Monday, September 12, 2011

The Importance of Daleel (Evidence)

In today’s society we have unprecedented access to information thanks to a myriad of technological accomplishments. From virtual classrooms, to video and e-libraries we access to leading universities, scholars, and numerous forums or groups for nearly any subject one would want to know about. This access is one of greatest gifts of technology; however there are always two sides to every story. The ease of access to information has created countless self styled scholars or ‘insta’ sheiks. People appear overnight as authorities on Islam and while it is not my duty to judge their intentions, I must certainly look into the messages, because with this access people now have the ability to reach worldwide audiences. Even the best intentioned Muslims who are simply seeking to share information in chat rooms need to be aware what they are saying can be much more far reaching then a casual comment from one to another.

A little bit of knowledge can be dangerous

The problem with accessing this wealth of information before us is that often we can become overburdened by the sheer abundance of information available. This tends to lead to people offering advice or opinions based on their learning, but even with the best intentions, we as humans are fallible. How do we ensure that we avoid confusion to the best of our ability? How do we make sure that the advice we give does not lead others astray? The answer is in the Daleel.

Daleel linguistically means a proof, indication, or evidence. As a term, Daleel means the source or evidence for a thought, concept, or a ruling. Scholars spend years studying, and yet even scholars must source their information. Knowing, and documenting the source for ones opinions or judgment is of paramount importance; judicial systems are meticulous in documenting the cases, opinions, and judgments they base their verdicts on, the best scholars offer ample documentation of the sources which they used in forming their opinions. Daleel is the backbone of any scholarly or academic research and this is why Daleel is so important, not only for the novice but for the scholars as well.

The call for Daleel

“And We sent not before you except men to whom We revealed [Our message]. So ask the people of the message if you do not know. [We sent them] with clear proofs and written ordinances. And We revealed to you the message that you may make clear to the people what was sent down to them and that they might give thought.” Surah An-Nahl (16:43-44)

We can see that the ultimate form of Daleel, al Quran clearly calls for us to ‘make clear’ with ‘clear proofs and written evidence’ so that others ‘might give thought’. This is a clear directive for us to offer our proofs to those we are communicating with, further illustrated by the following verse:

“O you who have believed, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you. And if you disagree over anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger, if you should believe in Allah and the Last Day. That is the best [way] and best in result.” Surah An-Nisa’ (4:59)

The aforementioned verse clearly instructs us to refer back to Allah and his Messenger should we disagree (or are confused). Seek the guidance from those in authority amongst you (scholars), but always refer back to Allah and his Messenger.

Understanding Daleel

To further understand Daleel one must understand the aspects of Daleel, namely Riwayah (Reporting) and the Dalalah (Meaning). The Riwayah covers issues related to how the information was relayed, which includes the number and the integrity of the reporters and the Dalalah is related to the meaning of the text in the Daleel. There are also two terms used in connection with Riwayah and Dalalah, Qatai and Thanniy. Qatai is defined as being conclusive or decisive, while Thanniy is the opposite of Qatai and means non-definite or indecisive.

The Qatai in Riwayah implies that the evidence is authentic without any shadow of doubt. Any Ayah from the Quran or Hadith Mutawatir (consecutive) is considered Qatai (conclusive) in its Riwayah (report).This authenticity is established based on the methodology of transmission. The methodology by which Quran was transmitted to us precludes any possibility of fabrication. The report was transmitted generation by generation in exactly the same manner. It is impossible for an entire generation to fabricate, erase, or add contents to the Quran. Hadith Mutawatir was not transmitted generation by generation as was the Quran, but rather by a large number of people. Due to the large number of people reporting the Daleel, and their diversity of residence, their established reliability and conviction, it is inconceivable (based on established standards) that this Daleel could be wrong.

The second aspect of the Daleel is the Dalalah (meaning). If the text of Quran, Hadith Mutawatir or Hadith Ahad is clear, specific, and has only one meaning, then it is considered Qatai. The text of a Qatai Daleel has to have only one meaning and cannot be open to any other interpretation. If the text is open to more than one interpretation, then it is considered Thanniy.

Moving Forward

With a better understanding of what Daleel is and its depth, one can now understand its importance and the need to validate their opinions, judgments or rulings with authentic daleel from only the most reliable resources. From scholar to blogger and beyond, we should always offer daleel, to allow others to look back upon our proofs or evidences and come to their own conclusion based upon legitimate, reliable sources.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Politics in Islam II

The topic of Politics in Islam is often ends up in complex dialogues of Islamic apologetics where the main purpose seems to fall in defending Islam and proving how Islam and democracy are compatible. I have decided to approach it this time with a slightly different approach, since I don’t feel any need to either apologize or justify my religion or justify its position within politics.

“The Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. was a politician as well as the messenger conveying the risalah, murabbi - teacher, Qadi - Chief Justice, Head of the nation and Imam of the ummah. The Khulafa' al Rasyidun - the rightly guided leaders who succeeded him were also politicians following the Sunnah - way of the Prophet, establishing just administration, practising ihsan - the betterment of good and providing the leadership of 'ilm - knowledge and Iman - belief.” Fiqh al-Dawlah, Yusuf al Qaradawi
This is where I begin and end my assertion that Islam and Politics is inseparable, as Islam is a complete and functional system of life. To consider that we should deviate from such practice is tantamount to an act of disbelief, because the only purpose to deviate from the standard and accepted practice of our Prophet and the Rightly Guided Caliph’s after him is because one believes that Islam is somehow incomplete or fallible.

“This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion” Surah Al Maeda (5:3)

The synthesis of spirituality and government is built upon the foundation of Tawhid, the unity of Allah. Tawhid, the cornerstone of Islam lays down the ideology of unity, not just in the unity of Allah but the unity within life itself. The fact is that we cannot break apart and compartmentalize the aspects of our lives, because those different aspects are what make us up as a whole. Once we accept this fundamental belief, and truly understand its implication, it is impossible to see Islam as anything other than the most central principle of their lives, that which is inseparable from all else, and that which brings together all other aspects to make the whole.

Islam has laws to govern economics, social justice and even war. As mentioned earlier, the concept of Tawhid, present the idea of unity, and this idea lets us understand that we cannot neglect our spiritual side while functioning in the physical side. We must make sure our whole being is being represented by those who govern us, not just one aspect of who we are. Alama Iqbal once wrote “Take religion (morality) away from politics and you have despotism,for religion is the source of all morality, individual and collective.”

It is easy to be caught up in today’s era of apologetic dialogue, to be drawn into the false perception of today’s governments, I understand this, but it takes a truly dutiful person, to not only recognize the superiority of Islam over all else, but to adhere to the very foundations of what Islam gives us and follow the examples set before us by some of the greatest men in history. We have the ideal model put forth in straightforward, and easy to understand examples from our Prophet (SAW) as revealed by Allah, and in his companions, the Rightly guided Caliph who came after him, it is now up to us to follow these examples, and stop making excuses.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Politics in Islam I

Separation of Church and State

Today’s contemporary thought is that there must be a separation of church and state to be considered a modern, progressive democracy. The presumption is that one’s religion should be personal and not something that affects or is forced on others. The inherent problem with this ideology is that people do not separate their lives from their religion, and thus their religion affects every other aspect of their life.

Simply put, people are more likely to vote for people of a similar background as themselves. Why would one consider a person’s religion when electing a public official? Because people assume that a person, who shares the same religion, will share the same values, the same values they hold to be true, and correct. The same values they use to govern their own lives, and thus they are in fact encouraging the cooperation of church and state, not the separation.

The US Congress is comprised of 535 members, and all but 13 are of a Judeo-Christian background. In general, the percentage of elected officials is similar to the percentage of population of the backgrounds of their particular faiths; Christians tend to be slightly higher (Catholics 29.2% represented to 23.9% population, Protestants 56.8% to 51.3%), others are significantly higher (Jews 7.3% represented to 1.7% population), some significantly lower (Unaffiliated 0% represented to 16.1% population) and all others slightly lower (Muslims 0.4% represented to 0.6%, Buddhist 0.6% to 0.7%). What this suggests is that religion is very important to people, and to those they elect; as a majority Christian population, America only recognizes only Christian religious holidays (Christmas and Easter).

Laws of Morality

While some laws are understandably universal such as crimes directed against other individuals, other laws tend to be morally identifiable. The concepts of crimes against others, such as murder or theft, are almost all universally recognized (killing someone for no reason is condoned in any land) and as such cannot be considered laws of morality. Restriction on the number of wives one can have, public nudity, age of consent and many other laws may directly infringe on the religious freedoms of other religions, that are based on a conservative Judeo-Christian perspective are considered morally inspired laws.

All such laws cannot be universal if they differ vastly from location to location. Europeans tend to much more freely accepting of nudity, the legal drinking age in Europe also tends to be significantly lower than in America. Even in America, issues such as age of consent are decided on a state by state basis.

From country to country and place to place laws based on morality tend to mirror the religious perspectives of the majority of the population. Religiously conservative countries or states will tend to have (or propose) laws based on their ideological views, whereas more liberally oriented ones tend to promote fewer of such laws, however, regardless of their conservative or liberal views, all states, and in fact all countries around the world have laws based on morality. Now one must ask, where does one learn their morality from? By far and away the majority of people take their moral perspective from their religious beliefs, and as such it is clear how religious belief will determine not only their own personal direction, but through elected officials, will determine the direction of those around them.