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History and Importance of Quran/Sources of Islamic Law

THE HISTORY AND IMPORTANCE OF QURAN


1. The Revelation of the Qur’an to the Prophet between the years 610 and 632:


  • With age and growing understanding, the Holy Prophet became more and more disturbed because of the corrupt society around him during the period of darkness. 
  • He often thought of the God of his forefathers, especially Hazrat Ibrahim. 
  • A few years before the conferment of Proohethood, he became more and more fond of solitude. 
  • He spent days in the cave of Hira and took supplies of dates and water with him. He was 40 years old then.
  • One such day, towards the end of Ramzan an angel appeared before him and asked him to read. 
  • The Prophet replied that he could not read since he had not received any formal education. 
  • The angel then hugged him tightly and asked him again to read. 
  • The Prophet again replied that he could not read. 
  • The angel again squeezed the Prophet tightly and repeated his demand for the third time. The Prophet finally asked, what should I read? 
  • In response, the angel recited the first 4 verses of Surah Alaq:
  • Read! in the name of your Lord, who created, 2. Created man out of a clot of congealed blood: 3. Proclaim! And your Lord is most bountiful, 4. He who taught by the pen, 5. Taught man what he did not know.
  • These were the first five verses of the Holy Quran and they were imprinted on the Prophet’s mind.
  • From this onwards, the Prophet continued to receive revelations throughout the rest of his life, for a period of about 23 years.
  • The Holy Quran was not entirely revealed at once but in steps. 
  • Because if the revelations had been revealed at once, it would have put a lot of stress on the Prophet and would have over burdened him. 
  • Similarly, different verses were revealed to address different situations and solve different problems that were under consideration. 
  • The last revelation received by him was in the Plains of Arafat after he had performed the Hajj and delivered the sermon: “…this day have I perfected your religion for you, completed my favor upon you and have chosen for you Islam as your religion…”
  • The revelations revealed were then compiled to form surahs. 
  • The surahs can be divided into 2 types i.e. Makki and Madni surahs. Makki surahs were the ones revealed on Makkah and the Madni surahs were revealed after Prophet’s migration from Makkah to Medina. 
  • The Makki surahs were generally brief. 
  • They dealt with belief in Allah and other Articles of faith and contained teachings to develop ones moral character. '
  • The Madni surahs, on the other hand, dealt with the pillars of Islam and social duties and obligations of Muslims. 
  • Makki surahs used a stronger vocabulary and language as compared to Madni Surahs.
  • Whenever a revelation came to the Prophet, he experienced different sensations. 
  • He heard ringing sounds, he perspired in the cold; he became so heavy that the animal he was riding could feel his weight. 
  • After receiving a revelation he would ask his literate companions to write it down as he himself was illiterate. 
  • He would then ask the scribe to read it back to ensure that he had written it correctly. 
  • This way, the Prophet ensured that the word of Allah was saved in the correct form.
  • The revelations were written on pieces of leather, stone tablets, bones of camels and palm tree leaves. 
  • Several copies of the Quran existed in this form at that time but it was not complied in the form of a book. 
  • The Quranic verses were initially not arranged in any proper order but towards the end of Prophet’s life, he informed the scribes of the real order of the Quranic verses and chapters. 
  • These instructions were given to the Prophet by Allah through angel Gabriel.
  • The Quran was not compiled in a book form during the life of the Prophet. 
  • But he used to recite the entire Quran once in each Ramzan with angel Gabriel so as to maintain accuracy; and did so twice in his last Ramzan.

2. Account of the Compilation of the Qur’an under the Rightly Guided Caliphs:


  • At the time of the Prophet’s death, there was no official copy of the Quran and no one possessed a complete written text. 
  • However, after the death of many of the memorizers of Quran in the battle of Yamana, Hazrat Umar realized that those who had memorized the Quran would gradually die and this might challenge the preservation of the word of Allah. 
  • Therefore, Hazrat Umar suggested to the caliph, Hazrat Abu Bakr that he order a written copy of the Quran to be made. 
  • At first Hazrat Abu Bakr hesitated because he did not want to take on a task which the Prophet himself had left undone. 
  • However, Hazrat Umar went on insisting him until he finally agreed. 
  • Hazrat Abu Bakr then directed Zaid Bin Sabit, Prophet’s chief scribe, to undertake this task. 
  • Zain Bin Sabit is reported to have said: “had I been asked to carry a mountain on my head, it would have been a much easy task than to shoulder this responsibility.  
  • A commission was appointed, headed by Zaid Bin Sabit. 
  • It traced out and collected the chapters of Quran from every person who had it in their possession. 
  • Zaid Bin Sabit even collected verses of the Quran written on stones, bones and palm leaves. 
  • Yet, he was not content and verified all what they collected from other memorizers of the Quran to ensure that the copy they made was flawless and Allah’s word was preserved in its truest form. 
  • The copy which this commission prepared was given to the caliph who then gave it to his predecessor, Hazrat Umar. After Hazrat Umar’s death the copy was given to Hazrat Hafsa, a widow of the Prophet, and likewise it came to be known as Mushaf-e-Hufsa.
  • In the Caliphate of Hazrat Usman, Islam expanded rapidly and many new areas were gained as territories. 
  • These areas had different pronunciations and dialects. 
  • So much so that once, a commander of the Muslim army felt that one of his soldiers was pronouncing Quran in a different dialect, which may have altered the meaning. 
  • So he reported this to the caliph, who took serious action. 
  • He acquired the Mushaf-e-Hufsa and told Zaid Bin Sabit and 3 other men to make a new copy following the dialect of Quraish, since the Quran was revealed in that dialect. 
  • The Quran was read out loudly from the beginning to the end in the Prophet’s mosque from these copies, so that not a shadow of doubt remained in the mind of Muslims regarding the changes introduced. 
  • These copies were then dispatched to the capital of each province with instructions that future copies must be based on them. All other copies were then burnt. For this service, Hazrat Usman is often referred to as Jami-al-Quran. 

1.Use of the Qur’an, Sunnah, Ijma and Qiyas in Legal Thinking:


QURAN:

  • Quran is the first source of Islamic law. 
  • It is a primary source which is independent of all sources. 
  • Quran in the divine, eternal and complete word of Allah which is a source of guidance for all Muslims. 
  • It contains a divine code of conduct for all Muslims which contains teachings for Muslims on how to lead lives. 
  • From the Quranic point of view, sovereignty belongs to Allah and therefore, the law formulated by Him in the form of the Quran is the fundamental law according to which He wants a Muslim to live both in his private and social life. 
  • It provides for him the knowledge of right and wrong, of the difference between the straight path and that which leads him astray. 
  • The Quranic law deals with beliefs, morality, worship, civil transactions, punishment for intentional injury to the human body, property and honor etcetera. 
  • Quoted below, are several injunctions of the Quran which set as guidance for individuals:
  • “Come not nigh to the orphan’s property except to improve it”. This verse explicitly speaks on the importance of how to treat an orphan’s property.
  • In matters of inheritance, the Quran lays down regulations for a just distribution of wealth left behind a deceased person. 
  • Theft is prohibited and punishment is laid down. Drinking wine, games of chance and charging interest are prohibited without a penalty being fixed. 
  • There are laws concerning false accusations, blood money and retaliation: “we ordained therein for them; life for life, eye for eye, nose for nose, ear for ear, tooth for tooth and wounds equal foe equal…”
  • The Quranic law is perpetual and everlasting. 
  • It does not change with the passage of time. 
  • It is complete and final because no aspect of human life has been left without guidance and nothing more is needed to supplement all that is provided by it.

              SUNNAH:

            History of the compilation of the Hadith:

  • There are three main stages in the compilation of Hadith. 
  • The first period dates from 571 AD to 661 AD. 
  • It covers the lifetime of the Holy Prophet’s Companions and the first 4 caliphs.
  •  Initially, during the lifetime of the Prophet, Hadith were preserved by mutual discussion  and were passed on verbally. '
  • But after his death, the need was felt to compile the scattered traditions. Hazrat Abu Huraira, a distinguished companion of the Prophet, compiled 5375 traditions in his book called Sahifa-e-Abu Huraira. 
  • Hazrat Ayesha also compiled 2210 traditions were known as the musnad of Ayesha. Hazrat Ali made an entire compilation on legal issues. 
  • Hazrat Abu Bakr also compiled 500 traditions which were passed on to Hazrat Ayesha
  • This period was followed by the second stage of compilation, which is also known as Taba’een stage. 
  • It covers the lifetime of the followers of the companions of the Holy Prophet. During this time, graeter attention was given to the compilation of scattered traditions as many companions began to die. The Ummayad Caliph, Hazrat Umar Bin Abdul Aziz issued the order of compilation.
  • In compliance with this order, all the Hadith were gathered into one compilation. 
  • As the century progressed, more authentic works started to come into light. Such as, Imam Abu Hanifa’s Kitab ul Athar and Imam Malik Bin Anas’ Al-Muwatta. Many Maliki and Shafi schools of thought were also formulated which gave the task of compilation more importance.

  • The third stage of compilation is the stage of Taba Taba’een (the age of the followers of Taba’een). 
  • This was the time when Hadith literature flourished.
  •  It is also known as the golden era of Hadith Collection. 
  • This compilation was done under great critical analysis. 
  • There were strict rules set for the traditions that were compiled in order to ensure their authenticity. 
  • The need for rules regarding Isnad (chain of narrators) and matn (text) was developed. 
  • There were six major books written during this period, which are known as the Sihah-e-Sitta.

      Main Musnad and Musannaf Collections:

  • Isnad is the chain of narrators of a Hadith. 
  • Those collections of Hadith which are arranged according to the 1st narrator in the Isnad are called Musnad collections. 
  • One of the most renowned Musnad is the Musnad of Imam Ahmed Ibn Hanbal.
  • Matn is the main text of the Hadith. 
  • The compliations of Hadith on which the Hadith are arranged acoording to the topic are called Musannaf collections. 
  • For example, in a Musannaf collection, all Hadith regarding prayer would be in one chapter and all those regarding fasting would be in another. 
  • Some of the main Musannaf collections are:
  1.     Sahih Bukhari
  2.     Sahih Muslim
  3.     Sunan Ibn Majah
  4.     Sunan – e - Abu Daud
  5.     Jami of Tirmizi
  6.     Sunan Nasai

                  Main Compilers and their Activities:

               Imam Bukhari:

He was a very learned scholar of his times. 
He was the first to conceive the idea of compiling authentic Hadith. Within 6 years, he had mastered all traditions available to him. 
He sifted through 6,00,000 and chose only the 7397 authentic ones for his compilation. 
His book, called the Sahih Bukharo has Hadith divided into 97 chapters.

                                               Imam Muslim:

In his Musannaf collection, he has compiled 12,000 Hadith from about 1/3rd of  a million available so as to ensure that only the most authentic ones are included.

                                                Abu Daud:

He made a series of journeys to meet the foremost traditionists and acquire Hadith. From a range of 5 lakhs, he chose 4800 of the most reliable ones to include in his Sunan.

                                                Imam Tirmizi:

He was a pupil of Abu Daud, and like his mentor, he too travelled a great distance in search of authentic Hadith. His work has been accepted by many jurists as the basis of Islamic Law because of the strict measures he adopted while checking the authenticity of Hadith.
  

 Imam Nasai:

He was widely recognized as a leading traditionists and travelled great distances to collect authentic Hadith for his Sunan.

                                                 Imam Ibn Majah:

He visited important centres of learning and compiled a Musannaf Collection containing 4000 traditions.

                                                Muhammad bin Yaqub al-Kaluni:

He was a Shia scholar who died in 328 AH. His collection is called “Sufficient in the Science of Religion”.

                                                Muhammad Babuya:

This Shia scholar who passed away in 381 AH wrote a book titled “He Who Has No Legal Expert Present”.

                                                 Muhammad al – Tusi:

He, too, was a Shia scholar who wrote “The Revision of Judgment” and “The Perspective”.

 Methods Based on Examination of isnad and matn of a Hadith to test its Reliability:

  • There were certain rules regarding the checking of authenticity of Hadith. These rules were made by Imam Bukahri and his contemporaries since the heavy influx of Hadith made it difficult to determine which Hadith was authentic and which was not. 
  • They travelled great distances in search of transmitters and rejected the sayings of those who were not pious. 
  • Once, Imam Bukahri had travelled very far to get a Hadith. 
  • When he reached there, he saw the narrator was calling his camel towards himself by showing an empty basket of food as if there was food in it. 
  • Imam Bukahri returned without even taking the Hadith because he thought if this man could lie to his camel, he could also lie to me. 
  • Such was the level of piousness that these compilers sought in their narrators. 
  • They devised a fix criterion for both the Isnad and Matn of a Hadith.
The rules of Matn are as follows:

i.         The Hadith should not go against the teachings of Quran, other authentic Hadith and common sense
ii.        It should not give praise to any individual, location or tribe
iii.      It should not contain precise details of events which took place after Prophet’s death
iv.      It should not contain expressions which are out of keeping of what the Prophet might be expected to use.
v.       It should be free from minute defects such as errors in date
vi.      It should not contain any remarks regarding the Prophet hood of the Prophet
vii.    It should not begin with general phrases such as ‘we used to...’

The rules of Isnad are as follows:

i.         It must be unbroken
ii.        The first person in the chain must know the Prophet directly
iii.      The transmitters must know the ones before and after them
iv.      There shouldn’t be any hidden defects like names being repeated or misspellings
v.       There should be no muslims in chain
vi.      There should not be a large age difference between two narrators
vii.    Any public event must have at least 2 chains of narrators

The rules for checking individual narrators are as follows:
i.         He must be of firm faith and honest
ii.        He must be known for his truthfulness
iii.      He must have a good memory
iv.      He must be aware of the importance of what he is narrating
v.       He should report exactly what he learned from his teacher

       Source of Islamic Law:

  • Sunnah of the prophet is the 2nd source of Islamic law. 
  • It comes right next to Quran. Sunnah literally means the sayings, actions or silent approvals of the Prophet.  
  • Sunnah of the Prophet is not only an elaboration of the meaning of Quran, but also addresses issues upon which Quran is silent. 
  • Therefore, Sunnah describes a verse of the Quran. 
  • \Whereas, in the second position, if there is no mention of the commandments in Quran, Sunnah will stand on its own force as the sole basis for law. 
  • As the Muslim community grew, need was felt to supplement the Quran with Sunnah. 
  • Public law, criminal law, property and family law all were elaborated with the help of Sunnah. 
  • The Quran itself mentions the need to resort to Sunnah in particular methods by saying: “we have sent the admonition to you (O Muhammad), so that you should make plain and explain to the people the teachings of the book which has been sent for them”.
  • Mentioned below are a few examples to explain how the Sunnah is used as a source of Islamic law.
  • The Quran says: “establish regular prayer”
  • However, it does not mention the exact method of praying. This void was filled by the Prophet who taught his companions how to pray and even said “pray as you see me praying”.
  • Zakat has been made compulsory in the Quran by saying: “be steadfast in prayers and give charity”. However, it is Sunnah which defines the exact limits of zakat. “no charity tax is due on property mounting to less than 5 uqiya, and no charity tax is due on fewer than 5 camels and no charity tax is due on less than 5 wasq.


IJMA

Ijma is the third and secondary source of Islamic law. Its literal meaning is unanimous agreement. Ijma, is basically a consensus of legal experts over a question regarding Islamic law on which the Quran and Sunnah are silent

However, it must be noted that to perform Ijma, the legal experts must have complete knowledge of Quran and Sunnah because Ijma of modern experts cannot go against the teachings of Quran and Sunnah. The scholars should also have in depth knowledge of the previously performed Ijmas and also of the new problem under consideration.

Now, I can understand that some of you must be wondering that since the primary sources of Islamic law are perfect, why need of Ijma. In this regard it is important to understand that though the Quran and Sunnah are undoubtedly flawless, however there is no harm at all in extending those very teachings to apply them to problems which the Muslim Ummah faces today. And this, by no means implies defying or contradicting Quran and Sunnah.

In fact the Quran itself approve of the Ijma at several instances. It says: “O you who believe, obey Allah, and Obey His messenger and those charged with duty amongst you”
Here those charged with duty refers to Islamic scholars, thus proving that their consensus is a valuable source of Islamic law.

To further clear your understanding, let me quote some examples of previously performed Ijmas:

      During Hazrat Umar’s Caliphate, it was felt that the Muslims had difficulty gathering for the Friday prayer on just one azaan and so it was decided by the experts to have 2 calls for prayer on Fridays.
      The Tarawwih prayer is prayed throughout Ramadan after Isha in which the whole Quran is recited. This was the Ijma of the companions of the Prophet during the time of Hazrat Umar’s Caliphate, to perform 20 rakats of this prayer and this is practiced even today.

 QIYAS:

Qiyas is the 4th source of Islamic law and like Ijma; it too is a secondary source. Qiyas is actually a legal method of deducing one principle from another by comparing them together. However, please bear in mind that Qiyas can only be performed of both the Quran and Sunnah are silent on a particular issue and even no Ijma has been performed. Therefore, the purpose of Qiyas is primarily to facilitate Muslims to fashion their lives according to Islam in the modern world. Like Ijma, Qiyas too, finds its approval in the primary sources of Islamic law.
The Quran says: “marry women of your choice, two or three of four; but if you fear you shall not be able to do justice then only one”
Here the second clause (but if you fear…) allows for humans to apply their own reasoning and chose for what suits them best, but within the limits defined by Quran. In fact, this is in essence, the true meaning of Qiyas.
Similarly, the Sunnah also approves of the Qiyas in the following incident:
When the Holy Prophet sent Muadh Ibn Jabal as governor of Yemen, he asked him: “How will you reach a judgment when a question arises?” Muadh replied: “according to the word of Allah.” “And if you find nothing therein?” He then replied: “Then according to Sunnah of the messenger of Allah.” The Prophet again questioned: “And if you find nothing therein?” On this, Muadh said: “Then I shall take the decision according to my opinion” The Prophet was extremely pleased at his response and remarked: “Praise be to Allah who has led his messenger to a solution that pleases him”
This anecdote illustrates that the Prophet appreciated the use of one’s analogical deduction – Qiyas – to deliberate on issues not explained in the Primary sources of Islamic Law.
Qiyas can be divided into 4 portions:
      Asl: the actual injunction in Quran or Sunnah
      Illa: reasoning behind the injunction
      Hukm: the new deduction made
      Far: the link between the injunction and deduction
Mentioned below is an example of Qiyas to clear your understanding.
      The Quran forbids sales transactions after the call of prayer on Friday (asl). By analogy, all kinds of transactions (far) have been forbidden (hukm), because like sales they also distract Muslims from the Friday Prayers (Illa).
      The Holy Quran forbids the use of Khamr, an alcohol of grapes (asl). By analogy, heroin and other intoxicants (far) are also banned (hukm) because like Khamr they also cause intoxication (illa).
FOR FURTHER READING:
Islamiat by Farkhanda Noor Muhammad (pages 23-39 and 163-177)


QUESTIONS:
Q) Why did the Caliphs think it was important to make a compilation of the Quran? /4
A) After the death of many of the memorizers of Quran in the battle of Yamana, Hazrat Umar realized that those who had memorized the Quran would gradually die and this might challenge the preservation of the word of Allah. Therefore, Hazrat Umar suggested to the caliph, Hazrat Abu Bakr that he order a written copy of the Quran to be made so as to preserve the word of Allah in its truest form so that future generations could benefit from it.

When Hazrat Usman was told that Quran was being recited in different dialects by different Muslims, he realized that this could result in the loss of original meaning of the Quran and this could also cause disunity amongst Muslims.

Key Features of the Surahs

1.Allah in Himself

 Allah in Himself (Person)
  • The Holy Quran describes and elaborates details about the person of Allah.
  • Usually certain symbolic expressions and parables have been used for this purpose.
  • For example, Surah An Nur describes Allah as a 'light', (give example here) & Sura Ikhlas
 Allah in Himself (Attributes)
  • The Holy Quran describes and elaborates details about the nature attributes of Allah using parables & analogies
  • Attributes of Allah: (Surah Al Hashr)
 Allah in Himself (Powers)
  • Another oft repeated theme is that of Allah's Unmatchable power,
  • “ Verily, when He intends a thing, His command is "Be" and it is! (36:82) & Sura Al Anaam
 Allah in Himself (Signs)
  • – “Among His signs are the night and the day, and the sun and the moon. Adore not the sun and the moon, but adore Allah, who created them, if it is Him you wish to serve”  (Surah Fussilat/Sajda)


Allah’s relationship with His creation

  • He is most Gracious &Merciful.
  • All Praise is due to Allah
  • He is the Lord of the Worlds,
  • Master of the Day of Judgment
  • Will reward/punish as per deeds
  • Only He is to be worshiped
  • He is to be feared
  • He grants Guidance
  • Those who follow guidance get Grace
  • Those who don’t, earn His anger
  • He is the Creator of all, us &all around us; of Good & Evil
  • We Should not set up rivals with Him
  • He gave us knowledge
  • His refuge should be sought from evil


ALLAH’S RELATIONSHIP WITH HIS MESSENGERS


  • They are Allah‟s vicegerents on earth
  • They have been granted special and great knowledge by Allah
  • They are much higher in status than the angels
  • They must follow His instructions
  • They are very intelligent
  • They recognize Allah very well through His Signs
  • Their focus is towards Allah only
  • They don‟t do Shirk
  • Allah has favored them
  • He gave them miracles
  • He never forsakes them
  • He is never displeased with them
  • They have His Shelter
  • He grants them guidance
  • He grants them abundance
  • His deals with their enemies
  • They have special missions





(Sir Iftikhar ul Haq)

History and Importance of Quran 



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"Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself."
John Dewey