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What did Ignaz Goldiher say about Hadith?
replied to:  lesleys
Replied to:  What did Ignaz Goldiher say about Hadith?

We now come to the writings of the German orientalist Ignaz Goldziher in 'Muslim Studies'. This appeared in two volumes in German in 1889 and was translated into English in 1967. The author devoted a long chapter of 96 pages to the subject of 'Veneration of Saints in Islam'. He discusses at great length the excessive attribution of miracles to saints whether living or dead, by Muslims. He also gives a wealth of examples of sanctifying graves and tombs from Islamic literature and general Muslim practice. His aim is to show that there is no difference between Christians and Muslims in the veneration of saints. Pointing to Qur'anic verses and Hadith which refute such practices, he comments,

'After all this there is no need to explain in detail that within Islam in its original form there was no room for the veneration of saints as it so largely developed later. The Koran itself polemizes directly against the veneration of saints in other confessions which consider their ahbar and ruhban as arbab, divine masters (Sura 9:31)'

He then quotes Karl Hase regarding the saint cult and says,

'That it 'satisfies within a monotheistic religion a polytheistic need to fill the enormous gap between men and their god',' [9]

After the author has included numerous examples of veneration of saints by the general Muslim public and the visiting of graves and tombs for praying for one's needs, he also gives examples of scholars who objected to such forms of Shirk. He quotes the impenetrable stance of Imam ibn Taymiyya in the issue of Tawassul and journeying to places other than the three Mosques. He then says,

'This shows that Wahhabism had its forerunners and that it only expressed in a corporate way what was also earlier the inner conviction of old traditional Muslims. From this point of view it would be of great interest for the cultural and religious history of Islam to collect all pre-Wahhabi manifestations of a monotheistic reaction in Islam against pagan survivals which it inherited from paganism or which infiltrated from outside, and to relate these manifestations to the surroundings which gave them rise. Apart from the older manifestations just mentioned it would be possible to list one which can probably be counted the latest: the scene which took place six decades before the beginning of the Wahhabite movement in 1711 in the Mu'ayyad mosque at Cairo. One evening in Ramadan the catechism of Birgewi was being interpreted when a youth ' he is called a Rumi ‘ ascended the pulpit and preached passionately against the ever increasing cult of saints and graves, branding this degenerate form of Islamic worship as idolatory. He said, ‘Who has seen the hidden tablet of fate’ Not even the prophet himself. All these graves of saints must be destroyed, those who kiss the coffins are infidels, the convents of the Mewlewi and Bektashi must be demolished, the dervishes should study rather than dance.’ The zealous youth, who interpreted the fatwa issued against him in a derisive manner and who repeated his provocative speeches for several evenings, disappeared mysteriously from Cairo. The ‘ulama’ do not cease to decorate the graves of their saints and to confirm the people in their disbelief in this complete nonsense.’ [10]

The objective behind recording the above quotations is to show that this German author is enough proof to vindicate the Wahhabi stance against visiting tombs and supplicating to the dead, as the religion of Islam has never allowed such practices. A brief glimpse of Sheikh ibn al Wahhab’s book ‘Issues of pre-Islamic era’ is enough to show the Messenger of Allah (SAS) opposed the practices of Jahiliyya. The book contains some interesting chapters:

* To take graves of past people as places of worship

* To take impressions/remains of the Prophet (SAS) as Mosques

* To light lamps on graves

* To declare graves as Eid

* Offering sacrifices besides graves

* To take blessings from people who were held sacred

In these chapters he shows through ahadith that the people of Jahiliyya took these matters from the Ahl ul Kitab: the Jews and Christians. Islam came to destroy all such practices, but they were re-introduced among the Muslim masses, so there was a need to purify Islam from such practices anew.

Here, let us quote a very clear reply by Sultan Abdul Aziz bin Abdur Rahman Al-Saud to the deputation which came from India in 1924, asking him to reconstruct the tombs on the graves. He said to them,

‘We are concerned with the renovation of the sacred places and to keep them in a dignified and respectable manner. As for reconstructing them, we can only act in accordance with the Islamic Shariah. It is our duty to implement the rulings of the Shariah in the sacred places as reported by the pious ancestors and the four Imams. I am ready to rebuild them with gold and silver if the scholars of the Ummah agree to say that building them is an obligation.’ [11]

However, Goldziher attributes the sanctity of the Black Stone among the Muslims to a remnant of idolatory. We refute this by simply quoting Syyedina Umar bin al Khattab, who said when kissing it,

‘I know that you are a stone which does not benefit nor harm. But had I not seen the Messenger of Allah kissing you, I would not have kissed you.’ [12]

Similarly, Goldziher’s remarks about bid’a are not just:

‘The exaggerated, fanatical attitude to the Sunnah, even in quite trivial matters, is matched by a similar fanaticism towards bid’a. Modern Wahhabism follows the pattern of earlier times in striving to brand as bid’a not only anything contrary to the spirit of the Sunnah but also everything that cannot be proved to be in it. It is known that the ultra-conservative opposed every novelty, the use of coffee and tobacco, as well as printing, coming under this heading. Muslim theologians even today are not entirely reconciled to the use of knife and fork.’ [13]

It is an established fact that declaring something to be bid’a is not dependent upon the moods of people but on established principles. The Prophet (SAS) said,

‘Anyone who innovates in this matter of ours something which is not from it will have it rejected.’ [14]

He also said, ‘The one who practices something not in accordance with our matter will have it rejected.’ [15]

So the whole issue is related to the worldly matters and not the religious ones. It is moreover regulated with a number of conditions which make it quite difficult to label something Bid’a easily, contrary to what the German orientalist claimed and falsely attributed to Wahhabism.
replied to:  ummah
Replied to:  Goldziher We now come to the writings of the German...
Who thinks about what , is not accountable unless it carries some weight from the practical aspects. This world is LOST in the myths of Truth and Falshood staking all the roads of spirituality and morality....Our minds love to live in fantasies....and we deliberately shun realities.
No one these days strive for the persoanl growth and is wasting time in pursuing history and quoting 'quotations'.
So the time found is the time lost...actually...with nothing productive and effective done except for inventing new pastime and pleasures to keep us busy...with so-called-religious-games...satisfying our urges to be called 'religious'..what else?
replied to:  lesleys
Replied to:  What did Ignaz Goldiher say about Hadith?
Nothing but the scholarly truth.