Along with all the talk of Islam undergoing or needing reform or a re-reading of the texts from every edifice of the internet all the way to Turkey, There are some unnecessary points being made, and also some vital points being missed.

Take, for example, the recent project undertaken by Zia-uddin Sardar through which he ‘asks’ some questions and invites answers from those who claim to be in the know, as well as offering his own admittedly ‘academic’ opinion.
This received commendations and standing ovations from advocates of ‘modern islam’ or ‘moderate islam’ from all over the world.  However, it also received, and continues to receive intense criticism from the Muslim intelligentia, and those who advcoate a ‘traditional route to analysing the texts’ only by those who are well versed with the texts themselves and their relative interpretative methodologies.
A certain Abdallah Hassan wrote a strongly worded letter to Zia-uddin Sardar making known his grievances here: http://maqasid.wordpress.com/2008/01/16/blogging-the-quran-letter-to-ziauddin-sarda/
I have to say although I complement Zia-Uddin Sardar on his stance in defence of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in face of the persecution and vitriolic abuse that Ahmadi Muslims suffer from certain elements of the Islamic Community, I must disagree with him and Madeleine Bunting on their approach of “interpreting the Qur’an” purely with their thoughts and intellect and without recourse to the classical methodologies which are necessary pre-requisites for the understanding and exposition of the Qur’anic verities and subtleties.

However, I also take serious issue with Abdallah al-Hassan’s comments (which as I said at the beginning, are not related to blogging the Qur’an) in which he slanders Muslims who belong to the Ahmadiyya order.

A little decency and justice is required here.Zia-uddin Sardar states about his own creed, as quoted by Abdallah al-Hassan in his letter,

“Now, I regard Mutazilites scholars such as ibn Sina and ibn Rushd, as my heroes – and regard myself, particularly at certain moments (alas, all too limited) of enlightenment, as a Mutazilite.”

Abdallah al-Hassan asserts the fact that Sardar declaration that he is a Mu’tazili and a Sunni to be absolutley irreconcileable.  I do not know of the intricacies as to whether this would be a a tenable position in Aqidah or not, however, to state that he is in awe of and indebted to Mu’tazili scholars such as Ibn Rushd is not a declaration of one’s absolute belief in all of that person’s beliefs.  It is merely giving due respect and status to some of the foremost and greatest contributors to civilisation, even if their Aqidah was not 100% sound according to certain previous Imams.

Take Imam al-Zamakhshari for example – his Tafsir al-Kashshaf is widely recognised by many Ash’aris and Maturidis as being one of great erudition and scholarship, yet he was a Mu’tazili scholar.

Now I come to another bone of contention with al-Hassan, (although I am in congruence with him on the points he forwards about the requisites mentioned by al-Imam al-Suyuti (rh) as to Tafsir of the Qur’an).  continuing to address the issue of Sardar’s Aqidah, he states:

“You are in favour of the Ahmadis and yet you say you are a Sunni. I would very much like to know your understanding of Sunni Islam. If you consider that the creed of the Ahamadis is the creed of the Muslims, I hope you are aware that the Ahmadis [otherwise known as Qadiyanis] are a heretical sect not from amongst the Muslims who believe amongst other things that a man called Ghulam Mirza Ahmad was a ‘Prophet’ when the seal of the Prophets is known to be Muhammad [pbuh] – so how could they possibly be deemed as Muslim whereby they have nullified the Shahadah [testimony of faith]. Such grave errors are further evidence that you are not in a position to perform commentary on the Qur’an.”

I mean, come on!  Where does Abdallah al-Hassan get off?!

“You are in favour of the Ahmadis and yet you say you are a Sunni…”

Abdallah, are you asserting that to speak up for the rights of Ahmad Muslims who maintain that their creed and Kalimah is “Ash-hadu an-Laa ilaha illa-Allah wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadan-RasulAllah” is somehow averse to or contrary to Sunni Islam?

If so, I would very much like to know YOUR understanding of Sunni Islam – in fact, scrap that – if that is contrary to Sunni Islam, then I would very much NOT like to know your understanding of Sunni Islam as it is flawed at the outset.

You make it obvious that you are referring to the beliefs of Ahmadi muslims in the Finality of the Prophethood of His (swt) Noble Beloved  (saw), and are alleging that we do not hold the Beloved (saw) of Allah (swt) to be the Final Prophet of Islam.

Here’s an eye-opener for you:

In his last will and Testament, Sayyidna Mirza Ghulam Ahmad al-Qadiani (as) states about the concept of Prophethood in Islam:

“It should be clearly understood that the door of lawbearing Prophethood is firmly closed after the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.) There can be no book after the Holy Qur’an which comprises new commandments or abrogates those contained in it or suspends obedience to it. The authority of the Holy Qur’an will last to the Day of  Judgment.”

[Al-Wasiyyat, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 20, p. 311, footnote] 

Expounding on the subtleties underlying the meaning of Prophethood he states:

“A Prophet is one who receives revelation from God and is honoured with converse with Him. It is not necessary that he should be the bearer of a new law or should not be the follower of a law-bearing Prophet. Thus no harm is done if a follower of the Holy Prophet (saw) is raised as such a Prophet, particularly when he receives all grace from the Holy Prophet himself (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.)

What is most harmful is to believe that the followers of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) are debarred from enjoying converse with God until the Day of Judgement. That religion does not deserve to be called a religion nor is that Prophet worthy of being called a Prophet, whose followers cannot come near enough to God to be honoured with His word.

Accursed and detestable is the religion which teaches that human progress depends only on a few principles which are transmitted from generation to generation, that all revelation is a matter of the past and there can be no further revelation, and that hearing the voice of the Ever-Living and All-Powerful God is to be wholly despaired of.”

[Brahin-e-Ahmadiyyah, part V, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 21, p. 306] 

And explaining his own claim to Prophethood, he qualifies himself by explaining the partial, reflective and subordinate  nature of prophethood in the Ummah of the Beloved Master Prophet (saw) after he (saw) had passed away:

“When Maulavi Sahibzadah ‘Abdul Latif Sahib came to Qadian, not only did he have the advantage of listening to detailed reasons in support of my claim, but during the few months that he spent in my company in Qadian and during my journey to Jhelum when he was with me, he observed many heavenly signs in my support. By witnessing all these lights and extraordinary events, he was filled with rare certainty and was pulled upward by superior power.

On one occasion, I explained a particular point to him which pleased him greatly. The point was that, as the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was the like of Mosesas and his Khulafa’ are the likes of the Prophets of Israel, then why is it that the Promised Messiah has been called a Prophet in the Ahadith while all other Khulafa’ have not been so named? I told him that as the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was the Seal of the Prophets and there was to be no Prophet after him, therefore, if all the Khulafa’ had been named Prophets, his being the Seal of the Prophets would have been put in doubt, and if no one of his followers had been designated a Prophet, his being the like of Mosesas would have been open to question, inasmuch as the Khulafa’ of Mosesas  were Prophets.

Therefore, Divine wisdom determined that a large number of Khulafa’ be sent down, but out of regard for the Seal of Prophethood, not be called Prophets, nor be granted the rank of Prophethood, so as to emphasize the Seal of Prophethood. Divine wisdom also determined that the last Khalifa, i.e., the Promised Messiah, should be designated as a Prophet, so that the two dispensations should be proved as being alike in the matter of Khilafat.

I have pointed out several times that the Prophethood of the Promised Messiah is by way of reflection, inasmuch as he has been designated a Prophet by virtue of his being the perfect reflection of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.) In one of my revelations God Almighty has told me:

‘O Ahmad, you have been made a Messenger’;

i.e., as you were held worthy of the name of Ahmad, by way of buruz [reflection (MuslimSunrise)] [second coming], while your name was Ghulam Ahmad, in the same way you have been held worthy of the title of a Prophet by way of buruz, inasmuch as Ahmad is the Prophet and Prophethood cannot be separated from him.”

[Tadhkirat-ush-Shahadatain, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 20, pp. 45-46]

If that wasn’t clear enough, he goes further to state that:

“If anyone should ask how there can be a Prophet among the Muslims when God has put an end to Prophethood, the answer would be that God, the Lord of Honour and Glory, has named me Prophet only as proof of the perfection of the Prophethood of the best of mankind. The perfection of the Holy Prophet (saw) would be established only by the proof of the perfection of his followers, for, in the absence of such proof, the claim of the perfection of the Holy Prophet (saw) would not be substantiated in the eyes of the wise. The only meaning of the Seal of Prophethood is that all the excellences of  Prophethood achieved their climax in the person of the Holy Prophet (saw).

Of the great excellences of Prophethood, is the perfection of the Holy Prophet (saw) in respect of the conveyance of spiritual grace to his followers, which cannot be established without its manifestation among them. Besides, I have mentioned several times that in the design of God, Prophethood in my case means only the frequency of converse with God and this concept is accepted by the leaders of the Ahl-e-Sunnah. Thus the controversy is purely verbal.

Therefore, O you who possess wisdom and understanding, do not hasten towards denial. Allah’s curse and the curse of mankind and of the angels be upon him who makes a claim beyond this even by as  much as a particle.”

[Al-Istifta, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 22, p. 637 footnote]

It is only in this sense that we believe Sayyidna Mirza Ghulam Ahmad al-Qadian (as) to be an Ummati, Zilli, Buruzi, Tabi’i Prophet  (in accordance with the traditions of the Prophet (saw) and the prophecies of the great Awliyaa’ (Friends of) Allah), and the Imam Mahdi that was prophecised to appear by the Noble Beloved (saw) of Allah (swt) (in his (saw) traditions and alluded to in the Qur’an), the Masih al-Mau’ud that was prophecised to appear as the second coming of Sayyidna ‘Isa Masih (as), and the Mujaddid (reformer) of the 14th Century as there have been Mujaddids (reformers) before him since the time of the Beloved Prophet (saw) and the Khulafa al-Rashidin (ra).

** Please note that the views expressed on this blog do not necessarily reflect the official views of Jama’at al-Ahmadiyyah al-Islamiyyah.

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