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Offline Reader Comments

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Peace to you Joe,

I just wanted to suggest an idea that would probably take 1 year to carry out, but that can be an impetus for progress. There are some big scholars out there and institutions who are much more open minded than others. I was thinking of the institution that generated the Amman Declaration for instance.
I think a list should be compiled of them and then they should be contacted with a 1 page letter requesting them that:
1.  The population of the world is becoming ever more competent in their reasoning and analytic abilities.
2.  Since the foundation of Islam is belief on a perfect all-knowing God, any statement that is apparently or clearly in violation of historical, scientific, or moral facts will strike a serious blow in the faith of many Muslim readers.
3. Therefore, we ask these selected individuals and institutions based on their own statements and on their proven track record of initiating a more systematic and scientific analysis of the whole transmission of ahadeeth.
4. And for all weaknesses of this transmission process to be published in clearly and explicitly so that believers of today and of future generations can realize that certain hadeeth that conflict with established facts or with their conscience are probably not traced to the Prophet after all.
5. Thereby allowing them to not lose their faith in the perfect Qur'an if they are conditioned to believe that they must accept these ahadeeth with conflict with their intellects or their morals.   
6. I think a good appendix for evidence can be statements from Jeffrey Lang's book "Losing my faith" where he says that almost all the doubts in the religion of the new generation is from those who have hard time grappling with certain ahadeeth.
7. I think the signatories of this letter need to be people who don't trash the ahadeeth unscholarly like some of the followers of Rashid Khalifa do, But people like Aisha Musa and those other people who are scholarly...perhaps from you as well.
8. I think we need to phrase something that makes clear we are not trying to eliminate ahadeeth altogether but just to produce a scholarly and authoritative and ongoing published initiative that is updated to incorporate study methods that have been established in the last several centuries that both cast doubt on some ahadeeth (a la Schact, etc.) and that support ahadeeth (a la Motski, Azami,etc).
9. To show that using ahadeeth is still important so we can follow the Prophet but that we must not lose sight of the limitations of using ahadeeth transmitted through several generations and through centuries of political and sectarian and theological strife to infer the true set of inspiration and guidance from the Prophet.

10.  I think the goal of educating Muslims to truly place secondary Islamic sources on a truly secondary level is more achievable and legitimate than to effectively eliminate this source altogether.  This may be at odds with your view of ahadeeth as altogether useless and worthless but I think without you changing your personal view which is more radical than views like mine or Motski's, we can still move forward in educating the lay public about the limitations of the ahadeeth.

Offline Reader Comments

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Re: Thought of an Institution Based on True Scholarship for the Masses
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2011, 02:37:42 AM »

Many scientific, technological, medical, and academic fields in general have progressed because of peer-reviewed journals.
I think it would be good to develop some model where established and respected Islamic seminaries like Al Azhar in Egypt and a corresponding one of the Shias and also open minded and progressive although still with traditional knowledge Islamic seminary like Imam Hamza Yusuf's Zaytuna College can be in control for final editing but that articles are submitted by all including non-Muslims.
I think you might be a little uncomfortable about this model where the ulama have the majority control.
But I think it is a step in the right direction for the following reasons:
1.  The Muslim ulema community and the Muslim masses in general will not accept findings from non recognized sources and especially from non Muslim sources.
2. At least some protection from any potential agenda from both traditional scholars who don't want ahadeeth questioned and from any potential agenda from people who ideologically want to discard ahadeeth altogether without a scholarly and nuanced approach. This can be made through a sort of written criteria to show that only evidenced based and verifiable research will be published regardless of what conclusions on particular ahadeeth are generated from such findings.
3. We know from the Qur'an that there are non Muslims who simply have an agenda to undermine Islam. This is mentioned explicitly in the Qur'an that some of those who disbelieve in the Qur'an want to eliminate the light of Islam, so it is critical for only believing and practicing (I consider you as practicing even if you don't accept ahadeeth because you still pray, do hajj, etc) Muslims to have the final editing control to determine which submissions are accepted and then to frame the articles in the journal in the appropriate way. Of course, much of the text of the article will be from the writer of the article or else non Muslims scholar will simply not participate.
4. I think there should be a good percentage although not majority from people like you, Aisha Musa, etc. who are critical of the hadeeth process altogether. Again the Muslim masses will not accept anything from those who are not recognized as traditional scholars.
5. I think the advisory board but not controlling part should have hadeeth experts whether they are Muslim or non Muslim as long as they are well published with scholarly credentials.
6.  I think there should be some transparency in the voting of the controlling and advisory board so the Muslim masses can see if the journal is agenda driven or driven to advance knowledge of the Prophet(s) true teachings.
7.  I think there should be some yearly convention (like professional societies) so scholars can present their findings and people can network to exchange knowledge. Again I think Muslim believers should be in control of the presentations selected at the convention. 


Offline Joseph Islam

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Re: Thought of an Institution Based on True Scholarship for the Masses
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2011, 12:28:34 PM »
Dear Reader,

Salamun Alaikum.

Thank you for your recommendations and comments. They are truly appreciated.

With regards Islamic secondary soures, I feel that my position is actually more nuanced then you may seem to be inferring. Much of my own study has been focused with Islamic secondary sources and no doubt it is in important area to scrutinise and appreciate.

I have even captured these sentiments in my writings.

I write in the following article:

"Both the Sunna (practice) and the Ahadith along with all other Islamic secondary sources must only be understood and appreciated in the light of the Quran and not vice versa. The Quran must remain the first principle, the ultimate filtering point, the supreme authority and the final judge between what is right and what is wrong.  It is the ultimate source of interpretation, guidance and the perfect criterion. Anything which runs contrary to the teachings of the Quran, its own theology or wisdom must be instantly rejected.
However, it is also unreasonable to suggest complete corruption of the Islamic secondary sources. Classical scholars should be fully appreciated in the endeavours they have made to pass on their efforts to succeeding generations of Muslims. However, it is also a mistake to consider them as 'authorities' in such a way that their works become the source of guidance themselves and beyond reproach. Classical or modern works should always be understood, appreciated and critically evaluated  in the light of the Quran."

I also quote the sentiments of another scholar who I feel resonates my own views on the Ahadith corpus:

"It would, therefore, be improper to ignore or underestimate the significance of the Ahadith literature as a historical source even if its authenticity may appeal doubtful. The modern Occidentalists are of the opinion that in spite of the fact that Apocrypha are of doubtful authenticity, we can still peep through them into the social life and behaviour of their fabricators, hence their significance as a source of history should not be denied. Similarly, even such portions of the hadith material as have been declared fake, unauthentic and of doubtful nature, contain most valuable hints regarding one or the other aspect of the early Islamic society"    [1]
Many Ahadith reports, irrespective of their authenticity contain wisdom, exquisite narratives and in keeping with the teachings of the Quran. However, their agreeable content does amount to prima facie evidence, that they were actually said by the Prophet.

However the focal consideration for me is not the question of authenticity of the Islamic Secondary Source literature. In my humble opinion, the question of 'authenticity' of the Ahadith corpus is relatively mute from a Quran's perspective. Rather, a more pertinent question for me is the question of 'authority'. Does the Quran recognise any other authoritative source except for itself as Divinely ordained 'religion'? I find that no one has cogently ever proven this to be the case.

From my own ardent research, I find the Quran gives absolutely no such authority to any other source. The Quran stands alone for sole 'religious' guidance as ordained by God.

"Say: "Shall I seek for judge other than God? - when He it is Who has revealed to you the Book, explained in detail (Arabic: Mufassalan)". They know full well, to whom We have given the Book, that it has been sent down from thy Lord in truth. Never be then of those who doubt"

"These are verses of God (Arabic: ayat-ullah) that We recite to you with truth. Then, in what HADITH (Arabic word: Hadithin) after God and His verses (Arabic: Ayati) do they believe?"

I hope that this helps clarify my position with the Islamic secondary sources.

Your brother,

[1] SINGH. N.K, Encyclopaedia Historiography of the Muslim World, Global Vision Publishing House, First Edition 2003, Page 319
'During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act' 
George Orwell