...Silence on Quran Illiteracy
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hadith. On the contrary, the teaching of the Quran give the mind
a noble place. God deems human beings who do not use their minds
worse than animals! (7:179) God bars those who do not use their
minds from the fold of the faithful. (10:100)
Three, suppression of creativity. It is evident that for a long
time, Muslims have not been creative. Since the thirteenth century
when Islamic civilization began to decline, modern scientific discoveries
and technological inventions have been made by others, particularly
those who hold that human beings may know and may create progress.
In the early days, Muslims were highly creative because they adhered
to the Quran’s dynamic teachings, which urge Muslims to work
and strive for success in this world and the next. But since they
turned to the teachings of the hadith, their creativity declined,
for these false hadith teach resignation to taqdir (divine pre-destination)
or fatalism. Purportedly, good and evil are from God. The Malay
proverb, “If you are fated to gain a cupak (a small measure
of rice) you will not gain a gantang (a big measure of rice),”
reflects this world-view.
All three teachings from certain false hadith are clearly in conflict
with teachings in the Quran. The Islamic education system from the
village pondok (rural religious seminary) right up to the Azhar
university, based on rote learning and unquestioning acceptance,
teaches that hadith cannot possibly be in conflict with the Quran.
This would be true of hadith that are really from the Prophet. But
history tells us that the hadith compilations by Bukhari and others
were made between 200 and 250 years after the Prophet’s death.
These compilations are the responsibility of Bukhari and others,
not of the Prophet. The Prophet’s responsibility as God’s
messenger was to convey the Quran....
Some religious leaders label as apostates those who adhere to the
Quran, accusing them of being
anti-hadith. According to certain hadith,
apostates are punished by being put to death. Are they not aware
that leaders of Christian Church during the Middle Ages in Europe
also put to death apostates from Christianity? Thus, this is not
punishment under God’s law, but one from the age of ignorance
which entered the hadith through the Torah (Old Testament), which
had been tampered with. (Refer to Deut. 13:5-10) Do our people know
that according to the teachings of the Quran, one is given full
freedom to choose one's religion? Thus, killing someone for religion
is totally forbidden by God and is a great sin.
The study of the hadith has been developed into a complex one in
Islam from the 9th to the 15th century. The early hadith scholars
established a method of sifting out the weak hadith and retaining
only the genuine ones. However, we must realize that knowledge develops,
and one of the conditions for development is freedom to criticize.
No philosopher, scientist or scholar is free of weaknesses, and
one of the ways of overcoming weaknesses is through scientific criticism.
We have seen the weaknesses of the method used by the early hadith
scholars in the existence of many hadith which are in conflict with
the Quran in Sahih Bukhari (Bukhari’s compilation
of hadith that are regarded as genuine) and others.
Now we need to review the definition of sahih or authentic hadith.
Does it mean confirmed as genuine only on the basis of isnad (chain
of narrators) or also on the basis of matan (meaning of text)? Between
isnad and matan, which is the more important? As we are talking
about the sayings and doings of the Prophet, the term sahih must
be based on matan which is in line with the Quran, for the sayings
and doings of the Prophet Muhammad could not possibly be in conflict
with the teaching of the Quran.
It is clear why we need to do a re-evaluation. Every Muslim believes
in the Quran and puts it above all other teachings. Our problem
is the Quran-illiteracy of Muslims whose language is not Arabic,
and of Arab Muslims whose language is Arabic. They do not know
which of the hadith taught to them are
in conflict with the teachings of the Quran and which are not. Many
false teachings have been slipped into the hadith by foes of Islam
in those days (the Jews, the Christians, the Persians) to undermine
Islam from within. If Muslims wish to be great again, and surely
they do wish it, re-evaluating the hadith on the basis of the Quran
and understanding and practicing the teachings of the Quran are
Certainly, when this re-evaluation is carried out, certain changes
and adjustments will need to be made in our beliefs and practices.
As these changes are made to correct and improve, we need not fear
making them. In fact, we should welcome them. What we should fear
is going on practicing wrong traditions after knowing them to be
But these few changes and adjustments involve major matters:
One, we must reject adulation of leaders. We must bow only to God.
All human beings are equal--none higher or lower than the other.
This will rekindle the spirit of jihad (struggling in God’s
cause) among Muslims....
Two, we must reject taqlid (un-questioning acceptance of human
authority). We must use our minds to gain knowledge. We read all
books, but critically. We learn from all teachers, but without forgetting
our critical faculty. In this way, we shall inherit only the good
from our ancestors; the bad we shall cast aside. Thus will the Islamic
intellect blossom again.
Three, we must reject fatalism. Our fates as individuals and as
a nation is shaped by ourselves, not by taqdir (divine predestination).
The law is: those who strive will attain; those who do not strive
will not. Man cannot know his capacity until he tries. The Omniscient
God knows everything from beginning to end, but man does not know
what God knows. This change will revive the creativity of Muslims;
and science, philosophy, art and technology will bloom again in
the Islamic world.
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