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Haydar Amuli

Restricted Weightiness Of The Ahlul Bayt ?

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Salam alaykum,

 

I was running through the lectures of Sheikh Arif Abdul Hussain of this Muharram which according to me are somewhat briging new paradigms into the field of qur'anic hermeneutics and his ideas within the shi'ite thought are remarkably innovative, specially considering the stagnation of the system of marja'iyya for two centuries. The need of a refreshing revaluation of our qur'anic interpretation and understanding was really necessary as we are already going through major crisis particularly inside Islam. And the efforts of Sheikh Arif Abdul Hussain in trying to satisfy this intellectual gap are valuable specially considering that the new generation of muslims in the West are higly educated and in a constant exigency of orginal and advanced knowledge. The shi'ite thought is certainly at the edge of a new revolution in terms of Kuhn's concept of scientific revolution. 

 

However, until now this revolution was not possible primarily because of our coercive dependency to the textual material belonging to the Ahlul Bayt ie. their eternal role in qur'anic interpretation and understanding. The concept of "essence and form" introduced by Sheikh Arif Abdul Hussain within the framework of hadith ath-thaqalayn is the master key that paves the way for the autonomy of qur'anic interpretation and understanding at a private and community level. 

 

The problem that could arise from a traditional point of view is certainly that of looking at the Qur'an and the Ahlul Bayt (the two weights) as having the same weight. To support his thoughts Sheikh Arif Abdul Hussain is relying to a certain extent on the tradition also given by Allamah Tabatabai in his tafseer al-Mizan (see 3:7-9) which says : ‘‘Certainly I am leaving among you two weighty things : The bigger one and the smaller (lighter) one. As for the bigger one, it is the Book of Allah; and as for the smaller one, it is my progeny, the people of my house. Therefore, keep me in mind about these two things; because you shall never go astray so long as you hold fast to them."

 

Here we can see that the Qur'an and the Ahlul Bayt have no equal weight, but one is bigger and the other one is lighter or smaller. The religious and pragmatic consequences of this dichotomy are challenging because the tradition itself opens the Pandora's box of multiple interpretations and actions.

 

-their substantial value are not same

-Qur'an has a spiritual essence and a form bound to its own context and the Ahlul Bayt are only representative of their time and space, then restricted by their context also

-companions are also representative of their time and space, then restricted by their context and the validity of their judgements are not to be questionned if the pattern "essence and form" is valid

-same substantial value of the Ahlul Bayt and the companions

-disestablishment of the old system of marja'iyya and elaboration of a new system less coercive and more tractable

-from what follows, the hawza system is to be revisited and some courses like usul al-fiqh, fiqh, ilm al-hadith and ilm al-rijal are to be reassessed

-establishing new disciplines more human-oriented (sciences)

 

 

 

 

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salam brother

the concept of equality between Ahlulbayt and Quran could be observed with both false and correct view:

the correct explanation is that they both are effective elements for guiding humanbeings to the right path. Prophet has emphasized through several statements that no one is allowed to take one of them as a source of guidance putting the other aside or he will go astray and that is why two major parties of Muslims failed to obey the prophet: sunnis and extremist shias since the first left Ahlulbayt while the second left the Quran.

the Prophet showed this equality with both presented statements and his gesture, he joined his both forefingers and explicitly mentioned that I would not join my forefinger with my middle finger to prevent from speculating that one of them is greater than the other. This latter point does not contradict that the Quran is bigger because Quran is bigger as a main scripture and protocol of the religion and Ahlulbayt are only to interpret it not to add anything to its content however Quran is equal at the sometime which means no one could exclusively live with Quran rather Ahlulbayt

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There is obviously unanimous agreement that the word of Allah comes before the word of Prophet (pbuh) and his progeny (as) - we're supposed to critically examine the ahadith in the light of Quran and not vice versa, and that explains how Quran's authority is heavier than that of Ahlulbayt (as)

 

But to say that they are not eternal would be big thing, since we have ahadith on their eternal nature as well.

 "Verily, I am leaving behind two precious things (thaqalayn) among you: the Book of God and my kindred (`itrah), my household (Ahl al-Bayt), for indeed, the two will never separate until they come back to me by the Pond (of al-­Kawthar on the Day of Judgment)."

 

"Ali is with Qur’an, and Qur’an is with ‘Ali. They shall not separate from each other till they both return to me by the Pool (of Paradise)."

 

The Prophet (S) said about Ahlul-Bayt:

"Do not be ahead of them for you will perish, do not turn away from them for you will perish, and do not try to teach them since they know more than you do!"

These ahadith are authentic and also found in sunni books. The thing is in order to understand ahadith whilst giving priority to their essence rather than form can be done without making any changes in the status of Ahlulbayt (as) - many ahadith are not taken literally and thats the reason. A lot of ahadith are dependent on their context and that's how they are seen. However, the sheikh sounds like a sensible person but he's making giant statements which can totally put aside the authority of Ahlulbayt (as) or the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and the only authority becomes our 'aql' or 'whatever makes sense' - even his stance on interpretation of Quran is similar. For instance, going by his logic I may say that since Quran is ambiguous about how to offer prayer and since the traditional method of prayer does not make sense I can replace it with modern meditation while thinking of Allah - as the essence is to remember and praise Allah not physical movement. So it may destroy the whole 'form' of Islam as it is practiced and I think that's the main concern here.

Also, if we are to form a whole institution of marjayyat on this concept of form and essence, then we must have firm grounds for this concept as well. And who will decide what the true essence of a particular verse or hadith is and how much of meddling with the form is allowable... well, like you said it is a pandora's box, and honestly I see a new sect being formed.

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Sure, the Qur'an is the weightier of the two, but that doesn't mean we can take our own interpretation of the Qur'an or the Sunnah above that of the Ahl ul-bayt (as).This is simply an excuse to give in to modernism under the pseudo-intellectual pretence of 'reevaluation of the sources'. Doesn't it ever strike anyone as strange that such 'reformists' always end up coming to conclusions that are strikingly similar to the ones the non-Muslims came up with completely independently in the modern age?

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The tradition itself tends towards some flaws if not reassessed seriously and critically through new interpretative principles, a task that Sheikh Arif Abdul Hussain is undertaking quite prudently and this is to his credit.

Things are for a fact not as straightforward as we are inclined to believe in the apparent and literal meaning of this tradition or narration, while the same approach of the scriptures (broadly Qur'an and to some extent narrations of the Holy Prophet, his companions and the a'imma) is often set aside preferring interpretations that are more versatile. We surely don't want to play the same game as the wahhabis. Then what compels us to believe in a strict and apparent and literal meaning of this narration refusing any appropriate interpretation of it according to our time and space ? If the basis of our methodology is ambiguous and implemented in a selective manner, then how pertinent could be the overall shi'ite thought and the structure that sustained it ?

 

For instance, consider these narrations and their strict implications in terms of time and space :

 

 

Certainly I am leaving among you two weighty things : The bigger one and the smaller (lighter) one. As for the bigger one, it is the Book of Allah; and as for the smaller one, it is my progeny, the people of my house. Therefore, keep me in mind about these two things; because you shall never go astray so long as you hold fast to them.

Verily, I am leaving behind two precious things (thaqalayn) among you: the Book of God and my kindred (`itrah), my household (Ahl al-Bayt), for indeed, the two will never separate until they come back to me by the Pond (of al-­Kawthar on the Day of Judgment).

Ali is with Qur’an, and Qur’an is with ‘Ali. They shall not separate from each other till they both return to me by the Pool (of Paradise).

Do not be ahead of them for you will perish, do not turn away from them for you will perish, and do not try to teach them since they know more than you do!
 

 

 

Task : holding Qur'an and the Ahlul Bayt
Time lapse : until the Day of Judgment
Space range : no limit
Contents bound to time lapse and space range : spiritual, moral, legal and qur'anic interpretations
Flaws : first no a'imma are currently living in our time or space so that we can refer to them directly on a ongoing basis, while the literal meaning of these narrations are pretending the opposite ; second the Holy Prophet was restricted to his time and space in matters of qur'anic interpretations (moral and legal) and that is clearly asserted by the fact that a'imma also interpreted Qur'an according to their time and space, thus these narrations are restricted to the time and space where a'imma were alive or present ; third materialization (the form) of the moral and legal precepts are never to be supertime or superspace (above space-time) only the essense is while these narrations are pretending the opposite ; fourth Islam is the product of its own History and its religious design must evolve with time and space and so must its perfectibility (relativity of the perfection) ; and so on
Post-ghayba solutions to these flaws : senseless legal opinions (eg. burying the khums, transmission of the amount of khums from one generation to another, and so on) ; akhbarism ; the absence of a'imma put forward the role of fuqaha in religious matters : marja'iyya, wilayat ul-faqih however even these doctrines are full of flaws because the raw material used by them rests on the restricted interpretations of the a'imma (space-time dilemma)
Real solution to these flaws : input of new paradigms into the field of qur'anic hermeneutics, concept of essence and form, re-assessment of the whole legal and moral body of current shi'ite Islam and so on (vid. Sheikh Arif Abdul Hussain series of lectures)

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He can gently help you to grasp his thinking if you ask him directly and I am sure if you express to him your doubts about his lack of any critical thinking skills or his incoherent approach or his use of fallacious logic in his arguments in order to develop his arguments, he will clarify to you everything.

Don't forget that he is a mujtahid.

 

 

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He can gently help you to grasp his thinking if you ask him directly and I am sure if you express to him your doubts about his lack of any critical thinking skills or his incoherent approach or his use of fallacious logic in his arguments in order to develop his arguments, he will clarify to you everything.

Don't forget that he is a mujtahid.

 

In his system of thinking, how is that important? 

 

With the same thinking, should we not then be precautions when discussing the views of the other several thousand mujtahidun that have opposing views to his? 

 

Or do his fans and followers claim to have contacted other mujtahidun for their views? 

 

He makes his methodology very clear, and has spent the last few years speaking about it across the globe. 

 

You don't need to speak to someone to realise what they are saying (constantly) over a period of time is based on fallacious arguments, and logically flawed (in a larger system). He presents his opinions, the audience can decide if the premises and the conclusions match or not. Or even if the premises are correctly derived/proven. 

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Flaws : first no a'imma are currently living in our time or space so that we can refer to them directly on a ongoing basis, while the literal meaning of these narrations are pretending the opposite ; second the Holy Prophet was restricted to his time and space in matters of qur'anic interpretations (moral and legal) and that is clearly asserted by the fact that a'imma also interpreted Qur'an according to their time and space, thus these narrations are restricted to the time and space where a'imma were alive or present ; third materialization (the form) of the moral and legal precepts are never to be supertime or superspace (above space-time) only the essense is while these narrations are pretending the opposite ; fourth Islam is the product of its own History and its religious design must evolve with time and space and so must its perfectibility (relativity of the perfection) ; and so on

Post-ghayba solutions to these flaws : senseless legal opinions (eg. burying the khums, transmission of the amount of khums from one generation to another, and so on) ; akhbarism ; the absence of a'imma put forward the role of fuqaha in religious matters : marja'iyya, wilayat ul-faqih however even these doctrines are full of flaws because the raw material used by them rests on the restricted interpretations of the a'imma (space-time dilemma)

Real solution to these flaws : input of new paradigms into the field of qur'anic hermeneutics, concept of essence and form, re-assessment of the whole legal and moral body of current shi'ite Islam and so on (vid. Sheikh Arif Abdul Hussain series of lectures)

 

Sheikh Arif's view does not only bound the Aimma (as) to space and time but he says it again and again that Quran is also contextualized i.e. bound to space and time, though he says it is 'less' contextualized but it is. Now this view that Quran is contextual and it leaves ambiguity in it's verses so they can be applied differently in different space and time is a controversial view and therefore needs to be discussed with other mujtahideen. Though it's true that there is a level of rigidity in current fiqh which sometimes goes against the essence of Islam but the solution being proposed by Sheikh Arif does not solve this particular problem with fiqh but actually kills fiqh altogether. 
 
I'd like to quote Ayetollah Aqeel Gharavi here, who's all for marjayyat and vilayet-e-faqih, but he says:
 
"Till date Islamic sciences have not been completely edited/compiled under the light of Quran. This is a big task which has yet to be done. For example: History; people read Quran in the light of history. The history which is written by themselves, in the light of this history they study Quran and then try to write tafasir of its verses under its light. While the opposite should be done. If we have faith that this book is from Allah and each and every word of it is true therefore whatever it has said regarding past must be true and whatever it says regarding future must be true - so we should compile Islamic history in the light of Quran-e-majeed". He says that all Islamic sciences such as islamic history, maghazi, seerat, kalaam, fiqh, usool-e-fiqh, etc. make more use of human word rather than Quranic text. 
 
So there's room for improvement in fiqh, ilm-e-Quran or ilm-e-hadith and scholars do acknowledge it. However, accepting anti-islamic or entirely innovative concepts to make things right is not the correct strategy.

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Sheikh Arif's view does not only bound the Aimma (as) to space and time but he says it again and again that Quran is also contextualized i.e. bound to space and time, though he says it is 'less' contextualized but it is. Now this view that Quran is contextual and it leaves ambiguity in it's verses so they can be applied differently in different space and time is a controversial view and therefore needs to be discussed with other mujtahideen.

 

The contextual reading of the Qur'an is a rahmah of Allah and not at all a controversy and the pattern itself is clear if you try to ponder a little more on the content of it (vid. Sheikh Arif Abdul Hussain series of lectures).

 

If I have understood rightly the outline of the thought of Sheikh Arif Abdul Hussain, what he is suggesting is to extend the religious duty (taklif al-'aqli, taklif al-shar'i) to even those who are not absolute theologians ('ulama al-nusus) by forming a body of experts ('ulama al-waqi') working simultaneously or independently (?) and much more aware of the real need of Muslims in the West. Thus the authority of qur'anic interpretation (moral, legal and juristic aspects) primarily restricted to the classical theologians (and before them to the Ahlul Bayt, the companions or the Holy Prophet) could/should be shifted to a body of experts. What is coherent and lucid with this approach is that every layman is responsible and answerable (not only the theologians) in front of Allah for the spiritual growth of the whole muslim society or community considering the productiveness of any such rule, regulation or order that control the human and social affairs. In brief, the purpose of re-assessment is to create a rupture with the automatism acquired by the theologians in matters of fiqh and to go back to basics, according to Sheikh Arif Abdul Hussain own owrds. 

 

 

Though it's true that there is a level of rigidity in current fiqh which sometimes goes against the essence of Islam but the solution being proposed by Sheikh Arif does not solve this particular problem with fiqh but actually kills fiqh altogether.

   

Maybe not a killing but a critical reexamination of actual methodologies and teachings, and this is why I called it a revolution in terms of Kuhn's concept of scientific revolution.

 

 

I'd like to quote Ayetollah Aqeel Gharavi here, who's all for marjayyat and vilayet-e-faqih, but he says:
 
"Till date Islamic sciences have not been completely edited/compiled under the light of Quran. This is a big task which has yet to be done. For example: History; people read Quran in the light of history. The history which is written by themselves, in the light of this history they study Quran and then try to write tafasir of its verses under its light. While the opposite should be done. If we have faith that this book is from Allah and each and every word of it is true therefore whatever it has said regarding past must be true and whatever it says regarding future must be true - so we should compile Islamic history in the light of Quran-e-majeed". He says that all Islamic sciences such as islamic history, maghazi, seerat, kalaam, fiqh, usool-e-fiqh, etc. make more use of human word rather than Quranic text. 
 
So there's room for improvement in fiqh, ilm-e-Quran or ilm-e-hadith and scholars do acknowledge it. However, accepting anti-islamic or entirely innovative concepts to make things right is not the correct strategy.

 

Surely according to his knowledge such an achievement should be possible if he already laid the methodological foundations of such a huge project but in my humble view to undertake such a mission is quite impractical for a simple and casual reason that Qur'an has multiple reading frameworks and not a one-to-one correspondance reading framework, thus when he says that "Islamic sciences have not been completely edited/compiled under the light of Quran" I would rather argue that Qur'an has its own intellectual limitations otherwise why would Muslims have felt the need to create a set of disciplines (islamic sciences) as an extension of it except to fill an intellectual vacuum. That being said, if he has a good methodology, then he should succeed, may Allah help him in his valuable efforts.

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The contextual reading of the Qur'an is a rahmah of Allah and not at all a controversy and the pattern itself is clear if you try to ponder a little more on the content of it (vid. Sheikh Arif Abdul Hussain series of lectures).

 

It's a controversy because other scholars do not have this view. There are verses in the Holy Quran which are restricted to certain timeframes or persons but generally Quran itself maintains that this book is the word of Allah meant for guidance of all mankind till the day of judgement. 
 
If I have understood rightly the outline of the thought of Sheikh Arif Abdul Hussain, what he is suggesting is to extend the religious duty (taklif al-'aqli, taklif al-shar'i) to even those who are not absolute theologians ('ulama al-nusus) by forming a body of experts ('ulama al-waqi') working simultaneously or independently (?) and much more aware of the real need of Muslims in the West. Thus the authority of qur'anic interpretation (moral, legal and juristic aspects) primarily restricted to the classical theologians (and before them to the Ahlul Bayt, the companions or the Holy Prophet) could/should be shifted to a body of experts.

 

 
That's exactly the problem, how can laymen put their own interpretation of Holy Quran above that of Masumeen (as) ?? - (just like brother Haydar Hussain said). What Sheikh Arif is suggesting is a kind of democracy in Fiqh; ijtihaad based on popular and acceptable ideas from intellectual Muslims. What Sheikh Arif is trying to do is that instead of comforming life in the West to Islamic principles and ideology - he is bringing Islamic principles and ideology in conformity with Western life. It's a sorry attempt at revolution.
 
Imam Jaffer as-Sadiq (as) has said, 
 
- “There is not a single difference of opinion between two persons whose solution is not given in the Book of Allah, the mighty, the glorious. But their intelligence does not fathom its depth.”
 
- "I am the descendant of the Prophet of Allah. I most thoroughly know the Book of Allah. In it is mentioned the beginning of the creation and also whatever is going to happen till the day of judgment. It contains all information about the heaven and the earth, paradise and hell, and the news of all that has happened and that is going to happen. I know all that as if I am looking at the palm of my hand."
 
Maybe not a killing but a critical reexamination of actual methodologies and teachings, and this is why I called it a revolution in terms of Kuhn's concept of scientific revolution.

 

 
Only there's one difference that science requires outside elements to revolutionize it but Islam requires elements from inside of it for any revolution or reform (since it is a complete religion no addition can be made to it) - so you can't bring an outside element such as layman intellect or a concept of 'essence and form' that isn't found in the Quran or hadith, to reform Islam.

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It's a controversy because other scholars do not have this view. There are verses in the Holy Quran which are restricted to certain timeframes or persons but generally Quran itself maintains that this book is the word of Allah meant for guidance of all mankind till the day of judgement.

 

If you rely on mutual agreement or consensus of religious scholars to judge if an idea is controversial or not, then your relying itself is controversial because consensus is never absolute rather relative, so to be honest you are holding a very narrow posture regarding the contextual reading of the Qur'an. With respect to your stance that "Quran itself maintains that this book is the word of Allah meant for guidance of all mankind till the day of judgement" nobody is denying the true value of the eternal words of God however our readings of His words must evolve with time and space for the betterment of our being and our societies which are clearly tied to how we deal with the Qur'an.

For example, consider these syllogisms :

God is perfect, Qur'an is God's words, therefore Qur'an is perfect :> any application/token of the Qur'an will be perfect = false

God is perfect, Islam is God's path, therefore Islam is perfect :> any instance/token of Islam will be perfect = false

As you noticed things are not as simple and categorical as you are used to think, there is always a need to put things into perspective on the basis of new parameters which lead to new principles. And if this implies a shift from adaptative fiqh to transformational fiqh, then Sheikh Arif Abdul Hussain embodies the highest aspirations for shi'ite Islam in the West. 

 

 

That's exactly the problem, how can laymen put their own interpretation of Holy Quran above that of Masumeen (as) ?? - (just like brother Haydar Hussain said). What Sheikh Arif is suggesting is a kind of democracy in Fiqh; ijtihaad based on popular and acceptable ideas from intellectual Muslims. What Sheikh Arif is trying to do is that instead of comforming life in the West to Islamic principles and ideology - he is bringing Islamic principles and ideology in conformity with Western life. It's a sorry attempt at revolution.
 
Imam Jaffer as-Sadiq (as) has said, 
 
- “There is not a single difference of opinion between two persons whose solution is not given in the Book of Allah, the mighty, the glorious. But their intelligence does not fathom its depth.”
 
- "I am the descendant of the Prophet of Allah. I most thoroughly know the Book of Allah. In it is mentioned the beginning of the creation and also whatever is going to happen till the day of judgment. It contains all information about the heaven and the earth, paradise and hell, and the news of all that has happened and that is going to happen. I know all that as if I am looking at the palm of my hand."

     

Interpretation is a certain reading of God's word in a non-absolute way, and the qur'anic interpretations of a'imma were harmonized with their time and space, therefore nothing compels us to be bound to their interpretations otherwise that would be purely incongruous. As for the narrations you mentioned, the contextual (time and space) reading of the Qur'an doesn't contradict them.

 

 

Only there's one difference that science requires outside elements to revolutionize it but Islam requires elements from inside of it for any revolution or reform (since it is a complete religion no addition can be made to it) - so you can't bring an outside element such as layman intellect or a concept of 'essence and form' that isn't found in the Quran or hadith, to reform Islam.

 

I could have expected this from a wahhabi not from a shi'ite muslim !

 

Your thought and creative limitations are those that God has decreed for you, means no-limitation :

16:78 And Allah has extracted you from the wombs of your mothers not knowing a thing, and He made for you hearing and vision and intellect that perhaps you would be grateful.

45:13 And He has subjected to you whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth - all from Him. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.

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The claims of Arif are full of holes, that one just doesn't know where to begin.

What he is saying here is the separation of the Ahlul-Bayt [a] and the Holy Quran, which is exactly what the Hadeeth al-Thaqalayn says is not to happen until the Day of Resurrection.

He makes so many basic mistakes in his lectures, completely goes against what the Ahlul-Bayt [a] has taught us.

If he knew anything of the Howza and Marjaiyyah, it is anything but stagnant. If he read Sheikh Ansari's Usoul and Shaheed Sadr's Usoul, he would know that. But his 'revolution' is something that goes against the basic principles of Shia jurisprudence sourced from the teachings of the QUran and the Ahlul-Bayt [a], and is based on mere hypothesis and conjecture, not grounded in any reality, making Islam and the Sharia subject to any 'reforming' that any nut case brings to the table.

To claim that he is a mujtahid is the biggest joke.

 

If you want a detailed disucssion, PM me.

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I could have expected this from a wahhabi not from a shi'ite muslim !

 

Your thought and creative limitations are those that God has decreed for you, means no-limitation :

16:78 And Allah has extracted you from the wombs of your mothers not knowing a thing, and He made for you hearing and vision and intellect that perhaps you would be grateful.

45:13 And He has subjected to you whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth - all from Him. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.

 

You can't put these verses on top of the verses which command you to obey Allah and His Prophet (pbuh) , sure you can be grateful for intellect and wisdom by applying it wherever you can in surmounting the universe and even in understanding the religion, but word of Allah, His Prophet (pbuh) and Ahlulbayt (as) hold the primary importance. Allah doesn't tell you to follow your intellect above the word of Rasool (pbuh) and Aal-e-Rasool (as) because your intellect is corruptible and fallible, but those personalities are incorruptible and infallible.

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You can't put these verses on top of the verses which command you to obey Allah and His Prophet (pbuh) , sure you can be grateful for intellect and wisdom by applying it wherever you can in surmounting the universe and even in understanding the religion, but word of Allah, His Prophet (pbuh) and Ahlulbayt (as) hold the primary importance. Allah doesn't tell you to follow your intellect above the word of Rasool (pbuh) and Aal-e-Rasool (as) because your intellect is corruptible and fallible, but those personalities are incorruptible and infallible.

 

I absolutely understand your apprehension concerning the misleading illusion that the theory of "essence and form" is giving regarding the restricted importance of the Ahlul Bayt. However, as I mentioned earlier (post #5) things are for a fact not as straightforward as we are inclined to believe in the apparent and literal meaning of this tradition or narration that tends towards some flaws if not reassessed seriously and critically through new interpretative principles.

 

The whole idea of "essence and form" is not to give up the teachings of the Ahlul Bayt, certainly not, and Sheikh Arif Abdul Hussain would be the first to stand up against such a pretentious move.

 

But when you say that "Allah doesn't tell you to follow your intellect above the word of Rasool (pbuh) and Aal-e-Rasool (as) (...) but those personalities are incorruptible and infallible" does it mean in an absolute way that nothing but the aḥadīth of the infallible can serve as authoritative evidence in Islam ? This is precisely what the akhbaris are claiming, and they certainly are the most accurate if the narration is to be interpreted at face value, and that is what you are holding somehow.

Though, what we see in usulism is the emergence of a whole new concept that of "ijtihad" based on the relative interpretation of the narration, contrary to akhbarism and yet usulism is legitimate, but not according to akhbaris.   

Thus what Sheikh Arif Abdul Hussain is trying to do is nothing but to stretch out the same relative interpretation of this narration through the new concept of "essence and form" and yet his move is totally legitimate, but not according to usulis (?) and the "revolution" precisely rests here : in his being able to plead publicly for a new paradigm and an evolution of the shi'ite thought. 

 

So are the hardcore usulis playing  the same backward game against Sheikh Arif Abdul Hussain that the akhbaris played against the usulis some centuries ago ? (history repeats itself) 

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The only one playing games is Arif.

The whole puporse of Ijtihad is to get to the laws which the Imams and the Prophet taught, the actual absolute laws. The variations of interpretations is all based on this motive. The mujtahids want to know what the leglislated laws were.

Neither the Akhbaris nor the Usoulis sought to change the laws and develop them. They sought to discuss and debate certain principles on which to base the process of derving the laws of the Shariah, all for the sake of getting to those absolute laws.

 

What Arif is saying that those legislated laws - which we know existed - no longer apply, because times have changed. We will amend them to suit us and our modern culture. This is pure conjecture and nothing else. There is no basis of this except imagination.

 

Whenever changes were required in the Shariah, Allah s.w.t. sent further Messengers to abrogate the outdated laws and bring in new laws.

What Arif does is say that if Allah did that, then we can also abrogate laws as we see fit. The illogical leap here is ridiculously evident.

 

Yes, there have been differences between Usoulis and Akhbaris, and amongst Usoulis themselves, but they all stem from basic rudimentary accepted ideals of what Ijtihad is all about.

 

What Arif is doing is throwing out the window the whole purpose of Ijtihad - finding the legislated laws of the Sharia - and becoming the legislator himself.

 

In respect to your idea of 'essence and form', Allah s.w.t. knows best what the essence and hikmah is behind all the laws, and for us to conjecture about it and abrogate laws is nothing but Abu Hanifah style jurisprudence which the Imams a.s. vehemently opposed. There are thousands of ahadeeth from the Imam a.s. which tell us very precisely how to pray and fast and undertake the Hajj, etc, and they have expressed the invalidity of these acts if those laws are opposed even slightly. This is clear to anybody who undertakes any serious study of Islam. Therefore the essence and spirit and hikmah of the laws are unknown to us, so we cannot change the form and become god.

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Though, what we see in usulism is the emergence of a whole new concept that of "ijtihad" based on the relative interpretation of the narration, contrary to akhbarism and yet usulism is legitimate, but not according to akhbaris. 

 

This is completely wrong, and this shows your lack of knowledge on this.

Usoulism is not based on relative interpretation of the narration. Every person can interpret the same text in different ways, this is basic common sense; but both the Akhbaris and Usoulis accept that there is only one true interpretation. Just as Usoulis may differ amongst themselves in the interpretation of a particular hadeeth, so will Akhbaris. This isn't even an issue.

If the interpretation is clear, then its fine.

If it is ambiguous, then that is where their process of derivation MAY diverge. Where they differ is what are the ground rules and the starting point? Then they go from there. They all wish to seek that one goal: getting as close as possible to what Allah s.w.t has legislated.

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The only one playing games is Arif.

 

I beg to differ with your idea of absolute laws of the Ahlul Bayt or the Prophet which has no reasonable basis and I hope you are not serious with this idea, except if you have wahhabi tendencies. Laws are never absolute rather relative and conditional to many parameters bound to time and space: they are supposed to be manifestations of the needs of a society at a given time and a given space. And a holistic study of the Qur'an and the Sunnah draws clearly the pattern of "essence and form" which has its own legitimacy (vid. Sheikh Arif Abdul Hussain series of lectures).

Thus your entire defense argument is based on classical or traditional thinking of Islam which begins to be obsolete in our era and particularly in the West for a very simple reason that traditional shi'ite ijtihad is incompetent in dealing with modern problems because of its outdated methods. In brief, the capacity of traditional shi'ite ijtihad does not fit the modern problems. The question that is of our interest is to ask if there is really a need for a change in our way of thinking Islam in modern times instead of relying on traditional thinking. Ijtihad surely needs to be reconstructed with new inputs from western sciences such as philosophy of language, hermeneutics, historicity, critical thinking, experimental sciences, and so on.

As far as it concerns the concept of Shari'ah, we genuinely have to redefine it through examining the ultimate goal of prophecy and the expectation of the islamic path (din). Was Shari'ah supposed to bring a set of laws, as we are inclined to believe or rather Shari'ah is about a set of ethical values (?), therefore laws are only secondary and Islam is not about a fixed system of laws because laws are never absolute but relative and always under change of time and space. Laws in the Qur'an were fair, acceptable, virtuous and congruous according to the mentality (social and cultural structures) of the Arabs of seventh century but are we bound to their mentalities ?

Laws are never absolute but subordinated to time, space and the structure of a society.

              

Therefore, the theory of "essence and form" is not about taking the place of God, but to attain godliness through such laws that are fitting our time, our space and our societies after all we are the caliphs of God.

 

 

This is completely wrong, and this shows your lack of knowledge on this.

 

It is certainly of little importance for our discussion, however I would add that if there is no direct causality in this matter there is surely a correlation.

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Allow me to rephrase what I said:

The laws that the Ahlul-Bayt a.s. taught were various, all-encompassing and dealt with many issues. Yes all laws have certain parameters. For example, pork is forbidden to eat, but it is permissible to eat in a life-saving emergency. But the crux of the matter is that in every situation and for every action there is a ruling on what can and cannot be done. Nothing changes there. If a person was in a life-threatening situation, he can eat pork to relieve himself from that situation, whether he was living a thousand years ago or today.

This is what I mean by absoluteness.

 

But your whole approach about those laws being inadequate for modern times is complete rubbish. How are they inadequate? To what standards? The standard that you have set yourself is the standard of Western society in the lands of the non-Muslims. This is no standard to go by. Yes, there may be difficulties, but Islam has already provided solutions for that, as taught by the Imams a.s. It wasn't always easy to follow the teachings of the Ahlul-Bayt a.s. even in their eras. What did the Imams a.s. say? Did they say that if it is difficult for you to fit in the Sunni society, just chage your laws? No, they spoke of Taqiyyah with certain conditions. If it is extremely difficult to fast for anybody, the Sharia already has a solution to that: don't fast then, but make it up later. Read the works of many mujtahids on the principle of "La Dharar wa La Dhirar".

Over the almost three hundred years they taught the same Sharia as taught by the Prophet s.a.w.s., and they made no changes to that. Yes, they explained certain parameters and conditions and details. But the manner in which they details were given and how some were admonished for not following them clearly shows that these laws are not subject to reinterpretation or abrogation.

 

But they never allowed the people to change the laws simply because the people dont see it fit their lifestyle or their society. Bring a single piece of proof of this, rather than your baseless assumptive interpretations.

 

The Imams knew that times would change, but they never directed their followers to change the laws. They said that in times of problems and confusions, refer to our narrations, i.e. go back to the Imams a.s., not turn your back on their teachings, because the Kafir world doesn't like them.

 

You are repeating the same nonsense again and again, making sweeping statements and baseless philosophy, but without any real proof.

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To what standards? The standard that you have set yourself is the standard of Western society in the lands of the non-Muslims. This is no standard to go by. (...) not turn your back on their teachings, because the Kafir world doesn't like them.

 

As I previously pointed out, your entire defense argument is based on classical thinking of Islam. 

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Salam alaykum,

 

I was running through the lectures of Sheikh Arif Abdul Hussain of this Muharram which according to me are somewhat briging new paradigms into the field of qur'anic hermeneutics and his ideas within the shi'ite thought are remarkably innovative, specially considering the stagnation of the system of marja'iyya for two centuries. The need of a refreshing revaluation of our qur'anic interpretation and understanding was really necessary as we are already going through major crisis particularly inside Islam. And the efforts of Sheikh Arif Abdul Hussain in trying to satisfy this intellectual gap are valuable specially considering that the new generation of muslims in the West are higly educated and in a constant exigency of orginal and advanced knowledge. The shi'ite thought is certainly at the edge of a new revolution in terms of Kuhn's concept of scientific revolution. 

 

However, until now this revolution was not possible primarily because of our coercive dependency to the textual material belonging to the Ahlul Bayt ie. their eternal role in qur'anic interpretation and understanding. The concept of "essence and form" introduced by Sheikh Arif Abdul Hussain within the framework of hadith ath-thaqalayn is the master key that paves the way for the autonomy of qur'anic interpretation and understanding at a private and community level. 

 

The problem that could arise from a traditional point of view is certainly that of looking at the Qur'an and the Ahlul Bayt (the two weights) as having the same weight. To support his thoughts Sheikh Arif Abdul Hussain is relying to a certain extent on the tradition also given by Allamah Tabatabai in his tafseer al-Mizan (see 3:7-9) which says : ‘‘Certainly I am leaving among you two weighty things : The bigger one and the smaller (lighter) one. As for the bigger one, it is the Book of Allah; and as for the smaller one, it is my progeny, the people of my house. Therefore, keep me in mind about these two things; because you shall never go astray so long as you hold fast to them."

 

Here we can see that the Qur'an and the Ahlul Bayt have no equal weight, but one is bigger and the other one is lighter or smaller. The religious and pragmatic consequences of this dichotomy are challenging because the tradition itself opens the Pandora's box of multiple interpretations and actions.

 

-their substantial value are not same

-Qur'an has a spiritual essence and a form bound to its own context and the Ahlul Bayt are only representative of their time and space, then restricted by their context also

-companions are also representative of their time and space, then restricted by their context and the validity of their judgements are not to be questionned if the pattern "essence and form" is valid

-same substantial value of the Ahlul Bayt and the companions

-disestablishment of the old system of marja'iyya and elaboration of a new system less coercive and more tractable

-from what follows, the hawza system is to be revisited and some courses like usul al-fiqh, fiqh, ilm al-hadith and ilm al-rijal are to be reassessed

-establishing new disciplines more human-oriented (sciences)

Bro I am totally with you and sheikh arif abdul hussein (He is my favourite scholar). The simple truth is that muslims may they be shia sunni or wahabi have completely missed the point of islam and what it is. We are in need of MAJOR reform. Unfortunately brother our fellow muslim brothers have been so indoctrinated from childhood that they are simply too bias and will not use any logic or reason when discussing this topic. Unfortunately brother because of this it is extremely hard to discuss and debate with them as they have already decided their minds before any discussion has taken place, as you can already see thus far in this thread.

 

There are 2 things which has led to the downfall of formal Islam. They are 1) taqleed and 2) reliance on hadeeth.

But fear not brother because the real Islam lives from within us, it's all just a matter of finding it

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Was Shari'ah supposed to bring a set of laws, as we are inclined to believe or rather Shari'ah is about a set of ethical values (?), 

 

Laws in the Qur'an were fair, acceptable, virtuous and congruous according to the mentality (social and cultural structures) of the Arabs of seventh century but are we bound to their mentalities ?

 

Laws of the Quran are subject to change ? then the whole Quran becomes pointless, the whole point of it being the word of God is challenged here. How can you derive ethical values from Quran if you are going to banish the law ? The ethical value manifests by following the law it has given! Not by twisting the law in the light of Western philosophy. Tell me the ethical value of salat ? of Hajj ? of 4 wives ? of jihad ? bring a 100 scholars and each will give different answer. If there is no principle on deriving 'essence' from the law then it will only mislead
 
And the other outcome is that since the essence of Islam is all good things, because obviously anything that our intelligence can deem bad can't be part of Islam, so just adopt all the good values in life, as given by humanists, western philosophers and UNHRC, there you have your fiqh and jurisprudence, it already exists. Why should one bother to revive the Shia jurisprudence which is obviously something different and found on Quranic principles and laws.

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The claims of Arif are full of holes, that one just doesn't know where to begin.

What he is saying here is the separation of the Ahlul-Bayt [a] and the Holy Quran, which is exactly what the Hadeeth al-Thaqalayn says is not to happen until the Day of Resurrection.

He makes so many basic mistakes in his lectures, completely goes against what the Ahlul-Bayt [a] has taught us.

If he knew anything of the Howza and Marjaiyyah, it is anything but stagnant. If he read Sheikh Ansari's Usoul and Shaheed Sadr's Usoul, he would know that. But his 'revolution' is something that goes against the basic principles of Shia jurisprudence sourced from the teachings of the QUran and the Ahlul-Bayt [a], and is based on mere hypothesis and conjecture, not grounded in any reality, making Islam and the Sharia subject to any 'reforming' that any nut case brings to the table.

To claim that he is a mujtahid is the biggest joke.

 

If you want a detailed disucssion, PM me.

I find the biggest joke here, is that there's someone who wouldn't even know how to wipe his backside properly if wasn't for a ayatullah telling him how to do it and yet he thinks he is on the right path. HAHAHAHA give me a break, this all too common nowadays within the Shia community. It's ok you continue to think that blind following your maraja's is way to go, your loss

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I understand that you think that some sharia laws appear outdated and there is need for change, and you're not the first one to say so but this solution is anti-Islam to be honest. There are other thinkers and mujtahideen themselves who have given workable solutions being completely in accordance with Quran and Sunnah, but this solution you're talking about is anti Quran and Sunnah. It takes us away from Quran, away from Islam.

 

See below an excerpt from an essay by Shaheed Murtaza Mutahhari, in which he proposes a solution for the advancement of Fiqh.

 


Here I have a recommendation which could be most useful for the advancement and development of our fiqh.It was previously put forward by the late Shaykh `Abd al-­Karim al-­Yazdi43, and I am here only reiterating his proposal.


He asked what it was that required people to follow only one person in taqlid in all matters. Would it not be better if specialized divisions were established in fiqh? That is to say, there would be groups who, after having completed the general study of fiqh and become experts in it, would specialize in one particular section, and then people would follow them in that particular section.


For example, some would take as their specialization `ibadat (the rites of Islam), and others mu`amilat(transactions), some siyasat (politics), and other ahkam (criminal law); this is exactly what has been done in medicine where specialized branches have been created, and doctors divided into groups for each specialty, some being heart specialists, some eye specialists, some ear, nose and throat specialists, and others specialists in other branches. If this were done, each person could study his own branch more thoroughly. I believe that there is a discussion of this matter in the book al­Kalam Yajurru l­Kalam by the Sayyid Ahmad al-Zanjani.44


This recommendation is a very good one, and I will add only that the need to divide fiqh up and to create specialized branches arose a hundred years ago, and in present circumstances the fuqaha of today will impede the forward development of fiqh and stunt its growth unless they heed this recommendation.


......


At the present time, after this advance in the development of our fiqh, which occurred in the same way as similar advances in other sciences all over the world, and which has been the result of the efforts of the`ulama' and fuqaha' of the past, the scholars of today will find themselves faced with the choice of either curbing any further progress in fiqh or putting this sensible and progressive recommendation into practice and creating branches of specialization, as a result of which people will come to discriminate in their taqlid, in the same way as they discriminate in referring to a doctor.


 


he gives some more recommendations too, the whole essay can be found here: http://www.al-islam.org/al-serat/vol-10-no-1/principle-ijtihad-islam-ayatullah-murtadha-mutahhari/principle-ijtihad-islam#what-ijtihad


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There are other thinkers and mujtahideen themselves who have given workable solutions being completely in accordance with Quran and Sunnah, but this solution you're talking about is anti Quran and Sunnah. It takes us away from Quran, away from Islam.

 

It is a totally gratuitous statement.

The hadith ath-thaqalayn itself tends toward some flaws (#5) and it challenges the general shi'ite thought. 

The role of the Ahlul Bayt is at stake precisely because many things have changed since the classical period of Islam be it cosmology, espistemology, ontology, anthropology and so on (Do we still need the Ahlul Bayt ? It's a serious and daring question.).  And I believe that reason or knowledge can fill the absence of the Ahlul Bayt in a positive way in our century, specially in the West since we are experiencing those changes directly or indirectly through our university curriculum and our social, economic, political and intellectual life.

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ijtehad-619x825.png

 

The KSIMC of Birmingham would like to invite you to a seminar on ‘Ijtihad and Contemporary Issues’ on Sunday the 10th of May 2015 from 9:30am to 4:00pm, at Digbeth Banqueting Hall, 117 New Canal Street, Birmingham, B5 5RA.

The program will be chaired by Brother Gulamabbas Lakha and will consist of the following speakers:

  • Ayatullah Syed Fadhil al-Milani
  • Sheikh Mohammed Saeed Bahmanpour
  • Sheikh Arif Abdulhussain
  • Sheikh Murtadha Alidina (TBC)

The topics for discussion include:

  • ‘Marja’iyya & Locality: do we need a Marja’ in the West?’
  • ‘Reinterpretation of Islamic Law Based in Time and Place’
  • ‘Common Sense as a Source of Ijtihad’
  • ‘Change & Evolution in Marja’iyyah: do we need new sources of Ijtihad?’

Each speaker will be given the opportunity to address the audience for a duration of 30 minutes, which will be followed by a 15 minute Q&A session whereby the audience will get the opportunity to ask questions relevant to the topic.

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New insightful views on Ijtihad and Taqlid by Sheikh Arif Abdul Hussain from an existential perspective.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmPvsBRLFt4

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hjITn5KcMc

 

What exactly do you find insightful about those lectures? Give me some specific examples of what he said.

 

By the way, I really have to wonder how many people in the audience actually understand his incredibly verbose lectures. He has an amazing talent for saying very little in as complex way as possible. Sometimes I wonder if this isn't done on purpose, so as to give the audience the impression that he is a giant intellect, which helps them to swallow his liberal interpretation of Islam. Something tells me that if he expressed himself in plain language, and would get to the point a little more quickly, then he wouldn't be getting all these invitations to speak. People would see him for what he was, and nobody would listen to him.

Edited by Haydar Husayn

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