A Letter to our Brothers and Sisters

shattered

Assalamu’alaikum everyone 🙂

Lately some things have started to really bother me regarding us Muslims, and I felt like sharing some of the thoughts running through my head with all of you. I really hope those of you who are reading this do so with an open mind inshaa’Allah.

By no means am I excluding myself from the stuff I’m going to mention. I’m equally guilty, and this serves as a reminder for myself first, and then all of you reading this. I’m sorry if it’s a little all over the place 😛 Inshaa’Allah I’ll try being as coherent as possible.

 

Clueless

In my personal opinion, it seems like the downfall of the Muslims as a nation is due to our utterly gross lack of knowledge in the Deen. Yes of course we still have some scholars that are upon the Sunnah, may Allah preserve and reward them, that have immense knowledge of Islam, but I’m talking about us- the lay Muslims. I’m not saying that all of us gotta head over to the Islamic universities and get a couple of degrees in Islamic jurisprudence, history etc, but I’m saying that it’s our responsibility to know how to actually be a real Muslim.

Being Muslim is way more than merely covering ourselves according to how most people labelled as Muslims around us do or according to our own understanding of the covering for both men and women, knowing how to pray and read Arabic (italicised cuz I mean just knowing how to pronounce the letters in the language but not knowing what it means or how the Qur’an should be read). Those of us who specialise in other fields of knowledge gotta know the basics.

OK the word “basics” often causes much confusion cuz most of us probably believe we got the “easy” teachings of the Deen down. The “basics” not only include the teachings and guidelines we use daily (including the evidences behind them from the Qur’an and Sunnah, authentic interpretations, exceptions etc), but also knowing at least the gist of what Allah’s says in His Book, the Prophetic statements, stories from the Qur’an and Sunnah and of our righteous predecessors (the famous leaders, scholars etc), history and this list goes on forever!

It sounds overwhelming doesn’t it? But learning’s a life long journey right 🙂

Quite frankly I argue that every Muslim ought to strive to know everything there is about our way of life, except perhaps the technical issues that only the scholars who are qualified to do (like methodologies used in deriving the laws, coming up with interpretations of the Qur’anic ayaat and statements of the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam). Of course that is not humanly possible given our limited capabilities and lifetimes, but it should be our goal and the end we’re constantly trying to reach.

I feel that a lack of knowledge of the Deen can have the following consequences:

-little interest in learning and knowing more about Islam

-little eagerness in acts of worship

-no sense of Muslim identity, no pride in being part of the nation of Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam)

-shame/fear of being identified as Muslim due to various events/propaganda

-trivial disagreements and arguments between the lay Muslims

-blind loyalty to certain people

 

I Don’t Wanna Hear It

In this post it doesn’t seem feasible to address each of the above issues (seeing the length of this post is probably intimidating enough!) but I’d really like to talk about the last 2 points…it’s a major problem we have now.

A lot of the time we get into trivial disagreements with each other, that can escalate into arguments, thus creating hatred between brothers and sisters in Islam. I stress the word “trivial” as we know that it is OK to have some valid disagreements among the scholars pertaining to certain laws in the deen.

But it’s not OK to have stupid fights where each side is constantly trying to prove their point based on the limited information they had gathered, which sometimes could have been misinterpreted. It would be good if the parties could involve a student of knowledge, or someone who has studied in depth and has a clear understanding of the rulings in the deen, who can resolve this sort of issue.

Another reason why rifts are created in the Ummah is because some people just don’t wanna hear the advice or jump to conclusions. Sometimes a brother or a sister may have learnt that certain things are harmful or not permissible in the deen, and when he/she tries to share them with those around so as to help them get out of the fitnah, they are ignored/accused of lying, slandering or backbiting/belittled etc. This is what really hurts. Just because we may not be aware of certain guidelines in the deen doesn’t mean they don’t exist– we don’t know everything. The least we can do is give the person the benefit of the doubt and find out for ourselves if what he/she is saying is the truth or not, no matter how outrageous it may seem.

 

“…It is only those who have knowledge among His slaves that fear Allâh…”

SurahFaatir 35:28

 

“Allah will exalt in degree those of you who believe, and those who have been granted knowledge”

Surah al-Mujaadilah 58:11

 

Once we have done the research and consulted teachers and scholars if the resources we have were insufficient, the truth would be evident. If the person who was advising you is clearly wrong, it’s time to turn the tables as it’s now our responsibility to explain the truth gently.  However, if we were in the wrong, then Alhamdulillah that guidance came our way, even if it was in an unpleasant way. Most of the time such “advice-giving-and-receiving” turns sour when arrogance gets in the way.

 

Abdullah ibn Mas’ud reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “No one who has the weight of a seed of arrogance in his heart will enter Paradise.” Someone said, “But a man loves to have beautiful clothes and shoes.” The Prophet said, “Verily, Allah is beautiful and He loves beauty. Arrogance means rejecting the truth and looking down on people.”

Source: Sahih Muslim 91

 

Blind Loyalty

This one’s a real bummer. 

Some brothers and sisters refuse to listen to sincere naseehah if their sheikh or their ustadh or their imam says and believes something contradictory. Dude, what did Allah (subhana huwa ta’ala) say, then what did the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) say, then what did the sahabah (radiyallahu anhum) say and then what did the taabi’een (rahimahumullah) say? After all this, then we can see if our current day sources of info  match up. Some of us have so much blind faith in our teachers that we refuse to even check if the info others are sharing is even in accordance with the Qur’an and Sunnah– the two sources of guidance that have been given to us and preserved till this day, unchanged for over 1400 years.

 

O you who believe! obey Allah and obey the Messenger [Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam)], and (conditionally) those of you (Muslims) who are in authority. (And) if you differ in anything amongst yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger, if you believe in Allah and in the Last Day. That is better and more suitable for final determination.

Surah An-Nisa’ Ayah 59

 

No matter who we listen to or learn from, we have to remain vigilant and try as much as possible to verify and ensure that what we’re learning is authentic. I’m not saying constantly doubt and suspect our scholars and teachers, I’m saying we’re all fallible. Of course we should trust the scholars and teachers who are known to be upon the Qur’an and Sunnah, but there’s absolutely no harm in double-checking with them the authenticity of the material they are teaching. Actually, a true student of knowledge expects you to ask him for evidence and not follow blindly!

 

(The righteous people of cave said) “These our people have taken for worship gods other than Him (Allah): why do they not bring forward an authority clear (and convincing) for what they do? And who is more in the wrong than he who fabricates falsehood against Allah (God)?”

Surah Al-Kahf Ayah 15

 

Division of the Ummah

The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said in a famous hadith that the Muslims will become divided into 73 sects, all in Hell except 1…

It was narrated from Mu’aawiyah ibn Abi Sufyaan (radiyallahu anhu) that he said: The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) stood among us and said: “Those who came before you of the people of the Book split into seventy-two sects, and this ummah will split into seventy-three: seventy-two in Hell and one in Paradise, and that is the jamaa’ah (main body of Muslims).”

Narrated by Abu Dawood (4597) and others; classed as saheeh by al-Haakim (1/128)

He (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) also warns us that those of us who will come after him will see many differences among the Muslims come up, and ordered us to hang on to his sunnah…

Al-Irbad ibn Sariya reported: One day the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, stood up among us and he admonished us so eloquently that it moved our hearts and made tears come from our eyes. It was said, “O Messenger of Allah, you have given us a farewell sermon, so enjoin a covenant upon us.” The Prophet said, “You must fear Allah, listen to and obey your leaders even if an Abyssinian slave is put in charge over you. Whoever lives among you will see many differences, so beware of newly invented matters for they are misguidance. Whoever sees them must adhere to my tradition and the tradition of the upright, guided successors. Bite onto it with your back teeth.”

Source: Sahih Sunan At-Tirmidhi 2676

This Ain’t Backbiting

It is a bit worrying as lay Muslims as we are unsure which teacher/speaker is truly sticking to the Qur’an and Sunnah since we are not grounded in knowledge of the Deen. Due to this fact, some of the students of knowledge and scholars have come out and publicly advised the lay Muslims to refrain from listening to certain speakers. I’ve mentioned in our earlier post MS FAT vs The Sufis that the scholars don’t just jump the gun and “defame” these speakers, but they initially try to speak to them privately and advise them to only preach authentic teachings. If they refuse to return to the Qur’an and Sunnah, they have no choice but to inform the masses for the sake of the lay Muslims who could otherwise have been unconsciously misguided.

Dumb people like myself who barely know anything about the deen only convey what the scholars and students of knowledge have said. We’ve got no right to express our own views on these issues- we’re not qualified. So far people have reacted saying that we’re following what the scholars, students of knowledge and teachers upon the sunnah say blindly or that we’re backbiting/slandering.

In Imam Nawawi’s Riyadhus-Saliheen, chapter 256, he mentions 6 exceptions to backbiting…

1. It is permissible for an oppressed person to speak before the judge or someone in a similar position of authority to help him or her establish his or her rights by telling him `so-and-so wronged me and has done such and such to me’ etc.

2. It is permissible to seek somebody’s assistance in forbidding evil and helping someone change his or her immoral conduct. One can say to the person who can offer such assistance, `so-and-so does such and such evil deeds. Can you exhort him?’ etc. This is permissible as long as one intends to forbid evil. If, however, one intends something else apart from this, then this act becomes unlawful.

3. One who seeks legal verdict on a certain matter may point out the defaults of another person or relate something else. One in this case can say to the Mufti (religious scholar who issues verdicts): “My father or brother (for example) treated me unjustly. Can I get my right established?” etc. This is permissible to say only if need be, but it is better to say `What do you think of someone who did such and such?’ This does not mean, however, that naming the person in question is not permissible, Hadith No. 1535 makes this point clear.

4. One who criticizes those who openly commit acts of disobedience, such as drinking wine, gambling, engaging in immoral habits, fornication, hypocrisy, and making mischief.

5. It is permissible to call into question the narrators of Hadith, and witnesses in the court when the need arises. It is also permissible to mention the bad qualities of somebody for marriage purposes in case an advice is sought. Also, if one has noticed that a “seeker of knowledge’‘ frequently goes to the gatherings of an innovator in religion and one fears that this “seeker of knowledge” may be affected by this so-called scholar, then he must in this case give counsel to the “seeker of knowledge” by telling him about the “innovator,” etc.

6. It is permissible to use names such as “Al-a`mash” which means `the blear-eyed’ to talk about people who are known by such names for the sake of identification and not for disparaging people and underestimating them. To identify them without resorting to such names is however better.

 

It’s thus a trust upon and the responsibility of the scholars and students of knowledge to highlight any such deviance to us.

I really hope that as brothers and sisters in Islam we’d be able to listen to each other’s advice and constantly encourage each other towards the good and pull each other away from the bad.

 

“Let there arise out of you a group of people inviting to all that is good (Islam), enjoining Al-Ma‘roof (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do) and forbidding Al-Munkar (polytheism and disbelief and all that Islam has forbidden). And it is they who are the successful”

Surah Al-Imraan 3:104

 

Please Let Us Know

If any of you guys find something that we have said that contradicts the Qur’an and Sunnah, please please do not hesitate to alert us immediately, either by leaving us a comment on the blog, through twitter or PM-ing us via YouTube. We actually expect you guys to correct us if we make a mistake 😛 

I’m really sorry  if I have been unable to share the things we’ve learnt in a gentle, appropriate and effective way. Please overlook our shortcomings, we’re still learning how to give da’wah properly 😀

 

Jazakumullah Khayran for patiently reading through this long post 🙂

-A.

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