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Saturday, August 27, 2005

deen and mazhab

#3342 In the Supreme National Interest on February 24, 2000
Umairr #: 228

For obvious reasons, normally I do not jump into these kind of discussions. I'd rather take my own life than bother someone to go to the length of issuing a 'fatwa' against me with all its repercussions. And from what little I have understood about you, you are not the fatwa issuing kind.

"To tell you the truth, apart from being a Sunni, I do not even know which detailed sub-sect of the Sunni faith I belong to. Nor am I interested in finding out."

----"faith", and "religion" -- how would you translate it? Deen or Mazhab? There is a distinction. Majority speaks of Islam as their Mazhab. Wrong. It is their Deen. Mazhab is the more or path one adopts to follow that Deen. Take the Sunnis, for example. They have to follow one of the four Imams ---Abu Hanifa, Malik, Hunbal or Shafii in toto. That is their Mazhab. In the subcontinent, the majority of Sunnis are Hanafis. Hence we can say their Mazhab is Sunni-Hanafi and their Deen is Islam.

(Why is it necessary to follow a Mazhab? Because these Mazhabs show practical interpretations of the Qur'an. e.g. the way one offers prayers. Whether one dons a cap or not, folds the hand or let them hang by the side, what other gestures one adopts -- we mostly unknowingly follow the dictates of a Mazhab.)

"I do not follow any imam."

----Not knowingly, perhaps.

" Infact, I am not even convinced that every hadith in every hadith book is accurate."

----That is perceptive. And right. (Hope am not opening a pandora's box here.)

In the last 150 years there has been a renewed effort to reinterpret and ponder afresh the attitude of Muslims. Some of the people who have helped along are Mohammed Rashid Reda, Mohammed Abduh, Jamal uddin Afghani, the two Sirs -- Syed Ahmed Khan and Mohammed Iqbal (Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam ----in particular parts of the fifth and sixth lectures) and in more recent memory Abul Aala Maudoodi and Ghulam Pervez. Maudoodi played the part of the defender of the status quo, whereas Pervez openly challenged most Hadiths. Pervez was accused by Maudoodi of denying the authenticity of all Hadiths. Pervez's stand was that if any Hadith is true, it should stand up to Qur'anic scrutiny. (Ofcourse, this is an over-simplification. To get the full colour one has to read them both.)

(Just a digression: As a summer project I am trying to interest my teenaged son to pick out four or five pairs of hadiths from one imam, say Bukhari, with identical or near identical links and chains of narrators, but with strong and weak, or diametrically opposite, subject matters and judge them on merits. If he completes the project I will ask him to submit it to Chowk.)

".....I make quite a bit of effort to understand the Quran, without relying on religious scholars, since I feel many of them have contradicting explanations on the exact same verses in the Quran."

----Unless one is an exceptional linguist and historian, gone are the days when one can pick up an old manuscript and arrive at the truth, unaided. Hope you don't mind my saying so. Give you a minor example. Take that surah --- Ababil (I think) -- Alum tara kaifa.....ponder over it and tell me the meaning. Then read some commentaries, and most of them are all over, but one or two do mention in their interpretation that the lashkar was wiped out through pox like disease contracted through air-borne insects -- not mini bombs dropped by Hitchcockian birds. And as you read other commentaries you will come across the fact that till the early days of Omar, he used to recite "Alam tarah" and the next surah "Lai laaf-e-quraish" as ONE surah in salat. Next you should read both as one and ponder and follow the dictates of your heart.


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