By Naseer Ahmed, New Age Islam
7 October 2015
Consider the following verse:
(4:69) All who obey Allah and the messenger are in the company of those on whom is the Grace of Allah,- of the prophets (Nabi), the sincere (lovers of Truth), the witnesses (who testify), and the Righteous (who do good): Ah! What a beautiful fellowship!
The cited verse identifies the following categories on whom is the Grace of Allah:
1. The Nabi or the prophets
2. The Siddiq
3. The Shuhada
4. The Saliheen
The Siddiqin are mentioned ahead of the Shuhuda and must therefore rank higher than the Shuhuda. Who are the Siddiqin? They are not simply people who speak the truth because the Shuhuda also speak only the truth. They are the sincere and active seekers of the truth. The prophets were sincere seekers of the truth and this word is used to describe several of the prophets including Ibrahim (AS), Yusuf (AS), Idris (AS) and Mariam. The Prophets are also Shuhuda. While all prophets are Siddiq as well as Shuhuda, obviously not all Siddiq can also be called Shuhuda and vice versa. All Shuhuda are Siddiq but not necessarily to the required extent to be called Siddiq and vice versa.
The relative higher ranking of the Siddiq is because they are the revivalists and renewers of every age. The theologians around the 10th century have corrupted the religion. Going back to the uncorrupted position would be revival.
Renewal is changing our thinking on what past scholars have thought and said based on fresh insights and knowledge. The Prophet (pbuh) expected renewal to be a continuous process. He therefore ended his last sermon with the following words:
"All those who listen to me shall pass on my words to others and those to others again; and may the last ones understand my words better than those who listen to me directly. Be my witness, O God, that I have conveyed your message to your people"
Regarding the function of the Siddiqin, Allah says:
(39:32) Who, then, doth more wrong than one who utters a lie concerning Allah, and rejects the Truth (bil-ṣid'qi) when it comes to him; is there not in Hell an abode for blasphemers?
(33) And he who brings the Truth (bil-ṣid'qi) and he who confirms (Waṣaddaqa) (and supports) it - such are the men who do right.
(34) They shall have all that they wish for, in the presence of their Lord: such is the reward of those who do good:
(35) So that Allah will turn off from them (even) the worst in their deeds and give them their reward according to the best of what they have done.
See how the function of the Siddiq is contrasted with that of the one who lies and rejects the truth? The Siddiq are those who bring out the Truth and those who endorse, support and strengthen the efforts of others who are Siddiq. Even one who recognizes any new truth, accepts it and supports it is also counted among the Siddiqin. It is easy to see how important this function is to ensure that the religion does not ossify and why the Siddiqin rank higher than the Shuhuda.
Are all scholars Siddiq? Not necessarily. Many of them may fall under the description of those who reject or resist the truth if they belittle the works of others merely from envy. If they are engaged in blind Taqleed then they are neither among the Siddiqin nor the opposite camp of rejecters of truth. A fair, honest criticism and debate is called for to refine any new idea or thought but deliberately underplaying or belittling or trying to scuttle serious discussion on an important topic from envy would put a scholar in the opposite camp covered by verse 39:32.
The Salihin or those who do good works is the third category. Some outstanding examples of the Salihin are Mother Teresa and Abdul Sattar Edhi.
The faith is helped and strengthened by these three categories. The functions carried out by these three groups of people are listed below:
1. Siddiq: Continuous seeking of new knowledge and truths
a. Dawah – enjoining what is good and prohibiting what is evil.
b. Exemplary justice,
c. Constancy, perseverance and patience
3. Doing Good works
I am not sure whether we should call the functions carried out by the three groups of people on whom is the Grace of Allah, the pillars of Islam and the so called pillars of Islam viz. Shahada, Prayer, Zakat, Fasting and Hajj be called the basics or the foundational aspects of Islam. This article is an answer to the question asked by Siraj Sb in the comments section on my article:
I thank him for the question. Otherwise, I would not have discovered and realized that the Siddiqin rank even higher than the Shuhuda!
It is not change in our theology on what constitute the pillars of Islam that is being sought or debated. The purpose however is certainly to put in the limelight what is most important. Are we surprised that we find at the top of the list “Seeking new knowledge”? We should certainly be surprised because this is not in the list for most Muslims let alone being at the top. The basics or the foundational aspects of Islam should be a given for any Muslim but should that be the be all and end all of Islam? The question obviously is what next. The basics are also better protected and perfected when we go beyond. For example, what we learnt in a lower class automatically becomes fully clear when we study in a higher class. However, if we remained in a lower class merely to strengthen our basics, we learn nothing new besides doing a poor job of perfecting even the basics. Going up to a higher level is the best way to perfect things at the lower level. The foundational aspects of Islam prepare us for doing what is really important. If we do not go beyond, it is like building the foundation and stopping further construction at that stage. The exposed foundation disintegrates after sometime.
God has blessed man with a nature that seeks perfection through continuous effort. Our theologians have corrupted this nature by putting an end to Ijtihad or new thinking. It is nothing short of intellectual emasculation. Let us reclaim our dignity as humans and give full freedom to the God given nature of seeking continuous improvement through fresh thinking and insights.
Naseer Ahmed is an Engineering graduate from IIT Kanpur and is an independent IT consultant after having served in both the Public and Private sector in responsible positions for over three decades. He is a frequent contributor to NewAgeIslam.com.