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MuhammedAli

Contextualizing Ahadith Of Innovation And Impact Of Such Contextualization On Islamic And Heretical Understandings.

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Introduction:

In exchanges with brother Sa’id Imtiaz it was argued; Islam permits good Biddahs/Sunnahs into Islam and there is reward one who innovates a good Sunnah and those who follow them, a understanding based on the following: “He who introduced some good practice in Islam which was followed after him (by people) he would be assured of reward like one who followed it, without their rewards being diminished in any respect.” [Ref: Muslim, B34, H6466] In response to my line of argument, Wahhabi brother quoted two Wahhabi scholars and one from these two was Muhammad Salih Al-Munajjid, he is prominent scholar of the sect. Their methodology of interpretation was; the ‘good Sunnah’ is to be interpreted according to the context. The interpretation which they presented according to the methodology was; reviving a prophetic Sunnah is good Sunnah and all those who follow the newly revived Sunnah will earn equal reward. Comprehensively this would be as; reviving a prophetic Sunnah which has been neglected, or forgotten, or people are reluctant to practice it, is the good Sunnah and all those who follow the newly revived Sunnah will earn equal reward. Comprehensive response to this line of argument against Islam has been posted here.

Methodologies And Interpretations On Trial:

There is absolutely no need to dedicate time and critically examine the argument presented and therefore no effort will be made. The already written is sufficient to straighten the crooked path of heretics, if they lend it an ear. In here the methodologies employed to interpret the Ahadith in question by the Muslims and their opponents will be on trial. In an effort to determine which methodology is valid and which interpretation is valid. To properly analyze the methodologies and establish consistency in its application another set of Ahadith will be introduced into discussion which are essential part of the discourse, namely Ahadith of ‘newly invented matters’.

The Methodology Of Interpretation To Be Employed:

If the Ahadith of ‘newly invented matters’ are to be interpreted in the historical context which surround them and these Ahadith are not be interpreted according to generality wording then there is no need to interpret the Hadith of ‘good Sunnah’ according to generality of wording then they also should be interpreted according to their historical context. If the Ahadith of ‘newly invented matters’ are interpreted according to generality of words and these Ahadith are not restricted to their context but their generality is used then same methodology of interpretation is to be employed for Ahadith of ‘good Sunnah’ and this is to be fair and impartial.

The Hadith Of Divine Decree And Adhering To Prophectic Sunnah And Predecessors:

“Sufyan said (according to one chain), and Abu al-Salit said (according to another chain): A man wrote to 'Umar b. 'Abd al-Aziz asking him about Divine decree. He wrote to him: To begin with, I enjoin upon you to fear Allah, to be moderate in (obeying) His Command, to follow the Sunnah of His Prophet and to abandon the novelties which the innovators introduced after his Sunnah has been established and they were saved from its trouble; so stick to Sunnah, for it is for you, if Allah chooses a protection; then you should know that any innovation which the people introduced was refuted long before it. [] So accept for yourself what the people (in the past) had accepted for themselves for they had complete knowledge of whatever they were informed and by penetrating insight they forbade; they had more strength (than us) to disclose the matters and they were far better (than us) by virtue of their merits. If right guidance is what you are following, then you out-stripped them to it. And if you say whatever the novelty occurred after them was introduced by those who followed the way other then theirs and disliked them. It is they who actually outstripped, and talked about it sufficiently, and gave a satisfactory explanation for it. Below them there is no place for exhaustiveness, and above them there is no place for elaborating things. Some people shortened the matter more than they had done, and thus they turned away, and some people raised the matter more than they had done, and thus they exaggerated. They were on right guidance between that. You have written (to me) asking about confession of Divine decree, you have indeed approached a person who is well informed of it, with the will of Allah. I know what whatever novelty people have brought in, and whatever innovation people have introduced are not more manifest and more established than confession of Divine decree. The ignorant people in pre-Islamic times have mentioned it; they talked about it in their speeches and in their poetry. They would console themselves for what they lost, and Islam then strengthened it. The Messenger of Allah did not mention it in one or two traditions, but the Muslims heard it from him, and they talked of it from him, and they talked of it during his lifetime and after his death. They did so out of belief and submission to their Lord and thinking themselves weak. There is nothing which is not surrounded by His knowledge, and not counted by His register and not destined by His decree. Despite that, it has been strongly mentioned in His Book: from it they have derived it, and from it they have and so they also read in it what you read, and they knew its interpretation of which you are ignorant. After that they said: All this is by writing and decreeing. Distress has been written down, and what has been destined will occur; what Allah wills surely will happen and which He will not, will not occur. We have no power to harm or benefit ourselves. Then after that they showed interest (in good works) and were afraid (of bad deeds). [Ref: Abu Dawood, B41, H4595]

The Hadith Of Newly Invented Matters And Sticking To Sunnah:

“It was narrated from 'Abdur-Rahman bin 'Amr As-Sulami that: He heard Al-'Irbad bin Sariyah say: "The Messenger of Allah delivered a moving speech to us which made our eyes flow with tears and made our hearts melt. We said: 'O Messenger of Allah. This is a speech of farewell. What did you enjoin upon us?' He said: 'I am leaving you upon a (path of) brightness whose night is like its day. No one will deviate from it after I am gone but one who is doomed. Whoever among you lives will see great conflict. I urge you to adhere to what you know of my Sunnah and the path of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs, and cling stubbornly to it. And you must obey, even if (your leader is) an Abyssinian leader. For the true believer is like a camel with a ring in its nose; wherever it is driven, it complies." [Ref: Ibn Majah, B1, H43] “Narrated Al-'Irbad bin Sariyah: "One day after the morning Salat, the Messenger of Allah exhorted us to the extent that the eyes wept and the hearts shuddered with fear. A man said: 'Indeed this is a farewell exhortation. So what do you order us O Messenger of Allah?' He said: 'I order you to have Taqwa of Allah, and to listen and obey [to your leader] even in the case of an Ethiopian slave. Indeed, who ever among you lives, he will see much difference. Beware of the newly invented matters, for indeed they are astray. Whoever among you sees that, then he must stick to my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the rightly guided Khulafa', cling to it with the molars.'" [Ref: Tirmadhi, B9, H2676]

The Ahadith Of Introducing Good Sunnah And Reward:

“It was narrated from Mundhir bin Jarir that his father said: "The Messenger of Allah said: 'Whoever introduces a good Sunnah that is followed, he will receive its reward and a reward equivalent to that of those who follow it, without that detracting from their reward in their slightest. And whoever introduces a bad Sunnah that is followed, he will receive its sin and a burden of sin equivalent to that of those who follow it, without that detracting from their burden in the slightest.'" [Ref: Ibn Majah, B1, H203] “Jarir b. Abdullah reported that some desert Arabs clad in woolen clothes came to Allah's Messenger. He saw them in sad plight as they had been hard pressed by need. He (the Holy Prophet) exhorted people to give charity, but they showed some reluctance until (signs) of anger could be seen on his face. Then a person from the Ansar came with a purse containing silver. Then came another person and then other persons followed them in succession until signs of happiness could be seen on his (sacred) face. Thereupon Allah's Messenger said: He who introduced some good Sunnah in Islam which was followed after him (by people) he would be assured of reward like one who followed it, without their rewards being diminished in any respect. And he who introduced some evil Sunnah in Islam which had been followed subsequently (by others), he would be required to bear the burden like that of one who followed this (evil practice) without their being diminished in any respect.” [Ref: Muslim, B34, H6466]

Hadith Of ‘Divine Decree’ Contextualized:

“A man wrote to 'Umar b. 'Abd al-Aziz asking him about Divine decree. He wrote to him: To begin with, I enjoin upon you to fear Allah, to be moderate in (obeying) His Command, to follow the Sunnah of His Prophet [about divine decree] and to abandon the novelties [of negating divine decree] which the innovators introduced after his Sunnah [of divine decree] has been established and they [the Sahabah] were saved from its trouble; so stick to Sunnah [in this matter of belief], for it is for you, if Allah chooses a protection; then you should know that any innovation [regarding divine decree] which the people introduced was refuted long before it. [] So accept for yourself what the people (in the past) had accepted for themselves [regarding the belief of pre-ordained destiny] for they had complete knowledge of whatever they were informed [about divine decree] and by penetrating insight they forbade [discussion regarding divine decree]; they had more strength (than us) to disclose the matters [of divine decree] and they were far better (than us) by virtue of their merits. If right guidance is [Allah has not pre-ordained all things, which is] what you are following, then you out-stripped them to it. And if you say whatever the novelty occurred [in this matter of divine decree] after them was introduced by those who followed the way other then theirs and disliked them. It is they [the predecessors] who actually outstripped and talked about it sufficiently and gave a satisfactory explanation for it. Below them there is no place for exhaustiveness [on this matter of divine decree] and above them there is no place for elaborating things [with regards to divine decree]. Some people shortened the matter [of divine decree] more than they had done, and thus they turned away [from the path predecessors], and some people raised the matter more than they had done, and thus they exaggerated [the path predecessors in this regard]. They [the predecessors] were on right guidance between that. You have written (to me) asking about confession of Divine decree, you have indeed approached a person who is well informed of it, with the will of Allah. I know what whatever novelty people have brought in [regards to the divine decree] and whatever innovation people have introduced [in connection with divine decree] are not more manifest and more established than confession of Divine decree. The ignorant people in pre-Islamic times have mentioned it; they talked about it in their speeches and in their poetry. They would console themselves for what they lost, and Islam then strengthened it [the belief in pre-ordained divine decree]. The Messenger of Allah did not mention it in one or two traditions, but the Muslims heard it from him, and they talked of it from him, and they talked of it during his lifetime and after his death. They did so out of belief and submission to their Lord and thinking themselves weak. There is nothing which is not surrounded by His knowledge, and not counted by His register and not destined by His decree. Despite that, it has been strongly mentioned in His Book: from it they have derived it, and from it they have and so they also read in it what you read, and they knew its interpretation of which you are ignorant. After that they said: All this is by writing and decreeing. Distress has been written down, and what has been destined will occur; what Allah wills surely will happen and which He will not, will not occur. We have no power to harm or benefit ourselves. Then after that they showed interest (in good works) and were afraid (of bad deeds). [Ref: Abu Dawood, B41, H4595]

Hadith Of ‘Beware Of Newly Invented Matters’ Contextualized:

"One day after the morning Salat, the Messenger of Allah exhorted us to the extent that the eyes wept and the hearts shuddered with fear. A man said: 'Indeed this is a farewell exhortation. So what do you order us O Messenger of Allah?' He said: 'I order you to have Taqwa of Allah, and to listen and obey [to your leader and do not rebel against his authority] even in the case of an Ethiopian slave. Indeed, who ever among you lives, he will see much difference [leading to rebellion]. Beware of the newly invented matters [which lead to rebellion against a Khalifah because] for indeed they are misguidance. Whoever among you sees that [time of differences and rebellion], then he must stick to my Sunnah [which prohibits rebellion against Khalifah] and the Sunnah of the rightly guided Khulafah, cling to it [i.e. Sunnah] with the molars." [Ref: Tirmadhi, B9, H2676]

Ahadith Of ‘Good Sunnah’ Contextualized:

“’Whoever introduces a good Sunnah [i.e. giving of charity by Ansari companion and] that is followed, he [the Ansari companion] will receive its reward and a reward equivalent to that of those who follow it, without that detracting from their reward in their slightest. And whoever introduces a bad Sunnah [such as being stingy and not spending in the way of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and if] that is followed, he will receive its sin and a burden of sin equivalent to that of those who follow it, without that detracting from their burden in the slightest.'" [Ref: Ibn Majah, B1, H203]

Important Note Regarding The Forth Coming Discussion:

Hadith of divine decree will not be discussed because it is too long. It is solely being presented so people understand the limitation contextualization and how such contextualization limits the understanding of Hadith and its application. Readers are more then welcome to follow the methodology used and demonstrate how the divine decree Hadith is affected and how such contextualization negates comprehensiveness of guidance contained in Ahadith. Due to Ahadith of ‘beware of the newly invented matters’ and Hadith of ‘good Sunnah’ being shorter, they will be discussed in detailed.

Interpreting Hadith Of ‘Beware Of The Newly Invented Matters’ According To Context:

Contextually Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) warned against innovation of rebellion/disobedience to Khalifah: “I order you to have Taqwa of Allah [i.e. fulfill your obligations, enjoin good and forbid evil] and to listen and obey [to your leader and do not rebel against his authority] even in the case of an Ethiopian slave. Indeed, who ever among you lives, he will see much difference [leading to rebellion]. Beware of the newly invented matters [which lead to rebellion against a Khalifah because] for indeed they are misguidance. Whoever among you sees that [time of differences and rebellion], then he must stick to my Sunnah [which prohibits rebellion against Khalifah] and the Sunnah of the rightly guided Khulafah, cling to it [i.e. Sunnah] with the molars." [Ref: Tirmadhi, B9, H2676] Contextualizing this Hadith limits the application of this Hadith to innovations in general and it contradicts Prophet’s (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) words where he stated he has been granted ‘Jawami Al Kalim’.

Hadith Of ‘Beware Of The Newly Invented Matters’ According To Generality Of Words:

Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) warned against innovation with following words: “I order you to have Taqwa of Allah, and to listen and obey [to your leader] even in the case of an Ethiopian slave. Indeed, who ever among you lives, he will see much difference. Beware of the newly invented matters, for indeed they are astray. Whoever among you sees that, then he must stick to my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the rightly guided Khulafa', cling to it with the molars.'" [Ref: Tirmadhi, B9, H2676] The generality of the Hadith quoted permits it to be applied to all types of innovations and the generality is in accordance with ‘Jawami Al Kalim’ nature of prophetic words.

Interpreting Hadith Of ‘Who So Ever Introduces A Good Sunnah’ According To Context:

Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) has said: “’Whoever introduces a good Sunnah [i.e. giving of charity by Ansari companion and] that is followed, he [the Ansari companion] will receive its reward and a reward equivalent to that of those who follow it, without that detracting from their reward in their slightest. And whoever introduces a bad Sunnah [such as being stingy and not spending in the way of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and if] that is followed, he will receive its sin and a burden of sin equivalent to that of those who follow it, without that detracting from their burden in the slightest.'" [Ref: Ibn Majah, B1, H203] Contextually this Hadith is about a companion and the group of companions who followed his example and acted on the Sunnah of Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam). Based on the context the Hadith means when people are reluctant to give charity and the first one to start and those who follow, all will get equal reward. It also means for the modern Muslim; one who is acting on the prophetic Sunnah of giving charity then you are following the example of the Ansari companion and you will get equal reward.

Hadith Of ‘Who So Ever Introduces A Good Sunnah’ According To Generality Of Words:

Understanding the words of Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) in general meaning and without restricting it to historical context yields following understanding: “Whoever introduces a good [non-prophetic] Sunnah [which accords with teaching of the religion and if] that is followed [by others beside him, then] he will receive its reward and a reward equivalent to that of those who follow it, without that detracting from their reward in their slightest.” [Ref: Ibn Majah, B1, H203] Maintaining and holding to generality of words of Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) establishes permissibility of introducing praiseworthy Sunnahs and reward for them. Putting it into perspective of history, Hadhrat Umar (radiallah ta’ala anhu) had the idea to collect the Quran in one book format. He introduced this Sunnah and Hadhrat Abu Bakr (radiallah ta’ala anhu) implemented his idea and the result of this was Quran which we possess as a single book. There is reward for him for purposing the compilation of Quran and those who follow and publish Quran. Generalizing on the historical context, one can derive the following principle: “Whoever introduces a good Sunnah [such as initiating action on prophetic Sunnah and if] that is followed [by others] he [the initiator of action on prophetic Sunnah] will receive its reward and a reward equivalent to that of those who follow it, without that detracting from their reward in their slightest. And whoever introduces a bad Sunnah that is followed, he will receive its sin and a burden of sin equivalent to that of those who follow it, without that detracting from their burden in the slightest.'" [Ref: Ibn Majah, B1, H203] This generalized principle in historical context can also be interpreted to mean, when people are reluctant to engage in a particular religious activity, one who starts it and those who follow his example all will get equal reward. The contextualization and the derived principle from historical context negate the ‘Jawami Al Kalim’ nature of prophetic words which have been established in this part. In short the generality of Hadith accords with prophetic teaching of Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) being given ‘Jawami Al Kalim’.

All Ahadith On The Subject Of Innovation Have A Historical Context:

There are many Ahadith about the topic of innovation but all of them have a particular event associated with it. Even if the historical context has not been narrated it is entirely logical to assume there was a historical context. Hence all those Ahadith are also in context of historical events and cannot be taken as general principle. Even the Ahadith narrated without the historical context give instruction of rejection teachings/practices which go against the clear injunctions and the spirit/essence of Islam. Therefore even these Ahadith are restricted to the context of innovations which contradict the teaching of Islam.

The Effect Of Restricting Ahadith Of Innovation To Historical Context:

By interpreting the Ahadith of innovation in context of historical events we solely restrict its application to a particular event. And if all Ahadith of innovation are restricted to a context and interpreted in context of an event then we have no prophetic guidance on matters of innovations. Pay attention, if all Ahadith are restricted to a context and the generality of the meaning of sentences is negated then is there anything which prohibits innovations? If you say yes, then to be consistent in methodology Ahadith are to be interpreted in context like the Hadith of good Sunnah is interpreted in context of historical event. If this method is applied to all the Hadith then there is no Hadith which prohibits innovations. If Hadith are restricted and interpreted according to context and generality is negated then end result is; both Quran and Ahadith are silent about subject of innovations other then addressed in the Ahadith. And about issues on which Quran and Ahadith are silent Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) has stated: “The lawful is what Allah made lawful in His Book, the unlawful is what Allah made unlawful in his Book, and what He was silent about; then it is among that for which He has pardoned." [Ref: Tirmadhi, B22, H1726] Excused by Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) is allowed as favor by Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala): “What Allah has made lawful in His Book is halal and what He has forbidden is haram, and that concerning which He is silent is allowed as His favor. So accept from Allah His favor, for Allah is not forgetful of anything. He then recited, "And thy Lord is not forgetful." [Ref: Musnad Al Bazzar] Therefore interpreting Ahadith in a particular context to negate generality of Ahadith of good Sunnah and generally of all Ahadith in connected with subject of innovation will not harm the position of Muslims. Rather our position that all innovations composed of Islamicly sanctioned acts of piety are permissible is also established from Ahadith quoted above.

The Effect Of Maintaining Generality Of Ahadith Of Innovation:

Holding to the generality of prophetic words about subject of innovation including the Ahadith of ‘introducing good Sunnah’ is in accordance with ‘Jawami Al Kalim’ nature of prophetic words. Result of this is that all Ahadith of innovation can be applied to every single innovation which does not accord with the teaching of Islam. This generality of words in connection with Hadith of ‘introducing good Sunnah’ establishes that Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) has permitted introduction of good Sunnahs into Islam and told of reward for those who engage in the newly introduced good Sunnah. In addition, the Ahadith quoted above indirectly establish the legitimacy of good Sunnahs into Islam.

Conclusion:

If the Ahadith of innovations and good/bad Sunnahs is interpreted in historical context of a particular event and their generality is negated even then the permissibility of engaging in actions which Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) did not forbid but remained silent on would be established. The generality and the literal reading of the prophetic words of good Sunnah Hadith undeniably establish the position of Muslims and refute the opponents of Islam. What ever the methodology of interpretation is adopted by the opponents of Islam if that methodology is applied consistently and without practicing selectivism then the conclusion would be as explained.

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