In recent times, there has been great confusion between two distinct concepts: Ikhtilāf [legitimate disagreement] and Khilāf [illegitimate disagreement]. Many misinformed people, for lack of Suhbah (companionship) of traditional scholars and spiritual guides, read the differences of the Salaf and misinterpreted their Ikhtilāf as Khilāf. Undoubtedly, the Sahābāh (may Allah be pleased with them) were the most united group of individuals to have walked the earth, yet they differed with each other in their verdicts and opinions while remaining within the boundaries of Ikhtilāf. Conversely, the divergences of deviant groups like the Khawārij, Shī‘a and Mu‘tazila in relation to the Ahl al-Sunnah wa ‘l-Jamā‘a are considered Khilāf, as there is no scope for academic tolerance in issues related to the fundamentals of religion.
In a similar light, we regard the mutual disagreements between the Ahl al-Sunnah wa ‘l-Jamā‘a as Ikhtilāf, not Khilāf. Abu ‘l-Baqā’ al-Kafawī [d. 1094 AH] writes:
Ikhtilāf is when there are numerous paths leading to one specific destination. As for Kihlāf, it is two separate paths leading to separate destinations.
Thus, the differences between Imām Mālik [d. 179 AH] and Imām Ibn Abī Dhi’b [d. 159 AH], or between Imām Muhammad al-Dhuhalī [d. 258 AH] and Imām al-Bukhārī [d. 256 AH], will be regarded as Ikhtilāf, as they adopted different routes with the intention of reaching one particular destination.
An example of Ikhtilāf misconstrued as Khilāf is the differences that ensued between Imām al-Bukhāri and the Ahl al-Ra’y in a handful of issues wherein the former alluded to the opinions of the Ahl al-Ra’y with the statement “and some people say.” Unfortunately, this mutual disagreement has become a pretext for vilifying Imām Abū Hanīfa [d. 150 AH] and his illustrious students, who were at the forefront of the Ahl al-Ra’y, with the allegation that they showed disregard for textual proofs. In response to this misunderstanding, many treatises and books were written.
In his introduction to one such work, Kashf al-Iltibās, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fattāh Abū Ghuddah [d. 1997 CE] has presented a brilliant analysis of the topic. He first explains the uniqueness of the chapter-headings of Sahīh al-Bukhārī, after which he shows the role of the Hanafīs in the academic development of Imām al-Bukhārī. He also proves that, although there were many issues of disagreement between them, there are an equal number or more issues of agreement. In addition, he discusses various treatises written on this topic. Finally, he summarizes a study conducted by Dr. ‘Abd al-Majīd Mahmūd on the differences between the Ahl al-Hadīth and Ahl al-Ra’y, in particular that of Imām al-Bukhārī and Imām Abū Hanīfa.
In view of the importance of his research, particularly in today’s times, we felt it appropriate to translate this brilliant analysis for the benefit of non-Arabic speaking readers. We have employed an idiomatic translation of some of the passages to make this work more reader-friendly. For the sake of brevity, several passages that were not directly related to the topic were omitted. Moreover, in the summary of Dr. ‘Abd al-Majīd’s study, which covers all twenty-four issues according to his count, only one example was presented, as the purpose of this translation is to present an analysis of this topic, not of addressing the issue itself for which relevant treatises may be consulted.
May Allah make this a means of dispelling doubts concerning the mutual differences of our noble predecessors, Âmīn.
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An Analysis of the Hadīth:
“Whoever Begins His Meals with Salt Will Be Saved From Seventy Diseases”
By Muntasir Zaman
In the Name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
[Summary: This Hadīth has been reported Marfū‘an – from the Messenger of Allāh (peace and blessings be upon him) – on the authority of four Sahābah: ‘Alī, Anas, Sa‘d ibn Mu‘ādh and ‘Ā’ishah (Allāh be pleased with them). However, all of these narrations have been heavily criticized, such that they cannot even collectively corroborate one another. Furthermore, it has been reported Mawqūfan – from a Sahābī- as a statement of ‘Alī (Allāh be pleased with him), but this report is also unreliable.
After analyzing the Ahādīth, we present the Fatwa of Muftī Rashīd Ahmad Ludhyānwī in this regard, who says that it is incorrect to regard this etiquette as a Sunnah.
Thereafter, we discuss the issue of authentication, and in what context a jurist’s citation of a Hadīth will be regarded as authentication of it. Finally, we discuss how the jurists cannot be blamed for mentioning this unreliable narration in their books, as the science of Hadīth was not their specialty.]
Several leading jurists, such as Burhān al-Dīn al-Bukhārī [d. 616 AH] from the early jurists and Ibn ‘Ābidīn [d. 1250 AH] from the later ones, have stated that the etiquette mentioned in the Hadīth in reference is a Sunnah. Ibn ‘Ābidīn even alludes to the Hadīth in his comment, “Not only is it a Sunnah, but it also contains the cure for seventy diseases.”
Before discussing whether it is correct to regard this etiquette as a Sunnah, let us first analyze the authenticity of the Ahādīth in this regard.
Analysis of the Hadīth Read the rest of this entry »
An Analysis of the Hadīth “To Ponder for a Moment is Greater Than Sixty Years of Worship”
By Muntasir Zaman
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
[Summary: It is from the speech of al-Sarī ibn al-Mughallis al-Saqatī [d. approx. 250 AH]. A similar narration is recorded from Hasan al-Basrī, Ibn ‘Abbās and Abū al-Dardā’ (Allah be pleased with them). In any case, this is not a Hadīth of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him). For an explanation of “to ponder” refer to the end of this answer. In addition, we have added a brief description of al-Sarī al-Saqatī in the end]
The Hadīth in reference is recorded by Abū al-Shaykh ibn Hayyān [d. 369 AH] in his book, al-‘Ażama, as follows:
عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ، قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: فِكْرَةُ سَاعَةٍ خَيْرٌ مِنْ عِبَادَةِ سِتِّينَ سَنَةً
It is reported on the authority of Abū Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “To ponder for a moment is greater than sixty years of worship”
Hereunder are remarks of the scholar of Hadīth regarding this narration.
Abu ‘l-Faraj ibn al-Jawzī [d. 597 AH] in his book, al-Mawdū‘āt comments:
“To ponder for a moment is greater than sixty years of worship”- This Hadīth is a not authentic (i.e. a fabrication). In the Sanad (chain of transmitters) there are two liars.
Once ‘Umar (Radhiyallahu ‘Anhu) was sitting with his companions when all of a sudden he started to laugh after which he began to cry. Those around him asked him, “What made you laugh after which you cried?” He replied,” During the days of Jāhiliyyah (ignorance), we used to make idols out of dates which we would worship and when we would get hungry we would eat them! Remembering this made me laugh. As for my crying, one day, I took my daughter to a field to bury her alive. As I was digging the grave, some dust fell on my beard. My daughter saw this and wiped the dust off my beard. Remembering this made me cry.”
However, there are some fundamental flaws in this narration.
It is inborn in our nature that we are always in pursuit of success irrespective of the goal at hand. From the eager medical student awaiting his test results to the restless bachelor searching for his other half, humans are constantly in the pursuit of accomplishing their goals. To be more specific, let us look at the average student in Madrassa who, after spending sleepless nights preparing for exams, awaits his report card in the end of the academic year with the hope of having passed. Although strenuous effort alongside sleepless nights may prove to be a powerful recipe for a student’s success as far as his exams are concerned, a very important, yet often overlooked, component for his overall success in acquiring knowledge is his conduct and mannerism towards the sources of knowledge. History bears testimony to this crucial fact, as the famous jurist al-Burhān al-Zarnūjī [d. 591AH] so truthfully writes,
A Glance at Contemporary Approaches to Islamic Jurisprudence
By Shaykh Salāh Abū al-Hājj
Translated by Muntasir Zaman
All praise belongs to Allah. We praise Him, seek assistance from Him, and ask of Him forgiveness and guidance. We send blessings on His chosen and noble Messenger, who was sent with the upright Sharī‘ah for the guidance of all the worlds; and [we send blessings] on his progeny and his brilliant and fortunate companions, those who were loyal to his commands and trod on his sublime path; and [we send blessings] on those who followed them in excellence from the practicing scholars, those who preserved His religion and way until the Day of Judgment.
It is amongst the greatest necessities of this time that various Islāmic notions concerning different aspects of life are corrected, as a result of the religious isolation in which we live due the subjugation of the disbelievers and the spread of the intellectual incursion that has engulfed our lives.
Amongst the most distinct of these notions to have encountered confusion and great error in terms of its understanding is Islāmic Jurisprudence (al-Fiqh al-Islāmī), which the Muslims have ruled in accordance with, and have approved of, for the duration of fifteen centuries, in all aspects of their life. Thus, it would keep pace with those situations that newly emerged, and presented to them legislative solutions for all their religious, collective and financial problems. [This was] because their attitude towards Fiqh was an attitude of submission, reverence, honor and estimation, due to their confidence in the knowledge and piety of its imams, and that they put themselves up for [the task of] pursuing Islāmic rulings from their detailed evidences with complete integrity and scrupulousness. Read the rest of this entry »