From 30 Degrees to 45 Degrees

In times of internal schism within the Muslim world, the definitive agenda of the rebels has been in their effort to deflect the movement of the Ummah along the safely trodden path of the Salaf, the earliest predecessors. This deflection has almost always meant the diluting of the importance, significance and relevance of the Fiqh and the Faqih of Islam. The article presented hereunder throws ample light on this age old trend that is of equal concern today as in all centuries past.

There have been, as there are – with numbers increasing – several movements among the Muslims aimed at cutting the new generation from its root and branch. Here is one which works under the shibboleth: ‘Follow not but the Qur’an and Sunnah.’ There is another which wages war on the Fuqaha’ with the rallying cry ‘Back to Hadith.’ Then there is one which works under the ‘Qur’an-only’ slogan. To match them is the movement away from the Ahl al-Suunah wa al-Jama`ah – in the very name of Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama`ah. Not to be left behind, there is a group, a pretty large one, which promotes innovations of all kinds. They have the skill to replace every Sunnah with a Bid`ah, doing it with ‘love of the Prophet’ as the pretext. Then, of course, there are those who are after the Muslim clergy with a dagger, but their true object of kill is the `Ulama – of all times, present and past. Not to ignore, there has been a vociferous movement, which remains quietly loyal to besmirching the Companions on grounds that some of them weren’t as true to the chair as they should have been.

Combinedly, they all do the work that the Shi`ah, Bohri, Mahdawi, Isma`ili, Ahmadi, Qadiyani, Alawi, Nusayri, Druze, and a dozen others have left unaccomplished. The predecessors did such a thorough job that in consequence they had to walk out of the Ummah circle.

Those who left the work unaccomplished, left the Ummah as an accomplishment, and those who are striving to compete with them, are now so prominently active, and so easily identifiable, that the West has learnt to draw giggling pleasure from using them to run their gun against the mainstream Sunni Muslims.

Sunnis are encircled. And the circle is tightening. Alarmingly, within the circle is now coalescing armies of ‘hate-your-past’ young, computer-generated digital Muslims. They are armed with degrees in ignorance, and as angry as a pussy cat under attack if ever told how ignorant they are. They are likely to set up morchas for a better organized onslaught on the “ghurabaa” once their loose organization is organized and a charismatic disbelieving-believer rises to lead them to paradise: “The thirsty imagines it water.” (Qur’an, 24: 39)

We receive letters every now and then that contain a jibe or two at the Fiqh schools. Their jibe contains in quoting a hadith from Bukhari or Muslim, which, according to them, contradicts a Fiqhi rule. That follows with gleeful claim that the Fuqaha’ did not know even a simple hadith. For example, they vie to cut young men away from their Fuqaha’ by saying that a hadith clearly says, “He who does not pray, committed Kufr.” But the Fuqaha’ say, “He who did not pray, did not commit Kufr.” So, if the Fuqaha’ did not know a famous hadith, they claim with a smile from ear to ear, “Can we trust the schools of Fiqh? Shouldn’t the schools be abolished?”

Ignorance of our past history, (actually a complete blank, and a mind [and soul] as bright as patches of night) leads many young men to such appalling conclusions as which make the hair of many scholars stand on ends. “Allah’s mercy,” they ask themselves, “what will their children be like?”

From no quarter the young men seem to have learnt that the barbers who cut the hair of the Fuqaha’ of the earliest times knew more Hadith than the street evangelists of today, in fact, even more than the Shuyukh of the evangelists. They do not realize that their belief implies that Bukhari and Muslim invented the Hadith, echoing the Jewish and Christian allegation that the Hadith discipline was invented 200 years after the Prophet.

Interestingly, one of the Hadith scholars of the modern times who – we are sure – inadvertently lent this meaning through some of his writings, ultimately committed such errors in Fiqh matters that his one time passionate lovers abandoned him altogether, not only in Fiqh matters, but, sadly, in Hadith matters too.

A glance – and no more than a glance – into the history of the early years of Islam will tell a man that the times of the Fuqaha’ were times of Hadith. They heard Hadith, they spoke Hadith, they dictated Hadith, they wrote Hadith, they drank Hadith, they ate Hadith, they discussed Hadith, they taught Hadith, they spread Hadith, they dreamt Hadith, they memorized Hadith, they collected Hadith, they explained Hadith, they used Hadith to make the Law; and, what’s to be especially noticed, they passed on the Hadith to those who took upon themselves to codify the Hadith – men like Bukhari, Muslim, and others. In those days, the Qur’an was memorized by every child, but, in adult life, there was nothing in their lives except Hadith.

Hadith collectors on the other hand, do not belong to the age of the Hadith. They belong to the “age of Hadith codification.” It is the Fuqaha’ who belong to the “age of Hadith.”

Our young men who are led to a 30 degrees turn away from the mainstream Islam, need to inform the street robbers that there was no other literature during the time of the Fuqaha’ except Hadith. There was, in that society, neither written Qur’anic commentaries, nor Seerah, nor history, nor geography, nor poetical works, nor anything like story books, nor anything else – but Hadith. Was that the time when the Hadith dominated the Muslim society? No, that was not the time when Hadith dominated Muslim society. It was the time when there was nothing in the society but the Hadith. There was nothing else in the society for the Hadith to dominate. It was as if Allah willed that the first two hundred years of Islam should be the centuries of Hadith. That was the time during which the Fuqaha’ appeared; because, after the Qur’an, it was on Hadith that the Fuqaha’ relied for generating the Law.

These street evangelists and sect-creators need to be hammered on their heads that there was absolutely nothing else – yes, absolutely, and categorically – nothing whatsoever, by way of literature but Hadith in the Muslim society of the times of the Fuqaha’.

To believe that the Fuqaha’ did not know Hadith, is to believe that scientists do not know mathematics. To believe that the Fuqaha’ did not know Hadith is to believe that Milton, Shelly, Keats, Wordsworth and others did not know grammar. To believe that the Fuqaha’ did not know Hadith is to believe that Bukhari or others brought their Ahadith from the moon. To believe that the Fuqaha’ did not know Hadith is to believe that the farmers brought out grain without seedlings. To believe that the Fuqaha’ did not know Hadith is to believe that those who wrote the Indian Constitution did not know Law.

To believe that the Fuqaha’ did not know Hadith well enough is an outrageous example of ignorance bordering on mental imbalance. We can’t find an alternative word for a man of such opinion, if that happens to be his well-thought opinion, and not a line received from others, and parroted.

Who came first: Hadith collectors or the Fuqaha’? Yes, of course the Fuqaha’ preceded Hadith collectors by about a century. Who laid the unquestionable rules about acceptance and rejection of Hadith? It was the Fuqaha’ who declared that a hadith narrated by a Faqih narrator, he from a Faqih narrator, he from a Faqih narrator, was more trustworthy than another hadith, if narrated by non-Faqih, from a non-Faqih, and he from a non-Faqih – no matter in how many Sahih collection it appears. And they pointed out a hadith to demonstrate the strength of their position. Hadith scholars gave the Ummah the Hadith. The Fuqaha’ gave them the Qur’an. Whenever it was said, “Hadith says this, Hadith says that,” the Fuqaha’ reminded, “The Qur’an says this.”

Who was Imam Malik who laid the foundations of Maliki Madh-hub? Primarily, a Muhaddith. His collection called Muwatta has been thought as the most trustworthy book after the Qur’an – a statement more widely attributed to Bukhari’s collection. Who was Ahmad b. Hanbal, the founder of Hanbali madh-hub? Primarily, a collector of Hadith. His Musnad has 30,000 Hadith. Who was Imam Shafe`i? He was the one who had memorized the Muwatta’ before taking up Fiqh.

Who was Abu Haneefah, the originator of Fiqh School, who gave the first principles to his disciples? He was not a Hadith collector. He was a Faqih, and that of the highest order. Who is a Faqih? A Hadith collector is a collector of Hadith. He is not too concerned with the meaning and explanation of Ahadith he collects. He could not afford to attempt that. None of the collectors has, therefore, explained the Ahadith of his collection, requiring voluminous commentaries of later times. A Faqih on the other hand is one who understands and explains every aspect of the Hadith – especially the legal. He who has a collection of Hadith, has to go out and look for someone to explain and expound the Hadith for him. That someone is called a Faqih.

If we name some scientists as the Father of Science, then Abu Haneefah was the Father of the Fiqh discipline. His students were the masters of Bukhari and Muslim. He was the one who laid down the principles of Law, that the Western world has no equivalent of – so that, they have the Law, but not the principles of Law. He was the one who laid the uncompromising principle that in Fiqh matters, the Qur’an will prevail; who insisted that the Qur’an will not be violated in view of a Hadith however famously known; who declared that in the absence of a Qur’anic direction, and a trustworthy hadith, he would prefer a weak hadith over his personal opinion.

Every Islam-denier from within the body of the Ummah, relies on Hadith to deny, to deflect, to create dissension. The Fuqaha’ defeat every such person and every sect’s purpose by saying, “The Qur’an refutes what you are saying. Go and search for the proper meaning of the Hadith you are quoting. The Qur’an and Prophetic words cannot contradict each other. The Qur’an will judge a hadith: whether it is Sahih or not. It is not the narrators who will judge. It is the Qur’an.” They declared that if a hadith clashes with a Qur’anic statement, then either the hadith is (a) incomplete, (b) has been taken out of context, (c) is abrogated, or, (d) has not been understood properly. That is how the Fuqaha’ established the supremacy of the Qur’an. They said, “The Hadith is on our eye-lids. But the Qur’an is in the eye.”

So, if someone said, “There is no Salah without Surah al-Fatiah,” Abu Haneefah maintained, “Look for a proper meaning of the Hadith of your quote because the Qur’an said, “Recite (in the Prayer), whatever you can easily do.” When some others said, “There is nothing as Zakah on agricultural product for less than five measures,” Abu Haneefah objected, “Give it a second thought because the Qur’an said, ‘And give out its due, on the day of Harvest.’” If some people maintained in view of the hadith (in Bukhari), that: “Two men dealing with each other have the choice to withdraw so long as they remain in the same assembly,” Abu Haneefah demanded a better understanding of the subject because the Qur’an said (5: 1), “Believers! Fulfill the contracts.”

Asking why Abu Haneefa did not compose a Hadith book, is like asking why Bilal, having been with the Prophet for 23 years narrated no more than 25 ahadith whereas those who embraced Islam two decades after him narrated hundreds. To question why Imam Bukhari or Muslim did not codify Fiqh, is to demonstrate one’s lack of thinking power. Every individual is different from another in everything he does, including what he thinks is the best career for him. To expect everybody to become a doctor is a vain idea.

To ask why Abu Haneefa did not compose a Hadith work is to ask why a famous cricket player did not write a book on cricket. The answer is, he knew what cricket is, and played it properly. His scores, either as a batsman or as a bowler, are evidence of his knowledge of cricket. A “googly” is to be played, not explained. Similarly, Abu Haneefa was busy working out Laws from the Hadith. He had no time, nor was there any need, to compose a book on Hadith.

Abu Haneefa’s insight into Hadith amazes people even now. When he was asked about some muazzin clearing throat before saying the Iqamah for Salah, he answered that perhaps its origin is in a hadith which reports `Ali as saying that when he went up to the Prophet’s house to see him, and the Prophet could not answer because he was in Prayer, he would clear his throat and `Ali got the signal that he was in Prayer. Similarly, these muezzins clear throat before Iqamah to indicate that they are about to say the Iqamah.

Abu Haneefah drew Fiqh-rules from ahadith that others did not think could be containing the meaning he derived. He was informed that a man claimed to be a Prophet and people were asking him to produce a sign in proof of his claim. Abu Haneefa ruled, “Those who sought a sign from the claimant committed Kufr.” They were startled by the answer. He explained, “The Prophet has said, ‘There will be no Prophet after me.’ He who doubted this statement, committed Kufr.”

This is not an article in defense of Abu Haneefah. His madh-hub has the largest following, and following is what the deflectors need; therefore, he is their special target, although the ultimate target is abolition of Fiqh madhahib in order to convert the 30 degrees turn of the digital generation into 45 degrees.