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Reconciling Revelation and Tradition inIslamRehabilitating ExegesisLeslie TerebessyAbstract............................................................................................2Preview............................................................................................3Prologue..........................................................................................13Breakdown of Reason...................................................................21Fabrication of Revelation..............................................................31Traditions.......................................................................................48Turn from Revelation to Tradition............................................53Effects of Tradition on Penal Law..............................................55Preeminence of Jurisprudence....................................................56Muslims in Turmoil.....................................................................62Results of the Rejection of Reasoning........................................64Academic Performance...............................................................66Rehabilitation of Knowledge.......................................................77Education of Muslims...................................................................81Political Effects of Anti-rationalism............................................84Recommendations.......................................................................88
2AbstractThe “traditional” ranking of the roots of the sharia placesrevelation in the first place. Revelation is followed by traditionin the second place. In the third place we find the accord ofthe jurists orijma. In the fourth place is reasoning orijtihad.In the process of the “explanation” of revelation,this rankingwas re-arranged. The work of the ulema emerged in the firstplace. It was followed by tradition. Revelation ended up inthird place. The work of the ulema superseded bothrevelation and tradition.In different words, the “traditional” ranking of the roots of theshariah wasinverted. This resulted in Muslims following theulema rather than revelation. They took different chiefs astheir “lords.”The rejection of reason in favor of tradition rests upon theflawed assumption. This assumption is that an irreconcilabletension exists between reason and revelation. It perceives therelationship between reason and revelation as mutuallyexclusive.The turn from revelation to tradition, from the words of Godto the words of men, spelled the fall of the Muslim civilization.For men, no matter how learned, could not guide as well asGod.The ummah elevated tradition to revelation. Tradition thenbegan to “judge,” “abrogate” and even “replace” revelation. Itis acceptable to use tradition as a fount of wisdom, but not asa root of the law. They may be used for example to learn aboutthe past. However, they have to be read critically.
3Traditions that run against revelation, are irrational, anti-women, insult the prophet or are vulgar require being setaside. For traditions are different from the revealed words ofAllah; they are the words of persons. As traditions areparaphrases, they fall short of even being the verbatim wordsof the prophet. To place these words at par with the revealedwords of God is an error.PreviewMuslims became prominent by following revelation. Theyfaded because they abandoned revelation and followedtradition.They turned to tradition as a result of rejecting reason.Eventually, they abandoned both revelation and tradition tofollow the ulema.[P]eople contented themselves with theSunnah while leaving theQur’anaside.Thereafter they contented themselves withIslamic jurisprudence while leaving boththeQur’anand the Sunnah aside. As timepassed, they then contented themselveswith commentaries on the jurisprudence ofthe earliest scholars, then with footnotes onthe commentaries andshaykhs’remarks onthem.11Taha Jabir Alwani,Islamic Thought: an Approach to Reform,IIIT, 2006, p. 58, accessed on 12 May 2021:Approach_to_Reform_?email_work_card=title

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Islam, Yusuf Talal DeLorenzo

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