QURAN, HADITH: CAN YOU CHOOSE ONE WITHOUT THE OTHER?

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WHAT DOES THE QUR’AN MEAN by SAYING that it EXPLAINS ALL THINGS?
A Refutation of Westernized Pakistanis who Attack Hadith 

In 1861 a Christian missionary writer named William Muir wrote a book titled THE LIFE of MAHOMET in which he attacked Hadith. A famous Muslim scholar of the time, Sir Sayyid Ahmed Khan answered Muir in detail. Unfortunately Sir Sayyid was himself a great admirer of British power and was deeply overawed by the majesty of the British Empire. He gradually succumbed to Muir’s attack and started casting doubts on some segments of Hadith. Gradually he narrowed down the efficacy of Hadith to a very few aspects of life.

Through Sir Sayyid influence on westernized Indian Muslims, the attack on Hadith gradually entered the mentally defeated segment of what we today call the Pakistani elites or the Pakistani ruling class.

In 1896 a Jewish scholar named Goldziher launched a massive attack on Hadith in his publication Muhammedanische Studien. It was not translated into English until 1967 but in 1950, its major thesis was taken up and built on by another Jewish scholar Joseph Schacht in his book ORIGINS OF MUHAMMADAN JURISPRUDENCE.

Under the influence of Sir Sayyid, a number of writers under severe inferiority complex to the west emerged. The most important of these was Ghulam Ahmed Pervez who carried out systematic and scurrilous attacks on Hadith. His magazine Tolu-e-Islam, started in 1938, became a rallying point for anti-Hadith writings with a clear pro-government bias.

In the 1960s came Dr. Fazlur Rahman who carried out a more sophisticated attack on Hadith.
All these anti-Hadith efforts were tackled by scholars of various schools of Islamic thought in Pakistan. Abul Ala Maudoodi was the most famous of these but there were others whose rebuttal of the anti-Hadith people was more far reaching than his. [Maudoodi was too polite towards the attackers.]

The anti-Hadith people became irrelevant in Pakistan but they have found some support among Pakistanis in America. One of them has set up shop in Florida and attracted admirers by denouncing Imam Bukhari’s Sahih. A bunch of these characters are busy on the Internet abusing the Hadith under the slogan of “QUR’AN ONLY.” Every now and then I receive their emails.

I am willing to listen to any critique of the Hadith, and even of the Qur’an, if it is written in scholarly language and based on honest investigation. It should not take the shape of abuse, out of context listing of quotations and downright fabrication. The arrogance and deliberate efforts of these people to remove Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) leadership from Islam forced me to give them some of my valuable time.

IF THE QUR’AN CONTAINS EVERYTHING and HADITH IS NOT NEEDED ….

I pointed out that the QUR’AN DOES NOT MENTION RAPE. I asked the anti-Hadith people to give me chapter and verse from the Qur’an. What is rape, what is its punishment and how is this punishment to be implemented? Give chapter and verse. I sent my question to all the Pervaiz followers and other anti-Hadith people. They are unable to give chapter and verse.

So the Qur’an does not mention the punishment for rape. It’s given in Hadith. [My book LIBERATION of WOMEN THRU ISLAM is the only book in English which gives the Hadith on rape.] Qur’an and Hadith have always been together.
So let’s look at the verses of the Qur’an which are misused by the Pervaizi cult and other anti-Hadith people.

SURA 16 VERSE 89

This is one of the verses which the “Qur’an Only” cult [Pervaizis] keep repeating. They quote it as follows:
“We have sent down to thee the Book explaining all things.” [16:89]

Actually the whole verse is as follows:“On the Day we shall raise from all Peoples a witness against them, from amongst themselves: And we shall bring thee [O Muhammad] as a witness against these: And WE have sent down to thee the Book explaining all things, a Guide, a Mercy, and Glad Tidings to Muslims.”

[Note the extra-Qur’anic role of the Prophet, pbuh, as witness against his people. If Muslims are Muhammad’s, pbuh, people, then he, as leader through his teachings, is a witness against them till the Day of Judgement.]

NOW FOCUS ON THE WORDS “explaining all things” [“tibyaanal-li-kulli shay’in” in Arabic.] Does this mean that the Qur’an covers every possible issue and leaves nothing out, with emphasis on ALL? Other verses of the Qur’an indicate that this is an idiom which indicates that fundamental or generic issues of a great variety are covered. Seminal issues are covered. For instance, harshness towards women is forbidden, as in Sura Nisa. But it does not mean that EVERYTHING is in the Qur’an. Let’s understand this terminology from the Qur’an itself. For instance, about the Tablets or Commandments given to Moses, the Qur’an uses just about the same words:

“And we ordained for him in the Tablets in ALL MATTERS, admonition and EXPLANATION of ALL THINGS, (and said): “Take and hold these with firmness, and enjoin thy people to hold fast by the best in the precepts: Soon shall I show you the homes of the wicked.’ ” [7:145]
[The Arabic for the words I have put in capitals is “min kulli shay’in’ and “tafsillal-li-kulli shay.”]

Evidently ALL things could not possibly be written on explained on the Tablets. It is simply idiomatic expression for essentials and fundamentals.

Now focus on the word ALL [kull in Arabic]. Does it mean LITERALLY ALL and EVERYTHING in Arabic? Let’s see what the Qur’an says:

“And thy Lord taught the Bee to build its cells in hills, on trees, and in habitations: Then to eat of ALL [“kull’] of the fruits (of the earth) and follow the ways of thy Lord made smooth… [to the end of the verse]” [16:68-69]

Obviously the ALL here is idiomatic and not to be taken literally. No Bee can possibly eat of ALL the fruits, literally.

“And proclaim the Pilgrimage among men: they will come to thee on foot and on EVERY {“kull} camel lean, through deep and distant highways.” [22:27]


Again the EVERY camel has to be idiomatic. It cannot be taken literally to mean that every possible camel will be ridden by the pilgrims!

In the story of the Queen of Sheba (known as Bilqis), the Hoopoe says:

“I found a woman ruling over them and provided with EVERY THING {“kull sha’yi”}, and she has a magnificent throne.” [27:23]
Evidently Bilqis did not LITERALLY have every thing. It is an idiom to indicate that she has all the fundamental riches of the world.

To conclude this section, the Qur’an includes ALL the fundamental and seminal issues which humanity needs but there are many important things not in it which were taught by the Prophet (pbuh.) [Also, once Qur’an and Hadith are understood they can be used as basis for Islamic understanding, BUT BOTH do not cover many things for which ijtihad, qiyas, and many other forms of reasoning are needed.]

The Hadith of the Prophet (pbuh) explain how Muhammad (pbuh) understood and implemented the verses of the Qur’an. Everything he taught is as much a part of Islam as is anything in the Qur’an.Rape was defined and punished by the Prophet (pbuh) and he also indicated that the woman’s word be accepted and the man be punished after proper investigation. It’s in the Hadith, NOT in the Qur’an.

Excerpt from an article by: by Kaukab Siddique, PhD

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About Kaukab Siddique PhD

Professor of English, World Literature and Journalism at Lincoln University. Research specialization in Women and Islam

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