The debate developed from tackling major issues on Islamic jurisprudence into a semantic difference of whether Allah can imagine or not.
According to Al-Buhairi, the followers of the Prophet Muhammad are the ones who were born or converted to Islam after the demise of the Prophet.
“The followers (of the prophet) have no sanctity. They were men and we are men,” said Al-Buhairi referring to the need of scrutinising the hadith collections of Mohammad Al-Bukhari and Muslim Al-Hajjaj, Persian Islamic scholars living in the ninth century.
The former authored the hadith collection Sahih Al-Bukhari including 7257 sayings and acts of the Prophet Muhammad, whereas the latter authored the hadith collection Sahih Muslim containing 9200 acts and sayings of the Prophet.
Al-Buhairi called for examining the interpretations of other ‘men’. He also demanded from Islamic scholars to stop taking Islamic sources for granted because they sometimes contain discriminatory, violence-inciting, and illogical arguments.
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“They had opinions which we would never be able to imagine. This is what we inherited.
“All the bloodiness, killing, sectarianism, backwardness and extremism we are living have jurisprudential basis and not related to the manuscript,” Al-Buhairi explained.
Leaving all the above-mentioned arguments unanswered, Abdullah Rushi responded by accusing Al-Buhairi of misrepresenting Allah when he said that “Allah could imagine” in one of his appearances on television. “Allah doesn’t imagine,” said Rushi. “This is unacceptable because Allah doesn’t have an imagination but he knows everything.”
The Al-Azhar committee filed a case against Al-Buhairi for “calling the percepts of religion in question and inciting a communal strife among Muslims.”
As a comment on Al-Azhar’s proceedings against him, Al-Buhairi noted that Al-Azhar refused to call ISIS militant infidels (Kafer), claiming not to have the right to call Muslims infidels no matter what their sins were.
In response to Al-Buhairi’s statements, the Salafi Muhammad Hassan said: “Throughout history, those who fought against Allah and his messenger have never succeeded.”
The Egyptian hard-line Salafist Abu Ishaq Al-Huwaini described Al-Buhairi a year ago as an ignorant, who thinks “Christians are not infidels”.