(Written by Sir Syed in Urdu ‘Tarqi Uloom’)
By: Abbas Ali
The progression of knowledge among Muslims has taken an unusual path. After the battle of Yamama, during Hazrat Abu Bakr’s (RA) Khilafat, the first fundamental knowledge growth happened. He (RA) tasked Zaid Bin Sabit (RA) with compiling the Quran from beginning to conclusion and publishing it as a book. As a result, he (RA) wrote in the form it now exists.
When people committed to gathering Hadees, Muslims’ knowledge gained a developmental boost for the second time. Although many first believed it was terrible (and their perspective may have been proper), by the second century, everyone had acknowledged its importance and focused on gathering Hadees and authoring Hadees-containing texts.
There is some debate on who was the first to start it. According to some, Imam Abdul Malik bin Abdul Aziz Abni Jireh Basri, who died in 155H, was the first to write a book. Others believe that Abu Nasr Saeed Abni Aroba, who died in 156H, authored the book for the first time. Others claim that the first book was written by Rabi Abni Sabeeh, who died in 160H. Sufyaan bin Aniyah and Malik bin Ans’ writings in Madina, Abdullah bin Wahab’s writings in Egypt, and Moammar and Abdur Razaq’s writings in Yamen all date from about the same time. The books of Sufiyaan Sowri and Mohammed Ibni Fazeel Ibni Gazwaan were written in Kufa. Hamad Ibni Salma and Urwa Ibni Abada wrote in Basra. Hasheem Wasit and Abdullah Ibni Mubarak published their books in Khorasan.
For the third time, Muslim knowledge received another progressive push when people expressed their disagreement over religious beliefs, and the difference between novelty (Bidah) and wishes (Ahwa) became common. Scholars started writing books on theology, and then the same theological writing progressed. Moreover, rejection of issues of Greek philosophy which were in contradiction with Islamic beliefs, were also included in those books. Haris Mahasabi, a contemporary of Hazrat Imam Ahmad Ibni Hanbal (RA), was the first to write a book on this kind of knowledge. Initially, scholars and pious people considered this knowledge a heretic and disbelief. Then gradually, people felt its need so intensely that it attained the obligatory status of the kind that at least one from a large group must acquire it, lest all the group is considered to be sinners.
For the fourth time, the Muslim knowledge developed during the reign of Abbasid Kalifs. It so happened that Greek knowledge was translated from the Greek language into Arabic and got popularized among Muslims. Initially, religious orders of disbelief and apostasy were pronounced against the learners of these branches of knowledge. However, shortly, these branches of knowledge were considered the standard of superiority and perfection.
For the fifth time, the Muslim knowledge progressed when Muslim scholars considered it a sufficient and necessary condition to differentiate between the rationality of beliefs and imported beliefs to check the perfection of one’s belief.
Imam Gazali (RA) acquired the highest perfection in this art so much, so his book “Ahyayi Aloom” is the fountainhead of this art. Although, initially, religious orders were pronounced against Imam Gazali (RA) and people disseminated advertisements to burn his book, ultimately, he attained the title of Hujatul Islam- the Argument of Islam, and his book was accepted by all over the world.
After this, very few books were written on this art; however, at his fag end, Moulana Shah Waliullah Sahab (RA) diverted his attention towards it and wrote a book – “Hujatullah Al Balagah.” Following those times, the book was excellent, containing a strange nicety.
However, all these times whose stories I have narrated have passed away, and currently, it is pertinent that two kinds of knowledge must experience development among Muslims.
First, as Muslims had obtained the ancient Greek Philosophy and wisdom, modern philosophy and wisdom must be obtained and developed further because the mistakes of Greek knowledge have publicly been revealed. Modern knowledge has been established on a very excellent and robust foundation.
Second, as the former scholars had tried to find compatibility between Greek rationality and the Islamic importability, in the same way, we should try to find the application of Modern Rationality and Ancient Islamic Importability. So that the conclusions we had drawn earlier shall also be obtained in present times.
Many simpletons will undoubtedly consider it wrong and might even use sarcastic language, but we should not give them any damn because those earlier people who had done this, they too, faced the same thing. However, ultimately everyone shall value it.
Anwar Sidiqi’s Intikhab Mazameen Sir Syed (pg. 94-96)