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Remaining within the Parameters of Deen

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(Highlights of Mufti Ebrahim Salejee’s majlis - Saturday 27th September)

When the traffic gets completely out of control with cars driving in all directions and in any manner and there is nobody to control it, in fact those that we expected to control it are actually encouraging it then obviously this will lead to chaos and disaster. In such a situation, the most sensible thing to do is to remain indoors, and if you have to travel then go with such a squadron and in such a manner that you can reach your destination safely. If you look at the global condition presently and more so the prevalent deeni condition then this is how it seems. The reason being that there are all types of movements that are thriving, and any person who comes up with some new thinking and ideology and supports it with some logical backing eventually gains support. Everyone takes to it and continues. As a result, people look at and view the Quraan differently and study situations differently. Hence, there will be no way to come to a proper decision. At times, we look at a personality and are overwhelmed by him and we think that how can I speak out against him because he will feel prejudiced and what will he think of me. So the thing is that people are not looking at ‘what is right’, but ‘what is my right’.

In the footnotes of the translation of the aayat: “innallazeena aamanu wallazeena haadoo . . .” Yusuf Ali writes that Islam recognises truth in all forms, provided it is supported with sincerity, reasoning and sound conduct and character. So his conclusion is that everyone is right, for a Hindu can say that he has sincerity and sound conduct and reasoning. Everyone can say the same thing. It may sound that he did a great service by translating the Quraan, but his footnotes did a great disservice. So where did he go wrong? It is a principle in tafseer that in understanding the Quraan, you will refer to those aayaat which explain others, then the ahaadeeth of Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) that explain the verses and then the explanation of Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) who were present at the time of revelation, because they understood the context. Without the context, you will not know its correct application.

On one occasion, the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) besieged a fortress and at that time a Muslim threw himself into the enemy lines. Seeing him doing this, someone commented by reciting the aayat: “Laa tulqoo be aydeekum ilat-tahlukah” (do not throw yourselves into destruction.) On hearing this, Hadhrat Abu Ayyoob Ansaari (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) remarked that this was actually revealed regarding the Ansaar who at a certain point in time felt that Islam and the Muslims were quite settled; hence they could now attend to their orchards and remain relaxed without any need to strive further. So this aayat was revealed implying that not striving for deen is actually putting oneself into destruction. Hence, without the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) the context of the aayat cannot be understood.

Everything has a boundary and parameter. As long as you are within the limits and boundaries you are respected. If a person barges into your home, you will not allow this because he is encroaching on your property. Similar is Islam; it has its own boundary. If you overstep and trespass it, then it will result in Islam no more having defined boundaries. For example, we have Jumuah namaaz; it has its boundaries and parameters. If you fulfil it within parameters then it will be valid, otherwise it will not be valid irrespective of the level of sincerity you may have. Thus, Islam is another name for doing things within boundaries, and the explanation of Islam and deen will be understood through this sequence.

Allah Ta‘ala has declared that He will guard and protect Islam. It is for the individual that he remains within the parameters. Islam is totally independent. It does not require you. Allah will see that it remains till the end of time and for it to remain He has put checks and balances.

Firstly, He has created people who will preserve it such as the Ambiyaa (‘alaihimus salaam) and secondly he has created knowledge. You need both to reach to the true ends. The Jews felt that they had knowledge and they did not require the Ambiyaa. Therefore, when the Ambiyaa admonished them for their wrongs they killed Ambiyaa, whereas this is totally incorrect. For that matter, in any field or science book knowledge is insufficient. You need the guidance of an experienced person in that field. Just having a recipe book is insufficient; you require the guidance of an experienced cook. So when a simple thing like cooking cannot be perfected without a guide, then how can you just suffice on the Quraan?

The first level of protection is that the information is preserved in the Quraan and hadeeth. It has been preserved to such a level that you cannot even write an independent translation of the Quraan without a parallel Arabic script. The distortion in the Original Testament and the Gospel came about because the original was forsaken. Now you cannot verify and check its accuracy. Secondly, our children recite and memorise the Quraan, and they read it in the dialect of Arabs and in their manner. On the other hand, take any other language and try to memorise it; it is impossible to memorise even 2 or 3 pages.

Then the next level of preservation was through the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum). The hadeeth says that there will be a group that will stand for the preservation of the truth and Islam, till the Day of Qiyaamah. Look at namaaz, zakaat, hajj, roza, etc. we can say very safely that we are doing exactly as Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) had taught. Can you show any other religion that can claim that they are doing exactly as their nabi had done. So at every level there is a guard.

In order to save any religion or way, its structures will have to be preserved and it will be defined. Allah Ta‘ala and Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) had defined every aspect of deen so that nobody can come and redefine it, as we have it nowadays that people want to redefine deen. One is the dictionary and literal meaning and the other is the meaning coming from above. The word ‘salaah’ literally means du‘aa. So someone can say that I am making du‘aa, hence, I am practising the command of salaah. So what else do you want from me. He then looks at zakaah, and its literal meaning is to purify. Hence, he says that I am bathing twice a day, therefore I am practising on the command of zakaah. We will say that we have to go by the definitions given by Allah Ta‘ala, His Rasul (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) and the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum).

The work of the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) was that they preserved these definitions. Hence, when they preserved it, there can be nobody who can distort it. They were then followed by the imaams who codified it. When they codified the various aspects of deen, nobody can now add anything from his side. If the imaams had not codified it then every person could have given his own definitions. When a person moves away from the codifications of the imaams he is taking a big chance because he has just seen a few texts and leaving out many others.

For example, regarding the sunnats of Fajr, one hadeeth says that even if you are being dragged by horses then too don’t leave it. Another hadeeth states that once the namaaz commences the only namaaz that you can perform is the fardh. In yet another hadeeth Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) is reported to have said that once dawn sets it, the only salaah that you can read is the Fajr salaah; you cannot read anything else until sunrise. Hence, in the case of where a person enters the musjid and the imaam has already commenced his salaah, what is the musalli supposed to do regarding his sunnats.

Now there appears to be a contradiction between these ahaadeeth. So Imaam Abu Hanifah after studying all the relevant ahaadeeth states that if there is sufficient time to perform the sunnats without missing the jamaat entirely then you will perform the sunnats first and thereafter join the jamaat, and if the jamaat salaah will be missed by performing the sunnats you will then join the jamaat, and if you so wish you may perform the sunnats after sunrise.

Coming back to Yusuf Ali’s footnote, his problem was that he bypassed the definitions of the Quraan and Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). So this was his down fall. If what he was saying is true then what was the need for Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) to invite the Christians and others to Islam. They could have said that we are sincere and recognise the truth. The Jews were killed and expelled from Madinah Munawwarah. They could have also said that we sincere and recognise the truth. Every Nabi that had come in the past and brought some change to the previous sharee‘ahs, had instructed their nations to accept those changes. Those who did not accept it, war was waged against them.

Just as namaaz, roza, hajj etc. have definitions, so too does imaan have a definition. So we will look for it in the Quraan. Allah says: “fa in aamanoo be mithli maa aamantum . . . ”. If your imaan conforms to the criteria of the imaan i.e. the imaan of the Sahaabah then you are right and on track, and if you do not conform then you are off the path. So the Sahaabah are the standard. So what was their imaan? It was to believe in Allah, all the Ambiyaa (‘alaihimus salaam), the malaa’ikah and the last day. Further, we do not discriminate the Ambiyaa (‘alaihimus salaam) where we believe in some and reject some.

If merely believing in Allah and the last day was sufficient for one’s salvation then why was Shaitaan rejected, for he also believed in Allah and the Day of Judgement. Hence, all these discrepancies came about because of self-study. Someone may ask that why do we have to speak of the wrong of this person and not his good. The answer is that look at Imaam Bukhaari (rahmatullahi ‘alaih). He speaks against the Mu’tazilah and Jahmiyyah and other deviant sects. Hence, he did not only speak of the good of people, for everything has negatives and positives. Without understanding the negatives you will not be able to understand the positives. So you have to show both in order for a person to remain on line.

The whole world is in a mix up because everyone is giving his own definitions for deen and doing as he wants. A person got married to Hindu girl. When asked why he did so, he replied that both of them loved each another and he did not want religion to become a barrier in-between. Now this is his understanding. So if it was not for these imaams then people would have made inroads into Islam. Thus, when this is the state of affairs you either join a group like the tableegh jamaat and continue with it. Why do they go out in a group? The reason is that no matter how sincere you may be, but you can always fall into fitnah if you go all alone. Otherwise, just remain within your home. A buzurg was asked to come to the city centre and benefit the people through his discourses etc. He replied that when the mud is thick then a strong elephant can also slip.

People get influenced with unreliable lectures and websites etc. and their imaan gets corrupt. Eventually they carry out their acts of ibaadat just in order to maintain peace with family and friends, whereas they have no imaan from within. Hence, you have to remain within your home and keep to yourself and only do that which you are certain that it will not affect and influence your imaan. People may say that you are backwards and not moving with the times, but if this is a means of protecting your deen then it is not being backwards. Once, someone said a similar thing to Hadhrat Mufti Mahmood Sahib (rahmatullahi ‘alaih). He replied: “Agar thung-nazri se bud-nazri se bach jaaye to ghaneemat he”. If being narrow-minded resulted in being protected from the incorrect use of the eyes then this is something great.

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