HomeExpertsHow Islamic school of thoughts affected perception of Islam?

How Islamic school of thoughts affected perception of Islam?

“True Religion and Superstitious Religion” or “Monotheistic Religions and Polytheistic Religions” are amongst the first examples when it comes to religion classification. “Primitive religions, falsified religions, religions whose founders are evident, national religions, religions based and not based on revelation, religions which have and don’t have holy scriptures, religions which believe and not believe in the afterlife, natural religions and human religions”.

It is possible to extend the list. These are the categorization of religions known by or at least familiar to everybody who studied history of religions classes in faculties of theology. Readings in the fields of comparative history of religions will provide you a deeper and detailed information about the subject.

Nevertheless, the subject of my article focuses on the categorization of Islam, rather than categorization of religions in general.

“What is that supposed to mean? How many religions of Islam are there for categorization? It is a fact that different denominations and dispositions exist in Islam in nature, but that does not mean this religion has plurality.” you might say. From this point of view, Christianity is also one, but it has branches such as Orthodoxy, Catholicism, Protestantism, and of all them are considered as a sovereign religion. Interestingly enough, this view of consideration and acceptance actually belongs to the members of these religion groups, rather than outsiders who are not Christians. If you have a close look at the centuries-long battles between the Christians during the Medieval Age, you will witness that although the disagreement seems to be theological, it is in fact far from being theological.

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So, what is the situation for Islam? Considering the fact that the discussions in theory caused disagreements, polarization, conflicts, fights, and battles just like it happened with Christians, the situation is not very different. “These are the disagreements occurred in fiqhi, sufi, and discoursive fields caused by the differences of opinion. Even though civil wars were experienced politically as a result, our Quran is one, our Prophet (PBUH) is one, and our qibla is one.” Such comments/descriptions fall short about describing what is real. Interestingly, while I was writing this article, some news appeared on the news websites; Saudi Arabia, who are Muslims, had started to bomb Yemen, who are also Muslims, and as a result, 39 Muslims were killed!

Revealed details will surprise you a lot!

I would like to list them one by one, and let’s have a look at these denominations widely heard by many of us: “Book of Islam, People’s Islam, Official Islam, Civilian Islam, Sufi Islam, Quran’s Islam, Hadiths’ Islam, Ulama’s Islam, Salafi Islam, Official Religion, Civilian Religion, Book of Religion, Interpreted Religion etc.” If you place all of these inside nested circles on a board by using the visual thinking method and consider the interactions between them, I can confirm that the final result will be quite surprising for you.

Before I start explaining tersely below, it is very essential to acknowledge two things. First, all of these qualifications refer to the interpretations and the structuring around these interpretations, which are related with the incidents happened within the first five centuries of Islam. Second, I am not going to say much about the correctness and incorrectness of the interpretations, accuracy and inaccuracy of the views and actions, which were caused by the qualifications mentioned.

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Because this requires a study worthy of a brand new book.

Book of Islam/Book of Religion takes the first place without a doubt in the mentioned dissection. Implied in this manner is the name of the religion which was invigorated between 610 and 632 in Mecca and Medina, and was formed by the verses of Quran and the practice of The Prophet (PBUH). Since it represents the period when Allah’s will had been reflected to human life the sharpest way possible, it relies on precise fundamentals. To put it together with a more correct sentence, Book of Islam itself is the precise fundamental. It is the source of reference for all of the perceptions of religions to exist after the passing of Muhammad (PBUH). As long as the verses of the Quran and the hadiths are absolute in terms of certainty and signification.

Hadiths’ Islam is a perception where the hadiths are the sovereign legislation/source of life, just like Quran, meaning they are accepted as constituent texts. According to this perception, there is no difference between Quran and hadiths. Moreover, when it is necessary, a hadith might be conclusive although there is a verse in Quran, remove or suspend its provision, and also according to some, hadiths may even abrogate a verse in Quran. This perception, which was led by Imam al-Shāfi, identified sunnah together with the hadiths. Sunnah consists of hadiths, meaning it consists of the discourses and practices of The Prophet (PBUH). However, the deep perusals you are going to have will show you that Imam al-Shāfi had gotten out of the frame with a lot of his opinions.

Explaining this will take quite long.

Fiqh’s Islam is the perception included in the categories of Islamic cults and hadith cults (ehl-i rey and ehl-i hadith), and it is formed by the case rulings by the scholars of fiqh according to a definite methodology, and the information they produced. The opinions/rulings of the scholars of the fiqh form the list of rules that guide the life individually, socially, and corporately. “Ilm ul-al (Catechism) Muslimism”, “Taqlid-i (Imitative) Muslimism”, and as long as it remains limited to this frame, “Ancestry Cult”, probably adapts these descriptions. Accepting, believing, and experiencing the evidences of the rulings, not knowing the values of these evidences, and not needing to know them neither as part of the history, geography, and the society it exists in are the most significant features of Fiqh’s Islam.

Salafi Islam is formed by the first three generations of Islam, which we may also call the constituent generations, including the Sahabah (companions of Muhammad), Tabi’un, and Tabi‘ al-Tabi‘in, and comprises of the interpretations and practices of these three generations, and it is a perception dictates that there can be no further opinions or practices added after theirs, and claims that the Islamic life style will be like this from A to Z for everybody, everywhere, and anytime until the day of judgment. Considering the internal disturbances during the early periods, the representatives of this perception, who believe that the only way to live Islam in true form can be achieved by adapting the pure principals of the past, attracted many supporters. According to them, everything that does not have any examples during the time of first three generations is bid’ah (innovation), and must drift apart from Islam.

Sufi Islam started with the individuals who had enough of the political and social disturbances occurred after the second century of the Islamic calendar, and it represents a mentality and organization which was formed into institutionalism by time. Just like any other small and big organizations, this mentality also managed to produce its own theology by time. Some of the organizations, which was named as religious orders in history, had been stuck inside the sharia circle, and searched Quran and sunnah for approval for everything they put forward. And some others invented many rituals, which was called as bid’ah (innovation) by the Salafi Islam, and commercialized this in the market as if it was a fundamental element of the religion.

Unfortunately, they managed find customers in the market. If you search for “dhikr circles” in YouTube, you will have an overall idea that this description is indeed true.

And then there is “Official Religion”.

Official religion is the religion built by politics, together with the ulama of the palace. Civilian Islam disapproves this religion. It had started with the Umayyads, and continued with the Abbasids, and managed to survive until today through wavy sailing with increasing and decreasing momentums. In this perception of religion, people had interpreted the verses of Quran and hadiths in the best interests of the political will, the interpretations in question had been placed in the center of the sense of religion and had become the official view of the state, and every type of opposing interpretation had been suppressed and wiped out with the help of the tyrant force of the estate.

The opponents had been thrown into the dungeons, tortured, and had been openly or secretly killed.

It is possible to add more categories in my religion categorization, which I generated by centralizing the first five centuries, by including many more centuries passed afterwards. I think the first thing came to your mind was political Islam after reading my last sentence. That is correct; moreover, after making the classification I designed in my mind in the beginning of my article, I intended to ask “Which religion category do you belong?” to the government and their supporters who inflict the cruelties in Turkey. That is in fact why I had titled this article “Which religion are you a member of?” But after coming to these lines you are reading at present, I changed my mind. Because the words are already exhausted, and even if they are not, they lost their meanings a long time ago.

Without further ado, I would like to make one last addition taking our present day into account; opposing religion. I get inspired by “Religion against religion” determination while I state this. I am talking about a sense of religion which opposes not to the constituent will, which is Allah and His Prophet (PBUH), but to the interpretations of the constituent texts and the established order formed by these interpretations. This is a mentality which believes in Allah and His Prophet (PBUH), but claims “a person can solve everything with the wisdom s/he is given by Allah” about everything else. And some of them also includes the worshipping to this extent, and says “I am worshipping to Allah by talking and confiding to him”. And others accept the worshipping, which is the name of the relationship between Allah and worshipper, in the original form without including wisdom in this extent. However, in the final analysis, this mentality do not accept the established order, interpreted religion where the human opinion steps in, and the list formed by the produced information as a religion.

When you try to find out about the foundations of these opinions by communicating with these groups, they exemplify the decapitations of ISIL, anti-democratic governments in Islamic world, the mentality which is corrupt and do not even respect the fundamental human rights, and is only an opponent just to protect their party in power, and tortures every group of people in dungeons. On behalf of us and the future generations, this is one of the biggest problems faced by the Muslims, who do not only live in Turkey or Saudi Arabia but anywhere in the world.

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AHMET KURUCAN
AHMET KURUCAN
Dr. Ahmet Kurucan is a an author and scholar focusing on Islamic Studies and Law.
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