I am a frequent visitor of your site and really admire the efforts and work of the team of this website.
I get a little amazed on most of your interpretations and responses to various questions posted by various visitors to the site. For example I have gone through in detail to your responses against the advent of Dajjal, Imam Mehdi and Prophet Isa (pbuh). I find your interpretations to these beliefs and many other quite contrary to what is generally believed by majority of the Muslims. Similarly, your response to interpretation of “Ahle-Bayt” is just another example.
Had it been for the Muslims of a particular region, I would have inferred it as due to cultural influences, however, I have been living in the Middle East (ME) for last 4 years and have found that most of the beliefs of the Muslims of sub-continent are generally more or less shared by the fellow Arab Muslims. If I may say Muslims of sub-continent and ME approximately make up 70% or may be more of the world Muslim population.
I wonder then how can majority of the Muslims have been believing in the incorrect interpretations of Ahadithsor have implied the saying of Prophet (pbuh), so differently for last so many centuries. I understand your position on Ahadiths, however, I still sometimes get awed at the extent of difference of opinions between what are general Muslim beliefs and that what has been your understanding. True, your interpretations make lots of sense and seem very logical, but can you explain why does there exist such a huge gap in your analysis and among general Muslim beliefs?Â Â I have begun to realize that all what has been passed to us through our elders for last so many years was interpreted so much incorrectly.
Does it indicate the deterioration and erosion in general Muslim thought at such a large scale? Don’t you find it strange?
Yes, it would have been strange had the case entirely been the way you have explained. But, in fact, such is not really the case. A look at the history of Muslim scholarship reveals that the scholars of this Ummah never hesitated to differ with their contemporaries as well as their predecessors if their findings would compel them to. Moreover, this difference of opinion was not necessarily confined to interpreting the Ahadith only but the Qur’an as well. I would present before you, as an example, the four popular schools of thought of Islamic jurisprudence namely, the Malikites, the Shafites, the Hanbalites and the Hanafites. These schools of thought have been named after their respective originators, we know from history that their disciples sometimes held a different point of view which later formed part of these schools. When we peruse the history of Hanafites, we find that two prominent disciples of Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam Abu Muhammad, not only differed between each other but sometimes maintained a viewpoint that was different from their mentor as well. Sadly enough, this practice of original intellectual inquiry and direct deliberation on the fundamental sources of Islam, that was so widespread in the early age of the Muslim history, became extinct when the Muslim scholars of later times declared it a banned territory to cross. They stamped closed the doors to original fresh thinking and proclaimed that how the classical scholars understood the religion of Islam cannot be challenged just as their capabilities and talents cannot be surpassed by the scholars of today. The apparent absurdity of this claim needs no elaboration, you would agree. How could a human be held devoid of the shortcomings to which all humans are subject to? However a scholar is competent and intelligent, he will still be a ‘human’. If his opinion cannot stand up to criticism, it should not be accepted. It is only through criticism and analysis that ideas and opinions become more refined. I therefore daresay that before we are completely divested of this spirit of constructive criticism and open discussion, we must realize its importance and extend all our moral support to help it prevail instead of branding it as ‘strange’.
You have mentioned that the views of ‘Understanding Islam’ appeal to your faculty of reasoning. I would like to say that this is the perfect criterion to judge whatever stance is presented before you, though it would be of paramount importance that you employ your faculty of reasoning with utmost sincerity. On the Day of Judgment, we will surely be asked about our understanding of religion and how much we remained steadfast in adhering to that understanding.
For further details, please refer to some of our earlier responses to similar questions.
I hope this helps.
April 15, 2003