Religious Justifications and Scholarly Derivations
To occupy Muslims in rituals of beard growing but then to tell the Muslims to trim or shave the moustache in order to keep the face clean; to give fatwas permitting marriage to infant girls but then to define the age of maturity as nine before a girl is even imposed with basic cleanliness obligations; to stone people to death but then to give religious rulings on how to slaughter halal animals in a merciful manner; to refuse to be led by a competent fair-minded woman but then to say justice is a hallmark of an Islamic society; to disguise prostitution as a form of marriage (mutah) but then to assert Syeda Fatima (as) & Ali (AS) as role models of marriage and love; to use the mimbar in the mosque to cause hatreds among Muslim but then to preach the Quran that says it is the hypocrites who divide the ummah; and to beat children in madressas but then to preach that the Messenger did not even allow the beating of animals are just some of the many contradictions in our - Sunni and Shia - upside down version of Islam.
Even the worst critic of Islam will see the contradictions we have imposed on Islam due to our faulty derivations. For example despite the fact that the Quran does not command Muslims to grow beards we have fatwas telling us not to pray behind someone who shaves his beard. This means we have intervened in to Islam by imposing on the Muslims something that God has not imposed.
So the number one question for us is that how have our faulty interventions been allowed to contaminate Islam and created practices in conflict to the divine message brought to us by the final Messenger?
HOW THE SYSTEM HAS BEEN DEVELOPED FOR SCHOLARS TO ADD THEIR OWN DERIVATIONS IN TO ISLAM
Both Sunni and Shia scholars insert their own derivations in to Islam by making the claim that to inert additional things in to Islam was first done by the Prophet Muhammad. To justify this the scholars quote two things: Firstly, that the Quran is not enough and, therefore, to compensate the 'gap' in the Quran the Messenger needed to act on his own; and secondly, the Messenger is mutually exclusive of the Quran because a verse in the Quran says: 'Obey Allah and Obey his Messenger.'
So even though there is no command of beard growing in the Quran we will still be told by scholars that the Prophet Muhammad imposed it as he allowed himself to operate outside the Quran. The scholars then add the label of FASIK (sinner)on anybody who shaves his beard even though such a label does not exist in the Quran for those who shave nor did the Prophet call a clean shaved person as Fasik
By operating outside the Quran and adding things to Islam we have imposed on ourselves a blind spot to the obvious meaning of 'Obey Allah and Obey His Messenger' because we do not want to accept that it simply means that we have to obey those things that are in congruence with both the Quran and the Prophet. Instead we use this verses to make the Quran and the Prophet mutually exclusive from each other. We also take the wrong meaning of the hadith saying 'The Quran and my Alhul Baith will never separate' by associating things to the Ahlul Baith that are not commanded in the Quran like beard growing, child marriages, stoning or regarding women as unfit to be leaders.
In defending that we can make things as religious even though they may not be in the Quran a scholar recently used the story of the Mubaeela in which the Messenger brought his family to pray against the liars in a famous event in which Christian monks said that an Arab cannot be a Messenger, as in their view, God can only choose a Jews to be a Prophet. When the Christian monks failed to accept that this would make God in to a racialist the Prophet Muhammad called for his family to come to the prayer to curse whoever associates a lie on God. Immediately the Christian monks abandoned their stance and left. This story was used by a scholar to argue that if the Quran was ‘enough’ than why did the Messenger bring the Ahlul Baith instead of the Quran in the prayer session.
What the scholar refused to see was that it was the Quran that commanded the Messenger to bring the Alhul Baith to the prayer session. And it was the Quran that told the Christian monks that God sent his Prophets to all nations of the world.
Hence, the Quran, the Messenger and the Ahlul Baith were in congruence in this event as each played it’s part in a united mission. There was no separation of any of them.
We Muslims needs to accept that as the beard is not in the Quran the Messenger could not have grown a beard as a religious duty: if he did it would make him act above the Quran. Hence, when grappling with what constitutes a religious duty, and what is just culture or a social norm, we first need to ask if the derivations or narrations are expounding the Quran or whether they are separated from the Quran. Where derivations or narrations attempt to show the Messenger acting exclusively of the Quran we need to regard them as cultural norms. For example, the Prophet liked it when travellers sang songs to ease the long desert journeys. This does not mean that it is Islamic to sing songs in long journeys. It just means that Islam allows cultural norms as long as they don't conflict with a subject matter in the Quran.
A second example of a cultural norm is spending pass-time of relaxing in a tent outside the town, which the messenger did regularly with his wives or with his Companions. If we took this practice as Sunnah (religious preference) then we will have Muslims men heading outside Karachi, pitching tents and some of them even driving camels to ‘copy the Sunnah.’ How out of place this would be in the 21st Century norms of travel and manner of relaxing!
So what about the beard? Was is it a cultural trend for men in those days or was it Islamic? The only time beard growing becomes Islamic is when a man grows a beard as a choice, but then trims it and makes himself beautiful due to the Quran commanding men to 'beautify themselves', and saying that Allah created humans in the most beautiful form. The Messenger by trimming his beard, even in the desert, showed Muslims how if they grew a beard they have an obligation to keep it neat & beautiful, and not just grow a beard as bushy as possible on the excuse that their circumstance is not right, their scholar commands it, their grandfather grew it or that they want to get a status in the mosques from it.
The command to grow beard and worry about the size is just one example of how an idea separating the Messenger from the Message has caused confusion among us to the point that we are ready to demean honest and practising Muslims as Fasiks just because they don't grow beards. In the past, scholars would even outcast Muslims without beards as looking like the Umayad tyrant Yazid. Once I confronted a Sunni scholar by saying that if men without beards looked like Yazid and those with beards looked like Omar Sadd. I then ducked in-case he threw a punch!
The examples above further highlight the low grade mentality that has been created in our practice and definition of our faith. Below I have given fuller analysis of the disparity caused between the Quran and the scholarly derivations that rely on the notion that the Messenger acted exclusively away from the Quran in religious matters, and at times even contrary to it. However, first let us look at the counter argument made by Sunni and Shia scholars of their idea of separating the Message from the Messenger.
The Scholars Argument
They argue that Islam is in two parts -One Part from God and the other from Nabi Muhammad (AS). They quote that the Quran says Obey God and Obey his Messenger. They say this means a separation between God and his Messenger. They say that that the Messenger can issue his his own decrees and that this decree is approved by God even though it may not be in the Quran.
Hence, they say that even though there is no command in the Quran of beard growing it was still a decree issued to the Prophet by God without it being included in the Quran. They say it does not matter that the Quran says about beautifying ourselves and how the Prophet trimmed his beard in the most difficult circumstances of a desert as the decree to grow a beard overrides everything else and so even if a beard size makes you look horrid, like a beggar or makes children frighten you should still grow it.
The Counter Argument
We argue that Islam is only in one part as there is perfect congruence between the Quran and the Prophet. So while the Quran commands the Messenger carries out an exemplary practice of God's command because he is the Messenger of the Quran. Hence Obey God means Follow God's command while Obey the Messenger means Follow the exemplary practice of the Messenger. Both are in congruence and not separate from each other.
Yes the Messenger did receive decrees, guidance, inspiration and revelation other than the Quran but not to add a separate command to the Quran but to respond to how to carry out an exemplary practice of the Quran. This means that even the practice (sunnah) is guided by God and is therefore always a perfect manifestation of the Quran.
Take for example the salaah or namaz. The Quran command for namaz is explicit while the Messenger gave us exemplary practice of salaah. Those who say that the salaah is not in the Quran make a false statement as it is in the Quran over 70 times including the command to face Kibla, to do wudu, to bow etc. Infact the two surahs that make the recitations in namaz are in the Quran. Hence those who say that the Namaz is not in the Quran are misleading the people as it is mentioned so many times while the Messenger showed us how exactly to do the salaah as he received additional guidance on how to practically manifest the Quranic namaz in practical life.
Hence, when Nabi Muhammad grew a beard due to the norm in those days he did so within the Quranic command to keep beautiful i.e. he grew a beard in the most beautiful fashion as an exemplary practice. He therefore trimmed it and shaped it to show the Muslims how an Islamic beard adds to the beauty of a man rather than make him looking weird. To look ugly.unclean or unkempt is against the Quranic commands and against the Prophets practice and idea of human beauty and dignity.
In addition the Messenger faced some unique challenges to establish Islam and this meant personal guidance from God to help him deal with these unique challenges. This was which tribal leader to negotiate with, whom to trust to carry out tasks, whom to marry etc.All the private decrees to the Messenger were to keep him safe, to guide him on how to bring the cultural norms in line with Islamic principles and how to lead change in transforming society. But at no times did the Messenger get a separate command which was mutually exclusive to the Quran and which was part of religion.
DISPARITIES BETWEEN THE SCHOLARLY DERIVATIONS AND THE QURAN
1. "Women are defective in intelligence" (Sunni & Shia issue)
This is justified by vast majority of scholars as part of their religious derivation. But it is not in the Quran! In fact it is against God to believe that he created women to be defective as none of God's creation is defective. Why would he do that in any case? Surely, a woman needs to have equal intelligence if she is to live with a man as a life long partner. Surely when the Quran says that men and women are 'guides and helpers' of each other then it means she is equally intelligent to 'guide and help' men. The idea that women are Nakis e Akal is wrong even if it is in the Nahjul Balagha and many other books. What is wrong is wrong and cannot be justified just because a particular book says it or just because we know how to justify everything by misusing the name of the Ahlul Baith. All we need to do is accept that books have been tempered with over centuries of obscure history behind them.Only the Quran is intact in its original form as it has a divine seal. No other book in Sunni or Shia Islam is temper free and evidence of this is that not one book outside the Quran regards women to be equal in intelligence. Not one book (other than the Quran) speaks positively of the intelligence of women despite all the things Nabi Muhammad achieved for women as part of his religious transformations.
We need to accept that most of the narration in books regarding women's intelligence are written from a perspective of male chauvinism of that time. One thousand years ago the whole world was against women. Worst things are written in the Bible and Gita against women which were used by their scholars to even burn women in millions. Muslims of that time needed to take their religious responsibility and come out from that era's wrong perception. But they did not do this despite the Quran being in their hands. The fact that the Messenger would consult women, even agree with them, work under his wife, said Allah listened to the petition of an unhappy wife, called men & women as part of the same soul, did not blame women for enticing Adam to eat the forbidden fruit, referred to women as securing half the faith of men etc are all evidence that Nabi Muhammad did not regard women as lower in intelligence from any men, unlike many of our male chauvinist scholars who privately will still express some of the worst attitudes towards women.
FACT 2: Rape in Shia Law (Shia Issue)
What most proponents of Mutah will avoid is how mutah is not only an excuse for pimping but it is also a loophole for rapists as a rapist can say to the police: "Officer, she agreed to having sex by doing mutah with me. I did not force her!"
This is because there are no witnesses needed in mutah. So the thousands of cases across the world where women are date-raped, raped in factories, offices, prisons, schools, care homes and hospitals by men will cause women an added problem of proving that they had not agreed to mutah.
It would therefore be interesting how our scholars will differentiate between mutah and rape in a case where all the forensics show evidence of sex but the man claims he did mutah with her and did not rape her. As it stands, to prove rape is hard for women and mutah clearly adds another hurdle for them. Women's safety is pushed even further back in our shia community in the hands of studs and mutah-happy rapists. Women groups have often complained that rape of vulnerable girls is endemic in Tehran because men know that laws are tilted against girls who have to also face a 'male judge' and who may himself indulge in mutah.
Fact 3: You are allowed to hit a 'naughty' child
we are told that Imams allowed children to be 'scolded' and this is the pretext for both Sunni and Shia madressahs to hit, abuse and denigrate children who don't play ball with madressah achievements and rules. Never in the history of scholarly Islam have we seen anybody advocating to protect children against hitting or psychological abuse. In fact the opposite! Yet in the UK we have seen organisations bringing to us the proof that hitting children is against their physical and emotional well-being. Until then I too followed what the scholars were saying to us in madressah teaching and I often found it difficult to discipline a child in school where the cane was banned. I tended to compromise by saying we have to obey the law of the land, but today I have realised how much it goes against the practice of the Prophet to hit children or to dismiss their needs, regardless of the circumstance. In fact the Prophet did not even allow animals to be hit. Furthermore, if Islam allows children to be hit then it shows how an authoritarian culture of domination is inflicted on our children and shows lack of understanding of why children will behave in the way they do. The scholar's Islam derived from books has many blind spots like this as they lack understanding of children's behaviour and of the true Islam of the Prophet as enshrined in the Quran and in his exemplary practice.