Attention Teachers of Qur’an | Part 2: Don’t Pollute your Sanad!


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After explaining in the last post the restriction upon teachers regarding what they are allowed to teach, let us now examine some of the ways what the teacher transmits can be polluted unnecessarily.  Before we get into that, let’s make clear that these scenarios are problematic only when there is a clear contradiction between the theory and what was recited (this includes even those things which are in addition to the Qiraa’ah, and textually correct).

1.  Teaching from books or one’s mind (using logic)

islamic-booksTeaching from books is not a problem in and of itself, but there is potential for it to cause a bit of conflict.  But first, let’s discuss using logic.  Unlike deriving knowledge from books, using one’s mind to derive knowledge is problematic in all cases.  Remember, when it comes to Qur’an, there is no place for personal opinion or logic; it is not a type of knowledge that can be derived from one’s mind.

Many famous teachers fall into this trap, unfortunately and some will even go so far as to refute well-known and authentic rules of Tajweed using logic!  They say that because it doesn’t make sense, it must be rejected.  This is extremely dangerous and the student must be wary.

However, in the case when teachers use information from books in their classes, then it is not problematic as long as it was accompanied by the recitation to a trustworthy teacher and there are no clear contradictions/additions made to the Qiraa’ah.  If teachers just teach from the books and do not distinguish what they actually learned through the oral recitation with a reliable chain, they are in reality not upholding the sanad. They are not giving the sanad its rightful place.

Anyone can teach from books!  And since this is the case, then in their eyes what is the significance of the Sanad?

Teachers who mix in additional information from books and then issue Ijazaat may state with their tongues and think in their hearts that they believe in, respect and uphold the sanad, but they are not showing it with their actions. It is similar to when a person does shukr (gratitude) to Allah:  he must also show it with his actions!  A person cannot express gratitude with his tongue and then ingratitude with his actions.

For this very important reason, a student should be wary of individuals who specialize in doing research and derive most of their learning from books because this carries a huge risk of obtaining from this individual knowledge which was not transmitted via an authentic sanad, even if he/she claims that they have Ijazaat in the Qur’an.  The student will have no way of knowing what part of the knowledge was obtained through the recitation, and what was gained from books and individual research.  If the teacher is transparent and makes clear the sources of the information to his student, then there is essentially no conflict, but the student must then be extremely careful to separate the two sources of information when they go on to teach as well.

2.  Issuing Ijazaat when a student takes a class without having recited even a single word of the Qur’an

There are even teachers who give Ijazah to students for theory and rules of Tajweed alone without making clear that this Ijazah is specifically for that, and does not include the recitation.  Some will even issue a traditional Ijazah for this purpose also!  Others will teach the theory and then compel their students to teach what they learned in these classes even though the student may have recited with someone else something which was completely different (but also correct).

The reason teachers will give blind Ijazahs for theory in this fashion without hearing the recitation of the student is because they either do not know the conditions of issuing the Ijazah, or they rely on what the student has recited to another teacher previously, considering this sufficient.  This is done only when the student already has a proper Ijazah to begin with.  However, once again, the same risk is found here: the student will go on to teach that which was not orally transmitted via the recitation, and thus pollute their Sanad for the oral recitation with information that was derived from these classes.  Unless there is no contradiction and/or addition made to this student’s recitation and the student can keep track of what piece of knowledge was taken from which source, then there is no problem, but it is difficult to do.   Transparency in this fashion is the only way to preserve the integrity of the Qur’anic transmission.

3.  Reciting to a teacher in one way and learning the rules/theory from another teacher, and when there is a contradiction between the two, the student goes on to teach according to the rules/theory, and not what they recited

If a person recited to multiple teachers in a certain way, according to certain rules, and yet when they teach the recitation, they teach according to another set of rules they learned from classes in theory and rules of Tajweed, then this is another way the Sanad becomes polluted.  Keep in mind, this is only the case when there is a clear contradiction or addition present between the theory and the recitation.

When a contradiction of this nature occurs, what is recited takes precedence over what has been derived from books.   

Remember that reciting to multiple individuals is not a problem, and in fact, it is strongly encouraged, because this was the practice of the scholars before: that they would recite to many individuals, multiple Khatamaat (completions of the Qur’an).  However, they were most diligent in teaching only what they learned from their teachers and taught the best (they did Ikhtiyaar) of what they took from all of them.   The problem occurs only when there are contradictions, and in this case, it is upon the student to seek out the correct way based on what the majority of the reciters of the Qur’an in the world follow.  If in the end, the person never sees a contradiction/addition or is unaware of a mistake in his recitation, then he is not held accountable, and Allah knows best.

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