Sunday, 16 November 2014

The Sharing Group Discussion: Is Reverence of the Swahabah & the Ahl al-Bayt Unconditional?

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following was posted, on The Sharing Group, by Brother Hossein Turner, on the 04th May, 2014: “I am no longer interested in the lives of the swahabah or the family of the Prophet (s.a.w.).  As far as I am concerned, Shaythan has ensured we use them as pawns to divide people and get them at each other’s throats.  We should follow what is undisputed about the Prophet (s.a.w.) and the Qur’an, and leave the rest for the egoistic mischief-makers to argue over.  It means nothing in the grand scheme of things. Perhaps this is why it is better to be a good-hearted person, rather than simply somebody who is zealously religious.

Brother Abdul-Halim Vazquez: The swahabah were not perfect but they are the means by which the sunnah and Qur’an were transmitted.  You get your religion through them, so if you revile them as untrustworthy then that has implications for the integrity of the message.

Brother Hossein Turner: The religion comes through the Qur’an and the unanimous agreement among all scholars and the family of the Prophet (s.a.w.) as to the five pillars.

Brother Colin Turner: The key here is follow what is undisputed.  This clearly does not mean that we should reject that which is disputed but, rather, that we should not engage with it in a partisan way.

Brother Hossein Turner: Disputations have caused a lot of people to leave the religion.

Brother Colin Turner: That should have no bearing on your belief or lack of belief.  Close your eyes to disputations, to people leaving the religion, and just do your duty.

Brother Abdul-Halim Vazquez: Is not the excellence of the swahabah one of those undisputed principles?

Brother Hossein Turner: Not when there are centuries-old arguments about the character of certain swahabah.

Brother Colin Turner: The excellence of the swahabah is not in doubt as far as the original poster is concerned.

Brother Hossein Turner: We can just say I have serious doubts about some of them.  But ultimately, it should have no bearing on what I follow, the Qur’an and its Guidance.

Brother Colin Turner: No, it should have no bearing at all.  When you are on a ship, you do not worry about the character of the captain, so long as he does his job properly and gets you safely to the other side of the ocean.

Brother Abdul-Halim Vazquez: I am not sure if you can perfectly isolate the issues.  I mean, the differences between the madzahib depend, in part, on how they rank the different swahabah.

Brother Colin Turner: Ranking the swahabah is the work of Shaythan and we should have nothing to do with it.

Brother Jak Kilby: Brother, do not close a door when inside the room are many shades of light.  The learning experience takes many form, not all of which are predictable.  The Qur’an is the primary source of Guidance but understanding comes in many forms.  One of those who used to make da’wah on me before my Islam was an alcoholic Muslim who used to scream abuse and swear at me.  But through him, I was open to many things which all nurtured the thought process towards Him.

Brother Jerry Mikell: Brother Jak, that seems so in line with how I would view you.  It would take a drunk, abusive Muslim to wake you up.  That is perfect.

Brother Hossein, I am completely with you on this as I also believe that much of the fitnah in Islam has come from this aggrandised view of the companions and the a’immah of the Ahl al-Bayt.  I have no doubt that the righteous companions and the twelve a’immah were all great teachers and great beings, so let us be exposed to their teachings and, if they complement the Qur’an and confirmed knowledge of the Prophet (s.a.w.), that is fine.  But in the end, of the day, we are the project, and we need to use our spiritual knowledge to clean our act up and refrain from fitnah and jidal.  These are a deadly cancer to the ummah.

We should think about the hadits about the swahabah all being stars, so choose anyone of them and you will be Guided.  Not only is it weak, but it has been transmitted so much it is considered hasan yet goes against any objective consideration of Islamic history.  I must reject that hadits.  But if you do not, that is fine.  There is much we agree upon.  Let us stick with that and strengthen our ummah.

In a similar way, the Shi’ah, and I follow the Ja’fari madzhab and give the khuthbah at a Shi’ah mosque, have made the a’immah akin to the Masters of the Universe even though Imam Ja’far asw-Swadiq (q.s.) vehemently denounced this in his lifetime.  And from the concept of the a’immah the Sufis have drawn the analogy of the quthb al-aqthab, from Shaykh ibn al-‘Arabi (q.s.), who is the pole through which Allah (s.w.t.) Manifests everything in the Mulk and Malakut.  And of course, everyone’s shaykh is the quthb.  We, as educated Muslims of our time, have an obligation to review the history of our heritage, strengthen the foundational principles using what supports these principles, so that we may transform ourselves and perhaps become more than robotic entities of consumption contributing to the pollution of the earth and its people.

Read the Qur’an, the Final Revelation every day, tirelessly, reflecting on the Nur and Hikmah within these glorious ayat.  Love the Prophet (s.a.w.) more than yourself.  Know about his overwhelming compassion and seek to emulate it in our lives.  Open our hearts to all human beings and through the Qur’anic knowledge apply appropriate wisdom. And by all means, “The Remembrance of Allah is the Greatest.”  Let me just add that I am not against the existence of a spiritual hierarchy, be it the a’immah, the quthb or the great swahabah.  What I am saying is that this has little relevance to me in my own life.  What is most relevant is the knowledge of the Qur’an, knowledge and emulation of the Prophetic qualities, love and desire for nearness to the Real, humility and an abiding sense of my mortality, ultimate demise, and the Hisab in the barzakh and at the Yawm al-Qiyamah.

Brother Colin Turner: Beautifully put, Brother Jerry, and nothing there to object to 

Brother Hossein Turner: That was heartfelt, Brother Jerry.  Well put.

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: Descendants of the Prophet (s.a.w.) are common.  There is nothing special there.

Brother Colin Turner: It is interesting to think that from one perspective, the causal, we are all interconnected.  But from another, the Divine, there is no necessary connection between any of us, even between father and child.

Brother Ismaeel de Silva:  Brother Terence, you said, “There is nothing special there.”  Be careful, we have been told to honour the descendants of the Prophet (s.a.w.), and all true sayyid families have preserved their lineages and have them well documented.

Brother Colin Turner: Brother Ismaeel de Silva, I know of many a sayyid who are atheists and alcoholics.  Respecting lineage has its limits.  Furthermore, respect is earned, not demanded.

Brother Ismaeel de Silva: A sayyid who is an atheists is cut off due to the lack of faith.  Those who have iman and are alcoholics still have rights over us; we are told specifically to overlook their faults.  If it is demanded from my Nabi (s.a.w.), then I hear and obey.

Brother Colin Turner: That is your prerogative.  But I have little respect for a descendant of the Prophet (s.a.w.) who traduces the Prophet (s.a.w.) and maligns his religion.  Obedience is one thing, but we also have a fully-working intellect.

Brother Abdul-Halim Vazquez: Brother Ismaeel de Silva, what exactly are the rights?

Brother Ismaeel de Silva: Yes I already mentioned that atheism cuts one off from the family rights.  We have instructions from the Nabi (s.a.w.) to give special reverence and respect to his descendants, specifically.

Brother Colin Turner: The Prophet’s (s.a.w.) injunction to respect his progeny needs to be contextualised; seen within the framework of the succession crisis, the first ‘civil war’ and the attendant sectarian troubles.  It is easy to see why the Prophet (s.a.w.), who knew what would happen after his demise, would caution people to honour the lineage of his descendants.

Brother Ismaeel de Silva: That is one aspect of it.  You cannot limit it to that without specific evidence.  The descendants of the Prophet (s.a.w.), have a special distinctive position in both Sunni and Shi’ah Islam.  Even in the earliest ‘aqidah works, such as ‘Aqidah ath-Thahawiyyah, their special status is mentioned: Anyone who speaks well of the companions of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) and his wives and offspring, who are all pure and untainted by any impurity, is free from the accusation of hypocrisy.”  No doubt taqwa is important, but any Muslim who thinks himself to have more taqwa than his brother, has in fact no taqwa.  I respect the people of taqwa and the sa’dat and the people of ‘ilm.  And I will respect a sayyid even if he is a great sinner, and I will restrain my tongue from speaking of his sins, and I will seek to aid him to the best of my abilities.  I would not like someone to disrespect my children or my grandchildren.  I would not want to meet the Prophet (s.a.w.) and to have to answer for that.

Brother Jerry Mikell: Here we go again: “My dog's better than your dog.”  We, as humans, are such clumsy creatures.  I am wondering who in this link disrespected anyone’s children or grandchildren?  And all the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) companions and wives are ma’swum?  My goodness.

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: When the Answar and the Muhajirin were both claiming Salman al-Farisi (r.a.) to be of them, the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “Salman baytihi,” meaning, “Salman is of my house.”  My understanding of the command to honour the descendants of the Prophet (s.a.w.) is in reference primarily to spiritual lineage.  Genetic lineage is a Blessing but if such a person does not live up to certain standards, he is nothing.  Beyond the usual criteria that such a person must be a practising Muslim, it is offensive if such a person takes pride in that and demands special treatment like so many I do know.  I know of a sayyid who spoke so much about unity and brotherhood but disowned his daughter because she had the temerity to marry a non-Arab, an Indian.  It becomes superfluous many times he read Rathib al-Haddad or how many circles of dzikr he leads, if he exercises aswabiyyah and behaves like a munafiq.

Brother Ismaeel de Silva: Once Allah (s.w.t.) and His Messenger (s.a.w.), have made a decision about a matter, it is not for a believer to have any option in the matter.  I am shocked at what you have said, Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis, because it is in flagrant disregard and in opposition to traditional teachings on the subject and for you to accuse a sayyid of being a munafiq because of some weakness in him.  You should fear Allah (s.w.t.).  There are numerous ahadits collections which make clear the rights of the blood relations of the Prophet (s.a.w.), such as the Arba’in of Imam Muhammad ibn Ja’far al-Kattani (r.a.).  There is no scope for doubt on this matter and it is a matter clearly stated in the texts of our works of ‘aqa’id.

Brother Jerry Mikell: While I have utmost respect for the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) family as long as they live up to their genealogy, I would like to remind us of his famous last sermon: “All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action.  Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood.  Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly.  Do not, therefore, do injustice to yourselves.”

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: If a man says something on matters of religion and then clearly does the opposite, that is an act of nifaq.  There is no doubt there.  Whilst such a weakness may be excusable in an ordinary Muslim, the moment someone claims to be a sayyid, we must expect a higher standard.  We may excuse a lack of knowledge since we are all not inclined towards the same things, but we cannot excuse any sort of oppression, or superiority complex.  If I catch a sayyid even once saying, “We are better’, then I recall Iblis when he said, “Anna khayra minhu.”  If he drinks, if he engages in zina, if he flaunts zhulm and arrogance; then he is no better than any person, even the non-Muslims.  Perhaps a non-Muslim would have better character and be a better Muslim.

Brother Ismaeel de Silva: Brother Mikell, “As long as they live up to their genealogy”?  Despite our Nabi (s.a.w.), telling us, “Overlook their faults.”  All general statements may be specified.  Fear Allah, Brother Terence.  Who are you to judge the sa’dat?  Who put you in that role?  Who gave you such authority?  “Overlook their faults,” we have been commanded.  Instead we look to judge them and hold them to a stricter standard than all others.  Talk about doing the opposite of what we've been commanded.

Brother Jerry Mikell: Ismaeel where does this “Overlook their faults,” come from?  State the hadits, please.

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: It is only logical that if men demand accolades for something they did not earn, then they must be held to a standard.  Being born in whatever condition is a lottery or a Divine Providence depending on the perspective.

Sister Amani Gamaledin: I will just leave this here for thought-food:  Rasulullah (s.a.w.) said, “There are indeed people who boast of their dead ancestors, but in the Sight of Allah they are more contemptible than the black beetle that rolls a piece of dung with its nose.  Behold, Allah has Removed from you, the arrogance of the time of Jahiliyyah with its boast of ancestral glories.  Man is but a God-fearing believer or an unfortunate sinner.  All people are the children of Adam, and Adam was Created out of dust.”  This is recorded by Imam at-Tirmidzi (r.a.), and Imam Abu Dawud (r.a.).

Brother Jerry Mikell: Brother Ismaeel, I believe you are caught in a cul-de-sac of thinking.  There is ample proof above as stated by several people.  You can continue to plead your case, but it is weak and basically unacceptable to the majority here.  So if there is some reason for you to continue, though I cannot see what it is, other than to wear others out so that they leave the post and you think you have won, then by all means do so.  I am still waiting for the basis of your comment that we should “overlook the faults,” of the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) descendants regardless of what they do.

Brother Ismaeel de Silva: “My household and my Answar are the repositories of my secrets.  So pardon the one who does wrong among them and accept the good from them.”  This is from Jami’ at-Tirmidzi.

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: I believe this is a spiritual inheritance first, rather than genealogical.  There is always a sharh to a hadits.

Brother Ismaeel de Silva: There is absolutely nothing weak about my case.  It is based on ayah of Qur’an, numerous ahadits and the views of the a’immah of this Diyn.  The problem is I am not willing to bow down to people misusing scripture to attack the status of the Ahl al Bayt.

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: Nobody is attacking the Ahl al-Bayt here.  The contention is that we disagree on the definition of what constitutes ‘Ahl al-Bayt’.

Brother Abdul-Halim Vazquez: The ‘aqidah of the majority of The Sharing Group is not Thahawiyyah.  The texts are pretty clear that there is some special status for Ahl al-Bayt even in Sunni Islam.  As far as I am concerned, the only issue is how to articulate its specific details in a way consistent with other principles of the religion, such as basic fairness, not boasting about lineage, and so forth.

Brother Ismaeel de Silva: Yes, you have said that.  Unfortunately, Allah (s.w.t.), in the Qur’an, disagrees with you as to who is Ahl al-Bayt and so does our Nabi (s.a.w.).  In the Qur’an, the wives are clearly established as Ahl al-Bayt and the descendants were clearly established as being Ahl al-Bayt and being related to the promise in this ayah in numerous ahadits such as the Hadits of the Cloak, the Hadits of Mubahalah and so forth.  That the righteous may be included amongst the Ahl al-Bayt is true, but they are not what is meant by the term in its origin and its application.  Nor does your interpretation make the slightest sense, if it is only in a spiritual sense, then the righteous will not be people who commit wrong that we need to pardon.

And stay quietly in your houses, and make not a dazzling display, like that of the former Times of Ignorance; and establish regular prayer, and give regular charity; and obey Allah and His Messenger.  And Allah only Wishes to Remove all abomination from you, ye Members of the Family, and to Make you pure and spotless. (Surah al-Ahzab:33)

Brother Abdul-Halim Vazquez: Is it possible to have love and respect for a group which does not turn into unjust favouritism?

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: When I came to Islam, I did not come to replace one group of idols for another.  We can agree to disagree. We respect the true Ahl al-Bayt and leave the genetic mistakes to Allah (s.w.t.) to Sort out.  The ayat can be read in many ways, it can be argued that it does not extend to all the progeny.

Brother Jerry Mikell: I absolutely disagree on the definition of Ahl al-Bayt, Brother Ismaeel.  First of all, the hadits speaks of certain Answar, not all, and not for all time.  As for the household, there is debate about what that means according to the hadits one wishes to establish as veracious.  There are several interpretations here.  As for the ayat of Qur’an, there is one ayat referring to love for his ahl, not his genealogical descendants regardless of their actions.  That is silly.  What would he say about these people if he knew?  Come on, Brother Ismaeel, wake up brother, and I do not intend to be mean, but you are really on a wrong track.

Brother Ismaeel de Silva: An instructive report in this regard, Umm Hani, the aunt of the Nabi (s.a.w.) went out with her charms on display; her earrings were showing, and ‘Umar ibn al-Khaththab (r.a.), said to her, “Do that then!  Muhammad will not benefit you at all.”

She related this to the Prophet (s.a.w.), who said, “What is it with people who think my intercession will not encompass my household?”  This is recorded by Imam ibn ‘Adi in his al-Kamil.

Brother Jerry Mikell: You have constructed an argument on wrong interpretations of the hadits and Qur’an which have no basis.

Brother Ismaeel de Silva: Brother Jerry you are making specifications without proof, you are claiming there is only one ayah in the Qur’an about the Ahl, which simply proves you are wholly ignorant of this topic.  I could not care less about your assertions of my being wrong.  Either make a substantiated argument using proof or do not.

Brother Abdul-Halim Vazquez, perhaps you can elaborate on your question a little.

Brother Jerry Mikell: No, my friend. I am right and you are wrong.  So now what?  You have your belief and I have mine.  You will not change mine, and obviously I will not change yours.  So where do we go from here?  Are you going to caution me about my taqwa like you did Brother Terence because I do not agree with your misconstrued interpretations?

Brother Ismaeel de Silva: You should fear Allah, when you oppose the views of the ‘ulama of this ummah of every generation with your own interpretations of the Diyn.  Indeed.

Brother Abdul-Halim Vazquez: If we could answer that question maybe we could find some middle ground.  I am still thinking though, in the very least, are the progeny not of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) mentioned in the swalah?  That already is a great deal of love and respect.  That does not mean we kiss their feet or give them money.

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: Many of these same ‘ulama were themselves Ahl al-Bayt, and if they were referring to people of that same calibre, certainly they were right.  But to take it verbatim and apply it for all time regardless of the condition of the people does a disservice to scholarship.  It creates a theological hierarchy based on nothing more than perceived genealogical superiority.  This undermines the basis of the religion itself.  And what of the hadits I mentioned above when the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “Salman baytihi”?  Is it suddenly invalidated?  Our understanding of religion must be considered.  What has happened, and it is an issue across the entire ummah, is that we have people who claim that scholars say such and such with regards certain issues.  However, upon closer examination, it is not the scholars who said it, but the people who interpreted it thus.  And those who understand different are suddenly viewed as going against ijma’.  This ‘ijma’’ is a facade in this case.  It is an ijma’ of the text, not the ijma’ of the ‘arifin.  Instead of saying then, that those who disagree should fear Allah (s.w.t.), it would be better to say that we should all fear Allah (s.w.t.) since all of us could be wrong.  As Mawlana ar-Rumi (q.s.) said, each one of us has a truth but none of us have the truth.  We all have only a portion of the Divine Reflection.

Brother Ismaeel de Silva: Firstly, as already mentioned, people of righteousness may become part of Ahl al-Bayt, but the origin of Ahl al-Bayt in terms of the Qur’an, sunnah, Arabic language, views of the companions, the ‘ulama and so forth, then it is one of marriage and blood first and foremost.  Shaykh Yusuf an-Nabhani (q.s.) wrote an entire book on this subject, elucidating many proofs against the view that it is purely a spiritual lineage and indeed encompasses all of those of genetic descent, the righteous and the sinners.  It has been translated into English as “The Endless Nobility of the Ahl al-Bayt.”  I know many sayyid families from various different ethnicities and show respect for all of them.  You can attempt to try and put a smokescreen over the issue by mentioning lots of ifs and maybes, it does not really detract from the fact that this is the overwhelming view of our ‘ulama east and west, north and south, throughout our history.

I am very concerned that although this group is promoted as quote ‘traditional’, when in fact, it merely promotes various, anomalous, revisionist views, indeed even idiosyncratic views of Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis, and others, as though they are representative of traditional views.  I think it would perhaps be more honest to make that clear, instead of pretending that this is something that it is not.

So far I have read people questioning the hudud, denying that niqab is considered wajib according to many of our ‘ulama and now, denial of the status of the Ahl al-Bayt.  This is not the traditional Islam that I have studied or heard from any of my teachers, nor that of any of the mainstream authorities today or yesterday.

Brother Hossein Turner: Yes, well.  We will have to agree to disagree.

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: We encourage opinions and discussion here.  And we have many non-Muslims as well.  The purpose is to encourage people to ask the questions they would not be able to ask elsewhere.  Otherwise, the greater danger is that they would leave Islam.

Questioning the role of hudud, or choosing a position on the niqab does not put someone beyond the pale of Islam.  And no one here denied the status of the Ahl al-Bayt.  People are trying to understand it in light of their experience.  No one came to Islam or grew in it in a vacuum.  There is always a context.  To institute something like Tarim would not work.  People are barely ready to subscribe to God as traditional Islam understands it, let alone buy the entire culture.  There are real issues going on behind the scenes other than mere disagreements on textual understanding.  There are also a lot of former Muslims here, and former apostates, people who had left Islam and have come back.  We have Shi’ah converts and recovering Salafis as well.

When we say traditional Islam, we refer to a broad understanding of ‘aqidah that is not anthropomorphic for example, that acknowledges the role of the prophetic inheritors.  That does not mean that everyone must automatically accept the ‘majority’ position of some the scholars simply because someone said so.  There has to be a wisdom in how we address the people.  There is a broad range of views on many issues in Islam.  And as long as people adhere to one of them, or have contrary views on minor areas, we tend to overlook that.  The important thing is that they stay and be part of the swuhbah.

Brother James Harris: If we are to make serious issues such as the amputation and stoning of criminals articles of faith, and then place a taboo on discussion of this and other matters, whether we agree with it or not, we face cultural and intellectual paralysis.  The placing of taboos on discussion of matters such as these, and others such as the niqab, the role of women in society, and such like have not done the Muslims any favours in our recent history.  Who amongst us has a monopoly on truth?

Brother Jerry Mikell: You should fear Allah (s.w.t.) for your arrogance, Brother Ismaeel de Silva.  Indeed.

Brother Ismaeel de Silva: I did not say there should be a taboo on discussing anything, my issue is with the presentation of certain views as though they were normative when they are not.

Brother Jerry Mikell; I made a long set of connected arguments substantiated with textual evidences; you on the other hand made a set of assertions revolving around a central contention of “I’m right and you’re wrong.’  If anyone has arrogance issues, I would suggest it is you.

Brother James Harris: How should people present their views then, brother?

Brother Ismaeel de Silva: As their own views, if that is what they are, or the opinions of identified individual scholars or academics.  It would be far more honest than what is currently happening on here.

Brother Jerry Mikell: You have asserted no proofs whatsoever; you are dreaming.  You need to return to your studies as you are confused.  The Ahl al-Bayt are simply not the descendants of the Prophet (s.a.w.) regardless, and the ahadits you listed do not refer to the descendants of the Prophet (s.a.w.) nor does the ayat of Qur’an.  You will continue to wander in the land of your own imagination thinking you are someone of knowledge because you have misinterpreted a list of ahadits and Qur’an.

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: What is normative, brother?  A particular view when the religion is so broad?  Who has a monopoly of the truth?  And why should, in a matter not fundamental to the ‘aqidah, we accept something simply because somebody said so?  If I carried on that thinking, I should have stayed Catholic.  It is quite obvious from what I wrote about the Ahl al-Bayt, that these are my views.  When we do get a discussion on fiqh pertaining to a ‘normative’ position, we state it with the dala’il.  That is only fair, is it not?

Brother Ismaeel de Silva: No, it is not clear at all, Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis, when you advertise this group as “practitioners of traditional Islam,” because that actually means something to a lot of people, which generally is not the idiosyncratic views of a particular individual.  There are normative views in this Diyn, both in branches of faith and fiqh, based on ijma’ and jumhur.  None of us have a monopoly on truth and that's why we base our Diyn on what the vast heritage of scholarship has provided us.  Now of course there is much variety and much to choose from in this regards.  But at the same time certain matters are not really disagreed about to the extent to which someone might be given to believe if they were learning their Diyn from here.

The hudud, for example, are not differed upon among the four madzahib; we can talk about the wisdom of them no doubt, the extremely stringent conditions that are required to enact them, the context in which they apply sure.  But when for example people start carrying on as though it is a normative position to deny the existence of certain hudud altogether, then that is downright dishonest.  Similarly the attempts here by multiple people to deny that the fact that the Ahl al-Bayt first and foremost, relates to the wives and blood descendants of the Prophet (s.a.w.), based on little more than their personal reasoning.

Brother James Harris: Everyone is expressing their own view.  Why would I want to present somebody else’s view and not my own in a discussion forum?  Sometimes my or someone else’s view is supported by references and sometimes it is not.  If somebody presents an argument that is weak or cannot be justified, the forum is open to all to show that weakness and to help others develop their views on more solid ground, such as with reference to traditional sources.  Getting upset and saying that an idea is sort of dangerous is not the way forward.

As for the need for references in all our discussion, who here gets to decide whether someone is a scholar or academic?  And what of the non-academics here, have they any right to contribute?  There are, in fact, scholars and academics in this group who are presenting their own views.  There are lay people who are expressing their own thoughts and experiences.  If the only truth we may express here requires an academic review before posting, then all we would need to do is post up PDFs of books with commentaries and leave it at that.

Brother Ismaeel de Silva: Both scholarship and academia have systems for establishing who does or does not belong to their ranks.  My problem is that I see a tendency for people who are sharing well established scholarly positions to be put in a position where they are essentially bullied by people holding, to my mind, weak revisionist positions, who due to their number and manner put off others who want to discuss matters based on traditional understandings of the Diyn, as this group is advertised to be.  If this is just a free-for-all and anyone can say whatever they like without any reference to some sort of normative bases for reference, it seems to me that many people will just end up misguiding themselves and others, fooling themselves and others into thinking they are people of knowledge.

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: On the hudud discussion, no one denied the existence of it.  We discussed its application in the current context, and the position of many ‘ulama were presented.  On the Ahl al-Bayt, we disagreed on the basis of certain ahadits.  And my position on that is if a person falls far short of the standard, should we accord them that status in our dealings?  That is downright dangerous.  We cannot simply say such is the position of the jumhur without considering the context and the impact.

Some of the people on this thread alone have been studying Islam for 15, 20, 30 or more years.  They are professors of ‘aqidah, a’immah of masajid, leaders of Muslim organisations, asatidzah and many of us have ijazat.  There are Shi’ah and Sunni scholars who were speaking, some are published authors, presenters, academics and such.  We are no longer discussing things at the level of beginners, where there is a need to reference everything in detail all the time.  Do we need to state titles as well?

Brother Ismaeel de Silva: Not true, one contributor very vociferously denied that lapidation was the hadd punishment for adultery.  The disagreement about the Ahl al-Bayt is based on your personal views, and if it is not, cite the scholars who have stated it.  If the people of this thread are so learned then they should be able to reference their views, or at least cite some evidences.  I am sorry I find this last comment of yours completely disingenuous, in which field in the world does rising in academic level correlate with less referencing in the context of debate and discussion?

Brother James Harris: Evidence for what?  He said he does not deny the existence of lapidation as a hadd punishment for adultery.  What does he need to reference?

Brother Ismaeel de Silva: I was referring to this thread in response to his claims about the academic heights that all the contributors to this thread have climbed; evidence regarding his views about Ahl al-Bayt, beyond a single hadits about Salman (r.a.).  And some references about the scholars of Ahl al-Sunnah who have held such a position throughout history.

Brother Hossein Turner: Brother Ismaeel, you gave the impression that some people, by virtue of being born sayyid, are inherently more Loved by God than babies born to other Muslims.  This is not something that sits well with me.  Each baby born is insan-al-kamil until it participates in the microcosm of the fall of Adam (a.s.) as it ages.  We all have the opportunity to reach a spiritual station based on our own efforts or by the Grace of God.  Some people are Given better hands than others and may have more religious families who may or may not be Sayyid.  The point is that you have got very heated over this issue of genetic lineage.  It reminds me of the same old Arab obsession with lineage that existed in the days before Islam.  It smacks me of racism, pure and simple.

Brother Ismaeel de Silva: You seem to forget this is not anyone's genetics, these are the genes of the Beloved of Allah (s.a.w.); our entire Diyn revolves around trying to be like him, to be closer to him, to imitate him, to have ties to him.  He told us that whosoever’s blood mixes with his, will be Saved from the Fire.  In fact, he told this to ‘Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr (r.a.) when he drank his cupping blood.  ‘Umar (r.a.) married one of ‘Ali’s (k.w.) daughters, just so he could have that connection to the Ahl al-Bayt.  When he did, he mentioned the hadits of the Prophet (s.a.w.), “On the day of Judgment, every lineage and every connection shall be cut off, except my lineage and my connection.”  This was recorded by Imam ath-Thabarani (r.a.).  Now, ‘Umar (r.a.) is one of the best men who ever lived, yet he still wanted to be connected to the blood of Rasulullah (s.a.w.).  He preferred Hasan (r.a.) and Husayn (r.a.), over his own sons.  It is has absolutely nothing to do with racism and everything to do with honouring the status of our Prophet (s.a.w.), and everything that is connected to him, which is a natural consequence of loving him more than our own selves.  We love his children more than we love our own.

Brother Hossein Turner: Regarding your saying, “He told us that whosoever’s blood mixes with his will be Saved from the Fire,” historical specificity is important, as was ‘Ali (k.w.) for passing down the inner dimensions of spirituality.  But know that these spiritual traditions were passed down from the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) relatives even to non-Muslim, former sinners, not of sayyid lineage, who became spiritual giants of taswawwuf.  And there is a great wisdom in this and a purpose to remind us all not to become obsessed with the pre-Islamic Arab tribalism.  Sorry, but your views are stepping into ancestor-worship territory.  I disagree strongly.

Brother Ismaeel de Silva: I have never denied that any non-sayyid Arab or non-Arab can reach great heights of spiritual perfection.  That is not in contention and never has been.  However, the status of the blood of Rasulullah (s.a.w.), and the honour they are owed by us, sadly is.  It is well known that when the Prophet (s.a.w.), would preface a statement with the Arabic for, “Whosoever.” that its applicability is general, similarly the numerous statements regarding his descendants, his household, his offspring, all from the well-established sunnah.

Brother Hossein Turner: Blood alone is not of status unless it is qualified within specific historical contexts and spiritual responsibilities of individuals.  The fact, again I reiterate, that these same individuals were willing to pass down the chain of knowledge to non-relatives who would gain their authority; is telling us something.  It is telling us that the station of sayyid is not to apply to all of time.  Brother, we respect those great shuyukh who were the relations of the Prophet (s.a.w.), but we respect others too.  Let us not get drawn into petty arguments over blood.

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: The interesting observation here is not the lack of knowledge on the part of the various contributors.  Rather, it is the lack of skill and experience evident in addressing people with alternative views.  It would be good for all concerned to take a step back and consider how the Prophet (s.a.w.) would do it.  If Muslims can barely communicate with each other, it does not bode well for communication with non-Muslims.

Brother Ibn Al-Waqt Feisal Bajrai: Is this another one of those ‘chosen peoples’, syndrome, Brother Terence?

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: Insha’Allah, we du’a we are all Chosen, brother.

Brother Ibn Al-Waqt Feisal Bajrai: Amin!  Allah (s.w.t.) is Most Merciful, Most Compassionate!

Brother Louis Llewellyn Shann IV: Fascinating discussion.  They said the Roman Emperor Constantine got off on watching bishops debate according to his nephew, and successor, Roman Emperor Julian the Apostate.  So I guess I have a Constantine in me.  As a convert of 8 months, I really do not find the importance of lineage to our Blessed Prophet (s.a.w.) having much to do about anything other than from a historical angle.  My knowledge is limited though I bring a past of a dozen years’ experience of working around death in a critical care unit of a hospital and past rescue squad work; along with my lifetime readings in Christian theology and philosophy.

I am in the corner of Brother Terence, Brother Jerry, and others; but I think Brother Terence had it right when he said that we take a step back.  I am not suggesting shutting it down, I have no right to nor even strongly encourage it, but as long as I believe and act on the foundations of our Faith, then there is really nothing for me to worry over.  And I encourage new converts to learn things but not to get caught up in technicalities.  But I do not picture a scenario where someone who has strong lineage gets a free pass because of his genetics.  But that is not me to judge anyone’s actions.  I do find it disgusting when some so-called scholars pretend they are the be all and end all of Islam and the final word in any discussion.  I do love this group though 

Brother Colin Turner: Brother Ismaeel de Silva, there seems to be very little to distinguish your belief in the sacredness of the Prophetic genetics and bloodline from the beliefs of numerous pre-historic tribes and societies where ancestor worship was the norm and superstitious beliefs about lineage and blood relations were prevalent.  The Prophet (s.a.w.) himself cautioned his own daughter that he would not be able to help her, and that the Salvific Love of God had to be won through connection not to the Muhammadan blood but to the spiritual light, the Nur Muhammadiyyah, that was attainable only through personal belief and submission. 
Communion with the Prophet (s.a.w.) has nothing to do with mixing your blood with his, or having the privilege of being born into his family.  If lineage were even a consideration, his own uncle shared the Muhammadan blood yet failed to achieve the Salvific Love of the Creator.  How do we account for that?

Sister Amani Gamaledin: Well put, Brother Colin.  And let us not forget Prophet Ibrahim’s (a.s.) father and Prophet Noah’s (a.s.) son.

Brother Colin Turner: As for the Tradition you cite, in which we are asked to believe not only that one or more of the companions drank the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) cupped blood, but that the Prophet Brother promised those who drank it that they would enter paradise as a result, this is highly problematic.  Not only is its isnad the subject of scholarly doubt, but it is also rationally unsupportable.  The dictum, ‘If you find anything in a Tradition which contradicts the Qur’an, throw it against the wall,’ is of particular relevance here.  That the consumption of blood is prohibited is the least of our worries.  When the Prophet (s.a.w.) himself says that he cannot help himself, let alone his own daughter, to have him promising a companion Paradise on the back of some kind of vampiric piety is to belittle his mission and demean his teachings.  It reduces someone for whom ‘all the worlds’ was Created into little more than a shaman or voodoo priest.

Frankly I find your treatment of the Prophet (s.a.w.) distasteful, offensive and incredibly reductive.  It is true that we need to take on board the teachings of our ‘ulama, as you point out, but God has Created us with powers of reason and intellection, to use in conjunction with Revelation.  Whoever teaches you seems not to have emphasised the symbiotic relationship between naql and ‘aql, for to sacrifice one on the altar of the other is to ask for trouble.  To sacrifice naql for ‘aql brings the threat of radical Mu’tazilism; while to sacrifice ‘aql for naql, which you seem to be doing, brings spiritual and intellectual inertia and leaves only a dry, spiritless piety as its only outcome.  Wa Allahu ‘Alam.

Sister Amani Gamaledin: Speaking of ‘aql and naql, one of my favourite scholars, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf said “Islam is based on naql and ‘aql.  Some people just have the texts – we call them naql-heads.”

Brother Abdul-Halim Vazquez:  On Sister Amani’s statement, “And let us not forget Prophet Ibrahim’s (a.s.) father and Prophet Noah’s (a.s.) son,” those examples show the principle is not absolute, something which Brother Ismaeel never claimed in the first place.  The examples do not disprove the point categorically.

Shaykh Hamza Yusuf speaks about the importance of Sunnis honouring the Ahl al-Bayt, their relatives and their descendants to this day: Shaykh Hamza Yusuf on Honouring the Ahl al-Bayt Descendants.

Brother Jak Kilby: Regarding the sacredness of prophetic genetics vis a vis the behaviour in real terms, the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “By Allah, if Fathimah, the daughter of Muhammad stole, I would cut her hand.”  This is from Swahih al-Bukhari.

Brother Abdul-Halim Vazquez: Yes, Brother Jak Kilby, that is another specific limitation to a general principle.

Brother Abdul-Halim Vazquez: How do we speak about the conflict among swahabah without disrespecting them and giving due respect to the Ahl al-Bayt?  Shaykh ‘Umar Faruq ‘Abdullah and Imam Zaid answer: The Rights of the Swahabah & Ahl al-Bayt.

Brother Jak Kilby, the way I would try to think about all of this is to look at it all in combination.  We are supposed to have love of Ahl al-Bayt, but that love should not cross the bounds of extremism and lead to injustice.  Also, I don't see why love has to mean obey, follow, make immune from prosecution, give a free pass too, make the boss, and so forth.  Imagine you were a mother who has a child in jail and they actually did what they are accused of.  Love for them and love of justice do not have to contradict.

Brother Jak Kilby: Brother Abdul-Halim, your statement, “We are supposed to have love of Ahl al-Bayt, but that love should not cross the bounds of extremism and lead to injustice,” is also exactly my position in any case.

Brother Aftab Ahmed: I will be honest here. Brother Ismaeel de Silva is correct in his assertion that the blood lineage of Prophet (s.a.w.) is a Chosen one just as the blood lineage of Ibrahim (a.s.) was a Chosen one.  We personally should have extra respect for his lineage but that does not mean we should overlook their sins.  The respect only entails for those who are doing good and honouring the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) blood which is running in their veins but, if, they themselves disrespect their lineage by committing wrong, there is no blame on us to hold then into account for that action.  To say all the descendants of Prophet (s.a.w.) are Saved from Hellfire irrespective of their good deeds is an illogical argument.  Another note is that it is haram for them to take swadaqah, because God has Elevated their rank above other lineage.

It is recorded in the Shaykhayn, that Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) narrated that Hasan ibn ‘Ali (r.a.) took a date from the dates given in charity and put it in his mouth.  The Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “Expel it from your mouth.  Don’t you know that we do not eat a thing which is given in charity?”  It is recorded in Swahih Muslim that the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “Zakat is not becoming for the family of Muhammad, as it is people’s impurities.”  It is clear his lineage is purified from the above ahadits.  Moreover, Shi’ah Islam has the concept of khums for poor sa’dat because they cannot accept charity.

Brother Ismaeel de Silva: I find it interesting that those on this thread claiming to be champions of naql, busy themselves in making straw man arguments against things I have written, ignore pertinent points and evidences adduced and the logic of my positions that I have clearly explained, and instead have just as well as making straw man arguments, made a lot of ad hominem against me as an individual.  So for the last time I will clarify: I have never claimed that someone who leaves Islam is worthy of being venerated; I have never claimed that Ahl al-Bayt are ma’swum or that they are the only ones able to achieve spiritual greatness; I have never claimed that they should be excused regardless of what they do; I have never claimed that a vampiric cult was instituted by our Nabi (s.a.w.); but I have, however, stated that they, the saints and sinners among them, are worthy of our respect and that we have no right to stand in judgment of them, as many people on here seem to think they can.

Our respect and veneration for them is based on clear texts from Qur’an and sunnah, as well as the logic that we venerate everything connected with the Prophet(s.a.w.), as Abu Bakr (r.a.) said, “Look to Muhammad through his Ahl al-Bayt,” as recorded in Swahih al-Bukhari.  In other words, by honouring them we will achieve connection with them, just as ‘Umar ibn al-Khaththab (r.a.) sought closeness through marrying the daughter of ‘Ali (k.w.) and then quoted the hadits, “All lineages and connections are cut off on the Day of Judgment except my lineage and my connection,” as recorded by Imam ath-Thabarani (r.a.).

There are numerous authentic ahadits, many of them in Swahih al-Bukhari and Swahih Muslim about the blessing of the physical relics of the Prophet (s.a.w.) being used for Blessings and to achieve Salvation.  This is, again, based on the above principle.  The hadits, “If a hadits contradicts the Qur’an...’ it itself extremely weak and rejected by the muhadditsin and is not used as a principle by any Sunni Jurist.  General statements in the Qur’an may be specified by exceptions in the sunnah and indeed there are dozens of such cases as noted by the jurists.  This type of shortcut uswul people want to employ on these threads bears little resemblance to the actual scholarly process of applying the uswul.

‘Aql is not used to reject naql we do not like.  This is the heresy of the Mu’tazilites and has nothing to do with Ahl as-Sunnah.  Moreover, those who understand anything about psychology or Sufism will know that reason is often a very poor instrument as it is far too often clouded by subconscious desires, internal models based on childhood experiences and other hidden biases.  The texts or the naql illuminate the ‘aql and take precedence, because they are Divine Revelation.  They are the basis on which we proceed in any discussion of Islamic topics, they are what ‘aql is applied upon, not the other way around.  However, if people, as many people on this thread appear to have done, just reject countless narrations because it does not fit into some pre-conceived view of the world based on non-Islamic values and ideologies which they have then identified with reason, then there is really no space in which to have a discussion.  Asking about the wisdom or understanding of a matter mentioned in the Qur’an and sunnah is one thing; saying we will not accept texts of the Qur’an and sunnah because it does not fit with our fallible and limited intellects is quite another.

Anyways, I am removing myself from this group, because I only started contributing to it because I believed it was something I have now discovered it is not.  I do not see the value of never ending open-ended discussions with people of all different levels of education, from a vast number of different backgrounds and understandings.  I do not personally think it is a useful way to proceed in seeking knowledge, nor would I recommend it to others.  I also do not wish to contribute to a group overseen by people who are happy to denigrate sa’dat and even perform implicit takfir, calling them munafiqin, for sins they have done.  I do not wish to have to be a witness to such things and have to continually speak out against them, as my faith dictates.  May Allah (s.w.t.) Guide us all to goodness.

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: That is most unfortunate for him.  The arrogance in the statement is staggering.  And the deliberate misunderstanding and mischaracterisation of what people shave said is either the mark of a closed mind, or a form of intellectual dishonesty.

Brother James Harris: It is indeed unfortunate.  However, this group is not a tyranny.  Truth stands clear from error.  People are free to take or leave what others express in the posts.  If somebody in the group believes that something that is untenable or cannot be justified according to Islamic doctrines, they are free to correct that misconception in the comments.  It is an unfortunate sign of our times that many believe religious authority can be established through censoring others and labelling them as ignorant, and disengaging when quick results are not achieved.  We must move beyond this way of thinking.  We have absolutely no choice but to do so if we wish to develop ourselves.

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: There are two kinds of Muslims that are a problem.  One sort that is well-known, is the Wahhabi sect.  There is no need to elaborate on that.  The other sort, is the type that sits in dzikr groups and follow the shuyukh.  The problem, I find, is that it breeds a certain sort of arrogance, thinking that they are gatekeepers of knowledge and everyone who disagrees with them are either ignorant, astray or heretical.  Whereas the former are Salafi, the latter are Sulafi - Sufi-Salafi.

I believe that we must come to people with compassion.  These people think they must come with knowledge, committing a sort of shirk they are not cognisant of.  It is as if they want to import the forms of the religion from 7th Century Arabia but leave the hikmah portion behind, because they are ‘rightly-guide’ and they have ‘arrived’, and everybody else is lost.

Here, everyone has a say.  No one comes here with titles and ijazat and expect others to bow before them.  Leave the arrogance of the self at the door.  Certainly, I do not agree with everything that is said by everybody.  But the purpose is for people to question, to reflect, to consider.  There is no tyranny of doctrine where people give interpretation of evidences, claiming that their understanding is the only understanding; and all this at the expense of forging a Divine relationship.  I find then, that the people who speak so much about sunnah are not the custodians of it.

Brother James Harris: He said, “I do not see the value of never ending open-ended discussions with people of all different levels of education, from a vast number of different backgrounds and understandings.”  The brother is not prepared to engage with those deemed to be ‘unlearned’ or ‘misguided’, and so, The Sharing Group is apparently not suitable for the elite among the ummah.  I wonder, to whom, should da’wah be directed to then.

Brother Abdul-Halim Vazquez: Is there a way to have this conversation without talking about Brother Ismaeel when he seems not to be here?

Brother James Harris: The thread is still here and I was following up on the points raised in my earlier engagement with him above, and he left of the group of his own accord.  He, in fact, went on to slander The Sharing Group on his own wall and warned people about joining us, which is set to public view.

Brother Abdul-Halim Vazquez: Regarding his saying, “I do not see the value of never ending open-ended discussions with people of all different levels of education, from a vast number of different backgrounds and understandings,” I think this is a valid position in the sense that you need both expansion and contraction.  I think there is a role for open ended discussions where positions are fluid.  But there is also a role for coming to conclusions and picking some positions and rejecting others, and establishing parameters, at least for oneself.

Brother James Harris: We are open to any suggestions for improvement, brother.

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: Actually, Brother Abdul-Halim Vazquez, unfortunately, he did more than say he was better.  He put on his Wall a post that essentially said we are all not worth giving salaam to, which is a sly form of takfir.  He has mischaracterised the discussion and created fitnah, giving the impression that we are barely Muslims.  And it got very nasty, with many of his so-called learned friends, these supposed Sufis saying things they should not say, about an event they were not privy to, making assumptions and telling stories.  How quickly these so-called lovers of the Prophet (s.a.w.) forget the Qur’an and his sunnah.  Such contemptible creatures.  And they were especially rude to one of our brothers, a convert, on that thread.

Brother James Harris; There is no problem with people coming here and then leaving if they feel it is not for them.  All are welcome.  However, a problem that seems to be arising sometimes is when some people leave the group and feel it is their duty to bring the house down after them, through various means.  Sadly, this is mentality is all to frequent among Muslims.

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