by Dr. Mateen Khan (Trenton, New Jersey)
Normally, when we say history repeats itself, we intend at least a generation’s time. However, now with smart phones, tablets, and the Apple Watch our memories have diminished so far that even fruit flies are asking us, “You forgot already?” Attention and hate-mongers hold events to insult Muslims/ promote free speech, and Muslims readily comply with the desired violence leading to more hate-group sponsored events. Rinse, lather, repeat. Meanwhile, we desperately say with a muted voice, “Islam is a religion of moderation.” Today, this line is repeated almost as a mantra to remind ourselves of something that was lost. So what happened?
Islam is the Word of Allah and the Sunnah of His Prophet ﷺ. It was given to humanity through our beloved Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. He passed it down via instructions to his Companions and they, in turn, to their students and so on through generations of scholarship—a prophetic scholarship. Through them, we learned how to utilize the Qur’an and Sunnah in a way of moderation. Islam is the vehicle that takes us from one point to another. Today, we have the vehicle, but we abandoned the pilot. We have two groups of very different people making the same mistake of ignoring traditional Islamic scholarship.
1. The “Extremists” – By leaving prophetic scholarship, they apply ayahs and hadiths according to their own understanding. Their background and worldview has warped their Islam to an extreme. When confronted with prophetic scholarship, their only recourse is to say that the scholars and even some salaf had left the ways of the Sunnah!
2. The “Liberals” – By leaving prophetic scholarship, they essentially make the same argument as the first group, i.e., a return to the original sources. Their background and worldview warped their Islam to fit their context of good so they can leave aspects they consider bad. When confronted with prophetic scholarship, their only recourse is pretentious talk with such words as ‘patriarchal,’ ‘medieval,’ and ‘good for that time.’
Both are wrong and just as dangerous since the result of both paths will be a destruction of this deen. A twofold solution is and has been key to keeping moderation: humility and knowledge. Humility is to accept that the prior scholars knew more than you. Knowledge is to learn from them what Islam requires you to know. Both require labor: one internally and the other externally. The fool’s path and the Shaytan’s path is arrogance and ignorance, and this is, by far, the easier path. Our Prophet ﷺ said:
ألا سألوا إذ لم يعلموا فإنما شفاء العي السؤال
“Do they not ask when they do not know? For indeed the only remedy for ignorance is to ask.”
On this blog, we intend to continue presenting short, digestible articles ranging in topic from modern issues to traditional rulings. We ask Allah to make it a source of His Pleasure and Guidance.