- 1 What happened later?
- 2 Compilations based on narrations during Abbasid Dynasty
- 3 The Prophet’s (PBUH) unique training and education of companions (R)
- 4 Quran’s first commentary and Islam’s first history through narrations
- 5 Critical thinking in the Quran
- 6 Allah’s instruction to the Prophet (PBUH) to remain steadfast
- 7 There exists perfect order in the Quran
- 8 A step-wise program and order for establishing the Quranic system
The humanistic revolution that the Prophet (PBUH) brought about through the Quran was indeed astonishing. This was the greatest and unique revolution the world had ever seen, or it will ever see! This revolution was so huge that it ended the repressive kingships, stranglehold of predatory capitalistic systems, and the magical spell of the religious priesthood. Humanity was released from this triple bondage and it tasted true freedom. The Quran says:
وَيَضَعُ عَنْهُمْ إِصْرَهُمْ وَالأَغْلاَلَ الَّتِي كَانَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ
(7:157) – and lift from them their burdens and the shackles that were upon them [aforetime] [Asad]
What happened later?
This astonishing revolution by the Prophet (PBUH), wiped out this evil trio, the enemies of humanity. How ironic it is that the same evil trio returned with vengeance, more vitalized with new energy than ever before – paradoxically anchoring within the same Ummah that had wiped them out in the first place? How did this inverted revolution happen is indeed shocking! This is an extremely important question that requires critical examination.
This was not the case during the Umayyad rule (661-750) because although the system was based on hereditary kingship during this period, there was no other book with Arab people except the Quran. This was purely an Arab kingship. But after this, during the Abbasid period (750-1258), this changed. Neither the Arab culture nor the Quran’s pure message remained during this period. Abbasid kingship and its power were at the mercy of elite Persian strategists. These strategists (especially the Barmakids) controlled all aspects of Abbasid rule and society.
Allama Iqbal (1877-1938) differentiates this by the terms Arabi Isalm and Ajami Islam. He says that the start of Ajami Islam began in this period. And this Ajami Islam brought with it, its parasitic twins, capitalism, and priesthood. In the presence of the Quran, what to say of finding official authority for any of these things in the Quran, they could not even find any reason for their justification. Kingship, capitalism, and priesthood cannot, ever, be validated or justified as long as the Quran formally exists in force. Since Allah Himself has undertaken the protection of the Quran (15:9), there was no way they could change a single word of the Quran. So, what did they do?
Well, let the words of the Quran remain but change their intrinsic meanings. Embedded within the Quran is the life of the Prophet (PBUH). The Quran is the living example of the supreme revolution created by the Prophet (PBUH). If his path, his life, his true Sunnah remained in front of the people, then this inverted revolution could never have happened. Allah has preserved the main aspects of the Prophet’s life in the Quran; so, the real-life and the true Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH) could be obtained through the Quran. At the top, there should be the verses of the Quran and then one should provide the details of the life of the Prophet (PBUH) so that it does not violate any of the Quranic principles. This is the correct way to compile the Seerah of the Prophet (PBUH). In contrast to this, there is the approach of compiling the life of the Prophet (PBUH) based on self-generated voluntary oral narrations after more than two hundred years after the Prophet (PBUH), which turned his Seerah upside down.
Compilations based on narrations during Abbasid Dynasty
Today the global extremism has reached a particularly high level and the overall human condition has far regressed. Allama Iqbal rightly said:
If any sincere and obedient servant-slave awakens from his deep daydream;
Then the magical grip and wizardry spell of the ruler-master puts him to sleep.
[Khizr-e Rah, Baange-Dara]
The Ajami scheme gathered full steam during the Abbasid period (750-1258). The Persians had been defeated by the Arabs. They were not in a position to take on the Arabs by force. And they knew that all this new strength acquired by the Arabs was solely and purely due to the Quran since, before the Quran, Arabs were no match for Persians. So, in order to take revenge for their defeat, they targeted the Sovereignty of the Quran.
The question then was how to do it. The answer: Make sure (1) that the Quran becomes completely ineffective and it no longer remains the Sovereign Authority in the practical life of Muslims; 2) that the Quran’s meaning no longer remains its true pure meaning; and (3) that the Prophet’s life no longer reflects the Quranic universal principles of unity, dignity, equality, fraternity, sovereignty, and solidarity. The point especially worth pondering is that before the Abbasid period there were no books of hadith among Muslims. There was one compilation called Mu’atta of Imam Malik, but this was mainly concerned with the life of the companions (R) in Medina.
All the books of hadith that were compiled later, i.e. during the Abbasid period, were based on a chain of oral narrators. Each of these later compilers came up with up to six hundred thousand hadith. From these, they selected, on their own, only a few thousand hadiths and compiled their books. Among these compilations, there are six that were (and still are) considered most truthful and authentic. Among these six there are two – Bukhari and Muslim – that are further considered as the truest (Sahihayn). It is strange that all the six compilers were Persians. That is, there wasn’t a single Arab who compiled any of these hadith books. The Sunnah of the Prophet as presented is based on these Persian compilations of hadith books.
The Prophet’s (PBUH) unique training and education of companions (R)
The Prophet (PBUH) educated and trained his companions for the great mission assigned to him using the Quran as the basis. Even non-Muslim orientalists have written that they wonder at the power of the Prophet (PBUH) and his companions; that within a few years they not only overturned the Persian and Roman empires but they dismantled the roots of their civilizations and cultures as well. They are not able to comprehend how one individual who arose from the then most backward part of the world, the land of Arabia, could achieve a revolution on such a grand scale that human history cannot produce an example like it. The world’s entire history – not just Roman and Persian – cannot produce an example of such a supreme revolution in such a short time and with such meager resources! Historians grind their teeth in awe!! This is an important point to note that history has recorded with awe and amazement the supreme humanistic revolution brought about by the Prophet (PBUH) and his companions (R).
Quran’s first commentary and Islam’s first history through narrations
Imam Tabari compiled the first commentary of the Quran and everything he wrote he referenced it with a hadith attributed to the Prophet (PBUH). Now, if he wrote down that the Prophet (PBUH) has explained a certain verse of the Quran then who can dare to deny it or contradict it? Imam Tabari thus put the stamp of the Prophet (PBUH) on his commentary and interpretation of the entire Quran. Then he also compiled a book of history based on the same oral narrations. The books of hadith written by Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim and others follow a similar pattern.
This is the way the Quran’s first commentary, Islam’s first history, collections of the first books of hadith came into being. Is it possible then to get the true picture from these books of the greatest humanistic revolution that occurred at the hands of the Prophet (PBUH) and his companions (R), in which neither kingship, nor capitalism, nor priesthood could survive? And these Imams cloaked their entire literature in sacred authority so much so that this has been presented and accepted as Islam for more than a thousand years. In fact, this has become Islam. Even today, according to these books unlimited ownership of wealth is allowed and Islamic fatwas are issued in favor of having slaves and concubines. Those kings (in whose period this so-called sacred literature was compiled) used to have thousands of concubines in their palaces. And don’t even ask about their hordes of gold and silver? These kings were called “God’s shadow” on earth. All this was made possible through religious sanctions.
This is how the Tafsirs (commentaries) of the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH) came into being and a new Islam was created on their basis. And this has continued until today. Malukiyyah (kingship) exercised absolute brute force and did not allow anyone to talk against it, and now religious priesthood browbeats anyone who dares to critique it. What are called the laws of Fiqh are based on the above-mentioned compilations of hadith and history, and these laws of Fiqh enforce this version of Islam developed under the kings. How ironic that kings declared these Fiqh laws immortal and unchangeable so that these man-made Fiqh laws could be enforced on the Muslim Ummah forever. On the contrary, Allah proclaims that only the Quran is unchangeable and immortal (6:115); and that there is no compulsion of any kind whatsoever in Islam (2:256).
In summary, then, thus were compiled the commentaries of the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH)— declared by the religious priesthood, untouchable and beyond criticism—to the extent that we are unwilling to analyze them in the true light of the Quran. However, these books of all our past revered Imams must be tested on the touchstone of the Quran. Whatever accords with (the universal principles of the) Quran, could be accepted as true. And whatever is clearly against the Quranic principle, should be assumed that it was wrongly attributed to the Prophet (PBUH); so, it should be rejected while maintaining the overall sanctity and respect of the past Imams and their books. Respect is one thing but the blind following is quite another.
Critical thinking in the Quran
Allah says in the Quran that even if My verses are presented to you then do not accept them blindly (25:73). In fact, the Quran warns us that we will be questioned by Allah on the Day of Judgment as to whether or not we used our own mind to understand His Book (17:36); and that we will be punished and sent to Hell if we failed to do that (7:179).
Critical thinking is therefore a requirement of the Quran as well as the requirement of the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH) (34:46). If thinking and pondering are done in the Quran as commanded by Allah (4:82, 47:24) then the meaning and exegesis of the Quran spring out clearly. Allah told the Prophet (PBUH) to do this and be steadfast and continue to act on the divine program and keep moving forward; that if you continue on this path, then:
عَسَى أَن يَبْعَثَكَ رَبُّكَ مَقَامًا مَّحْمُودًا
(17:79) – soon will thy Lord raise thee to a Station of Praise and Glory! [Yusuf Ali]
Here it is clear that Allah is talking about the Prophet’s dignity and respect and the position of reverence that he will occupy in the world. The real program was:
وَقُل رَّبِّ أَدْخِلْنِي مُدْخَلَ صِدْقٍ وَأَخْرِجْنِي مُخْرَجَ صِدْقٍ وَاجْعَل لِّي مِن لَّدُنكَ سُلْطَانًا نَّصِيرًا
(17:80) – Say: "O my Lord! Let my entry be by the Gate of Truth and Honour, and likewise my exit by the Gate of Truth and Honour, and grant me from Thy Presence an authority to aid (me)." [Yusuf Ali]
Allah says to the Prophet (PBUH):
وَقُلْ جَاءَ الْحَقُّ وَزَهَقَ الْبَاطِلُ ۚ إِنَّ الْبَاطِلَ كَانَ زَهُوقًا
(17:81) – And say: “The truth has now come [to light], and falsehood has withered away: for, behold, all falsehood is bound to wither away!” [Asad]
Darkness cannot remain once the light comes. Darkness (i.e. falsehood) has no existence of its own. It is only there as long as there is no light (i.e., truth). Falsehood has no legs to stand upon. Falsehood exists until the truth comes and then falsehood disappears just as darkness disappears once light appears.
Because these extraneous (Baatil) forces of falsehoods will disappear if that true divine program established by the Prophet (PBUH) ever came out in front, so, they did not allow the truth to come out as they knew that falsehood will vanish if the truth ever came out. That is why they continued generating arguments after arguments about trifling and useless issues to ensnare and indoctrinate people. So, they became a barrier in the path of Allah (9:34).
Allah’s instruction to the Prophet (PBUH) to remain steadfast
The task of establishing Allah’s governance was entrusted to the Prophet (PBUH) and how difficult, challenging, and backbreaking a task this was! Allah instructed the Prophet (PBUH) to remain steadfast and unwavering and to keep persevering along this path. The Quran says:
وَلَا تُطِعْ مِنْهُمْ آثِمًا أَوْ كَفُورًا
(76:24) – Await, then, in all patience thy Sustainer's judgment, and pay no heed to any of them, who is a willful sinner or an ingrate. [Asad]
وَاذْكُرِ اسْمَ رَبِّكَ بُكْرَةً وَأَصِيلًا
(76:25) – and bear in mind thy Sustainer's name (attribute) at morn and evening. [Asad]
We, also, use the phrase “morning and evening” to mean all the time. Here it is being said to the Prophet (PBUH) to keep Allah’s universal attributes at all times in front of him.
The rule of Mulukiyah is continuing until today among Muslims. The democracies of Western nations at least changed the face of their Mulukiyah. But even today that raw Mulukiyah is still operating in some Muslim countries. In other Muslim countries where this is not the case, the issues (mentioned above) are still there; and one is not allowed to analyze and critique the type of Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH) that has been compiled by the past Imams as illustrated above.
There exists perfect order in the Quran
(25:32) – for We have so arranged its component parts that they form one consistent whole. [Asad]
The entire Quranic Surahs and verses form one perfectly balanced and consistent whole. Any program, or formula, or system will only be successful if there is consistency, harmony, and proper order in its parts. It is our daily observation that a system works properly and gives the correct output only if all its parts are integrated together and work systematically and in perfect harmony. This is called Tarteel (تَرْتِيل). If one keeps the parts separate, then the system will not work. A medicine’s ingredients must have the proper proportions and must be put together in the proper order while taking external factors such as temperature, humidity, pressure, etc. into account. Then only the medicine will work. If one takes the ingredients separately – no matter how good they may be – the medicine will not work. The medicine will work properly only if there is perfect harmony, order, and balance among its different components.
The same applies to human systems and programs. There is a particular discipline and order to every human program. If actions are in accord with the prescribed order and discipline, then the expected result would be produced. The Arabic word تَرْتِيل is used for perfect order and completely balanced discipline. This word is used to describe a beautiful (pearl) necklace. It is also used to describe a set of teeth perfectly laid out in the mouth in a well-balanced way that looks very beautiful. In what a precise way the Arabic language explains the meanings of its words! تَرْتِيل —Scattered pearls threaded in perfect order forming a necklace creating an object of beauty and wonder; white pearly teeth arranged in perfect order, so beautiful to look at. Imagine if Allah had placed the gum in front and the teeth backward! How could one eat, let alone appreciate its beauty? Allah has designed the front and the back teeth perfectly for chewing food. And then on top of that, He made them so beautiful to look at! How beautifully the Arabic language explains the meaning of تَرْتِيل – by superb examples and visual imagery!
The meaning of the Quran is like threaded pearls. Allah has said:
وَرَتِّلِ الْقُرْآنَ تَرْتِيلًا
(73:4) – We have created a special order in the Quran. Allah proclaimed to the world that this order will get eventually established (9:33) whether one likes it or not. Allah explains the meaning of the Quran by threading its verses through Tasreef (تَصْرِيفِ) (6:46, 6:65, 6:105, 7:58). This is done by stringing the pearls (of the verses on a certain topic) thus creating a beautiful necklace of Quranic exposition. This is called concordance or topic-wise classification. Through this approach of concordance and classification (of verses under each individual topic), the meaning of the Quran springs out succinctly and clearly, notwithstanding any exogenous sources.
A step-wise program and order for establishing the Quranic system
So, Allah has created perfect order in the Quran and its meaning. For the purpose of implementing the Quranic system of government, the Quran itself has laid out all the steps in perfect order: How to begin it; what would be the initial program; and how to move forward. All these steps are given in the Quran and were implemented and practically demonstrated by the Prophet (PBUH). All the answers of when, how, and why of a practical step can be found in the Quran. The life of the Prophet (PBUH) and his companions in Mecca and Medina were not historical accidents. This was based on the program of Quranic order. Everything that the Prophet (PBUH) did, happened according to this order. And the same order will have to be followed whenever and wherever this Quranic system is to be implemented. Whenever and wherever the Quranic clock will be built, the same steps and order among its components will have to be followed as the Prophet (PBUH) followed. This indeed will be the real Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH). May Allah give us the fortitude, perseverance, and unwavering commitment to follow the shining footsteps of the Prophet (PBUH). Then Allah guarantees that His cosmic forces will join us in our effort to achieve this goal:
إِنَّ اللَّهَ وَمَلَائِكَتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا صَلُّوا عَلَيْهِ وَسَلِّمُوا تَسْلِيمًا
(33:56) – Verily, God and His angels bless the Prophet: [hence,] O you who have attained to faith, bless him and give yourselves up [to his guidance] in utter self-surrender! [Asad]