BY KHALID HUSSAIN MIR
The range of Islam is immensely wide. All the aspects of a man’s life from his birth to death, and even the life after death, come under the purview of Islam. Islam is the only nominated religion of Allah, well-ordered with social, political and economic systems, guidelines and principles for national and international relations.
The Muslim scholars and scientists have provided ever memorable contributions to the every field of knowledge like Hadith, Tafsir, Fiqh, Tasawwuf, History, Philosophy, Medicine, Astronomy, Bio-sciences etc. Similarly, in the field of academics from last few decades Muslim scholars have made momentous attempts to produce an adequate literature in English particularly on the themes of the Quran, Hadith, Fiqh and Tasawwuf both in the subcontinent as well as in other parts of the world predominately in a separate thematic way. Including a few scholars Dr. Rafique Anjum has also selected a new pattern which is more informative and helpful for both the students and scholars, and covers basic concepts and terminologies of the above mentioned themes. He has systematically interpenetrated and integrated them periodically in an assimilable format to the seekers of knowledge.
Dr. Rafique Anjum (b. 1962), a well-known linguist, poet and a doctor of medicine and philosophy, has earned recognition for his inspired, systematic and critical literary works. For his creative and significant contribution and excellence in literature he has been awarded with the best book award in 2007 by Jammu & Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages. He is presently working as an Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies and coordinator of the Centre for Research in Gojri, Pahari and Kashmiri languages (CRGPKL) in the School of Islamic Studies & Languages at BGSB University, Rajouri. Dr. Anjum has extensively written on the fields of his expertise. Some of his significant works include: Sunehri Tareekh (2000); Gojri-English Dictionary (2004); Anjum Shanasi (Biography, 2007); Gojri-Urdu Dictionary (2008); Gojri-Kashmiri Dictionary (2018); Revisiting Islam (2018).
The book under review, entitled “Essentials of Islamic Sciences”, is comprised of five main broad chapters under the caption of ‘Khairul Qurun, study of Quran, Hadith, Fiqh and Tasawwuf. Besides this the useful chronological charts and an index has been added at last for convenience of readers looking for a particular term. It begins with a foreword by Prof. Akhtar ul Wasey, followed by an introduction (pp. 11-16) which is very informative as it provides the information about the basic purpose of the book and its need and importance as well. The book is basically an endeavour by the author to fulfil the requirements of students and scholars undergoing in Islamic studies in particular and the requirements of seekers of knowledge in general.
In chapter 1 (pp. 17-43), the author has made a sincere effort to present an overview of the pre and post Islamic history of Arabia, particularly the period of Khairul Qurun in reference to the life of Prophet Muhammad ??? ???? ???? ????
including the major events that changed the course of world history, and the period of four rightly guided caliphs of Islam followed by the chronological outline of the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties. The author says that, the
Prophet ??? ???? ???? ???? of Islam appeared on the hori
zon of Arabia as a blessing, and in a short span
of just 23 years He ??? ???? ???? ???? miraculously trans
formed one of the worst periods in history into ‘Khairul Qurun’ or the best era (p. 22).
In chapter 2 (pp. 45-140), that deals with the study of the Quran, the author has tried to display the Islamic concept of knowledge and its sources. The author believes that in Islam knowledge is entirely related to belief and is opposite of ignorance (p. 47-48) and the dichotomy of knowledge adversely affected the progress of Muslims which has prompted the contemporary scholars to strive for the integration of knowledge to reverse the damage (p. 49). Further the author has sincerely attempted to present the background scenario of revelation, preservation and the main stages of compilation of the Quran. He has also made a sincere attempt to paraphrase the history and movement of Quranic exegesis from beginning to the modern period. Besides this he has discussed in detail some prominent early and modern Tafsir works as well.
The third chapter (pp. 141-270) exclusively deals with the study of Hadith analysis and its compilation, classification and collection from early to modern period. According to the author, “the Quran lays broader guidelines, but details of even basic tenets of Islam and their methods are laid in Hadith” (p. 150). While discussing the position of the Quran, Hadith and Sunnah of Prophet ??? ???? ???? ???? he
further says that, “the Quran is the complete code of life and only when it is followed in the light of Sunnah of Prophet ??? ???? ???? ???? and Hadith is the
jugular vein of Islam as evidenced in its all-encompassing in socio-religious life of Islam” (p. 148). The author has also made a significant attempt to discuss in detail the basic Hadith terminologies like Hadith Qudsi, Hadith Jibr’iel, Hadith Nabwi, Khabar, Athar etc. Besides this he has also discussed in detail the biographies of prominent Hadith scholars and their contribution to Hadith literature as well.
In chapter 4 (pp. 271-388), the author has presented a comprehensive discussion on early and later development of Fiqh including its primary and subsidiary sources and the principles and basic terminologies of Islamic Law (Fiqh) which according to the author is originated from Divine Law, imbedded in the verses of the Quran, revealed onto the Prophet
??? ???? ???? ???? and expounded and applied in practice by
him as Sunnah (p. 274). Like other scholars of Fiqh, the author also believes that “Islamic Law is not a legal system but a legal tradition” (p. 274). Besides this the author has also discussed in detail the rise and salient features of various schools of Islamic Law. Similarly, in a special sub-section the author has discussed the impact of Taqlid and importance of Ijtihad in Islam, followed by brief discussion on some issues of contemporary relevance related to the family, constitutional and International laws.
In chapter 5 (pp. 389-489) is divided into two main parts. The first part which is dedicated to the study of Tasawwuf, the author in its first section has presented a thorough account of origin, development and basic terminologies of Tasawwuf, and rise of various Sufi orders which is followed by another section on biography and teachings of leading Sufi scholars and the prominent Sufi texts. According to the author the real sense of Tasawwuf in Islamic perspective is ‘’Achieving human perfection [Ihsan] by following the model of the Prophet Muhammad ??? ???? ???? ????” (p. 392). The later
part of this chapter which is basically contributed by me deals with the basic concept of spirituality and softening of the heart (al-Riqaq) in Islam, and Auliyaullah in the light of primary texts. The essence of spirituality in Islam is the degree of spiritual attainment achieved by any human being by the realization of Tawhid (unity of Allah) as expressed in the Quran, on the basis of the prophetic model and with the aid of the Prophet ??? ???? ???? ???? (p. 469). In this part I have
in detail attempted to present the different ways for achieving the goal of softening of the heart.
In nutshell Dr. Rafique Anjum has made in a real sense a great contribution to the understanding of basic Islamic sciences through a fair presentation. One hopes the work will go long way to act as beneficial and an updated source of information for students and scholars and for every such person who wants to know more about Islam and Islamic literature.
—The writer is a Doctoral Fellow of Islamic Studies at the Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University, Rajouri, Jammu & Kashmir. He can be reached at [email protected]