Q. I was listening to a khutba and the khatib emphasized a lot of ahadith. Examples are God sending the Prophet's soul back to his body so that he could respond to salaams from Muslims visiting his grave, riba being comparable to sexual relations with one's mother, the command for 50 salawat then the reduction, and so on. Are these statements valid?

A. It seems that the khatib was under the delusion that ahadith are the only way to understand the Prophet's teachings. This shows his great sincerity, and his great danger. There is no soul to return to the body, I too made this mistake in my thesis. The concept of the soul is deeply rooted in later Judaism and Christianity, imported from Greek thought. Unfortunately, Muslims do not realize this, so it is now an accepted part of Islamic belief. In Islam, the body dies and there is nothingness until Allah resurrects it on the Day of Judgment (click on The Grave for more information). So there is no soul, questioning and punishment in the grave, etc. See "Major Themes of the Qur'an" by Fazlur Rahman.

Regarding riba, he does not understand what riba is in today's society. It was a usurious exploitation at the time of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.a.w), which we may apply in today's terms as loan sharking. No bank does that. Remember that riba in the Qur'an is that which makes slaves of the people. Now banks and other financial institutions have utility bills, rent, wages, and other expenses, not to mention inflation. $1000 today could depreciate within a month due to inflation. If financial institutions provide loans without benefiting in some way, they would be bankrupt overnight. So profit/interest as we know it in today's society is a necessity for both the lender and borrower, although we may protest instances of excessively high rates and think about having some legislation.

As far as the fifty prayers go, it is amazing that Allah who is so merciful, does not know that His creation will not be able to observe this, and Moses (a.s), somebody who Khidr had to teach, knows it. The logical deduction is this:

Khidr knows more than Moses.

Moses knows more than Allah.

Therefore Khidr knows more than Allah.

Therefore Ayat Al Kursi is a lie.

Therefore Khidr is more worthy of worship than Allah.

The Prophet could not, and did not see Allah during the miraj. Neither did Moses or anyone else. It is against the Qur'an, regardless of whatever ahadith are reported on this event.

Concerning the question about ahadith, again the more I read and analyze, the more it becomes obvious that the overwhelming majority of ahadith on creed and eschatology are to be considered wrong. I am going off on a tangent here. For example, regarding the hadith about the majority of dwellers in hell being women, I told someone that the word "zawj" means pair in the primordial sense, or one of a pair, but it is used more in the former sense. Her query was that if it meant pair, then how could I explain "azwaaj thalath" in Sura Al Waqia. My explanation was that for the three groups, the word zawj is used to indicate that there will be an approximately equal amount of male and female.

What does this show? Either the ayah is wrong, or the hadith is wrong. The matter goes further than this. It shows that an understanding of Arabic terminology is essential to understanding the message of Muhammad (s.a.a.w). It also shows that the Qur'anic message was addressed to a group of people who were patriarchal, if not misogynistic in custom, and the underlying intent was to destroy that outlook. If you check the books of all the mufassirs, or the ones I checked anyway, you will not find the explanation that I just gave.

As Fazlur Rahman said: "The Qur'anic message was delivered and meant to function as an evolution of understanding." As we become more advanced and even spiritual, which is the goal of the message, we would see things differently. The basic message is that the ayah makes you wonder how the hadith could be manufactured, if the ayah was properly understood. If it was not fabricated, then it shows that the people who were reporting hadith in many cases did not know or understand the Qur'an. It also asks the question: "If the hadith stating that the majority of hell's occupants being women is authentic, then it means that the Prophet did not understand his own message, and that Allah is arbitrary and unfair in judgment." The conclusion is that the ahadith on this matter are obviously false.

Posted February 11, 1999