March 1996: Page 1, 2, 3, 4

Submitters Perspective

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...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 unavoidable conditions.

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 so.

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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