Geography of the Divine Religions
Written by © Atabek Sukurov
Edited by Sonia Nisa
Globally, Muslims makeup the first largest religious group, with nearly two billion people or you can say 25% of the world's population. Today, a huge majority of Muslims globally belong to the Sunni sect. Although Sunni's are divided into several different sects or schools of thought within themselves, such as Hanafi, Hanbali, Shafei, Ja'fari and Maliki etc, they are considered legitimate under Islamic law.
Despite the fact that the currently existing schools of Islam are only the Hadithi, it was not the case before. I mean, the current Islamic schools (Ja'fari, Maliki, Shafei, Hanbali and modern Hanafi) are hadithiy based schools. They keep the Hadith as central located which can be seen in the following points:
- Every time one asks them for any evidence all they give you is ahadith
- If they ask you for any proof, similarly they only wait to hear an 'authentic hadith'
- They emphasise upon studying the science of hadith, which includes commentary of hadith, sources of hadith, knowledge of who narrated the specific hadiths, fiqh of hadith etc.
- Their authors primarily write concerning ahadith
- They predominantly spread the knowledge of hadith
- They evaluate every other source of knowledge (including Quran) by using hadith
- According to them, the Quran must be understood in accordance with hadith and not other way around.
To summarise, the fundamentals of all these 'Schools of Thought' are established upon Hadith, contrary to the 'Schools of Thought' that form their main source upon Qur'an, which unfortunately has become almost extinct in our time and age. Perhaps, potentially the Hanafi School of Thought was the only school remaining that established their fundamentals upon Qur'an. Thereafter, it diverted from its original structure and principles to shape itself similar to the remainder schools. Meaning it shifted is paradigm towards a 'Hadith based perspective School'. This significant change in its model, even though it being introduced from the early stages, became more stronger during the latter and contemporary Hanafis that came after the advent of the great classical Imams of the Hanafi school. In our century, we witnessed several scholars and researchers who attempted in reviving the Qur'anic schools but were unfortunately unsuccessful. These scholars and researchers were branded under many labels throughout our time, such as "Qur'anists", "Hadith rejecters" or even "Heretics". My reason to bring this subject into the light is to demonstrate the differentiation between the two, in hope that the readers will be able to grasp the differences between 'Quranic Jurisprudence' and 'Hadithi Jurisprudence' and will therefore appreciate the knowledge and research of the scholars who have inputted painstaking effort into their work. Furthermore, it will give a clear understanding of what makes the contemporary 'Quranists' different to the 'people of the Qur'an (Ahle Quran)' in the past. With the intention to achieve a clear understanding between the two, I have chosen a subject, which has practically affected every one of our lives.
Geography of the Divine Religions
In this article, I will discuss the geography of the Divine religions because this has caused and is still causing immense repercussions, regardless whether these are of a negative or positive nature. Let us begin with the question: "Are Divine religions geographical?" In simple words, is there a geographical space in which certain divine religions have to have its presence independently? We have two potential answers to this question:
- Hadithi (Ja'fari, Maliki, Shafei, Hanbali, latter and contemporary Hanafi) Schools of Thought all answered the question affirmatively.
- Quranic (earliest Hanafi) School of Thought answered the question in negative!
I will present the detailed arguments and proofs from both schools perspectives, comment on it, and conclude the article by giving some of my own personal thoughts and opinions on the topic.
Hadithi School has been subjected to many different names such as, Athari, Ahl al-Athar, Ahl al-Hadith, People of the Sunnah, People of Hadith, the path of Ahl Bait, school of Aal, and Path of the Salaf. All of the mentioned names have one meaning: 'following the narrations.' Although this School has many different branches, recognize that all of them follow the same main principle, which is ''Following the narrations.'' The reason behind the formation of all these multiple branches different to one another is that each branch followed their own list of narrations. The formation of this list has many causes:
- The narrations of a specific group. For example, the narrations of the people who lived in a specific place (for example, Medina), or the narrations of the people who belong to a specific dynasty (for example, Ahl Bait).
- The narrations, which can be found in specific books (for example six books Hadith)
- The narrations, which are narrated by certain groups of people (for example Non-Mu'tazila)
- The narrations, which accord certain principles (refer to Hakim)
- The narrations of the narrators who are approved by few individuals (such as the ones who are approved by Ahmad or Ibn Ma'een)
This is one of the main reasons why I do not consider any of these Schools different from one another. They all are Hadithi oriented with exactly the same main principle of ''Following the narrations.'' Now, let us have a look what each of these Hadithi Schools have to say concerning the above issue:
- Maliki School: According to this School Jazeerah al-Arab or the Arabian Peninsula, belongs to Islam, so no other religion can exist there besides theirs. This means that the people who follow any religion besides Islam cannot live there and it is the responsibility of the government to banish all of them out of the country. However, non-Muslims can visit it for a few days (Qurtubi, V 4, P 561, Nawawi, V 11, P 136).
- Ja'fari School: This Schools is known by the following names: Twelvers, Shi'ah, and Rafidhah. They have also confirmed that Non-Muslims are not allowed to live in Arabian Peninsula (Tusi, V 2, P 47)
- Shaf'i School: They agree with the Maliki and Ja'fari (above) position but they apply the ruling strictly on the geographical location, which is only Hijaz (Makkah, Madinah and Al-Yamamah region (Qurtubi, V 4, P 561, Nawawi, V 11, P 136).
- Hanbali School: They hold the same position as Shaf'is (Maqdisi, V 13, P 242).
- Tabari School: According to the great expert of Tafsir, Muhammad bin Jareer al-Tabari claimed, non-Muslims should be banished from any place, which is conquered by Muslims (Asqallani, V 6, P 313, Qurtubi, V 4, P 561).
- Contemporary Hanafi school; I would prefer to call them as Hadithiy deformation of Hanafi school (in a shorter way; Ha-De-Nafi school). This school took the contradicting statement of Muhammad bin Hasan Al-Shaybani as their main basis to justify the hadithiy deformation of the school. Muhammad made two contradicting statements about the same issue in his two books in one he supported the position of Abu Hanifa and in the second he opposed (Shami, V 6, P 337, Encyclopaedia, V 3, P 130) . So, the modern hanafis took the second statement which is opposing Abu Hanifa and claimed that to be the official Hanafi school. Unfortunately, they practice this habit quite often. Anyway, they said that it is not permissible for Non-Muslims to live in Jazeera of Arabs (Thanvi, V 12, P 555).
Unfortunately, we lost many schools, which apprehended the Quran as the main source of guidance. I will discuss the reasons for why they are extinct, as this lengthy topic will require a separate article. Perhaps in the near future, if Allah wills I will focus my efforts to produce this also. However, we only have one of these schools that is distorted. Let us see what this school has to say concerning the above issue:
- Hanafi School: According to them, it is permissible for non-Muslims to live wherever they want including Jazeerah and even Hijaz and even Haram or even city of Mecca (Shami, V 6, P 337). Only the thing is if some Non-Muslim citizen visits Jazeera of Arabs then there are two options; Either he gets a work permit for the maximum of one year in one go, or if he wants to live for longer then he has to get a long stay permit or citizenship (Quduri, P 235, Marghinani, V 4, P 304, Sarakhsi, V 5 P 119). They should be treated justly as one of the Muslim citizens except for the matters related to their religion. For example, matters concerning buying and selling wine and pork etc are a few examples of this. Consequently, it is not permitted for a Muslim to sell them, but the non-Muslim living in a Muslim country can sell and buy them at their own free will. (Quduri, P 89), also the Judge can punish the Muslim for getting drunk but does not touch Non-Muslim citizen for the same act (Shami, V 6 P 280).
Proofs of the schools
Now that we have briefly discussed the opinions and differences between the schools of thought, it will be highly beneficial to look at the proofs of these schools, as the main reason for disagreements between the different schools is the evidence and proof. They use these evidences and proofs to make and authenticate the fundamentals of their school. A crucial point to be noted that the proofs, which they present, may not necessarily be the actual reason for them to take a certain position. Sometimes they may have a very different reasoning, but they bring fourth proofs, as they do not want to show the real reason. Unfortunately, we cannot talk about these real reasons, as no one knows besides God and them themselves what the intention or real reasoning is. However, we should test these proofs, which they present and see how consistent their opinion or applied principles accord with their proofs. If inconsistency remains, we can conclude either of these two things:
- They are not qualified to derive their opinions directly from the original sources.
- They have a different reason, which triggered them to take a certain position, which they did not present for the reason they know.
Now, let us look at the proofs:
Obviously, all of the Hadithi schools (Ja'fari-Shia, Maliki, Shaf'i, Hanbali, latter-day (modern) Hanafi) are using the same hadiths to back their positions. This is why I did not discuss each of them in a separate chapter. Instead, I will mention the list of hadiths, which all of these schools utilise:
- Ibn Abbas (ra) said, The Prophet (PBUH) made a will one day before his death, and ordered us for three things saying, ''Deport the Pagans from Jazeera of Arabs, grant the gifts to the delegation as I used to do.'' Then Ibn Abbas (ra) said, I forgot the third order (Bukhari and Muslim). In the copy of 'Sahih Bukhari' by Jurjani it says, ''Deport the Jews from Jazeera of Arabs!'' (Asqallani, V 6, P 313, Bukhari/Muslim)
- Ibn Umar (ra) transmitted, The Prophet (PBUH) said, ''I will definitely deport Jews and Christians from Jazeera of Arabs so that no one will live there but Muslims.'' Then he made a very firm order to deport Pagans out of Jazeera of Arabs'' (Tirmidhi, first part narrated by Muslim too).
- Imam Malik (ra) transmitted from Zuhri (ra), the Prophet (PBUH) said, ''Two religions should not co-exist in Jazeera of Arabs'' (Muwatta)
- Abu Huraira (ra) said, Once we were in the Mosque and the Prophet (PBUH) said, ''Let us go to the Jews.'' We left the mosque and came to the house of Midraas. The Prophet (PBUH) said to them, ''Embrace Islam so that you will be safe [from the hell], and be noted that the Earth belongs to God and his Messenger! I want to deport you from this place. So, if you want to save your commodity then sell it or else be noted that the Earth belongs to God and his Messenger!'' (Bukhari, Muslim)
From the above Hadiths, we understand that the order about deporting the non-Muslims from Jazeera (Arabian Peninsula) was the last concern of the Prophet (PBUH) before his death. Some may think that it was something, which the Prophet (PBUH) was concerned even long before his death because of the hadith of Abu Huraira (RA). However, that is incorrect because the narration says that Abu Huraira was with the Prophet (PBUH) in this incident and we know that he became Muslim approximately three years prior to the death of the Prophet (PBUH). Based on that, we understand that this concern was towards the death of the Prophet (PBUH). This group as a proof for their stance presented all of these hadiths.
Proofs of Quranic School
As I mentioned previously, we only have one Quranic school remaining, which is stipulated on academical foundations. Unfortunately, this one and only Quranic School went through multiple distortions, which were designed to convert it into a Hadith based School. The most recent major attempt to change the school to a Hadithi perspective occurred in the sub-continent and is still ongoing. Sometimes it is very difficult to extract the original positions of this school but it is still possible if one has an in-depth knowledge of Usul ul-Fiqh. My suggestion to the contemporary scholars would be to leave this school as it is and stop trying to transform it into another Hadithi school, as we already have more than six well-established Hadithi schools. It is good to have different schools, which will broaden our vision. If we carry on transforming all of the schools to one another, then our understanding will be one sided and the vision will be very limited. As we discussed and witnessed, there were several attempts of creating a new Quranic school but neither of them is upright on a solid academic basis (some are in Subcontinent, some in Turkey, some in the Western contries). Unfortunately, this is because we may not have highly qualified scholars who can initiate the establishment of a 'School of Thought.' That is why it is important not to demolish and distort the one that we already have.
Now, let us see what Imam azam Abu Hanifa (RA) presented to support his position:
- God said in Quran: ''Today, I have completed your religion, and fulfilled my bounty to you and approved Islam as your religion'' Quran: 5:3.
This verse is from Surah Maida, which was revealed in the last period of the Prophets (PBUH) life, placing this as one of the last surahs of the Glorious Quran. The revelation of this surah was completed three months before the death of the Prophet (PBUH). If we were to accept that the Prophet (PBUH) has ordered us one day before his death then this would mean that God has lied when He said that He has ''completed'' our religion. The religion was not complete because one of the most major orders was not mentioned yet. This crucial ''religious order'' is proposing to banish several nations out of their motherlands. The ''several nations'' includes Jews, Christians, Pagans and some other nations, which's members potentially can be millions in number. No doubt, this order is much more difficult than the command of praying five times a day, fasting a month per annum, as we can all understand, if we contemplate. That is why; it is not possible that God and the Prophet (PBUH) will be silent for a lengthy twenty-three years of revelations, that too, concerning such a major and vital issue. Then suddenly, the Prophet (PBUH) remembers, just one day before his death. It is quite absurd to believe in this and it goes against the habit of Allah and His Messenger (PBUH).
2. God said to the Sons of Israel, "And [recall] when We took your covenant, [saying], "Do not shed each other's blood or evict one another from your lands." Then you acknowledged [this] whilst you were witnessing. Then, you are those [same ones who are] killing one another and evicting a party of your people from their lands, cooperating against them in sin and aggression. Quran 2:84-85
One of the principles of Imam Abu Hanifa (RA) is that ''the religious principles of the previous nations are considered as principles of Islam too, unless it is abrogated by Islamic text''. In the above verse, God is reminding the Bani Israel (Sons of Israel) about the commands and prohibitions of The Torah (Book of Moses PBUH). Then He (God) did not abrogate this important issue in the Quran, thereafter. Therefore, according to Imam Abu Hanifah (RA), it is part of Islam too. Subsequently, the actual rule: ''Not to evict one another from their homelands.'', which God revealed to the Sons of Israel then, was not abrogated in Islam. Based on this order of God evicting millions of non-Muslims from Arabian Peninsula is in fact prohibited according to the principles highlighted by Imam Abu Hanifah (ra) in his respective school.
3. God said, "And do not let the hatred of people for having obstructed you from al-Masjid al-Haram lead you to transgress. And cooperate in righteousness and piety, but do not cooperate in sin and aggression. And fear Allah ; indeed, Allah is severe in penalty." Quran 5:2
As I said above, Surah Maida is the last surah revealed and neither of its principles were abrogated (if we are to believe that Quran has abrogated verses). In this verse, God is specifically mentioning regarding the people who have obstructed Muslims from Al-Masjid Al-Haram. These people were Pagans of Makkah. As we understand, God is ordering us to cooperate with them, with righteousness and piety and forbidding us from cooperating in sin and aggression. Based on this verse, God has issued his last three commands with regards to treating the Pagans of Meccah who have oppressed the Prophet PBUH and Muslims was as following:
- The last order of God regarding Pagans (mushriks) was to work with them in order to spread the piety and righteousness.
- The last order of God regarding Pagans was not to take the hatred of Pagans towards Muslims to motivate the negative reaction of Muslims towards them!
- The third and last order of God regarding Pagans of Makkah (which is in Jazeera of Arabs) was not to join them, to spread sin and aggression.
I do not accept that it is possible for God to send these above three points and following it by saying that he has completed our religion then a couple of months later His Messenger (PBUH) contradicting this and ordering the Muslims to help each other to transgress against pagans. This is opposing the exceptional Mercy of God and Merciful character of the Prophet (PBUH).
Furthermore, I do not doubt the hadiths, which the first group presented have defects. Perhaps, it could have been fabricated or misunderstood. Although, I am more inclined towards the fact that they have been fabricated. Nevertheless, let us test the hadiths:
- In my opinion, the Hadith of Ibn Abbas (RA) is very weak because of the following facts:
- In the beginning Ibn Abbas (RA) says, "Thursday, and what a Thursday was that!" Then Ibn Abbas have broken in crying and carried on; The Prophet (PBUH) fell very ill and he said, ''Bring a pen and a paper so that I will write something for you so you will not be misguided because of it?'' Ibn Abbas (RA) carried on, Umar (RA) said, [Do not give him anything because] his pain has increased. You have Quran and it is sufficient for us! Then the people disagreed amongst themselves. Thereafter, the Prophet (PBUH) assumed that they would not bring a pen and paper, so he gave them three orders (verbally).
- After the death of the Prophet (PBUH), Abu Bakr (RA) did not expel anyone and non-Muslims carried on living with Muslims. Historians attribute the deportation of non-Muslims to Umar (RA) the second Caliph after Abu Bakr (RA). We also know that Abu Bakr (RA) also had a Jewish slave that remained with him as a Jew in Arabia.
- If we accept this narration then it would mean that Umar (RA) first says, "The Prophet (PBUH) is ill so he does not understand what he is saying.'' Then, Umar (RA) returns and says, ''actually, the Prophet (PBUH) has ordered us to deport non-Muslims one day prior to his death!'' (Bukhari/Muslim)
I think everyone can see that it is a quite complicated hadith. Some of the scholars have tried to solve the above problems but there is no solid evidence nor strong argument that can be stipulated from this. (Read it in the second part)
- The Hadith of Abu Huraira (RA) is also problematic because it is contradicting with the verses, which I quoted. Similarly, do not forget that the Prophet (PBUH) has borrowed a loan from his neighbour who was a Jewish person. (Read my comments in the second part)
Further, some of the Hadithi scholars endeavour to back up their position using the 26th verse of Surah Tawbah (Quran). I will explain this in my next article but here I can comment that the Hadithi scholars using the verse in this matter demonstrates their weakness in their understanding of the Quran. Therefore, this gives extra credit to Imam Abu Hanifa (RA) and his opinion in this issue.
(I have broken this article in two parts. Shortly I will post the second part with few more chapters and conclusion. Thanks for believing that your time worth reading my articles. It means a lot to me)
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