Syed Akbar Ali’s latest post regarding meeting his old friend Dr Kassim Ahmad triggered back the memory of my meeting with the latter when I was still a student in Universiti Malaya. He was so peramah. That was when his book “ Hadis- Satu Penilaian Semula” became the hot topic of conversation amongst many Muslim Malays. The book was later banned. I always felt that the topic he brought forward was never really concluded :(
I wrote an article about the book and the general reaction towards it and the article was carried by NST. I remember that I was totally overjoyed to have my article carried by a daily for the first time! I like to reproduce it here, 22 years later, half my life ago... the wonders of blogging!!!
ANSWER TO CONTROVERSY LIES IN THE QURAN
( NST June 24, 1986 )
Lately, as most Malaysian Muslims are aware, a lot of controversy has been stirred by Encik Kassim’s book, Hadith – A Re-evaluation. Many have expressed fear and many more have called for a ban on the book. Some have gone to the extent of demanding that Encik Kassim should utter the kalimah shahadah a second time as they claim he has deviated from Islam.
Here, I wish to make a plea to all Muslims to stop playing God and refer the matter to God Himself.
As Muslims on the whole believe in the Quran as the Word of God, letter by letter, word for word, sentence by sentence and cover to cover, I wish only to base my basic discussion and evidence on the Quran itself.
The Quran says :
"Say: "What thing is most Weighty in evidence?" Say: "(Allah) is witness between me and you; This Qur'an hath been revealed to me by inspiration, that I may warn you and all whom it reaches. …..." (Quran 6:19).
As we are all aware, now there are two distinct groups of people with differing views on the role of hadith in Islam. Paradoxically, the Quran was sent for the purpose of uniting mankind, such as these differing groups.
The Quran says :“And we sent down the Book to thee for the express purpose, that thou should make clear to them those things in which they differ, that it should be a guide and a mercy to those who believe.” (Quran 16:64)
Now I wish to invite all to examine and understand what the Quran says about itself and the Word of God. The Quran has set down unambiguous criteria regarding what is the Word of God and the word of man.
The Quran says:“Do they not consider The Quran (with care)? Had it been from other Than God, they would surely Have found therein Much discrepancy. (Quran 4:82)
First and foremost, note that the Quran invites us to examine and think it over critically (“with care”). Secondly, if the Quran had been from other than God (i.e., man, Satan, etc), definitely there would be some things that wouldn’t tally. Going further, we can expect numerous errors and discrepancies. Yet the Quran states explicitly that the Word of God is pure, perfect and stands forever.
This is further supported by these words in the Quran :
“We have no doubt, send down the message; And we will assuredly guard it (against corruption)” (Quran 4:82)
I believe that both groups will (God willing) agree with my comments on verse 4:82. Both groups will not deny that the hadith, unlike the Quran, does contain errors even from Bukhari’s time.
The errors range from errors pertaining to copying, theories scientifically proven wrong, and matters that do not tally with the Quran or other collections of hadith.
One such error can be seen in Sahih Al-Bukhari.
The hadith estimates that the initial stages in the development of an embryo are :
(1) A forty-day period for the grouping of elements which are to constitute the human being;
(2) Another forty days during which the embryo is represented as “something that clings”; and
(3) A third forty days when the embryo is termed “chewed flesh”.
Once the angel has intervened to define what this individual’s future is to be, a should is breathed into him. The above 120 days, in describing the embryonic evolution, does not agree with modern scientific data.
Knowing that Bukhari did not have our modern scientific, tools and knowledge, it is easy to understand why he did not throw this hadith out of his (supposedly) Sahih collection.
To those who are not aware of modern scientific progress in understanding the Quran, let us be clear that if we refer to the Quran in the above matter (embryonic evolution), we will find that the Quran confirms modern scientific findings (and vice versa). For example,
The Quran says :“(God) fashions you inside the bodies of your mothers, formation after formation, in three (veils of) darkness.” (Quran 39:6)
“We fashioned… into something which clings….into a lump of flesh in proportion and out of proportion.” (Quran 5:22)
Modern scientific data tells us how certain parts appear to be completely out of proportion during embryonic development with what is later to become the individual, while others remain in proportion. (For those interested in furthering their knowledge of this subject, please refer to the Bible, the Quran and Science by Maurice Bucaille.)
One more aspect that both groups agree upon is the need to follow and respect the Prophet Muhamad (p.b.u.h). the only problem that arises here is how do we respect and follow him? Let us allow the Quran to guide us in choosing how.
The Quran says :Say : “O man! I am sent unto you all as the apostle of God, to whom belongeth the dominion of the heavens and the earth : there is no god but He: It is He that giveth both life and death.So believe in God and His apostle The unlettered Prophet, who believeth in God And His Words: Follow him That (so) ye may be guided” (Quran 7:158)
So, according to these verses, we are to believe in God and His Apostle the unlettered Prophet (Muhamad p.b.u.h.), who believed in God and His words, and if we follow him we rightfully may be guided.
As we clearly understand what His Words are, I do not have to explain this verse much further.
Definitely, the hadith has been and will continue to be the second source of Islamic knowledge for only God knows how long. But then, a re-evaluation on them will definitely do us good just as commentaries and translations of the Quran, which have been improved through the years, do. Furthermore, none should fear a re-evaluation because, as is clearly shown in verse 4:82, even the Quran encourages us to examine it with care.
More importantly, our religious scholars should work hand in hand with our academicians (scientists, educationists, archaelogists, historians, etc.) in reaching what our humble and beloved Prophet Muhamad (p.b.u.h.) uttered (from the Quran) when he succeeded in upholding the true teachings of God :
“Truth has (now) Arrived, and Falsehood Perished : For falsehood is (by its nature) Bound to perish.” (Quran 17:81)
Thus, all of us would be pious followers of God and his Prophet who preached:
“(O man), follow not that whereof thou hast no knowledge. Lo! The hearing and the sight and the heart of each of these it will be asked.” (Quran 17:36)
Both religious scholars and academicians should play their part and neither should be arrogant enough to claim monopoly of knowledge pertaining to religious affairs. As a matter of fact, until academicians like Royal Prof. Ungku A. Aziz (vice-chancellor, UM)., Prof. Madya Mohd Yunus Mohd Noor (deputy vice chanceller, UM) and Dr Omar Farouk (Master of Za’ba College, UM) take an active role in leading other Muslims, Islam will definitely remain far behind.
Matters such as this should be taken intellectually and in Islam’s spirit, which teaches us to be patient and tolerant, uphold the spirit of confidence but not the spirit of arrogance, and which invites us to express ourselves and yet listen to others.
As a Muslim who has high hopes and ideals of Islam, I can’t help but feel sad and ashamed by the immature attitude of our religious leaders (who often react rather emotionally).
If they were confident enough of the authenticity of the hadith and even more so the Quran, they would have advised all Muslims to read Encik Kassim’s book and evaluate the contents for themselves.
Didn’t the Quran say that we are :
“those who listen to the Word and follow the best meaning in it, Those are the ones whom God has guided, and those are the ones endowed with understanding.” (Quran 39:18)
To me, telling people to stop listening to Encik Kassim and not to read his book is quite similar to the situation where the pagan Arabs advised others not to listen to Prophet Muhamad’s (p.b.u.h) call to Islam just because they were afraid they couldn’t prove him wrong.
With all this sadness and shame, how do we stand? Still with hope and faith as the Quran points out :
“So lose not heart,
nor fall into despair,
for ye must gain mastery
If ye are true in Faith.” (Quran 3:139)