Saturday, 25 July 2015

Khilafah and Imamah- not contradictory concepts (1)

We have already seen in articleDifferentiation between Sectarianism, Grouping, and Unity in Islam’ that grouping and sectarianism are two different things; grouping is allowed in Islam whereas sectarianism is not permissible in Islam. The Quran is Allah's Words; as such Quran has multi-layered meanings. Therefore different meanings of Quran may be exacted, and all such different meanings may be adopted, if such meanings are not contradictory to each other. To hold different views based on Quran is called ‘grouping’ which is permissible in Islam; but to have contradictory views is called ‘sectarianism’ which is not allowed in Islam. It has also been explained how ‘Different views/interests’ are something different from ‘Contradictory views/interests’. Two views are different views, if any one of the two may be adopted without negating or accepting the other one. Two views are contradictory views, if any one  of the two may NOT be   adopted without negating the other. For instance, A says Z is dead; and B says Z is alive; these two views are contradictory because a person may not adopt any one of the two without negating the other view. Similarly, suppose, A says Z is sick; B says Z is on leave; these two views are different views because a person may adopt any one of the two views without negating the other one. 

It has also been observed that almost all religious conflicts/disagreement are relating to Different views, not relating to Contradictory views which are only a few. It means all disagreements/conflicts among various Muslim segments may be diluted by accepting right of all segments to adopt Different views relating to any issue, keeping in view the fact that Quranic words, being Allah’s Words and as such having most comprehensive  meanings, have multi-layered meanings; all such Different meanings may be adopted, if they are not contradictory mutually. The Contradictory views, which are a few, may also be diluted by intellectuals through intellectual exercises undertaken for the purpose. I believe that many religious views which are considered as contradictory among various Muslim segments are actually not contradictory; rather such seemingly ‘Contradictory’ views are actually ‘Different’ views, and as such may be adopted without negating or accepting the other ones.

The concepts of ‘khilafah’ and  ‘Imamah’ are  also such religious concepts which are usually considered as contradictory but are actually only different concepts. As ‘different’ concepts, any one of these two concepts may be adopted, without negating or accepting the other concept. The controversy shrouded around these two concepts is the corner stone from where almost all conflicting views nourished by Sunni and Shiite Schools of Thoughts emerge. In other words, taking these two concepts as Contradictory concepts- whereas they are not ‘Contradictory’; they are only ‘Different’- is the basis of disagreements/conflicts between Shiite and Sunni Schools of Thoughts.
Let us elaborate this point in the succeeding lines.

‘Khilafah’ is a Sunni concept of political system in which caliph/ the ruler is appointed by the people through consultation, and, in return, caliph/ the ruler rules the state through consultation with the people; but the caliph is not bound to go along the advice tendered by the people. The people are supposed to obey the caliph/ the ruler. However the caliph is not allowed to violate Islamic injunctions; in such eventuality the people can disobey the caliph/ the ruler.
 ‘Imamah’ is a Shiite concept of spiritual and woldly leadership according to which an ‘Imam’ is to be appointed by Divinity; people have no role in appointment of ‘Imam’. The ‘Imam’ receives guidance from Divinity as such people are supposed to obey Imam. The Imam can consult the people but is not bound to go along the advice given by the people. 

Imam is different from a Nabi in the sense that a Nabi comes with new shariah, or comes with rectified form of previous shariah, or comes with  extended/added form of previous shariah (plz see my article "Qadyaniat' and Ibn e Arbi's Mis-understood Concept of 'Nabuwwat"). On the other hand, an Imam does not come with new shariah or rectified shariah or extended shariah; however he can only interpret the shariah revealed to our Nabi (s.a.w.w). It may be appreciated there is difference between 'Shariah' and 'Interpretations to Shariah'.  Shariah is only Quran and Sunnah; all other sources of Islamic Law (i.e. Ijmah; Qiyas; Ijtihaad; Customs etc.) are Interpretations to Shariah. 

When a Nabi (coming before our Nabi (s.a.w.w) interpreted previous Shariah, such an interpretation became extended Shariah; it no longer remained interpretation to previous Shariah. The reason is obvious; a Nabi is sent to be followed by the people compulsorily; his Interpretations to Shariah are also to be followed by the people compulsorily. Because Interpretations to Shariah are not to be followed by the people compulsorily, a Nabi's Interpretations to Shariah, when made, become extended Shariah; such Interpretations no longer remain Interpretations to Shariah. It is debatable whether or not people may deviate from an Imam's interpretations to shariah. However it may be appreciated that an Imam may deviate from interpretation put forth by another Imam. For instance, the issue was-  whatsoever circumstances are- whether an Imam could accept authority of a ruler who was not an Imam. Imam Hassan (a.s) reconciled with Muawiya's regime and accepted his authority; whereas Ali (a.s) did not accepted Muawiya's authority. But Imam Hussain (a.s) defied the same regime which was under Muawiya's son i.e. Yazeed. But again Imam Zain-ul-abadeen (a.s) [who was son of Imam Hussain (a.s)] reconciled  with the same regime under Yazeed. I mean each of these three Imams (along with his followers) opted  his own interpretation regarding the same issue, deviating from the interpretation put forth by the previous Imam. In other words, the sanctity given to interpretation done by a Nabi is not attached to the interpretation made by an Imam; the interpretation done by a Nabi under 'wahi' is converted into extended Shariah which cannot be deviated by any person. Therefore the concept of Divine guidance attached with an Imam should not be confused with concept of prophetic 'wahi' attached with a Nabi. The concept of Divine guidance may be more appropriately categorized as 'non-prophetic wahi' which is sent to a person for his personal guidance (for details plz see my article "Wahi, Intuition and their Implications". It is due to non-prophetic wahi received by an Imam that he acts under Divine guidance and, in turn, guides his people. 

We can see that the main conflicting point in the two concepts is relating to appointment of caliph and Imam; caliph is appointed by the people, whereas Imam is appointed by Divinity. But what is to be appreciated is that a caliph is essentially a ruler (a political office); whereas an Imam is not essentially a ruler (a political office). According to Shiite concept, preferably an Imam should be the ruler as well; but if Imam does not happen to be a ruler, the status of his Imam-ate is not affected and he still remains an Imam. Thus we see  after Imam Hassan (a.s), no Imam of ‘Ithna ashariyyah’ happened to be a ruler; but  each of them is still acknowledged as Imam. During whole  period in which Imams of ‘ Ithna ashariyyah’ were not rulers themselves, they accepted non-Shiite rulers as caliphs. After occultation of twelfth Imam, Shiite have been obeying rulers (which are obviously not Imams). This fact that caliph is essentially a ruler but Imam is not essentially a ruler leads us to believe that ‘khilafah’ and ‘Imamah’ are two ‘Different’ offices/concepts. Both offices may exist together in view of a person; it means the both concepts may exist together in view of a person. In other words, these two concepts are not ‘Contradictory’ which may not exist together in view of a person; these concepts are ‘Different’ concepts which may exist together in view of a person who may adopt any one of the two concepts without negating or accepting the other one.

We may conclude that the conflicts between Shiite and Sunni Schools of Thoughts are not rooted in the contradictory religious beliefs; though they are propagated as rooted in the contradictory religious belief systems. Almost all disagreements/ conflicts found between Shiite and Sunni Schools of Thoughts are related to ‘Different’ views; all such conflicts may be resolved by accepting right of each school of thought to adopt- out of two ‘Different’ views- any one view without negating or accepting the other one. The Quranic words, being Allah’s Words, may have multi-layered meanings; it is justifiable, if various groups adopt different meanings, provided such meanings are not contradictory mutually and not contradictory to Quran. The ‘Contradictory’ views nourished by Shiite and Sunni Schools of Thoughts are a few and may be resolved by intellectuals from each side. The major contributors to Sunni-Shiite conflicts are not religious views; they are negative attitudes adopted by ‘ulema’ from each side. Such conflicts may be suppressed by imparting such training and education to ‘ulema’ which could enhance  sense of toleration among the ‘ulema’. One method to raise toleration among ‘ulema’ may be to educate students of religious studies in the same ‘madarassa’ without discrimination of School of Thought they belong to. When students from various Schools of Thoughts would be put together to obtain religious teachings of their respective creeds, they would get opportunities to generate discussions about different views held by different creeds, and in this way they would become able to know the fallacy of their own views and real grounds of ‘Different and Contradictory’ views held by them. In this way, the religious students would grow more tolerating (continued).

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