HOW DO I KNOW?
November 11th, 2008 by Dr. Shabbir
THAT A CERTAIN REPORT ON HISTORY OR HADITH IS CORRECT. THE TEN FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES:
The True Criterion: Muslims, in fact all humans, are blessed to possess the rational Al-Furqan, the True Criterion since its Authority and Authenticity are beyond doubt. The Qur’an is the Final, Inviolable Word of God for all times. There is internal evidence in the Qur’an to that effect as well. Therefore, any saying ascribed to the exalted Prophet must be judged in that Light. The Qur’an is replete with the character traits of the exalted Prophet and sheds plenty of the exclusively reliable light on his biography. Check any report with the Qur’an. Can’t this simple rule save Muslims the mental agony, contention and waste of time and energy they have been going though for centuries?
The Basic Principles In The Qur’an: Now a very important question arises. Most people do not have sufficient knowledge of the Qur’an, so how can they check a report on history or hadith against it? The answer is made simple by the fact that the Qur’an establishes a few simple fundamental rules in this respect. Keeping these rules in mind can empower us to assess the authenticity of our history and hadith. Although anyone can get the following Principles from the Book, let us make things easy for everyone.
Briefly, Some Of These Principles Are:
1. The Law of Requital (Qur’an 99:7-8) God’s Rule is the Rule of Law. As you sow, so shall you reap. Hence, reward and punishment are natural consequences of our own actions. Any contrary statement will be non-Qur’anic. God is not emotional like humans. Therefore, He does not reward and punish in excitement. There is no such thing as “qubooliat ki ghari” (a moment of acceptance of prayer).
2. The Qur’an repeatedly impresses upon us that the Laws of God never change (17:77, 33:38, 33:62, 35:43, 40:85, 48:23). Hence, people do not fly in the air or walk on water. Nothing ‘supernatural’ takes place in the universe, so, physical miracles (karaamaat) are out of the question. The water flows downstream - The law of gravity is operative in Nature - Like poles repel each other, opposite poles attract each other - Metals are good conductors of heat and electricity, non-metals are not - Heat expands objects, cold contracts and so on. Yes, God is Able to do all things, yet He does not break His Own Laws. If the Divine Laws in Nature kept changing, no science would be possible.
3. No person can be held responsible for, or share the burden of, another (53:38). So, there is no such thing as Hajj Badal (doing pilgrimage on behalf of another person) or praying, fasting on behalf of a deceased person. On the same basis, there is no such thing as Original Sin and then Atonement. All children are born with a clean slate (17:70). The only criterion of honor is our conduct (49:13). Slavery and concubinage go out the window right here and in (47:4) plus many more verses.
4. No amount of praying, utterances or wishful thinking can make us good human beings or good Muslims. It is the actions that count (13:17, 53:39). Counting names, words and verses on rosary beads won’t help.
5. The Qur’an is the last Message of God and Muhammad (S) is His Final Messenger. Religion has been perfected (5:3, 6:34, 15:9, 75:17) and therefore anyone claiming to receive Revelation, ‘Kashf’, ‘Ilhaam’ or knowledge of the future or of the Unseen after him in any form will either be an impostor or a lunatic. Since the Qur’an is a complete, perfected Book, no “Imam” is authorized to make things Halaal or Haraam or make laws contrary to it.
6. There is no such thing as a separate group of “Awliya” (Friends of Allah). All good humans are His “Friends”. (3:68, 4:45, 7:196)
7. Iman (Conviction) can be adopted only through reason. Blind faith, faith by birth carries no merit with God. (2:256, 12:108)
8. The only life worth living is helping people and that is the only way to Paradise. (13:17)
9. On the Authority of the Qur’an (33:21), Prophet Muhammad (S) was a model human being with noblest of character and conduct. No action of his was contrary to the Qur’an. Therefore, any history or Hadith going against this solid principle and insulting the Prophet must be considered a fabrication.
10. About the companions of the exalted Prophet, the Qur’an tells us that Allah approved them and they were pleased with Him since they had harmonized their will with Him. They were staunch and practical believers. (3:103, 8:63, 8:74, 9:100, 48:29) So, any accounts belittling their character must be considered false and unacceptable. Any history narrating fights between the noble companions must be dismissed as hoax. For example, the Battles of Jamal, Siffain, Nehrwan and Karbala never happened. All of these are the brainchildren of the Criminal Imam Tabari, the first ever ‘canonized’ historian of Islam. He died in 310 AH (300 years after the exalted Prophet).
These ten fundamental Principles are based on research by this life-long student. Although they seem to be sufficient for all practical purposes but friends may reflect and suggest a few more of them if well-founded, useful and necessary.
Any account given in the Qur’an that sounds supernatural like a miracle, must be understood in allegorical terms as advised in Surah 3 verse 7. The realm of the Unseen like the past and the future, hell & paradise, the nature of God, His throne, hands and eyes, for example, must be understood allegorically, and not literally.
I like that statement of Talmud: “A believer in miracles is a fool and a disbeliever in miracles is an infidel.” :-)
Imam Tabari’s Strange Confession: “I am writing this book as I hear from the narrators. If anything sounds absurd, I should not be blamed or held accountable. The responsibility of all errors or blunders rests squarely on the shoulders of those who have narrated these stories to me.” So, Tabari wrote nothing but hearsay.
Tabari’s Tareekhil Umam Wal Mulook (The History of Nations and Kings) popularly called “Mother of All Histories” is the first ever “History of Islam” written by ‘Imam’ Tabari (839-923 CE) at the junction of the third and fourth century AH. He died in 310 AH, 3 centuries after the Prophet (S). What were his sources? Not a scrap of paper! “He told me this who heard it from him who heard it from so and so,” and so on. By compiling his 13 volume History and his 30 volume Exposition of the Qur’an under royal patronage, he became the Super Imam. The later historians until this day have persisted in following the trails of the Super Imam.
Exercising Common Sense:
We have underscored the ten Qur’anic Principles that should always stand as our guide. In addition, exercise of common sense can easily tell us that a senseless narrative cannot be ascribed to the most rational, knowledgeable man who ever walked this earth. In fact, according to the Qur’an, people who do not use their faculties of hearing, sight and thinking are living the life of cattle (7:179). Therefore, any narrative that falls into one of the following categories cannot be considered authentic:
1. Any hadith or history that insults the Prophet.
2. Any hadith or history that dishonors the noble companions because the Qur’an extols them and they were chosen by the best judge of people.
3. The exalted Messenger was the most revolutionary personality ever and he changed the course of history and the future of humanity for all times to come. (Details are given in my book “Islam As I Understand”). So, any ahadith portraying him as a storyteller, soothsayer, preoccupied with women, drenched in worship, spending half his life on the prayer rug and the other half in bed, must be considered false.
4. Any narrative based upon outright ignorance and against common observation cannot be a saying of the Prophet (S). For example, the hadith that no animal is born with deformities or that looking at a beautiful face sharpens the vision.
5. As we have already noted, any reports defying the laws of nature and promoting the supranatural and supernatural must be absolutely unacceptable since God promises never to defy His Own Laws although He easily can.