A Mujaddid (reviver of Islam) will come in every Century

  • Allah’s Apostle said, “There will always be in my nation a group who will safeguard the truth until the day of resurrection comes” (Hakim Mustadrak)
  • The Holy Prophet said, “Allah shall send for this Ummah at the head of every hundred years a person who shall revive their religion for them” ( Abu Dawood, Hakim, Baihaqi)
  • The Holy Prophet said, “The scholars are the inheritors of the prophets”.(Tirmidhi, Abu Dawood, Nasai, Ibn Maja, Ahmad, Ibn Hibban)

The Meaning Of The Word Mujadid

Mufti Taqi Uthmani


Q. “I would like to learn the meaning of the words Mujaddid and Tajdeed.
i) How have these words been used in Hadith?
ii) Is it true that one Mujaddid will appear at the beginning of every century after Hijrah?
iii) Can there be more than one Mujaddid in a century? If yes, then, is there a pattern of geographical dispersion of Mujaddids, or time dispersion?
iv) Can Mujaddid be identified by common Muslim? By scholars? If yes how?

A. The word Mujaddid has been derived from a well-known hadith reported by Imam Abu Dawood in his sunan, one of the six Authentic Books of Hadith. The text of the Hadith is as follows:

“Surely, Allah will send for this ummah at the advent of every one hundred years a person (or persons) who will renovate its religion for it.”

One of the narrators of this hadith is slightly doubtful about whether this hadith is reported by Sayyidna Abu Huraira as a saying of the Holy Prophet (Sallallaho Alaihi Wassallam) or as his own saying, though he affirms it as a saying of the Holy Prophet (Sallallaho Alaihi Wassallam) “to the best of his knowledge”. But even if it is held to be a saying of Abu Hurairah himself, he could not have predicted this happening with such certainty unless he had learnt it from the Holy Prophet (Sallallaho Alaihi Wassallam). For this reason the scholars of hadith have taken it as an authentic hadith.

The act of “renovation of the religion” mentioned in this hadith has been referred to by the word Tajdeed. It means the restoration of the original beliefs and practices after their being changed, distorted or forgotten. The hadith indicates to the fact that some circles from within the Ummah may forget the original teachings of the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah, and some foreign elements may creep into the original beliefs and practices. But the distorted version of Shari’ah, based on such foreign elements will not achieve the universal acceptance among the Muslims, and even if it succeeds in attracting a large number of people, Allah will send a person or a number of persons who will correct the error, restore the original beliefs and practices and explain the true intent of Shari’ah. This act of renovation is called Tajdeed, and those who carry out this remarkable work are named as Mujaddid (renovator).

It is mentioned in the hadith that such people normally apppear at the advent of a new century. The Arabic word used for the time of their appearance may also admit the possibility of their appearance at the end of a century, but the first meaning seems to be more probable in the context of the hadith. The word advent does not necessarily mean that hey appear in the very first year of a new century. No such definite time has been given in the hadith. They can appear within the first or second decade of a century. The construction of the hadith has two possibilities with regard to the number of the renovators. There may be only one person who undertakes the task at the beginning of a century, and there may be more than one person whose efforts, as combined together, may be termed as the efforts of tajdeed. They may work in different geographical divisions without having a formal relation between them or, possibly, without knowing each other. Still the work carried out by them can be termed as Tajdeed.

In order to avoid some dangerous misconceptions, the following points must always be kept in mind in relation to the term Mujaddid:

1. Mujaddid is not a formal designation like prophet (Sallallaho Alaihi Wassallam) or messenger. There is no particular authority in this world who declares him as a mujaddid. It is only through his work that he is recognized as such. This recognition also is not as certain as the recognition of a prophet. Therefore, the opinions may differ about his being a mujaddid.

2. A true mujaddid does not claim to be a mujaddid with certainty, nor does he invite others to believe in him as such.

3. Even if the majority of the Muslims is of the opinion that a particular person is a mujaddid, there is no religious obligation on the others to believe in him as a mujaddid. In other words, the recognition of a mujaddid is not a part of the necessary religious beliefs.

4. A mujaddid does not receive any authentic revelation from Allah like a prophet, nor does he make any such claim. He does not bring any new teachings regarding the religion. Rather, he tries to revive the original teachings of the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah.

5. It is not necessary that a mujaddid knows himself to be a mujaddid, let alone laying any claim to this effect.

6. A mujaddid is not infallible in his sayings and acts like a prophet (Sallallaho Alaihi Wassallam). His sayings and acts normally conform to the Islamic teachings, but they are not treated like the sayings and acts of a prophet (Sallallaho Alaihi Wassallam).

Keeping these points in view, one can easily understand that a mujaddid is always identified through his work. Normally the scholars of Shari’ah recognize him but their recognition cannot be held as certain and definite as the recognition of a prophet (Sallallaho Alaihi Wassallam). There may be difference of opinion in this matter, and in fact, there has been difference of opinion about the identification of mujaddids in different centuries.

In fact, the hadith quoted above, while foretelling the appearance of mujaddids in every century, does not intend to make it compulsory to recognize such mujaddids. It is, rather, a consolation for the Muslims of the coming generations that, despite all the distortions or innovations which may creep into the Muslim society, the ummah shall not be deprived of the pious persons who shall never be influenced by such distortions, and shall follow the original teachings of the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah and invite the people to this respect. The Muslims of the coming generations are, therefore, directed by this hadith to follow only those persons who dwell upon the original teachings of the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah and refuse to follow the un-Islamic customs, beliefs and practices which have not been derived from these original holy resources.

Allama Shamsul Haq’s commentary on hadith of Mujaddid

Regarding the hadith mentioned in Sunan Abi Dawud, “on the authority of the Prophet of Allah, peace be upon him, he said, “Allah ta’ala will raise for this Ummah at the head of every century who will revive for it it’s religion” ‘Allama Shamsul Haq al-Adhim Abadi says in his commentary on Sunan Abi Dawud, “(it’s religion) meaning explicate the Sunnah from the Bida’, spread knowledge, assist scholars, break the people of innovation and rebuke them. They (the scholars) say that the Mujaddid will only be one who is a scholar of the outward and the inward knowledge, as Munawi says in Fathul Qadir Sharh Jami’ as-Saghir. ‘Allama Shamsul Haq continues, “indeed you know from what has preceded that what is intended of revival is the revival of what has been left of the actions that are in accordance with the Book and the Sunnah, the matters that result from them, and destroying what has appeared of the innovation.” The author if Majalis al-Abrar said, “the Mujaddid is known except through preponderant opinion of those who are contemporaries of the Mujaddid through his contextual conditions and his benefiting others with his knowledge. Then the Mujaddid has to be one who has knowledge of the outward and the inward sciences, eliminating innovations, his knowledge is widespread in his times…”

After quoting Imam Suyuti’s poem on the possible Mujaddids, ‘Allama writes, “from those who are also considered amongst the Mujaddidin are, in the 1st century Ibn Shihab Zuhri, Qasim bin Muhammed, Salim bin Abdillah, Hasan al-Basri, Muhammed bin Sirin, Muhammed al-Baqir, in the 2nd century the Imam of Jarh wa Ta’dil Yahya bin Ma’in, in the 3rd century Imam Nasa’I, the 4th century al-Hakim[i] and Abdul Ghani bin Sa’id al-Misri, in the 9th century Imam Suyuti as he claimed, in the 10th century Shamus Din bin Shihab ud Din ar-Ramli[ii]. Muhibbi wrote in Khulasatul at-Athar fi ‘Ayan al-Qarn al-Hadi al-‘Ashar in his biographical note, “a group of the scholars have considered him (Ar-Ramli) to be the Mujaddid of the 10th century.”

From the Mujaddids of the 11th century is Ibrahim bin Hasan al-Kurdi al-Kawrani[iii] the last of the Muhaqqiqin the pillar of the Musnidin (Hadith Scholars) resident of Madina. In the 12th century Shaykh Salih bin Muhammed bin Nuh al-Fulani resident of Medina, and Sayyid Murtada al-Husayni az-Zabidi[iv]. In the 13th century, Our Shaykh (after three lines of titles of praise) Sayyid Nadhir Husayn, Qadi Husayn bin Muhammed al-Ansari al-Khazraji as-Sa’di al-Yamani[v] and ‘Allamah Siddiq al-Hasan Khan Al-Bhopali al-Qunuji[vi], Allah ta’ala cover him with His forgiveness and enter him into Jannah. This is what I believe in regards to these three scholars that they are from the Mujaddidin of this 13th century.”

Source: ‘Awn ul Ma’bud Sharh Sunan Abi Dawud li Shamsil Haq

Notes

[i] The Author of al-Mustadrik and al-Ulum al-Hadith. He kept the company of Abu Uthman al-Maghribi. Ibn ‘Asakir includes him amongst the Asha’irah.

[ii] Faqih of Misr, he writes “to delve into ‘Ilm al-Kalam such that it is possible to provide evidence and remove doubts is Fard Kifayah upon all of those who are Mukallifin (responsible). Everyone of them is addressed in learning ‘Ilm al-Kalam, however if some of them learn it, then the responsibility is removed from the rest, but if everyone of them refuses to learn it, each individual who has no excuse and knows it’s his responsibility and can learn it sins.” Ghayatul Bayan Sharh Zubad ibn Raslan

[iii] Shah Waliullah writes, “Shaykh Ibrahim al-Kurdi was from the signs of Allah ta’ala in al-Aslein (Aqidah and Usul al-Fiqh), Jurisprudence, Hadith, and Tasawwuf. He has treatise in every science which indicates his powerful explication. He has authored works which no one similar to, especially in hadith, such as ‘Al-Amam’ and al-Musalsalat, and a treatise regarding the authentication of Ahadith mentioned by Sufis. In his time, people from all over the world would turn towards him in Tasawwuf, al-Aslein, Shafi’ fiqh and Hadith. Questions would be posed to him from the east and west which he would answer and were made into many treatises.” Page 105 Ithaf an-Nabih fima Yahtaj ilayhi al-Muhadith wal Faqih

[iv] The Hanafi, Sufi Mutakallim, author of Sharh ul Ihya.  The student of Shah Wailullah and ‘Allama as-Saffarini al-Khalwati al-Hanbali.

[v] He says in his Ijazah, “I used to frequent him (Shaykh Sulayman al-Ahdal), and I read parts of the Six books and others, Hizb of Imam Nawawi and it’s commentary by ‘Allama al-Jurhazi, Hizb of Ibn ‘Arabi and others. He gave me authorization in specific works and in general”. He was a student of ‘Allama Shawkani.

[vi] An admirer of Ibn Arabi and Qasidah Burdah. Refer to livingislam.org/o/spsr_e.html and his work Abjadul Ulum..

Source.

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