Today, Frank Parmir from Muslims for Progressive Values spoke to us and tried to explain Mohamad’s prophetic thought. Prophetic thought, or hadith, is a large part of the Muslim culture. It is an accumulation of stories compiled from oral reports from those that were present in society around the time of (but after the death of) the Prophet Muhammad. These hadith stories form the controversial basis of the Shariah models of "Islamic law." Just as some traditions that we think of as “Christian” traditions sometimes contradict what is written in the bible, some hadith traditions contain contradictions to the Quran itself, such as regarding the punishment for Zina in the hadith (stoning to death) contradicts the Quran.
The Arab tradition is to treat women as if they had little value. It was traditionally acceptable to kill unwanted daughters, or daughters that you believe had behaved in ways you considered to warrant shame from the community. It was an Arab custom to simply abandon women when they liked. Mohammad taught that fairness to women was fundamental to religious practice.
Mohammad was a poor orphan kid, but he was from an important tribe. When he got older, he believed he had received messages from God, but he found these messages disturbing because they contradicted the life he saw around him. He told the Arabs that there is only one God and that all of their idols were meaningless. This did not come as welcome news.
Mohammad left the Quran to the Arab people. He wrote beautifully of ethics and morals. The Muslim community has to sort through the hadith traditions to sort through and discover for themselves what is prophetic thought from ordinary thought.
Frank believes that humans have filters in their thought processes and that if people could shed those filters and see clearly, then the answers would be more plain. He thinks that true prophetic thought is what we could see if people could remove their greed, their fears and their petty concerns. But, as the saying goes; you see what you want to see and you hear what you want to hear.
For Frank and his Muslim community, the valid prophetic thoughts to be found in the hadiths are the ones that lead to the path of love. We are all a part of eternity, this moment is a part of eternity and this moment has no beginning and has no end. If you act through love, good things will come from that. If you can’t love, then act like you love and love will come. If you do not act with love, there will be pain. This is the filter by which Muslims can determine which hadith traditions are prophetic thought and which are not.