Thursday, 28 June 2018

Ultimate Source of Faith: The Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وآله


بســم اللــه الرحمــن الرحيــم

والصلاــة والسلاــم علــى نبيــه الكريــم

وعلــى اهــل بيتــه الطيبيــن الطاهريــن المظلوميــن

والعاقبة للمتقين

I begin this new series of articles regarding juristic issues, or to be more precise, the principles of Islamic jurisprudence especially pertaining to leadership of the Muslim community and political theory. In this particular entry, I wish to discuss the source of guidance and truth. It is quite common to hear nowadays that the ultimate source in Islam is the Qur’an, the divinely-revealed Scripture. This is considered the ma’khadh (source) of Islam absolutely by many Muslims nowadays. I say, however, that the ultimate source of Islam, meaning, the means to guidance and knowledge of what Islam is, is the Prophet Muhammad (sall Allahu alayhi wa aalihi wasallam). I can present many proofs and arguments in favor of this, but shall restrict myself here to only a few. Firstly, the Prophet Muhammad (sall Allahu alayhi wa aalihi wasallam) was the one to whom the holy Qur’an was revealed. In other words, the Qur’an was not revealed upon the heart of each and every individual Believer, but it was revealed to a single Prophet, who then conveyed its contents to the people:
 
قُلْ مَن كَانَ عَدُوًّا لِّجِبْرِيلَ فَإِنَّهُ نَزَّلَهُ عَلَىٰ قَلْبِكَ بِإِذْنِ اللَّـهِ مُصَدِّقًا لِّمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ وَهُدًى وَبُشْرَىٰ لِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ۝
Say: Whoever is an enemy to Gabriel, for verily he brought it down upon your heart [O My Prophet!] by the permission of Allah, confirming what was before it and a guidance and glad tidings for the believers.

(Sura 2:97)

The words alaa Qalbika “upon your heart” in the singular, a direct address to the Prophet Muhammad (sall Allahu alayhi wa aalihi wasallam) is one of the proofs that the Quraan was revealed to him, and not revealed collectively upon the hearts of the believers. Similarly, Allah says:

وَإِنَّهُ لَتَنزِيلُ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ ﴿١٩٢﴾ نَزَلَ بِهِ الرُّوحُ الْأَمِينُ ﴿١٩٣﴾ عَلَىٰ قَلْبِكَ لِتَكُونَ مِنَ الْمُنذِرِينَ ﴿١٩٤﴾

And verily it is a Revelation of the Lord of the worlds.

The trustworthy Spirit has brought it down.

Upon your heart (O My Prophet!) that you may be of the warners.

(Sura 26:192-194)

Having established that the Quraan was revealed upon a single heart, the pure heart of our holy Prophet Muhammad (sall Allahu alayhi wa aalihi wasallam), and was not a collective revelation to the hearts of the Believers, it is quite obvious that in order to access and attain the Quraan one must take the Prophet Muhammad (sall Allahu alayhi wa aalihi wasallam) as its medium and source. Unless the Prophet Muhammad says “this is the Quraan” it is impossible for one to know what the Quraan even is. Additionally, consider the fact that when the Prophet Muhammad (sall Allahu alayhi wa aalihi wasallam) was first commanded by Allah to invite people to Islam, he was ordered to begin with his nearest kin:

وَأَنذِرْ عَشِيرَتَكَ الْأَقْرَبِينَ۝

And warn your closest kindred

(Sura 26:214)
This he did, in the well known episode known as the da’wat al-Ashira. The Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) had various clans of the Quraysh assembled on the mount of al-Safa, and asked them:
أَرَأَيْتُمْ إِنْ أَخْبَرْتُكُمْ أَنَّ خَيْلاً تَخْرُجُ مِنْ سَفْحِ هَذَا الْجَبَلِ أَكُنْتُمْ مُصَدِّقِيَّ
“If I inform you of a cavalry coming up the side of this mountain, would you believe me?”
To which all the people assembled replied:
مَا جَرَّبْنَا عَلَيْكَ كَذِبًا
“We have never known you to tell a lie.”
It was then that the Prophet Muhammad (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) conveyed the divine message with which he was sent in the following words:
فَإِنِّي نَذِيرٌ لَكُمْ بَيْنَ يَدَىْ عَذَابٍ شَدِيدٍ
“So verily I am a warner to you of a coming severe punishment.”
Consider the fact that in this, his first da’wa to the people since being appointed a Prophet and Apostle, sayyidina Muhammad (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) did not invite them to believe in the Quran, but rather, invited them to believe in his person as a Nadhir (harbinger), warning them of an imminent divine punishment. In other words, belief in the Prophet’s person as being a Prophet and Apostle of God necessarily precedes belief in the Scripture that was revealed to him. It is fundamentally an incorrect approach to first believe in the Scripture and then derive belief in the Prophet Muhammad based on that Scripture. In fact there are many fundamentals of Faith, particularly the very creed, the two testifications through which one enters into Islam, that a Believer must necessarily be acquainted with before even laying hands on a copy of the holy Quraan. The creed of Islam is:
لــا الــه الــا اللــه
محمــد رسوــل اللــه
There is none worthy of worship except Allah
Muhammad is the Apostle of Allah
 
Interestingly, this formula is not found as a single statement in the Quraan, yet the vast majority of Muslims consider it the most fundamental and basic teaching of their Faith. It is a very powerful evidence that belief in this Kalima or creed not only precedes but is independent of the Quran, a strong refutation of particularly those so-called “Quranist” sects which consider the text of the Quran as the sole and ultimate source of Faith and religious knowledge. Iman or faith is learnt before one even approaches the Quran, proving that the knowledge of Iman precedes and is independent of the Quran, as the sahabi Jundub b. Abd Allah (radi Allahu anh) said:
كُنَّا مَعَ النَّبِيِّ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ وَنَحْنُ فِتْيَانٌ حَزَاوِرَةٌ فَتَعَلَّمْنَا الإِيمَانَ قَبْلَ أَنْ نَتَعَلَّمَ الْقُرْآنَ ثُمَّ تَعَلَّمْنَا الْقُرْآنَ فَازْدَدْنَا بِهِ إِيمَانًا
“We were with the Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) and we were strong youths, so we learned Faith before we learned the Quran, then we learned the Quran and our Faith increased thereby.” (Sunan Ibn Maja #61)
What is meant by learning Faith here, a knowledge that is independent of and precedes knowledge of the Quran, is the learning of the belief in the Oneness of Allah, the belief in the Angels like Gabriel and Michael, the belief in the Scriptures like the Torah and the Quran as being a divine revelation, the belief in the Prophets and Apostles, and the Last of the Prophets Muhammad (peace be upon him) the belief in the Hereafter and resurrection (Judgment Day, Heaven and Hell), and belief in the divine decree. All of this is necessarily learned before one picks up the Quran and starts to read it. Furthermore, the reader should note that if it is the Quran which is the ultimate and primary source of the Faith of Islam, then the Kalima would certainly state:
 
لا اله الا الله
القرآن كتاب الله
“The Quraan is the Book of Allah”
In lieu of “Muhammad is the Apostle of Allah” or at least before it.

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