How tradition overshadowed revelation

Emergence of political Islam

In the relationship of revelation to tradition, revelation holds primacy. Yet over time tradition appears to have ‘eclipsed’ revelation to the point that following tradition became as urgent as following revelation, if not more so.

Following tradition would not be a problem as long as tradition reflected revelation. It would become an issue, however, where tradition departs from revelation, as with the punishments for apostasy and adultery. The entry of both into the sharia was enabled by the view that tradition is able to  abrogate revelation.

Both punishments reflect following tradition in preference to revelation. Yet the tradition followed was not that of the prophet. The prophet never punished anyone for apostasy. The punishment for apostasy was adopted subsequently, during the “wars of apostasy,” and was due to political reasons, where apostasy became conflated with treason.

In this way, the sharia acquired a political character, where the threat of punishing apostates provided the basis for enforcing “unity.”

[Disclaimer: Readers are advised to check the veracity of the statements made in this post for themselves. If any reader finds an error in this post, kindly inform me].

Author: Abdul Karim Abdullah

Writer and editor

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