Monday, 24 July 2017

Continuation of Divine Inspiration (Part 3)

بسم الله الرحمـن الرحيم
والعاقبة للمتقين
وصلى الله على نبينا محمد وعلى آله واهل بيته اجمعين

The third part of this dynamic series on the continuation of divine inspiration within the Umma of Prophet Muhammad will focus on the discussion surrounding the Muhaddath. In the previous entry it was made apparent that a Muhaddath is technically not a Prophet, yet receives divine inspiration from Allâh and is conversant with Him (Subhânahu wa Ta’âlâ). The Prophet said that if there was to be a Muhaddath in his Umma, as there were in the previous Ummam, then his mighty companion ‘Umar b. al-KhattabRA would be one of them. Some skeptics, such as Ghâmidi and Eng. Muhammad ‘Ali Mirzâ, claim that this Hadîth is couched in hypothetical phrasing and so it is not a proof that ‘UmarRA actually was a Muhaddath. They in fact deny that he was a Muhaddath on the basis that the Prophet said that if there was to be a prophet after him it would be ‘UmarRA. So when it is conceded that ‘UmarRA was not a Prophet, then likewise, it has to be conceded that he wasn’t a Muhaddath either. The problem with this argument is twofold; 1. The Qur’ân and Sunna already make it clear that there is no prophet after sayyidinâ Muhammad  , whereas there is no explicit text in the Qur’ân and Sunna that the office of Muhaddath has likewise been terminated, 2. There is a slight difference in the wording of these two narrations which yields a blow to the validity of any analogy between them. The Deobandi elder, Mawlânâ Ashraf ‘Ali Thanawi has clarified this point:

یہ تمام اشتباہ آپ کو لفظ ان و لفظ لو میں میں فرق نہ کرنے سے ہوا، اتخاذ خلیل اور کون نبوت لفظ لو ہے جو امتناع کے لۓ موضوع ہے، اور محدثیت میں لفظ ان ہے جو اکثر احتمال وقوع اور کبھی اثبات وقوع کے لۓ مستعمل ہوتا ہے۔ جیسے ہمارے محاورہ میں بھی کہا جاتا ہے کہ اگر دنیا میں میرا کوئی دوست ہے تو تم ہو

Translation: All of these doubts are because you don’t make a distinction between the word اِن and the word لَو. ‘Taking a Khalîl’ and ‘Becoming a Prophet’ are with the word  لوLaw’ which is used for negating the possibility, and ‘Muhaddathîn’ is with the word انIn’ which is mostly used for the possibility of occurrence and sometimes for the affirmation of occurrence. Like in our own idiom it is said ‘If I ever had a friend in this world it is you.’

Reference: Imdâd-ul-Fatâwâ; v. 5, p. 121

Now the objective of both these Hadîth is to illustrate the virtue and excellence of sayyidinâ ‘UmarRA. However, if it is conceded that ‘Umar is not a Prophet since Prophethood has been sealed, yet ‘UmarRA possessed something of a potential for Prophethood, then it would have to be admitted that ‘UmarRA is at least a Muhaddath. If ‘UmarRA being a Muhaddath is negated it would be redundant to negate Prophethood for him too.

The Muhaddath, though technically not a Prophet, shares some characteristics with the latter such as having been raised up and sent by Allâh. The Holy Qur’ân says:

وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِن قَبْلِكَ مِن رَّسُولٍ وَلَا نَبِيٍّ إِلَّا إِذَا تَمَنَّىٰ أَلْقَى الشَّيْطَانُ فِي أُمْنِيَّتِهِ فَيَنسَخُ اللَّـهُ مَا يُلْقِي الشَّيْطَانُ ثُمَّ يُحْكِمُ اللَّـهُ آيَاتِهِ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ
And We did not send before you any messenger or prophet except that when he had a desire, Satan interfered with that desire. But Allah eradicates that which Satan throws in and strengthens His Signs. And Allah is Knowing and Wise.
(Sûra 22: 52)

It is narrated from ‘Amr b. Dînâr that sayyidinâ Ibn ‘AbbâsRA used to read it as:

وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِن قَبْلِكَ مِن رَّسُولٍ وَلَا نَبِيٍّ وَلَا مُحَدَّثٍ 
And We did not send before you any Messenger or Prophet or Muhaddath…

Reference: Tafsîr al-Qurtubi v. 12 pp. 79 – 80

Ibn Hajr al-Asqalâni likewise mentioned it in his Fath-al-Bâri, and authenticated it in Taghlîq al-Ta’lîq v. 4 p. 65:

This does not mean that Ibn ‘Abbâs had an alternate recitation of this Verse of the Holy Qur’ân, but rather he recited the Ayat in this way to illustrate his understanding that the Muhaddath is included in the category of Messengers and Prophets who are sent by Allâh. Furthermore, this reading is attributed to Imâm Abu Ja’far Muhammad al-BâqirRA by the Twelver Shî’a in Asûl al-Kâfi p. 125:

Shâh Ismâ’îl Shahîd of Delhi (1779 – 1831) wrote that the Muhaddath is included in the rank of Prophets:

حدیث کے بعض علماء نے یہ بھی کہا ہے کہ رسول اللہ صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم سے انبیاء کی تعداد کے متعلق جو روائت نقل کی جاتی ہے اس میں انبیاء کے لفظ سے صرف نبی ہی مراد نہیں ہیں بلکہ محدثین بھی اس میں شامل ہیں۔
محدثین کو بھی رسول کہا جاسکتا ہے
Translation: Some of the ‘Ulamâ of Hadîth have said that in the narration concerning the number of Prophets from Rasûl Allâh the word ‘Anbiyâ’ does not only mean Prophet, but the Muhaddathîn too are included within it…Muhaddathîn can also be termed as Rasûl (Messenger).

Reference: ‘Abqât, p. 402

In conclusion, the office of Muhaddath has not ceased within this Umma, and this is a proof for the continuation of divine revelation and inspiration despite the ‘Finality of Prophethood’. In fact, the Muhaddath, though technically not a Prophet in the real sense, is nevertheless included within the count of Prophets, and like the Prophets, is raised up and sent by Allâh. In Biblical terminology, a Muhaddath is called ‘Seer’, like Daniel and the minor Prophets of the Tanakh. Likewise, the Holy Qur’ân refers to some of the Muhaddathîn who were in fact Disciples of Jesus of Nazareth as Mursalîn or Messengers. In the terminology of the Sûfis and mystics of Islâm and also linguistically a Muhaddath is sometimes referred to as a Prophet.

To be continued ان شاء الله

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