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The Illogic of Revisionism in Islam

The Following is a ranting of a modernist on how the Muslims should evolve themselves out of and into the spirit of what he prefers.

There is a needs to be a distinction between ‘traditionalism’ as a fossilized structure of behavior, and ‘traditionalism’ with respect to values. C.S. Lewis seems to be referring to traditionalism with respect to values.

The basic movement of the ‘Salaf’, despite the superficial nature of its movement, reveals a basic, underlying reality. Those involved in it, are trying to regain the ORIGINAL IMPETUS of the first Muslim community that raised the community to great heights. They want to return to those HIGHER SET OF VALUES, which changed the condition of the early Arabs. The problem with the Salafi movement is that they confine their ‘ijtihad’ to points of law, instead of the underlying reality that created the Islamic movement. It is because they have failed to see the higher movement in Islam, that they have totally distorted the nature of the religion into some quasi-political ideology.

On the other hand, there is the traditionalist who believes that Islam is the INHERITED patterns of conduct of generations over time. As society progresses, civilization tends to move away from THOSE ORIGINAL VALUES THAT CREATED IT. This naturally happens as society engages more and more with differing environmental circumstances. Thus, the traditionalist believes that by inheriting the rituals of its past, including what is no longer relevant to their situation, they somehow believe they are practicing Islam.

The challenge of the Muslim today is that they cannot divorce themselves totally from the past, but at the same time, they need to possess some courage to reject traditions that are no longer relevant. And the only way they can do this is to re-capture the basic foundation of their faith. This is precisely why thinkers such as Iqbal (R) stated that,

Despite possessoing Zamakshari, or Razi, the Quran will do not good if it is not revealed on your OWN HEART.

And this is what real sufiism use to be about, but no longer is. This was the sufiism of people like Sirhindi (R) and Ghazali (R). Ghazali (R) knew this all too well, because he found no contentment in legal hair-splitting.

Sufiism has involved itself in the same nonsense that has plagued the legist throughout. They spend countless hours defending practices that have no basis in Islam, and nothing but baseless tradition, such as celebrations at urs.

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We, the people of the sunnah, say in reply to this poor outlook that

1. the demarcation between a salafi and a traditionalist is a deception invented by the think tanks trying to nationalize different forms of Islam. In reality the salafi is the one who is a traditionalist. The one who is claimed to be a salfai and does not preserve the traditions that have elevated the first generations to reach the goal they reached, then they cannot be properly called “salafi”. The current misnomer that such people are actually trying to denote is that their demarcation is centered between

  •  Salafi
  •  Sufi

And this is what they mean by “traditionalist” for the traditionalist in the eyes who have a gloomy understanding of Islam are viewed to be the sufis and the philosophical theologians. However in Islam, according to the ijmaa of the ahlu-sunnah wal-jama’ah, the traditionalists are the “ahlul-hadeeth” and the ahlul-hadeeth in the language of the majority of the scholars of all the schools of thought are those who follow the “athaar”, those who implement the understanding and sayings of the first few generations of Muslims who have expounded in detail the fiqh of Islam. Ths is the actual meaning of a traditionalist, and the meaning of a sufi is contrary to this defination.

2. the author of this preposterous and radical evaluation claimed that the “salafis” only restrict ijtihaad (which he understands in his mind to be “free thinking”) to point of legal matters i.e. law and that the problem with salafis is that they fail to implement (what he views as) ijtihaad in points such as what was the underlying reality of the Islamic movement.

This ignorance is stagering because firstly, ijtihaad is performed by those who can fulfill its conditions. In other words it is for the scholars who are qualified to weigh the evidences of the source legislation of Islam.

Secondly, ijtihaad only occurs in matters of law. There is no ijtihaad in matter outside of law

Thirdly, the underlying reality that brought the reality of the first Islamic movement (i.e. the prophet and his companions and the golden era) is tawheed. The very basis of Islam is the faith of a Muslim. In reality there is no ijtihaad (legal reasoning) in tawheed (monotheism) and faith (creedal aspects of Islam) because tawheed and faith are not subject thats Allah rendered mankind the ability to formulate their own rulings over. IN FACT, the root cause for Allah’s sending of the messengers and His punishments to the nations before us is becuase of those nations who had the audacity to initiate their own opinions (i.e. making ijtihaad) into matters of faith and tawheed, thus causing mankind to fall into paganism and idolatry, and oppression in the following of superstitious beliefs.

Lastly, this modernist’s assessment of the salafis further falls into error when he claims that the salafis have failed to see the higher movement in Islam and distorted the nature to some quasi political ideology.

The higher movement in Islam that Salafis do in fact see is the tawheed and creed of Islam that this modernist fails to understand and accuses them of viewing the legal law as the pinnicle of Islam. Salafis place emphasis on tawheed and creed as they are the pinnicle and fundamentals of Islam. The implementation of the legal code of Islam is the hallmark of one’s belief in tawheed and their faith in Islam. IN other words, We, the ahlu-sunnah, do not restrict our religion to mere dry theology. Rather there is the thriving of law behind it. This is why in the creed of Islam, faith is not only affirmation and belief in the heart, but it is as well speech of the tongue, and it is the implementation of the actions upon the limbs.

lastly, in this regard to using our logic in order ot make ijtihaad and thus define religion then I have with me the following report.

Imaam Abul-Mudthaffar as-Sam’aanee (rahimahu Allah) said, “Know that the methodology of the people ofthe Sunnah is that the intellect does not obligate something upon a person, nor does it raise something from him. It does not determine something to be permissible or impermissible for him, nor something to be good or bad. If the person who heard it does not want it to, then it does not obligate anything upon anyone, and it does not have a reward or punishment. He also said,

“The people of the Sunnah say: ‘ The foundation of the Religion is following (al-Ittibaa’) and the intellect is subservient.’ So if the foundation of the Religion was upon the intellect, the creation would have been in no need of Revelation, nor of Prophets, and the meaning of commanding and prohibiting would be false, and whoever wished could have said whatever he wished.”