Why Muslims must now turn away from Hadith
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of the Quran which he brought, and many of them incalculate superstitious faith in the ulama.
It is thus in the interest of the ulama to uphold and protect the Hadith. It is in fact their teaching that the Hadith be considered as a source of law along with the Quran. Definitely it is not the Prophet’s teaching.
The Quran categorically forbids it, and the Prophet is also reported to have forbidden the writing down of anything from him except the Quran. Since this report supports the Quran, it can be safely regarded as a genuine Hadith.
The teaching that the Hadith is a primary source of Muslim jurisprudence was first formally stated by the great classical jurist. Imam Shafi’i (d. 820 A.D.) some two hundred years after the Prophet’s death.
The Hadith of course existed in oral form from the earliest
generations of Islam, though not in such stupendous numbers as existed at the time of the official compilations, but prior to the acceptance of the Shafi’i jurisprudential theory, they were simply regarded as precedents.
Right from the time of Shafi’i’s enunciation of the theory in his book, al-Risalah, strong objections were advanced against it by the Muslim Rationalists on the grounds that the Quran was perfect, complete and detailed and the Hadith mere guesswork.
The historical circumstances at that time were such that Shafi’i’s theory eventually gained general acceptance and the opposition movement suppressed.
However, it persisted as a minority suppressed movement in the Muslim community down the centuries until today when, to my mind, conditions are ripening for its general acceptance.
The anti- Hadith movement can in no way be taken as a movement to denigrate the great Prophet Muhammad or to do away with the divine scripture, the Quran, that he brought to mankind, as the upholders of Hadith would have the people believe.
Muhammad, being God’s final prophet to mankind during the Earth’s era of scientific and technological advance, cannot teach such superstitions as are embodied in a great many Hadith.
The aim of the anti- Hadith movement is precisely to clear the great Prophet of the false teachings attributed to him. As to the Quran, it is the grand, spiritual, rational, humanistic, liberating message that he brought to the Arabs and the whole of mankind, already lifting the Arab and Muslims in the first three centuries to great heights, and, of course, as capable of accomplishing similar feats for the whole of humanity in the future.
The Quran is far, very far above the jumble of so-called prophetic Hadith that the conservative theologians wish to associate it with.
This is the universal, social and philosophical dimension of the anti- Hadith movement and the movement back to the Quran, the sole, original and true teachings of Prophet Muhammad to the world. It is of far reaching world significance.
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NOW that the Religious Affairs Division in the Prime Minister’s Department has made known its views on Kassim Ahmad’s book, there will certainly be increasing pressure to ban it. The editorial regretted that those who are loudest in seeking a ban on the book are also the ones who have been reluctant to have an open debate with Kassim to discuss his book. The open-mindedness of Abim in responding to Kassim Ahmad’s challenge is to be applauded. The Berita Harian added that perhaps the publication of the book could have been inspired by the fact that Encik Kassim was denied the use of a public forum at the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia some months ago as a result of a directive by the Selangor Religious Affairs Department. The reason for preventing Kassim from holding the ceramah was that he is not an ulama and is not an expert on the Hadith. “It is clear that the UKM was reluctant to hear the views of a man whom they regard as ‘ignorant’ simply because he stands outside their field of expertise.”
“Who knows, perhaps if the ceramah had been permitted, its effect might have been more positive than what are facing now”. It is unfortunate for the Malays and Muslims that there are still people who consider themselves experts in a certain field but are afraid to hear the views of others who do not share their discipline?
The paper urged the ulama to have the “courage” to listen to other people’s views.
Religious issues should not be exempted from open debate even though there might be occasions when the ulama or the experts in a particular discipline feel that their credibility is challenged. If the ulamak take pride in the revival of Islam, they should be brave enough to cope with developments resulting from such revival.
It is useless to take pride in the revival of Islam if the right to discuss an issue of relevance to Islam continues to be regarded as the sole prerogative of the ulama.
It is odd that our ulama often make use of their position to ban this and that, and are prone to criticise the writings of other people while they themselves do not express their ideas in writing.
Is it the duty our ulama merely to act as sources of reference or as agents whose responsibility is to hand out haram or halal judgments? Why should Kassim’s book be the sole object of inquiry whereas the books written by Joseph Schact or Goldziher which Kassim used as his sources of reference are still sold in our bookshops?
The paper expressed the hope that “the ulama would accept Kassim’s invitation that the controversy be solved in a more judicious convincing manner.”
THE Utusan Malysia editorial commenting on Kassim Ahmad’s book called upon the ulama not to rely solely on their authority as religious leaders to act against Kassim Ahmad’s book. It would be more dangerous for the ulama merely to resort to conventional measures.
“Muslims now are generally less inclined to submit themselves to the authority of the ulama,” the Utusan added. Kassim Ahmad’s book poses not only a challenge to the credibility of the ulama but also to their scholarship in rebutting his arguments in a rational and convincing manner, the paper said.
“What is urgently needed is for the ulama to prove that Kassim Ahmad’s views are wrongly based on scientific arguments as the present generation of Muslims is more critical in their attitude and thinking,” the editorial said.
“It is a heavy task for our ulama but it is a responsibility which they must fulfill as the emergence of groups questioning Islam in the past was partly due to the failure of our ulama to adjust their methods of explaining Islam in terms that are relevant to the changes in the Muslim world”