The 5 Pillars
Elements of the Sunnah, particularly unifying practices resulting from the traditions, may have many conditional positives also. If those practices are inspired by and designed in the spirit of the Quraan, and do not become purely ritualistic ends in themselves, they can indeed bring people closer together and create justice in communities.
On the matter of the 5 pillars, IMHO the most fundamental and potentially useful of elements of the Sunnah, I am in total agreement with the traditional views of, among others, scholars such as Sheikh Hamza Yususf and Imam Zaid Shakir. I personally practice all 5 pillars in the somewhat orthodox manner - as long as there is no "shirk" either in my spirit, mind and heart - for the benefit of Islamic unity while keeping the ONLY the Quraan and its mandates in my spirit, heart and mind.
It is not enough, IMHO, just to adhere to the 5 pillars of our traditions, but one must adhere to those pillars without losing sight of their connections with the spirit of the revelation as the individual Muslim feels, sees and thinks fit. Allah-consciousness must permeate every moment of every ritual for those rituals to keep our spirits, our minds and our hearts and bodies upon the straight path as revealed in the Holy Quraan.
I do not believe as some of my fellow anti-sectarian, "Allah only" travelers do that the Sunnah as expressed through the 5 pillars and the straight path as written in the Holy Quraan need to be mutually exclusive in practice. It is very much possible to practice elements of the Sunnah and NOT break our covenant with Allah, provided that those practices are neither purely ritualistic devoid of individual and deeply internalized meanings and experiences, nor undertaken in anything contrary to the Spirit of the Quraan. If those practices are not imposed or coerced into the hearts of its parishioners who willfully and consciously submit to the Allah as revealed in the Holy Quraan, they do indeed become critical toolkits to consolidate our covenant with Allah.
Let us look at the 5 pillars that for a common ground between Sunnis and Shias. I'm not going to go into specific Shia practices with regards to Khums (One-fifth of savings paid as community tax to the Imam)
, Jihad (struggling to please the Almighty. The greater, or internal Jihad is the struggle against the evil within one's soul in every aspect of life. The lesser, or external, Jihad is the struggle against the evil of one's environment in every aspect of life. This is not to be mistaken with the common modern misconception that this means "Holy War". Writing the truth or jihad bil qalam and speaking truth in front of an oppressor are also forms of Jihad)
, Amr-Bil-Ma'ruf (commanding what is good)
, Nahi-Anil-Munkar (forbidding what is evil)
, Tawalla (loving the Ahlul Bayt and their followers)
and the Imamah (Allah has appointed specific leaders to lead and guide mankind — a prophet appoints a custodian of the religion before his demise)
, and Tabarra (dissociating oneself from the enemies of the Ahlul Bayt as the Rightly guided practitioners and leaders of Islam)
at this point. We have: -
Some of my fellow travelers have things to say about the 5 pillars, and from their point of view they are right, but again I must reiterate that I personally do not feel that if the 5 pillars are practiced - not mechanically or as an expression of religious-cultural practice devoid of Allah consciousness as per the spirit of the Quraan - but as holistic expression of man's wilfull submission to Allah as revealed in the Quraan through His Messenger (PBUH) - they do not necessarily contradict the deeper meanings inherent in their critique. The 5 pillars then can in fact, as it has for many ever since the revelation of Islam, nullify the objections raised by my brother, create formal disciplne and unity in the lives of Muslims and complement other forms of our total submission to Allah through exoteric practices.
Here is a passionate article on the Shahada, the links on the other 4 pillars are provided at the bottom: -
The prophet Abraham who, although not a Jew or a Christian, was such an excellent example that God commanded his Messenger Muhammad to follow him. And Mohammed responded by saying:
"I have submitted my wholeself to God and so have those who follow me..."
Why then have millions of people been entrapped into following the teachings of Abu Hurairah a mysterious person from the shadows of Hadith literature? Could it be that they have rejected the teaching of Quran while believing they have not done so? God says:
" Have you noted those who only know part of the scripture, and when invited to adopt God's law, they turn away in aversion?.... That is because they are deceived in their faith by their own inventions." (Quran: 3:23-24)
To profess their faith in Islam the Sunnis make this declaration: "I bear witness that there is no god except God and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of God. " (Arabic transliteration: "Ash hadu anlaa ilaaha illallaahu wa ash hadu anna muhammadar-rasulallah"). This testimony is called the Shahadah and according to Sunni belief it must be recited by every Muslim as an attestation of their allegiance to Islam. Consequently any person who does not 'bear witness' is not accepted as a Muslim by them.
However this testimony is not sanctioned by the true teachings of the Prophet Muhammad, which are found in the Quran, the veritable word of God.
Many people may feel astounded at this statement especially as the Shahadah is considered to be the foundation of Sunni faith. This is why it is important to take a careful and critical look before reaching any impulsive conclusions.
For the Sunni, the purpose of the Shahadah is many folds. For example without reciting the Shahadah, the Sunnis consider their salat prayer to be nullified. Also before a newcomer is accepted into the Sunni religion, a public declaration by reciting the Shahadah in front of witnesses must be made. In some countries converts are given a "certificate" after reciting the Shahadah to confirm they have been "admitted" into the Islamic fold. However, it is not known if such "certificates" are also a complimentary pass into heaven!
To associate anything or anyone with God is known as 'shirk', the highest degree of blasphemy, which God does not forgive. This is made clear in chapter 4 verse 48. The Quran also stipulates that Muslims must profess faith in the One God and not call on anyone else. The Shahadah, therefore, cannot be the correct way to affirm faith as the name of the prophet Muhammad, besides God, is included in this attestation and also used in the salat prayers.
People blindly following their religion are the root of wrong beliefs. This acceptance of the Shahadah is no different. If only people read and understand the Quran then they would realize that God revealed the following verse to the Messenger which is just as applicable to us today as it was to him:
"Do not accept anything that you yourself cannot verify. Surely your hearing, your eyesight and your mind will be questioned" Sura 17:36.
God wants us to substantiate our beliefs and we should follow His advice.
The Shahadah testimony that is recited by the Sunnis originates from Abu Hurairah and is recorded in the 'hadith' - the oral traditions attributed to the prophet Muhammad. The hadith given below is from "Mishkat-ul-Masabih", translation by Maulana Fazlul Karim, Volume 1, Chapter 1, no.27. (Published by the Book House, Lahore, Pakistan). As there are a many versions of this hadith, the collections of Tirmidzi should also be read.
The hadith regarding the Shahadah says:
One day Abu Hurairah went to the people and told them that the Messenger had authorised him to go and tell them to recite the Shahadah "ash hadu anlaa ilaha illallhu wa ash hadu anna muhammadar-rasulullah". Another version reads "muhammadan abduhu wa rasuluhu". The first person Abu Hurairah came across to give the Shahadah was Saidina Omar (later the second caliph). When Omar heard it he promptly punched Abu Hurairah in the chest and knocked him to the ground. Then Omar put his foot on Abu Hurairah's neck and asked him how dare he utter such a blasphemy.
Abu Hurairah (who is recorded in the hadith as having received quite u few beatings from Saidina Omar during his lifetime) then cried out and named the Messenger as his authority. When again challenged by Saidina Omar, Abu Hurairah pulled out a pair of leather slippers and showed them to Omar. The slippers, he said, were given to him by the Prophet, as proof for what he was saying. Recognising the prophet's slippers, Omar simmered down. Everyone then happily started reciting the shahadah. This most incredible story is the background to the Shahadah of Abu Hurairah, which has been adopted by millions of Sunnis.
In the Quran God says,
"The believers are kind to each other and firm with the disbelievers..." Sura 5:54.
Hence the 'hadith' books are full of stories of how great friends the companions of the prophet (known as 'Sahaba') were and the love and kindness they showed towards each other.
Fourteen centuries down the road today the Tabligh people (sunni missionaries) always greet each other with hugs and kisses, supposedly to emulate the brotherly Sahaba. But in this particular 'hadith', we have one Sahaba knocking another down to the ground for bringing along something as important as the Shahadah!
In another account of this same episode, Omar is reported as challenging the Messenger if he did indeed send Abu Hurairah with his slippers to recite the Shahadah. When the Messenger said yes, Omar disagreed with him and said the Shahadah will make people "lazy"! Whatever the logic of this hadith can be left for the hadith advocates to explain. Yet again the narrator of this fabrication is Abu Hurairah.
About the believers and the companions of the prophet, and Omar was one of them, the Quran says;
"The only thing the believers utter when invited to heed God and His messenger and uphold His law is 'we hear and we obey". These are the winners". Sura 24:51
Abu Hurairah's ridiculous fable not only contradicts the above verse but also contradicts Sura 6:51 where God tells the Messenger (and by implication the companions and whomever the Quran reaches):
"You shall preach WITH THE Quran to those who reverence the gathering before their Lord..."
Instead Abu Hurairah said that the Prophet handed over his pair of slippers to him and told him to preach with the slippers in hand as proof of authenticity. By his confession Abu Hurairah was beaten by Omar, who argued with the Prophet and said that the Shahadah was unwise. Does the basis of a Muslim's faith rest on such an absurd tale? Surely this cannot be part of Islam, which is based on reason and logic?
No one seems to know the correct identity of this Abu Hurairah even today scholars cannot agree on his real name. Despite there being a hadith (also attributed to Abu Hurairah) that we should not call people by nicknames, Abu Hurairah is itself a nickname which means "the Father of Cats". So the originator of the Sunni Shahadah was an unknown man who was attacked unceremoniously by another companion of the Messenger! It is now apparent that there is significant evidence to show that the Shahadah testimony of the Sunni people has a very dubious background based on ludicrous hadith falsely attributed to the prophet Muhammad whom they claim to love!
How then does Abu Hurairah's Shahadah contradict the Prophet's true teachings? The Quran was revealed by God to the prophet Muhammad who then passed on this message, first to the companions and then to the rest of the people. Besides being God's own revelation, the Quran represents what was actually said by the prophet Muhammad. Anyone who rejects this simple fact cannot at all claim to be a Muslim.
So what did God commanded the Messenger to tell us?
"The mosques belong to God, do not call on anyone else besides God" Sura 72:18.
However, in the Shahadah of Abu Hurairah, the Sunnis call on the Messenger as well as God. The Sunni scholars will argue that the mention of the Messenger's name is only out of respect. But then in the same breath, they will insist that the salat prayer to God Almighty is nullified if the prophet Muhammad's name is not mentioned in the Shahadah during the salat prayer. This is tantamount to idolatry as associating another person with God is committing 'shirk' the unforgivable offence.
The human has a major weakness. He finds it difficult to believe in an unseen God. Even the Prophet Moses had this problem.
"When Moses came to our audience, and His Lord spoke to him, he said, "My Lord let me look and see you". He said, "You cannot see Me..." Sura, 7:143.
The human looks for something tangible, hence the Christians first elevated Jesus to a Son of God and then to the status of God Himself. The Hindus worship humans like Rama and Krishna who they say are gods. The Sunnis have similarly idolized the Prophet Muhammad and have given him a divine status by adding his name to the Shahadah testament and appropriately the Sunnis can be called "Mohammedan".
To remind them of this folly will only raise their anger. Perhaps they do not know that it is the Prophet Muhammad himself who taught the following:
"When God alone is advocated, the hearts of those who do not believe in the hereafter shrink with aversion. But when OTHERS are mentioned besides Him, they rejoice" Sura 39:45.
Note how angry the Mohammedan become when you mention God alone. Their anger subsides only when you agree to add "Muhammad" as the second half of Abu Hurairah's Shahadah which reads ". And I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of God" (Arabic transliteration: wa ash hadu anna muhammadar rasulullah).
God revealed to the Messenger that this is actually the Shahadah of the hypocrites (Arabic: Munafiq).
"Among the Arabs around you there are hypocrites, and among the city dwellers as well. They persist in hypocrisy and while you (Muhammad) may not know them, me know them. We will double the punishment for them, then they will be returned for a terrible retribution" Sura 9:101.
Here God is telling the Messenger that hypocrites surround him and that he does not know who they are. Only God knows the hypocrites. But God promises
"... He will most certainly expose the hypocrites" Sura 29:11.
And the hypocrites are worried about this too:
"The hypocrites are afraid lest a verse may expose what they hide in their hearts. Say, "Keep on scoffing. God will surely expose what you fear" Sura 9:64.
God also says that the hypocrites can be recognized by way they engage in vain talk.
"If we will we can expose them for you, so that you can recognize them just by looking at them. However you can recognize them from what they say. God is fully aware of all your works". Sura, 47:30.
Hence God promises to expose the hypocrites. One such method is recorded in the Quran in Sura 63:1.
"When the hypocrites come to you and say: "WE BEAR WITNESS THAT YOU ARE THE MESSENGER OF GOD. God indeed knows that you are His Messenger. God bears witness that the hypocrites are liars".
The important thing to note in this verse is that the emphasized words form the second part of Abu Hurairah's Shahadah, which is now recited by all Mohammedan. This as we see from the verse 63.1 is actually the Shahadah of the hypocrites! What the hypocrites say is vain talk because God indeed knows that Muhammad is His Messenger (63:1). God does not need any one to affirm back to Him what He already knows about His own Messenger.
The Quran says;
"We have sent you as a Messenger and GOD SUFFICES AS A WITNESS..." Sura 4:79
and this is exactly what the Messenger told his companions. There is no need to bear witness on him because God has already done so and that is enough.
"God bears witness concerning what He has revealed to you. He has revealed it with His knowledge. And the angels bear witness as well, BUT GOD IS ENOUGH AS A WITNESS" Sura 4:166.
Again this is what the Messenger told the companions. God is enough as a witness. God also discourages attempts at witnessing other Messengers:
"You were not on the slope of the western Mount when we gave Moses the commandments. YOU WERE NOT A WITNESS" Sura 28:44.
So people cannot "witness" the messengership of the Messengers.
To reiterate, God says He will certainly expose the hypocrites (sura 29:11). God says the Messenger can recognize them from what they say (sura 47:30). So when the hypocrites come and insist that they want to bear witness on the Messenger, they expose themselves as hypocrites. And Abu Hurairah (if he really existed) has fooled millions of Muslims into reciting the same thing everyday of their lives.
The first part of Abu Hurairah's Shahadah is "I bear witness that there is no god except God". (Arabic transliteration: "ash hadu anlaa ilaaha illallah).
The Quran says:
"God bears witness that there is no god except He, and so do the angels and those endowed with knowledge, in truth and justice. There is no god except He, the mighty, the wise" Sura 3:18.
God is enough as a Witness
Again God says that His own witness is enough:
"Say, Whose testimony is the greatest'' Say, "God's (testimony is the greatest). HE IS THE WITNESS BETWEEN ME AND YOU that this Quran has been inspired to me, to preach it to you and whomever it reaches.." Sura, 6:19.
"... God suffices as a witness..." Sura 4:79 and 4:166.
the Shahadah as proclaimed by Abu Hurairah is therefore a lie – a fabrication by whoever wrote the 'hadith'. If we do not even have his true identity, how do we know if Abu Hurairah existed at all?
Despite the evidence of the Quran, which no Muslim will deny is the truest teaching of the Messenger, the hypocrites insist on bearing witness to Muhammad's Messengership. They insist on bearing witness when God says He needs no other witness apart from Himself.
Most importantly, the Shahadah of Abu Hurairah, by its purpose, goes against Sura 72:18 and Sura 39:45 in that it associates the Messenger's name with God. Without bearing witness on the Messenger, the Sunnis say that the salat prayer and faith are void. Even though by evidence from the Quran this is shown to be "shirk" of the highest order. Each time people say the Sunni Shahadah they are committing "shirk", the unpardonable blasphemy for which they may burn in hell.
The True Declaration
What then is the real attestation, which Muslims can recite to affirm their faith? Perhaps when the companions asked the Messenger this question, he would have replied:
"The word of your Lord is complete, in truth and justice. Nothing shall abrogate His words. He is the hearer, the knower". Sura 6:114
Therefore the answer is definitely in the Quran and to show the correct attestation of faith, the Prophet Abraham is an excellent example.
"Whose religion is better than one who SUBMITS himself to God, works righteousness and follows the faith Of Abraham the monotheist? God has chosen Abraham as a beloved friend". Sura, 4:125.
Remember that this verse was revealed to the Messenger and this is what the Messenger then imparted to his companions and all the people through the Quran. Therefore we too must follow the faith Of Abraham.
"Thus who would then forsake the faith of Abraham, except those who fool themselves? We have chosen him in this life, and in the hereafter he will be with the righteous" Sura 2:130.
Only fools will forsake the faith Of Abraham. Therefore unless people want to be considered as fools, it would be better to do what Abraham did. And what did Abraham do?
The next verse tells us:
"When his Lord said to him "SUBMIT" he said, "I SUBMIT TO THE LORD OF THE WORLDS" (Arabic: Aslamtu Li Rabbil Aalameen) Sura 2:131.
So here we have it. When God showed Abraham the perfect religion, He commanded Abraham to Submit ("Aslimu") and Abraham said "Aslamtu li rabbil aalameen". This is how MUSLIMS should attest their faith.
Now it is clear that Muslims cannot attest their faith by witnessing a Messenger or God, especially as they cannot be seen. Witnessing on Muhammad's messengership is just the idolization of one prophet. Giving distinction to one messenger above another is strictly forbidden in the Quran as mentioned in verses 2.285 and 4.150-152.
The story of Abraham continues in the next verse:
"The same did Abraham enjoin upon his sons and also Jacob, "O My sons, God has chosen for you the true faith, therefore DIE NOT SAVE AS MEN WHO HAVE SUBMITTED". Sura 2:132
Abraham enjoined his sons to believe in the same things he did. He also successfully enjoined his people to say the same thing "Aslamtu li rabbil aalameen" which means "I submit myself to the Lord of the Worlds". This is revealed in the next verse:
"Or were you present when death came to Jacob, when he said unto his sons, 'What will you worship after me?" They said, 'We shall worship thy God, the God of thy fathers Abraham, Ishmael, and Isaac, One God, and UNTO HIM WE HAVE SUBMITTED" Sura 2:133.
This is the truth about how Abraham submitted himself to God, as it was revealed to the Messenger through the Quran. And the Messenger is commanded to follow Abraham:
"And they say, "Be Jews or Christians, then you will be rightly guided. "Say; "No, We follow the faith of Abraham, the upright, and he was not of the idolaters" Sura 2:135.
"Say, 'We believe in God and that which is revealed unto us and that which was revealed unto Abraham..." Sura, 2:136.
And the message that was revealed to Abraham is disclosed once more to us in the Quran and preserved carefully for posterity. As for those who reject these truths, God says,
"Or do you say that Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and the tribes were Jews or Christians? Say "Do you know best or does God? And who is more unjust than he who conceals a testimony he has received from God. God is not unaware of what you do" Sura 2:140.
So why do people hide this testimony? Abraham declared "Aslamtu li rabbil aalameen" (I submit myself to the Lord of the worlds) and he enjoined this upon his sons and upon Jacob.
The Prophet Muhammad and the companions have been given the same testimony. So why do they hide this testimony and replace it with a Shahadah of the hypocrites?
There is no doubt that the prophet Muhammad followed the faith of Abraham.
"And we inspired you (Muhammad) to FOLLOW THE FAITH OF ABRAHAM, he who was naturally upright, he was never an idolater" Sura 16:123.
The Prophet did exactly as God commanded him. If anyone wants to become a Muslim should they then not follow the prophet Muhammad's example that affirmed his faith in the same way as Abraham?
"Those among mankind who have the best claim to Abraham are those who followed him, and this prophet, and those who believe, and God is the protecting friend of the believers". Sura, 3:68.
Say, (Muhammad) "I am forbidden to worship those whom you call besides God, since there has come to me clear proofs from God, and I AM COMMANDED TO SUBMIT TO THE LORD OF THE WORLDS (wa umirtu un aslima li rabbil aalameen) Sura 40:66.
But what if the people like the hypocrites come and insist that they want to bear witness on the Messenger and bear witness on God? What do you tell them?
The answer, as always, is in the Quran:
"And if they argue with you (Muhammad) say: "I HAVE SUBMITTED MY WHOLE SELF TO GOD (aslamtu waj hiyu lillah) and so have those who follow me..." Sura 3:20.
The Messenger and his companions simply submitted themselves to God:
"Say "Shall we call those things besides God, which can neither harm us nor benefit us, and shall we turn back after God has guided us - like one possessed by the devils, who has companions (sahaba!) Who invite him, saying "Come to us?" Say, 'The guidance of God is indeed true guidance and WE ARE COMMANDED TO SUBMIT TO THE LORD OF THE WORLDS (wa umirna li nuslimn li rabbil aalameen)" Sura 6:71
The Messenger and his companions simply submitted to the Lord of the worlds. If Abu Hurairah, or any other person, comes and asks a Muslim to join him in bearing witness over God and His Messenger, the answer must be to say "No!" We are commanded To SUBMIT To the Lord of the Worlds (aslamtu li rabbil aalameen).
The Quran also gives an incident of the prophet Solomon and the Queen of Sheba as another example of submission to God. It records the moment when the Queen reverts to Islam. She was an idolater and Solomon had invited her to Islam. To prove the greatness of God, Solomom used powers given to him to move the Queen of Sheba's magnificent palace intact, from one place to another in the blink of an eye.
Seeing this, she realized God's power, immediately repented and said,
"Rabbi inn salamtu nafsin, wa aslamtu ma'a Sulaimaana, lillaahi rabbiul aalameen" which means, "... Oh my Lord, indeed I have wronged my soul. I SUBMIT MYSELF ALONG WITH SOLOMON, TO GOD THE LORD OF THE WORLDS" Sura, 27:44.
Therefore it is now apparent that the mysterious Abu Hurairah has indeed made many people wrong their souls. Each time you try to bear witness on the Messenger and God, not only do you wrong your souls but also you make fools of yourselves because you forsake the faith of Abraham (Sura 2:130).
To affirm their faith Muslims should use the examples given in the Quran. What they should say is "I SUBMIT MYSELF TO THE LORD OF THE WORLDS". (Arabic: Aslamtu li rabbil aalameen). Others who have affirmed their faith in this way are the Prophets Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob, Solomon and of course the Prophet Muhammad (Sura 40:66). Also the Queen of Sheba and the companions of the Prophet did the same. If you adopt their way, you will be in good company.
As for those who insist on following the deceitful Abu Hurairah into the hellfire, God says,
'who does more wrong than one whom invents a lie against God? They will be returned to the presence of their Lord, and the witnesses will say, "THESE ARE THE ONES WHO LIED AGAINST THEIR LORD, Behold, the curse of God is on those who do wrong. THOSE WHO HINDER MEN FROM THE PATH OF GOD AND WOULD SEEK IN IT SOMETHING CROOKED, these were they who denied the hereafter". Sura 11:18-19.
"We have sent you as a Messenger And God suffices as a witness..." (Quran Sura 4:79.) " When his Lord said to him "Submit" he said " I submit to the Lord of the Worlds" (Quran Sura 2:131)
"And do not curse those who call on other than GOD, lest they blaspheme and curse GOD, out of ignorance. We have adorned the works of every group in their eyes. Ultimately, they return to their Lord, then He informs them of everything they had done." (Qur'an 6:108)
Last edited by Sohel; October 4, 2007 at 01:05 PM..