Hot Topics Sciences of Qur'an and Hadith Women

Towards an Arabic Hermeneutics

By Shaykh Dr. Ḥasan al-Shāfi‘ī | Translated and introduced by Sohaib Saeed Al-Azhari

The Required Response to Feminist Reinterpretations of the Qur’an: Part I | Part II | Part III

After looking at examples distributed in various parts of the world, we can summarize the key points of this movement’s discourse while noting that its members vary in the extent to which they adopt some of these points:

  1. Historicism concerning religious texts including the Qur’an, subjecting them to historical context which could lead to abrogation and replacement or reduction to purely ethical values. Indeed, casting doubt on the authenticity and perfection of the Qur’anic text.
  2. Biased analysis that turns a blind eye to: the nature of Arabic texts and Arabic linguistic rules, usages and idioms; the significance of the Qur’an declaring its “Arabic” nature; and the conclusions of contemporary phonological studies, particularly semantics, concerning interpretation.
  3. Under-qualification, to various extents, for the job of interpretation. Approaching the Qur’anic text with preconceived notions born of a methodology that materialized and thrived in a different culture for reasons that may not exist in the Islamic environment.
  4. Denigrating the Islamic sciences that were compiled and developed in service of religious texts – to verify, understand, and derive rulings from them – with the claim that these represent regressive traditionalism from which we need a decisive break. This, despite the fact that it is these sciences – along with literary, phonological and rhetorical studies – that can form an authentic “hermeneutics”. In other words, they can be taken as a suitable methodology for interpreting Arabic texts scientifically, objectively, and according to set rules.


Towards an Arabic Hermeneuticsarabesque

I believe that we are now in need of constructing a theory or a complete intellectual structure for interacting with Arabic religious texts – including the Qur’an and Sunnah – and interpreting them in a way that accords with its nature and respects its unique characteristics.

We need not invent something new to match what others have produced: all that is required is to gather the elements of interaction with tradition and its scientific and cultural phenomena from our original sciences and our historical experience. In this way, those sciences will continue their service to this tradition and make it incumbent on whomever wishes to study, evaluate, and interpret the tradition to master the sciences, and, in addition, be trained in their implementation and how to carry out objective research within their scope.

The aptitude of the researcher is a basic prerequisite to any research activity. We saw how some people speak at length about things of which they have no knowledge, armed with nothing but unrestrained guesswork and embellishment, from among the most crucial issues of life and existence. The dangers of this phenomenon may not be obvious today; but as this “intellectual” output continues, the cultural environment will become polluted by its by-products until future generations are left unable to breathe clean air.

I wished to shed some light on the efforts of Uṣūl scholars in particular in confronting this powerful wave, and in developing and enriching the language. Phonological research, which had been unengaged with this dimension, has now begun to include it in the study of language and its sciences and methodologies. The means and tools are abundant, and all that remains is to apply careful consideration and thorough scrutiny.

Therefore, I shall suffice with a brief outline of the elements that can form the basis of the desired Arabic theory of interpretation, in the hope that I shall have another opportunity to elaborate thoroughly on these elements, particularly the efforts of the Uṣūl scholars:

  1. Sciences of the Arabic language including its traditional branches – naḥw, ṣarf, balāgha, ‘arūḍ, naqd and adab – alongside their counterparts in modern phonology, especially semantics.
  2. Principles and rules of tafsīr, along with types and examples, methods and techniques; appreciating the contributions of our predecessors to understanding its meanings and objectives; related subjects in the Qur’anic sciences.
  3. Principles of hadīth, methods of authentication and critiquing both matn and sanad, accompanied by modern methodologies of critiquing and editing texts and historical criticism – both internal and external.
  4. Uṣūl al-fiqh and the means by which the jurists extract rulings from their sources; the linguistic and jurisprudential axioms underpinning this process; related studies of the nature and objectives of the source-texts, supported by methods of analysis and law-drafting in contemporary legal philosophy.

These are the primary issues that may require further categorization, in addition to knowledge of the text’s field of relevance, such that it is possible to interact with it with certainty and clarify, interpret and explain it. I ask Allah Most High to bring these bright minds back to the vastness of their culture and heritage, and the origins and reality of their existence.

References and Suggested Readings [with additions by the Translator]

The following are in addition to works cited in the text.


  • Dictionary of Contemporary Thought, by David Kirby (London, MacMillan)
  • The Influence of Modern Western Hermeneutical Approaches to Study of Religion on Contemporary Islamic Thought: A Case Study of Woman in Islam, by Sadia Mahmood (Master’s thesis, International Islamic University, Islamabad, 2004)
  • Introduction to Philosophical Hermeneutics, by Jean Grondin (New Haven, Yale University Press)
  • “Modernization in Muslim Society” by Clifford Geertz, in Religion and Progress in Modern Asia (New York, Free Press)
  • The Mu‘tazilite Theory of Tawīd, by Amila binti Awang (Doctoral thesis, International Islamic University, Kuala Lumpur, 2003)
  • [The History of the Qur’anic Text from Revelation to Compilation, by M.M. Al-Azami (Leicester, UK Islamic Academy)]
  • [The Qur’an and the Orientalists, by Muhammad Mohar Ali (Ipswich, JIMAS)]
  • [The Sunnah and its Role in Islamic Legislation, by Mustafa as-Siba’ee (Riyadh, IIPH)]



  • Fal al-maqāl, by Abū al-Walīd Ibn Rushd
  • al-Fikr al-islāmī al-adīth, by Muḥammad Al-Bahī
  • al-Madkhal ilā dirāsat ‘ilm al-kalām, by Ḥasan al-Shāfi‘ī (Cairo, Maktabat Wahba)
  • Tajrīd al-i‘tiqād, critical edition by Ḥasan al-Shāfi‘ī (Doctoral thesis, University of London, 1977)
  • [Kayfa nata‘āmal ma‘a al-qur’ān al-‘aīm, by Yusuf Al-Qaraḍāwī (Cairo, Dar al-Shurūq)]
  • [Qirā’at al-naṣṣ al-dīnī bayna al-ta’wīl al-gharbī wa al-ta’wīl al-islāmī , by Muḥammad ‘Imāra (Cairo, Maktabat al-Shurūq al-Duwaliyya)]

The above series was an abridged from a paper written by Dr. Ḥasan al-Shāfi‘ī; please visit the translator’s website for the full translation: “The Movement for Feminist Interpretation of the Qur’an and Religion and its Threat to the Arabic Language and Tradition”

About the author



  • سلام الله عليكم
    I’m with the shaikh in the overall conclusion and I am definitely against the movements headed by irshad manji and amina wadood. That being said, I believe it is true that many of our Koranic interpreters and jurists throughout our history were also if not just as influenced by the patriarchal culture that existed in their time and the way women were viewed. That being said we need to find a balance which is an unbiased analysis of the texts when talking about women. It is also very possible that some of the rulings were revealed because of the status of women at that time. This is a concurrent debate with the idea of slavery. Did Islam support it or did Allah just deal with it considering the fact that the whole world was entrenched in it. والله أعلم

  • Assalaam alaykum and thank you Sohaib for all of your wonderful work. As I understand this paper, Dr. al-Shafi’i argues that because the Feminist tradition of social critique, exegesis, and law is fundamentally a Western one, it cannot be superimposed on distinctly Islamic or Arabic traditions if one is to be serious about these Islamic or Arabic traditions(i.e. social critique, exegesis, law).

    However, it is my understanding that Muslim exegesis borrowed the good from the exegesis of Medieval Jewry, the good from Persian spiritual traditions, the good from Greek philosophy, and so on. I don’t think that the artificial dichotomy of “Western” and “Islamic” (or “Arab,” which I personally dislike because of the way Islamic and Arab are so often conflated) is grounds for absolute disavowal of either set of traditions. It seems as if this problem of traditional absolutism is a problem for both camps.

    Is there a way to progress from this point, Sohaib, to create a filtering process to segregate feminist sets of methodologies into those that may be incorporated into what will be called “traditional” reasoning? I know that some cats in the academy who are trained both in the traditional Islamic sciences and in the American academic sciences are analyzing Muslim rulings and exegesis through historical context, explaining away odd interpretations of jihad or jizya or gender relations, for instance, as products of historical context rather than absolute divine injunctions. Is this perhaps the next step? To separate “misogynistic” interpretations from interpretations that “fit” with out present contexts?

    • And if so, is the (Muslim) Feminist project really that harmful to traditional Islamic sciences? I apologize for my poor grammar above 🙂 And thank you again, Sohaib for starting this discussion!

    • Dan, wa ‘alaykum as-salaam. You’ve raised lots of thinking points, and really I don’t present myself as an expert in this field; I just had the honour of translating a paper that has its significance and relevance to emerging debates.

      As you pointed out, it’s not feminism (and certainly not women’s involvement in scholarship) that is the target of opprobrium here – a point that many readers have missed. This fits within the broader issue of Western Orientalist study of Islam and its generally sceptical assumptions and ulterior motives. These, whether we like it or not, are going to affect how such studies are perceived in the Islamic East. (Excuse these terms, as you know what I mean.) I have noticed that the Al-Azhar curriculum devotes a lot of attention to assessing Orientalist claims, which is a welcome engagement for various reasons.

      The Shaykh has clearly left many gaps here, some of which were assumed to be filled by the prior awareness of his initial audience, i.e. scholars trained in the Muslim world. For them, it is obvious that the Arabic language has its specialities, and that the sciences that have been established and developed in service of the Qur’an and Sunnah cannot be dispensed with.

      There is a certain defensiveness about the West and its influence, and some of that, no doubt, comes from political factors and even this “false dichotomy”. I notice that the Shaykh offset this effect by his opening remarks about the inevitability and importance of cultural exchange: and “culture” here includes knowledge and methodologies.

      You have a point about borrowing from other traditions, and it works both ways: it’s well documented that Jewish interpretation was influenced by Muslim tafsir.

      About the filtering process, I think the points outlined in “Towards an Arabic Hermeneutics” go a long way, but obviously require expansion. The Shaykh has mentioned the classical sciences but pointed towards adopting modern developments to complement them or bring them up to date.

      JazakAllah khairan for your comments.

      • Your explanation completely cleared up most of the doubts I raised and doubts that others raised. I think the wording of the article confused many, and obviously some meaning is always lost in translation, at no fault to the translator. However, I think that because, as you said, this article was geared directly towards Islamic Scholars already well-versed in Islamic tradition, there was some misunderstanding among us who are not yet of that academic standard yet.

        • It is so cheering when someone finds one’s explanation satisfying or argument convincing, in this online world in which very little real dialogue takes place. 🙂

          There is a need to understand the purpose and background of the writer and writing – although we are questioning the extent to which this applies to the Qur’an as perfect, eternal revelation!

          I think it was Sh. Muhammad al-Ghazali who said: “Whoever does not read the introduction has wronged the author.” Many thanks for your feedback.

      • Salaam Sohaib. Thank you for your response. You cleared up a lot of things for me. This is a very interesting topic, and I look forward to more of your work. Have a great time at Azhar!

    • As salamu ‘alaikum Dan,

      You said, “However, it is my understanding that Muslim exegesis borrowed the good from the exegesis of Medieval Jewry, the good from Persian spiritual traditions, the good from Greek philosophy, and so on.”

      What is the basis this understanding? Where did you read or here this? It is quite foreign from my understanding of the science of tafseer as is recorded very clearly in the books of Uloom al-Quran or mentioned by scholars of tafseer.

  • I admittedly know very little about the authors mentioned in these articles, but I was intrigued that Fazlur Rahman was mentioned. I have heard orthodox scholars in the past praise his work, especially his book “Islam.”

    What is your personal opinion on Fazlur Rahman Malik and his works?

    Jazak Allahu khayran

    • I personally haven’t read Fazlur Rahman extensively, but it’s in “Islam” that he refutes “the externality of the Angel and the Revelation” and asserts that the Mi’raj is “a historical fiction”. This is right at the outset of the book, which you can browse on Amazon. Maybe there are some useful elements that invited praise from the scholars you mention.

  • As a note, my intention here was not to argue or to upset the balance of order. My writing tends to come off harsh, and I tried to soften it up, but I’m not entirely sure if it worked :/

    I was looking forward to this article, as I’m just your average-minded Muslim who enjoys reading articles on this website and I am also an avid reader of some of the feminist authors denounced in this paper. I was disappointed, however, as I was hoping for a critique that didn’t come off as “I’m right, you’re wrong,” but rather more in depth. I guess this is a little silly for me to expect as this paper is only a few pages long, and the feminists criticized in this paper have written entire books.

    I’m not sure what the intention of posting this on a popular website was, as I would think most people unfamiliar with these authors will probably not read any more than this, and carry the assumptions written in this article with them, rather than reading more about feminist authors. The author seems to write in a somewhat vitriolic, and highly opinionated manner, especially when he directly says that some of these feminist scholars have wasted their entire lives working on something that he deems incorrect.

    I wonder why is it that traditional sources of learning are not to be criticized at all? Why is it that someone from a different perspective and understanding of learning is not allowed to analyze another standard of learning? This to me reads like it impedes progress and real introspection.

    For instance, he implies that the validity of hadith are not to be questioned at all, and seems to make the assumption that only feminist authors criticize the authenticity of Sahih hadith. The article briefly mentions Fazlur Rahman, but what about the predecessors who influenced him such as Sayyed Ahmed Khan? Or what about Ignaz Goldziher’s criticism of hadith. I’m assuming that Al-Azhar has probably responded to these claims that hadith are indeed authentic, and is there an available English-translation of such an opinion? (I have had conversations with my local Imam, an Al-Azhar graduate, about hadith authenticity and he seems to also be wary of the authenticity of Sahih hadith, but rather told me that it would be best to relate hadith to how it fits with the Qur’an and other popular hadith.)

    I feel the part about how one must be educated in only a certain standard, accepted within the East, has been addressed by feminist authors such as Asma Barlas. Personally, I have read Amina Wadud’s “Quran and Women” and I really enjoyed her interpretation of some of the ayats, especially on (30:21) as that is something that I rarely hear the ‘legitimized’ scholars around me talking about.

    Another thing about this article is that it comes off as saying that the only people who are allowed to think about the Qur’an and think about Islam are those who have studied from a ‘legitimized’ source of education for many years. Maybe I was reading it incorrectly, but I felt like he was saying that scholars are the ones who think for the vast majority of Muslims, and that in the end those who aren’t scholars are simply homogenized sheep who must follows orders.

    On a personal note, I’ve spent my entire life feeling like another member of the flock that just obeys orders, and this version of Islam turned me away from religion. The feminist authors that were denounced in this article provided me with another, more open-minded interpretation towards Islam. Upon reading their books, I felt for the first time that they were asking me to think, and that I am permitted to think (as many of them focus on the end of ayats that say ‘for those who reflect.’) It was such a wonderful experience for me to finally be able to seek Islam and enjoy it, and the only way I can really describe it would be to call it ‘an awakening.’ To want to read the Qur’an rather than thinking that it’s an obligation for me during Ramadan. To read more from various sources, rather than from one single perspective – Progressive Muslims, Sufis, Salafis, “Traditionalists,” etc. To want to keep on learning with no goal of ever arriving at a conclusion. That is what the feminist authors inspired in me. Although the person who posted this article claims that the author wants to work with feminist articles rather than shun them, I did not seem to get that vibe. I felt that they were stating that there is only a single approach allowed in Islam, and that is by abiding by the rules they have followed for years.. everything else is biddah. And for that reason, I feel a bit heartbroken, for now I feel, on an individual level, that this article is saying my new, revitalized approach to Islam is incorrect.

    JazakAllah for posting this article. It was indeed very fascinating to read. I’m sorry if I am taking away from the intellectual grasp of this article, as I am no scholar or great student, just a curious Muslim.

    • MashAllah, you’ve raised some good points. For those who claim that Bukhari and Muslim are ‘Sahih’ which means 100% authentic. Answer this question, why is it that the punishment for adultery in the Quran is 100 lashes but yet in the Hadith it is stoning to death? And please don’t say abrogation because it is impossible for Hadith which was written 200 years after the Prophet (peace be upon him) died to replace the Quran. Think about it, if Hadith could replace the Quran you could make up whatever you wanted and call it ‘abrogation’.
      And answer this question as well, the Prophet (peace be upon him) prayed at least 5 times a day for 20 years, and yet there are over 100 differences in the performance of Salat between the 4 madhabs. if someone does something 5 times a day for 20 years in public, and it isn’t recorded properly, what hope is there that statements that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said maybe a dozen times in his life will be recorded properly? And yet this is the claim of the so called 100% authentic Bukhari and Muslim.
      A third question, if Hadith was so important-why didn’t the companions write it down? Afterall, they wrote the Quran down in 2 years after the Prophet (peace be upon him) died. And don’t say its because they would have confused the Quran and the Hadith because the Quran is inimitable and there is nothing like it.
      I am absolutely shocked at how so many Muslims completely disregard the Quran and follow Hadith when they contradict each other, the adultery example that I mentioned is only the tip of the ice berg.

      • I recommend the book mentioned above, which addresses many of these questions/objections, as I don’t feel it will be fruitful debating it here.

        “The Sunnah and its Role in Islamic Legislation” by Mustafa as-Siba’ee (International Islamic Publishing House)

      • Your assessment of hadith history, authenticity, and the contradictions with the Quran are extremely off point.

        Insha Allah a post can be dedicated to many of these common misunderstandings about hadith sciences. The reality is that many hadith were written during the Prophet’s life and immediately after, and even a mandate to collect and write them all occurred during Omar bin Abdul Aziz’s period (99-101 AH).

        Regarding the salah, the differences are on minor details, nothing essential regarding the prayer. Furthermore, the Prophet may have done those minor details in a number of ways, allowing for number of acceptable methods of folding one’s hands, sitting, etc.

        Lastly, the issue of abrogation requires a lot more discussion, but the conclusion on this issue is that stoning was for married individuals who committed adultery, while whipping was for single people.

        We need to truly raise our literacy and investigate the reality of the claims often made out of ignorance. All that being said, if one is capable of holding an opinion on the authenticity of a particular hadith, then let him do so. But when we assume we are authorities because we have access to google or read a book or two, then we have a whole separate issue to deal with.

        • My favorite Scot,

          Thanks for the suggestion of Dr. Mustafa as-Siba’ee’s book.

          May Allah bless all your efforts.

        • Osman, I recently had the pleasure of discussing hadith literature, among other things, with a fellow Muslim from Pakistan. He completely rejected hadith literature as illegitimate, unsophisticated, and ultimately dangerous for healthy social organization. Now, I definitely have problems with the whole “reading a book or two and you’re a scholar” mindset (although all learning begins with just a book or two), but I think the gut-distrust for hadith literature may be a deeper problem, perhaps rooted in the modern issues of authority within contemporary Islam. I think for many of us average Muslims and “non-traditional” scholars, particularly for academics in the West who are “illegitimate” essentially for ad hominem reasons, there is a feeling that the “traditional” scholars (and “traditional” is perhaps the only historically authoritative term we have) are forcefully attempting to maintain a monopoly over religious knowledge. It is people like Sh. Suhaib Webb and our Scottish Sh. Sohaib Saeed who are reaching out to democratize religious knowledge, if you will, and for this I am very grateful. It bridges the gap between the hungry ignorant, like myself, and the knowledgeable but distant. What I’m saying is that we can’t just attack the branches of these debates (the fine points of prayer, or the failure of Western hermeneutics to have perfectly mirrored the so-called Arabic hermeneutics, for instance), we need to target the roots- ugly institutions of gender and racial oppression, a struggle for authority that often becomes vitriolic (from all sides), and so on. We need to call a spade a spade and not a big spoon. 😉

        • I think your belief in Hadith is extremely uninformed. And nothing that anyone has written here has answered my objections.
          1) The fact remains that the companions never wrote down hadith, are you telling me that the largest and wealthiest empire in the world at that time did not have the resources to write hadith down?
          2) There are major differences in Salah, whether you recite quietly behind an imam or not is pretty major. Whether you pray asr at one time or the other is also major.The only way you can justify these differences is to insult the imams and those who came up with the opinions (which is unjust but yet some people do it, especially with Abu Hanifa).
          3)Since stoning to death is for married individuals and whipping is for the unmarried; tell me this what is the punishment for a married slave who commits adultery? It is known that a slave recieves half the punishment of a freeman , so what is a half stoning? Or did you throw verse out of the Quran as well?
          Let me clarify a point, I don’t mean to offend anyone here but as a Muslim, cannot accept something as 100 percent authentic when it contradicts the Quran and seems to ‘abrogate’ Quranic verses at will. If you follow the Quran and realise that actions like working hard, keeping your promises, protecting your chastity and being honest are infinitely more important than whether you shake hands with a woman or whether you celebrate mothers day (2 topics which are deemed among the most important among Muslims on this website despite all the other problems in the world) you will see progress and a better world for all. One of my main problems with Hadith is that it completely takes away your perspective regarding what is very important and what is less important.

        • If the hadith was written down during the time of the companions, tell me, where is the Sahih Umar ibn Al Khattab? where is the Sahih Ali ibn Abi Talib? Your claim that hadith was written down during the time of the companions is nothing but conjecture with no evidence to back it up. Think about it, why would they write down just a few random hadith, surely they would have taken a systematic approach and write down everything relating to the different topics and compile a book. Are you telling me that the empire which had the intelligence to defeat the Roman and Persian empires didn’t have the intelligence to do this?

          I will leave you with some verses from the Quran for reflection:

          Who is more evil than one who is reminded of these revelations of his Lord , then insists upon disregarding them? We will certainly punish the guilty.” 32:22

          “And when our revelations are recited to the one of them, he turns away in arrogance as if he never heard them, as if his ears are deaf. Promise him a painful retribution.” 31:7

        • Here is just a bit of information on the writing of hadith during the Prophet’s life and the 1st generation after his death. Please refer the summer nights class on hadith for more details.

          The Writing of Hadith by the Companions and during their lives:

          • Abdullah ibn Amr ibn Aas
          – al Saheefa al Sadiqa
          • Anas ibn Malik
          – He wrote and reviewed with the Prophet
          • Jabir bin Abdullah
          – Used to write and teach his hadith in the Prophet’s masjid
          – Book of Hajj (much of it found in Saheeh Muslim)
          • Aisha
          – Urwa bin Zubair wrote her hadith
          • Abdullah ibn Abbas
          – His hadeeth were written in his life (by the People of Taaif)
          – Saeed ibn Musayyib wrote his hadeeth as well.
          • Abdullah ibn Omar
          – Nafi’ used to write his hadith

      • I retain my conviction that debating the issues here would be fruitless. But just in case you actually wish to know, please see “Studies in Early Hadith Literature” by Professor M.M. Al-Azami, where he lists (with references) 49 companions from whom hadiths were narrated in written form, in many cases written by their own hands.

        • Sheikh Sohaib,

          I completely agree. My concern is that others outside of this discussion would get confused unless a few essentials were mentioned.

          BarakAllahu feek for your advice and wisdom.

        • Well this is my last word on this issue. I do not wish to labour the point but the main points that I raised remain unanswered (I will however read that book you recommended ):
          1) ’49 companions from whom Hadith were written down, in many cases from their own hands’. Tell me then, why was the first supposedly 100% authentic Hadith collection written 200 years after the Prophet (peace be upon him died)? If the collections you mentioned were really from the companions, they would be 100% authentic and further Hadith collections would not be required. It is also amazing how none of the major companions (i.e. from the Veterans of Badr, the 10 promised paradise) were the authors of a Hadith collection by their own hands*. It doesn’t take long to write down a Hadith collection, It would take no longer than a day to write down something of the length of Sahih Bukhari. (*i’m discounting the last 3 companions you mentioned Osman as they didn’t actually write the Hadith down themselves- this leads to a great possibility of the recorders forging statements on their part-as was the possibly the case with ibn Abbas and his ‘narrations’ allowing Nikah Mutah).
          2) The point about differences of Salah remains unanswered as there is no answer. It is absolutely ridiculous that the Prophet (peace be upon him) would have allowed , for example, people to recite behind the Imam on somedays but forbid it on others,this is just confusing, any person with a sane and logical mind would admit that there was only one way to pray which we now probably do not know. (I do appreciate that the intention behind Salat is important and how we move our hands and other issues are fairly trivial, but this just illustrates the weakness of Hadith narration when you cannot agree on how to do an action that the Prophet (peace be upon him)carried out at least 20,000 times in his life.
          3)The point about Adultery remains unanswered because there is no answer.

          A lot of the scholars will try and justify things like stoning to death by talking about how most of the scholars held this opinion so it must be true. Intuitively this argument makes sense but when we look at the histories of Christianity and Judaism, we find that it wasn’t the good well intentioned people (whom the Scholars generally hold in contempt) who corrupted these religions, it was the Scholars themselves who did this henious action. This is why I bid everyone to develop a deep suspicion of the motives and the actions of anyone claiming any kind of religious authority and to hold these authorities to account when they are trying to fool you into following something that goes against the Quran by hiding behind a false pretense of knowledge. We can even see in this paper that the Sheikh is trying to dismiss all criticism of traditional methodologies with feable arguments, ad hominem attacks and sweeping value judgements. This is similar to how the Church dismissed any talk of Science that challenged the established Church view during the middle ages as well as their persecution of people who tried to translate the bible into native languages so that it could be understood by all people. The bottom line is that you can pretend all you want in claiming that there is a justification for Hadith abrogating the Quran whether the issue is Adultery, Apostasy, the trustworthiness of the companions (according to Shia Muslims) or even the finality of Muhammad (peace be upon him) as Allah’s last prophet (according to the Ahmadiyya, further illustrating the dangers of Hadith abrograting the Quran, because where do you stop?).
          Any ruling by any sheikh contradicting the Quran is nothing but a corruption even if it is based on Hadith.

          For your reflection, I leave you with a verse from the Quran and a Hadith:

          They have taken as lords beside Allah their rabbis and their monks and the Messiah son of Mary, when they were bidden to worship only One Allah. There is no Allah save Him. Be He Glorified from all that they ascribe as partner (unto Him)!
          ( سورة التوبة , At-Taubah, Chapter #9, Verse #31)

          Imam Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Jarir At-Tabari recorded a Hadith via several chains of narration, from `Adi bin Hatim r.a., who was a Christian during the time of Jahiliyya … The Messenger of Allah recited this Ayah;

          اتَّخَذُواْ أَحْبَـرَهُمْ وَرُهْبَـنَهُمْ أَرْبَاباً مِّن دُونِ اللَّهِ

          (They took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allah). `Adi commented, “I said, `They did not worship them.”’ The Prophet said,

          «بَلَى إِنَّهُمْ حَرَّمُوا عَلَيْهِمُ الْحَلَالَ وَأَحَلُّوا لَهُمُ الْحَرَامَ فَاتَّبَعُوهُمْ فَذَلِكَ عِبَادَتُهُمْ إِيَّاهُم»

          Yes they did. They (rabbis and monks) prohibited the allowed for them (Christians and Jews) and allowed the prohibited, and they obeyed them. This is how they worshipped them.

      • Salam Brother/Sister

        I think this answers your points on the stoning/lashing issue

        How would you suggest we pray if suppose we say throw all hadiths in the bin? I suppose each one of us should make up whatever we want?

        With regards to prayer maybe people reported seeing the Prophet (saw) pray differently because he did pray differently – this is what all the evidence points to, your idea that ‘logically’ he must have prayed exactly in one manner at all times is merely your assertion.

    • Salaam, Amber. Thanks for sharing your thoughts; it might be difficult for me to reply to every point, but let me try and say a few words reflecting upon what you’ve shared.

      I don’t believe that you should be discouraged by reading something like this from thinking for yourself or from listening to all groups who present ideas with their reasoning. Just consider this Shaykh as representing one or a few of these “groups”: call them traditionalists, scholastic theologians, Azharis, classically-trained scholars, or whatever – without denying the possibility of diversity within any of these groups.

      I’ve noted in some comments that it’s not surprising that a Shaykh would have such a view of Western Qur’anic interpretative projects, and he has that right and he has his reasons. We might see things differently as Westerners. But we should try to understand what he means by “traditional sciences” etc. and not simply read these from our own background and worldview that looks down on tradition and considers all goodness to be in modernity. Islam balances between all extremes: between revelation and reason; between authenticity and relevance; between past and future, and so on.

      Therefore what I’d suggest is that we take the message that we need to explore much more deeply what these sciences are that constitute our Islamic intellectual heritage. When we study the methodology of authenticating hadiths, we will marvel at the attention to detail and the depth of the debates. The same applies to jurisprudence (fiqh) and its principles and methodologies.

      When it comes to tafsir (interpreting the Qur’an), the Arabic language is truly fundamental. I think this is one of the main assumptions of this paper, which struggles to come through in translation, and to a non-Arabic speaking audience. Some will find resistance in themselves to something that might sound like a racist notion. But if we are to transcend the opinions of men (or women), we need to access the text of the Qur’an itself, which was revealed upon the Arabic tongue. Thus the Shaykh’s criticism of the lack of qualifications of many (if not all) of these researchers. One can consult Imam al-Suyuti’s list of 15 necessary qualifications for an interpreter of the Qur’an (incidentally, being male was not one of them!).

      Rather than precluding the possibility of critiquing the traditional sciences, I think the point was to say that mastery of the sciences is a precondition, thus allowing a person to critique from within, rather than casting aside centuries of cumulated knowledge and experience.

      I’ll leave my reflections there, and thanks again for your input.

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