Misconstrued the Qur’anic Phrase A

article picked 4U by - Mohammad Shahrour

July 8, 2021

How the fuqaha” and ulama” Have Misconstrued the Qur’anic Phrase – a

In order to strengthen their grip on people’s private and public lives, it became necessary for crooked scholars to arrive at a legal pretext that concealed their true intention, which was to gain full control of what the common people felt and thought. Some scholars used the pretext of calling themselves the guardians of religion; others claimed that they were the legitimate heirs of the prophets, a third group claimed to be the friends of God, while a fourth maliciously used their misreading of the Book to secure them a special position within the umma of the Muslim-Believers. As for the third group, just listen to the preposterous claims of a scholar ….

such as al-Nawawi and his quite inventive way to use the Prophet for his purposes. In his book al-Tibyan fi adab hamalat al-qur”an, he says, al-Bukhari narrated from Abu Hurayra in his sahih that the Messenger of Allah said: “The Exalted said: ‘Whoever hurts a friend of mine, I will wage a war against him.”” It is reported from the two revered Imams, Abu hanifa and al-Shafi’i, who said: “If the scholars (i.e., men of religion) were not friends of Allah, then there would be no friends of Allah.” Imam al-hafidh Ibn Asakir said: “Let it be known, O brother, and Allah accorded us His pleasure and made us fear Him and be conscious of Him—as is His due—that the flesh of the scholars is poisoned.

Allah’s habit is well-known that He discloses the secrets of those who find them [i.e., the scholars] defective. Whoever sets his tongue free to abuse them, Allah will try him by the death of his heart before his [real] death. So, those who disobey His command should beware of a trial or severe affliction that will come upon them. This is exactly the way—like intellectual terrorism—to instill fear into the hearts of the common people that if they criticize the scholars, God will punish them for it. As for me personally if the flesh of scholars is poisoned, that’s because of their rotten teachings, and it should be put to good use as bait for mice.

As for the fourth group, their favorite trick was to point to 3:104 and claim that Allah had indeed elevated them above everyone else. The verse says: ‘Let there arise out of you a band of people (litakun minkum) inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and for bidding what is wrong: They are the ones to attain felicity’ (al Imran:104). Claiming that the phrase ‘a band of people out of you’ is a reference to the class of ulama”, they then argued that the following hadith, transmitted and authenticated by all major hadith collectors, supports this claim.

You see the scholars work like a band in unison corroborating each other’s bull crap for their own personal benefit under the cloak of religion, because at some point, they owned religion over time. In the eyes of the scholars there is no question that God appointed them not only as the guardians of His religion but also as the intermediaries between Him and the people, as the translators of His orders and prohibitions, and as the commentators of His verses and rules. They maintained that the preposition + suffix pronoun minkum (out of you) is partitive, dividing the umma into those whom Allah appointed ‘to prescribe what is right and to proscribe what is wrong’ and the rest (who were not appointed), while they, of course, embody ‘the band of people’ that Allah chose for this task.

The truth is, however, that the preposition min is not partitive (out of you) but rather designative (of you), as in the sentence: ‘The emir so-and-so turned his country ( ja’la min biladihi) into a highly civilized nation’, implying a change of his entire country—in spite of the use of min—and not just parts of it. Moreover, the identification of a privileged group contradicts several important principles: first, it would condemn the majority of the population to passivity, while only a tiny group ‘prescribes what is right and proscribes what is wrong’ which, according to 3:110, contradicts Allah’s more general designation that the entire umma are ‘the best of peoples’.

Second, it would suggest a certain hierarchy that contradicts the spirit of the Book. We know that Allah appointed His noble Prophet to prescribe what is right, after a long process (over forty years!) of selection during which Muhammad lived with his peoples and his family, and during which he proved himself trustworthy to carry out this majestic task. The testing and probing was done in a rigorous manner so that His word could be true: ‘Verily the most honored of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you…’

(hujurat:13). Given this rigorous process of selection, is it plausible that God chose a group of people even before they were actually born? Can such a selection be sensible when it means that mere membership of this group is enough to gain a privileged position regardless of skill and competence? Is this not similar to the presumptuous (racist) claim that God chose one nation over all others, whereby everyone born into this nation is, by birthright, God-chosen simply because of his ethnicity and not because of his character or good work?

As for the hadith, it clearly contradicts the Book, a fact that scholars tried to circumvent by issuing their famous dictum that ‘the Sunna abrogates the Qur”an’ which is, frankly, a despicabl trick. What is even more detestable is that they used this hadith to justify violence and force in prescribing what is right and proscribing what is wrong. To correct what is wrong by (only) your tongue and heart became labelled as ‘soft’ or ‘feeble’ and was interpreted as a reflection of having weak belief. And after having turned this upside down, the act of correcting ‘by your hand’, that is, by force and pressure, became the ultimate expression of strong belief.

Needless to say that this turns the message of the Book completely on its head, which prefers ease over hardship and friendliness over harshness, as the sequence of actions demonstrates in the following verse: ‘As to those women on whose part you fear […] ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (next), refuse to share their beds, (and last) [criticize them (severely)]…’ (Nisa”:34).

The hadith has also often been used by crooked scholars to give state authorities a free hand to use violence against what they (religiously) perceive as (politically) wrong. But the hadith is only concerned with human behavior on a personal level. The Prophet was far too clever to allow state authorities to interfere with an individual’s faults and errors, as he, quite justifiably so, anticipated that this would turn any democratic rule into despotic rule where the ruling class will be allowed to take the law into their own hands and turn it— under the pretext of ‘forbidding what is wrong”—against their political opponents.

He also anticipated that to give political rulers the license to ‘forbid what is wrong’ would allow them to set up religious tribunals which sentence critics of the regime to death, masked under the pretense that this will eradicate heresy, atheism, and free thinking.

And indeed, this is what has happened: the accusation of takfir has given the political and religious Establishmentsnfreedom to confiscate the property and possessions of so-called convicted ‘apostates’, and by hiding behind a façade of laughable accusations of immorality and licentious lifestyles they have deemed it proper to destroy the honour and dignity of their fiercest opponents. Thus, what the Prophet (ß) wanted to prevent has in fact turned out to be a political reality.

The use of force and violence by political rulers has become a feature of everyday life. And yet, the sword that scholars presented to the rulers as a gift turned out to be double edged, as we explained earlier. While in the past it allowed oppressive regimes to fight their opponents with brutality, it left the political opposition with no choice but to acquire the same brutal mentality in their fight against the political order. Once again, the pretext of ‘forbidding what is wrong’ is used today for purely political reasons, only this time accusations of kufr are being turned against the political class itself.

How the fuqaha” and ulama” Have Misconstrued the Qur’anic Phrase – b