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Islamic Studies

Laying The Groundwork For Revival and Reform: The Reconstruction of Islamic Thought In Light Of The Objectives Of The Meccan Revelation

Imam Shatibi (r) understood the Meccan phase of revelation to be a formative stage in the history of Islam rather than an initial and incomplete stage of revelation. The Meccan  phase of revelation is a foundational in which the transmission of fundamentals occurred.  Imam Shatibi (r) holds that the “the higher aims and purposes of the Shar’iah were laid in the Meccan revelation. The Madinan period served to compliment the Meccan period by elaborating what is implicit in the Meccan period, actualizing the intents of the Meccan revelation.

If we consider the Meccan phase of the Prophetic Seerah in light of the understanding of Imam Shatibi (r) then we are in a position to comprehend the  methodology of education and training (taleem wa tarbiyyah) of the Companions (r). The Prophetic Seerah, which coincides with the period of Meccan revelation affords us a model for reform and revival (islah wa tajdid) today by teaching us in the words of Shaikh Rashid Rida (r) that the Qur’an is a Book of practical training as well as knowledge and learning. Upon close examination we find that during this early and foundational phase of Islamic history the Prophet (saw) focused essentially on communicating to the Companions (r) two faces of revelation:

1.) The words and meanings of the Qur’an and the specific occasions and objectives the Qur’an addressed as pertaining to belief or action.

2.) Translating the Qur’an into a living model

In the words of Aisha (r) the Prophet (saw) was a walking Qur’an in other word he incarnated the aims and objective of the Qur’an in action and character. As a living model of the Qur’an, the Prophet (saw) brought to realization the universal principles and aims as revealed in the Meccan revelation. Education (taleem wa tarbiyyah) in this early phase aimed at grooming the individual Muslim to actualize the aims of the Shar’iah this is the what it means to properly understand and implement the Qur’anic term: vicegeneret khalifa). Educational activity in the Meccan phase was effective for a number of reasons:

a.) Because it was a systematic gradual contemplative study of the Qur’an focused on   understanding the Qur’an’s demand in belief and action.

b.) The Companions understood the occasions upon which the Qur’an was revealed so they comprehended the wisdom undergirding legislation.

c.) Learning was intricately connected with a practical translation of knowledge into life.

Revival and reform efforts if they are to be successful must imbibe the aims of the Shar’iah following the educational system grounded in the framework laid out in the Meccan revelation. Here we would do well to tread the path to reform and revival by firstly abiding by two principles found in Imam Bukhari’s (r) Sahih:

1.)Knowledge precedes speech and action

2.)Iman is speech and action.

And secondly, imitating the framework laid out in the Meccan revelation.

-Allahu Al’am

About the author

Yusuf Rios (Abul Hussein)

Yusuf Rios was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. While becoming a Catholic priest, Yusuf discovered the path to Islam. He studied Islamic sciences for a period of seven years, studying with scholars in Cleveland, Ohio before receiving a work-study contract with the Islamic American University. At the Islamic American University, he read Arabic and a limited number of Islamic sciences intensively for one year. He then traveled to Cairo, Egypt where he resided for five years. There, he attended a number of intensive courses at Arabic learning centers. After these courses, he joined various scholarly circles, reading Islamic sciences with a host of scholars of diverse expertise and orientations. Yusuf takes particular pride in having studied intimately with a number of scholars from al-Azhar University. Likewise, he has great love and attachment to Egypt and especially al-Azhar Mosque where he studied for the major portion of his residence in Egypt. Yusuf has a Bachelors in Western Philosophy and Sociology and is working on a Masters in Education. He serves as an instructor in Islamic Sciences with Islamic American University and in local mosques in Dearborn, Michigan and Cleveland, Ohio. His four main research areas in Islamic sciences are in the areas of Usul al-Fiqh, Maqasid ash Shar’ia, Hadith Sciences, and Fiqh.

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