Is there any Agreement on the Collection and Praxis of the Sunnah (Ahadiths)? Part 2
”Mega-Confusion on the Sunnah and the Qur’an”
Continues from Part I
Monday, 4 May 2009
No Agreement On The Qur’an? - "The Controversy Over Abrogation"?
The problem of ‘exactly’ how many ayas in the Qur’an are abrogated by other ayas is a topic of great disagreement between the scholars of Islam.
In terms of Islam’s claim to be ‘Allah’s eternal witness to mankind’ this means that there can be no ‘witness’ here either. In this case, although it is has been believed that the content of the Qur’an is ‘the Words of Allah’, yet the followers of Islam are divided as to what has, or has not, been altered by another ‘revelation’ - in the same text!
This is the very text which has been held aloft and declared not only to be the bastion of ‘Divine Protection and Perfection’, but whose ‘guidance’ is ‘complete’ and easily perceived! Since it is this same Qur’an which is held up as the ‘foundation’ of the Shar`iah, it is not surprising to find that the rest of Islam’s sources are also unknowable.
A number of citations from an article by A. Rippin on Naskh follow:
- "Although the companions of Muhammad are reported to have discussed naskh, and even to have disagreed over the abrogation of a particular verse, references to the generation of the companions in the naskh literature are relatively infrequent. [[N.B. - Footnote 9 states: But see Ibn Salama, al-Nasikh wa ‘l-mansukh (Cairo 1315/1899), 142-3, where `Ali and Ibn ‘Abbas disagree over the abrogation of Q4/94; `Ali maintained that the verse was abrogated by Q4/115 and 4/48, while Ibn ‘Abbas held that it remained muhkama."]] (p. 117)
- "In classical texts on abrogation we frequently encounter references to disagreements among tabi’is over the status of a particular verse. For example, although the majority of scholars consider Q2/62 to have been abrogated by Q3/85, Mujahid ibn Jabr (d. 101/722) and al-Dahhak ibn Muzahim (d 105/723) considered the verse to be muhkama." (p. 119)
- "The number of verses that are considered to have been abrogated increased dramatically between the eighth and eleventh centuries (al-Zuhri mentions 42 abrogated verses, al-Nahhas 138, and Ibn Salama, 238), at which point an upper limit seems to have been reached (Ibn ‘Ata’iqi identifies 231 abrogated verses, and al-Farsi, 248). (p.122)
- "al-Suyuti (d. 911/1505) recognised only twenty  instances of true abrogation and Shah Wali Allah (d 1762) reduced that number to five .[N.B. - Footnote 26 states: "these figures are mentioned in Ernest Hahn, ‘Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan’s The Controversy over Abrogation (in the Qur’an): An Annotated Translation, MW64 (1974), 124.]. Ibn al-’Ata’iqi, on the other hand, while citing 231 instances of abrogation, appendixes the phrase wa fihi nazar, indicating doubt or uncertainty to his discussion of twenty-six  verses."
With such wide variations in understanding one must wonder how Muslim scholars can declare, like Ibn Salama, that ‘science of abrogation and abrogated verse’ is, in the investigation of the Qur’an, the starting point! Furthermore he states that one is ‘deficient’ (naqis) who, before mastering the doctrine of abrogation engages in a true (scientific) study of the Qur’an. [see Ibn Salama p 4-5] (p. 123)
- "Anas ibn Malik (d. C. 92/710) for example, related that during the lifetime of Muhammad the believers used to recite a sura equal in length to sura 9 (‘Repentance’), but that he could only remember one verse from this sura, namely, If the son of Adam had two valleys made of silver...’"[[N.B. - Footnote 34 states: "Ibn al-’Ata’iqi, p. 23; cf. Ibn Salama, pp 10ff"]] (p. 125)
- "There is also considerable disagreement over the scope of abrogation within the Qur’an itself. At one extreme, there were apparently certain people who argued that ‘the Qur’an does not contain either an abrogated or an abrogating verse’. [[N.B. - Footnote 38 states: "Ibn Salama, p. 26; cf. Al-Nahhas, pp 2-3"]], these people, according to Ibn Salama, ‘have deviated from the truth and by virtue of their lying, have turned away from God’. [[N.B.- Footnote 39 reads "Ibn Salama, p. 26]]. At the other extreme were those scholars who maintained that any narrative, positive command, or prohibition in the Qur’an may be abrogated." [[N.B. - Footnote 40 states: "Al-Nahhas, pp. 2-3"]] (p. 126)
The fact is that it shows, further to everything else we have observed, that Islam has no ‘certain knowledge’ about what it claims is ‘the Final Eternal Revelation’, let alone certainty concerning what it asserts is its ‘foundation’ for the Shari’ah.
Thus the Sunnah has failed to transmit clearly what is required to even sort out the abrogations of the Qur’an by the Qur’an.
Every Ayah...Must Be Altered In Meaning. The Same Is For Every Hadith"?
This same problem of disagreement over the Qur’an shows itself among the Madhabs in other statements. This is evident in that from the la-Madhabis we find not only an ‘apparent’ rejection of the concept of Taqleed 2 but also through their citing of an an example which indicates that "the way leading to Paradise", as according to the 4 remaining Madhabs, is an uncertain way:
"The majority of speakers and writers of today, as in centuries before them, have a very strange attitude. They claim that they are not able to refer to the Qur’an and the Sunnah to understand the religion. They also claim that they must refer to Taqleed of Imams. However, they do not accept if one calls them ignorant, as their own scholars called followers of Taqleed. These people of Taqleed, shun some sayings of their own Imams in many basics that the Imams established. They introduced rules of their own. Since they claim to refer to Taqleed, then how can they introduce new rules and regulations? These rules are in disagreement with texts of the Qur’an and Sunnah. They invented these rules in order to justify their imposing Taqleed of Imams in various matters of the religion, although the Imams commanded to the contrary. These people of Taqleed claim that: "The real Mujtahid does not exist anymore!" They repeat the saying that Ijtihad has been closed since the fourth century of Islam, as ibn Abdin said in his Hashiah. Therefore, they prevented Muslims from seeking knowledge in the Qur’an and the Sunnah. They required Taqleed, of any of the four Imams, from Muslims. One of them said in his book Al-Jawharah: "A necessity is Taqleed of a scholar of among them (the four Imams). This is what they (his ancestors who followed Taqleed) said in clear terms!" They also claimed that knowledge of Hadith and Fiqh had gone bad and burned! [Ad-Dur Al-Muktar]. They confirmed the above and strengthened it, when Abu Al-Hasan Al-Karkhi said: "Every Ayah, which is in disagreement with what our people say (followers of the Hanafi Mathhab) is either under Naskh (overruled) or must be altered in meaning (to satisfy what Hanafis say). The same is for every Hadith (in opposition to what Hanafis say), it is either under Nask or must be altered!!" This is why if one produces any evidence depending on an Ayah or a Hadith, they refuse the evidence without hesitation! They do not even think of what the Ayah or Hadith means...they usually say: "Are you more knowledgeable than the Mathhab?" (Hadith is Proof, al-Albani, p.97f)
This is the condition Islam finds itself in because it has accepted as a ‘revelation’ something which has ‘the Words of Allah’ separate from everything else and the diverse perspectives of evaluating the evidence has required the 'ijtihad of Mujtahids. The average man CANNOT go to the ‘sources himself and figure out the religion!! The whole thing is so complex as to leave him in despair!! What they arrived at admitted to be "the best transmitted and most reliable" of all the 'ijtihads, being what remains after most of the error has been removed by later generations! Since the Hanafites constitute the greatest number in Islam and they say everyone should do as they assert, one can understand how the others feel infringed upon.
But, what has been established in this case is definitely not something which can be called ‘divine law’. Rather it is evidence that "the best transmitted and most reliable" 'ijtihads have been decreed to be ‘divine law’ by the Ulema (theologians).
It seems obvious that in order to allow the Hanafites to ‘enforce’ this as ‘Divine Law’ as well as allow the other Madhabs to do the same with their 'ijtihads, ‘Taqleed of juristic rulings’ had also to be given a place as part of ‘divine law’. As it was stated, "According to the divine law of Islam, Taqleed is the acceptance of a statement or juristic ruling of an Imam" [without necessarily examining the scriptural basis or reasoning of that decision]. This is the only way that the religion of Islam could encompass such diverse approaches to the Qur’an and Sunnah and still convince itself it was ‘unified’ and not ‘divided’.
With the aforementioned Hanafi declaration in mind, one cannot agree with Murad that:
"Indeed, in essentials they hardly have any
differences. Divergences occur in the way that two courts, attempting to
interpret the same law, may arrive at different conclusions." (
Nor can one agree with the claim that the Madhabs did not "explain away the meaning" unless it was necessary, for it seems that each group has done this very thing in order to implement their rules:
"The scholars of the Ahl as-Sunnah took the nass 3 (Qur’an and Sunnah) with their outward meanings. That is, they gave the ayats and Hadiths their outward meanings, and did not explain away (ta`wil) the nass or change these meanings unless there was a darura (necessity) to do so. And, they never made any changes with their personal knowledge or opinions. But those who belonged to heretical groups and the la-Madhhabi (those who do not belong to one of the four Madhhabs) did not hesitate to change the teachings of Iman and ibadat (worship) as they learned from the books of the Greek philosophers and from sham scientists, who were Islam’s adversaries." (Al-Albani Unveiled, ibn Muhammad, p. 124)
Surely this is simply a sinking ship trying to stay afloat. It is obvious that everyone is accusing each other of deviating from the ‘perfectly revealed religion’ - something not one of them can show they possess through ‘Proof’.
Surely this is ‘ confusion’, not a ‘revealed religion’.
"The Evidence Of The Qur’an And Sunnah Are In Opposition To One Another"
We must note the truth which the following Salafiyyah statement acknowledges - they cannot all be correct:
"Ibn Al-Qayyim also said: "We do not claim that Allah obligated all His creation to know the evidence to the truth in every matter of the religion, major or minor. What we reject is the same that was rejected by the Imams, the Companions and the Tabi’in (the second generation of Islam) before them. We reject what happened after the best three centuries of Islam, and during the fourth century that the Messenger of Allah criticized.4 They (the fourth and later generations) took sayings of one man and treated his Fatwas as if they were coming from the Legislator (Allah, the Qur’an and Sunnah). They even preferred these sayings to the text of the Legislator and sayings of all other scholars of the nation of the Messenger of Allah. They preferred to Taqleed of their Imam and shunned referring, for judgment, to the Book of Allah, the Sunnah of His Messenger and the sayings of the companions. They also claim that whomever they follow do not say other than what is found in the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger. This testimony is based on ignorance and saying that of which they have no knowledge. This saying also implies that whoever is in opposition to their Mathhab is in disagreement with the Qur’an and the Sunnah, even if he was more knowledgeable. They either say: ‘My Imam is correct,’ or they may say that all the Imams are correct in all their sayings and that all their sayings are in accordance with the Qur’an and the Sunnah, even though sayings of different Imams are in disagreement with each other! This claim means that evidence from the Qur’an and the Sunnah are in opposition to each other. This saying means that Allah and His Messenger issued conflicting Commandments about the same matter at the same time. The religion of these people is following the opinions of men. These people are indecisive about matters of religion. They either follow this path, saying that all Imams are correct, or refute followers of other Imams. This is their only path. This is the blessing of Taqleed!!" (Hadith is Proof, al-Albani, p. 103f)
The Salafiyyah thus acknowledge that Islam should only have one interpretation, and that it does not possess this. And this would certainly be so if a ‘thikr’ had been identified and agreed upon by all parties - but such was clearly not the case.
1/ In fact this becomes evident in the Salafiyyah vs. Madhabi contentions which we will examine in a moment.
2/ We say ‘apparent’ because we must agree with the Madhabis that those of the Salafiyyahs who follow al-Albani, etc., are also performing Taqleed! For the definition of Taqleed. Link (Taqlid or taqleed is an Arabic term meaning "to follow (someone)" or "to imitate". In Islamic legal terminology it refers to the practice of following the decisions of a religious authority without necessarily examining the scriptural basis or reasoning of that decision. In Islamic theology taqlid of someone regarded as a higher religious authority (e.g. an 'ālim) is acceptable in the details of the laws of the religion (shariah), such as matters of worship and personal affairs. According to orthodox Islam, merely following or imitating the statements of scholars in the fundamentals of "metaphysical" belief, such as about the existence of God (Allah)), is not acceptable however. Most often, this refers to the adherence to one of the five classical schools (madhhab) of jurisprudence (fiqh).
3/ Nass is the text of the Qur’an and Sunnah.
4/ All in Islam know the Hadith which declares that Muhammad said that the first 3 generations would be trustworthy, but other generations would increase in unreliability. In this case, it is used as ‘Proof’ that the ‘ijtihads of the Madhabs have to be unreliable.
More references: http://answering-islam.org/Green/compare.htm
Posted by echnaton at 5/04/2009 03:07:00 AM
Please report any
broken links to
Copyright © 1988-2012 irfi.org. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer