005 Sources of religious knowledge
Islam is the whole of the spiritual values that make the human a mature, decent and happy. He becomes a perfect human being in this way. Islam is a teaching system which belongs to Allah (swt). Islam is the tawhid (oneness) belief that is based on accepting and approving that Allah is the only creator and owner of the divine order, which is clear in the word Lailahe illallah (There is no god, but Allah). The goal of the system is purifying the human from his selfish human personality that always creates problems, and equipping him with divine virtues, and making him mature and happy.
The religion is Islam in the sight of Allah (swt). All the Messengers ordered Islam since Adam (pbuh). However, the human beings interpreted the orders changing and destroying them in every period.
Therefore, Islam scholars tried hard for the last religion ordered to human not to be changed with misunderstandings, and misinterpretations.
The last book Allah (swt) revealed to Rasulullah to nurture, lead and explain the mistakes in the past, giving information about hereafter, and report His commandments to human is called Quran. The straight path commanded by Quran is called "Sirat al-Mustaqim".
The most important source of the religious knowledge is "Quran". Quran is the most accurate and trustable divine resource. Because, Allah himself took over his protection:
"We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and We will assuredly guard it." [Hijr, 9]
The last Messenger Mohammad Aleyhisselam had shown the right path to the human by living in accordance to it. His moral reflected the moral of Quran. The words and behaviors of Rasulullah which survived up to now are called "Sunnah". The written statements of Sunnahs are called "Hadiths". There are tens of thousands of Hadiths written in the books today.
The second most important source of the religious knowledge are these "Hadiths".
The people who believed Rasulullah and became subject to him listening and inspiring from him are called the companions of Rasulullah "Sahaba-al-kiram". There are approximately 60 thousand "Sahaba" and Paradise is promised to all of them in Quran. Many of them sacrificed themselves for Allah (swt). They were all very honest people. Ijma-i ummah (consensus of the ummah) are the statements and behaviors that Sahaba-al-kiram verified without any hesitations.
The third source of the religious knowledge is this consensus of Sahaba-al-kiram which is called "Ijma-i ummah".
Scholars as Imam Abu Hanifah, Imam Shafi'i, Imam Malik and Ahmad ibn Hanbal decided on the issues which people hesitate based on the previous sources. The provisions are called "Ijtihad" (case law, interpretation of the theological law) and their contents are accepted as evidences in the religion.
"The Ijtihad" composes the fourth source of the religious knowledge.
The primary source of Islam is certainly Quran. The issues which are closed in Quran are defined by Hadiths of Rasulullah and the issues that are not clear in Hadiths were clarified with the common behaviors of Sahaba-al Kiram. The problematic issues of the details are cleared by the interpretations of the interpreters of Islamic law; so almost every issue in the religion of Allah (Swt) became clear. Islamic scholars have written tens of thousands books using 4 sources. They tried to teach the people the straight path "Sirat al-Mustaqim". The correct life style of the Muslims that was acquired from 4 sources are called "The ahl al-sunnah path". This is the life style that Allah (swt) commanded and it will lead us to salvation.
"The correct life style" that our Rab prescribed for us is Islam. Islam is a life style of which outlines, rules and sanctions are presented by Quran. It is exemplified with life and statements of Rasulullah (s.a.w). Its frame and details are drawn with life sections of Sahaba-al-kiram. And it reinterpreted with jurisprudence of interpreters of Islamic law for the changing life conditions of every era. This life style is nothing but a divine organization that supports and suits the divine order we call the Universe.
The right path defined by 4 sources which are called "Shar'i Dalail" (The Legal Proofs) (Quran, Sunnah, consensus of the ummah, case law) is called the ahl al-sunnah path. This "ahl al-sunnah path" is the right interpretation of Quran by Rasulullah, Sahaba, and interpreters of Islamic law. That must be remembered when Islam is mentioned. The other paths rather than "The ahl al-sunnah path" are not respected in Islam.
The deviances in religion which emerged in time are called "Bid'ah". Every bid'ah takes away a brick from the perfect Islam structure. The most important reasons of bid'ahs are the attempt of the human who has a conflict between the wishes of his nafs and commandments of Allah to change the religion in accordance with his desires. Therefore, it is not possible to consider bid'ahs positively.
Rasulullah stated strong words about the people involved in bid'ahs because every bid'ah destroys a sunnah.
"When a Bid’ah is created then a Sunnah dies." [I. Ahmad]
"Every bid'ah is a misguidance and every misguidance goes to Hell fire." [Bukhari, Muslim, Ibn Majah, Nasai]
"Damn three kinds of people; cruel leader, sinner and bid'ah inventor." [Daylami]
"Prays, feats, pilgrimage, jihad, religious duties and supererogatory prayers of the bid’ah inventors are not accepted. They easily go out from the religion." [Ibn Majah]
"Whoever innovates something that do not suit the religion that is bid'ah and it cannot be accepted." [Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud]
"Damn the people who innovates something and who protect the innovators.” [Bukhari]
The people who are aware of the real religion are given tasks to prevent Bid'ah:
"The scholars inform everyone when bid'ahs are expanded and the new people of the society damn the previous ones. Whoever keeps the knowledge hides Quran." [I. Asakir]
"The scholars introduce the knowledge when bid'ahs emerged. Damn the people who hide the knowledge!" [Daylami]
Be entrusted to Allah.
Dr. Ismail Ulukus