Khatam

Question

This is in reference to your answer to the question about Khatam. I agree with you that this is something new but I am unable to understand that why all the new things are not allowed. The word of the Holy Prophet (sws) about every addition clearly shows that if someone says that this is a must in Islam only then it could be considered some addition.

Agreeing to your point would definitely lead me to conclude that division of the Quranic text in thirty parts, the Friday and Eid congregations when no political authorities are leading as Imam, fixed number of the optional Raka'at of the prayers and congregational supplication after the Prayer are clear innovations. Those who invented them as well as those who perform them will go to hell.

Secondly, I think it is very important to clarify what Khatam is. It is but to recite few chapters of the Holy Qur'an before eating something and asking Allah's help and forgiveness. I do not see anything contradicting Islamic Shariah in this.


Answer

We need to define what an innovation in the religious really means. We introduce a religious innovation when we follow a certain practice which cannot be traced back to the Prophet (sws) through a reliable source. This has to be an independent practice having concrete form. We claim that it is a religious and rewarding act originating from the Holy Prophet (sws). The examples you have presented cannot all be considered an addition to the religion. Some of these practices, for example, dividing the Holy Qur'an into thirty parts, are not actually religious in nature. Muslims have a clear understanding that it has been done for the sake of convenience and they do not consider this to be a divinely ordained division. With the development and change of culture humans have adopted different things in their lives. For example, planting an air conditioner in a Mosque is something the Holy Prophet (sws) never did but we do not consider it an innovation in this sense. An act adopted for religious purposes must not be the part of religion. Other examples could include building a Madrassah for the education of the Holy Qur'an.

Friday prayer without imam is not addition but a solution for preservation of a very important Muslim worship ritual. It is a substitution for the original under certain conditions. When the leaders of the Ummah abandoned the Friday congregation, Islamic scholarship exercised Ijtihaad. They concluded that the Friday congregation could be offered in absence of the rulers. The scholars and Imams could take their position. One may think that in these circumstances one should offer Zuhr prayer instead of Friday congregation. They have the very right to suggest another alternative. Or can even consider it an improper way of offering a duty; but they cannot call it an innovation. We have some examples of this kind even in other religious practices. Thus, this Ijtihaad is based on the principle of tayammum. Just as Tayammum is not an innovation, but a substitute for wudu (ablution) in the absence of clean water, Friday congregation without political authorities leading them is a substitute for the original.

However, we believe that fixing the number of optional prayer is an innovation while offering the optional prayer is of course not. The Qur'an says:

Whoever does a pious deed of his own accord, God is indeed accepting, fully aware. (2:158)

The only thing that is objectionable here is to ascribe the act of fixing the number of Raka'aat to the Holy Prophet (sws). One cannot claim that the Holy Prophet (sws) instituted the prayer in that way. This is totally unfounded. What he did was to offer additional prayer and this he did just on the same principle of doing good of his own account. Same is the case with congregational supplication after the obligatory prayer. It is also undoubtedly an innovation. Khatam is totally a new thing, in all its aspects; it has a concrete unique form, has not been sanctioned by the Holy Prophet (sws), is based on some novel religious beliefs. It can not fall in the sphere of supererogatory acts. It is not merely praying, reciting the Qur'an and feeding others. All these things are no doubt exhorted upon in Islam. The concept of Kahtam and the form it assumes do not remain limited to those individual acts. It has its own independent identity and a complete philosophy. The difference between these ideal acts which comprise the khatam and the kahtam is just like the difference between the ritual prayer and personal supplications, benedictions, reciting the Qur'an and certain movements. It is the composite and uniform structure of the practices that gives them shape and an independent identity. In the case of the optional Raka'aat of Isha Prayer the only objectionable thing is fixing the number and holding it compulsory; but the khatam is entirely an innovation. It has never been performed in the present way by the Holy Prophet (sws). It is only in the recent centuries when the Muslims started making this arrangement for the benefit of their dead relations.

About the Author

Sajid Hameed


Sajid Hameed was born on October 10 1965 in Pakpattan. He did his MA in Urdu and another MA in Islamic Studies from the University of Punjab. He studied Arabic grammar, language and literature. He leant the holy Qur’an from Mr Muhammad Sabiq, a Deobandi scholar. He studied the Muwatta of Imam Malik, the celebrated hadith compilation and Nuzhah al-Fikr, the famous work on Hadith criticism from Hafiz Ata ur Rehman an erudite Hadith scholar. For advanced studies in religious disciplines he has remained a student of Javed Ahmad Ghamidi since 1987. He has deeply studied the Qur’an, Hadith, Arabic literature and other religious disciplines.