Laying The Groundwork For Revival and Reform: The Reconstruction of Islamic Thought In Light Of The Objectives Of The Meccan Revelation
Imam Shatibi (r) understood the Meccan phase of revelation to be a formative stage in the history of Islam rather than an initial and incomplete stage of revelation. The Meccan phase of revelation is a foundational in which the transmission of fundamentals occurred. Imam Shatibi (r) holds that the “the higher aims and purposes of the Shar’iah were laid in the Meccan revelation. The Madinan period served to compliment the Meccan period by elaborating what is implicit in the Meccan period, actualizing the intents of the Meccan revelation.
If we consider the Meccan phase of the Prophetic Seerah in light of the understanding of Imam Shatibi (r) then we are in a position to comprehend the methodology of education and training (taleem wa tarbiyyah) of the Companions (r). The Prophetic Seerah, which coincides with the period of Meccan revelation affords us a model for reform and revival (islah wa tajdid) today by teaching us in the words of Shaikh Rashid Rida (r) that the Qur’an is a Book of practical training as well as knowledge and learning. Upon close examination we find that during this early and foundational phase of Islamic history the Prophet (saw) focused essentially on communicating to the Companions (r) two faces of revelation:
1.) The words and meanings of the Qur’an and the specific occasions and objectives the Qur’an addressed as pertaining to belief or action.
2.) Translating the Qur’an into a living model
In the words of Aisha (r) the Prophet (saw) was a walking Qur’an in other word he incarnated the aims and objective of the Qur’an in action and character. As a living model of the Qur’an, the Prophet (saw) brought to realization the universal principles and aims as revealed in the Meccan revelation. Education (taleem wa tarbiyyah) in this early phase aimed at grooming the individual Muslim to actualize the aims of the Shar’iah this is the what it means to properly understand and implement the Qur’anic term: vicegeneret khalifa). Educational activity in the Meccan phase was effective for a number of reasons:
a.) Because it was a systematic gradual contemplative study of the Qur’an focused on understanding the Qur’an’s demand in belief and action.
b.) The Companions understood the occasions upon which the Qur’an was revealed so they comprehended the wisdom undergirding legislation.
c.) Learning was intricately connected with a practical translation of knowledge into life.
Revival and reform efforts if they are to be successful must imbibe the aims of the Shar’iah following the educational system grounded in the framework laid out in the Meccan revelation. Here we would do well to tread the path to reform and revival by firstly abiding by two principles found in Imam Bukhari’s (r) Sahih:
1.)Knowledge precedes speech and action
2.)Iman is speech and action.
And secondly, imitating the framework laid out in the Meccan revelation.