Khalid Zaheer
“I am convinced about the veracity of my opinions, but I do consider it likely that they may turn out to be incorrect. Likewise, I am convinced about the incorrectness of the views different from mine, but I do concede the possibility that they may turn out to be correct.” — Imam Shafa’i

Principles for Validating History being applied on sources of deen

Question:
I am not a historian but i believe history as a discipline has its methods and techniques in order to evaluate and validate events and concepts human civilizations have come across through ages, be it cultures, creeds, theories, events there should be formal methods to authenticate what is true and false.

The Dawn of Islam is one such instance having its own formalisms such as Quran, Sunnah and Hadith mainly.

"Historic Documentation" is one important input to evaluate an element of history. The Quran has been preserved both through documentation and progressive transmissions preserved through generations and so it is said for the Sunnah of the prophet as well.

My confusion is that given the fact sunnah being equally important as the Quran but primarily being preserved through "tawatur", can "tawatur" be declared as a credible tool for authenticating the history of sunnah and history in general.

Secondly how can this tawatur be verified, Shia and Sunni divisions could be termed as the first major division in the religion of Islam that has echoed through time via generations, the likes of such puts me in a fix to trust "tawatur" as a viable tool of investigation of history.

Response:
Don’t forget that the religion of God is needed by all, not just by intellectuals like you and the historians. A highly gifted scientist and a very ordinary layman are both equally in need of it and both need to be satisfied about its contents. Sunnah of the prophet, alaihissalam, is therefore a source of knowledge which is not contained in the intricacies of a text which is inaccessible to the ordinary people. It is a set of religious practices which every ordinary and extraordinary individual can see for himself.

When you get confused regarding Sunnah because of Shia-Sunni divide ask yourself this question: Which Sunnah do we have difference of opinion on? Prayers, Zakat, fasting, Hajj, Jumu’ah, burying the dead, saying salam, saying Eid prayers, doing animal sacrifice etc. You will be surprised that the similarities make a tall list. And where you find unanimity in the Ummah on a religious practice be sure that is Sunnah. Where there is a difference, it cannot be Sunnah because the prophet left God’s religion in a way that it gets carried through to later generations in an unadulterated form.

I know that there are differences amongst the Sunnis and the Shias on the details of many of these Sunnahs. So are there differences in the interpretation of the Qur’an. The domain of differences is for us to be tested on; the territory of commonalities is there to engender confidence into our minds and hearts to be satisfied that what we have been given is the religion of God.

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