the ignorant" [Baihaqi in Madhkal].

    [hmm, I wonder if this hadith means that 'each succeeding generation untill the last day...", if it does, then that is further proof that there will allways be a group of people untill the last day who safeguard, and thus have the correct meaning of the Quran]

    This hadith condemns the erroneous interpretation of the ignorant [non-mujtahids] and makes it clear that the refutation of these explanations is the responsibility of the Scholars [I just borrow the arguments of the Scholars :D ]. Again, this shows that those who do not have the acumen of a mujtahid should not venture into explaining the Quran and Sunnah out of their own personal understanding. Rudimentary knowledge of the Arabic language or any other ijtihad sciences, does not qualify one asa a mujtahid, hence such explanation of a non-professional will be regarded as spurious.

    Imam Tirmidhi narrates that Abdullah Ibn Amr narrated from the Prophet [saw]: "Whoever has two qualities in him, Allah will make him a gratefull and patient person. [the first quality] Whoever looks towards someone who is higher then him in religion and follows him, and [the second quality] whoever looks towards someone who is lower them him in the world and then praises Allah".

    The hadith praises the quality of taqleed. there is not an inkling of disaproval in this hadith of following the good in others.

    Peace.
     
  6. Abdullah

    Abdullah Well-Known Member

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    Abdussamad Clarke, who was born in Belfast and studied in Edinburgh and Cairo, gives a further explanation of taqlid in the forward of his translation of Imaam An-Nawawi's, The Complete Forty Hadeeth:

    "It is clear from reading the hadith litterature that the Companions [ra], who were pre-eminently men of fiqh, recieved their Islam by means of what we would call 'taqlid, which continued to be the means of Islam's transmission from one generation to the next. Taqlid is that people see with the eyes of the heart, something so overwhelmingly clear that they imitate it, wether consciously or unconsciously. While this is not a decision to abandon the intellect, this word is usually translated perjoratively as 'blind imitation'. Many modern Muslims imagine that we have a wisdom superior to that because of living in a 'more enlightened' techno-scientific age. We place that concept in invereted commas because our measure of all enlightenment is the noble conduct of the Messenger of Allah [saw], and his Companions in Madinah, a measure whcih shows this age to be one of the most barbaric there has ever been".

    :)
     
  7. inhumility

    inhumility Active Member

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    Hi
    I agree with you. Quran nowhere mentions about the Scholars/Mullah, who are trying to establish there hegemony on the Islamic Scriptures, that they are to be followed no matter how irrational or illogical they may ascribe to Islam/Quran. Quran is an open book, it is not restricted to any Scholar for interpreting it or explaining it; one could read it and understand it very easily.
    GodAllahYHWH says: 54:22/23
    "And indeed We have made the Quran easy to understand and to remember. But is there anyone who would receive admonition?"
    And Quran has repeated this verse several times, so that everybody adheres to it steadfastly. Alas the "Scholars" won't learn.
    Thanks
    I am an Ahmadi – a peaceful faith in Islam bridging gaps between faiths/denominations/religions/agnostics
     
  8. Muslimwoman

    Muslimwoman Coexistence insha'Allah

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    as salaam aleykum inhumanity

    It is truly a special verse is it not, proof that Allah gave the Quran to all people and showing us that everyone is equal in His eyes.

    I accept that some people, perhaps through lack of confidence, feel the need to follow scholars even against all logic and reason but what offends me so much is the insistance that this is the only path to Allah. If that was true then the Quran would say "We have made the Quran so only scholars can comprehend it's meaning, so follow the scholars even unto your death".

    Salaam
     
  9. inhumility

    inhumility Active Member

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    Wa ulaikumus salam
    You are very right.
    Thanks
    I am an Ahmadi - a peaceful faith in Islam
     
  10. inhumility

    inhumility Active Member

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    Hi
    The so called scholars/clergy, who won't listen to Quran consisting of brilliant verses; such scholars/clergy have been described by our Prophet Muhammad KhatamunNabiyyeen SAW as monkeys mimicking human beings yet understanding little:
    The Prophet Muhammad SAW said there would come on my Ummah a period of tribulations and disturbances, people would go to their Ulema/scholars with a hope for seeking guidance; and lo! They would find that they have changed to monkeys and swine (i.e. in character the ulema or scholars would be in a very bad shape and in a very shameful condition, not able to guide them properly.). Kanzul Ummal page 190 volume 7
    Thanks
    I am an Ahmadi – a peaceful faith in Islam bridging gaps betweenfaiths/denominations/religions/agnostics
     
  11. bloodnf

    bloodnf Member

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    Taqlid is unIslamic.

    Even the Hadiths demand proof in their chain of narration. Accepting anyone's word or opinion without asking for proof is contrary to Islam.
     
  12. Abdullah

    Abdullah Well-Known Member

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    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica][SIZE=-1]Any Muslim can benefit from reading hadiths from al-Bukhari and Muslim, whether on his own or with others. As for studying hadith, Sheikh Shuayb al-Arnaut, with whom my wife and I are currently reading Imam al-Suyuti's Tadrib al-rawi [The training of the hadith narrator], emphasizes that the science of hadith deals with a vast and complex literature, a tremendous sea of information that requires a pilot to help one navigate, without which one is bound to run up on the rocks. In this context, Sheikh Shuayb once told us, "Whoever doesn't have a sheikh, the Devil is his sheikh, in any Islamic discipline." [/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica][SIZE=-1]In other words, there are benefits the ordinary Muslim can expect from personally reading hadith, and benefits that he cannot, unless he is both trained and uses other literature, particularly the classical commentaries that explain the hadiths meanings and their relation to Islam as a whole. [/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica][SIZE=-1]The benefits one can derive from reading al-Bukhari and Muslim are many: general knowledge of such fundamentals as the belief in Allah, the messengerhood of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), the Last Day and so on; as well as the general moral prescriptions of Islam to do good, avoid evil, perform the prayer, fast Ramadan, and so forth. The hadith collections also contain many other interesting points, such as the great rewards for acts of worship like the midmorning prayer (duha), the night vigil prayer (tahajjud), fasting on Mondays and Thursdays, giving voluntary charity, and So on. Anyone who reads these and puts them into practice in his life has an enormous return for reading hadith, even more so if he aims at perfecting himself by attaining the noble character traits of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) mentioned in hadith. Whoever learns and follows the prophetic example in these matters has triumphed in this world and the next. [/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica][SIZE=-1]What is not to be hoped for in reading hadith (without personal instruction from a sheikh for some time) is two things: to become an alim or Islamic scholar, and to deduce fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) from the hadiths on particulars of sharia practice. [/SIZE][/FONT]



    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica][SIZE=-1]Without a guiding hand, the untrained reader will misunderstand many of the hadiths he reads, and these mistakes, if assimilated and left uncorrected, may pile up until he can never find his way out of them, let alone become a scholar. Such a person is particularly easy prey for modern sectarian movements of our times appearing in a neo-orthodox guise, well financed and published, quoting Quran and hadiths to the uninformed to make a case for the basic contention of all deviant sects since the beginning of Islam; namely, that only they are the true Muslims. Such movements may adduce, for example, the well-authenticated (hasan) hadith related from Aisha (Allah be well pleased with her) by al-Hakim al-Tirmidhi that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica][SIZE=-1]Shirk (polytheism) is more hidden in my Umma than the creeping of ants across a great smooth stone on a black night . . . [/SIZE][/FONT][FONT=Arial,Helvetica][SIZE=-1](...Dar Sadir, n.d., 399). [/SIZE][/FONT]​
    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica][SIZE=-1]This hadith has been used by sects from the times of the historical Wahhabi movement down to the present to convince common people that the majority of Muslims may not actually be Muslims at all, but rather mushrikin or polytheists, and that those who do not subscribe to the views of their sheikhs may be beyond the pale of Islam. [/SIZE][/FONT]


    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica][SIZE=-1]In reply, traditional scholars point out that the words fi Ummati, "in my Umma" in the hadith plainly indicate that what is meant here is the lesser shirk of certain sins that, though serious, do not entail outright unbelief. For the word shirk or polytheism has two meanings. The first is the greater polytheism of worshipping others with Allah, of which Allah says in surat al-Nisa, "Truly, Allah does not forgive that any should be associated with Him [in worship], but forgives what is other than that to whomever He wills " (Quran 4:48), and this is the shirk of unbelief. The second is the lesser polytheism of sins that entail shortcomings in one's tawhid or knowledge of the divine unity, but do not entail leaving Islam. Examples include affection towards someone for the sake of something that is wrongdoing (called shirk because one hopes to benefit from what Allah has placed no benefit in), or disliking someone because of something that is right (called shirk because one apprehends harm from what Allah has placed benefit in), or the sin of showing off in acts of worship, as mentioned in the sahih or rigorously authenticated hadith that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, The slightest bit of showing off in good works is shirk (al-Mustadrak ala al-Sahihayn. 4 vols. Hyderabad, 1334/1916. Reprint (with index vol. 5). Beirut: Dar al-Marifa, n.d.,1.4). Such sins do not put one outside of Islam, though they are disobedience and do show a lack of faith (iman). [/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica][SIZE=-1]Scholars say that the lesser shirk of such sins is meant by the hadith, for if the greater shirk of unbelief were intended, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) would not have referred to such individuals as being in my Umma, since unbelief (kufr) is separate and distinct from Islam, and necessarily outside of it. This is also borne out by another version of the hadith related from Abu Bakr (Nawadir al-usul, 397), which has fikum or "among you" in place of the words "in my Umma", a direct reference to the Sahaba or prophetic Companions, none of whom was a mushrik or idolator, by unanimous consensus (ijma) of all Muslim scholars. As for sins of lesser shirk, it cannot be lost on anyone why their hiddenness is compared in the hadith to the imperceptible creeping of ants across a great smooth stone on a black night; namely, because of the subtlety of human motives, and the ease with which human beings can deceive themselves. [/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica][SIZE=-1]Similarly, al-Bukhari relates that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: "Truly, you shall follow the ways of those who were before you, span by span, and cubit by cubit, until, if they were to enter a lizards lair, you would follow them." We said, "O Messenger of Allah, the Jews and Christians?" And he said, "Who else?" (Sahih al-Bukhari) [/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica][SIZE=-1]This hadith is also used by modern movements claiming to be a return to the Quran and sunna, to suggest that the majority of ordinary Sunni Muslims who follow the aqida (tenets of faith) or fiqh of mainstream orthodox Sunni Imams (whose classic works seldom fully correspond with their views) are intended by this hadith, while there is much evidence that the orthodox majority of the Umma is divinely protected from error, such as the sahih hadith related by al-Hakim that "Allah's hand is over the group, and whoever diverges from them diverges to hell" (al-Mustadrak, 1.116). Such hadiths show that Quranic verses like "If you obey most of those on earth, they will lead you astray from the path of Allah" (Quran, 6:116) do not refer to those who follow traditional Islamic scholarship (who have never been a majority of those on earth), but rather the non-Muslim majority of mankind. [/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica][SIZE=-1]It is fitter to regard the previously-mentioned hadiths wording of following the Jews and Christians as referring, in our times, to the Muslims who copy the West in all aspects of their lives, rational and irrational, even to the extent of building banks in Muslim cities and holy places never before sullied by usury (riba) on an institutional basis since pre-Islamic times. Or those who promote divisive sectarian ideologies under the guise of reform movements among the Muslims, as the Jews and Christians did in their respective religions. [/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica][SIZE=-1]Traditional scholarship is protected from such misguidance by the authentic knowledge it has preserved, living teacher from living teacher, in unbroken succession back to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). To return to our question, without such a quality control process, the unaided reader of hadith cannot hope to become a sort of homemade alim, giving fatwas on the basis of what he finds in al-Bukhari or Muslim alone, because the sahih hadiths related to Islamic legal questions are by no means found only in these two works, but in a great many others, which those who issue judgements on these questions must know. I have mentioned elsewhere some of the sciences needed by the scholar to join between all the hadiths, and that some hadiths condition each other or are conditioned by more general or more specific hadiths or Quranic verses that bear on the question. Without this knowledge, and a traditional sheikh to learn it from, one must necessarily stumble, something I know because I have personally tried. [/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica][SIZE=-1]When I first came to Jordan in 1980, someone had impressed upon my mind that a Muslim needs nothing besides the Quran and sahih hadiths. After reading through the Arabic Quran with the aid of A.J. Arberry's Koran Interpreted and recording what I understood, I sat down with the Muhammad Muhsin Khan translation of Sahih al-Bukhari and went through all the hadiths, volume by volume, writing down everything they seemed to tell a Muslim [what] to do. It was an effort to cut through the centuries of accretions to Islam that orientalists had taught me about at the University of Chicago, an effort to win through to pure Islam from the original sources themselves. My Salafism and my orientalism converged on this point. [/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica][SIZE=-1]At length, I produced a manuscript of selected hadiths of al-Bukhari, a sort of do-it-yourself sharia manual. I still use it as an index to hadiths in al-Bukhari, though the fiqh conclusions of my amateur ijtihads are now rather embarrassing. When hadiths were mentioned that seemed to contradict each other, I would simply choose whichever I wanted, or whichever was closer to my Western habits. After all, I said, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) was never given a choice between two matters except that he chose the easier of the two (Sahih al-Bukhari). For example, I had been told that it was not sunna to urinate while standing up, and had heard the hadith of Aisha that anyone who says the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) passed urine while standing up, do not believe him (Musnad Ahmad). But then I read the hadith in al-Bukhari that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) once urinated while standing up (Bukhari), and decided that what I had first been told was a mistake, or that perhaps it did not matter much. Only later, when I began translating the Arabic of the Shafi'i fiqh manual Reliance of the Traveller did I find out how the scholars of sharia had combined the implications of these hadiths; that the standing of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) to pass urine was to teach the Umma that it was not unlawful (haram), but rather merely offensive (makruh)--though in relation to the Prophet such actions were not offensive, but rather obligatory to do at least once to show the Umma they were not unlawful--or according to other scholars, to show it was permissible in situations in which it would prevent urine from spattering one's clothes. [/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica][SIZE=-1]In retrospect, my early misadventures in hadith enabled me to appreciate the way the fiqh I later studied had joined between all hadiths, something I had personally been unable to do. And I understood why, of the top hadith Imams, Imam al-Bukhari took his Shafi'i jurisprudence from the disciple of Imam Shafi'i, Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr al-Humaydi (al-Subki, Tabaqat al-Shafi'iyya al-kubra. 10 vols. Cairo: Isa al-Babi al-Halabi, 1383/1964, 2.214), and why Imams Muslim, al-Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, and al-Nasai also followed the Shafi'i school (Mansur Ali Nasif...), as did al-Bayhaqi, al-Hakim, Abu Nuaym, Ibn Hibban, al-Daraqutni, al-Baghawi, Ibn Khuzayma, al-Suyuti, al-Dhahabi, Ibn Kathir, Nur al-Din al-Haythami, al-Mundhiri, al-Nawawi, Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, Taqi al-Din al-Subki and others; why Imams such as Abd al-Rahman ibn al-Jawzi followed the madhhab of Ahmad ibn Hanbal; and why Abu Jafar al-Tahawi, Ali al-Qari, Jamal al-Din al-Zaylai (the African sheikh of Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, thought by some to have been even more knowledgeable than him), and Badr al-Din al-Ayni followed the Hanafi school. [/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica][SIZE=-1]These facts speak eloquently as to the role of hadith in the sharia in the eyes of these Imams, for whom it was not a matter of practicing either fiqh or hadith, as some Muslims seriously suggest today, but rather, the fiqh of hadith embodied in the traditional madhhabs which they followed. There would seem to be room for many of us to benefit from their example. [/SIZE][/FONT]

    Nuh Ha Mim Keller
     
  13. Abdullah

    Abdullah Well-Known Member

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    9
    Why Muslims Follow Madhhabs


    [SIZE=-1]© Nuh Ha Mim Keller, 1995[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=-1]This essay developed from a lecture given in the United States, Canada, and England in 1994 and 1995. On each occasion, questions were taken, some of the most frequent of which have been answered in the subsequent chapters.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=-1]The work of the mujtahid Imams[/SIZE][SIZE=-1] of Sacred Law, those who deduce shari‘a rulings from Qur’an and hadith, has been the object of my research for some years now, during which I have sometimes heard the question: "Who needs the Imams of Sacred Law when we have the Qur’an and hadith? Why can’t we take our Islam from the word of Allah and His Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace), which are divinely protected from error, instead of taking it from the madhhabs or "schools of jurisprudence" of the mujtahid Imams such as Abu Hanifa, Malik, Shafi‘i, and Ahmad, which are not?"[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=-1]It cannot be hidden from any of you how urgent this issue is, or that many of the disagreements we see and hear in our mosques these days are due to lack of knowledge of fiqh or "Islamic jurisprudence" and its relation to Islam as a whole. Now, perhaps more than ever before, it is time for us to get back to basics and ask ourselves how we understand and carry out the commands of Allah.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=-1]We will first discuss the knowledge of Islam that all of us possess, and then show where fiqh enters into it. We will look at the qualifications mentioned in the Qur’an and sunna for those who do fiqh, the mujtahid scholars. We will focus first on the extent of the mujtahid scholar’s knowledge—how many hadiths he has to know, and so on—and then we will look at the depth of his knowledge, through actual examples of dalils or "legal proofs" that demonstrate how scholars join between different and even contradictory hadiths to produce a unified and consistent legal ruling.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=-1]We will close by discussing the mujtahid’s relation to the science of hadith authentication, and the conditions by which a scholar knows that a given hadith is sahih or "rigorously authenticated," so that he can accept and follow it.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=-1]Qur’an and Hadith. The knowledge that you and I take from the Qur’an and the hadith is of several types: the first and most important concerns our faith, and is the knowledge of Allah and His attributes, and the other basic tenets of Islamic belief such as the messengerhood of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), the Last Day, and so on. Every Muslim can and must acquire this knowledge from the Book of Allah and the sunna.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=-1]This is also the case with a second type of general knowledge, which does not concern faith, however, but rather works: the general laws of Islam to do good, to avoid evil, to perform the prayer, pay zakat, fast Ramadan, to cooperate with others in good works, and so forth. Anyone can learn and understand these general rules, which summarize the sirat al-mustaqim or "straight path" of our religion.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=-1]Fiqh. A third type of knowledge is of the specific details of Islamic practice. Whereas anyone can understand the first two types of knowledge from the Qur’an and hadith, the understanding of this third type has a special name, fiqh, meaning literally "understanding." And people differ in their capacity to do it.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=-1]I had a visitor one day in Jordan, for example, who, when we talked about why he hadn’t yet gone on hajj, mentioned the hadith of Anas ibn Malik that[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=-1]the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, "Whoever prays the dawn prayer (fajr) in a group and then sits and does dhikr until the sun rises, then prays two rak‘as, shall have the like of the reward of a hajj and an ‘umra." Anas said, "The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: ‘Completely, completely, completely’" (Tirmidhi, 2.481).[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=-1]My visitor had done just that this very morning, and he now believed that he had fulfilled his obligation to perform the hajj, and had no need to go to Mecca. The hadith was well authenticated (hasan). I distinguished for my visitor between having the reward of something, and lifting the obligation of Islam by actually doing it, and he saw my point.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=-1]But there is a larger lesson here, that while the Qur’an and the sunna are ma‘sum or "divinely protected from error," the understanding of them is not. And someone who derives rulings from the Qur’an and hadith without training in ijtihad or "deduction from primary texts" as my visitor did, will be responsible for it on the Day of Judgment, just as an amateur doctor who had never been to medical school would be responsible if he performed an operation and somebody died under his knife.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=-1]Why? Because Allah has explained in the Qur’an that fiqh, the detailed understanding of the divine command, requires specially trained members of the Muslim community to learn and teach it. Allah says in surat al-Tawba:[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=-1]"Not all of the believers should go to fight. Of every section of them, why does not one part alone go forth, that the rest may gain understanding of the religion, and to admonish their people when they return, that perhaps they may take warning" (Qur’an 9:122)[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=-1]—where the expression li yatafaqqahu fi al-din, "to gain understanding of the religion," is derived from precisely the same root (f-q-h) as the word fiqh or "jurisprudence," and is what Western students of Arabic would call a "fifth-form verb" (tafa‘‘ala), which indicates that the meaning contained in the root, understanding, is accomplished through careful, sustained effort.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=-1]This Qur’anic verse establishes that there should be a category of people who have learned the religion so as to be qualified in turn to teach it. And Allah has commanded those who do not know a ruling in Sacred Law to ask those who do, by saying in surat al-Nahl,[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=-1]"Ask those who recall if you know not" (Qur’an 16:43),[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=-1]in which the words "those who recall," ahl al-dhikri, indicate those with knowledge of the Qur’an and sunna, at their forefront the mujtahid Imams of this Umma. Why? Because, first of all, the Qur’an and hadith are in Arabic, and as a translator, I can assure you that it is not just any Arabic.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=-1]To understand the Qur’an and sunna, the mujtahid must have complete knowledge of the Arabic language in the same capacity as the early Arabs themselves had before the language came to be used by non-native speakers. This qualification, which almost no one in our time has, is not the main subject of my essay, but even if we did have it, what if you or I, though not trained specialists, wanted to deduce details of Islamic practice directly from the sources? After all, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) has said, in the hadith of Bukhari and Muslim: "When a judge gives judgement and strives to know a ruling (ijtahada) and is correct, he has two rewards. If he gives judgement and strives to know a ruling, but is wrong, he has one reward" (Bukhari, 9.133).[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=-1]The answer is that the term ijtihad or "striving to know a ruling" in this hadith does not mean just any person’s efforts to understand and operationalize an Islamic ruling, but rather the person with sound knowledge of everything the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) taught that relates to the question. Whoever makes ijtihad without this qualification is a criminal. The proof of this is the hadith that the Companion Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah said:[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=-1]We went on a journey, and a stone struck one of us and opened a gash in his head. When he later had a wet-dream in his sleep, he then asked his companions, "Do you find any dispensation for me to perform dry ablution (tayammum)?" [Meaning instead of a full purificatory bath (ghusl).] They told him, "We don’t find any dispensation for you if you can use water."[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=-1]So he performed the purificatory bath and his wound opened and he died. When we came to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), he was told of this and he said: "They have killed him, may Allah kill them. Why did they not ask?—for they didn’t know. The only cure for someone who does not know what to say is to ask" (Abu Dawud, 1.93).[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=-1]This hadith, which was related by Abu Dawud, is well authenticated (hasan), and every Muslim who has any taqwa should reflect on it carefully, for the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) indicated in it—in the strongest language possible—that to judge on a rule of Islam on the basis of insufficient knowledge is a crime. And like it is the well authenticated hadith "Whoever is given a legal opinion (fatwa) without knowledge, his sin is but upon the person who gave him the opinion" (Abu Dawud, 3.321).[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=-1]The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) also said:[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=-1]Judges are three: two of them in hell, and one in paradise. A man who knows the truth and judges accordingly, he shall go to paradise. A man who judges for people while ignorant, he shall go to hell. And a man who knows the truth but rules unjustly, he shall go to hell (Sharh al-sunna, 10.94).[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=-1]This hadith, which was related by Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, and others, is rigorously authenticated (sahih), and any Muslim who would like to avoid the hellfire should soberly consider the fate of whoever, in the words of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), "judges for people while ignorant."[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=-1]Yet we all have our Yusuf ‘Ali Qur’ans, and our Sahih al-Bukhari translations. Aren’t these adequate scholarly resources?[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=-1]These are valuable books, and do convey perhaps the largest and most important part of our din: the basic Islamic beliefs, and general laws of the religion. Our discussion here is not about these broad principles, but rather about understanding specific details of Islamic practice, which is called precisely fiqh. For this, I think any honest investigator who studies the issues will agree that the English translations are not enough. They are not enough because understanding the total Qur’an and hadith textual corpus, which comprises what we call the din, requires two dimensions in a scholar: a dimension of breadth, the substantive knowledge of all the texts; and a dimension of depth, the methodological tools needed to join between all the Qur’anic verses and hadiths, even those that ostensibly contradict one another.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=-1]Knowledge of Primary Texts. As for the breadth of a mujtahid’s knowledge, it is recorded that Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal’s student Muhammad ibn ‘Ubaydullah ibn al-Munadi[/SIZE]


    [SIZE=-1]heard a man ask him [Imam Ahmad]: "When a man has memorized 100,000 hadiths, is he a scholar of Sacred Law, a faqih?" And he said, "No." The man asked, "200,000 then?" And he said, "No." The man asked, "Then 300,000?" And he said, "No." The man asked, "400,000?" And Ahmad gestured with his hand to signify "about that many" (Ibn al-Qayyim: I‘lam al-muwaqqi‘in, 4.205).[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=-1]In truth, by the term "hadith" here Imam Ahmad meant the hadiths of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) in all their various chains of transmission, counting each chain of transmission as a separate hadith, and perhaps also counting the statements of the Sahaba. But the larger point here is that even if we eliminate the different chains, and speak only about the hadiths from the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) that are plainly acceptable as evidence, whether sahih, "rigorously authenticated" or hasan "well authenticated" (which for purposes of ijtihad, may be assimilated to the sahih), we are still speaking of well over 10,000 hadiths, and they are not contained in Bukhari alone, or in Bukhari and Muslim alone, nor yet in any six books, or even in any nine. Yet whoever wants to give a fatwa or "formal legal opinion" and judge for people that something is lawful or unlawful, obligatory or sunna, must know all the primary texts that relate to it. For the perhaps 10,000 hadiths that are sahih are, for the mujtahid, as one single hadith, and he must first know them in order to join between them to explain the unified command of Allah.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=-1]I say "join between" because most of you must be aware that some sahih hadiths seem to controvert other equally sahih hadiths. What does a mujtahid do in such an instance?[/SIZE]

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    Why Muslims Follow Madhhabs
     

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