The relation between the Quran and Hadith – 4

Friday Khutba by Dr Zahid Aziz, for Lahore Ahmadiyya UK, 15 July 2022

“Say: If you love Allah, follow me: Allah will love you, and grant you protection from your sins. And Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.” — 3:31

قُلۡ اِنۡ کُنۡتُمۡ تُحِبُّوۡنَ اللّٰہَ فَاتَّبِعُوۡنِیۡ یُحۡبِبۡکُمُ اللّٰہُ وَ یَغۡفِرۡ لَکُمۡ ذُنُوۡبَکُمۡ ؕ وَ اللّٰہُ غَفُوۡرٌ رَّحِیۡمٌ ﴿۳۱

“Certainly Allah conferred a favour on the believers when He raised among them a Messenger from among them­selves, reciting to them His messages and purifying them, and teaching them the Book and the Wisdom, although before that they were surely in manifest error.” — 3:164

 لَقَدۡ مَنَّ اللّٰہُ عَلَی الۡمُؤۡمِنِیۡنَ اِذۡ بَعَثَ فِیۡہِمۡ رَسُوۡلًا مِّنۡ اَنۡفُسِہِمۡ یَتۡلُوۡا عَلَیۡہِمۡ اٰیٰتِہٖ وَ یُزَکِّیۡہِمۡ وَ یُعَلِّمُہُمُ الۡکِتٰبَ وَ الۡحِکۡمَۃَ ۚ وَ اِنۡ کَانُوۡا مِنۡ قَبۡلُ لَفِیۡ ضَلٰلٍ مُّبِیۡنٍ ﴿۱۶۴

“Certainly you have in the Messenger of Allah an excellent exemplar for him who hopes in Allah and the Last Day, and remembers Allah much.” — 33:21

لَقَدۡ کَانَ لَکُمۡ فِیۡ رَسُوۡلِ اللّٰہِ اُسۡوَۃٌ حَسَنَۃٌ لِّمَنۡ کَانَ یَرۡجُوا اللّٰہَ وَ الۡیَوۡمَ الۡاٰخِرَ وَ ذَکَرَ اللّٰہَ کَثِیۡرًا ﴿ؕ۲۱

I am returning to the topic of my three khutbas delivered previous to last week’s khutba, which is the relation between the Holy Quran and Hadith. I had been reciting verses which require Muslims to obey Allah and the Messenger of Allah. The three verses I have just recited give us some reasons why the Holy Prophet Muhammad himself must be obeyed. The first says that following the Holy Prophet is a necessity if you love God, and naturally you also want God to love you. The Holy Prophet is the one who loved God most, among all human beings. So anyone who loves God should follow the Holy Prophet. The second verse mentions that one of the Holy Prophet’s duties is to purify the believers. The third verse describes him as an excellent exemp­lar, the one who sets the best possible example, for those who place their hopes in God and hope that they will be successful on the Day of Judgment.


These three verses show that a Muslim’s obedience to the Holy Prophet is not limited to following him in matters such as, for example, the times of prayer, the number of rak‘ahs of prayers, how he began and ended his fasts, which days he fasted outside Ramadan etc. Muslims must follow him in his character, his qualities, his dealings with others, his purity and his love of God.


In my last khutba on this topic, two weeks ago, I mentioned that after some centuries of Islam had passed, Muslims were following the books of Fiqh, also known as books of Islamic jurisprudence or law, as being the source of the teachings of Islam. These books covered only the teachings of Islam relating to outward and physical matters. From them you could learn about how to perform the physical acts of prayer, fasting, charity, pilgrimage, and the rules of Islam relating to marriage, divorce, financial matters, trade, burial, inheritance, war, etc. This was called the Islamic Shari‘ah.


But many Muslims wanted spiritual solace, contact with God, and inner purifi­cation. That, after all, is the crux of religion and what human nature is looking for in religion. So, for the spiritual guidance of Muslims, many saints arose among them over the centuries in different countries. Many of them are household names, such as Jalal-ud-Din Rumi, Muin-ud-Din Chishti, Shaikh Ahmad of Sirhind, known as Mujaddid Alfi Sani, and Ali Hujwiri, known as Data Ganj Bakhsh of Lahore. They focussed on guiding people to the spirit of Islam. Their field of work is known as Tariqat. Just as we have four major schools of Fiqh in Islamic law, there are several tariqas or Sufi movements or orders. In these orders there are the guides and their disciples or pupils. A guide is known as a murshid or pir and a disciples is called a murid. In these movements, various methods were taught of achieving closeness to God, in particular by reciting dhikr or words of remembrance of God.


The founders of these movements did very great work of bringing non-Muslims into Islam and guiding Muslims to do good works of the service of humanity and the poor. But unfortunately, with the passage of time, certain wrong notions and types of worship became estab­lished in these movements which are not justified by the Quran or the life of the Holy Prophet. These include veneration of tombs of saints and seeking blessings from them. It may be that some of these prac­tices were useful to certain people in certain environments in helping to become better Muslims, and could be justified on that basis temporarily. One of their concepts is that you obey your spiri­tual leader, pir or murshid, absolutely and without question because he is the one who is leading you to the Holy Prophet and to God. That may have been worked for some people when their leader was a great saint or a mujaddid. But as we all know, very often the ordinary follow­ers have been exploited by unscrupulous pirs and made into blind mental slaves of their master.


Anyhow, in a Muslim’s practical life, whether religious or worldly, Fiqh had become dominant. But then, a hundred years before the time of the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement, some Muslim scholars began to question how could fatwas of Fiqh be followed when sometimes they conflicted with the Quran and Hadith; or how could saints and auliya be venerated in ways which are against the Quran and Hadith? This is how the groups known as Wahhabis or Ahl-i Hadith came into existence. These days they are also called Salafis. They place the Quran and Hadith as being above the conclusions drawn by the Imams of Fiqh. However, they regard Hadith as providing a correct exposition of the Quran, and they interpret the Quran in the light of Hadith. When they read the Hadith report in Bukhari that the Holy Prophet said: “Whoever changes his religion, kill him” (hadith 3017 and 6922), they jump to the conclusion that any Muslim who leaves Islam must be sentenced to death in an Islamic State. They ignore that the Quran’s plain teaching is that everyone is free to adopt whatever religion he or she wishes, and they ignore that when the Quran mentions those who leave Islam after becoming Muslims it gives no instruction, neither directly nor indirectly, that they should be punished, let alone sentenced to death. They take this hadith as being what the Quran really intends to say.


When they read the Hadith report, near the beginning of Bukhari, that the Holy Prophet said: “I have been commanded that I should fight the people till they bear witness that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah and keep up prayer and pay the Zakat” (hadith 25), they jump to the conclusion that a Muslim state must wage war against other people in the world until they accept Islam. Again, they ignore that the Quran only allows Muslims to fight against those who first attack the Muslims. So, while these groups and movements were right in placing the Quran and Hadith above human-drawn judgments and fatwas in the books of Fiqh, yet in regard to the respective positions of the Quran and Hadith they believed that the Hadith provides a fuller explanation of what the Quran actually intends to say. So they took as fact, and as literally true, what is in Hadith, and interpreted the Quran to bring it in line with Hadith.


These groups also don’t attach any importance to the spiritual side of Islam, and they denounce and attack the saints who appeared throughout Islamic history as deviat­­ing from Islam, and consider them as imposters who fooled the ordinary masses. They don’t believe that, after the Holy Prophet Muhammad, the saints of Islam still receive a type of revelation from God. They regard the hadith about the coming of Mujaddids as popularised a few centuries ago by a scholar who wanted to prove himself to be a mujaddid.


As opposed to this point of view, some other groups arose who rejected Hadith completely. They started becoming prominent in the time of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. They said that they believed only in the Quran. They claimed that obeying the Prophet only means obey the book which he brought, and it does not apply to any­thing the Holy Prophet said in explanation of the book. Such groups still exist. Some of them say that they submit only to Allah and that the Kalima is nowhere to be found in the Quran. According to some of them, if after saying “I bear witness that there is no god but Allah”, you say “and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah”, that is an act of shirk or making someone equal to God They consider the Holy Prophet as merely the deliverer of the Divine message, but who has no authority of his own to further explain and illustrate that message.


I have mentioned what are, broadly speaking, four major points of view among Sunni Muslims that had come into existence over the centuries. The first two are: (1) Followers of the books of Fiqh or judgments of the great Imams of Islamic law, and (2) Sufi spiritual orders which are centered around the great saints of Islam and their shrines. These two constitute the majority of Muslims, especially in the Indian subcontinent. Thirdly, those known as Ahl-i Hadith, Wahhabi and Salafi, who reject both of these two groups and say that they hold the Quran and Hadith above the rulings of Fiqh and above reverence for saints. But they take Hadith as providing the defini­tive explanation of the Quran, and even being authoritative over the Quran. Fourthly, those who say that they take only the Quran as the only authority in Islam and reject everything besides that, including the Holy Prophet’s authority to interpret and explain his own message. These are a small minority and have had various names such as Ahl-i Quran and Submitters. Of course, these four are not clear-cut categories, so that a person can only be in one of the four and share nothing with others. There are groups who take their views from more than one of these categories.


The Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, arose as the Mujaddid to pass judgment on all these views, and explain to what extent each group is right and to what extent it is in error.


So may Allah grant success to his work and the work of the scholars who followed him to continue his mission — Ameen.