1 Declaration of Faith/Belief
The Muslim declaration of faith is: “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah”. Yet this seems to defy the central concept of “Tawhid” or the “Oneness of Allah” as stressed in the Qur’an. Nowhere in the Qur’an are these two concepts linked together, that is, nowhere is the phrase: “There is no God but Allah” linked with the phrase”and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah”. A fact about which most Muslims seem to be totally unaware of. Let’s look at the Qur’anic example of’Shahadah’:
(3:18) Allah bears witness (Shahadallahu) that there is no God but Him (la-ilaha-illa-hu) – – and so do the angels, and men possessed of knowledge — upholding justice; there is no God but Him (la-ilaha-illa-hu), the Almighty, the Wise.
Further examples can be found in the following verses: 2:163,255; 3:2,6; 4:87; 6:102, 106; 7:158; 9:31,129; 11:14; 13:30; 16:2; 20:8,14,98; 21:25,87; 23:116; 27:26; 28:70, 88; 35:3; 39:6; 40:3; 62,65; 44:8; 47:19; 64:13; 73:9.
The second way that our ‘shahadah’ contravenes the Qur’an can be seen by the fact that Allah states as many as five times in the Qur’an that we must not make any distinction between any of His prophets. In doing so we become disbelievers and face severe penalties. The relevant verses are: 2:136, 285; 3:84; 4:150 -152; of which I quote the following:
(4:150-152) Those who deny Allah and His messengers, and wish to separate Allah from His messengers, saying: ‘We believe in some and reject others, and wish to choose a way in between’; Such are disbelievers in truth; and for disbelievers We have prepared a shameful doom. But those who believe in Allah and His messengers and make no distinction between them, unto them Allah will give their wages; Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful.
In fact, the Shahadah for the Muslims (i.e. the declaration of faith/belief) is given by the Qur’an itself in the following verse: (2:136) Say (O Muslims): We believe in Allah and that which is revealed unto us and that which was revealed unto Abraham and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the tribes, and that which Moses and Jesus received, and that which the prophets received from their Sustainer. We make no distinction between any of them, and unto Him we have surrendered.
Many other verses confirm this declaration (e.g. 2:285 and 3:84).
2. Shirk ( associating partnership with Allah for anything)
Joining the name of our Prophet with Allah is shirk, and shirkis an unforgivable sin as the following verses confirm.
(4:48, and almost identical 4:116) Lo! Allah forgiveth not that a partner should be ascribed unto Him. He forgiveth (all) save that to whom He will. Whoso ascribeth partners to Allah; he hath invented a tremendous sin.
(4:36) And serve Allah. Ascribe nothing as partner unto Him. (Wa’budullaha, wala Tushreku behi Shaiyyan)…..
(9:31) They have taken as lords beside Allah their rabbis and their monks and the Messiah son of Mary, when they were bidden to worship only One God. There is no god save Him. Be He Glorified from all that they ascribe as partner (unto Him)!
The Qur’an has many similar verses to indicate that no one and nothing can be associated with Allah. He Stands Alone on His command of power and judgement.
3. The meaning of Hadith and Sunnah
According to the Qur’an hadith means ‘story’, ‘news’, ‘report’ or ‘narration’ and used in these senses a number of times in the Qur’an. In practice the word hadith to most Muslims mean the reported sayings and practices of the Prophet. The operative word here is ‘reported’.as the Hadith literature was collected by word of mouth, about 250 years after the death of the Prophet.
Sunnah, as in practice means the laws that have been derived from the Hadith literature based on the reported teachings and practices of the Prophet. Sunnah according to the Qur’an means ‘The Law and Work of Allah which is immutable or unchangable’ (48:23) “Wa lun tajida li sunnat illah tabdila”.
A couple of verses with the word Sunnah appears below.
(33:62) […]never will you find any change in Allah’s way [sunnah]!
(35:43) […]no change will you ever find in Allah’s way [sunnah]; yes no deviation will you ever find in Allah’s way [sunnah].
The contradiction between the Qur’an and the Hadith regarding the question of sunnah can be easily resolved if we understand the position of the Prophet vis-à-vis the Qur’an. All Muslims know that The Qur’an is ‘the Word of Allah’ uttered by the Prophet, under the inspiration of the Revelation, to convey to the world.. The Qur’an is the point where the Word of Allah and the exact utterance of the Prophet converge.Thus, the Qur’an is the ‘utterance’ or ‘the sayings of the Prophet’ in a way that nothing else can claim to be. From this understanding, and on this basis only, we are equipped to receive the call in the Qur’an ‘to follow the Prophet’. That is, we are being asked to follow that which the Prophet was directly giving us, i.e. the Qur’an and all its teachings. Thus ‘to follow the Prophet’, as stated in the Qur’an, is an imperative to follow that which was inspired in him through revelation i.e. the Qur’an, and Allah says that the role of the prophet was simply to give The Message as it was revealed. This has no connection with the sayings and practices (i.e. the Hadiths), as attributed to prophet Muhammad (pbuh), some 250 years later. Also, as many hadiths contradict the Qur’an, it is clear that they had nothing to do with the Prophet. Allah constantly reminded the Prophet to stay on His Guidance alone and nothing else. It is important to note that the Qur’an never says ‘follow Muhammad’ (pbuh) but only ‘follow/obey the Messenger’, and the same applies to all other prophets in the Qur’an. Also the only sunnah mentioned in the Qur’an is Allah’s sunnah, which is fixed, and His Laws and Practices apply to all creations.
4. The Implications of Hadith for Islam:
Please look at chapter 10 of my book www.astudyofquran.org which also include some examples of hadiths that contradict the Qur’an. Basically the Hadith literature was collected by word of mouth, and documented about 250 years after the death of our Prophet (pbuh). There are many hadiths which contradict the Qur’an and therefore could not have been uttered by the Prophet (pbuh). Please see the following verse:
(69: 43 – 48). [It is] a revelation from the Sustainer of all the worlds. Now if he [whom we have entrusted with it] had dared to attribute some [of his own] unto Us, We would indeed have seized him by his right hand, and would have cut his life-vein, and none of you could have saved him! and verily, this [Qur’an] is a reminder to all the God-conscious.
We need to remember that the Qur’an is the only Book which contains the clear messages from our Creator and Sustainer for the whole of Mankind. None of the earlier revelations given to the previous Prophets were protected or preserved in their original forms. The Qur’an came as the last of Allah’s revelations, confirming the fundamentals of all the previous Messages, and Allah Himself took the responsibility of protecting it from any interference or falsehood. But sadly we have gone astray from The Book of Guidance and Light (Huda Wa’Nur). With Allah’s Help and Guidance our Prophet successfully completed his task inspite of tremendous challenges that came to his path. We need to use The Message as preserved in the Qur’an to stay on ‘The Straight Path’ and to find Allah’s Light to remove all the darknesses that surround our life and work. For basic guidances the Qur’anic Messages and instructions are fundamentally clear and adequate, and Allah repeats essential points so that we do not forget. His words are meaningfully exact and free from any error, inconsistency or ambiguity. A few verses may clarify these points further : 3:7; 6:115,116; 54:17,22,32,40.
Of course, for a deeper understanding of the Qur’an a knowledge of science and history will be required, and a knowledge of Arabic language will be essential. The language can be easily taught from the early stages of our schooling, particularly in countries where the substantial majority of population is Muslim. As Europe has demonstrated, children are able to learn three or four languages without difficulty. So for Arabic language this can be easily done in all muslim countries but we never use this simple wisdom! Instead we generally teach the Arabic scripts to read the Qur’an in a parrot fashion without any understanding of its meaning or guidance. Although Islam does not recognise a priesthood, we have created one with the authority of knowledge in Islam, who frequently uses hadith to explain and give injunctions in any given situation. When verses of The Qu’ran are recited they are used mainly as rituals and blessings rather than imparting any knowledge or understanding, and thus missing the whole purpose of The Qur’an as ‘The Book of Guidance’.
We can also learn a great deal from our prophet’s life. We can take lessons from his character and from his deeds for our own life to follow a role model. To do that sincerely, we need to keep our requirements within a much lower limit than we do now, and we need to treat others with equal justice and compassion as we would like for ourselves. Such was our prophet’s life, –- continually reflecting the Qura’nic Guidance and principles. Yet sadly we see in The Qur’an that we, his people, would have taken no account of This Book, and hence no lesson from his life either. On the day of judgement ‘our prophet will say that we, his people, have taken no account of this Qur’an’. ( 25: 25-30)
Muslims across the world are divided into various sects of which the two main sects are Sunni and Shia. The Sunnis are again divided into four groups: Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi andHanbali. The Hanafi group has the largest following. The next in order are the Shafi and the Maliki schools, while the smallest is Hanbali school which is followed by the Wahabite state of Saudi Arabia. These four schools of thought are generally classed together as Ahle-Fiqh and in Muslim eyes they are all equally valid and their decisions are equally sacred. The Shiasare divided into five groups. The main shia sect is the Imamiasect followed by the Ghali (now extinct), Kais’ania, Zaidia and Ismailia.
The other School of thought, commonly called the Traditionalists (Ahle-Hadith), maintain that it is ‘the sayings’ of the Prophet (pbuh) which should be enforced as they (supposedly) contain fundamental and unchangeable laws. This school believes that after scrutiny Hadith occupies the same position of authority as the Qur’an.
The position of the Qur’an on sects:
(6:159) Verily, as for those who have broken the unity of their of faith (Deen) and have become sects – thou (prophet) hast nothing to do with them. Behold, their case rests with God: and in time He will make them understand what they were doing
In a number of other verses Allah tells us ‘to hold on to the rope of Allah and do not divide’. These are: 3:103; 21: 92,93; 23: 52-53; 30:32; 42:13. In fact vs 30: 30-32 say that those dividing Allah’sDeen are ‘Mushriks’ (joining associates with Allah).
From all the above, it is obvious that by dividing ourselves into sects we are going against the clear injunctions given in the Qur’an and this being the most important reason as to why the Muslims are in such a mess, and the world is in such a confusion about the Muslims in general. As we move away from Allah’s Light of Knowledge and Wisdom we inevitably fall into the darkness of ignorance, conflict and confusion. The result is everywhere, and for all to see, if we only care to reflect!
6. Subsidiary Laws:
Logically the question arises that primarily as the Qur’an does not give specific instructions but only general or fundamental guidances, (i.e. Parameters, not A to Z) how do we go about building subsidiary laws to deal with specific situations? Basically the answer is in the direction given to the Prophet (pbuh) in the following verse:
(3:159) ‘[..]consult them (the believers) in the affairs of (the society).
While he lived, the Prophet determined subsidiary laws in consultation with the Ummat keeping within the principles and disciplines of The Qur’an. Allah Gives the boundary for our essential behaviour and action, and repeatedly Stresses that we must not exceed the limit. Following these fundamentals of the Qu’ran the society, the community and the Ummmatneed to develop their subsidiary laws in order to manage their affairs. In fact this process of framing laws within the framework of Qur’anic principles was not discontinued after the death of the Prophet (pbuh). And had the institution of Khilafat on the pattern set by the Prophet continued, the process of legislation evolved by it would have continued to develop normally, making the law of Shariat a happy blending of permanence of Qur’anic principles and values, combined with the changing need of the human societies. It is true that for a time the various schools of Fiqh carried on the process on their individual level but soon this became rigid, divisive, and fossilised.
7. The way forward:
Islam is supposed to be a religion of Peace and Justice as recommended by Allah’s Deen, but the present day Muslims lack any such contribution to the society or to the global world. This sharply contrasts to what is possible for us, as Allah promises in Surah Nur verse 55.
24:55 Allah has promised such of you as believe and do good works that He will surely make them to succeed in the earth, even as He also caused those who were before them to succeed, and that He will surely establish for them their religion (Deen) which He hath approved for them; and will give them in exchange safety after their fear. They serve Me. They ascribe nothing as partner unto Me. Those who disbelieve henceforth, they are the miscreants.
We should question why none of the above conditions are being fulfilled for the Muslims for a very long time? The answer simply is that we lack in our faith and in good deeds as Allah requires from us. The Qur’an uses the phrase ‘only those who have faith and do good deeds’ near around 70 times to establish that these are the people who will be successful both in this world and in the hereafter.
Good deeds are primarily important because human beings possess both the physical body and the self/soul (Nafs), both of which require nourishment and development. The body develops by taking; the self/soul develops by good deeds. The Qur’anic view of life directs us to nurture both our temporal and spiritual parts so that we can achieve a balanced life. If we solely indulge in our self interest, then we continually hoard until our hunger for more becomes insatiable. The following verses say this clearly.
(75: 20-21) Nay, but [most of] you love the fleeting life, and give no thought to the life to come [and to Judgement Day]!
(102: 1,2) Rivalry in worldly increase distracts you, until you come to the graves.
Other examples are in verses 87:16; 89:17-20; 100:8; 104:2-9.
Whereas giving or doing good deeds benefits our own soul as shown below.
(2:272) It is not required of thee (O Apostle) to set them on the right path, but God sets on the right path whom He pleaseth. Whatever of good ye give benefits your own souls, and ye shall only do so seeking the ‘Countenance’ of God. Whatever good Ye give, shall be rendered back to you, and ye shall not be dealt with unjustly.
For further examples see: 2: 110, 265, 272; 3:25,30,161; 6: 93, 164; 10: 30, 54; 14: 51; 16:111; 20:15; 35:18; 36: 54; 39:70; 40: 17; 45: 22; 64:16; 74: 38; 81:14; 82:5.
The word Nafs occurs about 255 times in the Qur’an.
Barzakh: A partition or a barrier (23:100), the place or the state in which our soul (Nafs) resides after our death and before the Day of Judgement. On death the soul (Nafs), which has a record of all our deeds, leaves the body and settles at the barrier called the barzakh. The soul (together with the body) will then be revived on the judgement day to be judged according to what we did in this world. The body perishes after the death and does not go through any punishment in the grave, contrary to what the Hadith literature tells us.
To be a Muslim we need to be a true Believer (Mumin) as addressed and guided in the Qur’an. This will only happen when we learn to use the messages in the Qur’an to develop our character and thought patterns and learn consciously to follow Allah’s Guidances in our own life. Thus, for a true Muslim, his/her ‘belief and good deeds’ must always combine, and only then the result will follow and, with Allah’s help, we shall not see such miserable conditions of Muslims around the world.
The last verses we include represent many other verses in the Qur’an.
(7:52) Verily We have brought them a Scripture which We expound with knowledge, ‘a guidance and a mercy’ (Huda wa Rahmah) for a people who believe.
(17:89) And verily We have Displayed for mankind in this Qur’an all kinds of similitudes, but most of mankind refuse aught save disbelief.
1.The Meaning of the Glorious Qur’an, by Marmaduke Pickthall.
2. The Holy Qur’an, by Yusuf Ali.
3. The Message of the Qur’an, by Muhammad Asad.