Why The Row Over Anti-Hadith but
Silence On Quran Illiteracy?
[Editor’s note: The following are the excerpts from “Open Letter To The Nation’s Leaders And Intellectuals” written by Dr. Kassim Ahmad from Malaysia. None of the news-media he contacted wanted to publish this letter.]
The time may have come for us to do a final reckoning with ourselves, our people, and the international community. Never in the history of mankind have we faced such total collapse as we do today.... Where has morality gone? Where on the face of this earth is a group or groups of moral human beings?... There is a limit to human endurance of suffering without protest; that limit has been passed!
When a group of our people in Malaysia wants to bring back the Quran to the hearts of the populace today, this is the significance and the implication. For a thousand years, Muslims have strayed so far away from God’s teachings and lived in such ignorance that they are powerless to destroy the evil perpetrated before their eyes. Western civilization too has strayed far away from the teachings of the prophets, including Moses and Jesus.... Both East and West must return to God’s teachings, particularly the Quran, His final,
complete, perfect, and detailed scripture.
Alas, when Jema'ah Al-Quran Malaysia (Quranic Society of Malaysia or JAM) was formed precisely for this mission, a number of our leaders and intellectuals leapt up and protested. “Anti-Hadith group! Anti-Hadith group!” they screamed in accusation. What? Bringing the Quran to the people so that they would understand?this is anti-hadith? So, letting the people remain Quran illiterate, as in the past five hundred years in Malaysia, is acceptable?
I write this open letter to the nation’s leaders and intellectuals in all communities in the hope that we can study this matter calmly and rationally, without hurling accusations and threats and creating an atmosphere of animosity and tension. It is with a sense of responsibility and humility that I ask this, for it is not a matter involving religious ritual, but one of life and death for our people.
In 1986, this writer published a book, Hadis - Satu Penilaian Semula (its English translation, Prophetic Traditions— A Re-evaluation will also be published, God willing) with the intention stated above. Many of the
hadith compiled by Bukhari, Muslim and others that we use today, according to this writer’s study, are in conflict with the teachings of the Quran. I give instances in three areas:
One, adulation of or unquestioning acceptance of the teachings of a leader. Since this principle was instilled, Muslims have feared others besides God; they have been afraid to question leaders. Hence they became slaves of the leaders, whereas the Quran exhorts us to free ourselves of all forms of subservience, except to the One God....
Two, prohibiting the use of the rational mind. Generally, Muslims are taught not to use their minds in religious matters. This teaching is spread through some false hadith. Purportedly, the use of the mind in religious matters would lead us astray. If the mind may not be used in religious matters, why may it be used in other matters? Are religious and secular matters to be kept separate? Indeed, this is what has paralyzed the intellects of Muslims in comparison with others. The minds of Muslims have been dead for a thousand years, killed by these false
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