Hadith: The Next Set of Answers
The next place for answers is the Hadith. And in general what is true of the Qur’an is also true of the Hadith.
The big difference is that now you are not going to the ocean directly but visiting every major and minor river and waterway in the world other than the ocean itself. And if you have done any serious hiking, boating or exploring among woods and rivers, you would know what it is like.
Does that give you a bit of an insight into why there is so much variation in views, opinions and beliefs among Muslims? It is not because they don’t know what they are talking about, but more because of the sheer range, volume or wealth of detailed information that is available to them in the Hadith literature.
The easy thing about these smaller bodies of water is that there is always one next door to you. The challenge you face is that there are often so many of them and you need to pick your way carefully among them.
What do you expect?
Hadith is after all the living, verbatim, eye-witness, real-time record of a quarter-century of the 24-hour life, times, teachings, sayings and doings of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam.
Hadith is the most complete, thorough, authentic, direct and immediate documentation of the life, times and culture of an individual or people that there is on the face of this earth.
Thus, while the richness of the Hadith gives you everything you want, its vastness makes you tread as carefully as you possibly can.
A Strong and Vast Knowledge Base
Sadly, much of the world does not know this. And that includes many of the Muslims.
But Islam is really for those who can think. And it is for those who care about knowledge.
Thus, neither the Qur’an nor the Hadith are truly and fully accessible to those with a narrow, small, deficient or shrinking knowledge base or constricted mind.
Thus, when you are a Muslim, you either already have a broad and strong knowledge base. Or you have dedicated yourself to a lifetime of tireless searching for knowledge – and truth and reality.
And this includes all the hard sciences; all the soft sciences; all the social sciences; all the humanities; all the literatures and languages; all the philosophies and ideologies; all the religions and folklore; and all else.
Both real and simulated. Both past and present as well as everything that can be projected into the future. That is the kind and extent of knowledge Islam expects Muslims to aim at.
It is knowledge of the Dunya in all its forms and complexities. Just as it is also knowledge of Deen in all its details.
Deficiencies in these knowledge areas will show up as problems in your understanding of the Qur’an and Hadith on the one hand and in your understanding of the world of Allah on the other hand.
At worst you will be Daal and Mudil – blind leading the leading blind. At best you will be irrelevant to the march of history – weightless and worthless as the Hadith puts it.
Take a good look at the condition of the Muslims around the world today and decide in what state you think they are.
A Messy World
The result will be a perfectly messed up world.
That is why till the “pure” understanding of the Qur’an and Hadith is combined with an equally rigorous understanding of the world of Allah, you have neither full knowledge nor understanding of Islam or the world. That is why those Muslims who think they understand the word of God, without a clear and fuller understanding of how God’s world (with the letter “l”) works, have only a superficial and limited understanding of Islam.
That is also why those non-Muslims who think they can unravel the mysteries of God’s creation without recourse to God’s word and the explanation and practical application of that word provided by God’s Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, so often misunderstand and misrepresent the world. Why to them 2 + 2 so frequently seem to add up to all kinds of numbers other than 4.
Thus, in fact, each side may be holding one half of the puzzle. Unless the two pieces of the puzzle are brought together, creation will remain an unsolved mystery and happiness on earth will remain an elusive dream.
Looking for Answers: Islam Lesson One
Thus, life means looking, searching, working for answers. So is Islam. That is why looking for answers – to both the practical problems of life as well as to the theoretical problems of this world – is lesson number one in Islam.
That is why also Islam and life, Islam and knowledge, and Islam and science – when both parts of these equations are understood and done right – provide the most perfect and harmonious realization of all-round existence on earth.
They provide the perfect state of equilibrium on earth. Together, they give us a perfect combination of Ta’leem and Tazkiyah – the best in education and character.
The result is an earthly paradise of perfect living: for Muslims as well as non-Muslims; for humans as well as nonhumans.
Some Practical Advice
Keeping the above backdrop in mind, below are some answers, and some advice, I have given from time to time to some of the questions people keep asking me – my students, friends, those in my Qur’an programs, those in various Islamic and other more general and broader camps, projects, meetings, conferences and activities.
Their questions can all be summed up into one broad problem area: What should I do to make my life better and more successful in this world?
My first response: Why just this world? Why not also take in the next world while you are at it?