Sunday, 25 November 2007

Who Has The Authority To Interpret The Qur'an & Hadith ?

Allah SWT states in the Qur'an:

"Hence, ask those with (knowledge) of the Divine Book if you know not."

The above verse is clear that one should refer to the Ulama (learned scholars) in matters of Deen (religion). When a person requires advise on a worldly matter, he refers to an expert on that matter. Similarly, in religious matters, one should refer to an expert in religion.

One should be cautious that in pursuit of gaining satisfaction, he/she does not become disrespectful to the learned scholars of Deen.

In worldly affairs, derogating the opinion of any expert may not cause any serious repercussions beyond the earthly existence but to lose respect of the learned scholars of Deen is extremely hazardous to one's faith.

It is stated in one Hadith:

"Whomsoever shows no mercy to our youngsters, does not respect the elders among us, and exalts not our Ulama (learned scholars) is not of us."

Therefore, a person should follow such an Aalim (scholar), in all Deeni (religious) matters as long as he is consistent upon the Sunnah. If any doubt arises in his piety, another Aalim may be consulted.

Allah SWT says in the Noble Qur'an,

"Verily those that fear Allah from among his slaves are the Ulama."

True Ulama are those who have true knowledge of the Shari'ah and by virtue of their knowledge attain a colour of the fear of Allah in them. They endeavour to accomplish the orders of Allah in every walk of their life, domestic, social and political. In order to achieve the ultimate spirit of knowledge, the obedience to Allah SWT and His Rasul SAW, one needs to examine the lives of the preceding Allah-fearing Ulama and the knowledge they acquired in order to imbibe in them such outstanding qualities. Among the torch bearers of true knowledge and guidance after the illustrious Sahabahs RA were the four famous Imams of Fiqh who possessed deep understanding of the Shari'ah. They extracted the fundamental rules and principles of Shari'ah in the light of the Qur'an and Ahadith and thereby extracted many Shari'ah rulings. The fundamental rules and principles are known as Usul-ul-Fiqh and the laws extracted there from are known as Fiqh.

In brief, an Aalim should be well acquainted with the Qur'an and its sciences of commentary as well as its commentary (Usul-ul-Tafsir and Tafsir), he should be well acquainted with the sciences of commentary of Ahadith and Ahadith (Usul-ul-Ahadith and Ahadith). Obviously, since the Qur'an and Ahadith are in Arabic, one has to study Arabic and have profound knowledge of Arabic language as well.

In traditional Islamic institutions of Academic Islamic studies, the above subjects are offered over a period of approximately eight years. Thereafter, one may spend another two years to study a specialist course in Qur'an, Ahadith or Fiqh. Furthermore, in traditional institutes much emphasis is made on good character, conduct and fear of Allah.

(Today unfortunately many people go to Arabia for a three-year university degree and believe / expect to have the same kind of proficiency. It is a joke.)

So basically, to become an Aalim, a person would have to enrol into a reputable institute of Islamic higher learning. That person must also spend time with other Ulama to increase knowledge and learn about contemporary issues and witness how the Shari'ah is interpreted and brought to life. As, attaining entry into Jannah – that is the goal of each and every one of us, InshaAllah i.e. we all need to follow the Shari'ah to its fullest.


Misunderstanding: Modern vs. Classic

These days some people say that now we have access to books easily which Ulama before did not have access to. They had to travel far just to get one Ahadith. Therefore it is so-said that contemporary "scholars" can make better decisions because they have access to more knowledge.

This is obviously wrong. Firstly, true contemporary Ulama make decisions that are all based on the views, explanations and interpretations of their predecessors. True Contemporary Ulama are dependent on their predecessors. Yes, nowadays, we do have easier access to books than before. However, this is only with reference to 'access books'.

As for knowledge and expertise, then this was found to a far greater extent in the earlier times. The earlier scholars sacrificed much more for knowledge and they possessed much more expertise in all fields of knowledge which is why contemporary Ulama are dependent on their interpretations and explanations.

Another important aspect is this that our Pious Predecessors lived closer to the time of Nabi SAW. Our pious predecessors had the opportunity to experience, learn and practice the teachings, understanding and approach of Rasulullah SAW. During the time of Nabi SAW, Deen was complete. It was then passed on generation by generation down till today. Thus we cannot compare the understanding of Imam Shafi'i RA with contemporary pious Ulama. But it is very wrong to then act by then ignoring these Ulama and then rely on our own thoughts to understand.

On the other hand, secular education changes daily. The more technology progresses, the more deductions man makes. Hence, in technology, contemporary scientists have more exposure and are more capable than previous times.

A Historical Background of the Refutation of Ahadith and the Authenticity of its Compilation

The Ahadith of Rasulullah SAW have been unanimously accepted by the entire Ummah as the source of Islamic Law, after the Noble Qur'an. In fact, upon pondering, it can be concluded that the entire Ahadith contain the real essence of Islamic Law (Islamic Shari'ah) as Ahadith comprise of the mubaraq beautiful words, actions and approvals of the Holy Prophet SAW who has interpreted the Noble Qur'an and defined its object and purpose.

However, it is regrettable that a certain group of people influenced by the corrupt western culture and "civilisation," have begun refuting Ahadith.

In the beginning of the twentieth century, when the Western nations dominated over Muslims, many Muslims of poor understanding and little knowledge became overwhelmed by western ideologies and concepts. They opined that progress was impossible without upholding and adopting the western lifestyle. They began propagating this concept among the masses. In order to propagate this concept they distorted all the Islamic teachings that opposed this western culture and ideology. This group was called the modernists.

Among the leaders of such groups were people like Sir Sayed and Ahmed Khan of India, Taha Hussain of Egypt and Ziyad Khog of Turkey. It should be borne in mind that the objects and aims of this group could not be achieved without rejecting Ahadith because, Ahadith contain detailed guidelines to every aspect of life which are totally opposed to western norms and trends.

Consequently, a group among this cult began to negate Ahadith and called themselves the "Qur'anic Group". Sir Sayed and his companion Moulvi Chirag Ali were the founders of this movement in India. They did not negate Ahadith completely; instead they rejected all those that were contrary to their aims and objectives and their limited understanding and reasoning even though all these Ahadith were authentically narrated. They discreetly propagated that Ahadith are not legal Shari'ah proof in this age and era. This led to the legalising of interest and usury; the rejection of the Prophets, the denial of the Angels, the negation of Hijab and other essentials of Islam, and moreover, legalising of prohibited things.

Thereafter, Abdullah Chakardalwi formed a group called, Qur'anic Group (Jemaah Al-Qur'an) and his object was the total rejection of Ahadith. This concept was further promoted by Aslam Inerajpuri. Finally, Gulam Ahmed Parwez established this erroneous belief among the masses through his influential writings. This fitnah spread widely in his period (era). Basically this fitnah revolves around 3 different beliefs i.e:

1. The nonsense belief that the Holy Prophet's SAW mission was to deliver the Qur'an only

2. The nonsense belief that obedience is restricted to the Qur'an only.

3. The nonsense belief that adherence to the Holy Prophet SAW is not binding upon us, nor was it binding upon the Sahabah RA.

These three concepts implied three further false notions:

1. The lie that Divine Revelation was only in the form of the Qur'an. Hence there is no need for Ahadith.

2. The lie that the Sayings of the Holy Prophet SAW were binding and obligatory upon the Sahabah RA only, not upon us.

3. The lie that the teachings of the Holy Prophet SAW are binding upon the entire Ummah. However, due to Ahadith being unauthentic, we are not obliged to accept them.

All these concepts are totally false and absolutely and wholly rejected by the grand jamaah of Muslims in this world i.e. the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah lead by theUlama. Numerous verses of the Noble Qur'an, prove that divine revelation besides the Noble Qur'an, was revealed to the Holy Prophet SAW.

Somehow, common sense has been lost by these nonsense makers. The mission of the Holy Prophet SAW as mentioned in the Noble Qur'an is to teach and explain the Noble Qur'an and its wisdom. If Ahadith are rejected, can this object of teaching and explaining the Qur'an be realised?

Another clear indication towards the authenticity of Ahadith is the fact that the Noble Qur'an commands us to show obedience to the Holy Prophet SAW together with obedience to Allah. In one verse, obedience to the Holy Prophet SAW has been regarded as the basis of Iman. Logically, it is not possible to follow the Qur'anic injunctions without Ahadith as the details of many Qur'anic injunctions such as Solat, Zakat, Hajj, etc. are explained in Ahadith. The entire Ummah has accepted the authenticity of Ahadith in order to make the divine injunctions practical. Can it be claimed that the entire Ummah is misguided? Such nonsense is baseless.

The fallacy of the second (concept) belief i.e. as so to say – the obedience of the Holy Prophet is binding upon the Sahabah RA only, is evident and exposed that needs no further elaboration.

This concept implies that the Prophethood of the Holy Prophet SAW was restricted only to the period of his companions whereas numerous verses of the Qur'an very clearly indicate the opposite:


"O people I am a Prophet to all of you."

"We did not send you except to all the people, as a giver of glad tidings and as a warner."

"We did not send you, except as a mercy to all the worlds."

"Blessed is the one who revealed the Furqan (Qur'an) that he may be a warner to the worlds."

Another question that arises with this concept is: Are the Sahabah RA who witnessed the revelation of the Noble Qur'an more in need of its explanation or are the ones that came after them more in need?

The third concept is also totally unacceptable because the Qur'an has reached us through the same method as Ahadith have reached us.

If Ahadith are unauthentic, can one declare the Noble Qur'an unauthentic as well?

The divine promise of safeguarding Noble Qur'an embodies the safeguarding of Ahadith also, because Ahadith explain the Qur'an without which one cannot practise upon the Qur'an.


For any deed to be accepted by Allah SWT there must be two basic requisites:

(1) Ikhlas – from Laa Ilaa Ha Illallah

(2) Sunnah – from Muhammadar Rasulullah (SAW)

If someone is doing a religious action with full Ikhlas, but without Sunnah, for example if someone prays Zuhur with sincerity, but does five rakaats – then Allah SWT will not accept this deed.

On the other hand, If someone is doing a religious action with full Sunnah, but without Ikhlas, for example if someone reads Qur'an in musabaqah (competition) beautifully, but with the intention to win the prize money and not the pleasure of Allah – then again, Allah SWT will not accept.

It is also important to understand the term "Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah". Literally, it translates as, "The people of the Sunnah (way of Nabi SAW) and the Majority."

Therefore, the leader of the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah is undisputedly Nabi SAW himself and his illustrious Sahabah RA.

Nabi Muhammad SAW said:

"My Ummah will split into 73 factions, all will enter the fire save one."

The Sahabahs (RA) enquired:

"Which is that faction (that will be saved)?"

Nabi SAW replied:

"(The one that follows) my way and the way of my companions." (Mishkat)

Nabi SAW also:

"Follow the way of the majority. He who separates himself from the majority will be alone in the fire." (Ibid)

In view of the above Ahadith (and similar other Ahadith),the Ulama (scholars) among the (Pious Predecessors) began using the term Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah to differentiate between the path of truth and the already widespread Fitnah (mischief) of sectarianism. Therefore, it is obvious that the criteria for the true way will always be conformity to the Sunnah way of Nabi SAW and the beliefs of the Muslim majority.

As a final note, let us all of us remember that there is always opportunity to seek knowledge. But to fully understand, there is no short-cut but to sit with the Ulama. Knowledge earned from Emails / the internet cannot replace the wisdom and understanding obtained directly from the Ulama.

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