By Arman Neyazi, New Age Islam
August 15, 2013
We are asked to read (Iqra), learn and teach within the ambit of the teachings of Allah and His prophets. Prophets were sent to the earth to teach to the Ummah of their time and region how to conduct life on earth in a way that pleases God and brings us reward in the everlasting life of the Hereafter. They taught us within the limits of what they had themselves been taught. They did not hide anything nor did they ever exaggerate. As a result, there were hardly any deviations from the path of righteousness among the righteous people of the prophetic era.
Prophet Muhammad (saw) was taught the lessons through revelations, brought to him by the angel Jibrael-e- Ameen, so that he could preach people of his time. He taught his people in a just manner, sticking to what he had been asked to preach.
The Sahaba-e-Keram spread the lessons they were taught among the people in accordance with the will of God. All this was done without any attempt at exaggeration or reducing the scope or impact. This created a feeling of unity, harmony and brotherhood among the people. This kept them advancing on the path of righteousness without any hesitation or doubt as ‘all were taught alike’ hence they were alike in their deeds and thoughts. There was no misconception about the religion and its rites hence there was no misunderstanding.
After the death of Prophet Muhammad (saw) everything started changing for the worse. Because of the lack of any proper guiding light, on which everyone believed or at least pretended to believe, there came a time when misguided people started exaggerating the religious teachings and social, political and rituals and incidents of the time of Prophet Muhammad (saw), either out of love for him or out of vengeance and conspiracy, in the garb of confidants and followers.
These phenomena of exaggerating or concocting the statements of the Prophet (saw) in the form of reportage created a sense of disbelief and confusion which ultimately divided the people into sects and sects into sub-sects. Exaggerating the things made simple things difficult to follow. It created confusion in the society and they took the path they thought to be the best.
The teachings of the prophets before Prophet Muhammad (saw) were exaggerated to the extent of disbelief. The holy books of the God were revealed to Hazrat Musa (as) “Torah”, Hazrat Dawood (as) “Psalms” Hazrat Isa (as) “Gospel”. They were not saved in their original form and were exaggerated by everyone concerned which made these prophets either larger than life or very abnormal personalities. This created a kind of havoc in the society. There was lawlessness everywhere, the society suffered from several ills, when Prophet Muhammad (saw) was born.
Exaggeration is a Form of Extremism
Islam preaches sobriety in acts and thoughts. Islam is a middle path religion, a balancing factor for the society. Islam is introduced by Allah through Prophet Muhammad (saw) as a balancing act between the extremist views of various religions and the sobriety of the righteous deeds.
The life of Ummah is the middle, balanced and the just way among the extremes of various sectarian deviants. Sectarianism came into being because of the vested interests’ exaggerated statements, for and against, the settled guidelines of the holy Prophet (saw). People, as they have been and still are, innocent, mostly illiterate and blind followers. They do not use their minds when it comes to religion and fall prey to the designs of the vested interests and dividing themselves into sects and sub-sects.
According to a report in Bukhari and Muslim, Prophet Muhammad (saw) says:
· “Do not exaggerate in praising me as the Christians exaggerated in praising Jesus the son of Mary. Verily I am only a slave, so say: “Abdullah (the slave of Allah) and His Messenger.”
In the above report, the word “Abdullah (the slave of Allah)” is used to remind people not to elevate the standing of the holy Prophet too high lest they forget that he is also from one among them a servant of Allah as they all are and the word “His Messenger” is used lest they forget his position of more than equal and degrade him from his honoured status bestowed upon him by Allah, the Master Sovereign and One God which demands honour, obedience and following as the best model among all the human being before and after.
Allah the Almighty says in Sura Al-Baqura 2:143:
· وَكَذَلِكَ جَعَلْنَاكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا لِتَكُونُوا شُهَدَاءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ وَيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ عَلَيْكُمْ شَهِيدًا
· “Thus have We made of you a Middle Ummah, that you might be witnesses over the people, and the Messenger a witness over yourselves…
Above mentioned Ayah is a clear order of Allah to avoid exaggeration of every kind. We are ordered to keep ourselves away from extravagances and extremism in our everyday life chores, social or religious along with exaggeration to keep us on the righteous path. The translators of holy Quran translate the word “Wasat” in the ayah as ‘Middle”, “Just” and “Justly Balanced”.
Sunnah of the holy Prophet (saw) teaches to live a balanced life as did Muhammad (saw). As per a report by Muslim, an-Nasa`e and Ahmad:
· “Some of the companions of the Prophet, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, asked the wives of the Prophet about his deeds in private (i.e. his private worships), and when they heard about it, they considered their own deeds to be insignificant. Some said: ‘I will never marry women’, another said: ‘I will never eat meat’, another said: ‘I will never sleep on a bed’, and another said: ‘I will fast and never break my fast’.
When this was related to the Prophet Muhammad (saw), he said:
· ”What is the matter with some people who say such and such? I make prayer and sleep. I fast and break the fast. And I marry women. Whoever turns away from my Sunnah (way) is not of me”.
We tend to exaggerate things out of love which most of the times is damaging. The exaggeration lacks practicality and so it does not impress human understanding. The thinking minds take the exaggerated statements negatively and the illiterates get misguided as the exaggerated acts of worship or social bindings are difficult for a common man to carry for a long time. Hence misguidance, mistrust and misunderstanding creep in and lead to unrighteous ways. This is what has happened with almost all religions.
In Islam Exaggeration and Extremism Have the Same Meaning
Following the Hadith is Islamic but exaggerating them in preaching is called Ghulu in Arabic and it means, exceeding proper limits than what is ordained by Allah (Exalted be He). Exaggeration in religion is like rejection of religion since the damages inflicted by it are irreparable. The Holy Quran says about exaggeration as such:
· “O people of the Scripture (Christians)! Do not exceed the limits in your religion nor say of Allah aught but the truth.” (4:171)
The verse in question clearly prohibits exceeding the limits of what is ordained. Exaggeration in Sharia is doing things more than what is asked, thinking that this is preferred by Sharia.
Extremism means standing on the edge of something which can also be in religion. Thus extremism is very close to destruction and danger and it is far from protection and safety of anything for which the extreme step is being taken. Let us consider the following Hadith stated in Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Sunan an-Nasa'i and Sunan Ibn Majah, through Ibn Abbas:
· "On the morning of al-Aqabah, while he was on his mount, the Messenger of Allah said to me: "Pick up (some pebbles) for me." So I picked up some pebbles for him that were the size of date stones or fingertips, and when I placed them in his hand he said: "Like these. And beware of going to extremes in religious matters, for those who came before you were destroyed because of going to extremes in religious matters."
Prophet Muhammad (saw) warns us of exaggeration because he knows that larger pebbles are preferred to smaller ones by human beings. Exaggerations start in small shapes and forms and gradually take larger than life shapes which get uncontrollable and thus ultimately bring devastating destruction.
According to another Hadith in Sahih Muslim, narrated by Abdullah bin Masud:
· "Beware! The extremists perished, saying it three times."
Both the Hadiths mentioned above announce that exaggeration is extremism and that the extremists perish in this world as well as hereinafter.
Islam Hates Exaggeration
Exaggeration burdens the human being beyond their capacity of following whereas God says in the Holy Quran that He never asks His people to do more that what they can do as in 2:86:
· "God charges no soul save to its capacity.”
And to prove the point without doubt, here is another Hadith:
· "O people! Do only those good deeds which you can do, for Allah does not get tired (of giving reward) till you get tired, and the best deeds to Allah are the incessant ones though they were few." "The religion (of Islam) is easy, and whoever makes the religion a rigor, it will overpower him. So, follow a middle course (in worship); if you can't do this, do something near to it and give glad tidings and seek help (of Allah) at morn and at dusk and some part of night."
Islamic world is facing the fire of sectarianism and extremism because of the vested interests exaggerating the Ahadith and Qur'anic verses to suit their deeds. This act of theirs has produced collective humiliation, “Ijtemai Zillat” for the Muslim world. Mr Sultan Shahin in his speech at the UN Human Rights Council, said:
· “A fascist ideology is seeking to forcibly convert the world to its version of Islam. An intra-Islam clash of civilisations appears to be going on. Some Muslims are resisting a determined attempt to colonise their minds. From Bangladesh and India to Algeria, Mauritania, Mali, etc. We can see Sufi Ulema loudly denouncing Islamo-fascism, exclusivism, supremacism and jihadism."
Mr Shahin used terms and expressions like the following to describe the present situation: fascist ideology, Islamo-fascism, exclusivism, supremacism, jihadism, intra-Islam clash of civilisation and determined attempt to colonise the Muslim mind. All these maladies are the result of exaggeration in Islamic teachings i.e. the Quran and the Hadith by the people who are misguiding the noble Muslims of the world in the name of a struggle for establishing a global Islamic Caliphate after having converted all the world to Islam or killing all the non-Muslims including the overwhelming majority of Muslims who do not believe in their ideology and are considered infidel by them.
We have to not only to avoid exaggerating Islamic teachings but to refrain from it in our everyday life as well, as it does not pay and only damages in the longer run.
And Allah knows the best.