By: Dr Mohammad Akram Nadwi
People cannot reproduce the authority of God and His Messenger; therefore they should not claim it. They should exercise their best just judgement and show the best example so people may wish and choose to follow them. But their judgements and examples do not have and should not have the authority of the Qur’an and Sunnah.
No one would object to that statement. It is obvious. Nevertheless, in practice, people have presented their interpretations of Qur’an and Sunnah to the ummah as if those interpretations have the same standing as what they interpret. The result throughout Islamic history has been to convert differences between people and circumstances into divisions and sectarianism. In so doing, people consistently forget the repeated warnings in the Qur’an that only after knowledge comes to them do believers start to build differences among themselves. of the reason is pride in oneself or in one’s school or sect resulting in a blind Part loyalty to oneself or one’s school or sect with a corresponding incapacity to allow that another person or school or sect may also be right in some things. Over time, what begins as an individual failing becomes institutionalised, professionalised, and turned into a livelihood so that people dare not accept that they may be wrong and someone else right because they fear loss of livelihood and position.
If the special status of Qur’an and Sunnah is preserved in the heart and implemented in personal and social behaviours (especially, discussions and debates among the learned), the differences that naturally exist among people cannot become divisive or perpetuated. Rather, what happens is that people accommodate to each other and change or not change their understanding or position without any diminishment of respect for each other’s attachment to Qur’an and sunnah.