LET US CORRECT OUR ISLAMIC FAITH

دعونا نصحّح العقيدة الاسلامية

       

 
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المنظور التاريخي الفقه الإسلامي
 
  HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE OF

  ISLAMIC JURISPRUDENCE

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During the Caliphate of Hazrat Abu Bakr (RU) (632-634) and Omer (RU) (634-644) people trusted and acted upon the guidance of their Caliphs without any doubts. The atmosphere was contained and trust worthy.

When Hazrat Abu Bakr (RU) (573-634) insisted upon collecting Zakah while Muslims were still mourning the death of Prophet Mohammad (SAWS), nobody revolted against him. Rather they trusted him and agreed to abide by this important Islamic obligation.

When Hazrat Omer (RU) (581-644) asked Hazrat Khaled Ibn Al-Walid (RU) (592-642) (who won many battles against the then super powers - Sassanid Empire of Iran and Byzantine Empire of Rome) to step down from the position of Commander-in-Chief of the Muslim Army and appointed Hazrat Abu Obaida (RU) (583-639) in his place, not a single voice of dissent came out in open as people trusted Hazrat Omer (RU) in all the decisions he made.

Similarly, when Hazrat Omer changed ‘divorce’ (Talaq) ruling,  people trusted him and no eyebrows were raised.   Hazrat Omer’s ® divorce ruling is still continued through out the Muslim world. In the same way, when Hazrat Omer started Taraweeh prayer in congregation in mosques, nobody said anything against it.  As a matter of fact, Hazrat Ali (RU) (598-661) is reported to have praised Hazrat Omer (RU) publicly.

Why was it so? Because people knew that their religious guides will never do anything which is contrary to Islamic teachings. Their trust in them was valid, which is testified by the events of Islamic history.

There are certain things that cannot be understood by common people. Like, Hazrat Omer’s action in starting congregative Taraweeh prayers and change of divorce ruling. Though these things are not mentioned prominently in Prophet’s (SAWS) tradition, but are completely in line with Quran and Sunnah. The Muslim Ummah has accepted these facts and are united on these issues.

It is a consensus opinion among Muslims that Hazrat Abu Bakr, Hazrat Omer, Hazrat Osman and Hazrat Ali (Raziallhu unhum) were rightly guided Caliphs. Then why the last two Caliphs were treated badly by some Muslims? It is because, during their times, some Muslims thought it was their right to suspect the actions of the Caliph. They started judging Caliph’s decisions as per their limited knowledge.

What was the reasons for suspecting Caliph’s actions?

By the time Hazrat Osman’s (RU) became Caliph, many new territories were conquered by Muslim armies. New converts joined the Islamic nation. As the super powers were subdued, lot of wealth started pouring into Islamic nation. When the atmosphere changes, the look of the nation also changes. The new converts did not have the opportunity of training as the old As-hab-e-Rasulullah (SAWS) had. They carried with them their old conventions and ways of thinking. When these two groups mixed, the atmosphere was sure to change. In this changed scenario, even the old good Muslims got carried away by the propaganda campaigns of the neo Islamists.

It is a known fact that As-hab-e-Rasulullah (SAWS) are the best people among the entire Muslim Ummah. Among As-hab-e-Rasulullah (SAWS), the people who are associated with Badr are the best. Among them, the 10 companions (Ashra-e-Mubasshirah) are the best and among them, the 4 rightful Caliphs are the best in Muslim Ummah. This shows that the goodness and understanding of people differs from one another.

The goodness and understanding abilities of 4 rightly guided Caliphs is greater than the rest of the companions of Prophet Mohammad (SAWS). Then, why the earlier two caliphs (Hazrat Abu Bakr and Hazrat Omer – Raziallahu unhum) did not have the kind of trouble and challenges to their rule as faced by Hazrat Osman (RU) and Hazrat Ali (RU)? It is because the earlier Caliphs had to deal with Muslims who had the opportunity to have the company of Prophet Mohammad (SAWS). In addition, they ruled with iron hand as they knew the mindset and background of tribal Arabs. The last two Caliphs were moderate in their dealings with trouble makers and believed in the sincerity and judgmental abilities of their subordinates. It is important to read the trouble early and curb it before it becomes a major conflict. They gave time for trouble makers to correct themselves rather than taking decisive preventive actions.

After the death (in plague) of Yazid Ibn Abi Sufyan, who was Governor of Syria, Hazrat Omer (RU) appointed his brother, Maawiya Ibn Abi Sufyan (602-680), as Governor of Syria in 640 AD.  Janab Maawiya’s rule and appointment of his son as heir apparent show the changing scenario of the Muslim nation.

As has been described earlier, when new territories were conquered by Muslims, people in these territories accepted Islam, wealth started pouring in and the worldly defects started to show up in Islamic state. These things came out in open during Hazrat Osman’s (RU) Caliphate (644 – 656).  People started doubting the Caliph.   Many new conspiracies were hatched against Hazrat Osman (RU) (579-656) and finally he was martyred in his own home on July 17, 656 AD.

After the death of Hazrat Osman (RU) a huge confusion was created among Muslims by vested interests. They divided the Muslim community vertically and convinced Hazrata Aisha (RA) (613-678) that the Caliph, Hazrat Ali (RU) (598-661) was hiding the assassins of Hazrat Osman (RU). When they took her into confidence, they formed an army in her name and attempted to overthrow the Caliphate and made it look like She was fighting against the Caliph. Soon Hazrata Aisha (RA) realized the plans of these vested interest and kept herself away from them for the rest of her life. When they did not succeed in their attempt, they declared open mutiny against the Central Authority of the Caliph and fought wars with him. By then, the disintegration of Muslims was complete and their downfall as pure religious entity was imminent.

The vested interest never allowed the central authority to take control of Islamic territory. Hazrat Ali (RU) (598-661) spent his six years of Caliphate (656-661 AD) in internal strife created by vested interests. Finally he was martyred in 661 AD.

 Old Madina Al-Munawwara 

 

 

After the collapse of the Central Authority a dynastic rule was established which was known as Umayyed Caliphate. This dynasty eliminated all possible threats to their rule.

 

 

In their eagerness for power, they did not spare even the grandsons of Prophet Mohammad (SAWS). Hazrat Imam Hassan (RU) (624-668) was poisoned and martyred and later the entire family of Hazrat Imam Hussain (RU) (626 - 680) was martyred in Karbala, Iraq in October 680 AD.


The turmoil in Islamic Governance also had its effects on the cultural and spiritual atmosphere of the nation.  The respect of the members of the Prophet’s (SAWS) house hold and important Islamic icons was fast fading. Luckily we had some good towering personalities active during this tumultuous time who collected and preserved Prophet’s (SAWS) traditions in book forms for the following generations.

The first biggest blow came from traditionists (Ahle Hadith). In their inability to understand the wisdom of earlier Imams of Fiqh (Imam Abu Hanifa ® and Imam Malik ®), they alleged that these Imams depended more on their ‘own opinions, and analogical reasoning’ rather than Sunnah. The Traditionists failed to understand that these Imams were actually implementing Sunnah in all their actions. The traditionists debated with the adherents of the earlier Imams till Imam Shafi’i came on scene. Imam Shafi’i was the student of Imam Malik for several years but as per the requirements of the new times, he thought it necessary to write down the principles of ‘Islamic Jurisprudence’ in a booklet which satisfied both the traditionists and the adherents of old Imams.

Imam Abu Hanifah ® was born 19 years after the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (RU). This was the time of the first generation followers (ta’abaeen) of the companions of Prophet Mohammad (SAWS). The people in power were members of Umayyed dynastic rule. But Imam Abu Hanifah ® was lucky. He was close to the descendants of the Prophet’s (SAWS) household. His teachers, among others, included Imam Mohammad Al-Baqir (RU) (the second son of Hazrat Imam Hussain (RU) who survived the Karbla episode), Imam Ja'far Al-Sadiq (RU), the grandson of Hazrat Hussain (RU), Imam Zayd Ibn 'Ali (RU) and Hammad Ibn Sulayman ®.

Imam Abu Hanifa ® is the first Scholar, Scientist and Jurist of Islamic Jurisprudence who had been trained under the guidance of the members of Prophet’s (SAWS) household.  Therefore, many Muslims refer him as Supreme Imam (Imam-e-Azam).  He also had the opportunity to take guidance from first generation followers of the companions of Prophet Mohammad (SAWS) who were settled in Kufa, Iraq.

During Imam Abu Hanifa’s ® time, Muslims had not started documenting things in a written format.  As a matter of fact, the most authentic Hadith collector, Imam Bukhari ® was the student of Imam Abu Hanifa ®. The earlier Imams; Malik ® and Abu Hanifa® both did not write on paper the ‘Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence’ (Usul-e-Fiqh) they were practicing because it was not felt necessary during their time.

Some historians say that Imam Shafi’i ® was born on the day when Imam Abu Hanifa ® died. Imam Shafi’i ® was the first scholar and Islamic Jurist who wrote the principles of Islamic Jurisprudence in a booklet and made it public.

When we look at the life history of Imam Abu Hanifa ®, we come to the conclusion that the objections of the Traditionists (Ahle Hadith) at that time were out of context. In addition, it is not possible for a Muslim to suspect that an Islamic scholar of Imam of Abu Hanifa’s ® caliber, who was trained directly under the guidance and education of Ahle Bait-e-Rasulullah (SAWS) and most prominent As-hab-e-Rasulullah (SAWS), would use his personal opinions that do not match with Prophet Mohammad’s (SAWS) traditions.

Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal was the student of Imam Shafi’i, but he was more inclined towards the traditionists point of view in certain respects. Therefore, he gave more emphasis on Ahadith of Prophet Mohammad (SAWS) than on ‘opinion and analogical reasoning’.   However, he did no yield 100% towards the traditionists point of view. 

 Madina Al-Munawwara old

Later on, a consensus opinion was gradually evolved in Islamic nation that all the above Imams of Islamic Jurisprudence's points of views reflect the 4 corner borderline of Sharia. One end is held by Imam Abu Hanifa ® , the second one is held by Imam Malik ®, the third end is held by Imam Shafi’i, and the fourth end is held by Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal ®.

 

The Sharia cannot be stretched further than this.  Therefore, it was considered that a Muslim should adhere to any of the above Imams in his following.

Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal’s ® interpretation of Islam is the maximum that could be accommodated to implement traditionists and literalists points of view. If we go a bit further than that, we will be out of Islam. The Muslim nation was united on this issue for centuries. This shows that what traditionists and literalists (Zahiri) were contemplating could not be accommodated in full. Imam Shafi’i ® pondered over their points of view and accommodated a few of their contentions. Imam Ahmad ® went a step further and accommodated the maximum that could be done within the parameters of Islamic Sharia.

Prophet's (SAWS) Mosque old 

 

Imam Ahmad's observations on Quranic verses that depict Allah's (SWT) attributes are misrepresented by Salafis.  They quote Imam Ahmad to draw literal/textual meanings of these verses, to mean that Allah (SWT) has (nauzubillahi) hands, face, eyes and limitations. 

 

What Imam Ahmad said was 'not to ponder much on these verses and related Ahadith and let them be as they are and let us belief in  purport of Allah (SWT) and His Apostle (SAWS)'.  His statements did not mean that people take the literal/ textual meanings of these verses and claim hands, eyes and face and limitations for Allah (SWT). 

Some people claim that Imam Ahmad was textualist.  This is misrepresentation of facts and false allegation on the Imam.  If Imam Ahmad statements really meant, what Salafis claim, then he would have easily accepted Quran as the creation of Allah (SWT) and saved himself from the physical torture of the then Umayyed Calif who wanted him to declare Quran as a creation of Allah (SWT).

This is a consensus opinion of the Muslim nation that after Imam Hanbal ®, the nation did not produce Muslim Jurists of the caliber of the 4 accepted Imams. Therefore, whatever research is done in the area of Islamic Jurisprudence, it is done within the borderlines of the 4 Imams’ points of view.

Why it is so? Because Muslims had realized that the Sharia cannot be stretched further than what has been described by the above 4 Imams. If we interpret more in the basic rules of Islam beyond what has been described by the 4 Imams, it is most likely that we will lose the right path of Islam.

The above consensus opinion was challenged by Ibn Taymiyyah (1263-1328) who described that the following of 4 Imams of Fiqh was their personal emulation (taqleed). He rejected all the 4 Imams of Fiqh en masse. He propagated his new thinking which was as per his interpretation of Quran and Sunnah. His new thinking was known as Salafism and his followers are known as Salafis.

The followers of Salafism were very few for almost 5 centuries until the birth of Ibn Abdul Wahhab Najdi (1703-1792) who, on the back of military conquests of Sauds, the tribal lords of Najd, spread salafism in the whole of Arabian Peninsula.

Sauds took control of the Arabian peninsula in early 20the Century and made Salafism as their official religion.  Now, this sect has spread far and wide into the whole world.

 

السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته

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