-- AN EXPOSITION
BY ATHAR HUSAIN
Published by the All India
Personal Law Bpard,
Attestation of Scientific data in the Quran by Modern Research and Discoveries
The Quran is not a book of science, but it alludes
to a large number of scientific phenomena which were totally unknown, not
only at that time but even hundreds of years later. Discovering scientific
truths in the Quran, and comparing the scientific indications in the Quran
and it's general statements, with the discoveries of modern science is a
delicate and even a risky adventure. For one thing, the results of present-day
knowledge and scientific studies which might be appearing today as
It, however, makes reference to facts accessible to human observation and to laws laid down by God both in the field of science and nature and in relation to man himself. It does not lay down scientific theories to explain phenomena. Scientific theories are liable to change and modification with [[the] advance of scientific knowledge. Observed facts, however, checked by experimentation stand, on a different footing and are not liable to modification. The Bible also gives some indication but when they were confronted with modern science, they proved to be entirely erroneous, for the simple reason that they were the product of [the] thinking end imagination of man and were not based on Divine Revelation. If the large number of subjects discussed in the Quran are confronted with modern science, not a single error can be found in the Quran.
It is not possible to enter into any discussion
of the scientific data and subjects covered in the Quran.
(1) Existence of six periods for Creation in general.The Quran claims to be a book of guidance. It is for the whole [of] mankind and not any particular people or any particular era or region, and its message and teachings are relevant for all times. In the Divine Book itself, there are many indications, principles and doctrines of universal significance. The impact the Quran has made on human history provides the external proof to substantiate this claim. The whole post-Islamic era of human history provides evidence to prove this claim.
One of the distinctive features of the Quran is that it affirms and completes the whole process of Divine revelation. which came for the guidance of man. The earlier revelations brought by the prophets of various religions, had come for particular peoples of particular ages. The process of completion took into account the nature of society of the age and the intellectual development of man till it reached its culmination in the Last Message of God viz., the Quran. It Says: "Truly, it is for Us to show the way to man and truly Ours is the future and truly the past." (Quran 2: I2-13)
The Quran establishes the truth and knocks out lies and untruths which are, as it says, only ephemeral. It is AI-Furqan.
[AI-Furqan is] a book of discernment which enables man to distinguish between truth and untruth, between good and evil, between [the] lawful and [the] unlawful. It enables man to discriminate between the scale of values. It declares something permissible [or] something impermissible and they are of universal application and validity.
As A. K. Birohi in his article "The Quran And Its Impact on Human History" says:
"One way of demonstrating the indispensability of the message contained in the Quran to the modern world is to take up, one by one, the present-day standards of excellence - that is, values and ideals which are accepted and upheld by enlightened sections of contemporary humanity and to ask the question: What is the genesis of those values and ideals? Whence have they come? And, in particular, one must ask whether those values and ideals were at all commended or enjoined by pre-Islamic religious teachings.In Islam every act of man [has] a spiritual significance if it is done with the right intention and spirit and is done in the right manner. Even earning one's living by his labour and feeding one's family assumes spiritual significance on the fulfilment of His criterion and merits reward in the sight of God. Then, again, justice and fair play are the sine qua non of any spiritual evolution. As Birohi says, "The spiritual principle upon which mankind can be grouped, according to Islam, takes the form of devotion to the ideal of justice."
There are innumerable references in the Quran to the supreme necessity of establishing a just society, a just order. We, individual men and women, are invited to be just, to hold [the] scales of justice evenly, and are forbidden from employing false measures in weighing things or artificially tilting the balance in our favour.
The Quran would not accept any organizational synthesis of mankind, which [are] not based on the ideal of justice--which consists [of] giving to each nation or community what is its due.
The Quran is the best evidence that there is for all of us to believe that God exists, that Muhammad is His Prophet. It is also a Book of Hope in the sense that it presents to us the image of our Maker who forgives us and protects us against our own follies.
To understand the full scope of the Quran, three things have to be taken into consideration -- its doctrinal content, its narrative content ,and its Divine magic or the mysterious and, in a sense, miraculous power. "These sources of metaphysical and eschatological wisdom of mystical psychology and theurgic power lie hidden in a veil of breathless utterances. Often clashing in crystalline and fiery images, but also of passages [that are] majestic in rhythm [and are] woven [into] every fibre of [the] human condition' "Its narrative content depicts all the vicissitudes of the soul from the time of creation to that of The Resurrection of man and the World Beyond. The Quran is like the picture of everything that [the] human brain can think and feel, and it is by this means that God exhausts human disquiet, infusing into the believer silence, serenity and peace."
The Quran is a miracle both in its external qualities and esoteric meaning. Its purpose is to expound the truth of the Absolute and the law of the Absolute. It is in essence the Truth and the Law. To glean the gems of knowledge and wisdom, so enormous in number, and so embedded in Quranic phraseology, to discern the specific from the general; to expound the meanings of the concise and the esoteric, to emphasise the basic content and the main purpose, to uncover the obscurities, to indicate reasons and justification, to crystallize and concretize the tenets, to prescribe the obligatory functions and the voluntary disciplines, in short, to provide a detailed commentary of the Divine Book without the aid of the divinely guided Teacher who presented the Quran would have been an impossible task.
Then again, it is not enough to believe in the Unity or Oneness of God or in the conception of reality of the Absolute and the dependence of all things on the Absolute as the first testimony of the Islamic faith 'La Ilaha lllallah' requires but also to believe in the Prophethood of Muhammad-ur-rasul-allah' who brought the Message for without it the Quran will lose itss authenticity.
The Quran lays down the role of the Prophet:
Verily, it is the mercy of God that He has raised amongst them a Prophet who recites the verses before them, purifies them and teaches them the Book and wisdom. (Q 2 :129)The teaching could be done through the medium of lectures and sermons and by laying down ordinances and compelling their observance and by penalizing omission and transgression. But the Prophet could not leave his followers to interpret and follow the teachings in their own ways, to determine their import, each according to his own lights and capabilities and to drift in uncertainty.
"Verily; We have revealed this Quran that you may explain its meaning and the underlying purpose for their guidance so that they may reflect thereon."A much more effective way is by enacting the teachings in one's life and presenting a model for emulation by others. Then alone the meaning and purpose of the teaching can be unambiguous and the words of the preacher can carry weight. Before attempting it. It was necessary, however, to lay down the highest standards of good conduct and disposition, of piety and devotion. of chastity and honour. of benevolence and kindness, of generosity and sacrifice, of toleration and contentment, of steadfastness and patience, in short, all of the virtues and goodness and to imbibe all those virtues and to himself reach the pinnacle.
The Prophet, therefore, appeared as a model par excellence, as the human norm [for] both of his individual and collective functions. But man is mortal and the human model could not exist forever. It was, therefore, imperative that every word uttered by the noble personage, his every action and movement, his every gesture or inclination, should be faithfully recorded for the guidance [and] posterity.
All other Prophets appeared in prehistoric times.
It is the good fortune of the world that the Prophet of Islam appeared in
[a] historical time when the art of writing had been developed and everything
As Hadrat Ayesha says, the Prophet was, indeed, the Quran in action. The sayings and actions of the Prophet, known as his Traditions, Hadith or Sunnat, constitute an explanation of the obscure in the Quran, the amplification of the concise and the abstract therein, the exegesis of its difficult content and manifestation of what is hidden or esoteric in it. As Imam Shafi'i says:
"Sunnat is the exegesis and connotation of the ordinances of God." It provides detailed specifications for what is determined in generality by the Quran. It is also concerned with secondary obligations which facilitate primary ones. As H.A.R. Gibb says: "The Quran is comparatively short and even in this small book, the greater part has no direct bearing on dogmatic, ritual, legal, political and social questions. The general principles by which all these matters should be regulated are to be found in the Quran, but not all of them are set out with equal clearness and detail. It is, therefore, essential to interpret and elaborate the relevant texts. The natural, and indeed, the only possible interpreter whose judgement can be trusted, is the Prophet through whom they were revealed.
"O ye men, now an Apostle hath come to you bearing the truth from your Lord. If you believe in him; it will be well with you but, if ye believe not, then mark that to God belongeth all that is in the heavens and on the earth as God is All-knowing, the Wise." (Q. 4:110)
0 ye who believe'. Deal not falsely with God and His Apostle and do not betray your trusts knowingly." (Q. 8 : 27)
"O ye who believe! Obey God and obey the Apostle and let not your deeds go waste." (Q. 47: 33)
"Take what the Apostle has given to you and abstain from what he forbids.
"The true believers are they who believe in God and His Apostle and thereafter falter not in their belief." (Q. 49 : 15) '
'For such of those who do not believe in God and His Apostle, We have, verily, kept ready the Flames." (Q. 48 : 13)
"And when God and His Apostle have decreed a thing it is not for a believing man or a believing woman to have any choice in respect thereof. Whoever disobeyeth the God and His Apostle, indeed committeth a manifest error," (Q. 33 : 36)From the foregoing verses of the Quran, it would be evident that belief in the Prophet is as incumbent as belief in God [and the] angels and [the] scriptures; that obeying the Apostle is as necessary as obeying the commandments of God. And that acceptance of the interpretations and decisions of the Prophet is binding. If [the] sayings and actions of the Prophet are not to serve as ruling[s], [the] belief in the Prophet would not have been made compulsory nor obedience of his injunctions would have been treated as [a] mark of faith.
[The] Hadith served not only as an extension or supplement to the Quran as a source of law, but also served to give shape and dimension to the entire structure of Islam. They generate a particular kind of attitude to life and approach to human problems and it was through them and the message of the Quran that the Prophet changed the thinking of his followers and their mental outlook, their vision and approach, their habits and manners, their customs and laws, their norms of war and peace, their standards and bases of economy, their culture and civilization; in fact. he succeeded in effecting a complete metamorphosis of man and his society. This could not be accomplished just by promulgating law and ordinances. Religion is not a mere code or compilation of laws. It is something deeper and more extensive. It governs, guides, directs and adorns [one's] entire life in all its complexity. It cannot take root nor can flourish unless there is a complete intellectual and emotional involvement.
The social, cultural, moral and intellectual regeneration and the complete revolution was the direct result of not only the message of the Quran, but also the impact of the august and beloved personality who delivered the message and of the lofty standard of piety, dignity and behaviour set up by him and of the sittings, assemblies and concourses held by him in which flowed, like an unending stream, the nectar of wisdom, soul-stirring teachings and sublime preachings. It was the amalgam of all these that developed the temper of Islam in which were embodied not only laws, rules and regulations, but also [the] motivating factors, incentives and inspiration for their rigid application and for catching their spirit, meaning and purpose.
These Traditions also open a window through which the personal life of the Prophet and his household and daily routines and way of living can be viewed. How can one, in quest of truth, leave this door and go elsewhere for receiving instruction in decorous behaviour, ethics and humanities? They also open a window on the lives of companions--how they followed the[ir] great master, dedicated their lives to the service of religion and held aloft the banner of Islam.
Contrary to the notion advanced by some Orientalist
scholars like Sir William Muir and Goldziher, that the writing of [the] Traditions
started some ninety years after the Prophet's death, [its] work had actually
started in the lifetime of the Prophet, Abdullah bin Amr, a companion of the
Prophet, was the first to write the Traditions and he compiled a book called
Saadqa (Ibn Saad, Vol. 2, p. 125) containing Traditions he himself
heard. Similarly Ali complied a large number of Traditions (Sahh Bukhari,
Vol, 2, p. 1084) ; Abdullah bin Abbas, another companion, had made a collection
(Tirmidhi. Kitabul-alai. p. 691);
Jabir bin Abdullah's collection was compiled by Wahab Tabai (Tahzeeb, Vol. l, p. 316) and that of Abu Hurairah by Hammam bin Munabbih,, who reproduced them in his books of Traditions, Sahifa Hammam. Abdullah bin Amr mentioned (Fatal Bari, Vol. 1 P. 148) that Abu Hurairah had shown this collection to him. For his own part, Abdullah bin Ajar says (Abu Dawud. Vol, 1, p. 157) that he used to write down what he heard from the Prophe,t but when the Quraish got to know about it, they tried to dissuade him on the ground that sometimes the Prophet was in good mood and sometimes displeased. The matter was referred to the Prophet who pointing to his mouth. said, "By God, in no state anything untrue or unjust can come out o£ it" Rafey ibn Khadij says (Kanzul-Ammal, Vol, 11 p. 223) that he was permitted by the Prophet to record his sayings. Likewise, Abdullah bin Masud had recorded what he had heard from the Prophet and his record was shown to the people by his son Abdul Rahman. The Traditions quoted by yet another companion, Anas, were written down by his disciple Aban (Darmi, p.68). The compilation of these scattered accounts of Traditions and those which the people had memorised was begun by the 'Tabains', i.e., people who were the immediate disciples of the Companions but had not had the privilege of meeting the Prophet. Among them, the men of teaming and intelligence, all [the] pious and God-fearing, started the sacred task of collecting the Traditions. To name a few, Muhammad bin Shabab Zuhri, Hisham bin Urwa, Qais bin Abi Hazam, Ata Bin Abi Raba and Said bin Jubair, went from door to door, personally met the narrators of the Traditions and collected a mass of Traditions numbering about three lakhs [3 x 100,000 … a great number]. Over two lakhs were repetitions, for the same Traditions were repeated by many.
This seemingly very large number of ahadith is due to the fact that a particular hadith was narrated through a large number of chains of transmitters -- might be ten or twenty or even more, The Muhaddisin had to preserve all the Isnad as well and they assigned separate numbers to all the chains conveying the same hadith. Then again, they incorporated the sayings of the companions and the Taba'een interpreting or elucidating the ahadith as also their maxims. Over 2 lakhs were repetitions, and the number was magnified by spurious ahadith in circulation, and which were dates one discarded after a very thorough scrutiny [and] careful sifting.
The Muhaddisin were men of such great rectitude and were so meticulous that they even mentioned the mode of transmission. They prefixed the term haddathana before the hadith to denote that the teacher recited the hadith to his disciples and the term akhbarona to indicate that a disciple read a hadith to his teacher who accorded his approval.
Political differences had begun to appear in the later part of Hazrat Uthman's caliphate and they assumed dangerous proportions in the reign of Hazrat Ali culminating in two internecine wars. The Jews and other enemies of Islam had a big hand in creating and fanning up the dissension. Political immaturity took its toll and the community stood divided. The Political differences were given religious colour and, as time passed, those who favoured Hazrat Ali and bore enmity towards Umaiyyads, began to enunciate their own theories, views and beliefs. According to the famous Shia alim ibn Abi al-Hadid, the Shias started the despicable business of fabricating ahadith as props for their theories and in denunciation of almost all the companions barring sixteen or seventeen.
The less temperate and ignorant Ahle-Sunnat hit back by concocting ahadith in favour of [the] Companions or to draw people to the ways of piety, although very much lesser in number. The worst culprits were the heretics and Zindiqs and the unscrupulous professional preachers. Meanwhile Iran had been considerably influenced by Greek logic and philosophy and a class of intellectuals, the Muatazila arose who were rationalists to the point of absurdity. A section of them totally refuted Hadith and another imposed such conditions on their acceptance as to make it practically impossible. Racial, linguistic and parochial prejudices had embittered feelings and generated animosity. To the treasure of genuine Hadith quite a sizable mass of spurious sayings had been added.
The Quran having been permanently preserved, the Ulama applied themselves to the preservation of genuine Hadith. They began contacting the surviving companions and the early Tabaeen and began writing booklets and pamphlets containing the ahadith they had learnt. These booklets were called Sahuf (plural Sahifa). As M. M. Azmi writes in his Studies in Earty Hadith Literature at least fifty Companions possessed some Sahuf of Hadith. The Sahabah was a mere collection of Hadith without any classification or arrangement.
The need for more comprehensive works compiled in a classified manner, was keenly felt and in the second century begun to appear Musannaf i.e., a classified compilation of ahadith. Among the more famous musannaf are the al-Majmua of Imam Zayad ibn Ali (b. 122 A. H.) which was arranged by his disciple Amr ibn Khalid al Wasiti, al-Muwatta of Imam Malik (d. 179 A. H. and al-Musannaf of Imam Abd al Razzak al Sanani (d. 211 A. H.).
Imam Malik has himself mentioned the names of the twenty-five Tabaeen from whom he had heard the Traditions and who were still alive and residing in Medina. The last of the group died (n 145 A. H. The Vuwarta was read to these Tabaeen and copies were sent to various centres. About a thousand persons read it from Imam Malik himself (Shah Abdul Aziz Dehlvi-Bustanul Muhaddisin). Siyuti in the foreword to his Book Tanwir-ul-Hawalik has mentioned the names of fifty scholars who studied the work with Imam Malik himself and quoted him in their own books.
The entire mass of genuine and fictitious ahadith was sorted out, sifted, tested and retested by such luminaries as Imam Bukhari (d. 256 A. H.) Imam Muslim (d. 261 A. H.) Imam Tirmidhi (d. 279 A. H.) Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal (d. 241 A. H.) Imam Shafi'i (d. 204 A. H.) Imam Abu Dawud (d. 275 A. H.), Imam Nisai (d. 203 A. H.) Imam ibn Maja (d. 273 A. H.), Razin (d. 530 A. H.) and others. The methods employed were such as no scholar anywhere in the world, in any period of history, has ever attempted. The chain of transmitters of the Traditions was checked by spot verifications necessitating thousands of miles of travelling. The piety. veracity, acumen and intelligence of the reporters were carefully enquired into.
If any link was found untrustworthy, the Tradition was rejected; if a link was found missing but the Tradition came up to other tests, it was described as feeble or weak. The result of this laborious and painstaking investigation was that salient details of the lives of about 13,000 companions and transmitters were recorded and handed down to posterity. Alongside the verification of the transmitters critical tests were applied to check the veracity of the Traditions in the light of the Quran, undoubted Traditions, reason and intelligence and those that failed to come up to [the] mark were discarded. It was indeed a stupendous task, but religious zeal and fervour and dedication and piety on the part of the scholars, who had made the task the solitary ambition of their lives, carried them through. For instance, Imam Bukhari devoted sixteen years of his life to the compilation of his great work. In the first and second century of lslam people applied themselves wholeheartedly and assiduously to the understanding and interpretation of the Quran and the Sunnat.
Islam had been firmly established but in the march of its victories and conquests of lands, its followers, at times, faced situations not clearly mentioned in the Quran or the Sunnat and they had to resort to analogy and deduction. As happens in every human endeavour, the understanding, appreciation and interpretation could not be identical, particularly when they went into minutest details. Different schools of thought, led by very distinguished Imams arose, identical in fundamentals but varying in details. These Imams and their followers and jurists laid down rules of conduct for specific situations within the broad frame of the Quran and the Sunnat.
These differences as [well as the] emergence of spurious ahadith, [were] played up by the Orientalists for ulterior motives to fulfil which they have resorted to distortions and tamperings and misinterpretation of passages of old Muslim scholars providing the sources. They made it a mission of their lives and applied all their energy, scholarship and erudition to the task of creating doubt and suspicion in the authenticity of Hadith and to malign the earliest scholars and some stalwarts of Islam. through whom the ahadith had been communicated in order to create cracks in the edifice of Islam in much the same way as they go on repeating that the Quran is not the Word of God and make incorrect translations of it. Some Muslim intellectuals who had either studied under these Orientalists or had read their works and who had not taken the trouble of looking up the original sources, whose garbled versions were presented by these Orientalists or had not access to the sources in Arabic, believed these Orientalists and were over-awed by their erudition.
They began to write in their strain like dutiful
camp-followers and began to quote the untruths copiously.
In 1975, I had selected about four hundred ahadith from Mishkatul Massabeeh of Waliuddin al-Khatib ul-Umri which is an enlarged edition of Masabeeh-ul-Sunnat of Imam Abu Muhammad Husain Baghwi (d. 516 A. H.) and had translated them into English. The book was published by the Academy of Islamic Research and Publications, Nadwatul Ulama, Lucknow, under the title 'The Book of Thousand Lights' I had written quite a number of books on various aspects of Islam before that, but while doing the translation, the feeling heavily dawned upon me that prior to study of Hadith, I knew pretty little about Islam.
They are universal and eternal in character and
are phrased in rare eloquence. No matter how much society may change and
what great advancements are made in learning and science, the ahadith will
not lose their validity and win continue to apply to an parts of the globe
and in all situations.