Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Best Hadeeth: past, present and future

This article was published in a few Muslim publications. In it, I argue that Muslims need to be forward looking and not stuck upon our leaders' opinions or historical issues of little or no relevance today. I look forward to your feedback.

The Best Hadeeth: Past, Present, and Future

“Allah sends forth (naz-zala) the best hadeeth, a book of repetition and consistency, the skins of those who fear their Lord shake concerning it, then, their skins and hearts soften to remembrance of Allah. That is Allah’s guidance, He guides to it whom He wills. And whomsoever Allah allows to be misguided, then there is no one to guide him.” (Qur’an 39:23)
The message of this verse deserves serious contemplation. By examining this verse, we discover that in fact, it corrects many of the misconceptions we have concerning God and revelation. The second word of this ayah ‘naz-zala’ denotes a constant act. Allah is continuously revealing “the best hadeeth.” This is important information, for it helps us to clarify many misconceptions we hold concerning God and His revelation.
Often when reading the Qur’an, we read about God’s work as historical narrative only. We don’t think that these stories have much relevance to our lives today. This is a mistake! The work of God is always taking place. The Qur’an is the best hadeeth because Allah has given it the ability to speak to us, to give us guidance and enlightenment at all times, all situations, and all circumstances!
Let us examine more of this beautiful ayah. “…a book of repetition and consistency, the skins of those who fear their Lord…their skins and hearts soften to the remembrance of Allah. That is Allah’s guidance…” Certainly when we study Al Qur’an, we encounter many commands over and over again. It is given in such a format in which only the studious, God-respecting person can find guidance and appreciate its style. Elsewhere, we learn “None shall touch it, except those who are pure” (Qur’an, 56:79), mean the Qur’an is not for everybody, only for those who are serious about spiritual and intellectual development.
The Qur’an does not contain details on every aspect or command. However, it does something greater! It inspires the sincere believer to always strive to become a better and more effective soldier for Allah. That is the whole point of religion! It is not to force us to adopt the personality of a religious figure or to abandon our thoughts and feelings for those of another. Thus, we read “That is Allah’s guidance!”
The guidance of Allah is indeed the best guidance. We are to ask for it everyday. The form of guidance will change, as our lives, both collective and personal, are in continuous change. We are not to all have the same thoughts. To expect uniformity on all issues is unrealistic and by nature hazardous to our spiritual health!
In summary, we can and must benefit from our past, be it stories given in scripture or our past as civilizations, nations and groups. However, it is our present and future realities that we must focus on. If we fail to recognize this fact, our children will not be interested in Islam! They will see Islam as an impractical, boring faith held by their parents and grandparents. If we remember that the Qur’an and Islam will outlive all of us, that it is practical for all ages, that it does not center around any particular groups or personality ourselves, then our children will grasp that. They will study the religion and contribute towards a better world!