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Shari’a, Sunnah and the Science of Hadith - Part 5
Bigotry and Dogmatism paves the way for Division of Ummah

As Islam is not opposed to multi-culturism, by the end of the First Millennium of Islamic Calendar local influences caused many practices to be adopted by Muslims in India, Turkey, Iran, Egypt, Sudan and other countries that were not prevalent in Arabia and were considered as deviations from the the original messages and philisophy of Islam. The orthodox  Sunni Scholars were concerned about that and Wahabi Sect emerged in Saudi Arabia in 11th century of Islam to purify Islam from unislamic influences and practices such as grave worship, intercession by Pirs etc. They are considered to be more conservative in interpreting Holy Quran and Sunnah and are said to be advocating blind adherence to Shari'a based on teachings orthodox Imam Ibn-i- Hambal to substantial extent and  Imam Ibn-i Taymiyyaa to some extent.

Few Scholars and Imams from early days felt that not all practices and sayings of Holy Prophet (SWS) are mandated to be followed for all times to come and were not intended to acquire the force of a ritual or exact method or generalized law as they related to the specific set of circumstance and different background. In their view the most important thing was to follow the spirit and objectivity behind that practice rather the blind or dogmatic adherence to the actual method or practice. But the predominant opinion of the Ulemas of that time was against them. And the conservative Muslims still tend to give to the Hadiths and every thing in Sunnah the force of generalized law instead of adopting the principle behind it. 

For instance many devotees believe that using Miswak is an act of devotion whereas the principle involved is brushing the teeth to keep them clean and healthy.

As for those who divide their religion and break up into sects, thou hast no part in them in the least: their affair is with Allah: He will in the end tell them the truth of all that they did.

Al Quran, 006.159

God is pure and loveth purity and cleanliness.
_Holy Prophet (sws)

Modesty and chastity are parts of faith.
_Holy Prophet (sws)

Insurance: The basic objection about insurance was and is still raised by few that it involves the element of gambling and usury. Few know that the earliest forms of insurance date back to 9th century when Arab and Muslim traders who used to send goods to Europe and other remote locations, adopted cooperative arrangements for security and sharing losses and contributions were paid in advance to a senior merchant to arrange the protection and security and to provide compensation as and when any loss is suffered by a trader due to maritime accidents or some other mishap. Insurance business has been developed on the same principle. It is contractual arrangement in which an insurer compensates an insured party for loss resulting from a possible event. The insurer does this by amassing relatively small contributions from many people who are exposed to the risk of an unforeseen event, thus creating a fund that is used to reimburse those insured who actually suffer from such an occurrence. Insurance plays a major role in the modern economy, providing an orderly means for the replacement of property lost or destroyed and for sustaining purchasing power adversely affected by illness, injury, or death.

Gambling is on the other hand, wagering of money or other items of value on an uncertain event that is dependent either wholly on chance, or partly on chance and partly on skill. Greed drives men for gambling.. The need for protection against fortuitous loss is fulfilled by insurance..

There is no the element of usury in Insurance in the real sense of the word. The fact is that almost 20 % of premiums are consumed in the expenses for administering the business and maintaining office and staff. Rest of the money is held in reserves to pay for claims as and when they arise. The Insurance Act governs the way the reserves are to be invested as it is felt that investment in the risky operations would be against the interests of the policyholders. Investments in real estate, shares of the sound companies help generate investment income. Insurance companies do not work as moneylenders though they may provide mortgage loans against property in good location but this is rarely done as Insurance Act required almost 70 % reserves to be invested in Government securities. 

Interest: The word ‘riba’ as appearing in Holy Quran is translated in English as ‘usury’ by many translators and as ‘interest’ by few. Literally ‘riba’ means “excess or addition”. the majority view of the scholars and Ulemas (at home and abroad) remains that the interest as employed in the modern banking and financial institutions is "riba" which is forbidden in Islam. The view of very small minority is that banking interest is not riba and must be regarded as the 
price paid for use of money and a business deal. 

My view has been that abolishing banking interest without Islamizing the Monetary system would be like putting the cart before the horse as our currency is not backed by gold and its purchasing power falls rapidly. And the provision for loss of Purchasing power of the rupee cannot be regarded as riba as we Are following "a managed paper Currency system" without any 
backing of gold or other commodity which by itself a usurious practice. Only when the Bank interest rate exceeds the real rate of inflation it becomes riba. .

"All debts must be repaid,
all borrowed property must be returned; gifts should be reciprocated; and a surety must make the loss good to the assured."
Excerpt from Holy Prophet's "Khutaba Hajjuttu Wida" given in the book "Islam, a Comprehensive Guide by Altaf Ahmed Kherie

Verses about loans and usury
30:39 ; 2:275, 3:130 ;  2:278 '2:79 to 283

Click here to read
the article about
Money, Riba, Usury and Interest

By virtue of the verse 2:279 the provision for loss of  purchasing power of the rupee cannot be regarded as riba as we are following "a managed paper 
Currency  system" without any backing of gold or other 

Alcohol and Intoxicants: The moderate Muslims believe that the use of alcohol as anti-septic or medicine for purposes other than mere intoxication or inebriation is not prohibited. They also believe that all kinds of intoxicants, whether or not actually named in the Holy Quran or Hadith are prohibited  However, the orthodox tend to believe that all wines and alcohol are totally prohibited and their use, sale and preparation is not allowed under any circumstance. Strange part is that some of such bigots do not regard the business of 'niswar' and heroine and similar other deadly drugs as prohibited as they delude themselves that these are not specifically mentioned in Holy Quran or Haidh. 

Wadu: Similarly about ablution (wazu) we find three different methods as mentioned in Sahih Bukhari Volume 1, Book 4. In all of them the underlying objective is the same.

  1. Number 59.  Narrated Ibn 'Abbas:, “The Prophet performed ablution by washing the body> parts only once. 
  2. Number 160: Narrated 'Abdullah bin Zaid, “The Prophet performed ablution by washing the body parts twice.
  3. Number 196:  Narrated 'Abdullah bin Zaid, “Once Allah's Apostle came to us and we brought out  water for him in a brass pot. He performed ablution thus: He washed his face thrice, and his forearms to the elbows twice, then passed his wet hands lightly over the head from front to rear and brought them to front again and washed his feet (up to the ankles). 
That is why we find that different sects use different ways for ablution. The underlying objective is cleanliness. Moreover wazu is refreshing and healthy. 

Opposition to Printing: Centuries ago Chinese had invented printing through wooden stamps or the stencils made of leaf but the results of that type of printing were not good and mass printing was a tedious and painstaking job. After invention of modern printing the first bible known variously as the Gutenberg Bible, Mazarin Bible, or 42-Line Bible, was apparently finished before the end of 1456. But in Muslim world bigoted Mullahs opposed printing and regarded it as sacrilege of Holy Book. After Napoleon captured Egypt, modern printing machines were imported after 1798. Due to opposition of Mullahs and non-availability of modern printing press Holy Quran was published in Venice, Italy just before 1700 CE almost 250 years after printing of the bible. But distorted translations of Holy Quran in European languages were reported to have been printed earlier, which prompted the liberal Muslims to get the Holy Quran printed in Italy. And a copy of that edition was acquired much later and kept in the library of Aligarh Muslim University. 

Photography and Painting: Until 19th Century photography and painting portraits were regarded as sinful and prohibited by Sunnah whereas in essence the prohibition applies to worship of images or statues of personalities and drawing imaginary images of God, Prophets and angels or installing images where they may cause distraction in prayers or meditation..

Graves and Tomb: In certain sects construction of graves and tombs is prohibited whereas many Muslims specially in South Asia seek intercession by the departed souls of Pirs and Sufis and express their devotion on their graves in a manner akin to virtual worship whereas Holy Quran says that everybody would be judged on the day of judgment on the basis individual deeds and no intercession would be allowed except that of grace of the Holy Prophet (SWS). 

Women: Confining women to the home, not letting them to engage in any profession where men work is still the norm in a few communities. Use of Burqa by women or hiding their face by veil and the entire body under a garment continues to be a common practice in some parts of the Muslim world, whereas the modesty in dressing is the principle involved. Women who go out or meet people wearing tight fitting dresses or such dresses that expose naval or part of breast or thighs certainly violates the principle of modesty. History tells us that Muslim women used to engage in trade and commerce and helped the warriors in the battlefields at the time of Jihad.

O ye who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, (dedication of) stones, and (divination by) arrows, are an abomination,- of Satan's handwork: eschew such (abomination), that ye may prosper. 

(Intoxicants are also mentioned in 16:67, 4:43, 2:219, 5:90 and 5:91)

 O ye who believe! when ye prepare for prayer, wash your faces, and your hands (and arms) to the elbows; Rub
your heads (with water); and (wash) your feet to the ankles. If ye are in a state of ceremonial impurity, bathe your whole body.
But if ye are ill, or on a journey, or one of you cometh from offices of nature, or ye have been in contact with women, and ye
find no water, then take for yourselves clean sand or earth, and rub therewith your faces and hands, Allah doth not wish to
place you in a difficulty, but to make you clean, and to complete his favour to you, that ye may be grateful. 005.006 

Lunar Calendar: Another example of closeminded bigotry is found in Pakistan and some other countries on the question of sighting of moon for onset of a new lunar moth according Islamic calendar.  The new month does not begin unless the moon is actually sighted or  30 days from the actual sighting of the moon in the preceding month expire. Similarly Ramzan fasting cannot begin or end unless moon is actually sighted by a naked eye. That often leaves us one day behind neighboring Iran, Emirates or Saudi Arabia where say on Thursday it may be Ist of Ramzan but for us the Ist of Ramzan begins on Friday. The underlying principle of the Hadith that is quoted is “to follow the lunar calendar”. It is not prescribed that the evidence of sighting of moon be  certified to be correct only by a committee of Ulemas from all over the country who gather every month just for evaluating the evidence of sighting of moon. But some sects just follow the. Egyptian lunar calendar and observe Eid festivals etc, according to the calendar rather than waiting for the verdict of the committee of Ulemas.

Opposition to English Language: After British rule in India English language became official language of state and the business. But Muslims in the sub-continent continued their opposition to learn English or to go to modern schools or colleges. Sir Syed Ahmed Khan played a key role in popularizing modern education among Muslims whereas some of bigoted Mullahs issued fatwas condemning his campaign. But Sir Syed is still remembered for his services and establishing Aligarh Muslim University.

Penal Code: Dogmatic attitude is also seen in interpreting penal code. For instance the punishment for adultery prescribed in Holy Quran is flogging 100 stripes but in Sharia it is death by stoning based on some Hadith. History tells us that a Jew was charged with fornication and the Jewish Rabbis were asked to prescribe punishment according to their faith. 

Blasphemy: In recent times the death penalty for blasphemy as practiced in only a few Islamic countries has caused world wide concern and also among liberal Muslims who opine that Holy Prophet (SWS) set various examples by forgiving his enemies and those misguided soles who used to insult and harass him. And he used to show kindness and compassion even to the prisoners of war and his staunch opponents whereas between Christian and Jews blasphemy was an unpardonable crime punishable by death usually by burning and it was Islam that banished such cruelties. But death penalty is justified by orthodoxy by quoting verses from Holy Quran that relate to different set of circumstances and for different purposes. (See another article about Blasphemy by clicking here,) 

They ask thee concerning the New Moons. Say: They are but signs to mark fixed periods of time in (the affairs of) men, and for Pilgrimage.

It is He Who made the sun to be a shining glory and the moon to be a light (of beauty), and measured out stages for her; that ye might know the number of years and the count (of time). ....... 

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