Lecture 4 in the Jumuah series: UNPACKING THE QURAN-CENTRIC SCHOOL OF THOUGHT by Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider on Friday 28 July 2017 (5 Dhul Qa’dah 1438) at the Ahlul Bait (a.s) Islamic Centre, Ottery, Cape Town.
Our discussions in the preceding Jumuah lectures centred around the role of Sunnah, which is the words and actions of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWAS), in our understanding of the religion of Islam and Islamic jurisprudence.
We concluded by saying that this phenomenon where people dispute this critical source of reference in Islam is basically the result of misunderstanding, or deliberately ignoring the status and position of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWAS).
In our discussions so far, we have reached to the position of understanding:
1. Supreme status of Prophet Muhammad (SAWAS) in being able to receive the Divine revelation of Almighty Allah (SWT). This status in itself makes him unique, since not anybody is capable of receiving Divine revelation.
2. Propagation of what our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWAS) received, to the people.
3. Tabyeen/Tafsir – conveying the understanding and explanation of what has been revealed, to the people. Various verses of the Holy Quran refer to this responsibility on our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWAS).
4. Obedience of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWAS) by us is compulsory. This obedience is not only restricted to his role as the Messenger of Almighty Allah (SWT) in conveying the Divine message. Therefore, Almighty Allah (SWT) repeats in the Holy Quran:
أَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ
“obey Allah and obey the Messenger”.
PROPHET MUHAMMAD (SAWAS) IS THE PERFECT EXAMPLE
In our preceding discussions we focussed on verses of the Holy Quran which validates the supreme status of the words and actions of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWAS).
Today we want to discuss that our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWAS) is the manifestation of the Holy Quran, where Almighty Allah (SWT) introduces him as the practical example to follow.
لَقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ فِي رَسُولِ اللَّهِ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ لِمَنْ كَانَ يَرْجُو اللَّهَ وَالْيَوْمَ الْآخِرَ وَذَكَرَ اللَّهَ كَثِيرًا
“Certainly you have in the Messenger of Allah an excellent exemplar for him who hopes in Allah and the latter day and remembers Allah much.” (Surah Ahzab – chapter 33, verse 21)
Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWAS) is introduced as the excellent exemplar, and not only as somebody who delivered the Divine Message and nothing further!
Those who deny the role of Sunnah repeatedly insist that Rasulullah (SAWAS) is the excellent exemplar in conveying the message. They confine his excellence to this aspect only, but as we know that this is indeed an incomplete understanding of our beloved Prophet (SAWAS).
Verse 51 of Surah Shura (chapter 42 of the Holy Quran) explains this manner quite explicitly:
وَمَا كَانَ لِبَشَرٍ أَنْ يُكَلِّمَهُ اللَّهُ إِلَّا وَحْيًا أَوْ مِنْ وَرَاءِ حِجَابٍ أَوْ يُرْسِلَ رَسُولًا فَيُوحِيَ بِإِذْنِهِ مَا يَشَاءُ ۚ إِنَّهُ عَلِيٌّ حَكِيمٌ
“And it is not for any mortal that Allah should speak to him except by revelation or from behind a veil, or by sending a messenger and revealing by His permission what He pleases; surely He is High, Wise.”
ROLE OF RASULULLAH (SAWAS) BEYOND CONVEYING THE MESSAGE
The above verse explains that Almighty Allah (SWT) speaks to us through 3 channels of communication:
1. Through revelation, or
2. Through a veil, or
3. Through sending a messenger
Why is Allah (SWT) mentioning the role of a messenger separately if the role of Rasulullah (SAWAS) is confined to revelation? This verse should then not classify 3 communication channels. This verse therefore counters the argument that Almighty Allah (SWT) only speaks to us through the Holy Quran!!
The role of Rasulullah (SAWAS) is explained separately from his role associated with revelation. It is an independent responsibility! It now begs the question from this verse: what is there that came to us from Allah (SWT) through Rasulullah (SAWAS) that is not revelation???
Revelation is the Holy Quran, so what is there that came to us from Allah (SWT) through Rasulullah (SAWAS) that is not revelation?
Indeed, it is the practical life of Rasulullah (SAWAS), namely the Sunnah! Therefore, there are plenty of verses in the Holy Quran which introduces Rasulullah (SAWAS) in this manner.
An example is verse 1 of Surah Furqan (chapter 25 of the Holy Quran)
تَبَارَكَ الَّذِي نَزَّلَ الْفُرْقَانَ عَلَىٰ عَبْدِهِ لِيَكُونَ لِلْعَالَمِينَ نَذِيرًا
“Blessed is He Who sent down the Furqan upon His servant that he may be a warner to the nations.”
The servant referred to here is Rasulullah (SAWAS) and his role is to warn.
UNDERSTANDING THE COMPREHENSIVE INCLUSIVITY OF THE HOLY QURAN
The very basic question that gets raised is that Almighty Allah (SWT) has very clearly and explicitly explained everything in the Holy Quran. There is nothing else remaining to be explained!
This question arises when reflecting on this verse 89 of Surah Nahl (chapter 16 of the Holy Quran):
وَيَوْمَ نَبْعَثُ فِي كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ شَهِيدًا عَلَيْهِمْ مِنْ أَنْفُسِهِمْ ۖ وَجِئْنَا بِكَ شَهِيدًا عَلَىٰ هَٰؤُلَاءِ ۚ وَنَزَّلْنَا عَلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ تِبْيَانًا لِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ وَهُدًى وَرَحْمَةً وَبُشْرَىٰ لِلْمُسْلِمِينَ
“And on the day when We will raise up in every people a witness against them from among themselves, and bring you as a witness against these — and We have revealed the Book to you explaining clearly everything, and a guidance and mercy and good news for those who submit.”
There are other verses in the Holy Quran which refers to the same point, that there is nothing missing which is not covered in the Holy Quran. The Holy Quran is a complete book of guidance until the end of time. Hence the argument that if the Holy Quran is complete then why do we need any other source of guidance?
Indeed very true! Nobody disputes this comprehensive inclusivity of the Holy Quran. There is absolutely no doubt about it. But this same Holy Quran is also emphasising the comprehensive role of Rasulullah (SAWAS)! We have cited various verses of the Holy Quran over the past few weeks, which command us to follow our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWAS).
Does it mean that this comprehensive inclusivity of the Holy Quran obviates our need to learn anything? If we want to take this verse in its pure literal meaning, that everything this is in the Holy Quran, then why the need to study medicine for example? We should simply then depend on the Holy Quran for treatment as well. We should also not reflect on any sciences then!
HOLY QURAN ESTABLISHES PRINCIPLES AND NOT DETAILS
The key point to note is that the Holy Quran establishes principle positions, but it encourages further, deeper reflection and research on these principles.
The Holy Quran does not establish details….understand this!!
As an example, is there any act of worship more commonly commanded in the Holy Quran more than Salaah? However, nowhere in the Holy Quran is the number of Rakat of Salaah mentioned.
Similarly Hajj, which is a very important pilgrimage established in the Holy Quran. One of the very first important pillars of Hajj is Tawaaf, which is mentioned in the Holy Quran too, wherein Nabi Ibrahim (a.s) purified the Ka’bah from idols, for those who want to make Tawaaf! Now, the question is how many circuits are there in Tawaaf? Is this detail explained in the Holy Quran??
So, the comprehensive inclusivity of the Holy Quran demands from us to follow Rasulullah (SAWAS). A simple analogy is when a father leaves his children behind for travel or for whatever reason, and leaves them a list of advice. He will certainly include in the list of commands to follow what your mother says.
Now, can the children claim to have followed the father’s instructions if they do everything on the list except for this command? Similarly, if we want to REALLY follow the Holy Quran in its comprehensive inclusivity, then how is it possible without following EVERYTHING which is in the Holy Quran?
Almighty Allah (SWT) clearly commands us in the Holy Quran in verse 7 of Surah Hashr (chapter 59):
وَمَا آتَاكُمُ الرَّسُولُ فَخُذُوهُ وَمَا نَهَاكُمْ عَنْهُ فَانْتَهُوا
“whatever the Messenger gives you, accept it, and from whatever he forbids you, keep back”.
Indeed, the Holy Quran is comprehensive, and covers all the principle guidelines, but it requires capacity to expand the inclusiveness.
In the concluding discussion next week we will discuss the issues relating to the infallibility of Prophets, wherein they supposedly made mistakes and therefore how can one follow them? What is the guarantee that they are 100% correct 100% of the time?
In the concluding discussion will there also be an explanation of the apparent contradictions in the recorded Sunnah which conflicts with what is in the Holy Quran. So, what to follow in this case? Quran or Sunnah? More on this in next week’s Jumuah.
THE SILENT AND PRACTICAL QURAN
Remember what we mentioned at the beginning of this lecture, that our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWAS) is introduced as the practical excellent exemplar!
The Holy Quran clarifies the spirit and philosophy of Prophethood, by stating that their objective was to perform reformation. Verse 2 of chapter 62 (Surah Jumuah) refers:
هُوَ الَّذِي بَعَثَ فِي الْأُمِّيِّينَ رَسُولًا مِنْهُمْ يَتْلُو عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتِهِ وَيُزَكِّيهِمْ وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَإِنْ كَانُوا مِنْ قَبْلُ لَفِي ضَلَالٍ مُبِينٍ
“He it is Who raised among the inhabitants of Mecca an Messenger from among themselves, who recites to them His communications and purifies them, and teaches them the Book and the Wisdom, although they were before certainly in clear error”.
This verse of the Holy Quran explains that a documented training manual (Holy Quran) is not sufficient to act as a guide for humanity. You need to have a practical example as well! This is the philosophy of Prophethood!
Therefore, in the school of Ahlul Bait (a.s) we have the silent Quran and the speaking Quran. The Holy Quran in the book form is the silent Quran, and the Holy Quran in the practical form is our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWAS) in his totality as the excellent exemplar as referred to in the Holy Quran. He is the manifestation and realisation of the Holy Quran! This is the crucial angle to the issue of Prophethood which we should not lose sight of.
In addition to matters pertaining to infallibility of Prophethood, we will also address the other important question next week, namely: ”Why did Almighty Allah (SWT) not protect the authenticity of the recorded Sunnah in the same way that he protected the Holy Quran?
ISRAELI REGIME SUCCUMBS TO INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE
This great victory of the Palestinian people against the Zionist regime at Masjidul Aqsa is indeed great news and a great achievement.
Most important is to reflect on the lessons learned from this victory:
1. Oppressors have no option other than to surrender when the oppressed stand UNITED. They were able to bring the Zionist regime to its knees in such a short period of time.
2. This situation has once again afforded us the opportunity to realise that the central and most focal issue on which the life and death of the Muslim nation depends is the issue of Palestine and Masjidul Aqsa.
3. All other issues have been created as a smokescreen to distract us from the real issue, which is the issue of Palestine and Masjidul Aqsa.
4. The issue of Palestine and Masjidul Aqsa is the point of unity, bringing people together. We see this even in our own city. People responded in great numbers at very short notice to protest, regardless of who the organisers were. We saw this response in our own city but also all across the world.
5. The issue of Palestine and Masjidul Aqsa unites us, taking us above sectarian politics and factional issues. It brings us to the point where we truly act as a united Muslim nation, believing in Islam, in the message of Tauheed, following the path of the Holy Quran and the guidance of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWAS).
Surely, there are the opportunists who now want to take credit for this victory. No surprise that the Saudi king wants to score points, claiming that he successfully negotiated this deal as “the custodian of the 2 Holy Shrines” and therefore the siege on Masjidul Aqsa has been lifted!
These are the same people who have given everything to Israel and bowed before them, who now all of a sudden want to claim to spearhead the lifting of the blockade on Masjidul Aqsa.
It was through the resistance and courage of the people, and unity of the Muslim nation, which brought about this achievement, not the Saudi cheap shot at publicity!
The liberation of Palestine is possible if this principle is maintained. End of the unjust occupation is possible, and so is the end of the Zionist entity possible.
Again, from this Zionist Saudi regime, we see the Grand Mufti of Saudi stating that it is not permissible to fight Israel, but compulsory to fight Hezbullah. This same Zionist Saudi regime approves the execution of 29 people for their resistance against this despotic, oppressive, unjust regime.
Even Amnesty International has raised great alarm at this grossly unfair judgement, stating that there is no evidence of any trouble making or creating any instability in the country, but they have been given death sentences!
VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE DAY IS LOOMING
We will very soon observe the issue of accountability and corruption taking the fore in our own country. The religious leadership are united to challenge corruption in the leadership of this country, and to not allow the masses of South Africa to be robbed of the country’s wealth, which is being plundered by these selfish, shameless holders of public office to satisfy their insatiable lust for economic self-gratification.
For more information on Islam as understood within the School of Ahlul Bait (a.s), visit our website at: