RETURN TO QURAN
RETURN TO PROPHET MUHAMMAD'S
ORIGINAL TEACHING — THE QURAN
You shall obey God and obey the Messenger and beware. If you turn away, then you should know that the sole function of our messenger is to deliver the message.
Say, "O people, I am God's messenger to all of you. To Him belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth. There is no God except He. He grants life and death." Therefore, you shall believe in God and His messenger, the gentile prophet, who believes in God and His Words and follow him, that you may be guided.
When Prophet Muhammad died, he left with us only the Quran and nothing but the Quran as a guidance for Muslims and indeed for all mankind. This has been shown by solid historical evidence. Moreover, the Quran pronounced this fact as well when God stated several times that the function of the messenger was only to deliver the message. Verse 92 of Sura 5 that we quote above is one of them. We also quote Verse 158 of Sura 7 which states that Prophet Muhammad himself believes in the divine words, i.e. the Quran.
Nevertheless, the previous chapters have shown how Muslim society between 200-250 years after the death of the Prophet, through their religious scholars (particularly Shafi`i) built a new doctrine to the effect that the Prophet has left them the Quran and the hadith and that they must hold on to both.
Notwithstanding the conflicting versions of hadith that say otherwise, historical facts also prove beyond any shadow of doubt that there were no hadith collections existing at the time of the Prophet's death. History also proves that the early caliphs prevented the dissemination or recording of hadith. Al-Muwatta' of Malik ibn Anas (d. 975) may be said to be the first hadith collection, although, properly speaking, it was a law-book rather than a hadith collection. We know that the official collections were made only after Shafi`i pronounced the hadith to be also divine and a source of law on par with the Quran.
Whether to go back and refer to the Quran alone to solve our many pressing problems today, or to persist in our thousand-year old error of clinging to the unauthorized hadith and heresies resulting out of it — this is the greatest dilemma facing the Muslims today. Are we brave enough to admit our mistake, retrace our steps and make amends? Or, shall we continue arrogantly to cling to and defend traditions that we have inherited from our forefathers? To let ourselves drift aimlessly in confusion, backwardness, degradation and disunity that have plagued us all these thousand years? To be divided not only among ourselves, but, more importantly, divided within our own individual selves about what is right and what is wrong, what is "religious" and what is "secular," who is an "alim" and who is not and the thousand other conflicting teachings fed to us by the hadith? What a tremendous achievement indeed for the hadith!
So what are we to do now? Is there any way out? Is there no "Second Comings" for us, for mankind? But there is. Everything that we need, the primordial element, lies in the Quran, latent and merely waiting for us to reach out to it again. The clearest spring with its purest fount of knowledge still runs straight and true in the Quran, just as it has from the day it was first revealed by God Almighty in His All-Encompassing Mercy for all mankind.
As we contemplate the fate of the Muslims and agonize over traditions that many of us have come to love and fear to reject, let us be reminded by these verses:
"When they are told, `Follow God's commandments only,' they say, `We follow what we found our parents doing.' What if their parents lacked understanding and guidance? The example of such disbelievers is that of a parrot; they repeat what they heard without understanding. Deaf, dumb and blind, they fail to understand."
So, we shall not be deaf, dumb and blind anymore. We shall not be like parrots and repeat what others tell us without first questioning and understanding things. The answer to our dilemma, therefore, lies in our going to the Quran for guidance.
"Why do they not study the Quran carefully? If it were from other than God, they would have found many contradictions therein."
Such is the challenge written in the Quran. We are challenged to find even one contradiction within it. Does any other book, revealed or not, have any such statement? Does the hadith allow us to question itself, or does one become a heretic to do so? Is the hadith beyond reproach – perhaps it occupies a plane higher than the above verse?
The True Position of the Hadith/Sunna
As we have explained, our rejection of the hadith/sunna as an infallible source of guidance on par with the Quran in no way means our rejection of Prophet Muhammad. On the contrary, this rejection is precisely to clear the name of the Prophet from false teachings attributed to him against his will, in the same manner as the false teachings that Jesus is the Son of God has been attributed to Jesus by later Christians. Let us summarize our reasons for our rejection of the hadith/sunna as an infallible source of guidance as follows:
(1) The Quran is complete, perfect and detailed. It is the fundamental law and the basic guidance for mankind covering every aspect of life. Other books are merely expositions either for or against the grand ideas contained in the Quran.
(2) The sole mission of Prophet Muhammad was to deliver the divine message, the Quran. He was, of course, also an exemplary leader and teacher, but these roles were secondary.
(3) The hadith compiled by hadith scholars consist of reports of alleged sayings and actions of the Prophet and cannot be absolutely guaranteed as to their authenticity. Those hadith that conform to the Quran are acceptable, while those that conflict with it are automatically rejected.
(4) Religious duties of regular prayer, fasting, charities and the optional pilgrimage were not delivered by way of hadith, but were religious practices handed down through generations from the time of Prophet Abraham.
(5) Besides being prophet and messenger of God, Muhammad was also a leader of the Medina city-state and later the Arab nation-state. In that role, he implemented the divine imperatives in the context of 7th century Arabia. It is impossible that he would have done anything contrary to God's commands.
We have with us records of the Medina Charter, the various letters sent by the Prophet to other leaders and also the Prophet's treaties. If anything, these should be the real hadith. But strangely, none of these treaties, constitutions etc. are made binding on us or given much credence, even by the hadith writers themselves. However, it is only the Quran that is binding upon us all, for all time. The status of the Medina Charter, for example, is the status of a legal precedent. It is not binding on us because in it the Prophet applied Quranic principles of administration to seventh century Arab tribal society. Our modern nation-state can study it and learn whatever lessons we can from it.
But the hadith can still be read, just as we read other books: religious, philosophical, historical or any other kind. Whatever good teachings that can be found in them — and there are many — we can and should follow them. But those that are against historical facts, scientific facts, reason, or the Quran, are obviously unacceptable. This should be plain.
A Recurring Weakness of Mankind
History is a good teacher to mankind as it bears true testimony. So let us look at history. God sent Prophet Jesus to the children of Israel to bring them the Gospel and teach them to worship the One God. However, some three hundred years after his death, the religious leaders instituted a new doctrine not taught by him that he was the Son of God! Before that, God send Prophet Moses to the same children of Israel with His scripture, the Torah. But a few centuries after his death, their religious leaders set up another book, the Talmud, which they followed while ignoring the Torah.
Ironically, after knowing all these, the Muslims repeated the same mistakes. God sent Prophet Muhammad – the last prophet – to mankind with His final scripture, the grand Quran, to correct once and for all the deviations that had been made by the Jews and the Christians. But about 250 years after his death, our religious scholars set us the hadith to replace the Quran! Thus, history repeated itself!
Why did this happen? It does seem that this is mankind's perennial disease: the desire to associate God with gods. People set up idols thinking that these idols will bring them closer to God. But this is only an excuse. Actually, they set up these idols beside God because they want an illegal share in God's kingdom without having to work for it, and without having to answer for their crimes. Through these idols, they legalize their whims and fancies without paying the least regard to God's laws. This is what God has explained in the following verses:
Additionally we have appointed for every prophet enemies from among the human devils and jinn devils, who invent and narrate to each other fancy words in order to deceive. Had your Lord willed, they would not have done it. You shall disregard them and their inventions. This is God's will in order that the minds of those who do not really believe in the Hereafter may listen thereto, and accept it, and to have them commit what they are supposed to commit.
The Quran: The Final Solution to All Deviations
Before Muhammad, it was not possible to preserve God's revelations to the various communities of mankind due to certain historical and intellectual circumstances of human society. With Muhammad, however, the true scientific age of mankind began. Thus, God commissioned Muhammad to deliver His final scripture, the Quran, not just to a specific national community but to all mankind. This scripture is not only complete, perfect and detailed, but also protected by God against human corruption. The aim of this scripture is to finally free mankind from all manner of shackles, burdens and wrong teachings as well as to lead mankind along the Path of Peace to the Light of God.
At the beginning, i.e. during a period of about three hundred years, the Muslim community adhered to the teachings of the Quran. They scaled the heights of civilization and progress so rapidly, surpassing the two superpowers of Byzantium and Persia then, that it astounded the world. They created the greatest material, intellectual and spiritual civilization at that time. The names of statesmen and administrators like caliphs Abu Bakr, Omar ibn Khattab, Uthman ibn Affan and Ali ibn Abi Talib and others, military geniuses like Khalid ibn Walid and Abul `As, brilliant scientist like Al-Biruni, Al-Khwarizmi and Al-Razi, world-class philosophers like Al-Kindi, Al-Farabi and Ibn Sina, and famous historians like Al-Tabari, Al-Baladhuri and Al-Masudi are names that make the first Muslim civilization justly famous. These are names enshrined in the history of world culture. It is this supreme achievement of the first Muslim civilization that made the famous British science historian, G. Sarton, remark:
"The main task of mankind was accomplished by Muslims. The greatest philosopher, Al-Farabi, was a Muslim, the greatest mathematicians, Abu Kamil and Ibrahim ibn Sinan, were Muslims, the greatest geographer and encyclopaedist, Al-Mas`udi, was a Muslim; the greatest historian, al-Tabari, was a Muslim."
The process of change in Muslim beliefs from the Quran to the hadith, or the Quran and hadith, with the hadith actually overshadowing the Quran, did not occur within a short period or smoothly. It took a period of about four to five centuries, beginning from the second and lasting in the sixth century of Islam. This was the period of the political infighting and the alignment of the various power-blocs among the inheritors of the Prophet's legacy.
Prior to the political and ideological conflicts, caused by nothing more than greed and pride, the Muslims had always settled their issues by referring to the Quranic teachings. Therefore, they had remained united and strong. Guided by the Quran, they did not discriminate between the weak and the powerful, the few and the many, and between factions and tribes. The Quran points out the truth and the right course of action for them to follow.
But the hadith allowed leeway for some groups to still insist on an independent course of action and attribute it to the Prophet and to God. Therefore, it was in their vested interests to tout the hadith as a source of theology and law. Beside helping the various factions to maintain a specific station, the hadith also introduces splits and diverse opinions that are always a necessary cost to giving up a unified belief and world-view. Soon after this came the factional fighting, the moral decay and the demise of the Muslim pre-eminence. That is why the Omniscient God, knowing that this would happen, in His incredible mercy to the Muslims and to mankind, put this warning in His Quran:
The messenger will say, "My Lord, my people have deserted this Quran." We thus appointed for every prophet enemies from among the criminals. God suffices as guide and protector.
We should note that God never said, and neither did the Prophet, that some day the people would desert the hadith. This is because the hadith is not the Word of God and neither is it the word of the Prophet. The hadith are merely conjectures and opinions of Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Daud, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, al-Nasa`i and others who took it upon themselves to record stories about the Prophet and then accord these stories the labels of `authentic,' `weak,' etc. Since the Prophet had explicitly forbidden the writing down of the hadith (as witnessed by the hadith itself), therefore the hadith contradicts the teachings of the Prophet by its very existence.
It is logical, therefore, that if our intention today is to honor and follow Prophet Muhammad, we must return to his original and true teachings, i.e. the Quran, and cleanse his name of all the heresies that have been falsely attached to him. We cannot avoid this responsibility, although some of us do not like it. The Prophet himself told us that his mission was to deliver the Quran, and he himself followed the Quran and nothing but the Quran.
The negative development that has occurred in Muslim society, as we have stated above, is due to the general human weakness of wanting to idolize human beings. In his history human beings have idolized prophets, saints, religious scholars and priests, leaders, material wealth, their own egos and, of course, lifeless idols. This mistake has been committed by all religious communities, not excepting the Muslims. The best way to avoid and overcome this weakness is to apply Islamic scientific criticism to all beliefs, theories, philosophies and man-made systems and towards all public figures, as we have explained in Chapter I. Only in this way can we separate truth from falsehood and make the truth uppermost and falsehood low.
Due to the regime of taqlid or blind imitation, imposed in the name of religion from about the 12th century until the end of the 19th century, the Muslims swallowed the teachings of the so-called `Four Great Imams', even the wholesale medieval theology and jurisprudence, in toto. There were many factors that gave rise to this blind imitation regime of that period and we cannot discuss them here. Nevertheless, it is important for us to realize that after nearly a hundred years since the reopening of the door if ijtihad or critical thinking by Muhammad Abduh's reform movement, this taqlid regime is still with us.
The confusion surrounding this talk is a clear evidence of the Muslims' servile and unquestioning adherence to traditional religious authorities. If the Muslims, particularly their leaders and intelligentsia, had held fast to God's command not to accept anything without verification, to listen to all views and follow the best, and to apply Islamic scientific criticism towards all important theological works as the intelligentsia of Europe had done, it is certain this taqlid regime would not have lasted for seven centuries. In my opinion, the re-evaluation of the whole Islamic heritage is one of the biggest tasks that has to be undertaken by the Muslim intelligentsia in the next thirty years.
The Quran Promises Salvation to Mankind Again
The Quran informs us that the monotheistic religion, named by God as `Islam' (meaning `peace' or `surrender'), is taught by all prophets of God. It begins from Adam, through Idris, Noah and Abraham (who was given the religious practices of prayer, fasting, charity and pilgrimage), and handed down to Moses, Jesus and ending with Prophet Muhammad, when the divine teachings to mankind were completed, perfected and forever protected in His final scripture, the Grand Quran. Although the religion is the same, the laws introduced by Muhammad are different from those brought by Jesus and Moses. This is due to the different social conditions. While at the times of Moses and Jesus, human society was tribal and still at a lower social evolution, with Muhammad it was entering a period of the international society and scientific-technological era.
For that reason, the most important feature of the new laws is the liberation of mankind from all forms of superstitions and wrong beliefs. This liberating feature of the law is stated thus in the Quran:
...God said, "My retribution afflicts whomever I will, and My mercy encompasses all things. However, I shall designate it for those who work righteousness, give to charity and believe in Our revelations. Also for those who follow the messenger, the Gentile prophet, whom they find written in their Torah and Gospel. He exhorts them to work righteousness and refrain from evil, and he permits for them the good things and prohibits the bad, and he unloads the burden of their covenant and remove the chains that bind them. Thus, those who believe in him, honor him and follow the light that was sent down to him, they are the winners."
By this message, God freed the Prophet Muhammad and his followers from the restrictions and covenants of the past. With this type of freedom thrust upon them, together with the illuminating magnificence of the Quran to guide them, the Prophet and his followers went on, within a very short space of 300 years, to build a civilization that is yet unparalleled in terms of the rapidity of its advancement and in terms of the justice of its laws.
At a time when Europe was in the Dark Age, the Muslims founded an intellectual and material civilization that would serve as the model and source of knowledge for the rise of modern Europe later. But it would be a Europe that would inherit the mantle from the Muslims. The knowledge founded by the Muslims was the spark that would ignite Europe. Europe would develop further on this borrowed knowledge and build up a leadership in the intellectual arena that perhaps has not been surpassed till this day. The Muslims, on the other hand, settled into a complacency that would smother them until today and perhaps for some time to come. The Muslims have ignored the source of their greatness and instead have shackled themselves with superstitious and silly ideas. The teachings of the Quran have been almost completely put aside. Today, with the hadith in their hands, the Muslims are still groping in the dark. They can only exaggerate and fall back upon the memory of a great past that now escapes them.
The Twin-Deviation of the Modern World
However, Europe has also faltered. After waking up with a vengeance from the suffocating strangulation of the Church, Kant's stirring exhortation to "Dare to know" helped to sever the Church from all `worldly' affairs. There began the distinction between the secular and the spiritual. Western civilization has therefore crippled itself. The complete severing of ties with God opened a Pandora's box of ideologies and humanism that has brought the West to the present relativistic ideologies and philosophies with nothing permanent or true to hold on to.
We can thus denigrate the West. But what about the Muslims? Between the turbans and the modern suits and even the post-modern Islamists, the common denominator is the empty rhetoric which, without any material and intellectual backing to it, these Muslims are perhaps in a worse-off situation than the West. At least, the West has some tangible benefits which it can call its own. Let us remind ourselves again of the old warning: "The messenger will say, `My Lord, my people have deserted this Quran.' "
Not only the Muslims, but the Christians, the Jews and everyone else have yet to live up to the lofty moral and intellectual position that God has assigned to them. The Prophet and the Quran were sent as a blessing and a guidance for all mankind. While the West has adorned itself with the material successes of its humanism, the Muslims have choked themselves with the alleged spirituality of the hadith and their `Muslim fundamentalism.' All of this is surely wrong. We all need to return to the Quran — now. Muslims especially need to read the Quran — just to read it in any language of their choice if a translation exists in that language. Nowadays, the Quran is available in most world languages. What is important is to make each of us communicate directly with the written words of God Himself. No matter how many books of hadith we read, it cannot compare with even one word of the Quran. Even if truly authentic, the hadith are only the words of a mortal human being. On the other hand, even one Word of the Quran is still the Word of God.
Humanity Ultimately Headed Towards The Quran
"This is the path of God, Who possesses everything in the heavens and the earth. To God all matters ultimately return."
So goes Verse 53 of Sura 42 of the Quran. Therefore, in the end, all of our affairs must return to God. By returning to God we do not only mean the Last Day and the Day of Judgement. Even long before that, all our earthly affairs also have to be according to God's Will.
This is simply because it is God Who created us, Who designed the earth and the universe and on the basis of Whose laws we act out our lives in this world. Therefore, all our behavior, in order for it to reach a proper level of efficiency and to be of maximum benefit to us, must be according to how the Master-Designer wants us to behave. The detailed instructions on how to conduct ourselves are explicitly written down in the Quran.
In fact, a closer affinity towards God is manifesting itself in many branches of science and technology. Take the design of automobiles, for example. Design engineers are discovering that a particular, streamlined shape is best for the cars to have the least coefficient of resistance. This is why more and more cars nowadays are all beginning to look alike, with their similar curves and rounded edges. Wind resistance is due to air molecules, which in turn is a function of gravity that holds the air molecules down. It is God who programmed the force of gravity into the earth.
Glorify the name of your Lord, the Most High. He created and perfected. He designed and guided. He produces the pasture. Then He turns it into light hay. We shall recite for you, so do not forget. Everything is in accordance with God's Will. He knows what is declared and what is hidden.
The same also applies in the realms of philosophy, religion, the social sciences and the arts. There can only be one optimum form which will maximize the efficiency of all social behavior in human societies. Up till now, human beings have been struggling and are still struggling and groping in the dark to find a solution and achieve a stable form of conducting their lives. Till now, everything has failed us. As we mentioned earlier, secular humanism, encompassing everything from liberalism to Marxism, is collapsing. All the holding on to rather man-made religions (including the current practices of Christianity, Judaism and Islam) have all failed us. So what is going to replace this large gap in human society?
This twentieth century human anguish has been poignantly expressed by the Irish poet, William Butler Yeats:
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lacks all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
Surely the Second Coming is at hand! But the second coming is none other than the return of a Book, the Quran, the spirit of God in written form, the Scripture that was for a brief period with the Muslims and then was rejected for more than a thousand years. The necessary precursors for the establishment of the philosophy and the system of God are already being laid down. Despite the agnosticism and the atheism of logical positivism or dialectical materialism, there has always been a strong undercurrent of theism running through all of modern thinking. Man is always yearning for his real God.
In the last four to five decades this theistic stream of thought is gaining momentum. A professor of philosophy has written:
The philosophy of nature is thus part of the area of overlap between science and philosophy as species of knowledge. Modern science has progressed beyond the empirical attitude and tends to become philosophical. Meanwhile modern philosophy has more and more become allied to the sciences and our foremost philosophers are eminent scientific figures. This is no new situation in the history of thought .... But the movement begun at the Renaissance, in reaction against the theological tyranny of the Middle Ages, to split off the sciences as disciplines independent of philosophy, has now come full circle, as science in the course of its own independent investigations, has come to adopt a philosophical position which is at the same time integral to the body of scientific theory ... Similarly, the 19th-century conflict between science and religion has passed away ... the existence of God is the absolute and most indispensable presupposition of science, and so far from there being an alienation of science from religion in the modern era, there is and can only be the closest rapprochement between them if both scientific and religious concepts are rightly interpreted ...
The same thing is also happening in Islam. Despite the heresy of certain concepts like taqlid or blind imitation that have been dominant since the 12th century, there has always been a strong anti-taqlid movement that has manifested itself through the likes of Ibn Rush (d. 1198), Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406) and Shah Waliyullah (d. 1762). The anti-taqlid movement obtained its strongest impetus from the reform movement of Muhammad Abduh towards the end of the nineteenth century. It is most likely that within a short period of a few decades, the anti-taqlid movement in Islam and the theistic spirit that is growing in Europe will unite and return to the Quran in its entirety. This is a real possibility.
"Return to the Quran" — this is the most fitting slogan for the people of Muhammad, because it is the Quran which is the message that he brought to mankind, and because it is the most appropriate response to his famous complaint in the Quran. But, once again, a return to the Quran does not mean that we destroy all the books of hadith and all the books of the religious scholars, nor do we mean that we no longer need the religious scholars. It only means that we must refer to the Quran alone as infallible guidance for our conduct. As regards other books, be they books of hadith, books of religious scholars, books of the Marxist school or of the liberal school, we shall use our discriminating faculty either to accept or reject, partially or totally, their interpretations, explanations and recommendations in accordance with the teachings of the Quran and the needs of modern life. Our religious scholars who, all this while, have been trained according to the medieval method of rote learning only in religious knowledge, must master the important secular sciences, according to the modern critical and historical method, to enable them to have an integrated knowledge of the world. The same thing applies to the secular intelligentsia: they too must muster the religious sciences. Only such people can be called ulama, or learned.
As we conclude this book, we can say that Muslims have three major tasks that they must undertake. Firstly, they must evaluate critically everything that has been inherited from their Islamic tradition, in strict accordance with the bidding of the Quran. Secondly, Muslims have to learn to accept things that are from outside their fold but which by themselves are inherently good and therefore originate from God. Modern Western civilization and the other Eastern civilizations have discovered many good things through much effort and pain. We too can learn from these civilizations, if there is any good to be learnt.
If Muslims can learn to do these two things, then they can go on to the third and final task. To build the second Islamic civilization that will doubtless be far superior to the first because it will be the combined efforts of all united humanity. All these three tasks are inter-related. Our Muslim thinkers must also seek to reach out to those intellectuals and thinkers in other faiths and cultures, for they also seek to do good in the world. They must cooperate with the followers of other religions, those "who believe in God and the Last Day and do good," in order to carry out the major tasks of humanity at the closing decade of the twentieth century and in the coming twenty first.
There will be no Second Coming of Christ and neither will there be any superhuman savior to save the world. Our salvation lies in our own hands and through applying the teachings of the Quran creatively and scientifically.
This is a task which we must embark upon. There is no need at all to feel intimidated or over-awed. We must take courage, inspiration and encouragement from Words of God Himself:
I have made it a duty upon Myself to give victory to the believers.
He is the One who sent His messenger with the guidance and the religion of truth, to make it prevail over all religions. God suffices as witness.
Say, `The truth has come, and falsehood vanished. Surely, falsehood is destined to vanish.'
God has decreed, `I and My messengers, will always win.' God is Powerful, Almighty.
The Prophet and his followers were people who firmly believed in these divine promises, held on tight to the Quran, His revelations, and scaled the heights of success, as no human community had done before. Following him and the early Muslim generations, we shall also achieve success, far greater than any human society had ever achieved.
A SCIENTIFIC METHODOLOGY
FOR UNDERSTANDING THE QURAN
"What did your Lord say?"
They will answer, "The truth." (Quran, 34:23)
He teaches the Quran. (Quran, 55:1-2)
Some people argue that, even if we hold on to the Quran, we shall still be faced with the problem of different interpretations, and this in turn will bring about disunity. It is for purposes of answering this question that we include this chapter. The two verses that we quote above not only tell us that the Quran contains the truth; they also tell us that in the final analysis it is God Who teaches us the Quran.
This topic itself can be the subject of a big volume, but our intention is not an exhaustive study from all angles. We are not discussing history and comparative study of Quranic exegeses, history of the Quran, Quranic language, its relations with previous scriptures and so on. We shall only discuss the question of a scientific methodology for understanding the Quran.
What we have to avoid is not differences of opinion, but differences in aims. We can resolve differences in opinion through discussions. But differences in aims cannot be settled in that way, since both sides begin from different bases. Take for example the difference between a colonial power and a colonized people: this contradiction can only be resolved through pressure of the colonized people's movement against the colonial power.
A Clear Book
There is no doubt that there are differences in Quranic interpretation. This is proved by the existence of many translations. However, God tells us that the Quran is `clear' and `easy.' `Clear' here means `straight', `not crooked', `not deviating'. It also means `easy', because the Quran has been sent down as guidance for all, and not for any elite class of people. Still, since the Quran covers all matters, including Resurrection, Heaven, Hell, the creation of the universe, the creation of mankind and the purpose of creation – subjects which are still beyond human comprehension – it is not easy in a trivial sense.
It is due to the Quran's clarity that no one can falsify it or make it crooked. Nor can anyone else, except God, invent it. It is in this sense that the teachings of the Quran cannot contradict science and reason, for science and reason are nothing but manifestations of the laws created by God in nature, human society and the human psyche. Therefore, God has proclaimed that there is no discrepancy between the verses of the Quran. It is on this basis – the integrity and unity of Quranic verses – that if we hold on to the Quran we shall succeed.
Two Types of Verses: Decisive and Allegorical
The Quran itself has given us a basic rule of interpretation, contained in the following verse:
He is the One Who revealed to you this scripture. Of its verses, some are decisive, constituting the essence of the scripture; others are allegorical. Those who harbor doubts in their hearts dwell on the allegorical verses, to create confusion and misrepresentation. No one knows its interpretation except God and those well-grounded in knowledge...
The verse tells us that the Quran has two types of verse: those whose meanings are clear and decisive, forming the bases of Quranic teachings, called muhkamat, and those with allegorical meanings, called mutashabihat, whose interpretation should not be attempted by the people but should rather be left to the experts in the field.
Let us test this division by taking one example of each type of verses. Below we quote fourteen muhkamat verses containing a list of fourteen commandments:
1. You shall not set up beside God any other god, lest you end up despised and disgraced.
2. Your Lord has decreed that you shall not worship except Him, and your parents shall be honored. For as long as they live, one of them or both of them, you shall not speak harshly to them, nor mistreat them; you shall speak to them amicably. And lower for them the wings of humility and kindness, and say, "My Lord, have mercy on them, for they brought me up from infancy." Your Lord is fully aware of your innermost thoughts; if you are righteous, whenever you turn to Him, you will find Him forgiving.
3. And you shall regard the relative, the needy, the poor and the alien equitably.
4. But do not be extravagant, for the extravagant are brethren to the devils, and the devil is unappreciative of his Lord.
5. If you have to break up with any of them, in the cause of your seeking your Lord's mercy, you shall continue to speak to them amicably.
6. Do not keep your hand tied to your neck, nor open it completely, in excessive charity, lest you end up blamed and remorseful. Your Lord increases the provision for whomsoever He wills, and withholds it. He is fully Aware of His creatures, Cognizant.
7. You shall not kill your children for fear of poverty; We provide for them along with you. Indeed, killing them is a gross offense.
8. You shall not commit adultery, for it is a vice and a wicked path.
9. You shall not kill anyone, for life is made sacred by God, except in the course of justice. Anyone who is killed unjustly, We give his kin authority to avenge; thus, he shall not avenge excessively; he will then be helped.
10. You shall not touch the orphan's money, except for his own good, until he grows up.
11. You shall fulfil your covenants; you are responsible for your covenants.
12. You shall give full measure when you trade, and weigh with an equitable balance. This is better and more righteous.
13. Do not accept anything that you yourself cannot ascertain. You are given the hearing, the eyes and the mind in order to examine and verify.
14. Do not walk on earth proudly, for you can never rend the earth, nor become as tall as the mountains. All the evil things are disliked by your Lord.
We have deliberately given an example of a long series of muhkamat verses, because they contain fourteen command-ments that we need to carry out. If they are difficult to understand, if their meanings are not clear, how are we to carry them out? This example serves to demonstrate to us the meaning of muhkamat or decisive verses. Their meanings are clear; there is no ambiguity whatsoever.
On the other hand, the mutashabihat or allegorical verses refer to a phenomenon that mankind does not yet know, like Resurrection, Heaven, Hell, or even the creation of man and the universe. Observe the following verses:
If you fail to do this, and most certainly you will fail, then beware of hellfire whose fuel is people and rocks; it awaits the disbelievers. And give good news to those who believe and work righteousness that they have deserved gardens with flowing streams. When given a fruit therein, they would say, "This is what was given to us before." They will be given the same kind. They will have pure spouses therein, and abide therein forever. Thus, God does not shy away from any kind of allegory, from down to a mosquito and higher. Those who believe know that it is the truth from their Lord, while the disbelievers would say, "What did God mean by such an allegory?" He misleads many thereby and guides many thereby, but He never misleads any except the wicked.
The above verses draw a picture of Heaven and Hell. They are allegorical, because man does not, and never can, know the conditions in Heaven or Hell until those conditions themselves exist on the Day of Judgement.
There are, of course, instances when the allegorical verses refer to something that, at the time of the Prophet, was not yet known, but would later be known through scientific and technological discoveries. The Miracle of Code 19 is an example. Note the following verses:
I will commit him to retribution. What a retribution! Thorough and comprehensive. Obvious to all the people. Over it is nineteen. We appointed angels to be guardians of Hell, and We assigned their number to disturb the disbelievers, to convince the Christians and the Jews, to strengthen the faith of the faithful, to remove all traces of doubt from the hearts of Christians and Jews as well as the believers, and to expose those who harbor doubts in their hearts, and the disbelievers, for they will say, "What did God mean by this allegory?" God thus sends astray whomever He wills, and guides whomever He wills. None knows the soldiers of your Lord except He.
These verses in the beginning seem to indicate that the number 19 refers to the angels guarding Hell, but later state that the number is allegorical, and finally deny that it refers to the guardian angels of Hell.
There are verses which, at the time of their coming down, relate to future events, and they are plain, straightforward verses, belonging to the muhkamat category, although they are not command verses. One of them is with regard to the splitting of the atom, an event mentioned in the Quran more than 1,300 years before it actually happened. At the time when the Quran was being sent down, the world knew the atom to be the smallest particle. Only towards the end of 19th the century did European physicists discover that the atom can be broken into smaller constituents.
The discovery of the remains of Merneptah, the son of Ramses II, the Egyptian Pharaoh who was drowned in the Red Sea, is another example of a scientific discovery, not known at the time of the Prophet, but was foretold in the Quran.
The muhkamat verses differ from the mutashabihat ones in their function. The function of the first type is to clarify divine commandments, to state a principle or a rule, or simply to give information. We have seen the above-quoted 17:22-38 verses which contains fourteen commandments. Likewise, the short pitchy Sura Al-Ikhlas (Sura 112), also contain muhkamat verses that inform us of five very important attributes of God.
On the other hand, the mutashabihat verses bring to us information regarding the invisible worlds through the language of allegories. We have given some examples above. Other examples of mutashabihat verses are those referring to Man's creation, the creation of the Universe and to the coming of Gog and Magog or Anti-Christ towards the Last Day. These are not command verses which require our obedience to them. Therefore, the ordinary people need not concern themselves with their interpretations. We are required to believe in them, but we are to leave them to be interpreted by God and those who are experts in the field.
We use metaphor or allegorical language in order to explain something which our listeners do not know or have no experience of. For example, a father trying to impress upon his two-year baby not to touch or play with fire. Or a teacher trying to explain the joys of married life to his students of five or six years old. Such listeners have not yet the knowledge of these things, and so we use allegorical language to make them understand. Yet, they will later come to know of these things. In the same way, God uses metaphorical language to let us know Him, the Day of Resurrection, Heaven, Hell and other invisible things. When the time comes, we too shall know the worlds that are now incomprehensible to us.
This basic rule of interpretation taught by the Quran in order to understand its verses properly will enable us to avoid the pitfalls of misinterpreting the mutashabihat verses. There are other rules, comprising what we may call a scientific methodology for understanding the Quran, that we need to follow to get a better understanding of the divine book. An example of misinterpretation can be shown in the case of the famous verse concerning the sources of law, verse 59 of Sura 4, although this is not a mutashabihat verse. We shall come to this later.
A Scientific Methodology of Interpretation
What do we mean by this scientific methodology? Whatever man wishes to do, from eating, bathing, sleeping and playing to the understanding of his God, there is a method. This method must of necessity be scientific, because only a scientific method can guarantee success. On the other hand, an unscientific method can only result in failure.
If we wish to study Plato's philosophy, not only do we have to read Republic and Symposium, we have to read all his dialogues. We also have to study the history of Athens around the time of Plato, learn about other philosophers who were his contemporaries and go through his genealogy and character. Only then can we gain a full and proper understanding of Plato's philosophy. The same applies to the Quran.
However, when we come to the Quran, we are in a more fortunate position. Understanding the Quran is, in fact, easier than understanding Plato. This is because God's revelations are consistent and not self-contradictory. Furthermore, the Quran gives us a complete set of rules for its own interpretation. We shall list out the following nine principles of scientific Quranic interpretation:
1. Two types of verses that must be distinguished, which establish the principle of distinction between straightforward and metaphorical language. (Quran, 3:7)
2. The principle of unity of the Quran's contents, meaning that its verses are not contradictory, but in perfect harmony. (4:82)
3. The congruence of Quranic teachings with truth and logic, establishing the principle of truth, and its congruence with science and right reason. (41:41-42; 42:24; 23:70-71; 8:7-8; 17:81; 10:100)
4. The principle of self-explanation, i.e. that Quranic verses explain one another. (55:1-2; 75:18-19)
5. The principle of good intention, i.e. that the Quran cannot be comprehended by anyone who approaches it with bad intention. (41:44; 56:77-79; 17-45-46)
6. The principle of topical context, i.e. that the meaning of any verse or verses must be understood in the context of the topic under discussion. (17:58; 53:3-4; 59:7)
7. The principle of historical context, i.e. that verses relating to a particular historical condition must be interpreted in the light of that condition. (4:25, 92; 4:3)
8. The principle of easy practicability, i.e. that the teachings of the Quran are meant to facilitate and not to render things difficult for mankind. (22:78; 20:2; 5:6, 101-102; 4:28)
9. The principle of distinction between principle and methodology and putting principle above methodology. (22:67; 2:67-71)
Proof of the Truth of This Scientific Methodology
These are nine principles of scientific interpretation given either directly or indirectly in the Quran. When we use these principles to evaluate existing translations, we shall discover several weaknesses. Let us examine a few cases.
(a) Regarding Sources of Law
The famous verse stipulating the two sources of law reads as follows:
O you who believe, you shall obey God and you shall obey the messenger and those in charge among you. If you dispute in any matter, you shall refer it to God and the messenger, if you believe in God and the Last Day.
At first glance, it would seem that the verse stipulates three sources of law: God, the messenger, and any secular authority. But, upon closer reading, and in reference with other verses regarding obedience – where obedience to the messenger means obedience to God – and regarding the function of the messenger solely to deliver the message, it becomes absolutely clear that the verse refers to two sources of law. The primary source is, of course, God, Who is the Absolute Sovereign. His Law is the fundamental law for mankind. Obeying God and the messenger means obeying God, because the messenger, being God's instrument, cannot be separated from Him in this case. Therefore, obeying God and the messenger means upholding His Book, the Quran, as the fundamental law.
The secondary source of law is the recognized or duly constituted human authority in any social unit, from the family right up to the nation. This source, however, is not independent; it derives its authority from the Lawgiver God and acts only in consonance with His Law. Thus, the secondary source can only draw up supplementary laws to implement the fundamental law. It can in no way promulgate laws contradicting the fundamental law. If it does, then such laws become null and void.
Now almost all translations of the Quran interpret obedience to God to mean upholding the Quran, and obedience to the messenger to mean upholding the so-called hadith/sunna of Prophet Muhammad. Although such an interpretation flies in the face of incontrovertible Quranic evidence, it is claimed that it is based on an `authentic' hadith.
(b) Regarding Man's Ability To Know
The verse informing us of the two types of Quranic verses that we discussed above have been translated in two ways. More translators think that no one knows the interpretation of the mutashabihat except God, while others think that a class of people, the experts, can have such knowledge by God's leave.
Basing oneself on the Quranic premise that the whole Quran was meant by God as a guidance for mankind, it is not logical to say that any of its verses are beyond human comprehension. Moreover, verses 30-34 of Sura 2 tell us that God has endowed man with the ability to know all of His creations, above the knowledge even of His angels. It is, therefore, conclusively proved that the second minority group of translators are correct in this case.
(c) Regarding the Death of Jesus Christ
This is one of the good examples of the classical jurisprudential doctrine that the hadith interprets the Quran. The Quran is quite clear about the death of Jesus Christ, although it denies that he was killed on the Cross, as his enemies alleged. It states the fact on five occasions, either directly or indirectly. Let us see the verse where the misinterpretation is made.
Thus, God said, "O Jesus, I am terminating your life on earth, raising you to me and ridding you of the disbelievers. I shall raise those who follow you above those who disbelieve from now until the Day of Resurrection. To Me is your ultimate return. Then I shall judge among you regarding everything you disputed."
Note the two key phrases used in this: `to terminate your life' (mutawaffika) and `to raise you' (rafi`uka). There is no ambiguity whatsoever. First, God took Jesus' life; then He raised his soul as He does to all human souls when the body dies.
The above translation is Rashad Khalifa's. Let us look at the popular Marmaduke Pickthall's:
(And remember) when Allah said: "O Jesus! Lo! I am gathering thee and causing thee to ascend to me, and am cleansing thee of those who disbelieve ..."
The phrase `I am gathering thee' is ambiguous and is a mistranslation. Why? The answer lies in the hadith that speaks not of Jesus's death but of his ascension and his Second Coming in the Latter Days and the desire of many translators to bend the words of God to conform to the hadith! Thus, the doctrine that the hadith interprets the Quran is here falsified.
So far, we have talked only of the translation of the relevant verse as against its text. When we apply the principle of internal consistency of Quranic text, it becomes over-whelmingly clear that this verse cannot mean other than what it says, that is that Jesus died, though not on the Cross, as claimed by his persecutors who wanted to kill him.
(d) Regarding the Idolization of Muhammad
Muslims throughout the world will deny vehemently that they have idolized Muhammad, just as the Christians had Jesus and other religious communities had their leaders. But it is highly enlightening to look closely at the Quranic verse that has been used to promote this idolization. It goes as follows:
God and His angels honor the prophet. O you who believe, you shall honor him and regard him as he should be regarded.
On the basis of this verse, Muslims would call for the blessings of God on him every time his name is mentioned. Strangely, the mention of God's name does not evoke the same response from them! However, a careful reading the Quran would immediately tell us not to do so. Firstly, a few verses before the above-quoted verse (verse 43), we are told that God and His angels honor the believers to lead them out of darkness into light (the same Arabic root word salla is used). This means that God puts the believers and the prophet on the same level, deserving of God's and His angels' honor. How is that this verse has not been brought out together with the other verse so that the Muslims would have a proper understanding of Prophet Muhammad's status?
Secondly, Muslims should know that God prohibits them from discriminating His prophets and messengers. They are all on the same level and we are not to elevate any of them above the others.
(e) Regarding Touching the Quran Without Ablution
The belief the Quran cannot be touched prior to taking ablution is based on a misunderstanding of the following verse:
This is an honorable Quran. In a perfectly preserved book. None can grasp it except the righteous.
A literal translation of the verse in question would give us: "None can touch it except the clean." When these verses are compared to others regarding the understanding of the Quran, it becomes clear that the word `touch' means `grasp' or `understand' and the word `clean' means `pure,' `righteous' or `believer', so that the verse can be paraphrased thus: "None can achieve an understanding of the contents of the Quran, except those who believe in it and strive sincerely to understand it."
Such a translation is much more logical, for if it were a matter of touching, the disbelievers have been touching and reading it too, for centuries! What they did not do is understand its message.
(f) Regarding Loss of Ablution Through Touching Women
The Shafi`i school of thought holds that touching women of the marriageable categories results in loss of ablution. This erroneous belief is based on a misinterpretation of the Arabic word lamastum whose literal meaning is `you touch' in verse 43 of Sura 4. In fact, it is an idiom meaning `you have sexual intercourse'. This is proved by a reference to Sura 3, verse 47 which speaks of Mary, the mother of Jesus, `not being touched' by man, using the same root word massa. Here, again, we arrive at a correct understanding by using the principles of logic, internal consistency and easy practicability mentioned above.
Methodology of Classical Jurisprudence
Studying the Quran without a scientific methodology definitely gives rise to many problems. Orthodox translation uses the methodology of classical jurisprudence which is based on the teachings of Imam Shafi`i (d. 820 Hijra). According to him, the four sources of Islamic law are : Quran, Hadith/Sunna, Ijma' or consensus of scholars and Qiyas or analogy. This methodology places the hadith as interpreter of the Quran, in contradiction to the Quranic principle of self-explanation (Principle 4). On the top of that, according the ijma' principle of classical jurisprudence, it is ijma' that determines the authenticity of hadith as well as the correctness or wrongness of Quranic interpretation.
It is due to this unscientific methodology of classical jurisprudence that the interpretation of many Quranic verses has been rendered subjective, arbitrary and contradictory. We have seen how the famous verse 4:59 on legal authority has been misinterpreted by this methodology to mean that Prophet Muhammad brought two books, namely Quran and hadith. We have also shown other misinterpretations. We can add to these examples.
The principle of topical context (Principle No. 6) is such an elementary principle in any understanding of any text that one wonders how any educated person can make an error on this point. Yet the error has been made regarding at least two crucial verses on the issue of the role of the Prophet. Let us look at the verses:
The spoils of war that God bestowed upon His messenger from the banished inhabitants of the town shall go to God and the messenger in the form of charity to the relatives, the needy and the alien. In this way, it will not be monopolized by the rich among you. Whatever the messenger gives you, you shall accept, and whatever he forbids you, you shall forgo.
By the falling star! Your friend is neither astray, nor a liar. He does not speak on his own. This is a divine inspiration. A teaching from a Mighty One. The Possessor of omnipotence. So he attained to perfection.
As can be seen, the first passage speaks of the division of the spoils of war. God ordered the Muslims to accept whatever the Prophet gave them and to desist from taking whatever He forbade them. However, the Ahlul-Hadith have interpreted it to refer to hadith! What a far cry!
The Ahlul-Hadith interpret the statement "He does not speak on his own" in the second passage to mean that all the Prophet's words and actions are equally inspired, divine revelation not being confined to the Quran alone. This inter-pretation is obviously a mistake, because the passage clearly speaks of the process of Quranic revelation to the Prophet. Moreover, Muhammad, being a human being like the rest of his followers, were subject to the same human weaknesses. It was only when he was receiving and reciting the revelation that "He does not speak on his own."
The Abrogation Theory
The principle of Quranic unity (Principle No. 2), stating that no Quranic verse contradicts another, is a very important principle in our scientific methodology. This principle is found in the following verse:
Why do they not study the Quran carefully? If it were from other than God, they would have found many contradictions in it.
Since the Quran is a perfect divine revelation, it is logical that we do not find any contradictions in its teachings. Although we know from history that a period of twenty-three years lay between the first and the last revelations, the entire teachings of the Quran remain integral and harmonious. If the Quran were a human composition, we shall no doubt find many a contradiction in its parts, since human beings change.
However, human thinking is subject to the laws of evolution; it is to be expected that many students of the Quran, including famous translators, see `contradictions' in its teachings. Due to their failure to solve these `contradictions' in a logical way, some of them came to erect this so-called theory of abrogation, meaning that some verses of the Quran have been abrogated by some other verses. They base this theory on the following verse:
Any message which We annul or consign to oblivion We replace with a better or similar one. Do you not know that God has the power to will anything?
The Arabic word ayat is used here to mean `message' or `revelation'. This is clear from the context. Some translators have mistranslated it as `verse', thus giving rise to this abrogation theory. The topic under discussion, however, is about the unbelievers from among the Jews and the Christians as well as the idol worshippers who did not like the idea of a new message being given to the Arabs. This meaning of the verse is supported by verse 16:101 which reads:
When We substitute one revelation in place of another, and God is fully aware of what He reveals, they say, "You made it up!" Indeed, most of them do not know.
When we take into consideration the verses which reject totally the abrogation of any of its parts, this theory collapses.
Take an example of a verse alleged to have been abrogated, according to this theory. Verse 6 of Sura 109 on the freedom of religious practice, revealed in Mecca, is said to have been abrogated by verse 5 of Sura 9, revealed later in Medina, ordering Muslims to kill unbelievers. However, this view is falsified on our principle of historical context (Principle No. 7). The historical context of the verse in question was a war situation between the Muslims and the idolatrous tribes of Arabia. Hence the order to kill those enemies who broke their treaties with the Muslims. Thus, there is no contradiction between this order and the fundamental policy of the freedom of religion proclaimed by Islam.
The principle of historical context is another important principle of Quranic interpretation, which, if neglected, would render the Quran to be an obsolete teaching. This can be shown in matters relating to slaves, status of women, law of inheritance and penal law.
A careful study of the Quran would reveal that its contents consist of two types of statements: the universal and the particular. The universal statements refer to absolute truths, while the particular statements refer to relative truths that are limited to certain concrete situations. Take the example of the concept of God itself: one the one hand, the Quran mentions `Lord of the Universe', and `the God of mankind' (the universal concept); on the other, it mentions `my Lord', `your Lord', or `the God of Moses, or `the God of your fathers Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac' (the particular concept).
The same applies to other matters. Mankind is one and equal as creatures of God, but from a historical point of view, there existed slave communities oppressed by free powerful communities; there existed communities where the women were oppressed by the men with laws that were not equitable to women, and there existed harsh penal laws. All these inequalities can be explained by a recourse to historical circumstances and a historical process which developed from a primitive human society to conditions of civilization, eliminating slavery, giving equal status to women and practicing humane penal laws.
The Quran acknowledges the existence of slaves in the Arabia of the time the Prophet arose, but advocates their freedom. The Quran acknowledges the low status of women at the time when the Prophet arose, but it establishes the equality of men and women and advocates steps towards achieving that. The Quran acknowledges the harsh laws that were in existence in the Arabian Peninsula at the time of Prophet Muhammad, just as they existed in other countries, but opens the way for lighter and more humane punishments.
In the matter of inheritance laws, the two portions given to men is a rule stipulated in the light of historical conditions. These historical conditions refer the times and places when and where men assume the role of bread-winners, thus deserving of two portions: one for the family and one for himself. But when this condition changes and women become equal and assume an equal role for the family, the rule also changes, as provided for by this general rule:
The men get a share of what parents and relatives leave. The women too shall get a share of what parents and relatives leave. Whether it is small or large, a definite share.
A Practical Way of Life
God has made the religion of Islam easy for mankind to practice (Principle No. 8), because God, being Merciful to His creatures, does not want to overburden men. This is another principle that we must remember when interpreting the Quran. We can give many examples. Here we cite three.
First: the prohibition against liquor or intoxicants. This prohibition is given in three stages. During the first stage, God says that liquor contains more harm than good, but stops short from prohibiting it. During the second stage, God prohibits us from praying while in a state of drunkenness, yet not prohibiting liquor totally. The final stage comes when God prohibits liquor totally.
It would be wrong for us to say that verses 5:90-91 which bring the total ban against liquor have abrogated verses 2:219 and 4:43. Such an interpretation shows that we fail to take into consideration this principle of easy practicability. This principle teaches us this wise strategy when we convert idolaters who normally are heavy drinkers to Islam. This does not mean, of course, that those who can give up liquor at once, cannot do so. But, generally, most people do not possess such strong will power to accomplish that. Most people need time; hence this flexibility is given by God to them.
The second example is the method of regular prayer. In extraordinary circumstance, we are allowed to perform prayers in any manner suiting the circumstances we are in: as we walk or as we travel in any type of vehicle, or while sitting or lying down, if we are prevented from standing. Only under normal circumstances are we required to perform these prayers in the usual way.
The last example is the allowance for the suspension of ordinary laws under circumstances of extreme danger. Ordinarily, pork is prohibited, but in circumstances when pork is the only food available to keep oneself from starving, its eating becomes permissible. Even outwardly committing disbelief under compulsion is allowed.
Principle Is More Important Than Form
What is meant by the difference between principle and form (Principle No. 9) has been explained above in the case of penal laws. The form of punishment may vary according to time and place, but the principle of punishment occurs universally. That applies to other matters as well.
There is a story in the Quran about the Jews being asked by God to make a sacrifice. They were reluctant to do it and asked Moses all types of questions about the size, age and color of the cow to be sacrificed in order to evade it. This story teaches us that form is less important than the principle. Are we prepared to make sacrifices in the way of God? If we are, only that matters; how we do it should depend on our capability and our situation.
The same applies to prayer. The purpose of prayer is to worship God, to praise and to supplicate Him for man's own self-development. Although the salat prayer has its definite form, in the end this form is not important, as this verse tells us:
For every community We have established its own devotional practices. Therefore, do not let yourself be dragged into argument about these, but continue to invite to your Lord. Most assuredly, you are on the right path.
What we have explained above regarding the principles of historical context and the supremacy of principle over form also conforms to the principle of truth and logic (Principle No. 3), a very important principle in this scientific methodology. This is because the Quran is the Word of God and contains the Truth, as the verse we quoted at the beginning of this chapter shows. It is a book of guidance for mankind designed to take them out from the realm of darkness into the realm of light, from falsehood into truth, from injustice into justice and from slavery into freedom.
Can such a grand book not encourage to free the slaves, not give equal status to women, not advocate just and humane laws, not advocate fundamental human rights, not advocate science and technology and scientific, rational and logical thinking for man's advancement? Impossible! Only those who are narrow-minded, who cannot comprehend that God is the Most Beneficent and the Most Merciful who would think otherwise. Our scientific methodology must subsume these principles.
Although existing translations of the Quran, especially those in the Malay language, suffer from certain weaknesses, it is far better that our people read and study the Quran in these translations rather adhering to the old customs of `reading' the book in Arabic without understanding. By reading the translation, they will have direct access to the source of their religion. This is a thousand times better than just depending on middle men to teach their religion for them.
BIBLIOGRAPHY AND LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
The following bibliography contains only works which have been quoted in this book and does not aim at being complete. As to quotations from the Quran, I have used mainly Dr. Rashad Khalifa's translation (1981 edition), but I have also used T. B. Irving, A. Yusuf Ali, Maulana Muhammad Ali, Marmaduke Pickthall and Muhammad Asad as well. Abbreviations are in brackets.
Adams, Charles C., "The Authority of the Prophetic Hadith in the Eyes of Some Modern Muslims," in Donald P. Little (Ed.), Essays on Islamic Civilization, E.J. Brill, Leiden, 1976. (The Authority)
Ahmad Amin, Fajar Islam (trans. Mohd. Marzuki Hj. Shafie), Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, Kuala Lumpur, 1980. (Fajar Islam)
Ahmad Ibrahim, Islamic Law in Malaya, Malaysian Sociological Research Institute, Singapore, 1965. (Islamic Law 2)
Ahmad Von Denffer, `Ulum al-Quran, The Islamic Foundation, London, 1983. (Ulum al-Quran)
Briffault, R., The Making of Humanity, Islamic Book Foundation, London 1928. (Humanity)
Coulson, N.J., A History of Islamic Law, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 1964. (Islamic Law 3)
Fazlur Rahman, Islam, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1966. (Islam)
__________, Islamic Methodology in History, Central Institute of Islamic Research, Karachi, 1965. (Islamic Methodology)
Goldziher, Ignas, Muslim Studies, vol. II, George Allen and Unwin, London, 1971. (Muslim Studies)
Haji Said Haji Ibrahim, Penolakan Terhadap Penilaian Semula Hadith, Media Hasda, Kuala Lumpur, 1987. (Penolakan)
Harris, Errol E., Nature, Mind and Modern Science, George Allen & Unwin, London, 1954. (Modern Science)
Hibbert, Christopher, The Roots of Evil, Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, Middlesex, 1966. (Roots of Evil)
Hitti, Philip K., History of the Arabs, 10th edition, Macmillan Press Ltd., London, 1974. (Arabs)
Hj. Ismail bin Hj. Yusoff et.al., Salah Faham Terhadap Hadith: Satu Penjelasan, Majlis Ugama Kelantan, Kota Baharu, 1986. (Salah Faham)
Ibn Ishaq, The Life of Muhammad (trans. A. Guillaume), Oxford University Press, London, 1955. (Life)
Juynboll, G.H.A., The Authenticity of the Traditional Literature, E.J.Brill, Leiden, 1969. (Authenticity)
__________, Muslim Tradition, Cambridge University Press, London, 1983. (Muslim Tradition)
Kassim Ahmad, Hadis — Satu Penilaian Semula, Media Intelek, Petaling Jaya, 1986. (Hadis)
__________, Teori Sosial Moden Islam, Penerbit Fajar Bakti, Petaling Jaya, 1984. (Teori Sosial)
LaRouche, Lyndon H., The Science of Christian Economy, EIR, Washington, D.C., 1991. (Christian Economy)
Mahmud Saedon A. Othman, Al-Sunnah: Kedudukan dan Peranannya di dalam Syariah Islam, Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, Kuala Lumpur, 1990. (Al-Sunnah)
Majid Khadduri (trans.), Islamic Jurisprudence: Shafi`i 's Risala, Johns Hopkins Press, Baltimore, 1961. (Shafi`i 's Risala)
Malik ibn Anas, Al-Muwatta (trans. Aisha Abdarrahman dan Ya'qub Johnson), Diwan Press, Norwich, England, 1982. (Al-Muwatta)
Mishkat-ul-Masabih (trans. Fazlul Karim), vol. I-IV, Lahore Book House, Calcutta, 1938. (Mishkat)
Mohamed S. El-Awa, Punishment in Islamic Law, American Trust Publications, Indianapolis, 1982. (Punishment)
Mohammad Mustafa Azami, Studies in Early Hadith Literature, Beirut, 1968. (Early Hadith)
__________, Studies in Hadith Methodology and Literature, American Trust Publications, Indianapolis, 1977. (Hadith Methodology)
Mohammad Thalib, Sekitar Kritik Terhadap Hadis dan Sunnah Sebagai Dasar Ilmu Hukum, Alharamain Pte., Singapore, 1980. (Sekitar Kritik)
Mohd. Nor bin Ngah, "Islamic World-view of Man, Society and Nature among the Malays in Malaysia" in Mohd. Taib Osman (Ed.), Malaysian World-view, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Kuala Lumpur, 1985. (World-view of Malays)
Muhammad Hamidullah, Sahifah Hammam Ibn Munabih, Islamic Cultural Centre, Paris, 1979 (10th Edition). (Sahifah Hammam)
Muhammad Husain Haekal, Sejarah Hidup Muhammad, Tintamas, Jakarta, 1982. (Haekal)
Muhammad Iqbal, The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, S.M. Ashraf, Lahore, 1958. (Reconstruction)
Nazwar Syamsu, Al-Quran Tentang Manusia dan Masyarakat, Ghalia Indonesia, Jakarta, 1983. (Masyarakat)
Rashad Khalifa, The Computer Speaks: God's Message to the World, Renaissance Productions International, Tucson, 1981. (Computer Speaks)
__________, Quran: Visual Presentation of the Miracle, Islamic Productions, Tucson 1982. (Visual Presentation)
__________, Quran: The Final Scripture, Islamic Productions, Tucson 1981. (Quran)
__________, Quran: The Final Testament, Islamic Productions,
Tucson, 1989. (Final Testament)
__________, Quran, Hadith and Islam, Islamic Productions, Tucson, Arizona, 1982. (Hadith)
Sahih Al-Bukhari (trans. Muhammad Asad), Dar Al-Andalas, Gibraltar, 1938. (Bukhari)
Said Ramadan, Islamic Law: Its Scope and Equity, Macmillan, London, 1961. (Islamic Law)
Sarton, George, Introduction to the History of Science, Vol. I, George McLeod Ltd., 1970. (Science)
Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Ideals and Realities of Islam, George Allen & Unwin, London, 1966. (Ideals)
Schacht, Joseph, The Origins of Muhammadan Jurisprudence, Oxford University Press, 1979. (Origins)
Sorokin, P. A., Modern Historical and Social Philosophies, Dover Publications, New York, 1963. (Historical Philosophies)