Sunday, April 30, 2006



... Therefore, congratulate My servants who listen to all views, then follow the best. These are the ones guided by God; these are the intelligent ones.

(Quran, 39:17-18)

All Muslims are required to uphold the hadith or sunna of the Prophet, i.e. the so-called Prophetic traditions, as a primary source of law apart from the Quran, according to the teachings of classical jurisprudence. Yet not many, indeed very few, realize that the basis of this jurisprudential theory was promulgated two hundred years after Muhammad's death by the famous jurist Imam Shafi`i (d. 204/820). What have come to be known as the `Six Authentic Books' of hadith of the majority Sunnite `orthodoxy' were compiled, precisely after the promulgation of this theory, by Bukhari (d. 256/870), Muslim (d. 261/875), Abu Daud (d. 275/888), Tirmidhi (d. 279/892), Ibn Maja (d. 273/886), and al-Nasa'i (d. 303/915) during the second half of the second and the beginning of the third centuries of Islam, between 220 and 270 years after the Prophet's death.

The `heterodox' Shi`ite minority sect has its own sets of hadith compiled during the third and fourth centuries, by al-Kulaini (d. 328 or 329), Ibn Babuwayh (d. 381), Jaafar Muhammad al-Tusi (d. 411) and al-Murtada (d. 436), who compiled sayings attributed to Ali.

Based on this Shafi`i theory and on what was later termed as the consensus of scholars, the hadith/sunna was propagated to and accepted by the Muslims as interpreter and complement to the Quran, implying thereby that the Quran needs an interpreter and is not complete in itself. Although the Shi`ites have not accepted the classical Sunnite jurisprudential theory in toto, they do accept the doctrine that the hadith/sunna constitutes a source of law on par with the Quran.

Background to this Study

In accordance with this Sunnite tradition, I also accepted this position when I wrote my book on modern Islamic social theory in 1981-82, although I qualified my acceptance according to Ibn Khaldun's formula, which requires all acceptable traditions to be validated by the Quran and rational criteria. However, this position, though a scientific one, is still not clear enough until in 1985 the works of an outstanding Egyptian Muslim scholar, Dr. Rashad Khalifa, particularly his The Computer Speaks: God's Message to the World, Quran, Hadith and Islam and his superb translation of the Quran have opened for me a way to solve the problem of the hadith. I therefore began to re-examine the hadith: how they came about; the social factors that brought them into existence; a review of the classical criticism; the actual place of the hadith in relation to the Quran; their negative effects on the Muslim community; their connections to the decline and fall of the Muslims; and the way out of this impasse.

I am convinced that the time has come for the Muslim community and their intelligentsia to critically re-evaluate the whole heritage of traditional Islamic thought, including theology and jurisprudence. This is because the traditional formulation was made by the society and intelligentsia of that time in accordance with their knowledge and level of understanding, and conforming to needs of that time. Now the situation has changed tremendously and there is no doubt that the traditional formulation must be reconsidered.

Since the emergence of the modern reformism movement of Jamaluddin al-Afghani, Muhammad Abduh and Rashid Ridha at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries, many studies have been made on the decline and fall of the Muslims. These include the works of thinkers like Iqbal, Malek Bennabi and Fazlur Rahman. However, the condition of the Muslim community has not changed very much and continues to be precarious. In comparison with other communities, especially those in Europe, United States, Russia and Japan, the Muslim community is the most backward, especially in socio-economic, scientific, technological and military fields.

What are the reasons for this backwardness? From the point of view of numbers, the Muslims, now more than a billion, have outnumbered the Christians, and from the point of view of natural resources, Muslim countries are among the richest in the world. Why, with such vast resources and possessing an infallible divine scripture, are the Muslims unable to compete with and surpass other nations?

This situation is exactly the opposite of the situation of their early ancestors who, within a short period of time, climbed the heights of success and created a great world empire and a great world civilization. These early successes which had astounded the world must have had their reasons based on the laws of historical change. What are those reasons? This is the greatest challenge facing Muslim intelligentsia at the close of the twentieth century and on the threshold of the twenty-first: to seek the true causes of Muslim decline and thereby to lay the ground for a new Muslim Renaissance.

As we have said, this study and review of our traditional formulation must encompass classical theology and jurisprudence. The hadith, of course, is at the core of these traditional disciplines.

Our present knowledge point to many factors that contribute to the rise and fall of nations, factors that are ideological, political, economic, social, cultural, historical, psychological, demographic, geographical, scientific, technological and military in nature. But it is also quite certain that within this pluralism of factors, not all play equally important roles. Technology can surmount geographical limitations; military strategy can overcome numbers; political leadership can offset economic weakness, and so on. Turning to the Quran as our infallible guide, we find the following statements that can give us a clue to the understanding of the problem under discussion.

"Surely, God does not change the condition of any people until they themselves change."

"That is because God does not change the blessings He had bestowed upon any people, unless they themselves change."

"If only the previous generations had some intelligent people who enjoined them from corruption, they would have been saved. But We saved a few of them, while the rest pursued their material things and became sinners. Your Lord never destroys any community unjustly while the people are righteous."

"We will surely give victory to our messengers and to those who believe, both in this life and on the day the witnesses are raised."

"You shall never waver, nor shall you worry; you are guaranteed victory for as long as you are believers."

All the above Quranic statements point to a people's ideology as the most important component in the determination of their fate. This means that insofar as a people is imbued with a scientific, dynamic and progressive ideology, that far will it climb the ladder of success. Conversely, insofar as a people revert to a previously held anti-scientific, static and regressive ideology, that far will it degenerate. The strong unambiguous statements about victory being granted to believers in both worlds necessarily follow from the definition of believers as those possessing and practicing the true scientific ideology.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

HADITH - A Re-Evaluation
Kassim Ahmad

[Starting today, and twice a week (Wednesdays and Sundays), I will be serializing the English translation of Kassim Ahmad's Hadith Satu Penilaian. MBM]


I am grateful to my friend who has done a masterly translation of my book. I have had the draft of the translation since he finished it in late 1987, one year after the publication of the Malay original. I have had it put into my computer and left it there until recently when I thought that it was time to have it published.

I therefore went over it and made what additions and changes I think necessary after eight years since the book first saw the light of day. So, this is not an exact translation of the Malay original, although the format and the arguments remain the same.

Political considerations had led to the banning of the book a few months after it was published. However, after six years, I published a sequel, entitled Hadis — Jawapan Kepada Pengkritik (Hadith — Answer to the Critics) as my answer to several books that have been published to criticize me. This book, fortunately has not been banned. I have translated Chapter 7 of this book (Scientific Methodology for Understanding the Quran) and include it as Addendum in this translation, because I think it is an important and relevant matter to the topic.

I am also indebted to my friend Dr. Gatut Adisoma for his careful editing of the final draft. Both he and Edip Yuksel provided useful suggestions that I incorporated in this book. Any shortcomings that remain are due to the author.

Bandaraya Tanjung,
Pulau Pinang – Malaysia,
31 August, 1995.


My friend, Dr. Hassan Hanafi, of the Philosophy Department of Cairo University, has graciously consented to write a Foreword to this translation. In his letter to me dated 18 January, 1996, together with his hand-written Foreword, he stated that "I made it critical to initiate general debate. Praising is no good. Making a dialogue with you is better."

Since the publication of the Malay original in 1986, I have never been the one to refuse dialogue, even when the odds were against me. My dialogue with the Malaysian Theologians' Association just before the book was published was not concluded due to the Associations's refusal to continue. My dialogue with the Malaysian Muslim Youth Movement (ABIM) one month after publication failed to produced any positive result because they made a negative unilateral judgement against me and my book in spite of their assurance given to me before the dialogue that no decision would be taken.

It is in the same spirit of wanting to solve this problem through dialogue that I accept Dr. Hassan's very critical Introduction to this translation. My slight surprise is Dr. Hassan's methods of criticism. He has combined arguments from both the traditional and modernist sources: that the Hadith as the second source of Muslim law has been the general consensus and cannot be questioned anymore (traditional argument), and that debating the Hadith is counter-productive as it is irrelevant to the modernization of Muslim society (modernist argument).

I think my book adequately rebuts both these arguments, so I shall not say anything further on that for now.

I do not accept Dr. Hassan's criticism for my using examples from Western cultural development as external and inapplicable. The world has developed to be internationalist since the European voyages of discovery in the 15th Century. In fact, it is truer to say with Iqbal that, with the advent of Muhammad (the first and last prophet sent to the entire world community), the world entered the modern Scientific-Technological Era. What we sometimes call modern Western civilization is, in fact, world civilization, since it contains contributions from all civilizations: Middle-Eastern, Greek, Roman, Persian, Arab, Indian and Chinese.

Dr. Hassan makes the astonishing assertion that the slogan "Back to the Quran" is common to all Salafi (reform) movements, whether they are reformers, conservatives or modernists. As far as I understand, Muhammad Abduh, the father of this movement, called for the rejection of mazhab and taqlid, and for the reopening of the door of ijtihad and critical assimilation of Western knowledge. His basic references are still the Quran and the Hadith. I have pointed out that herein lies the failure of this movement. The Hadith, and everything else, have to be judged by the Quran.

On this point, Dr. Hassan rightly replies that even the Quran can be criticized, as nothing is exempt from criticism. Dr. Hassan must have meant that men's understanding and interpretation of the Quran can be criticized, for the Quran is God's final revelation to mankind and has from the beginning been under divine protection. However, the true aim of criticism is to expose falsehood and establish the truth. In this sense, the Quran is criticism par excellence. It is therefore above criticism.

On that note, I leave it to the reader to make his own conclusion.

Kassim Ahmad
Bandaraya Tanjung,
Pulau Pinang,
28 January, 1996.


Kassim Ahmad was born on 9 September, 1933 in Kedah, Malaysia. He took his Bachelor of Art's degree in Malay language and literature, but also read widely in political science and Islamic philosophy. He taught Malay language and literature for a time in the London School of Oriental and African Studies and then in a secondary school in Penang where he has been staying with his family since 1966.

He has written several books on Malay literature as well as on Islamic subjects.


Hassan Hanafi
Professor of Philosophy
Cairo University

This book, Hadith — A Re-evaluation, of Kassim Ahmad is a real implementation of the Kantian principle evoked in the book, "Dare to Know" against the authority of the Church. In Islam, there is no Church. However, the common knowledge, the established notions and the popular creed play the role of an intellectual and ideological Church which denies freedom of thought and shackles free intellectual development.

The publication of such book in English does not represent any difficulty, either to the author, or to the public. Many authors in the last four centuries tackled the question of authenticity of the scriptures, Old and New Testaments, expressing much doubt about their historical authenticity. The public became accustomed to such critiques of sources applied in Biblical criticism in modern times. It was a big debate behind the Protestant rift, postulating Sola Scriptura. Notions of historical authenticity, narratives, oral tradition, revelation and inspiration became very familiar to the public in religious and literary studies.

The main thesis of the book is that Hadith has been compiled without permission, either from the prophet, or from the four Righteous Caliphs for fear of confusing it with the Quran, the first source of Islam. Because of the power struggles between different political factions, each pretender legitimized his claim by recourse to a saying of Prophet Muhammad in his favor. Pious Muslims such as Bukhari and Muslim tried to collect these sayings after verifying their authenticity. Even then, they were not free from prejudice, in favor of the established authority, the Sunnites. Shi'ite opposition had their Hadith compilations justifying their political claims. Gradually, people forgot the Quran as the first source of Islam in favor of the Hadith, the second source. Since many of Hadith narratives contradict the Quran and even contradict themselves, the necessity to criticize the Hadith emerges as a prerequisite for any socio-political change.

Most of these unauthentic narratives are more stringent, binding and compulsory. The Quran in such topics is more lenient. Al-Shafi`i (d. 204 H.) is responsible for this rigidity by blocking the law and narrowing the Ijtihad by making Hadith a second source of law more binding than the Quran and the Ijma' and minimizing the role of the Ijtihad, the fourth source of law. He initiated this movement of Ahl al-Hadith in opposition to Ahl al-Ra'y.

The Hadith debate is not new. It is already known in Western Orientalism since the last century and in contemporary Islamic thought.

Since Orientalists denied Islamic Revelation, not only the Hadith but also the Quran, and since they have been accustomed to Biblical criticism, they applied the same rules to prophetic narratives in Islam. Western public got used to this criticism since revelation and inspiration are the same. Christ is God, the Apostle is the writer. The ideas are inspired by the Holy Spirit while the words are chosen by the Apostle himself. Words can change according to the language, the education and the culture of the writer, while ideas remain the same. Narratives developed in history as personal witnesses. The narration is not a recording-machine, a simple transmitter of a message, but a living witness. Historical authenticity requiring a concordance in the message between the enunciator and the auditor is a mechanical notion of reporting. In the case of the Gospel, the writer understands, interprets and creates the message. The message becomes better transmitted, understood and communicated. The message is motivated by the intentions of the narrator, expressing his level of education and culture and revealing his loyalty to this or that group in the power struggle among the early disciples before Nicaea-I. Maturation or deviation, creativity or inauthenticity, development or falsification? Judeo-Christian tradition chose the first answer while Islam chose the second. Since Hadith went in a similar way as the Jewish and Christian scriptures, it has been judged as an unauthentic historical deviation.

Modern Arab and Muslim thinkers and reformers such as Syed Qutb have been accused of minimizing the role of the Hadith in favor of the Quran, irrespective of their motives, either similar or different from the Orientalists. Modern thinkers did not deny revelation, but they tried to liberate Muslim societies from dogmatic and rigid adherence to the texts and calling for Ijtihad, based on the spirit of Islam and the universal intentions of the Law. The general guidelines of the Quran help more than the details of the Hadith. The Asl has a more liberating power than the Fard. Many of the harmful laws and superstitious beliefs come from the unauthentic prophetic narratives. The Hadith diverges while the Quran converges.

Ancient scholars were aware of this problem of the historical authenticity or inauthenticity of the narratives. The Quran has been preserved in writing since the moment of its utterance. It has been collected, compared and standardized during the era of Othman, the fourth caliph. The Quran did not go through a period of oral transmission such as the Hadith. Ancient scholars invented a whole discipline, the science of Hadith to put some rules to verify the authenticity of the Hadith in history.

First, the analysis of the terms of the report into five degrees of certitude, from the more certain to the less certain, guarantees the direct testimony as the high degree of witnessing: I heard; He said; He ordered; He ordered us; They did.

Second, the multilateral report , the Mutawatir, is the highest degree of authenticity concerning the chain of reporters. It is the one transmitted by several reporters with four conditions, namely, first, a sufficient number which gives the certitude of authenticity and takes away all doubts; second, the independence of reporters from each other to prevent any possibility of connivance; third, the homogeneity of expression of the report in time through generations without oscillation between the well-known and the unknown; fourth, the concordance of the report with sensory evidence, with reason and with the course of events and the laws of nature to prevent mythological and superstitious infiltrations.

Third, the unilateral report, Wahid, is that one which fails one of the four previous conditions. It is hypothetical in knowledge but apodictic in action, while the multilateral report is apodictic in both knowledge and action. The authenticity of the unilateral report is guaranteed by the analysis of the consciousness of the reporter to verify its neutrality and objectivity, such as justice, unity, maturity, intelligence, good hearing and memory and speech ability, since a report is the passage from hearing to memorizing and finally to communicating. Ancient scholars even invented a side-discipline, criteria to evaluate a reporter's neutrality and objectivity, called Ilm al-Jarh Wa al-Ta'dil, a certain kind of a biographical description of the reporter, his personality, motives, inclinations, loyalties and affiliations.

Fourth, the transmission can be both written and oral, from hand to hand, and from mouth to mouth. The master can permit the disciple to report from this book handed to him (Munawala). The disciple can read from the book and the master agrees (Ijaza). This rule of written transmission excludes any possibility of alteration on falsification of the document.

Fifth, the report is not only the chain of reporters (Sanad) but also the report itself (Matn). The highest degree of certainty is the literal report, the message with the same words. If the message is transmitted in different words, with addition or omission, it becomes hypothetical.

In short, the whole science of Hadith aims to verify the historical authenticity of the narratives. The whole theory is based on a tripartite division of the Hadith: Authentic, Unauthentic and Undecided, on which judgement is suspended.

Ancient scholars, studying the Quran, also conceived the theory of abrogation and considered the development of the text and the historical contexts of the Quran and the Hadith. The later texts cancel the earlier texts as a source of law. The Quran is abrogated by the Quran, the Hadith by the Hadith, but never the Quran by the Hadith, or the Hadith by the Quran. In this case, it is called particularization, Takhsis, exception, Istithna' or restriction, Taqyid.

Ancient scholars also created side-disciplines to maintain the coherence of the judicial system such as the science of opposition and preponderance, Ilm al-Ta`arud wa al-Tarajih, in case of an apparent opposition between two Quranic verses, between Hadith narratives, between a Quranic verse and a Hadith narrative or between a Hadith unilateral narrative and reasoning by analogy or Qiyas. An opposition between a text and consensus, or Ijma', does not occur since Ijma' is based on texts and since it is not binding to future generations.

If this is the work of ancient scholars, what is the need to use Western culture as a system of reference? Is the book intended for Western readers to understand Muslim modernists, publicized in Western mass-media for fame? Western intellectual framework makes the thinker liable to be accused of Westernization and consequently of being uprooted from his own traditional culture. More knowledge of the ancient Hadith discipline and a deeper knowledge of Arabic help the modernist in expressing his case. No modernism is possible without digging deeper into the tradition. Modernism comes from within not from without. That is why the introduction of the book on the crisis of the age is off-target. Which age? Western age or Malaysian-Muslim age? The end of the twentieth century or the beginning of the fifteenth century? Peoples and cultures do not live in the same historical periods.

The constant reference to the Western culture as a frame of reference gives the impression that the main problematic of the book is a Western one. Biblical criticism is very common in the West because the Judeo-Christian scriptures passed through a period of oral transmission. The author refers constantly to Biblical criticism, to Western bibliography more than to Hadith studies and Islamic bibliography. Maybe the lack of knowledge of Arabic is an obstacle to dig in the classical sources and to use accurate Arabic technical vocabulary. The Christian calendar is more used than the Islamic one. The Islamic calendar was only used for the compilers of the Hadith. Only once both calendars were used, i.e. for Imam al-Shafi`i (d. 820 AD/204 H.)

The author refers to the Judeo-Christian tradition: Jewish oral and written tradition in the 5th century BC; the Jewish scholar O. Goldin, deviations of Christian fathers after Christ as a model of Muslim deviants after Mohammed, Christ seen as God by the Christians. Western cultural developments appear visibly in the book: the birth of modern secularism in Europe and its failure; European awareness of the importance of freedom of thought following the Arabs and their struggle for it, a model for the Muslims nowadays to follow; European success in pioneering science and technology; the opposition between religion and science in the 19th century as a model of the opposition between Hadith and science; European liberation from the authority of the Church and the establishment of Kantian principle, "Dare to Know," Western skepticism concerning the authenticity of the scripture, etc.

The author refers to many proper names, sociologists, such as Sorokin, and his book The Crisis of Our Age; doctors, like Maurice Bucaille, the French physician, member of the French academy of science, poets such as Yeats and T.S. Eliot, with quotations from their poems, and novelists, such as Dostoyevsky, Camus and Sartre.

Technically speaking, from within the science of Hadith, taking Islamic culture as a frame of reference, the following points can be made:

1. There is no general stand, accepting Hadith or rejecting it. There is only such stand concerning certain Hadith oscillating between authenticity and inauthenticity. The authentic Hadith is accepted, while the unauthentic is rejected, according to the tripartite division of Hadith.

2. There is no general acceptance or rejection of the whole Hadith, but of special hadiths concerning certain topics contrary to the Quran or to Hadith itself. Other hadiths are well-taken such as "No testament for the inheritor," "There is zakat in the sheep in pasture."

3. The Hadith is not only of two kind: authentic and unauthentic but it has different degrees of authenticity concerning the report (Matn) and the chain (Sanad). The literal report is more authentic than the free quotation. The multilateral is more authentic than the unilateral. The well-known, Mashhur, the discontinuous from the middle, Maktu', or from the end, Mursal, is less authentic.

4. The inference is based on the generalization of judgement from the part to the whole. The whole Hadith is discredited because of one discredited hadith. A better inference is the rejection of an unauthentic hadith because it is unauthentic, case by case, not as a whole.

5. The authentic hadith cannot be rejected. The probable hadith can be accommodated with the authentic hadith and the Quran by many devices: abrogation, particularization, exception, restriction, interpretation, etc.

6. The critique of the Hadith is one thing and its rejection is something else. Ancient and modern scholars criticized the Hadith in order to purify it from the unauthentic narratives. No one, Shi'ite or Sunnite, rejected it as a second source of law.

7. The critique of the Hadith can be made internally, according to the same rules put forward by ancient scholars — they were behind the birth of modern Biblical criticism, as Renan confessed — applying the rules of the Hadith to scrutinize the narratives of the Old and New Testaments in his volumes "Origin of Christianity" and "History of the People of Israel," The four conditions of the multilateral report, Mutawatir, are sufficient to guarantee the concordance of the report with reason and sensory evidence, called by the author logic, history and science. The author could have readjusted the old rules of criticism making them more rigorous rather than rejecting the hadith. No critics were more scrupulous than the ancient scholars. What the author offered in criticism is much less than what the ancient scholars created in laying the ground for modern criticism. Moreover, the book contains many generalities and some sweeping judgements which sometimes contradict historical facts or need more precise explanations, such as:

1. Muslims do not follow the Hadith and abandon the Quran, as the author says. No Muslim can be accused of abandoning the first source of law in favor of the second.

2. The opposition between the Quran and the Hadith does not exist, as the author says. No one says that minimizing the role of Hadith is a blasphemy, Kufr.

3. The Hadith is not a false teaching attributed to the prophet, as the author says. Only the unauthentic hadith is, not the authentic.

4. The prayers that Muslim are doing were not given, according to the author, during the Night Journey, al-Mi'raj, is a free and gratuitous judgement and have little impact on Hadith criticism, and goes against the general consensus.

5. The law of inheritance giving the female the half of the male is mentioned in the Quran before the Hadith. It is not misogynic since the female had no right to own or to inherit at all. Islamic law tried to change her status gradually. Besides, the unity of analysis is the household. Each has equal share, one and half.

6. Obeying the husband in optional fasting is not downgrading for the wife, but to solve the conflict of loyalty between performing an optional ritual, fasting, and a compulsory duty, the obedience to the husband.

7. The errors of al-Shafi`i, in case that there are, do not justify doubts in the Hadith, but the correction of his errors. Al-Shafi`i wanted to codify the legal system, not to obstruct the Quran or block Ijtihad.

In conclusion seven other points can be made:

1. Putting the Quran forward and the Hadith backward is a certain kind of higher bid that nobody would object. But why holding the Quran requires necessarily releasing the Hadith? Back to the Quran is a Salafi slogan uttered by all reformers, conservationists as well as modernists. The problem is in whose benefit. The same Quran can also be criticized on grounds of how it was written and compiled and on its interpretation. Nothing is exempt from criticism. Because of the higher bid, the Addendum "A Scientific Methodology for Understanding the Quran" is somehow outside the mainstream of analysis. It relates to another discipline, the Tafsir, not the Hadith.

2. Neglecting the Quran and substituting it for the Hadith as the reason for Muslim decline is common rhetoric. The decline cannot be due to one simple factor; there are socio-political and historical factors to be taken into consideration. The renaissance is not that simple, to be achieved by just coming back to the Quran and abandoning the Hadith. It has to be achieved by changing the socio-political conditions in the Muslim world. Back to the Quran is a double-edged weapon used by conservatism and modernism alike for social stability as well as for social mobility. Ethical and religious imperatives express the ought and not the is. Sweeping statements about the death of Muslim creativity after Ibn Khaldun is against historical evidence from Muslim creativity in astronomy, mathematics and philosophy from the 9th till the 12th centuries.

3. The theme is exciting, although not new. In this era of Islamic resurgence, doubting the authenticity of the Hadith comes at the front page in big headlines. It is a good chance for every modernist to hang upon and become famous, especially in Africa and Asia, in non-Arab-speaking Muslim world. Making a case, a hypothetical one, without any practical implications on the socio-political level is gratuitous. It is harmful more than useful. It generates dissent in society, splitting it to pros and cons in a time calling for national unity. It incites traditional Islam to defend itself against modernist thinkers. Since traditional Islam is the majority and modernist Islam is in minority, the modernist case will always be the loser. Modernism, instead of pushing society to more progress, generates a reaction against it. The modernist will be excluded, excommunicated and may be exterminated. In traditional societies, progress cannot be implemented with the denial of Usul. The challenge of modernism is not how to pray in the space shuttle because Muslims on earth have not yet solved the problems of their basic needs. Hypothetical fiqh was one of the reasons and expressions of decline.

4. The lack of Arabic technical terms, substituted then by inadequate English terms makes for a lot of misunderstanding. For instance, decisive and allegorical dichotomy does not correspond to Haqiqa and Majaz, Zahir and Mu`awal, Muhkam and Mutashabihat, Mugmal and Mubayyan, etc. Many other problems emerge from reading the Quran in English translation; for instance, `touching women' does not mean the literal touching, but of having sexual intercourse.

5. The author uses a lot of textual arguments to prove his case in spite of the limits of such arguments, which depend on language, historical context, counter-textual arguments, etc. Textual argumentation is a Salafi position, selective and double-edged. Many other problems are debated in theology and not in Hadith, such as freedom and predestination, the miracles of the prophets, the eschatological signs and the Messiah, faith and action, etc.

6. After all this debate and the division of the community into pro-Hadith and anti-Hadith groups, the simple very traditional conclusion is accepted by all. The Hadith cannot be rejected as a second source of law provided that it will not contradict the Quran! This is a unanimous conclusion. Why, then, the whole debate between the pro-Hadith and the contra?

7. In spite of all these remarks, the author was able to revive an old problematic with new courage. He put forward the importance of the multilateral report Mutawatir, the few number of verses containing the law (14 verses), the exemption of the law from all kinds of figurative speech, the necessity of a new kind of criticism of Hadith, not only of the chain of reporters, Sanad, but of the report itself, Matn, the importance of re-classification of the Hadith topically according to priority value-scale, putting social relations before the rituals, putting forward the contribution of ancient scholars in laying the grounds for Hadith criticism, the role of political disputes in the compilation of Hadith and even in formulating the wording.

8. The author, the former head of the Malaysian people's socialist party can concentrate more on the socio-political condition of Malaysia and fight for freedom and social justice. He can be more beneficial, more efficient and more able to forge unity for all the people in Malaysia, instead of splitting the nation on pure academic debate.

Cairo – Egypt,
18 January, 1996.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Oleh: Kassim Ahmad

19 April, 2006

Birokrasi tidak dapat dielak dalam mana-mana organisasi, baik Kerajaan, mahupun swasta. Mereka merupakan kakitangan bergaji organisasi itu dan, pada prinsipnya, tidak termasuk ke dalam pimpinannya. Namun demikian, dalam Kerajaan kita hari ini, ia bukan saja satu masalah; ia sudah menjadi suatu penyakit kronik, yang kalau tidak diubati segera, boleh menggagalkan cita-cita dan dasar negara.

Birokrasi ini terdiri dari rakyat yang telah dididik dalam sistem pendidikan kita, dari mereka yang berkelayakan akademik paling tinggi hingga yang kurang berkelayakan akademik. Jika ada kecacatan dalam sistem pendidikan ini, ia akan zahir dalam birokrasi ini.

Apakah masalah-masalah birokrasi kita sekarang? Pertama, ketidak-cekapan bekerja. Masalah ini terbukti dalam kejadian-kejadian, seperti (a) tidak mengakui terima surat-surat yang diterima daripada orang ramai, (b) tidak atau lambat menjawab telefon dari orang ramai, (c) gagal atau lambat menyelesaikan masalah-masalah yang dikemukan oleh orang ramai. Kedua, ketiadaan kaedah atau sistem bekerja yang betul. Masalah ini terbutki dalam kes apabila pegawai-pegawai yang dihubungi oleh orang ramai tiada dalam pejabat, kerana bercuti atau sedang bermesyuarat dan tiada pegawai lain yang boleh menangani perkara-perkara yang dibangkitakan, dan dalam kes keputusan yang telah diambil tidak atau lewat dilaksanakan. Ketiga dan akhir sekali, dasar Kerajaan disabot melalui pembaziran, rasuah dan penyelewengan. Ambil kes pegawai-pegawai yang dihantar ke luar negara untuk mengkaji sesuatu perkara, katalah sistem pengangkutan awam, sistem pertanian dan sistem penebatan banjir. Apakah hasil-hasilnya? Adakah kita betul-betul telah belajar dan melaksanakan sistem-sistem yang baik dari luar negara ini di negara kita? Kita semua tahu sistem pengangkutan awam di sebuah negara jiran yang baik yang patut kita contohi.

Kata pepatah, tiada masalah yang tidak boleh diatasi. Demikianlah juga dengan masalah birokrasi kita. Tidaklah pantas dan tidak boleh dipraktikkan jika beban in ditanggung oleh Perdana Menteri seorang saja. Sejak beliau mengambil-alih jawatan Perdana Menteri daripada Tun Dr. Mahathir dan khasnya setelah beliau membentangkan Rancangan Malaysia Ke-9 di Dewan Rakyat, beliau menumpukan perhatian dan mengkritik birokrasi kita supaya ia menjadi lebih baik. Kaedah ini tidak akan berkesan atau berjaya.

Tugas menyembuh penyakit kronik birokrasi kita ialah tugas Kerajaan, parti dan seluruh masyarakat. Khasnya, ia tugas kepimpinan negara. Kita mesti ada suatu sistem yang baik dan berkesan untuk memilih dan mendidik birokrasi ini, supaya tidaklah berlaku kejadian apabila seorang pegawai bercuti, tidak ada pegawai lain yang boleh menangani masalah itu. Semestinya mesti diwujudkan suatu kaedah yang membolehkan beberapa pegawai lain mengambil-alih tugas itu sewaktu beliau bercuti. Perkara ini sangat mudah dilakukan. Mengapa ia tidak dilakukan menunjukkan sistem kita sangat lemah.

Tiap-tiap surat dari orang ramai mesti dijawab dengan segera. Tidak ada sebab ini tidak boleh dilakukan, kerana kita mempunyai banyak kakitangan dan teknologi komunikasi kita sudah meningkat jauh sejak beberapa dekad yang lalu apabila kita masih mengguna mesin taip.

Tiap masalah yang dikemukakan oleh orang ramai mesti diselesaikan dengan segera. Ini pun tidak susah untuk dilakukan. Perihal ia tidak dilakukan menunjukkan kelemahan sistem kita.

Lebih susah untuk diatasi ialah perbuatan sabot yang didorong oleh rasuah dan fahaman pembangkang. Masalah ini boleh diatasi melalui dua cara, iaitu pendidikan dan hukuman yang tegas. Birokrasi, Kerajaan, parti dan masyarakat kita mestilah dididik dengan falsafah humanis untuk berkhidmat kepada rakyat, seperti kita orang Islam berikrar dalam tiap-tiap sembahyang kita untuk berkhidmat kepada Tuhan, tanpa memikirkan ganjaran. Dalam falsafah ekonomi-politik neoliberal Barat yang ikut kita anuti, tiap orang bergelut untuk dirinya sendiri dan jin-jembalang membaham yang belakang sekali! Kita mesti ubah falsafah kebinatangan ini kepada falsafah kemanusiaan. Anehnya, dulu dalam zaman penjajah, pegawai-pegawai Kerajaan membahasakan diri mereke kepada orang ramai sebagai “Yang berkhidmat dengan taat kepada tuan”! Setelah merdeka, nampkanya, sesetengah birokrat kita ingin menjadi Napoleon kecil kepada orang ramai yang menggajikan mereka!

Islam mengajar kita berunding dalam semua masalah. Inilah kaedah yang harus kita pakai untuk menyelsaikan masalah-masalah birokrasi yang telah saya sebutkan. Tiap-tiap jabatan dan kementerian mesti ada mesyuarat mingguan atau bulanan untuk menyelesaikan masalah-masalah jabatan dan kementerian itu. (Sistem ini tentunya sudah ada, tetapi nyata ia tidak membuahkan hasil yang dikehendaki.) Mesyuarat-mesyuarat ini, yang semestinya dipengerusikan oleh ketuanya, mestilah bertujuan untuk menyelesaikan masalah-masalah, mengkaji keputusan-keputusan yang belum terlaksana untuk melaksanakannya dengan segera, dan mengenal-pasti kelemahan-kelemahan yang terdapat untuk mengatasi kelemahan-kelemahan itu. Mesti dielak supaya mesyuarat-mesyuarat ini tidak menjadi ritual atau adat untuk bermesyuarat semata-mata, sedangkan tujuan mesyuarat diabaikan, apalagi menjadikan mesyuarat-mesyuarat ini untuk tujuan-tujuan lain.

Ketua-ketua jabatan dan ketua-ketua kementerian, termasuklah menteri-mentarinya mestilah mengambil tanggungjawab penuh terhadap mesyuarat-mesyuarat ini serta melapor ke atas kepada Kerajaan dan kepada parti supaya Kerajaan dan parti senantiasa maklum apa yang sedang berlaku dalam Kerajaan dan boleh mengambil apa-apa tindakan yang perlu untuk membaiki dalam Parlimen, dalam Kerajaan dan dalam Perhimpunan Agung parti.

Kerajaan kita telah mendirikan tiga buah badan untuk membaiki sistem pelaksana dan penyampian, ialah Institut Integriti Nasional, dan dua Badan Bertindak Pelaksana Negara – semuanya dipengerusikan oleh Perdana Menteri sendiri. Kita harap badan-badan ini boleh memenuhi tanggungjawab yang diberikan kepada mereka, tetapi kita ingin mengingatkan bahawa badan-badan ini merupakan pembesaran birokrasi kita, yang sudahpun besar, dan memakan belanja tambahan pula! Lebih baik kita menggunakan badan-badan atau institusi-institusi yang sedia ada (mungkin dengan sedikit ubah-suai) dan menggunakan mereka untuk tugas-tugas ini. Perdana Menteri sendiri tidak perlu melibatkan dirinya dengan menjadi pengerusi kepada begitu banyak badan. Ini akan memakan masanya yang sangat berharga yang perlu digunakan untuk perkara-perkara yang lebih penting, seperti membuat dasar dan memastikan pelaksanaan dasar-dasar itu. Sebagai Perdana Menteri, beliau sudah ada kuasa dan tanggunjawab untuk memimpin dan mentadbir negara dengan adil dan saksama. Semua jentera dan sumber-sumber Kerajaan, malah semua rakyat dan sumber-sumber negara, boleh beliau gembelingkan untuk tujuan ini. Inilah yang harus beliau lakukan. Inilah yang dikehendaki oleh rakyat daripada beliau. Inilah misi nasional beliau.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


Kassim Ahmad

Rancangan Malaysia Ke-9, yang mula dideraf setahun yang lalu, yang kita tahu mendapat perhatian berat oleh Perdana Menteri sendiri dan yang sedang ditunggu-tunggu oleh pelbagai kalangan rakyat Malaysia, telah pun dibentangkan oleh Perdana Menteri dalam Parlimen pada 31 Mac lalu. Dari satu segi, ia merupakan kesinambungan dari lapan rancangan Malaysia dulu; dari segi lain, ia berbeza kerana dihasilkan di bawah pimpinan Perdana Menteri baru.

Dalam ucapannya, Perdana Menteri menegaskan rancangan ini merupakan permulaan tahap kedua dalam perjalanan Malaysia menuju status negara maju dalam Pelan Wawasan 2020 pada tahun tersebut. Tiga rancangan 5-tahun telah berlalu. Mulai rancangan ini, pendekatan terhadap pembangunan holitik, menyeluruh dan seimbang, dengan lima teras, yang merangkumi perkembangan ekonomi, perkembangan intelek, pengukuhan keadilan sosial, peningkatan mutu kehidupan dan pengukuhan jentera pelaksanaan

Dua ratus billion RM telah diperuntukkan dengan pendidikan dan latihan mendapat peruntukan terbanyak (RM 50.6 bilion), diikuti dengan pengangkutan (RM 32.5 bilion), kemudahan awam dan tenaga (RM 21.8 bilion), kemudian pertahanan dan pentadbiran awam. Walau bagaimanapun, pertanian yang telah diwartakan sebagai bidang yang diutamakan dalam rancangan ini hanya mendapat RM 11.8 bilion atau 5.4 %, disbanding dengan RM 7.7 bilion atau 4.6 % dalam rancangan ke-8.

Tidak syak lagi, Misi Nasional untuk mencapai taraf negara maju pada tahun 2020 dengan lima teras yang menunjukkan pendekatan holistik, menyeluruh dan seimbang disambut baik oleh rakyat. Rancangan kali ini, nampaknya, menekankan perkembangan intelek untuk memperkasakan sekolah kebangsaan, memupuk masyarakat berminda kelas pertama, memperkukuh keupayaan penyelidiakan dan pembangunan, sains dan kreativiti, melahirkan institusi pengajian tinggi bertaraf antarabangsa. Usaha pembasmian kemiskinan tidak diabaikan. Pemuliharaan alam semula jadi ditekankan. Memberi perhatian lebih berat kepada pengangkutan awam, keperluan perumahan, perkhidmatan kesihatan, penanganan banjir, keberkesanan perkhidmatan awam -- semua ini memang baik. Soalannya adakah semua yang dinyatakan di dalam rancangan ini boleh dan akan dicapai, seperti yang dikehendaki?

Konsep modal insan begitu ditekankan oleh Perdana Menteri. Ini memang betul, kerana manusia itu makhluk berakal dan kreatif. Akal dan kreativitinyalah yang boleh membangunkan tamadun. Akal dan kreativi rakyat Malaysialah yang boleh menukar Malaysia menjadi sebuah negara yang lebih baik daripada dulu. Kita harus kaji apakah sistem pelajaran kita, dari bawah hingga ke peringkat tertinggi, menggalakan penggunaan dan perkembangan akal dan menggalakkan kreativiti. Dari manakah institusi pengajian tinggi bertaraf antarabangsa dan minda kelas pertama akan datang kalau kita tidak memupuk akal dan kreativiti itu di sekolah dan di universiti? Di dalam dunia akademik, adakah kita menggalakkan penyelidikan dan penulisan buku-buku ilmiah yang original sebagai tanda kecemerlangan yang kita iktiraf, atau kita hanya iktiraf mereka yang mengangguk “Ya” kepada apa yang kita mahu? Bolehkah kita capai kecemerlangan akdemik dengan praktik seperti ini?

Jenis insan yang bagaimana yang akan melaksanakan rancangan ini dengan jujur dan beramanah? Tentu bukan yang rupanya saja seperti manusia, tetapi hati-perutnya tidak beza dari binatang. Bagaimana kita medidik rakyat kita menjadi humanis samalah pentingnya dengan kita merangka rancangan ini. Teori mesti dipraktikkan. Praktik yang baik memerlukan orang yang baik.

Banyak wang yang kita peruntukkan hilang di tenagh jalan dan tidak sampai kepada rakyat yang disasarkan. Kerana apa? Kerana penyelewengan dan rasuah. Ini satu penyakit yang perlu dihapuskan – dalam Kerajaan, dalam parti dan dalam masyarakat, jika kita mahukan pulangan yang maksimum dari usaha-usaha kita.

Kemajuan, seperti yang diakui dalam gagasan Wawasan 2020, tidak semata-mata besifat material dan ekonomik. Ia juga merangkumi keadilan sosial bagi semua rakyat, termasuk mengadakan pekerjaan, perumahan, perkhidmatan kesihatan, pengangkutan awam yang baik, khasnya dalam Bandar, dan lain-lain. Ia juga merangkumi dimensi-dimensi intelektual, budaya, moral dan spiritual. Kita mengadakan sekolah dan universiti untuk memupuk dan membangunkan intelek bangsa kita. Kita menekankan pegangan agama dan mengajar moral sebagai satu mata-pelajaran di sekolah, tetapi mengapakah tahap moraliti bangsa kita merosot dalam masa 30-40 tahun yang lalu? Adakah kita membuat kajian atau memikirkan perkara ini hingga ke akar-umbinya? Bagaimana dengan aktiviti-aktiviti kreatif saintifik, intelektual, kesusasteraan dan seni. Adakah kita menggalakkan aktiviti-aktiviti ini, atau kita bunuh saja, atau membenarkan mereka ruang yang tidak cukup, “hidup segan mati tak mahu”? Memang betul kita telah menubuhkan Institusi Integriti Nasional. Mungkin penubuhan badan ini sendiri suatu tanda kita ketandusan integriti!

Ketua Meteri Pulau Pinang telah memeranjatkan semua pembaca akhbar bila beliau mendedahkan bahawa bilangan kereta persendirian di negeri itu melebihi bilangan penduduk! Bekas Perdana Menteri Tun Dr. Mahathir menjawab soalan tentang pengangkutan awam dengan beseloroh bahawa Kerajaan juga hendak menjual keretanya! Untuk mengelak terlalu banyak kereta di jalan, (dan dengan itu menyebabkan kesesakan lalulintas) mestilah kita ada dasar dan rancangan untuk meningkatkan pengangkutan awam, khasnya dalam kawasan-kawasan bandar dan menarik keluar separuh dari kereta persendirian dari jalan raya. Hal ini patut dijadikan satu daripada agenda utama negara kita.

Kita semua tahu Perdana Menteri kita anak seorang alim. Beliau pun belajar pengajian Islam di Universiti Malaya. Beliau juga terkenal dengan panggilan julukan “Mr. Clean”. Tetapi politik, lebih tepat geopolitik, sebuah hutan rimba yang penuh dengan binatang buas! Kita berharap dan berdoa beliau akan berjaya membawa Malaysia menjadi “negara yang makmur, progresif dan adil,” seperti yang beliau sebut dalam ucapan beliau bila membentangkan RMK 9 ini.

Politik yang baik, bukan hutan-rimba geopolitik, diimpikan oleh semua rakyat yang baik. Tetapi sekarang keadaan politik antarabangsa tidak menentu. Harga petrol boleh naik lagi. Kehidupan rakyat kita yang sedia susah akan menjadi lebih susah. A.S.-Britain boleh mencetuskan suatu peperangan besar dengan menyerang Iran. Dunia akan jadi lebih huru-hara, ekonomi Malaysia akan terjejas teruk dan kehidupan rakyat kita akan menjadi lebih buruk. Bolehkah kita mengelak kemungkinan ini?

Modal insan, yang ditekankan oleh Kerajaan dalam rancangan ini, memerlukan manusia Malaysia, individu dan kolektif, yang baik. Di akhir ucapan beliau, Perdana Menteri, berdoa meminta Tuhan melindungi kita dari bencana dan malapetaka dan memimpin kita melakukan kebaikan. Di sebalik kata-kata ini terselindung sebuah falsafah kemanusiaan yang perlu ahli-ahli fikir kita gariskan untuk dianut oleh parti, Kerajaan dan bangsa, bukan saja dalam doa, tetapi dalam semua bidang kehidupan kita – politik, ekonomi, kewangan, kemasyarakatan, sains, seni dan budaya. Bolehkah kita wujudkan dunia ini ditengah-tengah kerakusan sistem neoliberal Inggeris-Amerika dengan neo-imperialisme dan globalisasinya?

Bantahan terhadap sistem hegemoni ini meluas di seluruh dunia. Ia wujud dalam dasar negara di China, di Rusia dan di beberapa negara lain, dan bantahan dalam hati sanubari rakyat yang bencikan hegemoni A.S. ini wujud di mana-mana, termasuk di A.S. dan Britain, tempat lahirnya sistem empayar ini.. Kita harus memikirkan dua sistem yang bertentangan ini. Kita tidak boleh berdoa dengan satu sistem dan hidup dalam satu sistem lain. Oleh sebab itu, kita kerap mengalami kegagalan. Dalam keadaan dunia global sekarang yang berkembang dengan begitu pesat, kita bukan saja perlu mewujudkan sebuah Malaysia yang aman dan adil, tetapi juga sebuah dunia yang aman dan adil.

Ini tidak bermakna identiti nasional kita akan atau perlu hilang. Kita sebuah bangsa Malaysia yang khusus dalam sebuah dunia antarabangsa yang mempunyai hubungan kerjasama satu dengan lain untuk kebaikan semua bangsa dan semua manusia. Oleh sebab itu bahasa dan kebudayaan kebangsaan kita perlu dipupuk dan disuburkan supaya minda bangsa kita boleh berfungsi sepenuhnya untuk memberi sumbangan maksimum kepada tamadun Malaysia baru dan tamadun dunia baru yang sedang dibina.