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PUSAT ILMU PENYELIDIKAN ISLAM ( P.I.P.I )

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THE UNDERSTANDING, INTERPRETATION AND APPROACH OF THE ISLAMIC TEACHINGS

BY:

HJ. ABDUL KADIR BIN CHE KOB

B.A. Syariah & Laws ( Al-Azhar, Cairo, Egypt )

Diploma in Laws & Islamic Judicial Administration ( IIUM )

Da’wah and Leadership ( Nilam Puri, Kelantan )

CONTENTS

 

1.AN INTRODUCTION

2.UNDERSTANDING AND INTERPRETATION DURING THE ISLAMIC CIVILIZATION LEGACY

3.THE DIMENSION OF KNOWLEDGE FROM MACRO AND MICRO PERSPECTIVES

4.THE HOLY QURAN AS THE KNOWLEDGE RESOURCE

5.UNDERSTANDING, INTERPRETATION AND APPROACH

6.EXPERIENCING APPROACH AND REALIZING ISLAMIC TEACHINGS IN THE LIFE OF UMMAH

7.MIXING UP HUKM TAKLIFI  WITH HUKM WADH’IE

 

  

INTRODUCTION

 

As narrated in a classical story, there were 4 blinds wanting to to know the shape of an elephant. They were brought about to an elephant, 1 was touching the tail, 1 was hugging a leg, 1 was touching the abdomen and the last was touching the trunk. Then they talked to each other about the shape, thus they made their own interpretation and conclusion.

 

 

The blinds interpreted the shape according to what they thought, imagined and understood. Their understanding were different from one to another based on their capabilities hence the limited sense i.e. mere touch.

 

 

The interpretation of Islamic Teachings are also related to the value and level of individual’s understanding of a certain problem.

 

 

How the question of kulliyyah or macro understandable is closely related to the level of knowledge.

 

And how the question of juziyyah or micro understandable is closely related to the level of knowledge as well.

 

 

The broad of macro as well as the depth of micro understandings are subject to several factors:

 

Mastering multi-knowledge in multi-knowledge disciplines and analytical capabilities.

 

Life background and broad experience.

 

Ability to and experience of undertaking intellectual researches.

 

Self-capability or malakah (talent) and intellectual ability.

 

 

UNDERSTANDING AND INTERPRETATION DURING THE ISLAMIC CIVILIZATION’S LEGACY

  

 

The tradition of knowledge during that period emphasized on the shining up of malakah and upgrading the level of intellectual capabilities.

 

 

Exploring multi-knowledge disciplines enabled the muslim ummah to master diversified horizons of knowledge and expertise resulting in improved ethics as well as knowledge and civilization.

 

  

The broad dimension and research exploration as well as multi-discipline acquisitions paved the way to diverse perspectives and beneficial dimensions of knowledge, either macro or micro, in understanding and interpreting.

 

 

The Prophet p.b.u.h. says: “Disagreement among my people (ummah ) is a bestowment” was a motto that became the catalyst of broad Islamic Teachings which paved the ways to exploring knowledge resources.

 

 Thus resulted in culturising the level of understanding and interpreting in a macro, micro and super-micro manner.

 

 

Ta’biriyyah

 

Tahqiqiyyah

 

Tadqiqiyyah

 

Ta’miqiyyah

 

 

The disciplines produced scholars dubbed as al-Fahhamah, al-‘Allamah, Faidhul Khabir, al-Mudaqqiq, al-Muhaqqiq or Bahrul ‘Ulum.

 

Allah the Almighty promises to elevate the degrees of knowledgable people in His Holy Verse:

 

Meaning:

 

“...Allah will raise up, to (suitable) ranks (and degrees) those of you who believe and who have been granted knowledge.”

 

al-Mujadilah: 11

 

 

A simple example in understanding the concept as follows:

 

Ta’biriyyah – from seeds become paddy.

 

Tahqiqiyyah – from paddy rice is produced.

 

Tadqiqiyyah – from rice flour is produced.

 

Ta’miqiyyah – flour is moulded to diverse kinds of food.

 

 

THE DIMENSION OF KNOWLEDGE FROM MACRO AND MICRO PERSPECTIVES

 

 

The broad and depth of knowledge is like an ocean, beachless and floorless. Thus the meaning, definition, result, conclusion, elaboration, debate, analysis and theory are endless, until it is said:

 

 

Endless meaning

 

Endless description

 

 

These are the meanings given to the understanding and interpretation, meaning related understanding, debate-related interpretation, discourse and analysis. Allah the Almighty says in His Holy Verse:

 

Meaning:

“Say: “If ocean were ink (wherewith to write out) the words of my Lord. Sooner would the ocean be exhausted than would the words of my Lord, even if we added another ocean like it, for its aid”.

Al-Kahf: 109

 

The broad dimension of knowledge (macro and micro) challenges human capacity in understanding and interpreting everything, because human being is only given limited abilities. Allah the Almighty says in His Holy Verse:

 

Meaning:

“...of knowledge it is only a little that is communicated to you, O men”.

Al-Isra’: 85

 

 

THE HOLY QURAN AS THE KNOWLEDGE RESOURCE

 

The Holy Quran is the premier and king of all knowledge. Its drive in the past motivated the Ignorants of Arab society; dubbed by the Romans and the Persians as ‘the locusts of the desert’; to raise in developing knowledge, civilization and humanity, mental, spiritual and material,  within more than 10 centuries.

 

 

They became the people who succeeded in exploring multi-knowledge, multi-ethics and multi-civilization, exploring the discoveries of new knowledge, expanding the dimension of knowledge and ancient heritage of civilization. They were then known across the world as scholars, artists, laurettes, engineers, architects, doctors, philosophers and the like.

 

 

The past muslim ummah established a political empire stretching from the border of France to the border of China. They became the ummah who occupied the world, extended the civilization and gave meaning to the worldly life. Presently, their inherited heritage has partly been overtaken by the western society which then enabling them to further establish their own civilization.

 

 

How to give a correct meaning and definition and to interpret them? This is where the root cause of the problems and the differences of the muslim ummah lie, between the past ummah with their legacy of civilization and the present ummah.

 

The Holy Verse of the Holy Quran and the Sayings of The Prophet p.b.u.h still remain the same, previously and presently, but the arising question states that; why those Holy Verses and the Sayings of The Prophet p.b.u.h. were recited, understood and interpreted by the past ummah consequently making them more dignified and respected whereas the case is otherwise presently?

 

 

Does the difference of understanding the needs of Syakli and Maudhu’ie result in contradicting interpretation, subsequently resulting in different approaches? Or are there any other reasons that cause the visible effects between the past and the present situations?

 

 

From the 1st to the 10th century of Hijrah, the muslim ummah was outstanding, dignified and strong. Beginning from the 10th century onwards, since 500 years ago, they have dramatically deteriorated and became the weak and helpless. Moreover, they were dubbed with negative attributes such as backwards, uncivilized and weak.

 

Presently, they are even called terrorists! The Holy Quran, the Sayings of the Prophet p.b.u.h. and the knowledge legacy inherited by the past scholars are not mistaken at all. It is the understanding, interpretation and approach of the present ummah that are mistaken, consequently producing weak muslim individuals, societies and groups, backwards and terrorists.

 

 

Among the main factors that weaken the present muslim ummah are:

 

 

Incomplete religious practice.

Partial understanding.

Deviant understanding.

Deviant interpretation.

Fanaticism.

Misleading approaches.

Individualism and tribalism.

Lost of self-dignity and self-esteem.

Lost of the fighting spirit.

Decrease of good ethics.

 

 

UNDERSTANDING, INTERPRETATION AND APPROACH

 

 

The Holy Quran and the Sayings of the Prophet p.b.u.h., as understood by the past scholars during the legacy of the muslim ummah  since the 1st century until the excellent level of civilization era, are interpreted into 2 dimensions:

 

 

Understanding and interpreting the mantuq  needs

 

Understanding and interpreting the mafhum  needs

 

 

Both dimensions were well understood, the interpretation was well-clarified, the approach was well-coordinated, and thus the implementation was based on the result of endless effort of exploring multi-situations, multi-facts, multi-knowledge, multi-environments and sharpness of wisdom; thus, they managed to realize the gees of Islamic Teachings within the context of Hukm Taklifi  and Hukm Wadh’ie.

 

 

How glorious and well coordinated were their discourses, how furthermore systematic were their mixture of understanding, interpreting and implementations methods and approaches, which lasted from their generation to the next generation. Some of them went even ahead of time and foretold futuristic presumptions with the method of al-Mafrudh.

 

 

Presently, a lot of problems have not been resolved properly due to effortless ijtihad  activities, since many have thought that the door of ijtihad  has tightly closed down with no other opportunity left to proceed it.

 

 

Is it true that the door of ijtihad  has closed down? Or rather is the muslim ummah  too weak to overcome present challenges which require them to sacrifice (mujahadah ), be committed and strive hard enough to release themselves from the problems that have enveloped their lives?

 

 

Or have they lost their self-dignity and fighting spirit until they have been easily defeated, unable to overcome or resolve the questions and problems they have been facing, subsequently some of them have turned to elements such as:

 

Shallow understanding;

 

Shallow interpretation; and

 

Mistaken approaches misleading them far adrift from the divine guidance .

  

To the extent that some have gone further astray like:

 

Denying dalil qat’ie al-thubut which is qat’ie dilalah and mutawatir;

 

Mistakenly interpreting the dalil that is qat’ie dilalah or otherwise, as a result of their ignorance or other personal interests;

 

Unable to distinguish the needs of qat’ie dilalah  between mantuq al-nas  and mafhum al-nas  or rather deliberately discard the both due to personal or tribal interests;

 

Overzealously implementing Hukm Taklifi without firstly observing and experiencing the needs of Hukm Wadh’ie.

 

Where are the knowledge disciplines inherited by ancient muslim  scholars to be practiced, like:

 

 

Understanding and interpretation of Ta’biri

 

Understanding and interpretation of Tahqiqi

 

Understanding and interpretation of Tadqiqi

 

Understanding and interpretation of Ta’miqi

 

 

Those disciplines require comprehensive and broad understanding and interpretation, which also value all perspectives, wajh istidlal, debates and ways of making conclusions.

 

 

Misunderstanding of Islamic Teachings followed by the attitude of taking it for granted consequently has risen up the consecutive implications, such as:

 

 

Misunderstanding of Islam

 

Misleading interpretation then appear

 

Mistaken interpretation of Islamic Teachings then occur

 

Misleading assumptions against Islam then emerge

 

 

The meaning of nas ( text ) and the fitrah ( human nature ) are cohesive, as Allah the Almighty says in His Holy Verse:

 

Meaning:

“ So set thou thy face steadily and truly to the faith: ( establish ) Allah’s handiwork according to the pattern on which He has made mankind. No change ( let there be ) in the work  ( brought ) by Allah: that is the standard religion, by most among mankind understand not “.

Al-Rum: 30

 

 

The criteria of Islamic Teachings are as the following:

 

 

The comprehensive teachings which fulfill the human nature and the duties as the servant of Allah and as His vicegerent on earth.

 

 

Tauhidic  teachings and faith (I’tiqad ) do not change with the change of time, since the Prophet Adam ( p.b.u.h ) until the last period of time i.e. the doomsday.

 

 

The syariah  remain firm despite there are changes and differences between the teachings of one prophet to the other, due to different environments and requirements to meet appropriate human changes and his nature.  As muslim  scholars said: 

“Men are naturally ever-changing and advancing”.

 

 

Its universal teachings of ethics (akhlaq ) and the genuine characteristics and nature of the human being are cohesive.

 

 

Thus any deviated understanding, interpretation and approach fall into 2 conditions, either deviant or getting the wrath of the Almighty Allah ( the meaning of Surah al-Fatihah: 7 )

 

 

The universality of the Islamic Teachings has completely met the need of human being, either the role of being the vicegerent on earth – improving its stability, integrity and glory to be equally enjoyed for the betterment of the creatures on it, or the role of being the servant of Allah – always totally submitting to Him in every righteous deed, action and approach.

 

Truly, the human being would always remain with the nature; so would the worldly lives and animals, provided that the human being would not betray the nature, provided that they remain steadfast with the divine guidance of the Almighty Allah.

 

 

EXPERIENCING AND REALIZING APPROACH OF ISLAMIC TEACHINGS IN THE LIFE OF UMMAH

 

 

Accurate and precise understanding and interpretation will result in correct and precise undertakings, and be categorized by Allah the Almighty as stated in His Holy Verse:

 

 

Meaning:

“All who obey Allah and the Messenger are in the company of those whom is the grace of Allah – of the Prophets ( who teach ) the sincere ( lovers of truth ) the witness ( who testify ) and the righteous ( who do good ): Ah! What a beautiful fellowship”.

Al-Nisa’: 69

 

 

Would the present muslim ummah be as successful as the past ummah, as described in the following nas ( text ):

 

“Islam is the most noble, there is none higher than it”.

 

 

Have the present muslim ummah attained the highest level ( of balance and achievements ) as compared to the other nations?

Are the people of the muslim ummah capable of achieving the level of the best exemplary ummah  to the whole humankind?

 

 

Meaning:

“Thus have We made of you an ummah  justly balanced that ye might be witness over the nations”.

Al-Baqarah: 143

 

 

Are the people of the muslim ummah  capable of being the masters who are responsible in determining the earth is always set in order?

 

Meaning:

“Do not mischief on earth, after it hath been set in order”.

Al-A’raf: 85

 

 

Could the people of muslim ummah  be inheritors and masters of the world?

 

Meaning:

“…My servants, the righteous, shall inherit the earth”.

Al-Anbiya’: 105

 

 

These are the questions that should be inside the thought and heart of the present muslim ummah, because the perfection of Iman and Taqwa requires 3 aspects of approach, that are:

 

“Trust by heart, confession by the tongue and to prove it with righteous deeds and actions”.

 

 

The universality of the nature system in the Islamic Teachings requires the muslim ummah  to treat wholistic understanding, interpretation and approach. The mixture of correct understanding, interpretation and approach is the main pillar in the effort of realizing the noble content of Islam into the reality of the ummah.

 

Mistaken mixture of the three has been the root cause of the turbulence in the muslim ummah, subsequently they have dramatically dropped to a very low level as of today.

 

 

Are the muslim ummah  capable of realizing the whole maqasid  of the syarak  in their effort to translate it into reality? The history has demonstrated that they  were capable of doing so with Allah’s will.

 

 

Presently, they must strive and endeavour once again to free themselves from the engulfing chaos, they must also struggle to balance the understanding, interpretation and approach, based on the past brilliant accomplishments, with the following approaches:

 

 

The universality of the system in the Islamic Teachings do not require everything to be implemented all at once, since it is obviously none of human ability. A destination that needs a thousand steps requires a single step at a time. It is impossible for human being to make a thousand steps at once at a time. However a single step, one after another, is needed to reach the thousandth step.

 

 

There are difficulties and burden along every single step. How is every single step built up with its own strength? It requires thorough analysis, introspection, supervision, and observation of its positive and negative emerging effects.

 

 

MERGING HUKM TAKLIFI  WITH HUKM WADH’IE

 

 

The muslim ummah  always confess themselves as the servants of Allah the Almighty. They hope that their every deed is an ibadah  and genuine submissive contribution to the Almighty Allah.

 

 

They ultimately hope that every intention, word and action to be a righteous deed, where between fear and hope – they fear the wrath of Allah the Almighty or worry if the deed becomes worthless. They always hope for Allah’s endowment and blessings, hence as they always repeat the iqrar (oath):

 

 

Meaning:

“Say: Truly my prayer and my service of sacrifice, my life and my death are  (all) for Allah, the Cherisher of the worlds”.

Al-An’am: 162

 

In the effort of attaining total submission, sometimes the muslim ummah  forget that excessive enthusiasm, need and hope of the total submission can tie them up from obeying the real needs of both Hukm Taklifi  and Hukm Wadh’ie.

 

 

In fulfilling the 5 pillars of Islam, the muslim ummah  normally obey the mixture of both ( Hukm Taklifi  and Hukm Wadh’ie ) requirements, yet in other matters they tend to commit an action which either deny one of them of both. They also deny the cause, conditions and restrictions in fulfilling a certain requirement.

 

 

The method of fiqhiyyahal-umur bi maqasidiha - requires an ibadah to be followed by the intention and the objectives of submission to the Almighty Allah. The objectives of the behaviour, whenever contradicting with the maqasid al-syar’iyyah, then the maqasid al-syar’iyyah  is prioritized. That is the requirement of the method of fiqhiyyah: “The objective doesn’t justify the end”.

 

Mathematics teaches human being that to reach an accurate result, a correct and accurate solution is to be utilized. Hence a solution is a tool to reach a result.

 

 

That is why the ijtihad  of a mujtahid  applies only to himself. The other mujtahid  can examine the dalil, istidlal, wajh istidlal, and madlul. If the waqi’ie  has similarities, the ijtihad  can be adopted by the other mujtahid.

 

Otherwise, based on different ihtimal (presumptions) to produce different madlul, another ijtihad is to come out with in order to obtain the maqasid syar’iyyah, although the dalil   is the same.

 

 

Since there is a method of ‘admu hatmiyyati al-khilaf, there is no assurance of who has it right in the problems of fiqhiyyah. The muslim ummah  are however free to search for an appropriate references that meet the needs of the present surroundings.

 

 

That is permissible only if understanding and interpretation are undertaken by mujtahidin. However if non-mujtahid people do so, we deserve to select our own appropriate way in order to meet the maqasid al-umum  in the Syariah  and the waqi’ie  that we experience.

 

In conclusion, the establishment of Islamic Research Training Centre ( I-RETRACE ) is truly an effort to help cater the dilemma that has been the root cause of the problems faced by the Muslim ummah.

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