Bassam Obeid , Masood Khan, Azeem Baig, Waleed Zoabi, Shabaan Abusamak, Raheel Qureshi, Nazeem Baig, Taimur Tareen

1. Obeying a ruler: There has been a big misunderstanding about the matter of obedience of a ruler. Unfortunately this misunderstanding is created by irresponsible, callous and intellectually dishonest interpretation of some of the savings of the Prophet. In fact such interpretation representation a good example of how we have abused Prophet’s words and done a great disservice to him. We discussed following two often referred ahadeeth by the so called scholars on this issue.

  1. Narrated by Ibne Abbas : “Whoever disapproved of something from his ruler, he should be patient”, and in another version of same hadeeth “whoever noticed something from his ruler that disliked, he should be patient for whoever parts from the group (majority of the people) even for a while and died as such, will have died as those who had died in the period of ignorance.
  2. Narrated by Ubada bin Samith: “The Prophet called us and we gave him the Bai’ah and among the conditions on which he took our pledge of allegiance was that we were to listen and obey the orders of the ruler, both when we are active or when we are inactive and also when we are in difficulty or when we are in ease and to be obedient to the ruler even if he did not give us our right and not to fight against him unless we noticed clear kufr about which we have clear proof from Allah.”

Not going into the authenticity of these ahadeeth, assuming they contain exact words of the Prophet, we can see that they have a special application. The words and the texts of these ahadeeth give you a sense that they relate to a special situation. In the first hadeeth, the words of the Prophet clearly indicate a situation where there is a just and good ruler who liked by majority of the people. Such a ruler, advised the Prophet, should not be disobeyed just because something about his rule was not to your personal liking or in your personal opinion was not correct. The words of the Prophet advising not to part with the group are very meaningful and reinforce this sense that one’s personal dissapproval is dislike should not be allowed to dictate your disobedience and become a cause of a greater problem like anarchy, conflict and division among Muslims.

The second Hadeeth is even more bound to a special period or occasion where the Prophet thought it was important, in the given circumstances to take pledge with a group of people to stay obedient to their ruler in all circumstances. It seems that the Prophet either foresaw that in rebellion against a ruler a great source of violence and bloodshed will open up for Muslims, or noticed in some particular people a natural inclination and potential to rebel against the ruler and cause problem. He therefore thought it was necessary to bing them with a pledge not to rebel against a ruler at any cost. It is noteworthy that even bound by this pledge, the Prophet allowed them to oppose a ruler who openly committed Kufr by Quranic criteria. We know that the act of committing kufr by diving standards has a wide scope of applied meaning which includes, blastant oppression, assuming the power and authority over people in a manner that is worthy of Allah only, and imposing on people orders that are against clear Quranic injunctions etc etc.

As we see, taking these ahadeeth to justify submission to an oppressive and unjust ruler which most of our so called scholars have done, is a sinful abuse of hadeeth and a misrepresentation of our Prophet. Unfortunately such examples of abuse of hadeeth are many and have resulted in reducing Islam into a misconceived and misapplied religion that is inflexible, narrow-minded, regressive and rigid. In addition, the abuse of hadeeth is also the root cause of hostile sectarianism among Muslims.

2. Any book on interpretation of Hadeeth?: Keeping above in mind an interesting question was brought up on the round table as to whether there is any book written in recent times which brings up debates around interpretation of Hadeeth rather than just its collection and authentification and looks into its proper application or lack of it in the modern times. The sayings of the Prophet need to be categorized as weak or strong on the basis of a thorough understanding of its applied interpretation of opposed to such categorization based only upon authenticity of transmission. There are many books written on the science of collection and determination of authenticity of Hadeeth, but almost none on its interpretation Ibne Hajar Asqalani (AD 1382 – 1449) was identified as author of such a book in Arabic. It seems he has written several books but the one which has gained fame and recognition is Fath – al – Bari which is a discussion and commentary on Bukhari. We don’t know what aspects of the study of Hadeeth this book covers. It is certainly an interesting matter for research.