Whose view in your opinion is correct and what is your opinion in these matters?
The second question of yours is so meaningless in my opinion, that it does not deserve an answer. Did you ever ponder over the great knowledge of these two great saints, their virtue, righteousness and fear for Allah, their honesty and abstinence, their nearness to Allah, their yeomen service in the cause of Islam? What is there in this humble person of mine that will ever allow me to place myself in their category? What right have I that I may judge between them as to who is right and who is wrong?
Listen! It is only possible for any person to sit in judgement on two parties before him, if the judge has the capability of being able to judge or to arbitrate. Then also it is necessary to listen to the full exposition and explanation of both sides and thereafter to weigh the arguments of both sides. It would also be necessary for cross-examination and to listen to objections raised by both sides against each other and to hear clarification by both sides. This will surely lead to answers upon answers. Then finally it has to be decided whose arguments carry more weight. After all this it would perhaps be possible to form a sound opinion.
Now you must first of all bear in mind that my position is such that under no circumstances am I ever capable of conversing with any of these two great men (Maulana Thanwi and Maulana Madani) on their level. And if for argument‟s sake I am considered to be capable of conversing with them as their equal (which I am not) then what right have I to judge them? My position is such that even if I should put forward any well-thought out opinion and any of them should say it is incorrect, I will have to accept their decision, rather than bring forth counter-arguments.
Sometimes I am struck with amazement at those who are uneducated, or who, having perhaps read some newspaper or other, or having written one or two articles in some newspaper, are now proceeding to criticise these two great personalities — such personalities who are giants of knowledge.
Always should you bear in mind that for anyone to be able to reject or criticise another, it is necessary first to hear the correct version of his views with his proofs and arguments. It is the height of folly to jump to conclusions against anyone without even understanding what he says. In such a case we are like that monkey who found a piece of ginger laying somewhere and all of a sudden looks upon himself as a greengrocer.
Among the signs of Qiyamat, Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) mentioned:
“The fact that each one with an opinion considers his opinion the best”.
Today we see this in its true form. Everyone thinks that what he thinks is the correct thing to the exclusion of all others, irrespective of what the elders may say and of what an experienced man of wisdom may say. Ponder over this! Hazrat Hakeemul Ummat Maulana Thanwi graduated in 1301 A. H. and has from that day until today 1357 been busy with teaching the words of Allah and the word of His Rasul (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). For that full period he has also been spiritually training himself and others. Yes, for more than half a century he has spent his life in teaching Fiqah, the Holy Quran, Hadeeth and studying. Now this great man has spent so much time in meditation on deen, has spent so much of his life in working out the secrets of the Quran and the deeper intricacies of Fiqah, how is it that today his well- founded opinion is such that every Tom, Dick and Harry can consider it nonsensical? Can that ever be a wise thing?
Now let us look at Hazrat Ameerul Hind Sayyid Hussain Ahmad Madani. In the year 1316 he graduated as an alim. Since then he has continuously been busy teaching and benefiting the Ummat, in academic as well as in spiritual spheres. For several years he had spent his life in the company of his elder and mentor Hazrat Shaikhul Hind Maulana Mahmoodul Hasan from whom he acquired great proficiency in mystic teachings. Then also a large part of his life was spent in the political struggle against the British Imperialists and for the good of India‟s Muslim populace. In this regard he had to spend a considerable number of years in jails both inside India as well overseas (as for example on the Island of Malta in the Mediterranean sea).
Now I ask you, are these two personalities such that anyone can compete with them as far as the outlook for the future is concerned? Are they such that any inept person can find faults with their opinions, or attack the wisdom of their suggestions? And how can one like myself find that courage, one whose opinion is of no consequence and who is a mere novice in their presence? My position is such that when today I see the names of these personalities written on notices posted up everywhere and what is written about them, I become filled with anger and surprise asking myself:- “What has happened to this world? What new trend is this that respect and honour for the saintly ones has completely disappeared from this world?”
If it should be such that the learned and educated ones should say something about them, there still is some scope and it would not be so bad. But what do we find? The critics are those whose knowledge and expertise is limited to writing an article or two in some newspaper or other. And the language they use! They use such language which an angry elder would not deem fit to use against a child. Seeing these things I cannot but express my strongest surprise and disapproval.
Take very careful note of this advice of mine: Speak only and pass judgement only on those things about which you know all the pros and cons. It is only possible to make a decision between any two parties once you have thoroughly acquainted yourself with the arguments of both. When, however you notice in any of the two that is in any way against Shariat, then do not give consideration for any of them, because anything contrary to Allah and His Rasul (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) is completely unacceptable. In fact there is even no permission to any adherent of one of the four mazhabs to go against the verdicts of the jurists of old.
There are sometimes cases where different persons made different deductions and reached different answers to questions from the same verses or Ahadeeth. In such cases the texts lend themselves to different interpretations, which mean that both sides are followers of the text. In such cases it would be foolish for any critic to jump to conclusions against any side. Here one should be very careful of accusing anyone of acting contrary to Shariah and I Want to warn you most sternly against attacking any elder and against being hasty in jumping to conclusions against any of them. Reach your conclusions only after careful consideration of the facts, deep thought and meditation. Otherwise, as far as possible avoid speaking against them in any way.
Sayyidina Umar bin Abdul Aziz (Radiallahu anhu), the Ummayad Khalifa who is sometimes called Umar the Second, in discussing the dissent and differences among the Sahabah (Radiallahu anhum) said something very explicit:
“From the blood that was shed there, Allah has kept our hands clean. Why should we now smear our tongues with it.”
They were more honoured and exalted beings than us. It is possible that it may be said that those were the Sahabah (Radiallahu anhu). They were more honoured and exalted beings than us. How can we compare others to them? To them I answer. Yes, correct, but the speaker is Umar bin Abdul Aziz. He is an eminent Tabi‟ee of high rank. And he is the one who refuses to indulge in attacking them. (If he has not the right, how can we have it?)
The story of Nabi Musa Alayhis Salaam and Khidr Alayhis Salaam is mentioned in the Quran and is a very well-known story. Risulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) is reported to have said: “May Allah have mercy on Moosa (Alayhis Salaam). If he had remained silent, he would have learnt so many more wonderful things from Khidr (Alayhis Salaam).”
Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) is also reported to have said: “Nabi Isa Alayhis Salaam said: „There are three types of cases. One is that where the guidance is clear cut, follow it. Second is that type of case where the falsehood thereof is quite clear. Avoid it. The third case is that wherein there is doubt. Refer such a case to the experts in that field.”(Tabrani).
Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) is also reported to have said: “He who is very hasty and so bold as to pass verdicts is also bold in taking the path towards hell.” (Daramie).
Sayyidina Abdullah bin Masood (Radiallahu anhu) said: “He who is prepared to give an answer to every fatwa asked of him is a mad person.” (Daramie).
What Ibn Masood (Radiallahu anhu) meant is that many questions are being asked regarding needless and meaningless things. And is often these days. The object behind the asking of fatwas is often not to gain knowledge or to know how to act accordingly, but rather to disgrace someone or to stir trouble against another. Hence in such fatwas one should take all the precautions. Sometimes questions are framed in such ambiguous terms that to give answers in such cases can be quite bold or even foolish.
Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) once said: “The permissible is quite clear and the prohibited is quite. clear, In between lies numerous doubtful things.” In such doubtful things one should take all precaution.
Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) also said:
“When affairs are placed in the hands of such people who are incompeten1t (of carrying out the responsibility), then await the Hour of Doom.” (Bukhari).
Likewise is the case when incompetent ones begin to sit in judgeiflei‟it on eimnent Ulema: Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) also said: “It is also a sign of the coming of Qiyamat when knowledge is being sought from people of the lower ranks of the learned.”
My aim in quoting all these Ahadeeth and the sayings of the Sahabah (Radiallahu anhum) is to explain that in those things where no clear injunctions exists in Shariat, (but have to be deduced from texts) -one should never be hasty in rejecting the true Ulema when they reach certain conclusions. Especially is it necessary for the ordinary man in the street to hold his tongue against eminent Ulema. On the other hand I agree that those who are the equal of the Ulema, have a right to differ from them.
When there is anything emanating from them which is against the Shariat, then certainly the word of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) is our guide:
“Let there be no obedience for any man in those things which is in transgression against the Creator.”
Now listen carefully! The question before us now is the welfare of Islam and the best interest of the Muslims. Everything else in this dispute (between the Shaikhs) fall under this. In this respect we have a few major principles:
“All affairs are judged according to the object that has to be attained. Hence a thing is considered to be permissible or prohibited according to what is intended to be attained.”
“Personal harm to a specific person should be tolerated in the interest of warding off harm affecting the general public.”
“Whoever is caught between two calamities (of different dimensions), should choose the lesser of the two.”
“In that matter in which there is an aspect of halaal and haraam the haraam will take precedent over the halaal (the matter will be regarded as haraam).”
There are other principles apart from these. Now to deduce the correct path of action from these general principles is never the work of every ordinary man- in-the-street. It is not the work of every novice faced with our present situation to correctly deduce what is permissible and what is not. Who can he foolishly bold and even irreligious as to proceed to give fatwas when he is unacquainted with the general principles of deen, unlearned in the texts of Holy Word and their limits? Does anyone think that by merely having read some translation of some verse of the Quran or some Hadeeth, he can start issuing religious decrees?
Our present dispute falls under these principles. The object is dual, i.e. general welfare of Islam and the Muslims and, on the other hand, saving the Muslims from all deem harm and loss. Both these great Shaikhs have this as their major objective. And so it should be. Everyone of the Muslims should have this as their aim that not even the lowest of Muslims should be made to suffer any form of harm. So how can anyone ever believe any of these saintly souls to be oblivious to the welfare of the Muslims?
In this present situation of the Muslims they follow one of two paths. Both are not without danger. This is admitted by all. Now the question is: Which path is more dangerous and along which path is there less danger? Which evils can be borne and tolerated and which are such that they cannot be borne With patience? Along which path is there danger of suffering only personal harn and what harm is of a general nature affecting all Muslims. We may liken these two Shaikhs to the drivers of vehicles, who have to drive their vehicles to Makkah. They have a choice of two roads. Both are dusty, swampy dirt roads with highway robbers lurking along the way. There are certain dangers and risks on both roads. The question to ask is:
Which road is less hazardous and which road is more likely to lead o the destination? Along which road is one more likely to fall into a swamp and get stuck? Along which road is there the stronger possibility that some local governing authority may arrest the traveller and thus not allow him to move forward or return?
Now in such a case, while there being differences of opinion, if one driver should reckon that there is a stronger possibility of reaching the destination by going along a certain path, while considering the other road to be fraught with certain danger, what has this driver done that is wrong? What other responsibility is there on him when he had reached this conclusion after careful thought? What guarantee can he possibly give that the road will be free of all dangers or that it will most surely lead one to the required destination? Think for yourself! These drivers are all the times of their lives busy repairing the roads and thinking of ways to do so.
This is their greatest concern: How can the convoy reach its destination safely? Are these drivers to be praised or is it our duty to blame them and insult their integrity? Are they such that they deserve all possible help and co-operation or that their paths should be made even more difficult by casting more and more obstacles in their paths? And those who cause difficulties in their path, are they not by their abuse and denouncement of their guides, busy endangering the religious beliefs and faith of their brothers and the entire Ummat, or are they benefiting them in any way?
Let me repeat: The person who after proper thought and consideration and after making use of his vast experiences, considers one path to be less hazardous and more likely to lead to his destination has the right to choose that path. But let me also ask: How can this possibly be justice that when another experienced expert and man of insight chooses another road, he should be abused, degraded and denounced?
The choice before Muslims in India
You know for a fact that for well-nigh fifty years there have been two views of what Muslims in India should do. On the one hand there are those who hold the view that, seeing that Muslims in India form a minority, they should join forces with the other communities in the political struggle of India. Should they remain aloof from the vast majority, they will never be able to acquire the desired results of the struggle for independence and self-determination. These people also know full well that in joining forces with the rest, they will have to compromise somewhat.
On the other hand are those who are of the opinion that in view of the prejudice and one-track mindedness of the Hindus, the Muslims will surely have to suffer tremendous religious and secular losses if they join forces with the Hindus and even then there is no guarantee of them reaching their sought- after destination. For this reason they believe the Muslims should wage their own separate and independent struggle.
My saintly elders have always had differences of opinion and have always been divided on these two issues and still are. Both these theories are noteworthy and merit thought in their respective places. None of the two can be said to be definitely and categorically wrong. In such a case is it not then necessary that a person should adopt that view which, in his mind, seems most favorable and in which there appears to be less harm – the lesser of the two evils? Is it then not necessary for him to advise his friends and adherents to do likewise?
If, on the other hand, another way presents itself, which lies between the two extremes, should not such a path be pursued on condition that such a driver or guide comes forward to take passengers along that path? It fills me with disgust that because of some dissent in our ranks we become so worked up and thereafter resort to denouncing and insulting such great personalities whom we look upon as our leaders and guides.
Now, I ask you, if the leaders of a people are such as we claim them to be when we denounce and criticize them in newspapers and speeches, then, does not the condition and description of the followers of these leaders become quite clear and self- evident? What we actually are doing, by insulting and degrading our elders, is to announce and openly advertise our own inability, weakness and foolishness. What a sorry state of affairs that those beautiful qualities which once belonged to Muslims are now being discarded by them and are being adopted by others! Today in spite of tremendous diversity among our enemies unity has been forged. There is respect for each other‟s opinion, and even though openly they show mutual disagreement, we find them in secret consultations. Now look at us.
For us, being ardent followers of a great man and being supporters of his and of his party means that we must be involved in a Constant battle against his opponents, insult and jeer at them, whereby in actual fact we do great harm to ourselves. We only rejoice and cheer when the opposite party suffers setbacks and disgrace, even though in the interim our own image is degraded.
In contrast to that I do not want to bring examples from the early days and the golden era of Islam or the early saints. I have heard some stories of the leaders of our family from the recent past. When any court-case took place in connection with ownership of land, they used to go to the courthouse of Kerala, which was about five or six miles from Kandhla. Both parties used to travel to court in the same cart. Should the one party harness his bullocks to the cart first, the other would also go along with him.
I have also heard a strange story about one of these incidents. There was once a lengthy court case between two close relations, It went on for a long time and in the meantime the respondent passed away. It so happened that the plaintiff in the case sent a message to the widow of the deceased saying: “The dispute was between my brother and myself. You were a young relative of his and as such are a young relative of mine as well. I have no quarrel with you. I am dispatching the documents to you. I shall accept whatever you decide and propose (regarding the land).”
This is a story of something which took place in this very age wherein we live. It is a story of people of the world – not saints. Do those who today claim to be religious minded also do this? Can they not also behave like this? How nice would it be if today our efforts were directed towards construction and not destruction.