Episode 3: A pause with the false allegations of the orientalists and the illusions of the occidentalists (1-4)
and urged beforehand on the need to understand the differences between the linguistic meanings and the conventional meanings; because the lack of understanding of that and ignorance of it lands the doer in a great deal of confusion and considerable turmoil, and this is what happened to the term Sunnah. We see that the enemies of Islam and hallowed Sunnah have exploited these differences hideously, which is predictive of their deep hatred against Islam and the Muslims. In their attack on the pure Sunnah, they focus on some of its linguistic or conventional meanings neglecting - sometimes out of ignorance, and some other times knowingly- the remainder of its conventional meanings; in order to reach their goal and purpose from questioning its probativeness and not act according to it, including their focus on the meaning of the Sunnah in the terminology of the jurists, which is not an obligation, such that the one who does it is complimented and the one who abandons it is not disparaged(1).
We presented in the chapter pertaining to (the chronicling of the Sunnah) in this site to define the Sunnah in language and terminology, and we have mentioned its use in the Holy Quran, and its concept in the Sunnah and with the predecessor of the nation,
This generalization in the definition of the Sunnah is utter misguidance(2); for there is in it a dissuasion of the word from its terminological meaning with the orators and scholars of fundamentals, and that it is a source of legislation, independent and inseparable from the Holy Quran in supportive arguments, and that the five mandatory provisions take place in it, as they do in the Holy Quran exactly(3).
And among the linguistic meanings, which the enemies of Islam focus on in their definition of the Sunnah; its meaning which came in the sense of mode and conduct, whether good it was or bad, and they express that meaning as habit and custom as the orientalist (Goldziher)(4) said: (Sunnah is the synthesis of hereditary mores and traditions in the pagan Arab community; then transmitted to Islam, so it underwent a radical change when transmitted. Then the Muslims established from the most common of doctrines, words, actions and habits, for the oldest of generations of Muslim a new Sunnah)(5). He was succeeded on that by all those who came after him from the orientalists(6).
Echoing these words, Dr. Ali Hasan Abd Al-Qaadir, in his book(7) (An overview of the history of Islamic jurisprudence), he said: (The meaning of Sunnah was pre-existent in the Arab communities in the past, and refers to the correct way in life for the individual and the group. The Muslims did not invent this meaning, but was already known in the pre-Islamic era. They used to call that Sunnah; these Arabic traditions and what is consistent with ancestral customs. This meaning has remained in Islam in the old schools in the Hijaz, and in Iraq as well, in this general sense; meaning the existing activity and the consensual affairs in Islamic circles, and the model example of correct conduct without that being restricted to the Sunnah of the Prophet, peace be upon him. Finally, this meaning was set, and the Sunnah was made exclusive to the Sunnah of the Prophet, peace be upon him. This definition goes back to the late second century AH, on account of the way of Imam Shaafi'i, with which he went against the old terminology)(8).
Yes, the term Sunnah and its meaning were known in the language of the Arabs before Islam, and the Muslims have neither invented this word nor its meaning. Nevertheless, the matter is not as the orientalists and Dr. Ali Hasan Abd Al-Qaadir alleged, in that the meaning of Sunnah in the beginning of Islam is the pagan habit and custom(9), or that it is just the correct way. But rather includes the correct way and the incorrect one, according to the view of the majority of linguists. The Holy Quran, the prophetic Hadiths and the pre-Islamic poetry support them in appellation, which has been previously elucidated.
(1) Al Bahr Al Muheet by Az-Zarkashi 1/284, and Irshaad Al Fuhoul by Shawakaani 1/155, and the Principles of Jurisprudence by Sheikh Mohammed Al-Khodhari 54, and the Principles of Jurisprudence by Sheikh Abdul Wahaab Khallaaf p. 111.
(2) See: the generalization of Mahmoud Abu-Rayah for that, in ‘Lights on the Sunnah’ p. 38.
(3) See: Regulations of narration with the orators. pp.25, 26, abridged.
(4) Goldziher: a Hungarian Jewish orientalist. He travelled in Syria, Palestine and Egypt, and accompanied some of Al Azhar’s scholars. He has got compilations in German, English and French, some of which has been translated into Arabic. Dr. As-Sibaa’i said:" he was known for his hostility towards Islam and by the dangerousness of his writings about it, and from the editors of the Encyclopaedia of Islamic". He wrote about the Quran and the Hadith. Among his books: History of the schools of Islamic Exegesis," and "Doctrine and Law in Islam," and "The Scandals of the Zahiris", and others. He died in 1921. He has got a translation in: Al A’laam by Az-Zarkali 1/284, and Orientalism by Dr. As-Sibaa’i 31-32, and ‘The Views of the Orientalists on the Quran and its Interpretation’ by Dr. Omar Ibrahim 1/161-162.
(5) Doctrine and Law in Islam, p. 49, 251.
(6) The Encyclopaedia of Islam 7/330, see: Studies in the Hadith by Dr. Al A’dhami 1/5-11, and ‘The Methodology of Collection of the Sunnah and the Collection of the Gospels’ by Dr ‘Aziah Ali Taha. P. 62,122,123.
(7) Ali Hasan Abd Al-Qaadir: Professor in the history of Islamic legislation, holder of an international award in philosophy from Germany, and the metaphor from the Faculty of Theology in the history department, dean of the Faculty of Sharia Al-Azhar Al-Sharif formerly. Among his works: ‘An Overview of the History of Islamic Jurisprudence’
(8) An Overview of the History of Islamic Jurisprudence, p. 122 123.
(9) It would be right to define the Sunnah as habit and custom, but what is meant by habit in this case is the habit of the prophet - peace be upon him – i.e. what he had done, endorsed, or had observed but did not object to, which is in this case from the religion. It is also given to the practical legacy of the life of the Companions - may Allah be pleased with them – and does not mean habit and custom prevailing during the pre-Islamic era, as alluded by the statement of Goldziher and those who say as he did. See: the probativeness of the Sunnah by Dr. Abdul -Ghani Abdul-Khaaliq P.49-51, and the Doorway to the Prophetic Sunnah by our respected professor, Dr. Abdul-Mahdi Abdul Qaadir, p. 25-26.