We promised in the previous lesson to look at the textual evidence in support of the edict of permissibility of worshipping according to any Islamic school. These traditions will not prove the edict directly but what you will see from these traditions will support the three core principles at the heart of this matter which we laid out previously. To recap quickly these are:
1. The criteria for the worship is evidence and not being on the truth.
2. The evidence must be of knowledgeable benefit and provide certainty.
3. It is not required that this generic knowledge conforms to reality.
Now, let’s see whether or not the Hadith literature from both the Sunni and Shi’i sources support these three principles. However before we do so it would be prudent to mention the methodology I have adopted, and that is I have taken these traditions from books unanimously considered to be reliable. Obviously this doesn’t mean that every single scholar holds this view towards these books but it’s fair to say that as a source these books are respectably considered to be reliable, irrespective of the chain of narrators being reliable or not. Someone might object to this and say if the chain of narrators isn’t sound then how can these traditions be relied upon? I touched on this in the previous lesson that my evidence isn’t solely limited to the traditions but rather it is based on the validity of reason within a religious epistemic framework, and these traditions help complement and strengthen the principles extracted and conclusions reached. Please don’t tell me tomorrow that the chain of narrators in these traditions mentioned are weak or problematic as I have made myself clear in this respect that unlike my teacher Syed Khoie I am focusing on the reliability of the book and not the individual tradition.
Our first example is from Tafsīr al-Ayyāshi, and as you might know, with the exception of a handful of traditions all the traditions present in this book are mursal even though there maybe similar traditions found elsewhere with a full chain of narrators. I am speaking strictly about this tradition and this book is considered to be a reliable book. This tradition can be found in the Chapter “The one who interprets the Qur’an with his own opinion”, from Imām Sādiq  who says:
من فسر القرآن برأيه فأصاب لم يؤجر
“The one who interprets the Qur’an according to his opinion and is correct (in its interpretation) will not be rewarded”.
Why is this? Why is it that if he is correct in his interpretation God won’t reward him for his efforts? That is because he interpreted the Qur’an with his own opinion and not with knowledge or any evidence to support himself. So can we see from here the criteria (for God’s acceptance) isn’t on being correct but rather the possession of sound proof and evidence. And this is one of the core principles that we had previously elucidated.
Our second tradition comes from the Imām through Abu Basīr :
من فسّر القرآن برأيه إن أصاب لم يؤجر وإن أخطأ فهو أبعد من السماء
“The one who interprets the Qur’an according to his opinion and is correct (in its interpretation) will not be rewarded, and if he is incorrect he is the furthest away from the Heavens (i.e. most distant from God).”
Once again we see the same idea where the Imam wishes to put the criteria and the yardstick as the possession of evidence and not merely being correct. If the most important thing was being correct then surely God would reward the person, not make him distant!
Without longing this discussion out the most apparent tradition in this subject can be found in Al-Khisāl of Shaykh Sadūq :
القضاة أربعة: قاض قضى بالحق وهو لا يعلم أنه حق فهو في النار، وقاض قضى بالباطل وهو لا يعلم أنه باطل فهو في النار، وقاض قضى بالباطل وهو يعلم أنه باطل فهو في النار، وقاض قضى بالحق وهو يعلم أنه حق فهو في الجنة
There are four types of judges:
1. A judge who judges correctly while he is not aware of its truth, and he will be in Hell
2. A judge who judges wrongly while he is not aware of its falsehood, and he will be in Hell
3. A judge who judges wrongly while he is aware of its falsehood, and he will be in Hell
4. A judge who judges correctly while he is aware of its truth, and he will be in Paradise
How bizarre! The judge who judges correctly, he judges in accordance to what is true but he does so unknowingly, will end up in Hell! Once again we see that the criteria isn’t on being correct. Did the judge have any evidence for his judgement? Did he base his decision on any knowledge? So then memorise this core principle well, that if a person is correct in his opinion but has no evidence for it, does not possess any knowledge nor does he have a sound methodology then he shall be in Hell and his being correct (or being on the truth) will come to no avail. These traditions uncover the three core principles that we have previously referred to, and bear in mind there are dozens of more traditions which speak of this. In our next episode we will look at the traditions from the reliable Sunni Hadith books.
1 – Mohammad b. Masūd al-Ayyāshi, Tafsīr al-Ayyāshi, v.1, p. 17
2 – ibid.
3 – Shaykh Sadūq, Al-Khisāl, p. 247
Sadiq Meghjee is a frequent contributor to Iqra Online and has been studying in the seminary of Qom for 6 years. Prior to entering the seminary he pursued an accounting qualification and worked in London. His field of interest is intellectual history.