Thursday, 18 May 2017
The Rigid Interpretation of Dala'il
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
Just some thoughts here. I notice that when there is any discussion on any nuanced or contentious issue in Islam, someone inevitably puts forth an ayat or a hadits and thinks that ends the contention. It does not.
An ayat of the Qur’an has a tafsir, an exegesis of the verse, and the Qur’an has depth. Therefore, because of these levels of realisation, and the nuances of the Arabic, an ayat does not always settle an issue. If it were merely that, it would have ceased to be a contention 1,400 years ago.
And when it comes to ahadits, there is a sharh, an explanation of the context of the verse. A hadits is merely a snapshot of a moment. That means it is almost impossible to use it in and of itself for most points of theology or jurisprudence without that background information.
Also, the vast majority of Muslims have a fundamental ignorance of ahadits, and we are not talking about Quranists here. There are dozens upon dozens of categories of ahadits, and likely a hundred distinct opinions on any narration. Muslims do not understand how ahadits work.
When someone says a hadits is “swahih”, it only means that it is verified according to the scholar who categorised it such, and according to his methodology. The grading of swahih only applies to the verification of the chains of transmission, and not how the matn, text, relates to other sources of information.
For example, there is a hadits that drinking camel urine is good for us. It is “swahih” according to Imam al-Bukhari (r.a.), who was a muhaddits, a scholar of the field of prophetic narrations. According to many scholars of fiqh, jurisprudence, however, there is no reason why it should be accepted. If urine is najis, impure, why is camel urine so special then? And when we consider science, it is obvious that such a hadits is deficient, so even though the chain may be mutawatir, mass transmitted and the narrators tsiqah, trustworthy, according to the muhaddits who accepted it, I would personally throw it out.
Another example would be the mutaffaq ‘alayh hadits, meaning a swahih narration that is found in both Swahih al-Bukhari and Swahih Muslim, about the Prophet (s.a.w.) being a victim of sihr, black magic. According to the great Hanafi scholar, Imam al-Maturidi (r.a.), such a hadits contradicts the Qur’an and ‘aqidah, and to even accept it is problematic. If we believe the Prophet (s.a.w.) could be affected such that he did not know what he was doing, that would mean the entirety of Revelation would be called into question.
According to Imam al-Maturidi (r.a.), a hadits that contradicts the Qur’an, that contradicts sound reason, and known facts, that contradicts our theology, should be thrown out without the need to examine the chains. And this applies to a lot of narrations. The actual Hanafi tradition is one of scepticism of ahadits. The madzhab believes in reason over regurgitation of texts.
And finally, we have this phenomenon where someone says, this or that was the opinion of this or that scholar. Imam Ahmad ibn Muhammad at-Tijani (r.a.), himself a great mujtahid, stressed that fiqh has a zaman wa makan, a time and place. Simply reproducing an old ruling does not make it valid in our time and place.
For example, the Maliki madzhab had a ruling that the Muslims could not marry the Christians. Whilst this seems to contradict the Qur’an, it addressed a time when Muslims were at war with the Christians in al-Andalus. It does not apply outside that narrow time and place.
Another example would be the narration where the Prophet (s.a.w.) forbade the eating of horse meat. The Shafi’i tradition took it to mean a blanket prohibition. The Maliki and Hanafi madzahib reasonably understood it to refer only to the siege of Khaybar, where if the besieging army ate their cavalry, how were day to prevail on the battlefield?
We have discouraged the use of the ‘aql, the intellect. We have churned out several generations of educated idiots. These “scholars” can reproduce an innumerable number of narrations and have memorised the Qur'an, but they cannot explain why things are the way they are satisfactorily. So, what do they do? They tell people that to question anything is a sign of a lack of iman.
These people compartmentalise knowledge into “Muslim” knowledge and “kuffar” knowledge and anything that contradicts their worldview is from the kuffar. That is why Muslims are stupid. This is why we have so many “scholars” giving stupid fatawa and justifying all sort of outrageous practices, from slavery to child marriage, to death for apostasy. This is the sort of Islam that prevails all over the world.
In reaction to this, we have groups like the Quranists, the extreme feminists, the militant LBGTQ, the takfiris and the syncretists. They are people trying to make sense of this rigidity but they threw out everything, which is the other end of the spectrum.
Knowledge includes all fields, from science to mathematics, to philosophy to metaphysics, and within all that, we find that balanced understanding of Scripture. That is Islam. Islamic knowledge is more that the Qur’an, more than the ahadits and more than the rulings of prior scholars. What use is a house with a solid foundation, but has no walls, doors or even a roof? It will not protect us from the elements of kufr. This is the problem we have with Islam.