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Definition of the title “Ahl al-Sunnah wa ‘l-Jama’ah”

December 4, 2012

By Qari Muhammad Tayyib Qasmi

The words al-Sunnah and al-Jama’ah can best be concisely described in the following way. Al-Sunnah would include the way and manner of Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace). All the many branches that spring from the way of Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) are included in the way of the ‘ulama of Deoband. Al-Jama’ah would include Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and all those who had benefited from his beneficence, like the Sahabah (Allah be pleased with them), Tabi’in, A’immah Mujtahidin and ‘Ulama Rasikhin (Allah have mercy on them). Each one of them is honoured and respected in accordance to their respective status and ranks. In the same way this ideology (of the ‘ulama of Deoband) gains its hue and colour from the principles and corollaries of the personalities who are the branches from the tree of Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace). The result of this is that no branch of the din can ever be free of the effects of the Sunnah of Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace). Otherwise it will not be even termed as din. There can be no personality in the din who does not come under the shadow of the being of Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace). Otherwise he would not be regarded as a person of the din. Hence, no group can claim to be following and in conformity with the desire of nubuwwah unless it has a relationship with every aspect of the lineage of Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and it adopts the principles and laws of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace). Every group of personages that is connected with Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) inadvertently lead up to him. It will therefore be seen that all the sectors of the Shari’ah, be it knowledge or practice, and not only these two, but every proof in the din, are all the resultants and effects of Allah’s Messenger’s (Allah bless him and grant him peace) various connections.

For example Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) connection and relation to iman gives rise to the branch of iman, which is referred to in the Shari’ah as kalam. His connection to the din (Nisbah al-Islami) gives rise to the branch of rulings or practices, which in the Shari’ah is referred to as fiqh. His Nisbat al-Ihsani gives rise to the branch for purification of the soul and perfection of character, which in the Shari’ah is referred to as tasawwuf. His Nisbah I’la Kalimatullah (connection to raising the Kalimah of Islam) gives rise to the branch of politics and Jihad, whose general title would be imarah (leadership) and khilafah. His Nisbah al-Istinadi gives rise to the branch of transmission of the din through sanad (chain of narrators), whose Shar’i name is riwayah and istinad. His Nisbah al-Irtiqa’i gives rise to the branch of knowledge of firasah and ma’rifah, whose Shar’i name is haqa’iq and asrar. His Nisbah al-Istiqra’i gives rise to the branch of rules and laws of the Shari’ah, which is termed usul. This refers to the usul’s (principles) of fiqh, tafsir and hadith. His Nisbah al-Ijtima’i gives rise to the branch of mutual assistance and excellent morality, whose Shari’i term would be hadharat and madniyat. His Nisbah al-Taysiri gives rise to the branch of affinity for ease and moderation,whose Shar’i term is ‘adl and iqtisad .

Then, if we look at the Shar’i proofs,whereupon this concise Shari’ah is based, then we see that Allah’s Messenger’ (Allah bless him and grant him peace) Nisbah al-Anbayi (nubuwwah) gave rise to wahy, which is collectively known as  al-Qur’an. His Nisbah al-I’lami and Bayani, that is his example of speech and actions, which personified the Qur’an, whose collective term would be al-Sunnah. His Nisbah al-Alqa’i and Wajdani which gave rise to the extraction of masa’il, is termed ijtihad in the Shari’ah. His Nisbah al-Khatimiyah which gave rise to the state of perpetual guidance of mankind and their deviation, when not in a group. Its Shar’i term is ijma’.

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