Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Though we have a weekly meeting at his residence yet I had to take course of a detailed correspondence with a learned man, who basically belongs to the field of English literature and has been teaching this subject in Aligarh Muslim University and Delhi University for more than a decade. Through his hard labour he has excelled in Arabic and keeps a deep insight in Islamic theology. Being committed to a particular religious school of thought he is stuck to the text and is against any unimpeded interpretation of Ahadith of the Holy Prophet, Muhammad, SAW.
The focal point of the correspondence was to see how much latitude is there in interpretation of the Ahadith of Sahee Muslim regarding a strict prohibition for the people of a Muslim society to stand against the despotic rulers, regardless of their cruelty, authoritative nature and trampling the human rights.
The scholar seems excessively reluctant in this case. He sees no scope to cross the textual limits and literal meanings of the Ahadith. To him whatever the circumstances there may be, the people revolting against their rulers, in the light of the teachings of the Messenger of Allah, be peace and blessings upon him, will be regarded committing a major sin.
Muslim Ummah is carrying the torch of golden principles and a guidline for establishing a welfare state, creating a civilized society and has the lofty concepts of social justice and protection of human rights but it is unfortunate that there is not a single Muslim state with an ideal system shaped in light of these principles. Nowhere in the Muslim world these lofty principles have got translated into practice.
We see, during the last above 1400 years hundreds of the commentaries of the Holy Quran have been written. Very interestingly, this explanatory literature of our classical and traditionalist theologists is an evidence of their difference of opinions, without labelling each other gone astray and misguided. There emerged three schools of thought in commentatory literature.
Despite the fact that Zamakhshari had his inclination to the Mu'tazalite (Rationalist) point of view, still his commentary al-Kashaf is much studied and extoled for its literary beauty. Linguistic height of this Tafseer is unchallenged so far. Tafseer At-Tabri, Tafseer Qurtabi and Tafseer Ibn Kathir are largely in light of the Ahadith of the Holy Prophet, SAW and not only the traditionalists but all the schools of thought regard them to be the best models of Tafseeri literature. Philosophical reasoning and worthless stuffed by Fakhruddin Razi in his commentary caused to reduce the importance of his Tafseer Kabeer, yet there are many people in the religious camps who count it in great exegetical works. Ruh-ul-Maáni of Allamah Mehmud Alusi and Fateh al-Qadeer of Qadhi Shaukani are the best proofs of harmonization of reasoning and revelation and tradition and Ijtehad. Both are no doubt tremendous addition in exegetical literature. Tafseer Jalalayn recommends to remain close to the text of the Quran giving the proximate meanings of the Quranic terms. In the 20th century four of the exegetical works appeared reaching the minds impressed by the ideologies of the modern times. Tafhim-ul-Quran of Syed Abu Al-Ala' Maududi, Tadabbar-ul-Quran of Maulana Amin Ahsan Islahi, Muárif-ul-Quran of Mufti Shafi and Fi Dhilal il-Quran of Syed Qutab (in Arabic) have a lot to answer what arouses in the modern minds and satisfy them. Here in the above lines only the most compelling and popular works have been mentioned. There is a lot more in the commentaries.
It shows that our traditionalist theologists and classical commentators were of the view that there is a room to find pearls of meanings according to the wisdom and talent of every religious scholar. Is it not possible in the area of the Ahadith? If we go through the work done in critically examining the status of Ahadith of the Holy Prophet, SAW, we find one critic condemns the authority of the Hadith and the other accepts it. One is immensely strict while the other shows leniency. It means that there are two or more opinions everywhere.
In practical field our Salafi school of thought exhibits a clear division of policy. On one side we see our learned scholar and a small segment of Ahl-e-Hadith community against bringing down the ruling elite through a popular movement and on the other hand, in Pakistan, Hafiz Saeed, head of the Jamat Ad-Dawa and Maulana Sajid Mir head of Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith are in forefront of the movements of this nature. Very recently in the Arab Spring when the people rose against the dictators in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen (and presently in Syria) Salafis were in the front rows of the protesters.
Text of the Ahadith of the Holy Prophet, be peace and blessings upon him, does have a spirit also. When, according to a Hadith of Bukhari, entrusting the power to inefficient and incompetent people, causing the waste or breach of the trust, is counted by the Holy Prophet, SAW, a sign of the Day of Resurrection, then the matter does not remain simply a revelation or a news only, but logically leads to a resolution of deposing the inefficient and incompetent ruler from his/her post.
The main objective of the wise teachings of the Messenger of Allah, be peace and blessings upon him, is to let not chaos, disorder and anarchy take place in smooth course of transfer of power. Discipline and order is the most significant thing never the Muslim society is to remain in loss of.
Islam had set the standards about the moral, physical and mental qualities of the rulers long before the West evolved guidelines in this case. When Umer bin Khattab, the Second Guided Caliph, be Allah pleased with him, called his governors to publicly punish them in retribution to their maltreatment with the people the Western World was ignorant of the matter to be an issue for thinking.
The First Guided Caliph, Abu Bakr Siddique himself set the parameters of compliance to the ruler by saying: "Obey me as long as I obey Allah and His Prophet (PBUH). But if I disobey Allah's or His commands then no obedience is incumbent upon you." That was the time when in Europe the kings were enjoying so-called 'Divine Rights of the Kings' approved by the highest Christian religious authority.
Now the world is changed. Democratic norms, guaranteeing freedom, justice, protection of human rights, making the rulers accountable for their acts and setting the terms of their rule have taken roots and every civilized society is following them. Gone are the days when bullet was the only way to get rid of the governments delivering below the expectations of the people. Every good found in any sphere and any part of the world is in fact the Muslims' tradition. After having judged them in the light of our own criterion we are to make them a paramount part of our political system.
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