Part One: ‘Amal
What we want to look at is not a specific piece of information. It is not that we want to examine the hadith or we want to examine what happened in the construction of the Muwatta’, for example. What we want to see, first of all, is what we might perceive as the first construct, the first understanding of what the total Islamic reality was. Kitab wa Sunna, the Book of Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, and the Sunna of Rasulallah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa salim. And we want to observe in the natural, inevitable, inescapable evolution of the Muslim Community and its intellectual apparatuses, how the Muslims’ perception of their own fundamental foundational reality, in the Book and the Sunna, altered and changed, in both their perception of it and in their method of deriving it, rather than some suggestion that the Sunna changed or a different version took place. We would find in these changes that in the process of change certain details went to the wall, certain details got crushed, certain things changed emphasis. But what we want to do in the end of the day is to find out, perceive, be conscious of, the relationship between the basic methodology, from which the Muslims derived their fundamental knowledge of the Book and the Sunna, and its inevitable connection with the political power reality of the time. So, (to start at the end before we get to the beginning) we would say that we will perceive that the’aqida, both from the point of view of kalam, from the point of view of the method by which the ‘ulama’ make their statements, and the power structure itself of an amir with a government, with an army, with judges who can hold and bind and punish and intimidate, that this political structure is wedded inexorably to this dynamic, live machinery of the methodology of Islam.
In other words, correctly speaking, in Islam there is no way you can separate the power elite from a chosen ideological position of what will be the character, identity, the method, the nature of the Islamic phenomenon in its root form.
The great historical example of this we would take as the Islam in Spain at the time of the Murabitun, of the people of Ibn Tashfin; that Islam having its foundation in the school of the ‘amal of the Ahl al-Madinah while at the same time having its political connection to the rule of government in the East. The arrival of the Muwahhidun, was headed by Ibn Tumart, who, to take power, presented himself as a Mahdi having access to a book which contained esoteric knowledge, which he said he derived from the Ahl al-Bayt and from Sayyiduna ‘Ali. And with it came this ideological heavyweight who was Imam al-Ghazzali. The Ghazzali position became a dominant factor. It was not particularly in relation to the sufic phenomenon, but it was Imam al-Ghazzali in his role as the one who presented a view of kalam, of the ‘how-you-talk-about’ Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, and what is now known as the Ash’ari position. The Ash’ari kalam talks about Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, in terms of necessary attributes, the mother attributes, the acts of Allah, the attributes of Allah, and the essence of Allah, and so on and so on … and later is the formula which becomes popularized right down to the time of Ibn ‘Ashir where he divides the deen into the kalam of Ash’ari, the fiqh of Malik, and the tasawwuf of Imam Junayd.
So, this whole trend comes by a change in political leadership. Equally, one could write a history of the Azhar University and its fiqh and you will find that the absolute basis of the deen was radically redefined according to whether the Fatimis were there, or whether the dynasties were there, or whether the Uthmaniyya were there, or whether the English and the French were there, or, and we will complete it by saying, whether the Americans and Israelis were there. And you will find that with every change in the political structure, the very foundations of the deen were redefined in harmony with the political reality.
Now, since everyone says today that the Muslims have been defeated, that there is nowhere an Islamic government, there is nowhere a country governing by Kitab wa Sunna. Although many express and confirm the formula theoretically of Kitab wa Sunna, every common Muslim on the hajj from every country complains to you that in his country it is not the case.
We will also find on examination, and this is still the end of the affair, before we come to the beginning, that the current regimes of the Muslims – whatever one wants to say about them politically – have a common, dominant concept of the foundations of the deen. There is a common ideological position that has been taught from Indonesia to the Maghrib. There are certain basics that are accepted and, within that, there are some more radical and some less radical. There is a conservative dimension that is presented with certain characteristics, and there is a radical, modernist dimension that presents itself with other characteristics. And these two aspects, the modernist and the highly traditional dominant school, are in uncomfortable and often intellectually contradictory cohabitation. Whatever this ‘aqida and this foundational basis and this methodology is, has to be examined in the light of the plight and the dilemma of the Muslims today in their passivity, acquiescence and inability to establish the deen in terms of a functioning shari’a with an activated fiqh.
What we want to look at will take us from this primal material directly to the situation today with the proposition that if one wishes an activist Islam, of people of Kitab wa Sunna, founded on the Book of Allah and the Sunna of Rasulallah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa salim, and accepting the Khulafa’ ar-Rashidun and the Salaf as our model, and Madina as its place, then we need to know what we would require to activate the living Islam.
We find that Zayd ibn Thabit said:
“When you see the people of Madinah doing something, know that it is a Sunna.”
“There were men from the people of knowledge among the Tabi’un who reported certain hadiths which had been conveyed to them from others and they said, ‘We are not ignorant of this, but the ‘amal is other than it.'”
So here Imam Malik, radiya’llahu ‘anhu, is making a statement of enormous importance which cannot be dismissed by someone today; it cannot be ignored because it is Imam Malik who said it, and we will speak more about Imam Malik himself and his importance, but for the minute we will stay intellectually with the concept that we are not interested in being a school. We are talking about identifying how the Sunna is recognised, passed on, kept alive in the first recorded phase of the process, after the earliest stage of the Rasulallah, salla’llahu ‘alayhi wa salim, and the Khulafa’ ar-Rashidun.
Ibn al-Mu’adhdhal said,
“I heard a man ask Ibn al-Majishun, – who was a student of Imam Malik -‘Why did you relate the hadith and then leave it?'”He said, ‘It is so that it will be known that we left it with knowledge.'”
It is that we left the hadith with knowledge of its existence. This refers to the fact that an action was being followed which had more weight than the text.
Now, on this simple statement hangs the destiny of foundational knowledge of Islam and how it was perceived by a series of communities through the first stages of time after the Tabi’in and the Tabi’in of the Tabi’in. The transformation of this consciousness is so radical and so deep that we find a highly developed stage of Islamic society later utterly unable to grasp this concept and unable to conceive the underlying thesis from which it is made; and also the political necessity to redefine that position from being Kitab wa Sunna, to being in fact the specific, idiosyncratic, private version of how things are, of a school based on a man along with other schools based on other men, each having contradictory and conflicting elements and versions of one reality, so that the people later logically say, “Why are there these differences when there is one Sunna, there cannot be four, and therefore we will prefer the Sunna to these,” the implication being, “These people do not embody the Sunna and the Sunna itself is the hadith.” But the hadith is the text and the Sunna is the behaviour.
Let us pull back again from this: I have to reiterate because it is so simple, and at the same time it has managed to cause a complete transformation in the consciousness of the Muslims over a period of time.
“I prefer a thousand taking from a thousand over one taking from one, because one from one can strip of the Sunna out of your hands.”
So here again in the earliest stage, there is a political, an existential concept, that seems to have in it some deep underlying sanity which is that a thousand people can be relied upon to protect one action, but that one person relating from another person will make the thing vanish. This perception, in time, will be turned round so that a thousand taking from a thousand will be put forward as utterly unreliable, whereas the written text, from one passed to one, will be considered verification.
What one has to ask is whether it is in fact a primitive methodology being supplanted by a sophisticated methodology, or whether it is a political psychology altering its focus from one kind of man, with one kind of integrity, confirmed civically, giving way to a scholar who has a piece of paper which he passed on in a ritualised, systematised manner to another person, and that becomes a validation of everything. In other words, we have moved from politically free man, now mistrusted, to the private bureaucrat who does not trust but insists on total acceptance. But we are anticipating…
Ibn Abi Uways said:
“I heard Malik say, ‘This knowledge is the deen, so look to the one from whom you take it. I have met seventy people who said, “The Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa salim, said … ” within those pillars – and he pointed to the pillars inside the mosque of Madinah – and I did not take anything from them. Had one of them been entrusted with a treasury, he would have been trustworthy. But they were not the people of this business.'”
Yahya ibn ‘Abdullah said to Abu Zur’a:
“This is not zaza’a from zawba’a; this is not turbulence taking it from the whirlwind; you remove the veil and you look at the Messenger, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa salim, with his Companions in his presence: Malik from Nafi’ from Ibn ‘Umar.”
“This is not,”(-and he makes names which deliberately make a mockery of the concept of Islam.) “This is not zaza’a from zawba’a; this is not turbulence taking from the whirlwind.” (He said, that what this is is that) – you remove the veil and you are looking directly at the Rasulallah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa salim, with the Sahaba, in his presence.”
And what is that? It is from Malik who heard it from Nafi’ who had it from Ibn ‘Umar, a hadith, directly.
So we are talking about an intimacy of place, an intimacy of time, and a nobility of person that means qualitatively that the heart of the matter is utterly incontrovertible, confirmed and without any doubt whatsoever. Now, this quality, that has been mentioned by Yahya ibn ‘Abdullah in his conversation with Abu Zur’a, and this very high spiritual criterion which has been set by Malik, are on a different level from what we will later find is the very underlying principle which confirms Islam in the later methodology. The confirming factor of the isnad would become that the man could be entrusted with a treasury; but the confirming factor of Malik is that while he could be entrusted with a treasury, that is not the point; he would also know what it meant to transmit the hadith, to pass it from one to another.
There was a consciousness of process, but this consciousness of process was to be existential, direct and verifiable from man to man, neither with an intermediary textual process nor any intermediary textual apparatus.
Now, Abu Dawud said:
“The soundest transmission of hadith from the Messenger of Allah, salla’llahu ‘alayhi wa salim, is from Malik from Nafi’ from Ibn ‘Umar. Then Malik from az-Zuhri from Salim from his father. Then Malik from Abu’z-Zinad from al-A’raj from Abu Hurayra.”
The point being that in these three or four steps you are right in the Madina of the Messenger, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa salim, with the Sahaba. It’s what the earliest speaker said, “It is as if the veil were lifted and you were there.”
This has to be borne in mind because we are coming to something so different. You are going to see this primal comprehension swept aside to be replaced with something of a very different nature.
“‘Umar ibn al-Khattab was tested with these things and he did not answer them.” Ibn az-Zubayr said, “I do not know.” Ibn ‘Umar said, “I do not know.”
Here again Malik, who was famous for saying, “I do not know” in questions of fiqh, was not doing this out of some idiosyncrasy, he was doing it out of an understanding of precisely what he wanted to preserve. And what he wanted to preserve was the minimal, inescapable, necessary, obligatory process by which legal judgements would be passed, that would involve punishments, withholdings and grantings. So, his “I do not know” indicated a judgement in law, that to throw out the case was in itself a libertarian concept. He could have taken another way of dealing with the matter which came to him as a faqih. In his fiqh he could have said, “I have not got a basis, but I will make a decision.” But he looked and saw nothing in the essential matter of what had to be preserved in the Qur’an, the Sunna, and what came before him, and rather than interposing his personal viewpoint, he would throw it out of court and say, “I do not know.” So that non-judgement, not reaching a judgement, was an absolute pillar of his social justice and his political method.
Now, the implications of this are that when Malik, in al-Muwatta’, says that he does think something, then the weight of that has to be taken into account with enormous gravity because his not knowing is in itself a Sunna derived from ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab. We are now gauging the quality and the flavour and the identity of one methodology before we come to look at another.
Ibn Mahdi said:
“When you see that the Hijazi loves Malik ibn Anas, know that he is one with the Sunna. When you see someone carping at him, know that he is the opposite.”
So if someone finds fault with Malik ibn Anas, he is someone who is opposing the Sunna. So when we hear today, in this place, that someone who presents himself as an Islamic leader criticises Malik ibn Anas, then Ibn Mahdi, this noble man from the Salaf, says, “When you find such a person, know that he is opposing the Sunna.” So it seems that this way is either confirmed or it is rejected. And to reject it, is to reject the Sunna. Let us go further.
“Malik went to the mosque one day and he was leaning on my hand. A man called Abu Turayda, who was suspected of being misguided, met him and said to Malik, ‘Abu ‘Abdullah! Listen to something from me. I want to speak to you about it and argue with you and tell you what my opinion is.'”Malik said to him, ‘Be careful I do not testify against you.’
“He said, ‘By Allah, I only want the truth. Listen: if it is correct, say yes or speak.’
“And Malik said, ‘If you defeat me?’
“He said, ‘Then you follow me.’
“Malik said, ‘And if I defeat you?’
“He said, ‘Then I will follow you.’
“Malik said, ‘And if a man comes and speaks to us and defeats both of us?’
“He said, ‘We will follow him.’
“Malik said, ‘Abu Turayda, Allah sent Muhammad, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa salim, with the deen and I see you moving. I see you shifting.’ ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdu’l-‘Aziz said, “Whoever makes his deen a target for conflict has moved away from it.” There is no argument about anything in the deen. Hypocrisy and argument in knowledge remove the light of iman from the heart of the slave.'”
And is that, Abu Turayda’s position, not the position of the modernists?
Now look at this other aspect:
Abu Talib al-Makki said:
“Malik was the furthest of people from the school of the mutakallimun, and the strongest of them in hatred for the Iraqis, and the firmest of them in the Sunna of the Salaf among the Companions and the Tabi’un.”
Now, here three things have been mentioned: That he was the furthest from the schools of mutakallimun, and this relates to the last, of course, that he was the nearest to the Sunna of the Salaf among the Companions and the Tabi’un; that is, by his correct, dynastic relationship with the Qur’an, and by the impeccable path that he had taken out of the Sunna of salla’llahu ‘alayhi wa salim, in its absolute certainty, which the previous story demonstrates; and that involved also what is referred to here as hatred for the Iraqis. Now, it is very well-known that Iraq was a place from which controversy and trouble came because, of course, part of the first fitna took place and was based precisely in Iraq. Also all the concepts and new ideas, and all the invasion of ideas from the East and from Iran came into Iraq to make all the trouble, uncertainty and intellectual insecurity in the new Muslim community.
Malik’s freedom from all this was based on this correct relationship that he had to the Sunna. Now, again, to clarify, we are not talking about the leader of a madhhab. We are talking about the most important Imam of the Muslims, as the guardian of the Sunna, living in its place, al-Madina al-Munawwara.
Malik’s book, al-Muwatta’, is the corner-stone of this knowledge and there is a story that the khalif said to Malik:
“Let me take your Muwatta’ and put it in the Ka’ba, or on top of the Ka’ba, and let me declare that that is to be the book that governs all the Muslims,”- and according to this story, Imam Malik said – “No, because there were different people in different places, and different riwayats, and it would not be correct to make one dominate all the others,” or words to that effect.
Now, various things have been said about this story. One is that it is true and he did not want to impose this on all the people. But a deeper thing has been said; and that is that Imam Malik could never, since he had the truth or the Sunna, as it has been expressed here, compromise it with anything other than it, because he has indicated that there is no room, in the matter of the Sunna, to debate or for discussion. In al-Muwatta’ it is absolutely clear that the foundational evidence is non-negotiable, and then where he gives his views, it is clearly stated as his statement and his view, separate from what is the Sunna. Nevertheless, his statement and his view has to be given that high place due to him as the Imam who has founded everything that he says on this knowledge. Therefore, it is unthinkable that he would deny the very foundation that he had spent a lifetime establishing in the creation of the Muwatta’.
Deeper even than this is that statement of Shaykh Nayfar who said:
“Look, if Imam Malik had said to the Khalif, ‘You may make this book the statutory book of law for all of the Muslims,’ it would have become the ideological book of the regime. It would have been in the hands of other fuqaha’ outside of the influence of Imam Malik, to take the book, to play with it, and from it derive whatever judgements the regime wanted at the expense of the veracity of the basic material. In other words, if this book was the book, then they could say, when they did something that people opposed. ‘But this is the regime of Imam Malik’s Muwatta’.’ He would have given his authority, his legal authority to the regime, but he considered that what was in the Muwatta’was in itself an active critical judgement of any regime that presented itself historically.”
This is the point of view of Shaykh ash-Shadhili an-Nayfar, who is the master of knowledge of the ‘amal of the Ahl al-Madinah in our time.
A man asked Malik:
“Who are the people of the Sunna, Abu ‘Abdullah?” (All of this, remember, is defining the primal Islamic position in its first stage of identifying itself, following the rule of the Khulafa’ ar-Rashidun) “Who are the people of the Sunna, Abu ‘Abdullah?”And he replied, “Those who do not have a title by which they are known. Not a Jahmi, not a Rafidi, not a Qadiri.”
And we will say, by obvious logical extension, not a Maliki, not a Hanbali, not a Shafi’i, not a Hadithi … not a Jami’at al-Islamiyya, or Ikhwan al-Muslimeen, not anyone who held any name that identified himself, separating himself from the Muslims, because we also know that Malik, radiya’llahu ‘anhu, said,
“Anyone who calls himself by any name other than a Muslim, has made a bid’a on the deen. ” (here he has categorically defined it. He went further and also said) “All the people of sects are kuffar. “
The implication of this is that the Islamic body, the jama’a of the Muslims, the community of the Muslims, have only one path, and that it is a civic pattern under an Amir governed by the Shari’a.
And we will see that that has conditions, without which that statement itself would not be true, because Amirate is not simply a matter of giving someone a title. It is a commitment to this primal position that is Islam in its full definition. Malik said:
“Knowledge is not by a lot of riwayat. Knowledge is a light which Allah places in them.”
By saying this, Malik blocks the road to the creation of an elite who took their authority and their position as an elite from their superior educated methodology of access to hadith by riwayat rather than a totally integrated human being in whose heart Allah had put a light.
Malik also said:
“The adab of Allah is the Qur’an” (courtesy, the transaction of the manners of Allah, is the Qur’an ) “The adab of the Messenger, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa salim, is the Sunna. The adab of the Salihun is the Fiqh.”
And here Malik, in that quintessential way, proving that the great statements of Islam can be made very simply, has indicated the basic triad on which Islam must be built. The adab of Allah is the Qur’an. The adab of the Messenger, salla’llahu ‘alayhi wa salim, is the Sunna. The adab of the Salihun is the fiqh.
So you will go from knowledge of the Qur’an to knowledge of the Sunna and directly to fiqh, directly to the functioning justice system. And the functioning justice system can only take place by the primal creation of an Amir who upholds that law and gives due place to the fuqaha’.
The second term of the triad is the Sunna. And we must understand this is the crucial dimension which has to be recovered and saved if we are not to lose the very thing that Malik is indicating. Because what Malik means by Sunna is behaviour – and we can now go to the Arabic language and remember that Sunna is synonymous with ‘amal: Sunna is action, and ‘amal is behaviour. Hadith is synonymous with athar, text, traces, documents. It is not synonymous with action in the language of man.
Ibn Mahdi said:
“There is no book after the Book of Allah, which is more beneficial for people, than the Muwatta’.”
Imam ash-Shafi’i said:
“There is no book of knowledge on the earth more correct than the book of Malik.”
Now, any book coming after it, any collection of hadith coming after this, would not displace Malik’s book from its primacy after the Qur’an al-Karim, because its prior position and its author and its place and its evidences place it above anything that would come, historically, after it. It cannot be displaced by anything coming after it and nothing can be more correct than it, when anything coming after it is dependent on it for isnad.
Sa’d al-Qurashi said:
“His hadith “- (Imam Malik’s, clearly stated) -“there is not one who rejects them in the entire universe.”
Now the asanid of the hadith of Malik were written, so even by the methodology that involved correcting hadith, the asanid and the hadith of Malik were written by Qadis – by Qadi Isma’il, Abu’l-Qasim al-Jawhari, Qasim ibn Asbah, Abu’l-Hasan al-Qabisi, Abu Dharr al-Harawi, Abu Bakr al-Qubab, Abu’l-Hasan ‘Ali ibn Khalaf, as-Sijilmasi, al-Matriz, Abu ‘Abdullah al-Jizi, Ahmad ibn Fahzad al-Farisi, Qadi Abu Mufarrij, Ibn al-A’rabi, Muhammad ibn Shurush as-Sa’ani, ‘Abdu’r-Rahman an-Nasa’i, Abu Muhammad ibn ‘Adi al-Jurjani, Ahmad ibn Ibrahim Jami’ as-Sakawi, Ibn ‘Ufayr, Abu ‘Abdullah as-Sirraj an-Nisapuri, Abu’l-‘Arab at-Tamimi, Abu Bakr ibn Ziyad an-Nisapuri, Abu Hafs ibn Shahin, ‘Abdu’l-‘Aziz ibn Salama, Abu’l-Qasim al-Andalusi, Abu ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdu’l-Barr, Qadi Ibn Mufarrij, and Muhammad ibn ‘Ishun at-Tutaytili. Ibn Habib and Muslim have a work on the subject of Malik’s shuyukh.
This is just to show that even within the later tradition, an enormous research was done on the asanid of the hadith of Imam Malik. Let us go further into the theme that we have been following. That was in reference to the Muwatta’. Now let us go back to Imam Malik.
One of the governors of Madinah said to Malik:
“Why do you not dye as your companions dye?” – (Why do you not henna the beard?)Malik replied, “Is that all you have left of justice, that I dye my beard?”
This is not an ordinary story of noble character. It is that if you take the Sunna – the living from the living – you will automatically know what is important and what is not important. If you take the Sunna from texts, every text that is authenticated has the same weight because it is the Sunna and it is on paper. So, the fact that you will give justice to a widow in her legal claim, or to the poor man, and to assess whether the man has stolen and should be cut, or whether he has stolen and should be forgiven, takes the same weight on paper as whether the beard is dyed.
Imam Malik is not simply demonstrating nobility of character, he is rejecting a point of view about knowledge of the Sunna of Rasulallah, salla’llahu ‘alayhi wa salim; he insists that you must follow the way of the fiqh and not the way of the report by which the Sunna of the behaviour is given the same status as the Sunna of justice. It is by this that we have today the people who are immaculately groomed, according to the Sunna, in their dress, in how they sit, in how they greet, in how they speak to each other, and who are not paying zakat, which is a fard of the deen, and the zakat cannot be collected without an Amir who appoints a zakat collector. According to the obligation, a zakat collector must have it in his character to collect the zakat and for this he must be appointed. Because if the man does not pay the zakat then the process has to be completed according to the Shari’a.
This is the politics of Malik fighting in Madinah for what has been totally lost and totally abandoned in this century.
“Ibrahim ibn Yahya al-‘Abbasi, the amir of Madina, came to Malik on a camel while Malik was young. Malik remained in his seat and did not make room for the Amir of Madina. Ibrahim sat on the small part of the rug left by Malik. Malik did not move while Ibrahim spoke for an hour. And then he said to him, ‘What do you say, Abu ‘Abdullah, about the one in ihram who kills a louse?'”Malik said, ‘He does not kill it.’
“Ibrahim said, ‘He killed it. What is its fidya?’
” Malik said, ‘He does not do it.’
“He said, ‘He did it!’
“Malik said, ‘He does not do it.’
“The Amir said, ‘I tell you that he did it and you say, “He does not do it”!’
“Malik replied, ‘Yes’.”
Ibrahim got up in a fury. Malik remained silent for an hour and then turned to his students and said, “They want to play with the deen. The fidya is for the one who kills it unintentionally.”
So here is the pattern. And here is what can only be recovered by taking this position.
‘Abdu’l-Malik ibn al-Majishun said:
“A man of the people of Iraq asked Malik about the sadaqa of the habous, and he said, ‘When there is full and exclusive possession, it is carried out.'”The Iraqi said, ‘Shurayh says that there is no habous in the Book of Allah.’
“Malik laughed – and he did not laugh often – and then he said, ‘May Allah have mercy on Shurayh! He does not know what the Companions of Rasulallah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa salim, did here in Madinah.'”
This is the value structure of primal Islam in the hands of men of knowledge and it was to be replaced by something totally different in nature and identity which went along with a politique and society of a totally different nature.
Abu Mus’ab said:
“Abu Yusuf said to Malik, ‘Do you give the adhan with tarji’ – (that is, repeating the shahada in a loud voice after saying in a low voice) – when you do not have anything from a hadith on it?'”
So here the matter is open in the time of Imam Malik. It is not something that emerged later.
And Malik turned to him and said:
“Subhanallah! – Glory be to Allah! I have never seen anything more extraordinary than this! It is called out in front of witnesses five times every day. And the sons have inherited it from their fathers from the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa salim, until this very day, and he needs so-and-so from so-and-so in it! This is much more sound in our view than the hadith.”
Ibn Qayyim said:
“The walls, the places and the areas have no effect in the preference of statements.” – (and by saying that he rejected all, everything). – “The walls, the places and the areas have no effect in the preference of statements.”
Qadi ‘Iyad gave his famous answer which completely obliterates this superficial observation:
“Madinah is not esteemed for its houses or for its streets, but for the presence of the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa salim, in it and his Companions.”
Abu Hurayra, radiya’llahu ‘anhu, from the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa salim, said:
“There are angels on the roads of Madina.”
And ‘A’isha, radiya’llahu ‘anha, relates that sallallahu ‘alayhi wa salim, said:
“The cities were opened up with the swords,” (-and in brackets we should mention that this is now denied by the modernists who have adopted another methodology-) “The cities were opened up with the swords and Madinah was opened with the Qur’an.”
Again the implication of this is that in Madinah you have the city opened by the Qur’an, because the Qur’an was sent down in it and therefore the co-habitation and nearness and intimacy and harmony between the Qur’anic revelations and their meanings and their legal judgments and the Sunna of Rasulallah, salla’llahu ‘alayhi wa salim, and the legal judgements of the Khulafa’ ar-Rashidun that followed in Madinah, were in the closest intimate harmony in a world that did not exist anywhere else.
Ibn ‘Umar said:
“When a sedition occurs, if people would only refer the business to the people of Madinah, and if they agree on something,” (- that is, they do it -) “then the business would be put right. But when a dog barks, the people follow.”
Now let us look at the record with quite simple, pragmatic, human understanding, and let us apply it within our own context of understanding the human situation because Malik looked at the proximity and the intimacy and the nearness of this affair.
Malik ibn Anas ibn Malik ibn Abi ‘Amir al-Asbahi. His great grandfather, Abu ‘Amir al-Asbahi, was a Companion of Rasulallah, salla’llahu ‘alayhi wa salim. His grandfather Malik was one of the great Tabi’un. He died in 112 hijra, and related from ‘Umar, Talha, ‘A’isha, Abu Hurayra and Hassan ibn Thabit, and he participated in the burial of Sayyiduna ‘Uthman, the third of the Khulafa’ ar-Rashidun, radiya’llahu ‘anhu.
Everybody, almost everybody, remembers and has a very distinct experience of his own grandfather. And that grandfather in turn talked of his father, and that is a shared experience in every family, where there is survival, to such an extent that I can transmit the ordinary hadith and the sunna of my grandfather, and I know stories that were told about his parents. This is common, especially where there is continuity between generations in a place. If there is movement from a place to a place, some of this gets lost, but where there is continuity in a place, this passing on is known. It is known to the human being, it cannot be denied. When it is in a town of the size of al-Madinah al-Munawwara, which is like a small, medium-sized town of today, if you have generations, if you have the father, the grandfather, the great-grandfather there, you have a clear record. You have a civic confirmation.
As the matter is in fact the total opening of the final revelation of the final revelation of the last religion that Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, has given to mankind, and everybody in Madinah knows that what is common there is not only for them, but for the whole world, that what salla’llahu ‘alayhi wa salim said and did had co-existent importance with the revelation of the Qur’an as part of this new religion, and that the transmission of actions and knowledges are part of the living process, and error in it is most grievous, is not this the most vivid, absolutely clear means by which we have in front of us the total process in its best form? So that if we have that record, nothing that comes after it is going to have this flavour, because what we find is that not only do we know what the Sunna is and have statements as well as actions of Rasulallah, salla’llahu ‘alayhi wa salim, and of the Sahaba, and the Tabi’un and the Tabi’i’t-Tabi’in, but also that we have the qualitative taste of active political awareness, as opposed to a people who consider that primal participation to be in the hands of an elite whose expertise is a document in paper and ink. So that we go from a people who are counted, when they come to a place, by the swords they leave in the courtyard, to a people counted by the pens that they leave in the mosque courtyard when they record the hadith of the muhaddithun.
When Imam Muslim arrived in the city, it is described that so many thousands of inkpots were there. But when these other people gathered at a gathering it was recorded in the literature of the time that so many thousands of swords were in the courtyard. This is the qualitative political difference that we find.
Imam Malik was born in 93 hijra in Madinah and died in 179 hijra. He married Fatima, and his sons were Yahya, Muhammad, and Hammad. When Malik lived in Madinah, all the knowledge of the epoch was there. Malik related from 900 or more shuyukh. He wrote down 100,000 hadiths with his own hand. Included among those from whom he related, were 900 Tabi’in and Tabi’i’t-Tabi’in like his father. And he learnt from the whole city of Madinah.
Some of the shaykhs who taught Malik in turn related from him; you see, as his status manifested itself, they in turn would take from him because of the high quality that he very quickly manifested as a young man in his work in Madina.
The teachers of Malik from Madina are: Muhammad ibn Muslim ibn ‘Ubaydullah ibn Shihab az-Zuhri, he was a Tabi’i; Abu’l-Aswad, Tabi’i; Ayyub ibn Abi Tamima as-Sakhtiyani, Tabi’i; Rabi’a ibn Abi ‘Abdu’r-Rahman, Tabi’i; Musa ibn ‘Uqba, Tabi’ ; Abu Muhammad al-Hasan ibn Isma’il ad-Darrab, Tabi’i; Hisham ibn ‘Urwa, Tabi’i; Zayd ibn Aslam, Tabi’i; Yazid ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Qusayt al-Laythi, Tabi’i; ‘Amr ibn al-Harith al-Misri, Tabi’t-Tabi’in; Zayd ibn Abi Unaysa al-Jazari, Tabi’t-Tabi’in; Nafi’ ibn al-Qari’ ibn Abi Nu’aym, Tabi’t-Tabi’in; Muhammad ibn ‘Ajlan, Tabi’t-Tabi’in ; Yazid ibn ‘Ubaydullah ibn Usama ibn al-Hadi, Tabi’t-Tabi’in; ‘Abdu’l-Malik ibn Jurayh, Tabi’t-Tabi’in; Muhammad ibn Ishaq, the companion of al-Maghazi, Tabu’t-Tabi’in; Muhammad ibn Ishaq al-Madani, Tabi’t-Tabi’in; Sulayman ibn Mahran al-A’mash, Tabi’t-Tabi’in.
All the shaykhs of Malik were from Madina except for six: Abu’z-Zubayr from Makka, Tabi’i ; Hamid at-Tawil from Basra, Tabi’i; Ayyub as-Sakhtiyani from Basra, Tabi’i; ‘Ata’ ibn Abi Muslim from Khorasan, Tabi’i; ‘Abdu’l-Karim al-Jazari from Jazira, Tabi’i; Ibrahim ibn Abala from Syria, Tabi’i.
And so also we should bear in mind that this meant that while Malik took from Madinah he was perfectly aware of what there was to know taken from Makka, from Basra, from Syria. From Imam Malik, and now we are talking about Imam Malik as the Imam of the Muslims, as the Imam of the Muslim Community, as the Imam of the Umma in its spiritual and political capital of Madinah, his scholars went out over the Muslim world. They spread.
Now we look at just the most important of this enormous range of people, of great scholars who came from Malik. We are now seeing that this knowledge spread out. It is not something that is in a little corner. We are not talking about madhhabs, we are talking about Islam, Book and Sunna. This primal knowledge which we have been examining in this time now goes out from Madinah. Inside Madinah are: al-Mughira ibn ‘Abdu’r-Rahman al-Makhzumi, first generation; Nafi’ ibn ‘Abdu’r-Rahman ibn Nu’aym Hurmuz, the Qari’ who is the Imam Nafi’ of the riwayat Warsh of the Qur’an; ‘Abdu’l-Malik ibn ‘Abdu’l-‘Aziz ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Abi Salma, who is a second generation student; Musa ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Mus’ab ibn Thabit ibn ‘Abdullah, second generation; Harun ibn ‘Abdullah az-Zuhri, third generation in Madinah. Thus, three generations in Madinah.
In Yemen, Yahya ibn Thabit, first generation. In the Hijaz, Muhammad ibn Idris ash-Shafi’i, second generation. In Iraq and the East, ‘Abdullah ibn al-Mubarak, first generation; ‘Abdullah ibn al-Mu’adhdhal, first generation; ‘Abdullah ibn Maslama ibn Qa’nab at-Tamimi, second generation; ‘Abdu’r-Rahman ibn Mahdi ibn Hassan al-‘Anbari, second generation; Muhammad ibn ‘Umar ibn Waqid al-Waqidi, second generation.
Remember he was teaching over this long period of time through four generations.
In Syria, Abu Mushir ‘Abdu’l-A’la ibn Mushir al-Ghassani, second generation. In Egypt, ‘Ali ibn Ziyad al-Iskandari, first generation. Asbagh ibn al-Faraj ibn Sa’id ibn Nafi’, first generation. Abu ‘Amr Al-Harith ibn Miskin, first generation. And the important ‘Abdullah ibn Wahb ibn Muslim al-Qurayshi who was quoted very much, second generation. Abu ‘Amr Ash-hab, second generation. Al-Mutaddal ibn Fadala, second generation.
In North Africa, and this is very important because the teaching went west. What you have to understand is that the main body of Islam, the Islam that we have been talking about, did not go east to Nishapur, it did not go north to Iraq. It went west. Islam went to Africa. This is the historical fact that was obliterated by the power-structure which followed.
In North Africa, ‘Abdullah ibn Ghanim, the Qadi, first generation. ‘Ali ibn Ziyad at-Tunisi al-Absi, first generation.
Remember all these people are people Qadi ‘Iyad gave very special preference to because of their noble qualities. People known, historically important and miskin , and among the great teachers of this primal Islam.
Al-Bahlul ibn Rashid, first generation; Abu Muhammad ‘Abdullah ibn Farukh al-Farisi, first generation; ‘Abdu’r-Rahman ibn al-Qasim al-‘Atqi, first generation; Abu Sa’id Sahnun ibn Sa’id ibn Habib at-Tanukhi, first generation; Muhammad ibn Sahnun, second generation; Ahmad ibn Mu’attib ibn Abi’l-Azhar, third generation.
Remember, all this knowledge of Islam is what came to Andalusia. Remember also that before the Murabitun were:
Ziyad ibn ‘Abdu’r-Rahman, first generation. ‘Abdu’l-Malik ibn Habib, first generation. Yahya ibn Ma’mar ibn ‘Imran ibn Matays ibn ‘Ubayd, first generation. Muhammad ibn Bashir al-Qadi, second generation. Yahya ibn Yahya al-Laythi, third generation. And from al-Laythi comes the most famous riwayat of al-Muwatta’ , which is the one everyone follows by preference. Muhammad ibn Waddah ibn Bazi’, third generation.
So this is the picture of this primal Islam which we see going from Madina and spreading in all directions, because the teachers from Malik went to the north, they went into Iran. Iran was Maliki, and when I say Maliki I mean following Imam Malik. Please recognise this distinction. And this teaching essentially went to Africa, went to Egypt, and from Egypt it moved, most importantly, to Qayrawan. And Qayrawan became the citadel of this knowledge. It moved to Morocco and of course, it later went with Ibn Tashfin into Andalusia again. From its first experience it was revitalised and made dynamic again with the coming of the Murabitun. But by this time something else had happened. And that something else, insha’llah, we will look at next. How this became submerged and something else took its place.
In none of this must anyone say that I am rejecting the hadith. What is at issue here is not the confirmation of the hadith or rejection of the hadith . In all of this we are exploring these matters as people of Ahl as-Sunna wa’l-Jama’a, that we basically accept the Schools, we all accept the hadith literature because we accept the position that the Muslims are in today. What we are now doing is looking at methodology in order, first of all, to find that path which will give us the most pure and correct following of the Book of Allah and the Sunna of Rasulullah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa salim. No one can say that that in itself is anything but good.
Secondly and most importantly, by doing that, we are looking for that trigger mechanism that will turn Islam into natural Islamic activism as opposed to the passive lip service that is now paid to very vital concepts so that they are never embodied in the political sphere and are never embodied in the teaching process and are never embodied in the creation of a just society which is what Islam was created for. In all of this we have to remember that these developments brought with them benefits and also, as is the way with things in growth, brought with them difficulties. Islam has always cyclically gone back to its sources to rejuvenate itself and revitalise itself to revive the deen , so that the role of reviving the deen is imposed on the Muslim when he finds his deen in need of revival. And the only way is to go back. So all we are doing is that thing which will strenghten our deen . It is not to call anyone kafir or non-Muslim, but to find what will save them from the kufr that will follow if we do not take on Islam to the limits of our understanding, let alone of our capacity.
So next let us look at the later methodology that overthrew this and redefined it and changed its character and changed its identity until it was almost invisible, so that now it is considered criminal or something making division among the Muslims. And the result of this very clinical examination will in fact produce the most volatile and dynamic end result, it will produce conclusions which are of a nature politically nothing other than the means to the re-creation of political Islam.
We have defined what was the primal Islam deriving from Sayyiduna Muhammad, salla’llahu ‘alayhi wa salim, and his Sahaba and the Tabi’in and the Tabi’it-Tabi’in , through the time of the Khulafa’ ar-Rashidun and after it, through the time of Ibn ‘Umar, through the time of Nafi’, established and spread out from Madinah.
Remember, we are not talking about madhhabs, we are not interested in them, we are talking about Imam Malik in his role as Imam of the Muslims and as the Imam of the Dar al-Hijra, which is the unassailed position that he had which, of course, places him over all the other Imams of madhhabs who came after him, in other places, while he was the Imam of Dar al-Hijra, the Imam of the Place of the Deen .
After Malik we also indicated that there was a stream, a river with many tributaries, of this teaching that went out to the East and the West. We are saying that in fact this primal Islamic teaching went to Africa right at the beginning. It moved from Madinah and the great teachers of the deen of Islam and went to Egypt. And from Egypt they spread over to Qayrawan and into the Maghrib as we know. Then, after Malik, began the ossification, complexification, structuralization of the method by which hadith were collected, by which hadith were narrated, by which hadith were transmitted. Another point of view took over, and we must recognise the difference, although some of the language is the same, because what is at issue is still the transmission of a hadith and, as we are all aware, hadiths were being transmitted at the time of the Sahaba . We know that Sayyiduna ‘Umar would send for someone to get a hadith from them if he did not have what he wanted for a particular judgement. We know also from al-Muwatta’ of this very dynamic relationship in Madinah between Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Umar and Umm al-Mu’minin ‘A’isha, radiya’llahu ‘anha, in the giving of hadith and in the establishing of the Sunna .
But we want to look again at this way in which the terminology became politically altered or rather the consciousness of the event became altered, therefore the language became altered. There is a linguistic shift. There is a rare shift, that you can measure, in the way people think.
The politics of the dominant caste of the muhaddithun emerge. I will now quote showing how people began to think. This is a modern person giving this viewpoint. He said,
“The excellent Salaf were very angry with the one who opposed the hadith by the statement of a person, whoever that was. None of the Imams of Islam is known to have said, ‘We do not act by the hadith until we know who acted by it.'”
Do you follow what he is saying? He is saying that none of the Imams said, “We do not act by the hadith until we know who acted by it.” In other words, he is already making a series of value judgements in this that is actually changing the whole way we understand the procedure of Islam.
“The excellent Salaf were very angry with the one who opposed the hadith by the statement of a person, whoever that was. None of the Imams of Islam is known to have said, ‘We do not act by the hadith until we know who acted by it.'”
What I am saying is that here the dialectic has been reversed to hoodwink you by a double trick. Sunna is equated with the hadith, with the collection’s methodology. And the muhaddithun are equated with the original Salaf as if they too followed the methodology and not just a specific hadith . The political reality is that the Salaf followed a witnessed reality. Here is the logical bind into which the school of hadith have put themselves.
They said, and this is now the muhaddithun speaking,:
“The proof is the Sunna. It is not abandoned for the action of some Muslim which is contrary to it. The Sunna is the gauge of action; the action is not the gauge of the Sunna .”
Now let us, in the language of linguistics, let us “read” this argument. They mean (now first I will give you the literary statements):
“The proof is the Sunna. It is not abandoned for the action of some Muslim which is contrary to it. The Sunna is the gauge of action; the action is not the gauge of the Sunna .”
Let us read this: What they mean is the hadith is the gauge of the Sunna. And then let us read that: It means the textual record of a sunna, after submission to the methodology of the hadith system and having found by its criteria acceptance, stood to be the signifier of the original action and thus the gauge of current action. And this reads out that the hadith system’s approved text designated a signifier of a previous sunna. This means that finally accepted text, approved by a man using the complex methodology around 250 years hijra, gives quasi-authortiy to the fact of an event that took place almost certainly in Madinah 240 years previously, while the action itself is not the gauge of the Sunna.
Which must read therefore: the communal practice of Madinah’s 10,000 citizens who had an ongoing civic experience and memory and report and record, confirmed by imitation in action, mutually adjusted by communal criticism and individual knowledge around 110 years hijra is not the gauge of the Sunna that most probably took place in Madinah around the year 10 hijra, for example, a gap of only 100 years.
The methodology has to be examined more closely while the purpose must be understood. An examination of the methodology is not and cannot be taken to be a rejection or a verification of hadith as such. This is not my purpose. The isnad system of classification divides hadith into around 50 categories. The system is mutatis-mutandis a textual system. Now, before the establishment of “the Sacred Six”, the full methodology and the existential political relationship of man to text is different from the full orthodox method following the establishment of “the Sacred Six.”
The primal system is that of basic sanity and also trust, as we have seen in the previous examinations. That is, an original Prophetic sunna is copied in action, and by report civically, in a city, specifically renamed from Yathrib to Madina, the place or locus of the deen , the name being changed to indicate its specific purpose in the new religion.
Then from the primal system we move to the hadith system in its initial, simple form. From this then another stage is reached. We had to find that the primal system existed and we have indicated that it did not die and that it went to Africa. It went from Madinah to Africa and was alive and well in Africa while Iraq fell into a nightmare of arguments of kalam and mutakallimun and the north fell into the arguments of the sects and the conflict between the Shi’a and the Muslims. In the centre of things and in Baghdad the hadith system, in its initial simple form, begins to emerge. And we would define it as having five elements in its methodology:
1. Sama’ , that is the teacher to the student. Sama’a means to listen.2. ‘Ard , reading our texts. Simply reading out the texts to the students.
3. Munawala , passing on the text by hand.
4. Kitaba , by letter.
5. Wajada , passing on a text without an ijaza or license.
That is its primitive form. The methodology in itself, from the point of view of linguistics, has many features which we find to be active. In every case transmission implies the active participation of both parties, except for No. 5, wajada , where one party has dropped out of the transaction and become, as it were, merely the author. In other words, “here is my text.” In the later system, the complexity set up an internal bureaucracy until the methodology was completed. In other words, the creation of the system gave scholars an active role. The minute they had built the system nobody after that had an active role in the process because it was already defined and because it would have no new material, it would become ‘authority.’
The internal bureaucracy would have a role, an active role, until the methodology is completed. Then the only active function you could have is to use the system, have an abstract relationship with it. No dynamic relationship is permitted and only a passive, almost neurotic, one is possible because it is so intricate, so morbidly complex that your attitude becomes passive to the point that you may not even want or feel equippped or have the courage to enter into it. It should be mentioned that in the early stage of the hadith system, hadith began to be transmitted from a teacher to students of the age of seven. Abu’r-Rabi’ transmitted ‘Abdu’r-Razzaq’s book, and when ‘Abdu’r-Razzaq died, his student was seven years old. This can be found in the Kitab ar-Rawi . Also if a child could discriminate between a cow and a donkey he was considered capable of transmitting hadith. That was the raw material that they were accepting. So the building of the edifice of the final methodology remains the last active function possible for a Muslim intellectual, that is, we are then presented with the total system as orthodoxy.
It was to mean that the completion of this magnificent baroque edifice with its enormous intricate interior, which we will look at shortly, in its nature was going to become an absolute thing and it therefore had to set itself the imperial task, intellectually speaking, of annexing or colonising the fiqh material, subsuming the fiqh under the hadith system. By extension, in some way also trying to subsume Qur’anic studies, inasmuch as crucial aspects of Qur’anic knowledge would nevertheless be contained in hadith which referred to nasikh and mansukh , nuzul – where the ayat was sent down – and what specific Sahaba or what sallallahu ‘alayhi wa salim said about a particular ayat . So in fact, in its nature it set itself a no-limits control system of Islamic affairs. The science called Dirasat hadith , investigation of isnad , contents, subject, and mode of transmission, begins to reveal the complexity of the change from the second stage of hadith to the third, orthodox stage.
In Tadrib ar-Rawi , at the beginning of the second century hijra , Imam as-Suyuti said that the sciences related to hadith consisted of three disciplines: ‘ilm tawin al-hadith , ‘ilm al-hadith , ‘ilm usra. A well-known scholar of the third century lists the science as having 200 disciplines. Another scholar listed 50 and we look at what these are. Ibn al-Khaldun in al-Muqaddima defined the roots of the hadith methodology as five:
1) The nasikh and mansukh verses of the Qur’an;2) ‘Ilm ar-rijal , that is the knowledge of the transmitters ;
3) The method of transmission;
4) Terminology of the isnad;
5) ‘Ilm mustalah al-hadith, the terminology used to describe hadith.
What we have indicated is happening, which is the subsuming of the matter of fiqh under the hadith discipline. Thus, from the first and the last of these seven, it is clearly a system designed to subsume all the Islamic sciences, Qur’anic and legal, under its method. The full 50 sciences of ‘ilm al-hadith we will look at from Malik, al-‘ulum al-hadith , and added to these according to as-Suyuti in al-Itqan. In al-Itqan according to as-Suyuti, they added to this the study of Arabic morphology, syntax, etc.
So then, we come to ‘ilm al-hadith, we find that 35 categories of ‘ilm al-hadith have developed:
1. Knowledge of the masanid hadith (al-hadith al-musnad): one which has reached us by a full isnad from a Companion who had it from the Prophet.2. Ar-riwayat al-mawqufa, one whose primary source is one of the Companions, i.e. it stops at a Companion.
3. Study of a hadith whose first narrator is not mentioned.
4. Study of the Sahaba .
5. Al-hadith al-mursal: defined as the most difficult subject; no one except the most learned can handle this subject. Such hadiths lack a complete isnad, in that the Tabi’i does not mention the Companion from whom he heard it.
So already you see not only the creation of an elite, but the creation of a super elite who will be the only people who will be able to give the final words on the crucial matters of the Deen. Mursal is related by Tabi’un .
6. Al-hadith al-munqati’: different from mursal but also narrated by one of the Tabi’un . It has a missing link somewhere in the isnad.There are three kinds.7. Al-hadith al-musalsal. It had eight type and includes the action mentioned in the hadith.
8. Al-hadith al-mu’an’an : transmitted without mentioning how the transmission occurred.
9. Al-hadith al-mu’dal : Two or more links missing.
10. Al-hadith al-mudraj : in which the narrator has included his own words or someone else’s in the text.
11. Study of Tabi’un.
12. Study of Tabi’i at-Tabi’un (the Followers of the Followers).
13. Study of al-akabir ‘an al-asaghir :the greater from the lesser, i.e. a senior from a junior narrator, or a prolific from a lesser narrator.
14. Study of the Companions’ descendants.
15. ‘Ilm al-jarh wa ‘t-ta’dil : challenging the validity of the narrator..
16. ‘Ilm fiqh al-hadith: knowledge of fiqh derived from hadith.
17. Nasikh and mansukh in hadith .
18.‘Ilm ghara’ib al-hadith : uncommon words in hadith .
19. Al-hadith al-mashhur : well-known.
20. Al-hadith al-gharib : uncommon words in hadith.
21. Al-hadith al-mufrad : from Makka, Madina or Kufa.
22. Al-hadith ash-shadhdh : rare, i.e. only one reliable narrator.
23. Hadith not contradicted by any other.
24. Schools of muhaddithun.
25. ‘Ilm mudhakarat al-hadith : memorisation.
26. ‘Ilm at-tas-hif : manuscript errors.
27. Study of relatives of Sahaba , Tabi’un , etc.
28. Study of the genealogies of the muhaddithun .
29. Study of names of muhaddithun.
30. Study of the mawali (freed slaves) among narrators.
31. Study of the Sirat of Rasulallah, salla’llahu ‘alayhi wa salim.
32. Study of the first collectors.
33. Study of the mode of hadith classification.
34. Study of Arabic grammar.
35. Study of al-hadith an-nazil: texts with a larger number of transmitters in the isnad.
The result of these sciences, of these 35 to 50 sciences, produces the final textual product, the hadith , which is then boxed in 1 of 50 basic classifications which categorise its degree of authenticity and strength and weakness. So then we come to the categorising of the hadith and look now at what it is:
1. As-sahih: free of fault, several chains, more than one source.2. Al-hasan: reputable source and transmitters, yet not sahih.
3. Ad-da’if: neither (1) nor (2), weak.
4. Al-musnad: chain goes to the Prophet, salla’llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
5. Al-muttasil: all links mentioned by later transmitters.
6. Al-marfu’: reaches the ma’sum (i.e. the Prophet), regardless of continuity in chains of transmitters.
7. Al-mawquf : reaches Sahaba regardless of continuity of chain of transmitters.
8. Al-maqtu‘: narrated from one of the Tabi’un .
9. Al-munqati’: incomplete isnad.
10. Al-mursal: narrated by a prominent Tabi’i.
11. Al-mu’dal: two or more consecutive links missing.
12. Al-mudallas: forged text or transmission.
13. Ash-shadhdh: a veracious narrator whose hadith contradicts others.
14. Al-gharib: gharib al-alfaz: uncommon words; gharib al-matn: uncommon content; gharib as-sanad: uncommon chain.
15. Al-mu’an’an: all links connected by the preposition ‘an .
16. Al-mu’allaq: one or more transmitters omitted from thebeginning of chain.
17. Al-mufrad: one narrator, or narrator from one place.
18. Al-mudraj: whose narrator includes words of other narrators.
19. Al-mashhur: well-known.
20. Al-musahhaf as-sanad: text altered due to similarity of letters to one another.
21. Al-‘ali: short chain.
22. An-nazil: long chain.
23. Al-musalsal: transmitted with the action mentioned in the text.
24. Al-ma’ruf: meanings well-known.
25. Al-munkar: a contradictory hadith transmitted by someone weak.
26. Al-mazid: like another, with an extra unnecessary element in the isnad.
27. An-nasikh: abrogates a former shari’a judgement.
28. Al-mansukh: abrogated.
29. Al-maqbul: accepted and practised.
30. Al-mushkil: difficult words or meanings in it.
31. Al-mushtarak: with ambiguous words.
32. Al-mu’talif: names with the same form that can be read variously.
33. Al-mukhtalif: as 32
34. Al-matruh: contradicts direct evidence.
35. Al-matruk: chain with a know liar.
36. Al-mu’awwal : contradicts reason, Qur’an and practice.
37. Al-mubayyan: clear.
38. Al-mujmal: opposite.
39. Al-mu’allal: seems accurate but has a hidden defect.
40. Al-mudtarib: different recorded versions of the same hadith.
41. Al-muhmal: narrators not in books of ‘ilm ar-rijal .
42. Al-majhul: sectarian position of transmitters not known.
43. Al-mawdu’: forged by its narrator.
44. Al-maqlub: there one name is substituted for another in the isnad or text.
45. Al-ma’thur: transmitted by a later generation inside the same family.
46. Al-qudsi: Divine Words not Qur’anic in source.
47. Al-‘aziz: one of 13 kinds of sahih and hasan .
48. Za’id ath-thiqa: a kind of hasan.
49. Al-mutawatir: impossible of forgery since it has so many chains.
50. Al-mu’allal: seems accurate but has a hidden defect.
Now, it must be kept in mind that the hadith does not and cannot stand by its isnad alone in the majority of the cases. To back up scientifically as it were, the concept of isnad as evidence, isnad can never be absolutely programmed; the concept of isnad needs a sub-science to validate the man in the isnad. And this science was created, called ‘Ilm ar-Rijal , that is, the science of the men. The science of the narrators, their names, their genealogical lineages, their lives, the dates of their death, their character assessment, the circumstances of reception and transmission of hadith as well as the topics they related and the ijaza that they may have. Remember al-Bukhari and “the Sacred Six” collected the hadith . Others assembled these police files of the transmitters. The main books on the subject are four:
1. The Kitab of Ibn Manda, by Abu ‘Abdullah ibn Yahya who died in 301 hijra.2. Hilyat al-Awliya’ by Abu Nu’aym al-Isbahani who died in 430 hijra.
3. The Kitab of Musa, Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr al-Isbahani, died in 581 hijra.
4. Al-Isti’ab of Ibn ‘Abdu’l-Barr. who died in 463 hijra.
Then Ibn al-Athir anthologised them in his Usd al-Ghaba .
Thus the logical theory implied the study of the ‘ulama’ . Logically you have to examine the biography, the veracity, the political allegiance of the men who wrote the biographies. For once the lived experience and its direct witnessing ceased to be the foundation of life, then the new closed system becomes not only inaccessible to critical examination, but has unquestioned matrices in whose name alone new things and ideas can be expressed. One should be aware that alongside this total system of hadith methodology that we have outlined, there exists another twin system using an almost identical set of matrices, disciplines and producing hadith which themselves radically contradict the version of history and in some matters the Sunna as contained in the other system; that is the Shi’a system of hadith . The Shi’a riwayats brand our isnads as unacceptable, our rijal as hopelessly compromised politically and personally, and needless to say, our muhaddithun make the same accusations against them.
In other words, what we have found is a closed system which does not need anything outside itself to justify itself. So it is perfectly logical that another identical system can be set up with people teaching the opposite, which in itself is a critique of the other. This is a total critique of anyone who is not in the system. In the end, this system not only attacks the Shi’a hadith but this system also attacks Malik. This system says: here Malik is in error because here we say this and are not interested in ‘Amal , it does not fit into our system. We cannot relinquish our texts and isnad and ‘ilm ar-rijal , although the man giving you the judgement that he has taken and extracted from our methodology in 99 cases out of 100 does not know the methodology, has not ‘ilm ar-rijal , has not put his foot in the door of the total methodology of the hadith system, whether he is a Qadi, or an ‘alim , or a modernist who picks what he likes from where he likes, in order to back up his outlook. The most ironic fact is that the major criticism of the Shi’a hadith collection, as opposed to our hadith collection by our muhaddithun , is their lateness in time. Precisely a key issue in relation to the event of the Sunna . One of the reasons they say, “We do not accept the Shi’a hadith ” is because they are a copy of our methodology, but then they have said their methodology is absolutely foolproof. Secondly it is later than ours and less authentic. Therefore, they are saying they are more authentic by being earlier. Then in that case we are more authentic by being earlier and by being in the right place!
So now the revised version of events is that the best book after the Qur’an is the Sahih of Imam al-Bukhari when Imam ash-Shafi’i said,
“The best book after the Qur’an is the Muwatta’.”
And what is better and previous cannot be improved by what is lesser and later, because nearness to the event in time and nearness to the event in place and the high position of Imam Malik as author, being higher than Imam al-Bukhari, in all his excellence and splendour, makes incontrovertibly the prior superior to the latter. Thus this system’s emergence politically and pragmatically insists that we have no choice but to conclude that the existence of the editors is its own self-justification, access is for an elite, initiation is a lifetime study, authorization implies building the elite into the power structure, due to its complexity and the power of its all-encompassing nature, and due to its magical or unscientific linguistic indestructibility. Due to the magical equation of the hadith with the Sunna , its supporters dominate the men of Qur’an, the men of fiqh, and the men of Islam in every aspect. It is static, monolithic, unassailable, inaccessible, incomprehensible as a totality, and totalitarian as an instrument of power. It only remains for a political regime to cut these men off from access to political decision-making and leave them to play in the structural edifice, and Islam can be declared a state religion, confirmed by these experts to be nowhere visible in the body politic, and yet have the regime insist that Islam is alive and well, for the system is taught, exists and is studied in its totality. This is the situation of the current power elite and the version of Islam that they are prepared to tolerate.
What is its opposite? A live Islam of Qur’an and Sunna being embodied as social ‘amal . This is simple, radical and active, implying the immediate establishment of power by the obligatory and necessary act of obeying the prime pillars of Islam: shahada, salat, zakat , sawm , hajj , followed by jihad annually with an amir.
Now, for the zakat collection, an amir is necessary. On the collection of zakat , the Islamic entity has been created, the dynamic process has begun, the jihad will follow inexorably, as Allah has decreed necessary.
One of the scholars from Malik, ‘Abdullah ibn al-Mubarak, said – and he died in 181 AH –
“The beginning of knowledge is the intention, then listening, then understanding, then action, then preservation and then spreading it.”
The beginning of knowledge is intention, then listening – listening, not text -, not text, direct experience.
You know that in Imam Malik’s lifetime, someone came to him and said,
“I have learned the Muwatta’ in forty days.” And he said, “Go away. Have you taken in forty days what it took me forty years to understand?”
This is the opposite. The opposite is incompatible with the school that we have been mentioning. It is existential. The beginning of knowledge is the intention, then listening, then understanding. The listening is the taking from the teacher; the understanding is returning it to the teacher, the confirmation. Then action, that is, politics, that is, establishing government. The preservation, that is, a Qadi passing sentence which the amir empowers to be enacted, preserving the reality of the Sunna and then spreading it. That is da’wa .
Let us go back to al-Muwatta’ of Imam Malik and let us look at the simplicity, at the all-inclusiveness and how in fact nothing will be lost if we take this way, without any conflict or abrasive confrontation or implication or rejection of the hadith as hadith , because I have said that what is at issue is the functioning Islam that is produced by the educated elite of the Muslims. Look at what we have, and this is, remember, the earliest, the first, the most pure, the most guaranteed version of the living Sunna . In the place of the living Sunna were the primary factors, the primary dynamic of the method which is, that ‘amal confirms reality. The Books of the Muwatta’ are the Book of the Times of the Prayer, the Book of Purity, the Book of Prayer, the Book of Forgetfulness in Prayer, Jumu’a , the Book of Prayer in Ramadan, Tahajjud , Prayer in Congregation, Shortening the Prayer, the Two ‘Ids, the Book of the Eclipse Prayer, Asking for Rain, the Qibla , the Qur’an, Burials, Zakat , Fasting, I’tikaf in Ramadan, Hajj , Jihad , Vows and Oaths, Sacrificing Animals, Slaughtering Animals, Game, ‘Aqiqa’ (aqiqa is the animal killed in celebration of the birth of a child), Fara’id (the fixed shares of inheritance instituted by the Qur’an), Marriage, Divorce, Suckling, Business Transactions, Qirad (qirad is wealth put in by an investor in the trust of an agent for use in commercial purposes, an agent receiving his wage by taking a designated share of the profits), Sharecropping, Renting Land, Pre-emption in Property, Judgements, Wills and Testaments, Setting fee and wala’ (wala’ is the tie of clientship established between a free slave and the person who frees him whereby the free slave becomes integrated into the family of the person), Mukatab (mukatab is a slave who acquires his freedom against future payments or instalment payments to his owner), Mudabbar (mudabbar is a slave that has been given a kitaba , that is a contract to be freed after his master’s death), Qasama (an oath taken by 50 members of a tribe or locality to refute accusations of complicity in unclear cases of homicide), Madinah, The Decree (I might mention here that the Book of the Decree by Imam Malik is enough for all the philosophical meditation and disputation on the subject of the Qadar – along with the Qur’an it dispenses with the need for the ‘Ashari kalam ), Good Character, Dress, Description of the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa salim, the Evil Eye, Book of Hair, Visions, Greetings, General Points, Oath of Allegiance, Speech, Jahannam , Sadaqa , Knowledge, Supplication of the Unjustly Wronged, and the last, wonderful Book of the Names of the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa salim.
So we look at Malik’s book, al-Muwatta’, and its commentaries and we find that from the Muwatta’ we come to the Mudawwana , which is again all existential, all practical, all applied, like breathing fresh air after being underground. If you come from that other method to this, it is like coming from the underground into fresh air because it is immediate, particular application. It puts into the hands of those who study it the desire to practise it, the knowledge that it can be practised, the knowledge that the governance can be in your hands, the political power can be in your hands and if it is not in your hands, that you can get it.
The means is an absolutely simple series of mechanisms which have been put into action by a group of people and for which the victory is a sure promise by Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, and demonstrated by the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa salim. The beginning of Islam from its time of helplessness to its time of power is when Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, granted to Rasulallah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa salim, authority for jihad. Therefore the Muslim inhabits not a Makkan Islam, there is no Makkan Islam for the modern Muslim, despite what some misguided people, who are highly thought of today, have said in various places. You cannot live a Makkan Islam. It is obligatory to take the deen according to the ayat of the Qur’an which says the words, “that this day We have completed your deen and called it Islam”.
From this point you cannot go back. You have to take the whole of the deen . What is demonstrated is that right from the beginning it will be successful, but it is because the fara’id have to be protected. And again, one needs to decode theMuwatta’ because you will have the hadith which are included, as we saw, in order to be perfectly clear to everybody that the ‘amal is dominant unless you are going to do what happened here, which is basically withdraw human trust from the men of the highest calibre in the human story.
So to sum up, in the end of the day, what we can identify is not specific differences in detailed fiqh, but seven stages in an on-going process which leads to an unavoidable conclusion.
One: The abandoning of a methodology based on multiple witnesses on the primacy of Madina, as the Messenger’s city, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa salim, and the school of ‘amal .Two: The adoption, one hundred years later of a methodology based on texts, based on transmitters whose authors have not in turn been validated.
Three: The definition of the Madinan Islam as one madhhab amond three others: one Kufan-based, one by a student of the Madinan Islam and one by a later collector of hadith who never claimed to have a school.
Four: The subservience of the four, now defined as schools, but in fact, four Imams representing the independent authority of fiqh as the Islamic springboard of action, the subservience of the four to a new, politically backed Islam founded on a triple complex of a quintuple complex of the hadith collector’s methodology.
Five: The logical conclusion. In order for the establishment of an absolutist, hadith -based system – the annihilation of the four madh-habs had to happen.
Six: With this could be achieved a dictatorial rule without fuqaha’, for the fiqh is still embedded in the madhhab system and the hadith inside constitutionalism, and need never be actualised in society, for the legal justice system of this Islam would have been obliterated.
Seven: Since the Muslims are defeated politically in their inability to break the usury-system chains that bind them, the implication is that they must return to the primal mode of Islam in Madina hand the ‘amal of its people which is what we have outlined and is what we have proposed.
This cannot be considered as causing division among the Muslims because by this false unification of the Muslims they have been unified in a tomb from which they cannot escape, in which they are politically powerless, in which they have no land with frontiers that can call itself Dar al-Islam within which the Shari’a, the Book and the Sunna are in power.
Therefore, for the liberation of the Muslims and to open the way for the Muslims, we must return to the primal Islam of Book and Sunna taking its source from Rasulallah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa salim, in Madina, taking it from its Imams whose greatest Imam is Imam Malik, Imam of Dar al-Hijra, irrelevant to the matter of madhhab, only relevant to the primal Islam which is the Sunna, which is what he stood for, what he taught and which went from Madinah into Africa. We must follow its traces and revive it and impose it by force, by power and by the only possible way that will return activism with victory to the Muslims.
So to end the matter, we say that whoever speaks of the one who wants to go back to the Book and the Sunna and the way of Madinah as being in some way making trouble for the Muslims, is a shaytan. This is the middle way, this is the way of sanity and this is the primal way and you cannot say you follow the Salaf if you do not follow the Salaf. And we have the root in our hand and if we plant it, it will grow and have success.