By Aftab Ahmad, New Age Islam
27 June 2014
Tauhid (belief in one God) is God’s Deen and he sent down prophets and messengers for its revival in every age. The prophets, whom God gave a scripture and Shariah, were called the messengers and the prophets who did not get any scripture or Shariah were in a sense Mujaddids (revivers) who revived the Deen of their predecessor messenger. This way the Deen kept being revived. In my view, the revival of Deen is not merely rejuvenating or restoring the original Deen but it also meant making it harmony with the needs of the modern times. That’s why the Deen of every messenger was an evolved and developed form of the Deen of his predecessor and was in harmony with the modern times.
Hadhrat Muhammad (pbuh) was the seal of the prophets as Quran has called him Khatimun Nabiyeen. After him no prophet or messenger will come till the Day of Judgment. In previous ages, various prophets and messengers were sent to different regions of the world simultaneously and after one messenger, the next messenger was sent after 500, 1000 or 1200 years. 1400 years have elapsed since the passage of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and no prophet will come till the last day of the world. Naturally, many distortions, misinterpretations and innovations will creep into the Deen. Therefore, God has planned the revival of Deen (Tajdeed e Deen) to cleanse Deen of these corruptions and innovations. According to a Hadith, God will send a Mujaddid (reviver) in every century who will remove impurities from the Deen and restore its purity.
“In every century, God will send Mujaddids who will revive the faith of the people.” (Abu Dawud)
There is another Hadith as follows:
Hadhrat Abu Hurairah said, “Hadhrat Muhammad (pbuh) said that in the beginning of every century, God will raise a person who will revive their faith for them.” (Abu Dawud, Musnad, Bayhaqi)
However, it is not clear from the Hadith whether God will raise one Mujaddid for the entire world at a time or will raise several Mujaddids in various parts of the world simultaneously according to the needs of the region because the situation does not remain the same in the world at a given point of time. In some places, the evil is not so pervasive while in some other place, the moral and social condition is pathetic. Therefore, some places need reforms more than the others. In Quran, it is said that Quran was revealed for the people of Makkah and adjoining areas. That does not mean that the Quran was revealed only for the people of Makkah and the tribes around it. It means that the conditions in Makkah and its suburbs were the worst and therefore they needed the message of the Quran the most.
When we study the Islamic history, we find many scholars and jurists of Islam who are considered Mujaddids (revivers). Some of the names are: Hadhrat Umar bin Abdul Aziz, Imam bin Hanbal, Abul Hasan Ash’ari, Imam Al Ghazali, Ibn-e-Arabi, Ibn-e-Taymiyya, Abdul Quadir Geelani, Ibn-e-Hajar Asqalani, Jalaluddin Sayuti, Hadhrat Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi and Shah Waliullah. This is not the final and agreed upon list. People add some more names to it according to their views and beliefs.
In Hadiths about Mujaddids, no identical virtues or signs of Mujaddis have been mentioned nor has it been made a religious duty to recognise a Mujaddid. A Mujaddid is more a scholar and a religious activist who proactively tries to remove the purities that have crept into the Deen in his times. They attain a prominent place in Islamic world through their distinct work, services and character. The Hadiths only confirm to the Muslims that their Deen will be protected from distortions, innovations and misinterpretations through the institution of revivers (Mujaddid) no matter how much external factors of a region affect the Deen or even a majority of a region consider the distorted version of Deen the original and pure Deen for a certain period. In every century revivers will be born who will revive, rejuvenate, restore and at the same time develop it keeping the soul of the Deen intact.
A bright example is that of Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi who was a contemporary of the great Mughal emperor Akbar. He had invented a new religion called Deen-e-Ilahi and declared it the official religion of the Mughal Empire. This was an act that could harm Islam in the subcontinent because Akbar was a very powerful king whose empire extended up to Quandhar (Afghanistan). If he was left to spread his new religion it would mean that Islam would be driven out of the whole of Indian subcontinent. Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi openly opposed Deen-e-Ilahi He was born on Shawwal 14, 971. In other words, in the beginning of the new century, 1000 Hijri he attained maturity and started the work of revival of Deen. Therefore, it is rightly believed that he was a reviver. At a time when the meek and sycophant courtiers of Akbar’s palace had accepted Deen-e-Ilahi out of fear or to please him, Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi who is also called Mujaddid Alf-e-Sani (reviver of the 2nd millennium) openly declared jihad against the false religion. He wrote letters to the courtiers and Emirs of the empire warning them of the false religion and to follow Islam. He also wrote a Risala (document) titled ‘Isbat-e-Nabuwwat’ (Testifying to the prophet hood). These letters have been compiled under the name ‘Maktubat-e-Imam Rabbani). He also refused to bow before the king, saying that bowing before a human being was not in the spirit of Islam. For this he was also jailed by the king. As a result of his efforts, Deen-e-Ilahi died an unnatural death and Islam emerged unscathed. In that period, Muslims had forgotten Islamic teachings and had been more inclined towards peers and Mazars. The Ulema of the age had abandoned the Quran and Hadith and would consult only the Fiqh (jurisprudence) to seek guidance in matters of religion. Mujaddi Alf-e-Sani reformed the Ulema too and made them realise that the first sources of knowledge of Deen were the Quran and Hadith. Therefore, Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi rightly deserves to be called a Mujaddid.
Similarly, numerous Islamic scholars and jurists were born in different parts of the world in different ages. However, Hadith also do not hint as to the Mujaddids will only be religious scholars. The Hadiths say that God will raise persons who will revive the Deen. It does not specify that they will only be Ulema. In other words, a Mujaddid can be an Alim or a righteous and pious king who will through his power remove the un-Islamic practices from Islam. Hadhrat Umar Bin Abdul Aziz is one such king who is also considered to be a Mujaddid. He was a reformist king who put an end to many un-Islamic practices of his age like mixed bathrooms for men and women. He also contributed to the spread of education.
Hadhrat Imam Hussain (A.S.) can also be put into the category of Mujaddids because he refused to give religious recognition to the un-Islamic kingdom of Yazid and revived the Deen by sacrificing his own life and the lives of his kin. If he had accepted his un-Islamic rule, it would have given legitimacy to his evil practices as part of Islamic government. Thus, Imam Hussain (A.S.) saved the Deen.
In our times, many Islamic scholars are considered Mujaddids or their followers try to prove that they are Mujaddids but in fact they are representatives of one or the other sect of the Muslims. A true Mujaddid will not have sectarian belief or outlook. He will be a Muslim in the Quranic sense of the term.
In the modern times, chaos, disorder, unIslamic ideology and unjustified bloodshed has gripped the entire Islamic world and disbelief has taken the form of faith. In the given circumstances, the significance and importance of Mujaddids has increased manifold. The Islamic world is waiting for its Mujaddid who will infuse a new life into Islam and start Islamic renaissance. Allama Ahmad Sirhindi stressed on the inner purification of self along with outer piety whereas the so called flag bearers of Islam have only focused on the outer rituals of Islam. They seem to be in a haste to establish the Islamic caliphate but do not bother to get a correct understanding of Islam.
The efforts to distort and misinterpret the teachings of Islam had been going on for a long time and they have gradually culminated into violent ideologies. Takfiri ideology that is in direct confrontation with the multicultural and peaceful spirit of Islam seems to dominate the Islamic world. And a powerful and violent coterie is hell bent on proving that only theirs is the original form of Islam. Suicide is prohibited (haram) in Islam but the terrorists have declared suicide legitimate and permissible. To them killing of innocent people, including women, children and the old is considered Islamic jihad. Sectarian differences have also distorted the image of Islam as an intolerant faith. A term ‘Jihad al Nikah’ has been coined to promote adultery among Muslim men and women in the name of jihad and has been termed as a noble act deserving reward in the Hereafter. In short, the entire religion of Islam has been distorted.
The revival of Islam is needed the most today but the work in that direction is not being done in the scale expected. The advent of Mujaddid is true if it is predicted in the Hadiths but the Islamic world has either failed to recognise its Mujaddid or has not been able to listen to his voice in this bedlam. The world is anxiously waiting for its Mujaddid.
Aftab Ahmad is a columnist for New Age Islam. He has been studying the Holy Quran for some time