UI – Part 235 – Interpretation and Islam
Recent dialog with a variety of Muslims suggests their views, attitudes, ambitions, and actions are not the same, yet all claim they follow Islam. All rely on the Quran, but most everyone interprets and adds examples and attributes from the Sunnah and Hadiths. The Sunnah are stories and examples of Muhammad, what he may have said or done, while alive and used to assist in interpreting the Quran. From Wikipedia, “the Sunnah is the way life prescribed as normative for Muslims on the basis of teachings and practices of Muhammad AND interpretations of the Quran.” The ‘AND’ is to be noted.
The Sunnah, as I understand, is reflected in Hadiths. These are writings that tell the story of Muhammad with linkages over time back to the prophet of Islam as a record of a “saying or act or tacit approval or disapproval ascribed either validly or invalidly to…Muhammad.” These writings by more than one author are considered necessary, “important tools” , to understanding the Quran, and to understanding Islamic Law (call it Sharia). Note that Muhammad died in the 7th Century; the Hadith’s first appeared in the 8th and 9th centuries, over 100-200 years later. They are considered by scholars, created beings, either authentic, good or weak, yet not all scholars agree to which is which. Traditions and denominations of the ideology of Islam differ as to what to include in the foundational basis of Islam, or their interpretation of that basis.
Narrators from the day of Muhammad (isnad) are used and named in producing the Hadiths. It is as a line of many persons that are told a story beginning with the first one in line (or the right) and passed on person-to-person to the end (the left). Would you expect from such a chain of repetition the same words to be stated at the end of the line?
Essential to Islam
Essential as these referenced materials, Sunnah and Hadith, are to the clarification of the Quran, supplements that are most needed, more than imply the Quran cannot stand on its own. That is not the case for the Bible. That takes us to the topic – Interpretation and Islam.
Contradictions abound in the Hadiths, recorded material about the prophet, after his death. Those traditions of tribes, sects, and orders of Islam used different collections of writings, their teachers not of the same mind as to what makes sense. Issues such as leadership, succession, the laws, and human rights are seldom the same. There are those with a greater reliance on just the Quran (Quranism), but most seek their knowledge, structure, laws and teachings from summaries outside their Scripture (Quran) alone. Here are a few of the denominations of Islam, all with their own views as to what is Islam. The Sunni – as to schools of thought (interpretation) – Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i, Hanbali, and Zahiri, not to be confused with Wahhabism, an ultra-conservative branch (more Hanbali); The Shia – Twelver, Ismailism (to incl. the Druze), Zaidiyyah, Alawi, and Alevi; The Sufi – Sufism – Bekashi, Chishti, Naqshbandi, Nimatullahi, Qveyssi (or Uwalysi), Qadri, Suhrawardiyya, Muridiyya, Tijaniyya, and Shadiliyya; The Kharijite Ibaldi’s; The Ahmadiyya – Ahmadiyya Community and Lahore Movement; The Quranism – Ahle Qur’an, Tolu-e-Islam, and Submitters; The Black Muslims – Moorish Science, Nation of Islam, Five Percenter; others – Ahl-e Haww, Mahdavism, Messiah Foundation International and Zikri.
So which is right?
Impact of Islam
The impact the plethora of Islam on the whole of Islam is mind-boggling. By way of subjective focus alone, the denomination in which you are a part is the ONLY path, is cause for dramatic in-fighting. It is confusing, even to those who refer to themselves as Muslim. They need to ask, “who am I and what do I believe?” The confusion is as if God wanted such confusion to prove this ideology is not of God’s choosing, but man’s. It is created, not as the claims that are made for the Quran as the word of Allah uncreated. If the creator is but one, that whatever exists is created, as such the Quran, Muhammad, the Sunnah and Hadiths, then Muslims are confused for a reason, as these are all created. This is not meant to be demeaning, but a fact, as noted in this Blog. The reliance of the traveler of Islam requires a new GPS. There are many paths, yet only one leads to God – that is Biblical not Quranic.
As a side note, take ‘religion.’ By definition it is a set of beliefs – from Dictionary (App), “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.” Religion is political. There is a governing board, generally, for organizations that label themselves as a Religion, even those that do not but are structured as a ‘body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices.”
The Best Book Possible
If there is a stand-alone document that provides the basis of truth and understanding, a guide-book, reference, that needs little interpretation from third parties it would prove to be invaluable to any individual that kept it nearby as a basis for living. No additional materials would be needed for interpretation. If religion is a personal thing, not to be used as a basis for Governments, their laws are their justice, such a guide would be used for individual living. The laws of the society in which one dwells would be secular. Religion and Governance would be separate as to the laws such that the common good, the rights and equality of each individual is protected and considered. The make-up of such a body politic can and should represent a variety of beliefs, and religions, that have within their framework moral and ethical values. At the same time the culture of the times, the evolution of societies, sexes, and requirements is included in the equation, the variables fine tuned regularly, to make up Common Law for All. No one religion should ever be the government or the law-maker as it would be a product of man, a single-minded attitude, and not, I contend, benefit everyone. It would not be fair.
When religion and politics, or governance, become one, as a Theocracy (present in most dominantly Muslim Countries) then man becomes as God (or Allah) and freedom is denied those not of the same faith. Freedom or free will, is not possible. Being free of the religion of the theocratic government is not allowed, and thus there is no freedom at all. This is a characteristic of Islam. The truth becomes the truth of the governing, over the governed, which may not be the same truth. Dissent, arising from doubt, is quelled, and in many cases, following Muhammad’s example, violently.
Word of God
As to that stand-alone document, the Best Book, it does exist. It provides answers to questions and never deceives. The author that inspired this document has only allowed for truth to be recorded, historical examples provided, common sense to be shared, love to be felt and a relationship with the Creator of the universe developed. It is a single-source document; no need for Sunnah’s or Hadith’s to interpret. It is complete, sections not lost to the death of memorizers or their failure to recall exactly. Do not allow your life to end without reading, or studying this book. God will be speaking to you directly. The Bible is the Word of God. Listen as you read.
Grace and Peace.