Status of the Sunnah in Islam

Status of the Sunnah in Islam

Salem Al-`Amry talks on a very important subject that every muslim needs to know; that is the Status of Sunnah in Islam. He sheds light on the meaning of the Sunnah, and he further explains why we should follow the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) closely just as we are to follow the noble Qur’an.

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The Qur’an: From the Preserved Tablet to Humankind

The Qur’an: From the Preserved Tablet to Humankind

And thus, We have sent to you O Muhammad a revelation, and a mercy of Our Command.  You knew not what the Book is, nor what is Faith?  But We have made it (this Qur’an) a light wherewith We guide whosoever of Our slaves We will.  And verily, you O Muhammad are indeed guiding (humankind) to the Straight Path.  (Ash-Shura 42:52)

Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, the final Messenger from God, received the Qur’an, in two stages.  These perfect words of God were sent down to guide humankind out of the darkness and into the light; they are guidance and a mercy.

The Qur’an – the words of God are perfect words, from a perfect God, to His Creation.  On the night known as the ‘Night of Decree’, in the Islamic month of Ramadan, the Qur’an descended, from the Preserved Tablet[1] to the Lowest Heaven.  It then descended from the heavens to the earth in small stages.

The revelation was delivered to Prophet Muhammad through the Angel Gabriel.[2] When Prophet Muhammad was around forty years of age he started to spend time in deep reflection.  According to his beloved wife `A’ishah (Al-Bukhari) the love of seclusion was bestowed upon him via vivid good dreams.  He would go to the cave known as Hira’ to worship the One God and contemplate life, the universe, and his place in the world.

One night during Ramadan an angel came to him and asked him to read.  The Prophet, who was unable to read or write, replied ‘I do not know how to read’.  The angel then held him forcibly and pressed his chest so hard that he could not bear the pressure.  The angel then released Muhammad and asked him once more to read.  Again he replied “but I do not know how to read”.  The angel held him forcibly three times and Muhammad responded each time that he did not know how to read (or asked what shall I read).  The angel then related to him the first words of Qur’an.[4]

Read!  In the Name of your Lord, Who has created (all that exists).  He has created man from a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood). Read!  And your Lord is the Most Generous, Who has taught by the pen, He has taught man that which he knew not.  (Al-`Alaq 96:1-5)

After this first revelation, which Muhammad found frightening; he was not visited by the angel Gabriel again for an undetermined amount of time.  The next time he encountered him (the angel) he was walking alone.  Prophet Muhammad heard a voice from the heavens.  When he looked up he saw the angel sitting on a chair between the sky and the earth.  Muhammad was afraid and ran home seeking comfort and asking to be wrapped in blankets.  The second revelation occurred at this time.

O you covered in garments arise and warn the people of a severe punishment…  (Al-Muddaththir 74:1-5)

Over the next 23 years until shortly before Prophet Muhammad’s death, the Qur’an was revealed in stages. Several reasons have been suggested for this.  Some say that it was revealed slowly to offer Prophet Muhammad support and address issues as they arose.

Aisha, the wife of the Prophet, narrates that when asked about how the divine inspiration was revealed Prophet Muhammad replied, “Sometimes it is like the ringing of a bell, this form of inspiration is the hardest of all and then this state passes after I have grasped what is inspired.  Sometimes the Angel comes in the form of a man and talks to me and I grasp whatever he says”. (Al-Bukhari)

Ibn `Abbas described Prophet Muhammad as bearing the revelation “with great trouble and moving his lips quickly”.(Al-Bukhari) As the words of Qur’an were revealed to Prophet Muhammad he began to commit them to memory.

Memorization was considered important and was widely practiced even in the early years of Islam.  Prophet Muhammad requested that his companions memorize Qur’an and used various measures to assure that the revelation was preserved in their memories.  According to ibn Ishaq, compiler of one of the first biographies of Prophet Muhammad, `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud was the first man, after Muhammad, to recite the Qur’an publicly and on this occasion was severely beaten.  Prophet Muhammad’s closest companion Abu Bakr was also known to recite Qur’an outside his home in Mecca. (Al-Bukhari)

Qur’an was memorized by the companions during Prophet Muhammad’s lifetime and this tradition has continued through the following generations.  Even today Muslims unable to read Arabic memorize the exact same words that were memorized by the Arabs of the 7th century CE.  The majority of the Arabs were unlettered, including Prophet Muhammad; however the importance of the written word was well understood.

Preserving the divine revelation was paramount; therefore trustworthy and knowledgeable people memorized and wrote down the words of Qur’an.  These included the four men destined to follow Muhammad as leaders of the Muslim nation and a man named Zaid ibn Thabit, who would be instrumental in the preservation of Qur’an for the many generations to follow.

Writing materials were difficult to obtain and in these very early days portions of Qur’an were written onto animal skins, thin light colored stones, bones, and even bark.  The companions would write down the words of revelation and Prophet Muhammad would listen to the men recite from the written word to make sure there were no mistakes.  It could be said that the Qur’an was written down under the direct supervision of Prophet Muhammad.  The Qur’an was not revealed in order, however the Angel Gabriel instructed Prophet Muhammad on how to compile the Qur’an in the divinely inspired correct sequence.

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Footnotes:

[1] Lauh Al-Mahfuz (the preserved tablet) is the book in which God wrote the divine decrees and the destiny of all of creation.  It was with God before the creation.

[2] Suyuti’ in Al Itqan Fi Ulum Al Quran, Beirut, 1973, Vol.  I pp. 39-40 based on three reports from ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Abbas, in Hakim, Baihaqi and Nasa’i.

 

 

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Qur’an: Matchless Perfection

Qur’an: Matchless Perfection

 

Copy of the Qur'an

Muslims believe that the Qur’an is the word of Allah.

 

The authenticity of any scripture is considered from two significant aspects; the first is its authenticity with regard to its divine origin, and the other is its preservation in its original form.

Muslims believe that the Qur’an is the word of Almighty Allah revealed to His Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and that it has retained its purity throughout history. Therefore, today, after centuries of turmoil, it remains the only divine book that has been protected from any form of corruption.

What is Meant by the “Qur’an?

First, it should be emphasized that, by the Qur’an, we do not mean its translation into any other language, but we mean the original Arabic scripture. This is, for instance, in contrast with the Christian point of view considering any translation of the Bible as the Word of God.

Most Christians are not concerned about the original language of the scriptures of the Bible as long as they have a translation in their own language. Muslims, on the other hand, would never call a translation of the Qur’an “The Qur’an.” To them the Qur’an is that in the original Arabic which was revealed fourteen centuries ago to Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).

It was, beyond any doubt, revealed to him in Arabic and it is still read in the same way as the Prophet recited it to his Companions. Almighty Allah says,

Thus we have revealed it as an Arabic Qur’an, and have displayed therein certain threats, that peradventure they may keep from evil or that it may cause them to take heed. (Ta-Ha 20: 113)

The Qur’an and its Translation

It is known that a translator chooses words and phrases from the vocabulary of the target language to express what he understands of the original text. He may not fully succeed in expressing what he wants to convey, nor can he rule out the possibility of a different choice and order of words and phrases by another translator.

In the course of translation, the first casualty is always the typical idiom of the source language. Even in the best translation, much of the power and appeal of the original text is, somehow, lost.
This leads us to the fact that the Qur’an, as the Word of Allah, maintains perfect harmony between its content and language. One may understand the meaning of the Qur’anic text from a translation, preferably with sufficient explanation. However, the beauty, appeal and influence of its language, could hardly be convoyed to non-Arabic speaking people.

The foregoing is meant only to point out the limitations of translation. This is not meant to decry the use of translation in general, as it is essential for non-Arabs.
It is noteworthy that the Qur’an came to Arabia at a time when Arabic poetry had reached its peak; but the master-poets of that day could not equal the Qur’anic richness in diction, style or beauty.

Moreover, the Qur’an challenged the Arabs – the commanders of language, eloquence and fluency – to invent ten surahs or even one surah like the Qur’an but they could not. Almighty Allah says,

Say: “If the whole of mankind and Jinns were to gather together to produce the like of this Qur’an, they could not produce the like thereof, even if they backed up each other with help and support. (Al-Israa’ 17: 88)

He, the Almighty, also says,

Or they say: He has invented it. Say: Then bring ten surahs, the like thereof, invented, and call on everyone you can beside Allah, if ye are truthful! (Hud 11: 13)

The Qur’an’s Effects on Language and Society

The Qur’an was able to hold the Arabic language in thrall from the moment it was revealed. Indeed, its haunting rhythms rocked the whole of Arabia from Sudan to Syria and from Morocco to Oman.
While the languages of most of the other scriptures had become dead, the Qur’an continues to occupy the top position as an abiding model for literary Arabic. In fact, Arabic has defied the usual norms of the evolution of languages throughout history.

The French scholar, Ernest Renan (1823-1894), who carried out extensive research on Semitic languages, said about Arabic:

“The Arabic language is the most astonishing event of human history. Unknown during the classical period, it suddenly emerged as a complete language. After this, it did not undergo any noticeable changes, so one cannot define for it an early or a late stage. It is just the same today as it was when it first appeared.”

In acknowledging this “astonishing event of human history” the French Orientalist, was in fact, acknowledging the miraculous nature of the Qur’an. It was the Qur’an’s phenomenal literary style which preserved the Arabic language from alteration that other languages have undergone.

There is no other book in human history that has molded, and continues to mold, the lives of generations of people as the Qur’an. It has reformed and refined all the aspects of the lives of Muslims.

The Qur’an has been miraculous to all human beings. It is the book that:

  • Reformed and refined the lives of thousands of Bedouins who had not thought of anything beyond the confines of their clans,
  • Transformed the shepherds of Arabia into Caliphs and judges “Qadis“,
  • Brought into being the renowned universities and centers of learning that awakened a new enlightenment in the world that no other civilization of the world could match.

This was indeed a brilliant and lasting miracle of Almighty Allah reflected through the Qur’an, because Prophet Muhammad’s only source of inspiration for the revolution he brought about was the Qur’an. With Allah’s Book in hand, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) formed a model of the nucleus of a universal society in Arabia.

This society was formed out of those scattered and cantankerous desert tribes who had very little scientific knowledge or material resources. Their initiation into a stable Islamic cultural order was effected independent of all the socio-political systems or powers existing in the world at that time.

The Qur’an was the backbone of this unique spiritual revolution which has shone throughout history. The verses of the Qur’an were revealed to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) over 23 years of his life. As soon as the Prophet received these verses, he dictated them to his Companions who not only wrote them down, but also learned them by heart.

There were so many people who had memorized the Qur’an, that from the first day of its revelation, the Qur’an was in the hands and hearts of the people. You cannot say this about the Bible or about any other scripture.

Before the death of the Prophet, the entire Qur’an had been written down, examined and verified by the Prophet himself. From that time onwards, it has remained intact; safe from any corruption as several of its copies were in the possession of Muslims.

So, it was impracticable, even impossible, to make any changes to its verses even if someone had strongly intended to do so. Moreover, distorting the Qur’an was impossible as Allah Almighty has promised to protect it, He says,

Surely We have revealed the Reminder (Qur’an) and We will assuredly guard it “from corruption” (Al-Hijr 15: 9)

At the time of the Prophet’s death, a number of his Companions had already compiled the portions of the Qur’an into one volume. During the reign of the first Caliph, Abu Bakr As-Siddiq (may Allah be pleased with him), a leading scholar and scribe of the Prophet, Zayd ibn Thabit (may Allah be pleased with him), was appointed to compile an official version. After meticulous work, he prepared the official collection (mushaf ).

An Everlasting Miracle

One of the foremost reasons for the Qur’an’s continuing incorruptibility is that it has been preserved in Arabic, its original language, unlike the Bible. Thus, we can see that the Qur’an we have today is the same Qur’an that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) received from Almighty Allah. Its authenticity and genuineness therefore, is unimpeachable. Almighty Allah says,

And say: The truth has come and the falsehood has vanished; surely falsehood is a vanishing “thing”. (Al-Israa’ 17: 81)

He, the Almighty also says,

If there were a Qur’an with which mountains were moved, or the earth was cloven asunder, or the dead were made to speak, “it would be this one!” (Ar-Ra`d 13: 31)

One of the miracles of the Qur’an, which was revealed 14 centuries ago, is that it can be read and understood by the Arabic-speakers living today. Every language undergoes changes as time passes, and a period of one or two hundred years is long enough for a language to undergo substantial changes.

Thus, anyone who knows the rudiments of the history of languages knows that logically, it would be impossible for Arabic-speakers of today to read and understand a book that is fourteen centuries old.

Yet, every day, every hour, every minute, in fact every second of the 24 hours of the 365 days in every year of the past centuries have been alive with reading and studying the Qur’anic verses. That, certainly, will go on forever.

The volume and scope of the Qur’an increase in every imaginable way with the coming of multimedia. This had started at the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and it has continued unceasingly till the present day, making this the ever-present miracle of Prophet Muhammad, rivaling all other miracles so far.

Even the invaders who ravaged the Islamic lands and triumphed over the Muslims, owing to their military superiority, lost their dominance in the end when they were confronted with the spiritual power of Islam, and eventually, most of them adopted the religion of the people they had conquered.

Almighty Allah says:

This is the Book; in it is guidance sure, without doubt, to those who fear Allah. (Al-Baqarah2: 2)

The foregoing inevitably leads us to the conclusion that the Qur’an is undoubtedly the word of Allah the Almighty.

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Source: Taken with slight modifications from onislam.net.

 

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Could the Qur’an Be a Copy of the Bible?

By Nabil Harun

There is an old ridiculous fallacy, that Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) copied the Bible, a fallacy copied from some ignorant Arab pagans against the Prophet during his lifetime. They were stunningly challenged by the grandeur of the divine revelation.

The Qur’an has unveiled the Christian and Jewish distortions of the original messages of Moses and Jesus.

To face the challenge, they strived hard to push away the coming light that was gradually penetrating the Makkan society and radiating outwards to Arab tribes coming to Makkah for trade or pilgrimage, threatening to penetrate the Arab Peninsula and the whole Middle East and world, and engulf their absurd beliefs and challenge their tribal sovereignty to extinction.

Closing their ears and minds from hearing and accepting the Qur’an, and being also ignorant of the Bible, the nearest forgery to proclaim was that the Qur’an was being borrowed from the Bible or some Biblical source.

However, at that time, Christianity was almost totally out of the scene of Makkah. In the Arab Peninsula, Christian presence was confined to three locations: among the tribes of Al-Heerah in the northeast near Iraq, the Roman-occupied kingdom of Bani Ghassan in the northwest, and the Abyssinian reign of Yemen, far away from Makkah. Jewish presence was mainly in enclave settlements in and around Madinah.

Makkah being devoid of any real source of Biblical information, the pagans of the time could find no better candidate than a non-Arab Roman blacksmith boy earning his living there. They claimed that he was the source of the Qur’an, dictating it to Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) out of his meager Biblical education!

The mockingly fabricated fallacy soon faded away among the pagans themselves. Years later, in the peak of the fierce hostilities of the Jewish tribes of Al-Madinah, and amidst their repeated attempts to defame the Prophet, spread rumors and work out plots to eradicate Islam, no such claim (i.e., that the Qur’an copied the Bible) was ever raised.

On the contrary, the Jews were keeping their scriptures away from the Muslims, especially those prophesizing and supporting the new message. It is also significant that there was no single Arabic translation of the Bible till the tenth century CE, i.e., three centuries after the Prophet’s death.

The available texts of the Bible were either in Syrian, Greek, or Hebrew. If the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) could have any direct access to the Jewish or Christian scriptures, he would have quoted them, being in dire need to challenge his opponents.

The only other reported encounters of the Prophet with Christian sources were on two occasions. At the early age of twelve, during a trip with his uncle Abu Talib among a trade caravan to Ash-Sham, they casually met Baheerah, a Syrian monk who reportedly could identify in the boy Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) signs of expected prophethood foretold in the old scriptures.

Similarly, when the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) received the first few verses of the revelation, his worried wife Khadijah brought him to her relative Waraqah ibn Nawfal. Being a Christian convert with some knowledge of the Hebrew scriptures, he assured the Prophet that the revelation he received was genuinely divine. Waraqah passed away shortly thereafter; the revelation continued for 23 years.

Now let us examine the two texts, the Qur’an and the Bible. The Qur’an was revealed over 23 years in installments to match multitudes of events, issues, and queries, which were finally compiled into surahs (chapters), each having a homogeneous flowing narration.

On the other hand, the Bible is a collection of 58 (plus 16 disputed) books written by several human authors and groups. These books were originally not intended to be holy scriptures, but were selectively made so by the ecumenical councils of the Church, several centuries after Christ.

An academic or even casual hand-on examination by an impartial sound intellect could never fail to witness the deep contrast between the superb text and context of the Qur’an, compared to the fallible human texts comprising the Bible books.

Further, the Qur’an has vehemently unveiled the Christian and Jewish distortions of the original messages of Moses and Jesus (peace be upon them). The original Injeel and Torah are no longer available. Please read, for example, the Qur’anic correction and reply to the Biblical distortions:

– Abraham was a Jew: 2:140; 3:65
– Allah tired from act of creation— Allah forbid: 50:38
– Jesus the son of God— Allah forbid: 9:30; 5:17
– Trinity: 5:72-73
– Sanctifying the Church: 3:64
– Solomon blaspheming: 2:102
– The first Qiblah: 3:96
– Forbidden foods: 3:93

Could a copy (i.e., the Qur’an, according to the allegation) correct the claimed original (i.e., Bible)? 

Knowledge-wise, the Qur’an was proven to refer to and be precisely compatible with facts of science evolving over 14 centuries, a living proof of the authenticity of the Qur’an. This is contrasted to contradictions between the human Bible and science.

A few examples of these contradictions are: the allegory of the primordial waters, the creation of light before the creation of the stars producing them, the existence of day and night before creation of the earth, and creation of the earth before the sun, that the world was created only 5,766 years ago, and similar historically untenable descriptions and estimation of the time of the Flood.

Again, could the Qur’an “learn” from the Bible?

There are, of course, points of agreement between the Qur’an and the Bible, e.g., the main aspects of the stories of prophets. That is natural as far as the original source of information being the same, divine revelation of Allah through His Messengers teaching essentially the same message. But here again, in the stories of the prophets we witness the profound differences between the Qur’anic narrations and those of the Bible. Compare for example: the story of prophet Joseph in the Qur’an (12:4-102) and the Bible (Genesis 37-45). Here, the brief to-the-point yet lively objective Qur’anic narration to emphasize advice and exhortations can be contrasted to the marginal details listed in the lengthy “once-upon-a-time” style of the Bible.

While the Qur’an gives due respect and reverence to the prophets as Allah’s chosen inviolable human beings, radiating His guidance to their contemporaries and future generations, the Bible frequently portrays them dishonorably. Consider for example:
  Genesis 9:20-24: Noah being drunk and appearing naked in front of his sons

  Exodus 32:3-4: Aaron shaping a golden calf for the Israelites to worship

  1 Kings 11:9-10: Solomon worshiping false gods

  2 Samuel 11:4-5: David committing adultery

  Genesis 19:31-36: Lot committing incest with his two daughters

Once again, could the Bible be the “source” and the Qur’an the “copy”?

In recent times, Christian missionaries and Orientalists, disguised in the cloaks of scholarly research, reproduced the same old thwarted fallacy of the ancient pagans and strived to spread it among the naïve and scantly-educated Muslim masses. The targeted audience are those sectors unaware of the real nature and context of the Bible (as a collection of human works with all the ensuing defects) and, more importantly, are ignorant of their own inimitable Book, the Qur’an.

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Taken from Onislam.net.

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The Definition of Sunnah

The Definition of Sunnah

The Prophet's Mosque in Medina

Following the Prophet is a divine command.

Linguistically, Sunnah means a way or method that can have two states, either good or bad. It is derived from the word “Sanan”, which is Arabic for: a road or a path.

Sunnah in this sense is mentioned in the hadith of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) in which he said, “Whosoever does a good Sunnah will get the reward for it and the reward of others who followed him in doing the same thing until the Day of Judgment. And whosoever does a bad Sunnah will have the punishment of doing it and the punishment of others who followed him in practicing it.”(Muslim)

However, the definition of Sunnah differs depending on the area of Shari`ah. For example, a scholar in the area of Usul al-Fiqh (Arabic for: fundamental principles of Islamic jurisprudence) will define Sunnah as “whatever the Prophet was reported to have said, did, or permitted others to do.”

As an example of what he said are the hadiths that deal with the different rulings in different contexts, such as his saying, “The reward of deeds depends on intentions.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Examples of his actions include the acts of worship, such as the way to perform Prayer, pilgrimage, the etiquette of fasting, etc.

The third type of Sunnah was represented by the Prophet’s silence upon seeing the Companions doing or saying something; his silence in such case served as an approval. Such approval might also be expressed verbally.

An example of his permission is when the Companions had two different opinions during the battle of Bani Qurayzah regarding the Prophet’s command “Do not pray `Asr till you are at Bani Qurayzhah” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim). Some of the Companions understood that the Prophet meant that they should delay Prayer till they reach the place. However, some Companions understood that the Prophet only wanted to urge them to hurry, and so they did pray `Asr on time – before reaching their destination. In neither case did the Prophet say anyone of them was wrong and he did not reject what they did.

Another example of the Prophet’s permission of an action is when Khalid ibn Al-Waleed ate a lizard that he himself refused to eat. Some of the Companions wondered and asked him, “Is it prohibited to eat it, O Messenger of Allah?” The Prophet replied, “No, but it is not common where I live, and I don’t feel like eating it.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

The term Sunnah is also used to refer to a religious ruling that is based on a legal evidence whether from the Qur’an, the Prophet’s sayings, or ijtihad (independent juristic reasoning) by the Companions, such as the collection of the Qur’an in one book and unifying the reading of the Qur’an on one reading narration.

Opposed to Sunnah, there is bid`ah (innovation in religion) about which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said clearly, “Follow my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the righteous Caliphs after me.” and did not say follow my bid`ah, which should not be taken as the same as Sunnah. This can be shown by the definition used in fiqh where we say this is a sunni divorce (done in accordance with Sunnah) and that is a bid`i divorce (not according to Sunnah).

These differences in looking at Sunnah are dependent on the faculty of scholars, just like any area of science where definitions vary. In general, we can define the Sunnah as whatever the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said or did to be way of life for us.

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This article has been taken with modifications from onislam.net.

 

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From the Prophecies of the Qur’an

From the Prophecies of the Qur’an

The Qur’an makes a claim no other religious text makes, that God Himself will keep its text safe from alteration.

The Qur’an makes a claim no other religious text makes, that God Himself will keep its text safe from alteration.

The Qur’an contains many prophecies that have been fulfilled, but in this discussion, we will limit ourselves to only five.

The first two prophecies are noteworthy: unlike any other world scripture, the Qur’an prophesizes its own preservation under divine care, and we will demonstrate how it actually occurred.

The Protection of the Qur’an from Corruption

The Qur’an makes a claim no other religious text makes, that God Himself will keep its text safe from alteration. God says:

Behold, it is We Ourselves who have gradually revealed this reminder, and, behold, it is We who shall truly guard it (from all corruption). (Al-Hijr 15:9)

The Ease of Memorizing the Qur’an

God has made the Qur’an easy to memorize:

And in truth We have made the Qur’an easy to remember; who, then, is willing to take it to heart? (Al-Qamar 54:17)

The ease with which Qur’an is memorized is inimitable. There is not a single scripture or religious text in the world that is as easy to memorize; even non-Arabs and children commit it to memory easily. The entire Qur’an is memorized by almost every Islamic scholar and hundreds of thousands of ordinary Muslims, generation after generation. Almost every Muslim has some portion of the Qur’an memorized to read in his prayers.

The Twofold Prophecy

Before the rise of Islam, the Romans and the Persians were two competing superpowers.  Romans were led by Heraclius (610–641 CE), a Christian Emperor, whereas the Persians were Zoroastrians led by Khosrow Parviz (reigned 590–628 CE), under whom the empire achieved its greatest expansion. (Encyclopædia Britannica)

In 614, the Persians conquered Syria and Palestine, taking Jerusalem, destroying the Holy Sepulcher and the ‘True Cross’ carried to Ctesiphon. Then, in 619, they occupied Egypt and Libya. Heraclius met them at Thracian Heraclea (617 or 619), but they sought to capture him, and he rode madly back to Constantinople, hotly pursued.

The Muslims were grieved by the Roman defeat as they felt spiritually closer to Christian Rome than Zoroastrian Persia, but the Makkans were naturally buoyed up by the victory of pagan Persia. To Makkans, the Roman humiliation was a sinister omen of the defeat of the Muslims at pagan hands. At the time God’s prophecy comforted the faithful:

The Romans have been defeated – in a land close by; but they, (even) after (this) defeat of theirs, will soon be victorious- within ten years. With God is the Decision, in the past and in the future: on that Day shall the believers rejoice with the help of God. He helps whom He will, and He is the Mighty, the Most-Merciful. (Ar-Rum 30:2-4)

The Qur’an Made a Prophecy of Two Victories

1. The future Roman victory within ten years over Persians, something unimaginable at the time

2. The joy of the faithful on a victory over the pagans

Both of these prophecies actually occurred.

In 622, Heraclius left Constantinople as prayers rose from its many sanctuaries for victory over the Persian Zoroastrians and the reconquest of Jerusalem. He devoted the next two years to campaigns in Armenia. In 627, he met the Persians near Nineveh. There, he killed three Persian generals in single combat, killed the Persian commander, and scattered the Persian host. A month later, Heraclius entered Dastagird with its stupendous treasure. Khosrow was overthrown by his son, who made peace with Heraclius. Returning to Constantinople in triumph, Heraclius was hailed as a hero.

Also, in the year 624 AH, Muslims defeated the Makkans in the first and decisive Battle at Badr.

In the words of Qazi Suliman Mansoorpuri, an Indian scholar:

’…a single line of prophecy was related to four nations and the fate of two great empires.  All this proves the Holy Qur’an to be the Book of God.’ (Mercy For the Worlds, vol.3)

The Prophecy of Pagan Defeat

The Qur’an predicted the defeat of unbelievers in Makkah while Prophet Muhammad and his followers were still being persecuted by them:

Or do they (the Makkan disbelievers) say: ‘We are a great multitude, and we shall be victorious?’ Their multitude will be defeated, and they shall turn their backs (in flight)! (Al-Qamar 54:45)

The prophecy was revealed in Makkah, but was fulfilled at the Battle of Badr, two years after the Prophet’s migration to the city of Madinah.

The Fate of Specific Individuals

Al-Waleed ibn Mugheerah was a staunch enemy who openly ridiculed the Qur’an:

Then said he: ‘This is nothing but magic, derived from of old; this is nothing but the word of a mortal!’ (Al-Muddaththir 74:24-25)

The Qur’an prophesized he will never accept Islam:

Soon will I cast him into Hell-Fire! And what will explain to thee what Hell-Fire is? It leaves naught nor does it spare aught. (Al-Muddaththir 74:26-28)

Waleed died in a state of disbelief as prophesized by the Qur’an.

Also, concerning Abu Lahab, a fiery opponent of Islam, the Qur’an foretold he will die opposing the religion of God:

May the hands of Abu Lahab perish, and [indeed] he has perished. His wealth and gains will not profit him. He will be plunged in flaming Fire. (Al-Masad 111:1-3)

Specifically, three prophecies were made about Abu Lahab:

1. The conspiracies of Abu Lahab against the Prophet would not succeed.

2. His wealth and children would not benefit him.

3. He would die opposing God’s religion and enter the Fire.

Abu Lahab also died in a state of disbelief as prophesized by the Qur’an. Had Waleed or Abu Lahab accepted Islam even outwardly, they would have disproved its prophecies and thus its heavenly source!

In addition, Abu Lahab had four sons, two of whom died at a young age during his lifetime. The other two sons and a daughter embraced Islam and frustrated his hopes!

Finally, he died of a plague; people would not touch his body out of fear of contamination and dumped mud and stones on him where he died to make it his grave.

A key foundation to believing that a scripture is actually a revelation of God is internal truth, whether it be in regards to occurrences in the past, to come in the future, or in contemporary ages.

As one can see, there are many prophecies mentioned in that which is to come, some of which were fulfilled in the Prophet’s lifetime, or have been fulfilled since his death, while others are yet to appear.

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Source: islamreligion.com

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The Muslims between Hadith & Sunnah

The Muslims between Hadith & Sunnah

What is a Hadith?

Our scholars from the first century to the fourth gathered millions of hadiths and recorded and classified hundreds of thousands.

In the revelation of Islam, God Almighty has separated His guidance into two entities:

1- The Qur’an is His exact speech which is linguistically miraculous. No one other than Almighty God is responsible for one letter therein and no one else is capable of reproducing such a work.

2- The Sunnah is the authentically recorded words and actions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The Sunnah is inspired by the guidance of God, but is not linguistically miraculous because it came from the mind of the Prophet.

The words Hadith (saying/report) and Sunnah (tradition/life style) of Prophet Muhammad are similar because one is taken from the other. Our scholars from the first century to the fourth gathered millions of hadiths and recorded and classified hundreds of thousands. As you will see some hadiths are regarded as a reliable source of revelation and some are proven to be fabricated by the hands of misguided people. The Sunnah is a collection of all hadiths which are proven to be authentic.

What Is a Hadith?

The word Hadith refers to the recorded sayings, deeds, tacit approvals, as well as the exalted character and physical appearance of the Prophet Muhammad.

Examples of hadiths:

From His sayings which occurred and were recorded throughout His prophethood:

“Indeed, Actions are judged by their intentions and for every person is what he/she intended.” (Al-Bukhari)

From His deeds: This includes all the actions committed by the Prophet which were witnessed, memorized, and recorded such as his performance of the prayer, pilgrimage, and so on.

From His tacit approval: This refers to the occasions when the Prophet approved some statement or action of his companions by remaining silent; for example, when his Companions ate a lizard in front of him. Though he didn’t join them, the Prophet didn’t object to them eating it. Had it have been forbidden, he would have definitely clarified its prohibition.

From His characteristics: The physical characteristics and moral etiquette that are reported about the Prophet.

Hadiths constitute the second source of revelation in Islam. This is made clear in several verses where God commands us “O you who believe! Obey God and Obey His Messenger”. (An-Nisaa’ 4:59) Obeying God can only be in obeying the Qur’an which is His only preserved message to mankind.

The Qur’an never mentions “Obey God” without mentioning “and obey His Messenger” as a separate entity entitled to obedience. The Prophet was sent to expound upon God’s message with the guidance of God. There are a few instances where the Prophet did something and God immediately sent a verse reprimanding him.

God says:

And whoever obeys the Prophet has indeed obeyed God. (An-Nisaa’ 4:80)

God says:

There has certainly been provided an excellent example to follow in the Messenger of God for anyone who hopes to be with God and succeed on the Day of Judgment and remembers God often. (Al-Ahzab 33:21)

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Prophetic Traditions: Types & Authenticity

Prophetic Traditions: Types & Authenticity

 

authentic hadith

The Islamic definition of infallibility does not necessarily include technical worldly matters that are not part of conveying the message.

Scholars of Islamic Law differentiate between two types of Prophetic actions and sayings: actions and sayings that are meant to be part of the Shari`ah (Islamic way and rules for life) and others that are only part of the Prophet’s life as a human, which are not always meant to be a law for every Muslim to follow. They call these two kinds of Prophetic tradition as-sunnah at-tashri`yyah (legislative tradition) and as-sunnah ghair at-tashri`yyah (non-legislative tradition). For example, Talha narrated the following:

“I was walking with the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) when he passed by some people at the tops of their palm trees. He asked, “What are they doing?” They answered, “Pollinating the male into the female.” He replied, “I do not think that this will be of benefit.” When they were told about what the Prophet said, they stopped what they were doing. Later, when the trees shed their fruits prematurely, the Prophet was told about that. He said, “If it is good for them they should do it. I was just speculating. So pardon me. But if I tell you something about God, then take it because I would never lie about God.” Another narrator said that the Prophet added, “You know your worldly affairs better than I.” (Muslim)

This hadith shows one such non-legislative judgment given by the Prophet, which he made to the best of his knowledge. The hadith even shows an error in this technical advice, which the Prophet and his Companions discovered later via human experience, rather than via divine revelation. I believe that the rationale behind this hadith is to show that it is not part of the Prophet’s mission to contribute to technology and other similar worldly affairs through the revelation. Rather, human empirical experience is meant to be the only means for these developments.

Regarding the error that happened concerning the palm trees, the word `ismah (protection) is mentioned in the Qur’an in the context of the Prophet being protected from people’s whims and Satan’s delusions. The protection of all prophets in the above sense is an Islamic belief, which is a precondition to trusting the prophets’ message and following their example. However, the Islamic definition of infallibility does not necessarily include technical worldly matters that are not part of conveying the message, as the above example shows.

Furthermore, if the tradition or hadith is of a legislative type, it is not always necessarily and literally meant for all Muslims. Some rulings are for rulers only, some are for judges only, and so on. The following is one example:

“Hind Bint `Utbah complained to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) about the stinginess of Abu Sufian (her husband) and asked whether she was allowed to take from his money without his knowledge. So the Prophet said, “Take what you and your children normally need (without telling Abu Sufian).” (Al-Bukhari)

Scholars commented on this hadith that the Prophet was acting here as a judge rather than a prophet. In other words, he allowed Hind in her specific case to do that, but the hadith does not give every woman a right to take whatever she wants from her husband’s money without his knowledge, just for her own whim. So scholars maintain that this hadith is for judges to learn from when they make a similar judgment, but not for every Muslim.

Hadith Authenticity

Regarding the question about the possibility of error in the narrators’ accounts, it is true that there is a chance of error. That is why scholars differentiated between different levels of authenticity, concerning the discipline of knowledge of Prophetic Hadith, by setting precise and rigid criteria. The following are two of these levels – among others – that are related to that:

1- Hadith Mutawatir (Recurring, Most Famous)

These are narrations that are conveyed through a ‘large number of people who could not possibly agree to lie.’ The Qur’an and a certain number of Prophetic traditions fall under this category. The Qur’an, for example, was recited by thousands of people, and their recitations are the same. It is a logical conclusion that one can build firm beliefs and true obligations on this level of authenticity.

2-  Hadith Ahad (Individual, Single-chained Narrations)

These are narrations according to one or two narrators, and hence are less ‘confirmed’ than the first kind. Scholars judged that these kinds of narrations could teach us about halal and haram (the lawful and the forbidden), but could not be evidence of faith (`aqeedah) in their own right. This is because of the possibility of error in something that is narrated by only one or two people.

But a possibility of error in Companions’ narrations should not ‘discredit them completely’. There are levels of authenticity and there are many sources of error that do not necessarily ‘discredit’ a person. So if the person is trustworthy, we accept his or her individual account, but do not build matters of faith on it, unless it is confirmed by a number of other narrators or witnesses.

In addition, there are many hadiths that scholars reject because they were not up to the level of authenticity that implies any credibility. One example is when the narrator is known to be forgetful, ill-intentioned, or biased one way or another. That is why it is important to check the authenticity of a hadith before we take it.

In addition, scholars have also set specific criteria for narrators of hadith before they can be accepted as narrators. These criteria are related to the biography of the narrator, including his or her reputation and moral attitude.

Actually, hadith authenticity is an independent discipline of knowledge that has variable areas to discuss and study. This is not the place for that because this discipline is of a legal nature.

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Source: jasserauda.net.

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How Do We Determine What Is Right and Wrong?

How Do We Determine What Is Right and Wrong?

Religious Criterion

Islam came to secure the welfare of people. Therefore, something that brings about the realization of the general welfare and prevents harm is correct.

Do methodologically sound criteria exist for determining what is correct and what is in error? They certainly do. Those criteria are clear and precise, and we shall be discussing some of them.

One: The Religious Criterion

This criterion is established upon three sources:

1- The Qur’an

Allah says:

Lo! those who disbelieve in the Reminder when it comes unto them (are guilty), for lo! it is an unassailable Scripture. Falsehood cannot come at it from before it or from behind it. (It is) a revelation from the Wise, the Owner of Praise. (Fussilat 41:41-42)

The Qur’an is absolutely certain in its authenticity. This is a point upon which all Muslims unanimously agree.

As far as what we derive from it or its meanings, this depends on the specific passage and the manner of interpretation. Some verses convey meanings that are absolutely certain so that no alternative interpretation is tenable. Much of the Qur’an is of this nature, especially the texts that refer to the essentials of faith and the guiding principles upon which the edifice of Islam is built.

Some passages of the Qur’an indicate meanings that are conveyed with less certainty, and scholars differ as to their interpretation. One interpretation is given preference over another by considering the scholarly disagreement, the opinions of Arabic linguists, and commentaries of the Qur’an.

It is possible that some scholars will classify a certain passage as being absolutely certain in its indication of a given meaning while others consider the indication to be uncertain. However, this is rare, and when it occurs, the matter remains open to juristic discretion and opinion.

2- The Sunnah

Whatever is established to be authentically related from Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), is clear in meaning, and is not countered by any other evidence, is something that a Muslim has no option but to accept.

The authenticity of some narrations from the Sunnah might be unquestionably certain to those who are specialists in the field of Hadith criticism, though that certainty may not be felt by a non-specialist. Those who are proficient in studying and cross-referencing the lines of transmission will be sure of the Hadith’s authenticity. On the other hand, a jurist or legal theorist – never mind the layman – who is not so skilled in Hadith studies will not be able to regard the narration with the same level of confidence.

Indeed, specialists of Hadith disagree with each other in their assessment of certain hadiths. This leads to disagreements among those who are certain of a hadith and are obliged to act upon the dictates of its textual evidence and those who do not regard the Hadith with such certainty or who do not regard it as authentic or who simply are unaware of it.

3- Consensus of the Muslims

What we are concerned with here is consensus that is well established where we are absolutely certain of unanimity of opinion. Nevertheless, we can see from looking at numerous examples that the opinion held by the majority of the people of knowledge is usually the correct one.

Two: The Criterion of Considering the General Welfare

Islam came to secure the welfare of people. Therefore, something that brings about the realization of the general welfare and prevents harm is correct. By contrast, something that results in harm while failing to further the general welfare is clearly wrong. When something furthers the general interest more than it causes harm, it is preferable. Whatever does more harm than good, by contrast, is generally to be rejected.

Al-Faysal ibn `Iyad, when commenting on Allah’s words “…which of you is best in deeds…” (AL-Mulk 67:2), discusses what it means for something to be described as “good”.

He explains that when the matter relates to acts of pure worship, good is defined as that which fulfills two criteria: It must be carried out sincerely and exclusively for Allah’s sake and it must be in accordance with the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

When the matter relates to the worldly activities of our daily lives, or in matters wherein the law is silent, that which is good is defined as that which furthers the general welfare.

The scholars of Islamic jurisprudence have set forth principles to govern legal research into these matters. There is the principle of choosing the greater of two benefits and the principle of choosing the lesser of two evils. There is the principle that avoiding harm takes precedence over achieving a benefit when the benefit and harm are equal.

Otherwise, the overwhelming benefit is to be sought, even if achieving it brings about some lesser harm. Likewise, an overwhelming harm is to be avoided, even if it means sacrificing some lesser benefit. Matters need to be weighed justly.

The question that remains to be answered is: how do we recognize that which is a benefit, that which constitutes part of the general welfare?

When there is no evidence from the sacred texts on a matter, benefits are determined by employing reason, research, and drawing conclusions. A person who enjoys greater intellectual abilities, experience, education, and understanding of the intent of Islamic Law will be better equipped to correctly determine what is of greater benefit.

This question of the general welfare is extremely important, and deserves considerable research and discussion. In all aspects of life – economics, politics, society, Islamic work – we are faced with many problems, contradictions, and disagreements. Each party to these disagreements has its own arguments and evidence. Often none of the evidence related to an issue will be able to stand on its own. Sometimes, a person might rely on textual evidence that brings about confusion in those trying to follow the argument, while the real crux of the matter. This is the greatest aspect of Islamic Law that only the most erudite scholars have a mastery of. Allah says:

And no one will be granted such goodness except those who exercise patience and self-restraint, none but persons of the greatest good fortune. (Fussilat 41:35)

When we talk about the general welfare, we do not mean the interests of any individual, group, or faction, but the interests of everyone in society. Only if the issue at hand is individual in scope do individual interests come into play. Those who are referred to in such matters are “those among them who can search out the knowledge of it.” (An-Nisaa’ 4:83) They are the scholars of Islam and the scholars in the various fields of worldly knowledge, those who have the wisdom, the sagacity, and the intelligence to be qualified to make such determinations.

`Izz Ad-Din ibn `Abd As-Salam writes in his book on the general axioms of Islamic Law entitled ‘Qawa`id Al-Ahkam’:

As for questions of welfare related to matters of the world – what brings about such welfare and what spoils it – these questions are known by means of necessary knowledge, by experience, by way of custom, and by educated assessments. If anything still remains obscure, then evidence is sought out.

Whoever wishes to know what is appropriate, what is beneficial, what is harmful, what takes precedence and what is to be forgone for the sake of something else, he must deliberate on the matter with his mind under the assumption that it has not been addressed by Islamic Law, and then build his rulings upon it. He will find that the rulings he arrives at rarely differ, except in matters of pure worship, an area where we have not been given to discern specific benefits and harms. In his way, you can distinguish the good works from the bad.

When juristic matters are decided by a large number of scholars and experts working together, the results are better, more accurate, and less biased than when such matters are decided by a single individual working on his own. This is especially true in modern times, when the relationships between various interests are quite complex and inter-related, scientific advances have been considerable, and many matters require specialized knowledge. Working together is also more possible now than ever before, because of advances in communications.

We need to organizations devoted to the research of Islamic legal matters that Muslims scholars from all over the world can participate in. To the extent that these organizations operate independently and are free from political influence, they will be effective and balanced in their resolutions. Unfortunately, the prevailing situation in the Muslim world today is that each country has its own organizations that look into matters and study them in light not only their intrinsic natures, but also in how they relate to the interests of the political establishment.

The Personal Criterion

The individual, in numerous instances, is able to distinguish between right and wrong, to determine what is satisfactory and what is censurable. His heart tells him whether what he is doing is right or wrong.

This is what the Prophet meant when he said: “Appeal to your heart, and to your soul, for a verdict. Righteousness is what your soul will be at peace with and sin is what disquiets you and makes you feel hesitant – even if the people repeatedly tell you otherwise.” (Ahmad and Ad-Darimi)

A person sees what he should not be looking at and his own heart gives him a decision about it. This is because his heart can detect the ill-will, the vain desires, or the unfulfilled passions that his gaze incites.

This criterion is, by and large, restricted to purely personal matters involving the individual and his private relationship with his Lord when the question is one of piety and sinfulness. A person might find himself beset by hesitations or misgivings and have to explore his heart to arrive at the truth of the matter, a matter too subtle and intrinsically personal to ask others about.

These are some of the criteria by which we can determine what is right from what is in error.

Allah says most eloquently:

O ye who believe! if you fear Allah, He will grant you a criterion (to judge between right and wrong), remove from you (all) evil (that may afflict) you, and forgive you: for Allah is the Lord of grace unbounded. (Al-Anfal 8:29)

He also says:

Oh, but the human being is a telling witness against himself, though he puts forth his excuses. (Al-Qiyamah 75:14, 15)

An honest soul is like a mirror that reflects the facts as they are.

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Source: islamtoday.net.

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