Posted by: mjaga | November 5, 2011

Divisions within Mankind

Qur’aanic Verse 23.53:

23.53

Transliteration:

53. FataqattaAAoo amrahum baynahum zuburan kullu hizbin bima ladayhim farihoona

Translation:

53. But they divided themselves into communities pursuing different ways scripturewise. Every sect is happy with that which is with them.6 

Study Note:

6. Mankind is thus divided broadly as Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus etc. Besides such scripturewise divisions, there are numerous sub-divisions formed on the basis of different misinterpretations of the scriptures. Muslims, for example, are sub-divided into sects like Shia, Sunni, which in turn have numerous sub-sects. But as Allah Ta’ala tells us in Verse 52 above, they all belong to one human community.

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The above is an extract from Qur’aanic Studies Manzil IV, which will soon, inshaAllah, be published on Amazon Kindle. Manzil IMabzil II & Manzil III of the series are already published.

Mohammad Shafi


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Responses

  1. This article appeared as a Foreword to a book on Islamic Jurisprudence, published in early 1954)

    The law of the Quran in the capacity of Divine Message to Mankind is perfectly universal and applicable to all nations. It knows no racial, geographical or religious bounds as it applies to the whole of Human species. How do Human nations rise to power and through what delinquency in their efforts they fall and are wiped out of the face of the earth–this as a matter of fact is the essence of a part of the whole teaching of the Quran.

    “Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian rather he was a downright acceptor of commands: (hanifan Musliman) (3:67) Shows that the Quran does not accept the theory of Prophets having come down on earth for the purpose of instituting ‘religions’ or sects, nor did they come to divide man. “Human beings are one people” and “for this very purpose, God created them.” (wa li zalika khalaqahum) (11:119) Show that the intention of nature is to make Man develop as One Nation, in fact develop in exactly the same way as millions of other species of lower beings have evolved into higher beings. “God made the Prophets appear (on earth) as Givers of Good News (of becoming stable and powerful) and deliverers of Bad news (of destruction and national fall): (Mubashirin wa Munzirin) (2:213), but “Human beings, through revolt among themselves cut themselves up into pieces even after this (superb) knowledge came to them (through Prophets).” (3:19) Thus Quran is radically against Man being split up into sections on religious, racial, geographical or any other basis. “Those who differentiate between the various Prophets and say we believe in some and disbelieve in others are TRUE INFIDELS.” (4:151) Is the final verdict of the Quran with respect to the attitude of Man towards his fellow-beings. At other places the Quran declares: “We sent our Prophets to every Nation, every colony and every people.” (13:7) etc., and the expression “true infidels” is not used elsewhere in the whole of the Quran. “We created you out of one father and one mother and made you groups and families in order that you may recognise each other; only they are the most honored (with Us) amongst you who are most mindful (of the law of God).” (49:13) This is the position of Man according to the Quran and that is why the Quran is called “a warning to all the Worlds (Zikrun lil alameen)” (12:104) and the Prophet is styled: “a blessing to all the Worlds” (Rahmat ul lilalameen) (21:107)

    Under these premises of the Quran it is absurd to think that the Quran or the Prophet of Islam created a sect of ‘Muhammadans’ like what Jews and Christians are in this world. The Quran was to be a code of law for the whole world in order to guide it to its ultimate destiny, and that destiny was to develop the whole human race as one nation to higher evolution. That is why the Quran said: “I swear by the moon as it gradually gets complete that you human beings are bound to rise from one plane (of creation) to another (tabqan un tabaqin).” (84:19) At another place it said: “What has happened to you human beings that you do not expect (further) aggrandisation and honor in respect to God, while He has already created you from one pattern of creation to another.” (71:14) These utterances which are unequivocal and not liable to different interpretation finally decide that the aim of this last message of God is to direct Mankind to Higher Evolution as One Human Species.

  2. Quran claimed that God sent the last of all the Prophets: “With Huda i.e. Direction and Din il Haq i.e. the Right programme in order that He may make him (the Prophet) overcome all other programmes.” (61:9) The earlier knowers of the Quran took up this ‘programme’ and ‘direction’ and enveloped a greater part of the then known world in a few decades. Whole nations were ‘converted’ to Islam and its march onwards in the first few centuries reads like a fiction. This was because the true spirit of the Direction was imbibed and there was no sectarian prejudice to retard the march of that universal direction. Whole nations could not have been brought to the fold of Islam otherwise. Man is too shrewd to accept coercion, and that is why a greater part of the human race agreed to join the common flow. The Quran proclaimed: “There is no coercion in the Right Programme, (because) verily the the right has come out clear from the wrong.” (2:256) Thus the absolute manifestation of Truth paved the way for total domination of that right programme, at any rate as long as the Mussulmans (Muslims) understood it.

    This was the original meaning of the words tafaqquh-fid-din, i.e. the understanding of the right programme, in the Quran. And this understanding meant that the entire purpose of the Quran and of the message of God to Man be kept in view. That was why God prohibited that people should: “split up Quran into portions.” (15:91) and promised dire punishment for them. At another place the Quran said: “Are you going to believe one portion of the Book and disbelieve another, so whosoever does it, is damned to eternal disgrace in this world and the next world.” (2:85) Thus the word Fiqah (taken from the expression Tafaqu-fid-din), which is now called the Islamic Jurisprudence, had an original meaning quite distinct from what is now attached to it. A Faqih is now understood to be a person who understands the intricacies of the personal law of the Mussulmans.

    The same thing happened with the word Al-Ilm of the Quran. The Quran originally styled: “The Book of God” sent down to the Prophets as Al-Ilm i.e. The knowledge (3:7). All Books sent down through various Prophets were given the same appellation (Al Kitab) without distinction. In fact the ‘Book of Nature’ was called: “the patent i.e. the obvious book” (al kitab ul mubin) and the Quran only ‘an extract’ of it in Arabic language, so that you may become wise (43:1). This definition of knowledge only meant that the Book of Nature, the books brought down from God by the Prophets and the Quran were all the same things and it was adduced that Man split himself up into various sects and divisions even after the coming down of this knowledge to him. The Quran even goes further and pronounces that “everything that has been created in this Earth and whatever is in the skies, also whatever there exists between the two, has been created as a matter of fact.” (46:3) and the word Fact or Truth (Al-Haqq) does not occur anywhere in the Quran except with reference to the things created by God in Nature (Only in about half a dozen places the word Al-Haqq occurs with references to God Himself or His Prophets or to Death). With the same emphasis the “Ulama” or the knowers of the Quran are only those people who study deeply Nature made by God and “it is they alone who fear God (Innama yakhsh Allahu min ibadi hil Ulama).” (35:28) A Tradition of the Prophet also says that “the Ulama of my Ummat are like unto the Prophets of Bani Israel”. Thus the “Ulama” of the Quran are only those people who have profound knowledge of the Book brought down by all the Prophets for Man or of the larger Book of Nature which is the only truth existing, and the idea is that by studying this Book the whole world of Human Beings becomes united into one homogeneous whole, irrespective of creed, colour, geography or race, for the purpose of higher evolution of Man to still higher forms of creation. The Quran also uses the word Ahl-uz-Zikr (16:6) i.e. men of knowledge for these distinguished people.

    It is clear therefore, that the Quran, (or as a matter of fact any Book of the Prophets), should have been interpreted in the light of the “Book of Nature” before us, and this was only done by the early knowers of the Quran in the first few centuries of the Prophet’s Era with the result that God’s Direction and Right Programme began to dominate over a large portion of the Earth and Man entered a brotherhood which had no prejudices of caste, colour, race or geography, for a good while. This was the age of the “Ulama” according to the Qur’an or rather “the age of the Prophets of Beni Israel”. Subsequently the Mussulman forgot altogether the Divine programme and the limits of Islam began to squeeze. All expansion and conquest stopped as if by a magic wand and he began to look at the Quran from the sectarian or rather ‘Muhammadan’ point of view, as if Islam was a sect of humanity initiated by the Prophet Muhammad, just as Christians believe that Christianity was a sect initiated by Christ or Jews a group of men formed by Moses.

    According to this ridiculous, illogical and wrong notion of knowledge, the group of men who after this fall of Islam began to interpret Quran from this sectarian point of view began to style themselves as Ulama and Ahl-uz-Zikr and these Ulama further cut up the Mussulmans even into various sects according to their own school or method of thought. Thus the whole spirit of Islam vanished to nothingness. Now every Mulla of a mosque, who does not know what is beyond his nose, claims to interpret the Quran and styles himself Alim. The “age of millions of Ulama” has disappeared and with the disappearance of this atmosphere the thread of the knowledge of the Quran has been lost.

    The same thing happened with regard to the word “Hadith” of the Quran. This word only meant “conversation” or “story” in the Quran and had absolutely no technical significance. The Quran said: “Allah has sent down (to you) the most excellent conversation (ahsan-al-hadith). ” (39:23) At another place it said: “Then after this story (fabi ayye hadithin), which other story you would believe. (meaning the story of the right path of Man related by God to him)” (7:185) When these things were being revealed in the Quran there was not a trace of the written “Tradition of the Prophet.”

    The traditions of the Prophet (now styled Ahadith, plural of Hadith) were written down late in the third century of the Prophet’s era, and during his lifetime the Prophet most strictly warned that “Nothing should be written down from me except the Quran, because (Look! How distinct is the warning) the previous nations got astray through writing.” Inspite of this clear warning (authenticated by the Sahih of Al-Bokhari, which is universally accepted to be the most genuine document of the Traditions of the Prophet), the Mussulmans began to edit all possible utterances of the Prophet (reliable and unreliable, chaff and grain) and, in utter defiance to the irony of the Quran with regard to the word “Hadith”, began to call it the “Hadith of the Rasul”. There was a terrific going astray of the followers of the Prophet after this general adoption of “Hadith” as a Book of Direction, although the Great Omar, the second Kaliph pronounced on the death-bed of the Prophet: Hasbona Kitab Allah i.e. to us the Book of God is sufficient, meaning that even if the Prophet expired we have quite sufficient material with us to go on with. These words were uttered in the presence of the Prophet and it is remarkable that he did not contradict them even though he wanted to dictate something to Omar at that time.

    “Ahadith”, because they were stray utterances of the Prophet separated from the context and the atmosphere of the conversation, and did not even sometime mention the status of the man to whom the conversation of the Prophet was addressed, created a tremendous confusion in the original teaching of the Quran, and Islam became even ten times sectarian in its teaching aspect. The expounders of Hadith split up again into various sections and the Mussulmans deteriorated still further. Now those expounders of Hadith style themselves as Muhadithin and the law that they have evolved out of this holy but man-given literature is called “Sunnah”, and they have allied it with Quran as a complimentary literature without which no Quranic exposition can be complete. It is interesting to note here that the word “Sunnah” also was never used in the Quran in this technical sense; and its original meaning being only the “Law” or “Practice” of God which is immutable: “Wa lun tajida Li sunnat illah tabdila” (48:23)

    After this tentative exposition of Islam as ordained originally by the Creator of the Universe, the origin as well as position of “Faqihs” and “Ulamas” and “Muhadithin” in Islam becomes quite clear. Leaving the last two alone, Faqihs are those judges of the Mussulmans who administered justice in accordance with the dictates of the Quran and the Hadith and according to their discretion. They come to be known as “holy” men and their decisions became perpetuated as holy because in the imagination of the people as well as themselves they administered the “Law of God”. Fiqah or the Islamic jurisprudence thus, (after divesting it of the sanctity attached to it) becomes merely the Law reports of the various Judges who sat on the Tribunals administering the personal law of a section of the Human beings called Muslims, very much like what the Law Reports of the modern Judges of the British or the Pakistani Courts are now-a-days. The decisions of these old and competent Judges should be held in esteem in much the same way as the decisions of the various High Courts are still respected and quoted and even followed. But just as there is no compulsion on the part of the Modern Judge to hold an earlier decision sacred and immutable, there ought to be logically a free room for extension, evolution, mutation and even wholesale contradiction of previous decisions, in order to make Islamic law even more perfect and better fitted for an advancing nation. This view of Ijtihad in Fiqah is now more and more generally held, and people who view Fiqah in the light of ordinary administrative law based on a general fundamental Divine Book for the whole of Mankind, are gradually drifting away from this sanctity of the Fiqah, as it has been commonly understood hither-to.

    With the almost awful generality of the Quran, of being the Message of God to the whole Human race, of being an ‘extract’ of the Book of Nature itself, of being given to all Prophets alike, of being something ‘contained’ in all the Books sent to the Prophets before, of being the last Word of God to Man, of being the latest and last edition of God’s Law, and so forth, it is clear that Fiqah, Tafsir and Hadith which have been “added” now to the Quran as its necessary compliments by the Faqihs, the Ulama, and the Mohadithin, can only be considered as “man-made” adjuncts and that Quran divests itself of all responsibility with regard to them. To a student of Islam who wishes to go inwards to the originals of that Quran, which was pronounced by the Great Omar as “quite sufficient” for all purposes, these later structures obviously do not matter as they were absent at the time Islam was in full glory and the Quran in its full action. Their potential value deteriorates also from the fact that no new upheaval in Islam took place after their appearance and sectarianism became so much intensified in it that Islam eventually lost even its pristine power of proselytisation.

    But now that Islam (the last word in fact of God to Man) has also deteriorated like Judaism, Christianity and other religions of the world to the level of becoming a “religion” of a section of the Human race and there seems to be no immediate possibility of the revival of the original message of the Quran, it has become impossible to under rate the value of these “super-structures”. Of these Fiqah, on the excellence of which depends the moral strength, solidarity and even the material prosperity of a society, stands out as the most important from the practical point of view. It is on the proper and most effective administration of Law that a society is moulded into what it should be. Most of the Western Nations of today have become what they are through proper and effective administration and propagation of the moral code they posses.

    Much of what they posses at present in the matter of building a healthy society is the first word of the Quran written large on almost every page of it, and there are volumes of law in countless social matters which they have yet to imitate from the Quran. Proper Fiqah, culled from the pages of the Quran and put into actual practice by the force of belief of those who run Islamic society politically, is therefore the only remedy of the deteriorated Islam and unless this is done under the auspices of those geniuses who have read the Quran in its original spirit and know as well the practical administration of law in human society all the world over, Islamic Fiqah cannot produce miraculous results.

    To give a concrete instance; Islamic Fiqah is perhaps the only institution in the world which divides Fundamental rights into two sections, viz., the rights of God (Haquq Allah) and the rights of people (Haquq ul Ibad). The thing most noticeable in the Quran which later exponents of Islam failed altogether to emphasize in Quranic System of law is that our jurists have taken up only that portion of law from the Quran, which has technical punishments or technical explanations attached to it and have put no emphasis worth mentioning on crimes and sins which the Quran emphasis as having led nations to ultimate destruction, and concerning which the Quran emphatically says that their punishment is eternal perdition and Hell. Another thing most marvelous in the Quran is that it has a graded tone of command or prohibition with respect to almost every imaginable human deed ranging from bounded duty (Farz), approval (Mustahab), dim approval, stern prohibition (Haraam), prohibition, prohibition with punishment, prohibition without manifest punishment, disapproval etc, etc., up to the wrath of God, the ultimate reward of power and prosperity on Earth, the heavenly reward of Al-Jannah or of the burning fire and eternal perdition, or even of total destruction of the whole nation on this Earth. Out of all these various ways of clarifying the importance of deeds pertaining to the mandatory portion of the Quran our jurists have taken only those human deeds where the punishment or reward was technical and have left out mainly those where reward or punishment was more or less spiritual or simply unassigned. They have also failed to notice the most important fact of the legislative portion of the Quran that contravention of the “rights of God” brings about a lesser punishment and sometimes even connivance or merely more formal way or more spiritual way of dealing with it than a disregard of the “rights of society”. It is in this respect that Islamic Fiqah is sadly deficient and it requires the most supreme effort of the modern Islamic Jurist to evolve a most intelligent system of law for the reconstruction of the depraved Muslim society of modern times.

    Again, the most outstanding defect of the present Islamic Fiqah is that it is stagnant and has been given a tint which makes it look like a sanctified institution. This has the desideratum of making it look un-modern or even medieval as compared with the Quran, which makes even the most high critic of it astounded at the most elaborate exactness of modernity of it. It is time that Pakistan, being an altogether new and even the largest Islamic State, should take the lead in revising, rather reforming, Islamic Fiqah from the original principles of Islamic Law. Men who have deeply studied the Quran from the scientific and universal aspect of it should come forward and make it an ideal system of law, as Quranic law ought necessarily to be.

    It is time also that Islamic administrators of Law should take up those commandments of the Quran within the purview of law which the Quran enjoins as the basic duty of the whole Millah to take up and which tends to construct the whole society of Islam on solid foundations. In this respect the Quranic dictum that “there should be a people among you who invite (people) to do good and order you to do the outstanding good (al-maruf) (of remaining perfectly united) and prohibit you from doing the outstanding evil (al-munkar) (of becoming dispersed into various sections). Wal takun minkum ummatan yadauna ilal khaire wa yamurun bil maruf wa yanhauna anil munkar ” (3:104) must become a portion of our progressive law, for the very reason that amar bil maruf and nahiy anil munkar have been a part and parcel of Islamic spiritualism from the remote beginning of Islam, at any rate individually, if not collectively. The word “order” and “prohibit” in this section of the Quranic mandate are enough to convince that the providence meant that Human beings (being always prone to evil of disruption and most averse to mutual love and union) can be made to stand firm and united against all decomposing forces by the force of authority alone and that mere persuasive and voluntary efforts in this respect cannot bring about the intended results. The well known Quranic dictum: w’atasimu bihablillahe jamiaan wa la tafarraqu i.e. “hold on to the rope of God collectively and without exception and do not get dispersed.” (3:103) Or the dictum: innal lazina faraqqu din ahum wa kanu shiaa, lasta minhum fi shay i.e. “those who split up their Programme (Din) and became divided into several sections, thou (O Prophet) are not to include thyself in them in any respect.” (6:159) Are some examples of the way in which the Quran enjoins on its followers to keep to the commandments of God under all circumstances, and unless mandates of a general nature like these, which are the very essence of the programmes of all “live” nations of the Earth, are put into actual practice by the moral force of law and judicious legislation, no law of humans can organize a healthy society. It is thus the duty of progressive Islamic Fiqah to extend its domain of moulding the morals and actions of Muslims in such a way that the whole spirit of the law contained the Quran is maintained. Any Fiqah without this inherent spirit is a skeleton of decayed Islam not possessing the motive power of that life giving urge which warms up human souls, and must be discarded as worthless and even un-godly.


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