Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Is Quran the Word of God or Sayings of a Great Reformer? A Study of The Most Authoritative Books of Quran Sciences, Ahadith And Tafaseer By Imam IbnHanbal, Jalaluddin Suyuti, Ibn-e-Kaseer, Etc

By Abdur Rahman Hamza, New Age Islam

26 May 2020

“Every madrasa in the world teaches that Qurʾān is uncreated, like God. The implication is that the universality of any of the verses of Quran cannot be questioned, all of them have to be followed till eternity and every instruction remains applicable to Muslims for ever. Now, with this understanding, how can one question the motives of Jihadis when they quote militant, war-time verses of Qurʾān from Surah Tawbah, Surah Anfal and several others to justify their actions.”

This is what Mr. Sultan Shahin said in his speech at UNHRC, Geneva on 19 November 2019 entitled “Indian Muslim Clergy to Counter ISIS Propaganda: But they should go beyond rhetoric to a genuine counter-narrative that refutes Jihadism based on traditional Islamic theology” Though, I highly appreciate Mr. Sultan Shahin’s  tireless efforts for bringing a progressive change in the Muslim attitude in order to come out of the trap they are in and march towards a better future, after a thorough study of the Quran, I have reached the conclusion that if we sincerely and honestly want to bring about a meaningful change in the  Muslim outlook, we will have to, go even beyond the question of createdness and uncreatedness of Quran. We must first of all, ponder over the question whether Quran is really the word of God or Hazrat Muhammad just used revelation as a convenient way of carrying out his mission which he thought was necessary to reform the uncivilized Arab society. In the times and environment, he lived in, claims of revelation was perhaps the most powerful way of influencing the minds of illiterate Bedouins living in a desert 1400 years ago.

Unless we tackle this basic issue first and reflect on it openly and frankly, no reform in Muslim worldview seems possible. The question of createdness and uncreatedness of Quran will stand automatically resolved if we accept Hazrat Mohammad as a great reformer of his time.

We find in the Quran many examples of the verses being produced as mere response to a particular situation after an incident had already occurred. They cannot be said to have been written in Lauh-e-Mahfooz (the Preserved Tablet, co-eternal with God, lying in an eternal divine vault in Heaven) from before the creation as is believed by majority of Muslims. This is not possible as some of the verses are statements of Hazrat Muhammad during verbal confrontations between him and his opponents while some others are desires, suggestions or statements made by his close friends, Sahaba and his wives which were immediately testified to by Allah (or Hazrat Muhammad) as a part of revelations. Here are a few such examples:

Note: The occasions of the revelation of all these verses are mentioned in the most authoritative books on the study of Quran, taught in all madrasas, “Al- Itqan Fi Uloom-il- Quran (The Perfect Guide to the Sciences of the Qur’an)by Allama Jalaluddin Suyuti and TafseerIbneKathir, etc. Interestingly, Maulana Maududi, Maulana Shabbir Usmani and many others have completely refrained from mentioning them in their discourses on Quran. The reasons are not difficult to imagine.

First example: Quran 2:125
وَاتَّخِذُواْ مِن مَّقَامِ إِبْرَهِيمَ مُصَلًّى

2: 125 (And take you (people) the Maqam (place) of Ibrahim (Abraham) as a place of prayer) meaning, they return to it repeatedly.’’ He then narrated that Anas bin Malik said that `Umar bin Al-Khattab said, “I agreed with my Lord, or my Lord agreed with me, regarding three matters. I said, `O Messenger of Allah! I wish you take the Maqam of Ibrahim a place for prayer.’ The Ayah,
﴿وَاتَّخِذُواْ مِن مَّقَامِ إِبْرَهِيمَ مُصَلًّى﴾

(And take you (people) the Maqam (place) of Ibrahim (Abraham)) was revealed. I also said, `O Messenger of Allah! The righteous and the wicked enter your house. I wish you would command the mothers of the believers (the Prophet’s wives) to wear Hijab. Allah sent down the Ayah that required the Hijab. And when I knew that the Prophet was angry with some of his wives, I came to them and said, `Either you stop what you are doing, or Allah will endow His Messenger with better women than you are.’ I advised one of his wives and she said to me, `O `Umar! Does the Messenger of Allah not know how to advise his wives, so that you have to do the job instead of him’ Allah then revealed:
﴿عَسَى رَبُّهُ إِن طَلَّقَكُنَّ أَن يُبْدِلَهُ أَزْوَجاً خَيْراً مِّنكُنَّ مُسْلِمَـتٍ﴾

(It may be if he divorced you (all) that his Lord will give him instead of you, wives better than you. (66:5)

Tafseer Ibn Kathir further says: ( at that time) Umar said:  "I said, `O Messenger of Allah, what trouble do you feel from your wives If you have divorced them, verily Allah is with you, His angels, Jibril, Mikal, I, Abu Bakr and the rest of believers are with you.' Often, when I talked, all praise is due to Allah, I hoped that Allah would testify to the words that I uttered. And so, the Ayat of option was revealed. Allah said,
(Maybe his Lord, if he divorces you, will give him in your place wives better than you,) and, (but if you help one another against him, then verily, Allah is his Protector, and Jibril, and the righteous among the believers; and after that the angels are his helpers.
These verses related to the scandal of Maria Qibtia.

Second example: Quran 33:35

إِنَّ الْمُسْلِمِينَ وَالْمُسْلِمَاتِ وَالْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ وَالْقَانِتِينَ وَالْقَانِتَاتِ وَالصَّادِقِينَ وَالصَّادِقَاتِ وَالصَّابِرِينَ وَالصَّابِرَاتِ وَالْخَاشِعِينَ وَالْخَاشِعَاتِ وَالْمُتَصَدِّقِينَ وَالْمُتَصَدِّقَاتِ وَالصَّائِمِينَ وَالصَّائِمَاتِ وَالْحَافِظِينَ فُرُوجَهُمْ وَالْحَافِظَاتِ وَالذَّاكِرِينَ اللَّهَ كَثِيرًا وَالذَّاكِرَاتِ أَعَدَّ اللَّهُ لَهُمْ مَغْفِرَةً وَأَجْرًا عَظِيمًا

35. Verily, the Muslims: men and women, the believers: men and women, the Qanit: men and the women, the men and women who are truthful, the men and the women who are patient, the Khashi`: men and the women, the men and the women who give Sadaqat, the men and the women who fast, the men and the women who guard their chastity and the men and the women who remember Allah much with their hearts and tongues, Allah has prepared for them forgiveness and a great reward.

The Reason for Revelation

Founder of the Hanbali school of Sunni jurisprudence, Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbalrecorded that Umm Salamah, may Allah be pleased with her, the wife of the Prophet said, "I said to the Prophet, `Why is it that we are not mentioned in the Qur'an as men are.' Then one day without my realizing it, he was calling from the Minbar (a pulpit in the mosque) and I was combing my hair, so I tied my hair back then I went out to my chamber in my house, and I started listening out, and he was saying from the Minbar: Quran 33: 35
«يَاأَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّ اللهَ تَعَالَى يَقُولُ:
﴿إِنَّ الْمُسْلِمِينَ وَالْمُسْلِمَـتِ وَالْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَـتِ……﴾»

(O people! Verily Allah says: [For Muslim men and women,- for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in Charity, for men and women who fast (and deny themselves), for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in Allah's praise,- for them has Allah prepared forgiveness and great reward....] Quran 33: 35 '')
This incident and Umm Salamah’s statement was also recorded by An-Nasa'i and Ibn Jarir.

(Note that “O people! Verily Allah says: “is not part of the Quran, though reported by Umm Salamah as part of revelation.)

Third example: Quran 2:97-98

قُلْ مَنْ كَانَ عَدُوًّا لِجِبْرِيلَ فَإِنَّهُ نَزَّلَهُ عَلَىٰ قَلْبِكَ بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ مُصَدِّقًا لِمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ وَهُدًى وَبُشْرَىٰ لِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ٩٧مَنْ كَانَ عَدُوًّا لِلَّهِ وَمَلَائِكَتِهِ وَرُسُلِهِ وَجِبْرِيلَ وَمِيكَالَ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ عَدُوٌّ لِلْكَافِرِينَ٩٨

97. Say (O Muhammad ): "Whoever is an enemy to Jibril (Gabriel) (let him die in his fury), for indeed he has brought it (this Qur'an) down to your heart by Allah's permission, confirming what came before it (i.e. the Tawrah and the Injeel) and guidance and glad tidings for the believers. 98. "Whoever is an enemy to Allah, His Angels, His Messengers, Jibril and Mika'il, then verily, Allah is an enemy to the disbelievers.''

 The Reason for Revelation

Imam Abu Ja`far bin Jarir At-Tabari said, "The scholars of Tafsir agree that this Ayah (2: 97-98) was revealed in response to the Jews who claimed that Jibril (Gabriel) is an enemy of the Jews and that Mika'il (Michael) is their friend.'' Al-Bukhari said, "Allah said,

Say (O Muhammad): "Whoever is an enemy to Jibril (Gabriel) (let him die in his fury), 98. "Whoever is an enemy to Allah, His Angels, His Messengers, Jibril and Mika'il, then verily, Allah is an enemy to the disbelievers.''

AllamajalaluddinSuyuti writes in “Al- Itqan Fi Uloomil Quran” that it has been narrated that Abdur Rehman Bin Abi Laila said that one day a Jew met Umar Bin Al- Khattab and said to him. “Gabriel about whom your friend (Muhammad) often talks is our enemy. Umar replied, “Whoever is an enemy to Allah, His Angels, His Messengers, Jibril and Mika'il, then verily, Allah is an enemy to the disbelievers.'' Abdur Rehman says Umars’s words were testified by Allah and this verse was revealed.

AllamaSuyuti has also mentioned many verses which were actually words from the mouth of Sahabah (Hazrat Muhammad’s followers) and were later testified by Allah (or Hazrat Muhammad) and became part of the Quran. Apart from these, there are many examples of Hazrat Muhammad being rescued rather conveniently from one predicament or another by divine revelation about which Hazrat Aisha, his favourite wife, once commented, “I feel that your Lord hastens in fulfilling your wishes and desires.

Fourth example: Quran 2:196

وَأَتِمُّوا الْحَجَّ وَالْعُمْرَةَ لِلَّهِ ۚ فَإِنْ أُحْصِرْتُمْ فَمَا اسْتَيْسَرَ مِنَ الْهَدْيِ ۖ وَلَا تَحْلِقُوا رُءُوسَكُمْ حَتَّىٰ يَبْلُغَ الْهَدْيُ مَحِلَّهُ ۚ فَمَنْ كَانَ مِنْكُمْ مَرِيضًا أَو
بِهِ أَذًى مِنْ رَأْسِهِ فَفِدْيَةٌ مِنْ صِيَامٍ أَوْ صَدَقَةٍ أَوْ نُسُك ٍ

2: 196. “And complete Hajj and `Umrah for Allah. But if you are prevented, then sacrifice a Hady that you can afford, and do not shave your heads until the Hady reaches the place of sacrifice. And whosoever of you is ill or has an ailment on his scalp (necessitating shaving), he must pay a Fidyah (ransom) of either fasting or giving Sadaqah or a sacrifice.”

The Reason for Revelation

Al-Bukhari reported that `Abdur-Rahman bin Asbahani said that he heard `Abdullah bin Ma`qil saying that he sat with Ka`b bin `Ujrah in the mosque of Kufah (in Iraq). He then asked him about the Fidyah of the fasting. Ka`b said, "This was revealed concerning my case especially, but it is also for you in general. I was carried to Allah's Messenger and the lice were falling in great numbers on my face. The Prophet said:
«مَا كُنْتُ أُرَى أَنَّ الْجَهْدَ بلَغَ بكَ هذَا، أمَا تَجِدُ شَاة»؟
؟: لَاقُلْتُ
(I never thought that your ailment (or struggle) had reached such an extent as I see. Can you afford a sheep (for sacrifice)' I replied in the negative.) He then said:

«صُمْ ثَلَاثَةَ أَيَّامٍ أَوْ أَطْعِمْ سِتَّةَ مَسَاكِينَ، لِكُلِّ مِسْكِينٍ نِصْفُ صَاعٍ مِنْ طَعَامٍ، وَاحْلِقْ رَأْسَك»

(Fast for three days or feed six poor persons, each with half a Sa` of food (1 Sa` = 3 kilograms approx.) and shave your head.)

So, this is a general judgement derived from a specific case.

We also find plenty of examples of just in - time revelations in the Quran. The following is one such example of the prophet of Allah being rescued rather conveniently from one predicament by divine revelation.

لَا يَسْتَوِي الْقَاعِدُونَ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ غَيْرُ أُولِي الضَّرَرِ وَالْمُجَاهِدُونَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ بِأَمْوَالِهِمْ وَأَنْفُسِهِمْ ۚ

Q 4:95: “Not equal are those of the believers who sit (at home), except those who are disabled, and those who strive hard and fight in the cause of Allah with their wealth and their lives.”
Interpretation of this verse in Sahih Bukhari:

حَدَّثَنَا عُبَيْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ مُوسَى، عَنْ إِسْرَائِيلَ، عَنْ أَبِي إِسْحَاقَ، عَنِ الْبَرَاءِ، قَالَ لَمَّا نَزَلَتْ ‏{‏لاَ يَسْتَوِي الْقَاعِدُونَ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُجَاهِدُونَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ‏}‏ قَالَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏"‏ ادْعُ لِي زَيْدًا وَلْيَجِئْ بِاللَّوْحِ وَالدَّوَاةِ وَالْكَتِفِ ـ أَوِ الْكَتِفِ وَالدَّوَاةِ ـ ثُمَّ قَالَ ‏"‏ اكْتُبْ لاَ يَسْتَوِي الْقَاعِدُونَ ‏"‏ وَخَلْفَ ظَهْرِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم عَمْرُو بْنُ أُمِّ مَكْتُومٍ الأَعْمَى قَالَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ فَمَا تَأْمُرُنِي فَإِنِّي رَجُلٌ ضَرِيرُ الْبَصَرِ فَنَزَلَتْ مَكَانَهَا ‏{‏لاَ يَسْتَوِي الْقَاعِدُونَ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ ‏{‏غَيْرُ أُولِي الضَّرَرِ‏}‏‏"‏

Narrated Al-Bara:

There was revealed: 'Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) and those who strive and fight in the Cause of Allah.' (4.95) The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "Call Zaid for me and let him bring the board, the inkpot and the scapula bone (or the scapula bone and the ink pot)."' Then he said, "Write: 'Not equal are those Believers who sit..", and at that time `Amr bin Um Maktum, the blind man was sitting behind the Prophet (ﷺ). He said, "O Allah's Apostle! What is your order for me (as regards the above Verse) as I am a blind man?" So, instead of the above Verse, the following Verse was revealed: 'Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) except those who are disabled (by injury or are blind or lame etc) and those who strive and fight in the cause of Allah.' (4.95) - Sahih Bukhari 6:61:512

‏ Note the sequence of events in the above hadith:

Prophet Muhammad receives a revelation, which is part of Sura 4:95 as it exists today.
Prophet Muhammad calls Zaid to write down the revelation and begins to recite it to Zaid: “All who fail to participate in jihad are viewed as inferior to those who do participate.”
A blind man asks how the verse applies to him, since he is blind and cannot participate in jihad.
Prophet Muhammad then conveniently receives a new revelation that adds an exception to jihad for the blind and disabled.

The famous Pakistani Alim Mufti Muhammad TaqiUsmani, the son of Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi’sKhalifah Mufti ShafiUsmani, in his book, ‘The Chronology and Background of Quranic Revelation’ says  that “The  smallest portion of the Quran to be  revealed  was ” لضرر غيرأولى” "...except those who are disabled” (al-Nisa’, 4:94) which forms part of a longer verse.

In the case of Quran, it is difficult to determine which verse is genuine (divine), which verse is altered and which verse is simply a human addition.
One may also conclude, after examining carefully, that prophet Muhammad's revelations were not divinely inspired or sent down at all by Allah but were used instead as a convenient way of carrying out his mission which he thought was necessary to reform the uncivilized Arab society.

The fact that, in the teachings of the Quran, there is a great deal to admire is beyond dispute. However, we must also realise that the changes Hazrat Muhammad introduced in the Arab society were just an improvement for his time and place. In his day and generation Hazrat Muhammad was a social reformer, indeed a reformer even in the sphere of morals. He created a new system of social security and a new family structure, both of which were a vast improvement on what went before. By accepting that Quran is the word of Hazrat Muhammad, the reformer, we may be able to come out of the impasse we find ourselves in and take from it what is good and leave what is harmful for us in the 21st century.

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