This is a serialization of the book titled ‘Crisis in Islam’. The full book and its Endnotes may be accessed at:
Nowhere in the Holy Qur’an does the word ‘jurisprudence’ (fiqh) or any of its derivations appear except once in the verse: “And it is not for the believers to go forth [to battle] all at once. For there should separate from every division of them a group [remaining] to obtain understanding in the religion [fiqh] and warn their people when they return to them that they might be cautious” (At-Tawba 9:122). In spite of this, generations of scholars worked and wrote in the centuries that followed the revelation of the Qur’an, not on the deep study of jurisprudence as Allah instructed, but in reality, on the study of Earthly matters and got involved in the affairs of state, as the latter and the ruler needed new rules. No books or dissertations have reached us which deal with Allah’s saying in the verse: “And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me” (Adh-Dhariyaat 51:56), in order for us to understand the reason for creation. We have not received any studies that show an understanding of the verse: “And reflect on the creation of the Heavens and the Earth, [saying], “Our Lord, You did not create this aimlessly; exalted are You [above such a thing]; then protect us from the punishment of the Fire” (Aal-Imran 3:191). Nor have we seen any reflection on His saying: “It is Allah who has created seven Heavens and of the Earth, the like of them. [His] command descends among them so you may know that Allah is over all things competent and that Allah has encompassed all things in knowledge” (At-Talaaq 65:12), so that we may know the reason for His creation of seven Heavens and seven Earths and where they are.
We have not seen studies in jurisprudence that deal with the reason for the Devil’s sin, or with where the devil learnt deductive analogy from, on his own when the rest of the angels said: “Exalted are You; we have no knowledge except what You have taught us. Indeed, it is You who is the Knowing, the Wise” (Al-Baqara 2:32). Nor did we receive jurisprudential studies dealing with the Almighty’s prohibitions on asking about the Spirit “And they ask you about the Spirit. Say, The Spirit is of the affair of my Lord. And you [mankind] have not been given of knowledge but a little” (Al-Israa 17:85). No scholar is known to have written about the difference between the soul and the spirit that I may even wonder if any knew the difference between them! But we have dissertations in the ‘rituals’ of worship and marriage and sales, which are all Earthly matters. There is no waste in having rules governing the lives of the people, but they remain only that: guidelines that regulate Earthly not religious affairs. If it is so, why were those people called fuqahā when Allah decreed that fuqahā should reflect on religion while they concentrated on this materialistic world?
One may argue, as we are used to hearing and reading that Islam differs from other religions in that it is both temporal and spiritual. This is in fact contrary to the reality of things as Allah intended them to be. Religion is static and the world is dynamic, and Islam cannot combine the static and the dynamic. Prayer times are fixed and don’t change with the change in the world, but a contract of sale has changed between the time of Abu Hanifa 1 and today. The conditions that were imposed then have disappeared and it has become accepted today that the transaction takes place through the Internet or e-mail. Worldly rules have changed but rules for religious affairs have not. The Almighty said: “Every day He is bringing about a matter” (Ar-Rahmaan 55:29). That no doubt relates to our worldly affairs and not His affairs, for He was and still is; has neither changed nor ceased nor moved from one state to another!
In order for those jurists to set up a framework for the rules of politics, they borrowed another Qur’anic term to give their ideas a semblance of religious and Divine order. They therefore called their rules ‘Shari’a’, adding to it the word ‘Islam’ to make it ‘Islamic Shari’a’ which means that it has become a Divine Code, which Islam brought. Some of those rules may be in line with Islam, but it is difficult to say that everything the scholars wrote and was pursued by the Caliphates is the Code of Allah as He wanted. Had this been the case, Muslims would be today as Allah described: “And if only they upheld [the law of] the Torah, the Gospel, and what has been revealed to them from their Lord, they would have consumed [provision] from above them and from beneath their feet. Among them are a moderate community, but many of them – evil is that which they do” (Al-Maaida 5:66). Although, the verse referred to Jews and Christians it would equally apply to Muslims had they followed their Book.
Where did the scholars come up with the word ‘shari’a’ that came to mean Allah’s Rule in the land? If we go back to the Qur’an, which is the first and decisive source of Islam, we find the verb ‘shara’a’ and what was derived from it as follows:
“To each of you We prescribed a Divine Law and a method. Had Allah willed, He would have made you one nation [united in religion], but [He intended] to test you in what He has given you; so race to [all that is] good. To Allah is your return all together, and He will [then] inform you concerning that over which you used to differ” (Al-Maaida 5:48).
“He has ordained for you of religion what He enjoined upon Noah and that which We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], and what We enjoined upon Abraham and Moses and Jesus – to establish the religion and not be divided therein. Difficult for those who associate others with Allah is that to which you invite them. Allah chooses for Himself whom He wills and guides to Himself whoever turns back [to Him]” (Ash-Shura 42:13).
“Or have they other deities who have ordained for them a religion to which Allah has not consented?” (Ash-Shura 42:21)
“Then We put you, [O Muhammad], on an ordained way concerning the matter [of religion]; so follow it and do not follow the inclinations of those who do not know” (Al-Jaathiya 45:18).
Which reader of these verses can say that Allah was referring in any of them to worldly things in the ‘shari’a’? Are not all of them linking ‘shari’a’ to matters of religion and religion alone? Isn’t the scholars’ use of the term ‘Islamic Law’ in worldly matters the wrong adaptation of a Qur’anic term in order to portray their policies as being Allah’s law, when Allah has nothing to do with what they decided or did not decide in worldly matters?
There is no doubt that the establishment of the new Islamic state required the development of policies to govern it. It is not difficult to understand the need to subjugate the people to it, nor is it difficult to understand the easy way to do it, namely to claim that everything determined by the Caliph and supported by scholars is Allah’s Law. Thus were born the rules of intellectual terrorism in Islam! Each policy named ‘shari’a’ became binding and every opposition to it became an act of apostasy. It is not difficult, however, to evaluate the strength of this weapon in the hands of the ruler, any ruler! This intellectual terrorism continues unabated among Muslims even though it has taken different forms.
The possibility of contesting these policies must have been clear to the ruler and the scholars who supported him, and there was therefore a need to find justifications for them. But scholars found the Qur’an too tight on this matter, even restricting them in some cases, and they reverted to relying on the Hadith. Thus was born the profession of collecting the Hadith undertaken originally by ‘Arabized’ Muslims.
Someone may ask: what is wrong with that?
The answer is that the ignorance of those Arabized Muslims of Arabic resulted in problems in the narrations of some Hadiths, which burdened Arabic books, as none of the Arab grammarians dared challenge those Hadiths for fear of being accused of opposition of the community. Searching for explanations tired them, while courage would have required them to simply state that the Hadith was invented and was not uttered by the Prophet Muhammad. Whoever narrated that Hadith was either ignorant or the Hadith was collected by an Arabized person who did not have a good command of Arabic. The proof to that is that Arabic language grammarians, such as Abu ‘Amr Ibn Al-‘Alā’, Al-Khalil, and Sibawayh of the Basrah grammarians, and Alkesai’i, Al-Farrā’, ‘Ali Ibn Mubarak Al-Ahmar and Hishām the Blind of the Kufah grammarians, did not cite much narrated Hadith of the Prophet because they knew they were taken from Arabized Muslims, and that the narration is not accurate because in the majority of cases it was hearsay of hearsay. The top linguists based their grammar on the Qur’an and the poetry of Arabs. It is not accepted to answer, as some have done, that the non-Arab origin of the person is not a disadvantage, arguing that the great, Sibawayh, was Persian in origin.
The problem is that the Muslim from non-Arab origin found it difficult to sense the tongue of the Arabs and understand similitudes. One of the latter writers wrote: ‘Early grammarians had a peculiar attitude towards avoiding references to the Prophet’s Hadith. They did not even trouble themselves to debate the issue or declare acceptance or rejection. We rather see that the Hadiths they have referred to were either used timidly and minimally, without any proclamation, or verification in some cases. Al-Shātibi says about this: ‘…. in none of their grammar books can we infer a Hadith reported from the Prophet (S), but only in a way which I later on will indicate, God-willing. This while they quote the speech of the insolent and uncivil men among the Arabs, and their poems which include obscene words and abomination. …..This is the tafsir [interpretation] of the backward Bedouins (who urinate on their heels)!! … Therefore we see so many differences in the traditions as for the same Hadith on one event we find the expressions differ greatly between what is agreeing with what was commonly known of speech of Arabs and what was unknown. Hadn’t the case been another way, it was unjustifiable for the narrators to report Hadith on basis of meaning, in contravention to the case with transmitting poetry and utterances of Arabs, as the intention in quoting them being the words not the meaning, as indicated by tongue rules. Hence the grammarians cared much for inference from the speech of Arabs reported from trustworthy men, leaving the traditions reported due to possibility of the narrator’s perverting the wording of the Hadith from the Arabic criterion (standard), the fact leading to base it on other than the origin, and that was one of the things they prohibited for safeguarding the tongue rules. If we make a glance at their ijtihad in taking from the Arabs we would be astonished, as it was not abominable in their view to refrain from inferring the Prophetic traditions and deducing from them. ‘ 2
If it had only stopped at a fabricated word or Hadith with the wrong word, the matter would have been easy. But it went beyond that. When it became slowly acceptable to contradict the Prophet, Hadiths that contradicted the Qur’an and its rules were invented in order to justify policies opposed to the Qur’anic text. I am not able to see how the ‘scholars’ allowed themselves this while knowing that the Prophet would have never fabricated lies against his Lord. Let us take an example on the subject of adultery and stoning of adulteresses.
The Qur’an specifies the punishment for adultery in two verses:
“Adulterer and the adulteress, lash each one of them with a hundred lashes, and do not be taken by pity for them in the religion of Allah, if you should believe in Allah and the Last Day. And let a group of the believers witness their punishment” (An-Noor 24:2).
“Those who commit unlawful sexual intercourse of your women – bring against them four [witnesses] from among you. And if they testify, confine the guilty women to houses until death takes them or Allah ordains for them [a] way” (An-Nisaa 4:15).
Allah did not add anything else to these two punishments. Had He wanted, He would have done so. The punishment for adultery is either one hundred lashes or confinement to the house until death or divorce. Scholars have said that the first punishment is for the unmarried woman while the second is for the married woman. If we, for the sake of the argument, were to accept this interpretation, we will still see that the harshest punishment in the case is one hundred lashes, while it is the confinement to the house for the married woman.
But we know that the era of ignorance had not been eradicated from the hearts of Arabs even after accepting Islam. As soon as the Prophet departed, people wanted to return to the era of ignorance out of which the Prophet pulled them. They were as Allah describes them: “A faction worried about themselves, thinking of Allah other than the truth – the thought of ignorance, saying, ‘Is there anything for us [to have done] in this matter? ‘ Say, ‘Indeed, the matter belongs completely to Allah'” (Aal-Imran 3:154). They decided to return to the era of ignorance, although the Almighty forbade the judgement of ignorance, saying: “Then is it the judgement of [the time of] ignorance they desire? But who is better than Allah in judgement for a people who are certain [in faith]” (Al-Maaida 5:50).
One of the earliest manifestations of this return to Jahiliya (Ignorance) was that of treating women. It should be emphasised that some of the converts to Islam, including some who later became known as the Prophet’s Companion, used to bury girls born to them alive. This is how Qur’an describes the practice:
“And when one of them receives tidings of the birth of a female, his face becomes dark, and he suppresses grief. He hides himself from the people because of the ill of which he has been informed. Should he keep it in humiliation or bury it in the ground? Unquestionably, evil is what they decide.”(An-Nahl 16:58-59) Allah has treated this as such a great sin against Him and against humanity that he reminds us that on the day of judgment one of the question put to us would be:
“And when the girl-child that was buried alive is asked. For what sin she was killed?” (At-Takwir 81:8-9)
It is not difficult to understand that some of those who converted to Islam may not have been able to completely shun such practices when it came to treating women in general. It might have been difficult to bury girls alive after Islam, but the treatment of women manifested itself in killing them when they committed adultery, which was a practice inherited from Jahiliya too.
Mahmoud Shukri Al-‘Ālusi told us about the history of the Arabs before Islam as follows:
‘Among their punishments was killing the adulteress – adultery to them was one of the greatest evils and the most terrible and infamous sin. For that reason they made it punishable by the loss of life and killing, which is the greatest punishment. Evidence of that can be seen when Nu’man Ibn Al-Mundhir killed his wife Al-Mutajarrida and wanted to kill the poet An-Nābigha Ath-Thubiāny for his description of her in his famous poem.’ 3
So the people went back to the age of ignorance and decided to kill the woman if she committed adultery, even though Allah had decreed a different rule for adultery. How do they find a way out, knowing that they are contradicting the Qur’an? The second Caliph, ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattāb, is reported to have said that he had read a verse in Chapter 9, ‘Surat At-Tawba’ that orders the stoning of the adulteress. But no such verse exists in ‘Surat At-Tawba’ nor anywhere else in the Qur’an. 4 So when it was impossible to insert such a verse in the Qur’an, they fell back on the safe solution by claiming that the Prophet ordered the stoning, complementing Allah’s rule, justifying that by the verse: “And whatever the Messenger has given you – take” (Al-Hashr 59:7).
But in the midst of such ignorance, they overlooked two important matters: Firstly, that the Prophet would have never fabricated lies against his Lord. Secondly, that the revelation according to them, was continuing until the Prophet’s death. Why did the Almighty not supplant the lashing and confinement with stoning before calling His Prophet to Himself? I have already shown that killing an innocent soul is a major sin, so much so that He made killing one soul without just cause like killing all mankind. Is it conceivable that He who made killing that serious a crime, would have overlooked the need to decree in the text the application to cases other than for a soul or for corruption in the land?
I do not understand these people: “Will they not ponder the Qur’an, or are there locks upon [their] hearts?” (Muhammad 47:24). How did they miss Allah’s words in which He determined the degrees of sin and warned the female believers when they came pledging loyalty to the Prophet: “O Prophet, when the believing women come to you pledging to you that they will not associate anything with Allah, nor will they steal, nor will they commit unlawful sexual intercourse, nor will they kill their children, nor will they bring forth a slander they have invented between their arms and legs, nor will they disobey you in what is right – then accept their pledge and ask forgiveness for them of Allah. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful” (Al-Mumtahana 60:12).
Allah thus made association with Him the gravest of sins to be followed by theft with adultery coming third, giving theft precedence over adultery. Had adultery been a worse sin than theft, He would have given it precedence, and made its punishment decapitation like He made the punishment of theft the cutting off of hands. But Allah did not do that because theft is more serious than adultery. The reason, as I have argued before, is that theft inflicts general harm in society requiring severe punishment, while adultery’s harm is personal making its punishment milder.
There are several other verses in Qur’an that make the mere suggestion of the existence of the punishment of stoning of an adulteress impossible. The first such verse I take from chapter 4 (The Women), which reads:
“… But once they are sheltered in marriage, if they should commit adultery, then for them is half the punishment for free [unmarried] women. This [allowance] is for him among you who fears sin, but to be patient is better for you. And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” (An-Nisaa 4:25)
But if stoning was indeed what Allah had ordained for an adulteress, then how could it be halved as this verse determined it to be? Is it not only possible if the punishment was some other infliction less than death, which seems to be in line with the one hundred lashes stated earlier?
The second verse I take from Chapter 33 (Al-Ahzaab) which reads:
“O wives of the Prophet, whoever of you should commit a clear immorality – for her the punishment would be doubled two fold, and ever is that, for Allah, easy.“ (Al-Ahzaab 33:30)
If death by stoning is the punishment ordained by Allah, then how could any of the Prophet’s wives, who committed adultery, be punished twice? Would it make sense to stone her after death?
The scholars and collectors of Hadith did not stop at slandering the Prophet, but came up with a tale similar to the ‘Thousand and One Nights’ tales, claiming it was part of the Prophet’s biography. They told of a woman who came to the Prophet Muhammad admitting that she had committed adultery and that she got pregnant from that act. The Prophet is reported to have told her to go and give birth first. When she gave birth and came to Him, He told her to go and breastfeed her baby until weaning. In short, the adulteress waited three years before the Prophet ordered her to be stoned, as they claim. How did the scholars and narrators, throughout all these centuries, not notice the banality and impossibility of this story happening? One can only wonder. Who was the narrator who was sitting next to the Messenger of Allah each day during these three years and happens to be present every time that alleged woman came, in order for him to convey to us this falsity? 5
I must, before I finish the story of the stoning and its invention contrary to Allah’s order, mention one of the scandals of the Hadith. The scholars found a Hadith attributed to the Prophet, which reads: “the child is for the bed and for the fornicator is the stone” 6, and made it their further proof that the Prophet ordered the killing of the fornicator by stoning her, supporting their claim that he added stoning as a punishment because his Lord had overlooked it. If the scholars had pondered the Hadith, they would have found two faults: First, that it was never reported that the Prophet had ever used a word so crude as ‘stone’. Second, and more important, is that had they contemplated the Hadith and referred it to the Qur’anic text, they would have found that the original Hadith was: “the child is the bed’s and for the fornicator is confinement”, as the original word was ‘hajr‘ which means ‘to confine’ and not ‘hajar‘ which is ‘stone’. This is what was stipulated by the Almighty in the book as saying: “..confine the guilty women to houses until death takes them..”. Thus it is clear that what the Prophet said is not different from what was ordered by his Lord. The reason for the confusion between the ‘confinement’ and ‘stone’ is not difficult to understand if the Hadith was written down in the period when diacritical marks were not yet known, and narrated by an Arabized Muslim with no command of Arabic, who confused the two words and missed the truth. It may be understood that collectors or narrators may have their excuses, but what is the argument of scholars and where do they stand on Allah’s order on reflection, before rushing to issue diktats to kill people?
Abul- ‘Alā’ Al-Ma’arri was right when he said:
I am astonished at Khosrow and his followers * and washing faces with cow urine
And the Jews saying God loves the spray of blood * and smell of grilled meat!
And the Christians saying God treated unfairly * persecuted alive and doesn’t victor
The people who came from far lands * to throw pebbles and kiss the stone
I am amazed by their treatises * Are all human beings blind to the truth! 7