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Interpreting Hadith Of Good And Evil Sunnah In Light Of Historical Context And Natural Meaning Of Prophetic Words.


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Introduction:

Muslims believe there are two type of innovations; praiseworthy innovations for which there is reward and reprehensible innovations for which there is punishment. The heretical Wahhabiyah/Deobandi and their sub sects are of belief that every innovation is reprehensible no matter how virtuous it may be in practice. And both sides have evidences from Qur’an and Ahadith to prove their definitions. One of the key evidences used to establish the definition of praiseworthy innovation and its rewards. And blameworthy innovation and it's punishment is distorted by the Wahhabi elite. Unfortunately vast majority of them will never get to read the Hadith. And those who do get to read it are those students who have been fed and fattened on the lies and distortions of their scholars that they will not realize the implications. The reason main for this is lack of knowledge and putting to much trust in scholarship of Wahhabi Shuyukh. Also they have been conditioned the Shuyukh of Wahhabism are to obeyed without question or second thought or further investigation. Considering the difficulty and madness this article being dedicated to explaining the meaning of Hadith so people who sincerely seek the guidance from Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) can light a candle of light in darkness and remain upon Islam and those who have erred find way to correct understanding of Islam.

Hadith Of Praiseworthy And Blameworthy Sunnah:

"Jarir b. Abdullah reported that some desert Arabs clad in woolen clothes came to Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him). 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 (may peace be upon him) said: 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. And he who introduced some evil practice 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 theirs being diminished in any respect." [Ref: Muslim, B34, H6466]

0.0 - Interpretation In Light Of First Sadaqa Giver And Those Who Followed:

A group of Bedouin Arabs visited Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) they were dressed in woolen clothes and from their appearance it seemed to Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) that they were poor. On noting this beloved Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) encouraged the companions (Allah be pleased with them) present in the gathering to give Sadaqa to them but the companions (Allah be pleased with them) showed signs of reluctance as a result the signs of anger were visible on his beautiful face: “... Then a person from the Ansar came with a purse containing silver.” He gave them Sadqa then another companion, fallowed by few more came forward, and gave Sadqa to Bedouins and this continued: “... until signs of happiness could be seen on his (sacred) face.” After this beloved Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) said to his companions: “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.” If understood in the context of Hadith means that the very first companion who came forward with purse of silver and all those who fallowed in his foot steps by giving Sadqa to Bedouins will get reward from Allah (subhana wa ta'ala) equally.

0.1 - Prophet Initiator Of Practice Of Giving Sadaqa:

Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) said:“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.” Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) had started the good Sunnah of giving Sadaqa, and he exhorted the companions to give Sadqa: “He saw them in sad plight as they had been hard pressed by need. He (the Holy Prophet) exhorted people to give charity, ...” In this context meaning would be; Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) who had innovated the Sunnah of giving Sadaqa, the companion who came with the purse of silver followed Sunnah of RasoolAllah (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam), and those who fallowed the companion all get equal amount of reward.

1.0 - Prophet Doesn’t Invite To Evil Sunnah Because Initiator And Actor Are Equales:

Prophet's (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) said: “And he who introduced some evil practice 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 theirs being diminished in any respect." This statement is to be understood; to mean; if Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) or anyone from his Ummah was to; invent an evil Sunnah, set an evil precedent, initiate an evil practice then the initiator along side those who fallow him will incur equal amount of blame and sin on the day of judgment. More importantly to assure the companions; he would not encourage them engage in evil Sunnah, nor be source for an evil Sunnah. This is because every reprehensible Sunnah would be a novelty, and every novelty is sinful innovation, and every such innovation is misguidance for which the initiator and actor will be equally blamed: “... he would be required to bear the burden like that of one who followed this (evil practice) without theirs being diminished in any respect." And the Messenger of Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) does not invite to misguidance but guidance because he fears Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) and loves to obey Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala).

1.1 - Prophet Prevented Reluctance From Developin Into Evil Sunnah:

When he invited the companions to give Sadaqa the companions hesitated and were reluctant until he was angered: “He (the Holy Prophet) exhorted people to give charity, but they showed some reluctance until (signs) of anger could be seen on his face.” Even though companions did not abstain from giving Sadaqa but it could have started/initiated a practice of ignoring the prophetic teaching of giving Sadaqa and before it developed into a issue Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) took action and instituted this rule to check the problem from developing into actual evil Sunnah of not giving Sadaqa. So in the context of historical event the following rule would imply; the first one to think about not giving Sadaqa even when he possessed material which he could give but did not give he would be guilty of introducing into Islam an evil Sunnah: “And he who introduced some evil practice 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 theirs being diminished in any respect." Note there was no one particularly being targetted and beauty of this is; whole group of companions would think, perhaps I was the first one to initiate this avoidance, and then they would feel guilty and responsible. This would allow them to re-evaluate their actions and ensure it was never repeated.

1.2 - Judged On Actions No Excuse Of Ignorance:

And Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) said: “... he who introduced some evil practice 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 theirs being diminished ..” It means that he who introduces an evil Sunnah in Islam and those who follow reprehensible Sunnah Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) will not accept the excuse of ignorance because it is said in Quran: "And whoever contends with the Messenger after the guidance has been made clear to him, and he follows a path other than the path of the believers, We shall leave him in the path he has chosen and land him in Jahannam, an evil refuge" [Ref: 4:115] "And Allah is not one to misguide a people after He has guided them, until He explains to them that which they should avoid." [Ref: 9:115] And nor will excuse of good intention will be accepted by Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) on the day of judgement for one who introduces an evil Sunnah into Islam. Instead Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) will add to their burden of sin for following reprehensible Sunnah.



2.0 - Guiding Principles For Actions Which Are Not Prophetic Sunnahs:

Even though from the context its clear; no evil Sunnah was introduced in Islam in presence of beloved Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam). Yet despite this Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) goes on to say: “And he who introduced some evil practice in Islam ...” The question comes to mind why would beloved Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) state something which isn’t required according to the context of events? People of knowledge know; RasoolAllah (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) has instituted two general principles for guidance of his followers on matters which are not his Sunnah. So when his followers introduce in Islam a praiseworthy practice they know there will be reward for it. And warned them from introducing reprehensible practices into Islam by telling them that their burden of sin would increase without diminishing for the one who introduces and with the one who fallows it. And this is strenthened by the fact; RasoolAllah (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) made his statements in singular: “He who introduced ... after him ... he would be assured of reward like one who followed it ... And he who introduced evil … he would be required to bear the burden like that of one who followed this ..."  Had his statements been only for the event he would have made the statements in plural form and would have used word/words to restrict the meaning to the event only. For example: “Those who today introduced ... after them ... they would be assured of reward like one who followed it …” This conclusively establishes Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) did not intend to limit the implications of his words to context but intended his statements be used for guiding tool for practices which aren’t his Sunnahs and are against his teachings.

2.1 - Natural Meaning Good Sunnah In Islam And Evil Sunnah In Islam:

Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) stated: “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 ... And he who introduced some evil practice 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) ..." [Ref: Muslim, B34, H6466] The Muslims believe these words can be interpreted in the context of event and variously but they’re about good and evil innovation. Hence every interpretation must accord with their natural meaning of good and evil innovation. And in light of this principle the above interpretations were presented of this Hadith in light of supporting evidences. Yet the nagging doubt would remain in the hearts/minds of those people who have been infected with heresy/disbelief. They should note; prophetic Sunnah is part of Islam and innovation is not part of Islam. The Hadith and many like it are telling of reward and blame for evil/good Sunnah not part of Islam yet. Hence the following words are about innovated good/evil Sunnahs yet to be made part of Islam: “He who introduced some good practice in Islam which was followed after him (by people)... And he who introduced some evil practice in Islam which had been followed subsequently (by others) ..." [Ref: Muslim, B34, H6466]

Conclusion:

RasoolAllah (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) gave two guiding principles for Muslims on the basis which we can make Ijtihadi innovations as part of Islam and expect reward from Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala). And be aware of responsibility of introducing evil innovation into Islam and the burden it comes with. Contextually Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) wanted to inform the companions about reward for one who initiated - himself - the act of giving Sadaqa to the poor and those who fallowed him in doing so. In context the evil Sunnah part of Hadith can be interpreted; Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) wanted to check the reluctance of companions to give charity before it developed into an evil Sunnah. It could contextually also be interpreted to mean that Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) was not inviting to engage in evil Sunnah (i.e. giving Sadaqa) because he is aware that the innitiator and actor are equally responsible for evil Sunnahs. And to let his followers know; no excuse on the day of judgment will be accepted by Allah (subhana wa ta'ala) if his followers were to invent and follow evil innovations. Finally the natural meaning of both statement is good/evil innovation because reward and blame being told is for those Sunnahs which are not yet part of Islam but the Muslims could make.

Wama alayna ilal balaghul mubeen.


Muhammed Ali Razavi

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