Category Archives: Established heritage of Islam

We may conclude that

grote-islamitische-bibliotheek

a large heritage of early Islam does exist, both in writing and in personal property of key figures and founding fathers. Much has been carefully preserved by the Ottomans and now by the Turkish state, but also in Uzbekistan, England, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and other places in Asia and Africa. Difference of opinion exists on the issue of the Prophet’s succession and on exegesis of his rulings. Therefor the different schools of thought show differences in practical fatawat on several issues, from performance of prayer to legislation on inheritance and divorce. However, unanimity prevails on key issues: the Prophet having existed at all, including the most important dates and actions, and the texts he had written down in the Book for the faithful: the Qur’an al Kerim. It is a remarkable given fact that this unanimity exists between thought schools that severely clash over other issues and this is the result of the reliable and credible way these words have been recorded. Many people have been heard and many have memorized the words identically. A question is: is the outside world willing to accept this heritage and acknowledge its historic value? For a long time this has been the case and the mainstream still does, but in recent times we have seen attempts to belittle this heritage, perhaps for political reasons. But clear proof that Islamic history is false has not yet been shown. By the way, it matters very little to the teachings of the religion what the outside world says or thinks.

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Ibadi ahadith

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Ibadi Islam is mainly found in Oman and also in some places of eastern African countries like Somalia, further in Algeria, Tunisia and Libya. Ibadism’s founding figures are Jabir ibn Zayd and Abu Ya’cub Yusuf bin Ibrahim al Warijlani. Their main hadith collection is Al Jami’i al Sahih, also called Musnad al Rabi ibn Habib. Many of these traditions were reported by Jabir ibn Zayd and Abu Ja’cub, however, the majority are reported Sunni ahadith. The second hadith collection is called Tartib al Musnad by Al Warijlani. Jabir ibn Zayd is seen as a reliable narrator by Sunni scholars too. Ibadism accepts the first two Caliphs Abu Bakr and ‘Umar ibn al Khattab, but critisizes ‘Uthman (introducing innovations and corruption) and ‘Ali (weak leadership). Jabir ibn Zayd was probably born in 18 of 21 AH (639 of 642 AD) in Oman, however, he grew up in Basra, where he met many of the Prophet’s companions. At young age he learned many Qur’anic verses and ahadith by heart, thanks to the large number of the Prophet’s companions he had come to know. This makes him one of the second generation transmitters of ahadith, the tabi’in. He was a frequent hajj-traveler, he is said to have performed it at least fourty times and frequented the Mesjid an Nebewi, where he gave lessons. He has met at least seventy Companions who had taken part in the Battle of Badr and knew ‘Aishah ra, the Prophet’s wife, well. He discussed with her some her political problems and her daily life with the Prophet at home. Besides ‘Aishah, Jabir ibn Zayd studied under a number of scholars who were among the Prophet’s companions, such as ‘Abdullah ibn Umar, ‘Abdullah ibn Massoud, and Anas ibn Malik. However, his most important teacher was ‘Abdullah ibn Abbas. The two became close friends with great respect for each other. It is reported that Ibn Abbas said: “If the people of Basrah would only listen to Jabir ibn Zayd, he would give them thorough knowledge of God’s book.” A man from Basrah called al-Rabie asked Ibn Abbas his views on a certain question. Ibn Abbas’s reply was: “Why ask me when you have Jabir ibn Zayd in your midst?” Among contemporaries, Jabir ibn Zayd was considered an important scholar of great merit and the leading Mufti in Basrah, issuing rulings on problems put to him. Wheather Jabir ibn Zayd indeed was the founder of a school of fiqh is a question under debate; Ibadi sources grant him this honor, Sunni sources, though recognizing and appreciating his great scholarschip and hadith knowledge, do not. Another important figure in the Ibadi movement is Abu Ubaydah Muslim ibn Abi Kareemah, student under Jabir ibn Zayd.

Ibadi Islam is the only school to survive and reach maturity since the Kharijite or Khawarij movement. The Kharijites were a party in the struggle over the issue of the Prophet’s succession which led to a civil war and the murder of Caliphs ‘Uthman and ‘Ali. Sunni Islam believes that the ummah may choose a leader and should follow him after that without rebellion, even if he should lack in piousness and rulership. Shi’a Islam believes in infallible leadership by the descendants of the Prophet. Kharijites believed that an unjust, unpious leader who deviates from the Prophet’s way is to be removed and that the caliph is not God’s representative on earth. The Kharijites succeeded in killing ‘Ali ra, but failed in murdering his competitor running for the Caliphate, Mu’awiya and his assistant Amr ibn al As. The movement also saw it as a religious duty to distance oneself from those Muslims who do not meet the demands of the religion and consider those people unbelievers, who even may be killed. For this reason, several modern ulema nickname radical groups practising takfir and killing innocent people as the new Kharijites. The high point of the Kharijites’ influence was in the years 690-730 around Basra in south Iraq, which was always a center of Sunni theology. Kharijite ideology was a popular creed for rebels against the officially Sunni Caliphate, inspiring breakaway states and rebellions (like Maysara’s) throughout the Maghrib and sometimes elsewhere.

Kharijite’s surviving school of thought, Ibadism, today maintains the view that there is no Godgiven infallible leadership that must be obeyed. The Prophet saws and the first two Caliphs in his succession, set the ideal for perfect rulership without human innovations the faithful have to aspire for, even today. Concerning the Hereafter, Ibadism thinks that it is not possible to escape Hell, where Sunni Islam thinks that believing sinners may leave it if their faith is sincere. Ibadism also thinks that Muslims will never be able to see Allah swt, nog even on Judgement Day, which Sunni Islam still holds possible, and reject any anthropomorphic descriptions and concepts of Him. Sunni Islam acknowledges all these items, however, Ibadi Islam always goes at least one step further. The modern Sultanate of Oman gave Ibadism a more or less secular, practical and modern role in the country’s rule. The present sultan dynasty Qaboos does not hold the title Imam; they first used the title Sayyid, an honorary title for any member of the royal family, and later Sultan, implying purely coercive power. They reject any pretense of spiritual authrity. The Omani sultans yet consider Ibadism as the state religion and protect Ibadi scholars and institutions, but keep them at distance from formal political power.

Sources:

uga.edu/islam/ibadis
islamfact.com
muslimheritage.com
wikipedia.org

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Shia ahadith

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‘Ali ra was, in Sunni tradition, to be the fourth and last of the righteous Caliphs. Shi’ite Islam, however, acknowledges twelve Imams and they are considered infallible, which implies that their words and traditions are considered part of religious law:

1. ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (600–661), also known as ‘Ali, Amir al-Mu’minin
2. Hasan ibn ‘Ali (625–669), also known as Hasan al-Mujtaba
3. Husayn ibn ‘Ali (626–680), also known as Husayn al-Shahid, also known as Sah Hüseyin
4. ‘Ali ibn Husayn (658–713), also known as ‘Ali Zayn al-Abidin
5. Muhammad ibn ‘Ali (676–743), also known as Muhammad al-Baqir
6. Jafar ibn Muhammad (703–765), also known as Jafar al-Sadiq
7. Musa ibn Jafar (745–799), also known as Musa al-Kazim
8. ‘Ali ibn Musa (765–818), also known as ‘Ali al-Raza
9. Muhammad ibn ‘Ali (810–835), also known as Muhammad al-Jawad (Muhammad at-Taqi), also known as Taki
10. ‘Ali ibn Muhamad (827–868), also known as ‘Ali al-Hadi, also known as Naki
11. Hasan ibn Ali (846–874), also known as Hasan al-Askari
12. Muhammad ibn Hasan (868- ), also known as al-Hujjat ibn al-Hasan, also known as Mahdi; believed to be hidden by Allah (Occultation).

Fatimah ra also Fatimah al-Zahraa daughter of Muhammed (615–632), in Shiism she is seen as infallible and as the leader of all women in Paradise.

‘Ali ra has been respectfully recorded by Sunni sources, but  Shi’ites also preserved his words and actions as another source of ahadith on ‘Ali, not all of which are accepted by Sunni community. The best known Shi’ite hadith collections are the four books and Nahj al Balagha.

The four books are:
1 Kitab al Kafi by Mohammad Ya’cub Kulayni (death 950 AD), again divided into Usul al Kafi, Furu al Kafi and Rawdat al Kafi.
2 Man la yahduruhu al Faqih by Sheikh Saduq
3 Tahdhib al Ahkam by Abu Ja’far al Tusi
4 Al Istibsar by Abu Ja’far al Tusi

Furu al Kafi is considered the most authoritative Shia hadith collection and concerns details of religious law. Usul al Kafi, by many scholars considered as weak or fabricated, concerns the principles of religion and Rawdat al Kafi concerns various religious aspects including some writings of the Imams. Sheikh Al Kulayni was born in the village of Kulayn near Tehran, but later moved to and worked in Baghdad as chief of the Shia scholars in jurisprudence during the ‘Abbasid Caliph Al Muqtadir. Sheikh Al Kulayni was a contemporary of the four successive special representatives and ambassadors of the legendary hidden twelfth Imam Muhammad ibn Hasan. His year of death is debated to be 940 or 941 AD. Sunni scholar Ibn Hajar has written appreciative words on this prominent Shi’ite scholar and he is considered one of the main and most trusted experts on ahadith in the Shi’ite community.

Man la yahduruhu al Faqih is a hadith collection compiled by the famous Iranian Shia hadith scholar Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn Babawaih al Qummi, better known as Ibn Babawaih or Al Sheikh al Saduq. Abu Ja’far, Al Sheikh al Saduq, lived in what was considered the golden age of Shia Islam, 703-765 AD, and worked mainly in his own country Iran, where he was considered one of the main and most trusted scholars, by Sunni as well as Shia Muslims, in the city of Qom, Iran’s main centre for Islamic studies. Abu Ja’far is believed to be the sixth infallible Imam of Shi’ite Islam. His succession led to a schism in Shia Islam: Abu Ja’far is the last Imam to be both recognized by Twelver and Ismaili Shi’tes. Abu Ja’far was more than a theologian; he was a polymath with vast knowledge on astronomy, physics, medical and other natural sciences. Abu Ja’far has been recorded as teacher of Sunnite Hanafy Maddhab’s founder Abu Hanifa.

Tahdhib al Ahkam (‘The Refinement of the Laws in Terms of the Explanation of the Sufficiency’) is written by the founder of the religious seminary in Najaf, Abu Ja’far al Tusi (d. 1067 AD), the city where caliph ‘Ali was killed, city that had become a pilgrim centre for Shi’ite Islam and grew to bed the leading centre, even today, of Shi’ite scholarship since Abu Ja’far al Tusi’s arrival. Abu Ja’far al Tusi had to leave Baghdad for Najaf after religious turmoil and violence which was also focused against his person and possessions. Many Sunni and Shia ‘ulema’ were killed or had to leave Baghdad in a climate increasingly hostile towards Shi’ites. Al Tusi’s work concerns practical regulations for carrying out the shariah considering the great differences that had arisen in Shia traditions; it deals with topics as ritual cleansing for salat, hunting and ritual slaughter, marriage and divorce or manumission of slaves. Sheikh Al Tusi died in Najaf and his grave is even today a much frequented place of visit.

The fourth main book of Shia ahadith is Al-Istibsar, also written by Sheikh Al Tusi, and is a more popular summary of the main issues of jurisprudence for beginners and a reminder.

Nahj al Balagha
The perhaps most famous collection of Shia traditions is Nahj al Balagha (Peak of Eloquence), the words, sermons and letters by the first Shi’ite Imam, ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, the Prophet’s son in law and nephew. The collection was written down by Al Sharif al Radi in the 10th century. Sheikh Al Radi is a said to be a direct descendant of the infallible Shi’ite Imams and thus of the Prophet. The Shia don’t include this work in their Hadith books. Most Sunni scholars do not regard the book as an authentic work; prominent scholars as Ibn Taymiyyah and Yusuf an Nabhani warned Sunnis against this work because of its hostile tone towards the companions of the Prophet saws.

For a better understanding of Islamic early history and therefore its legitimacy it is impossible to ignore those schools of thought that rose in an early stage. Added to that the fact that at the highest academic level scholars of the different schools of thought did communicate and even followed each other’s classes. A third group that needs discussing now is the Ibadi movement, one of the earliest schools, descending from the among the Islamic mainstream seen as notorious, group of Kharijites or Khawarij.

Sources: al-islam.org, al-shia.com, wikipedia.org

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The Hadith of Ghadir Khumm

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In 632 AD Mekka had been conquered by the Muslims and the Prophet saws then made his last religious pilgrimage to Mekka, a few months only before his death. This pilgrimage came to be known as the Farewell Pilgrimage. During the pilgrimage atop Mount Arafat the Prophet addressed the Muslim masses, some 100,000 people, in what came to be known as the Farewell Sermon, an important sermon in Islamic tradition. After completion of the Hajj, the Prophet returned to his home in Medina and on March 10 632 AD he made a stop at the pond of Khumm, Ghadir Khumm, a desert oasis just outside the city of Al-Juhfah, halfway Mecca and Medina. This incident led to the main controversy and schism within Islam: the Sunni and Shia schools of thought. When the group had reached the oasis, according to Shia sources, Qor’anic verse 5:67 was revealed:

“O Messenger (Prophet), deliver to the people what has been revealed to you from your Lord and if you do not do so then you will not have delivered His message and Allah will protect you from the people. For God does not guide those who reject Faith.”

According to mainly Shia sources, the Prophet addressed his fellow travelers and praised his son in law and nephew Ali ibn Abi Talib (raa); these words have not been generally accepted by Sunni and Shia Muslims:

‘It seems the time approached when I shall be called away (by Allah) and I shall answer that call. I am leaving for you two precious things and if you adhere to them both,  you will never go astray after me. They are the Book of Allah and my Progeny, that is my Ahlul Bayt. The two shall never separate from each other until they come to me by the Pool (of Paradise). Then the Messenger of Allah continued:

“Do I not have more right over the believers than what they have over themselves?”

People cried and answered:

“Yes, O’ Messenger of God.”

Then followed the key sentence denoting the clear designation of ‘Ali as the leader of the Muslim ummah.  The Prophet [s] held up the hand of ‘Ali and said:

Whomsoever’s mawla I am, this Ali is also his mawla. O Allah, befriend whosoever befriends him and be the enemy of whosoever is hostile to him.’

Immediately after the Prophet [s] finished his speech, the following verse of the Qur’an was revealed:

“Today I have perfected your religion and completed my favour upon you, and I was satisfied that Islam be your religion.” (Qur’an 5:3)

Firstly, the hadith of Ali being mawla after the Prophet saws, cannot be found in the most authoritative hadith collections: those of imams Al Bukari. One can be found in Sahih Muslim ahadith, but it may be a bit far fetched, still, to proclaim that the Prophet indeed appointed his son in law to be his successor. It appears rather that the ummah was given a protective role towards the Prophet’s family than an obedient one. Further, some other Sunni sources regard it as possible that the Prophet spoke these words about ‘Ali ra, but that they have been wrongly interpreted by Shiite Muslims. These are the ahadith in question in Muslim’s collection:

Book 031, Number 5920:

Yazid b. Hayyan reported, I went along with Husain b. Sabra and ‘Umar b. Muslim to Zaid b. Arqam and, as we sat by his side, Husain said to him: Zaid. you have been able to acquire a great virtue that you saw Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) listened to his talk, fought by his side in (different) battles, offered prayer behind me. Zaid, you have in fact earned a great virtue. Zaid, narrate to us what you heard from Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him). He said: I have grown old and have almost spent my age and I have forgotten some of the things which I remembered in connection with Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him), so accept whatever I narrate to you, and which I do not narrate do not compel me to do that. He then said: One day Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) stood up to deliver sermon at a watering place known as Khumm situated between Mecca and Medina. He praised Allah, extolled Him and delivered the sermon and. exhorted (us) and said: Now to our purpose. O people, I am a human being. I am about to receive a messenger (the angel of death) from my Lord and I, in response to Allah’s call, (would bid good-bye to you), but I am leaving among you two weighty things: the one being the Book of Allah in which there is right guidance and light, so hold fast to the Book of Allah and adhere to it. He exhorted (us) (to hold fast) to the Book of Allah and then said: The second are the members of my household I remind you (of your duties) to the members of my family. He (Husain) said to Zaid: Who are the members of his household? Aren’t his wives the members of his family? Thereupon he said: His wives are the members of his family (but here) the members of his family are those for whom acceptance of Zakat is forbidden. And he said: Who are they? Thereupon he said: ‘Ali and the offspring of ‘Ali, ‘Aqil and the offspring of ‘Aqil and the offspring of Ja’far and the offspring of ‘Abbas. Husain said: These are those for whom the acceptance of Zakat is forbidden. Zaid said: Yes.

Book 031, Number 5923:

Yazid b. Hayyan reported: We went to him (Zaid b. Arqam) and said to him. You have found goodness (for you had the honour) to live in the company of Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) and offered prayer behind him, and the rest of the hadith is the same but with this variation of wording that lie said: Behold, for I am leaving amongst you two weighty things, one of which is the Book of Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, and that is the rope of Allah. He who holds it fast would be on right guidance and he who abandons it would be in error, and in this (hadith) these words are also found: We said: Who are amongst the members of the household? Aren’t the wives (of the Holy Prophet) included amongst the members of his house hold? Thereupon he said: No, by Allah, a woman lives with a man (as his wife) for a certain period; he then divorces her and she goes back to her parents and to her people; the members of his household include his ownself and his kith and kin (who are related to him by blood) and for him the acceptance of Zakat is prohibited.

Sahih Bukhari gives a different account of the events at Ghadir Khumm:

Volume 5 Book 59 Number 637

Narrated Buraida:
The Prophet sent ‘Ali to Khalid to bring the Khumus (of the booty) and I hated Ali, and ‘Ali had taken a bath (after a sexual act with a slave-girl from the Khumus). I said to Khalid, “Don’t you see this (i.e. Ali)?” When we reached the Prophet I mentioned that to him. He said, “O Buraida! Do you hate Ali?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “Do you hate him, for he deserves more than that from the Khumus.”

A conflict had arisen between ‘Ali and his soldiers during an expedition to Yemen concerning the distribution of war booty (among which cloths, gold and female slaves) and the Prophet settled the dispute apparently at Lake Khumm after completing the Farewell Pilgrimage.

Secondly Verse 5:3 was revealed on Mount Arafat at the end of the Farewell Sermon, according Sunni tradition, which is also stated in Al Bhukhari’s ahadith in Volume 5 Book 59 Number 689. http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/fundamentals/hadithsunnah/bukhari/059.sbt.html These apparently misunderstood words led to the most important and perhaps only schism in Islam: the controversy that led to the rise of the Sunni and Shi’a schools of fiqh. The controversy mainly concerns the explanation of the word mawla. This word has several meanings: master, lord, owner, benefactor, helper, beloved one, ally, cousin, friend, brother in law, but also slave or servant. Shia scholars emphasize the meaning lord, master or helper and claim that the Prophet announced his succession on this occasion; Sunni Islam denies this emphasis. Sunni Islam says that it is a premature and hasty conclusion that the Prophet indeed appointed his son in law to be his successor. Bukhari’s following ahadith deny that the Prophet saws appointed his son in law to be his immediate successor:

Volume 1, Book 11, Number 649:

Narrated Anas:

The Prophet did not come out for three days. The people stood for the prayer and Abu Bakr went ahead to lead the prayer. (In the meantime) the Prophet caught hold of the curtain and lifted it. When the face of the Prophet appeared we had never seen a scene more pleasing than the face of the Prophet as it appeared then. The Prophet beckoned to Abu Bakr to lead the people in the prayer and then let the curtain fall. We did not see him (again) till he died.

Apparently another person than ‘Ali was allowed to lead the religious community. Nor had the Prophet indeed appointed a successor of caliph, not even according to his son in law’s own words:

Volume 5, Book 59, Number 728:

Narrated ‘Abdullah bin Abbas:

‘Ali bin Abu Talib came out of the house of Allah’s Apostle during his fatal illness. The people asked, “O Abu Hasan (i.e. Ali)! How is the health of Allah’s Apostle this morning?” ‘Ali replied, “He has recovered with the Grace of Allah.” ‘Abbas bin ‘Abdul Muttalib held him by the hand and said to him, “In three days you, by Allah, will be ruled (by somebody else ), And by Allah, I feel that Allah’s Apostle will die from this ailment of his, for I know how the faces of the offspring of ‘Abdul Muttalib look at the time of their death. So let us go to Allah’s Apostle and ask him who will take over the Caliphate. If it is given to us we will know as to it, and if it is given to somebody else, we will inform him so that he may tell the new ruler to take care of us.” ‘Ali said, “By Allah, if we asked Allah’s Apostle for it (i.e. the Caliphate) and he denied it us, the people will never give it to us after that. And by Allah, I will not ask Allah’s Apostle for it.”

A third objection against the Shia version of this Hadith of Ghadir Khumm maybe that it seems very unlikely, even according Shia narration that the Prophet would postpone an announcement as important as his succession until after Hajj on his way home, when the pilgrims had already left the Haramayn and split up on their seperate ways home and only a small group was left.

Fourthly, the word ‘mawla’ can be found in numerous Qur’anic verses, but never directly stating ‘Ali ra successor of the Prophet saws. It tells about different people and situations and never do we find any direct reference to ‘Ali raa being the Prophet’s successor. The Qur’an simply doesn’t say that ‘Ali is Prophet Muhammad’s successor. Some verses that Shi’ite Muslims like to quote as guidance are for example these:

You will find friends only in God and His Apostle and in the believers (5: 55)

And say those who disbelieve: “why hath not a sign been sent down unto him (Muhammad)”; Verily thou art a warner and for every people there is a guide” Quran (13:7)

Shia sources acknowledge that Verse 5:55 does not clearly state ‘Ali to be the Prophet’s successor and say that this uncertainty led to the event at Ghadir Khumm. Verse 13:7 is one of the Verses that are mentioned in connection with the doctrine that Allah swt had appointed the Prophet’s progeny with a leading position, however, the Verse discusses leader figures asssigned by Allah swt in general and for every people, without stating names. The Shi’ite claim is therefore not worthless, but it is not proved either.

The misunderstanding concerning Ali’s position led to controversy and also conflict between ‘Ali and his supporters on the one hand and Abu Bakr and ‘Umar ibn al Khattab, both the Prophet’s fathers in law and first two caliphs after his death. ‘Ali, however, later accepted their caliphate. ‘Ali had not much support from the umma for any rivalry claim to the first caliphate, however, the conflict didn’t concern only succession but mostly the Prophet’s inheritance too. ‘Ali’s position in the ummah, however, remained somewhat isolated, but this may be due to his withdrawn lifestyle.

‘Ali ra’s position is the first main issue of controversy within the Islamic community. The second controversy is about the caliphate in general. Sunni Islam believes in twelve caliphs after the Prophet’s death, who will all be members of the Arabian tribe of Quraish. This is mentioned in Bukhari’s ahadith: Volume 9 Book 89 Number 306 and 329.

Shia Islam has at least three different views: the Shia mainstream believes in twelve Imams, the two other schools believe in respectively seven and three Imams. However, Shi’ites believe unanimously that the Prophet’s progeny through his daughter and son in law Fatima and ‘Ali bring forth the Imams.

In conclusion I would say that Shi’ite teachings cannot sufficiently prove the claim that the Prophet’s progeny has a role as successors, added to this that Qur’anic Verse 33:40 clearly states that Prophetic revelation ends with Muhammad saws:

‘Not is Muhammad the father of any of your men but he is Allah’s Messenger and the seal of the Prophets. Allah is All-Knowing on all things’.

Yet Shi’ite Islam, that entered a separate development after the Prophet’s death, was in a convincing way able to confirm the rise of a new religious community, thanks to the revelations received by Muhammad. There are more schools of thinking in Islam that recorded his life and works in a way that shows some characteristic differences, yet they largely confirm one and other: a man named Muhammad brought new religious teachings to Arabia and the world in the years 620 -632 AD.

Sources: Wikipedia.org, Ahlelbayt.com, al-islam.org, USC-MSA Compendium of Muslim Texts University of Southern California

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Renowned Sunni scholars in Islamic legal history

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The life, sayings and actions of Prophet Muhammad pbuh, altogether referred to as the Sunna, have been recorded in so-called ahadith. Sunni Islam acknowledges six major collections of ahadith, recorded by six scholars. The among Muslims most trusted scholar on prophetic traditions is Muhammad ibn Ismail al Bukhari (810-870). Imam Bukhari belonged to the Shafi’i School and relied on its methodologies, this is recorded by Ibn Hajar. Bukhari traveled widely throughout the Abbasid empire, collecting trafitions. He is believed to have finished his work in 846, after sixteen years of writing and collecting those traditions he trusted. It is recounted that Bukhari collected over 300,000 ahadith and transmitted only 2,602 traditions he believed to be Sahih (trustworthy). Bukhari recorded of every hadith its source: the transmitting narrators and its chain of transmittors from the Prophet. Notable hadith scholars of Imam Bukhari’s time, such as Ahmad ibn Hanbal (died in 855), Ibn Maín (died in 847) and Ibn Madini (died in 848) all accepted the authenticity of Bukhari’s work. One of Imam Bukhari’s trusted students, Al Firabri, is quoted by Khatib al Baghdadi, author of ‘History of Baghdad’, saying: ‘There were about seventy thousand people who have heard Sahih Bukhari with me’. This saying refers to the period of Bukhari intensively travelling the last twenty-four years of his life, visiting cities and scholars, teaching the ahadith he had collected. He is said to have recited traditions in the main mosque of every city he visited. Other transmitters of Sahih al Bukhari than Al Firabri are Ibn Hajar Asqalani, author of ‘Fath al Bari’ and ‘Nukat”; Ibrahim ibn Ma’qal (d. 907), Hammad ibn Shaker (d. 923), Mansur Burduzi (d. 931) and Husain Mahamili (d. 941).

The second most respected collector is one of Imam Bukhari’s contemporaries: Muslim ibn al Hajjaj (817-874). Imam Muslim was also an extensive traveller through countries such as Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Egypt to gather ahadith. Out of 300,000 ahadith he extracted approximately 4,000. Each report in his collection was checked for compatibility with the Qur’an and the veracity of the chain of reporters had to be painstakingly established.

However, earlier the first main attempts towards more systematic religious law, Fiqh, had been made. In Sunni Islam, four names are connected to the beginning of Islamic Jurisprudence: the imams Malik, Shafi’i, Hanafi and Hanbali. From the work of each of these men, a ‘school of Fiqh’ has grown: the Maliki, Hanafi, Shafi’i and Hanbali jurisprudence. ‘School’ meaning here propositions for legal exegesis of Qur’anic and Prophetic sayings in such a way that they can be brought into practice by rulers and courts. These schools of Islamic law have gained important formal status in the law of most Islamic countries and most Muslims have referred themselves as belonging to one of these schools. Imam Malik ibn Anas ibn Malik ibn Amer al-Asbahee(714-796) was the author of a small but highly regarded collection of ahadith, known as Al Muwatta (‘The Approved’). Imam Malik’s ruling against coerced divorce got him into a serious and ugly conflict with caliph Abu Ja’far al Mansur, however, the governor of Medina protected Imam Malik against further harassment by the (self appointed!) caliph.

The oldest and also largest school of law as regards its number of followers is the Hanafy school, named after its founder, Abu Hanifa an Nu’man ibn Thabit (699-767). The Hanafy school is known for its relative liberalism and its inclination towards independance for the individual’s conscience, but this may be a matter of perception. Imam Muhammad ibn Idris ash Shafi’i (767-820) is spiritual father of the Shafi’i school of law and author many books, best known of which ‘Al Risala’, ‘Kitab al Umm’ and ahadith named ‘Musnad Ash Shafi’i and he was the developer of a school of law in Baghdad. Not much is known of his life; he worked in government service and spent the last five years of his life in Egypt, where he died. Sultan Saladin built a madrassa on the site of his death. Sheikh Nuh Ha Mim Keller translated his works ‘Umdat as Salik’ (Reliance of the Traveler) and Al Maqasid into English. The Shafi’i school of law is the second largest in terms of numbers of followers. Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal (d. 855) was the spiritual father of the Hanbali School of thought, the smallest maddhab in Sunni Islam. The school was started by Bin Hanbal’s students, even though Imam Ahmad detested that his opinions be written and compiled, fearing they might swerve his students from studying Qur’an and Sunnah. Imams Shafi’i and Hanbali both studied under imam Malik and imam Hanafy’s students; imam Malik was one of imam Hanafy’s students.

Roughly speaking, we find the Maliki Maddhab traditionally in NorthWest Africa, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait; the Hanafy Maddhab in Northern Egypt, the Balkans, Turkey, and the entire Middle East and Far East Asian areas of the Islamic world. The Hanbalis have their territory on the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen excepted, and the Shafi’i in Sudan, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Somalia, Southern India and Indonesia.

However, during the last centuries, their importance has waned under the influence of a new current in Islam: the return to Qur’an and ahadith as only infallible source of law. This rejection of jurisprudence by the maddhahib was probably started by the prominent theologian Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al Wahhab in the eighteenth century. ‘Abd al Wahhab strongly opposed the practice of Taqlid under Maddhahib authority: accepting and following interpretations and verdicts of scholars of fiqh without knowing and asking the evidence, considering also that Qur’an al Kerim refers people back to the Book and the Prophet in case of religious conflicts. Modern supporters of sheikh ‘Abd al Wahhab are sheikh Bin Baaz and sheikh Uthaymeen of Saudi Arabia, sheikh Albani of Albania and sheikh Muqbil of Yemen. The result is that many countries nowadays don’t strictly adhere to only one school of law anymore, though this phenomenon is also caused by other influences, among whom former colonial occupants.

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Have any deviant Qur’anic texts existed?

portalunescoorg-yemen

Christianity in the West held it’s breath when in 1972 a manuscript of Qur’an al Kerim was found in Yemen, Sana’a’s main mosque. German scholars Gerhard Puin and H.C. Graf von Bothmer, working for Saarland University, Universität des Saarlandes, were assigned to cleanse and conserve the paper. Would at last a deviant copy of Islam’s Holy Book have been found, the book that is forbidden to question according to orthodoxy, so many Westerners say?

For decades both men did their job as low key as possible with the aid of several other experts and only in 1999 Gerhard Puin first displayed some openness on the contends of the texts found via magazine The Atlantic.com. However, Mr Puin doesn’t go beyond minor textual variations, different spelling and text categorization: ‘some of these fragments revealed small but intriguing aberrations from the standard Koranic text. Such aberrations, though not surprising to textual historians, are troublingly at odds with the orthodox Muslim belief that the Koran as it has reached us today is quite simply the perfect, timeless, and unchanging Word of God’. No differences, however, that would keep a Muslim awake at night; The Atlantic.com has presented the differences more important than they truly are, which Gerhard Puin admitted too. Unesco apparently sells a cd of this Yemenite manuscript.

By the way, Yemeni history has known a ‘false prophet’ in the era when Islam reach Yemen, a certain Al Aswad al ‘Anzi. He claimed to have received a revelation, but he was discarded by Yemenite Muslims. As far as we know no truly deviant qur’anic texts have been found and it seems unlikely that this will happen. Nevertheless, one must keep an open mind to anything at all.

What is the Koran? the Atlantic.com

Yemen The Sana’a Manuscripts, Unesco.org

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More surprising and weird statements from Westerners on Islam

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‘The four rightly guided caliphs were no Muslims, they were Christians’

Trouw-columnist Eildert Mulder continues his saga and now uses a few coins, a copy of which displays Muawiyya with John the Baptist’s head in his hand, says German Islam-expert Volker Popp. Online publishing office of the German Saarland University, Universität des Saarlandes, displays impressive and well-known names, like professor Karl-Heinz Ohlig, but also Christoph Luxenberg has a publication, it’s name is Der Koran zum ‘islamischen Kopftuch’. Firstly Volker Popp says that the coin ‘definitely’ must date from the era of the four righteous caliphs, the period 632 – 661 AD. ‘Ali ra’s caliphate indeed was contested by Abu Sufyan’s son Muawiyya, who resided in Damascus. Muawiyya may have had his own coin, however, how likely is it that he allowed himself to be immortalized with John the Baptist’s head? Would a Christian monarch be portrayed with the head of a man as important to Christianity as John the Baptist in his hand? Volker Popp must admit that the head in the man’s left hand, a ruler figure with a lance ‘might as well be an censer’. Thus the object is described in art catalogues too. The coin’s backside shows a letter M with a cross. This could, says Popp, refer to its value, a thousand talents, which could make it a Roman coin. However, the letter could also mean something else, like ‘Muawiyya’, perhaps even ‘Muhammad’. The letters DAM are mentioned on it, which must imply that the coin has been struck in Damascus, however, Popp denies the Romans had their coining production there. Thus the suggestion is made that Muawiyya very well might have been a Christian Roman ruler and not ‘Ali’s Saudi rival. Question remains whether the coin may at all be Muawiyya’s product. The exegesis by both Volker Popp and Eildert Mulder is highly speculative and is by no means supported by other evidence or findings. The coin may very well represent nothing more or less than a ruler figure with a censer and it’s financial value.

On the same website Luxenberg claims in his article ‘Der Koran zum ‘Islamischen Kopftuch’ that Qur’anic verse 24:31, which says that women should cast veils over their bosoms, in Aramaic truly means that women should cast a belt over their loin’. A belt around their waist. Also in Christianity the belt is a signaficant symbol of chastity for not only women but monks too. Also would appear from hadith 318 Book 60 Volume 6 by Sahih Buchari that the woman used to wear a cloth around the waist covering the hips:

Volume 6, Book 60, Number 282:

Narrated Safiya bint Shaiba:

‘Aisha used to say: “When (the Verse): “They should draw their veils over their necks and bosoms,” was revealed, (the ladies) cut their waist sheets at the edges and covered their faces with the cut pieces.”

To cut it short, Luxenberg thinks we should stop making things difficult and read the Qur’an the Aramaic way. It’s not necessary to consider the new Islamic duties mentioned in this hadith, in his eyes.

All these efforts by Christians and other Westerners to re-write Islamic history indicate a non-acceptance of religiously-inspired records of history. For them it is decided that such scriptures are fabricated myths, fairy-tales, and miscellaneous gathered facts and narratives that may be fine sources for inspirational purposes, so-called allegories or deeper truths. Incessant efforts are made to parallel Islam with Judaism and Christianity. The big difference, however, is that especially Christianity has a much less reliable historic record, as Romans, the popes and other rulers destroyed much of its inheritance and furthermore, Jewish history took a much longer time span. It is true that the Bible holds the same narratives of the same events, but then we see that names, dates and events do not quite match. Judaism and Christianity therefore had to rely a lot more than is the case for Islam on interpretation by scholars from later eras. Islam has a much clearer defined area of study with Qur’an and ahadith. One must acknowledge that Islam has a different origine than Judaism and Christianity and above all, among different people. Thus at an early stage one single qur’an could be recorded and memorized, which is still used by the entire Islamic umma without modifications. Something similar goes for the recording of ahadith, however, it must be admitted that part of them was written down immediately, but part of the most authoritative ahadith was for a fact recorded from many oral sources only two centuries later. This happened though in a way that they indeed can be used for historic reference. They may not each and everyone of them be infallible, but we can safely conclude that the memorized events truly took place. If we then may conclude that the Prophet pbuh indeed received Divine Revelations, is even with the ahadith at hand impossible to prove, because not often clearly supernatural events in the sense of spectacular ‘miracles’ like walking on a water surface, apparitions of angels or Allah swt showing Himself took place. This aspect of it all definitely is a question of faith. Westerners try to ascribe epilepsy or other illnesses to the Prophet; he underwent ‘a seizure’ at the moment he received a new Revelation. Islam, however, sees creation and the Scripture as miracle enough and has no need for stunts.

Sources:

Der Koran zum ‘Islamischen Kopftuch’ Christoph Luxenberg

Bildische Darstellingen aus der Frühzeit des Islam Volker Popp

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