It's always disheartening to see Muslims argue about petty issues over which the scholars don't even bother to argue. How often have debates taken place online where certain individuals are attempting to prove their point that one shouldn't follow a madhhab, though every person of knowledge who's ever lived, past or present, has asserted that blind following of a madhhab is required for some, and not required for others?
What's more disheartening is that there are people of lesser knowledge - not that the people who engage in these debates are qualified to do so in the first place - who witness these debates, either online or in person, and make this their primary concern. One of the primary mistakes of those with lesser knowledge is that they busy themselves with issues of the religion for which they aren't prepared. Thus, you'll find they can debate with someone about the birthday of the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam), but if you ask them about fundamental principles of aqida, they simply don't know what to believe.
Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali said, "We have been put to trial by a group of ignoramuses amongst the people who believe that some modern-day individuals that are prolific in speech are more knowledgeable than those who came before them. Among them is he who thinks that a certain individual is more knowledgeable than everyone that came in the past, including the Companions and those that succeeded them, due to the large amount of his clarifications and statements." He went on to say: "Many of the latter-day people have been affected by this, and so they feel that whoever has a great amount of speech, debates and arguments on issues of the Religion, is more knowledgeable than someone who isn't like this!
"So it is an obligation to believe that not everyone who excels in his display of speech and words on knowledge is more knowledgeable than one who is not like this" (Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali, Bayaan Fadlu 'Ilm-is-Salaf 'alaa 'Ilm-il-Khalaf, pp 38-40).
One might be hard-pressed to find a scholar who endorses this method of debating with each other about advanced issues of the religion, disregarding the call to tawhid. One of the signs of our misguidance is the very fact that we abandon the advice of our elder scholars.
Ibn Masud said, "The people will not cease to be on good so long as they take knowledge from their elders, and from their trustworthy ones and scholars. So when they take knowledge from their youth and their evil ones, they will be ruined" (Al-Khatib Al-Baghdadi, Mukhtasar Naseehatu Ahlil-Hadeeth, p. 93).
From another perspective, any Muslim would find it unusual to engage in an extensive debate about the niqab issue and think that this is beneficial for da'wah. A Muslim can spend hours attempting to explain to a non-Muslim why Islam is not a religion of oppression, terrorism, or whatever else has been falsely attributed to it. But, if a non-Muslim doesn't understand the central message of the religion - singling out Allah (Ta'ala) for worship - then said non-Muslim will never understand anything about Islam.
The mentality of the Muslim is no different. If they don't understand that all the prophets and messengers were sent with one mission - to clarify to people that Allah (Ta'ala) is alone worthy of worship - or that the guidance of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) is the last hope for an otherwise misguided world to save themselves from a horrible end, then they'll never follow the Sunnah.
Also, people are inclined to learn what they want to know, not what they have to know. If they are not taught the importance of tawhid over usul at-tafsir, or the importance of the understanding of the Companions over moonsighting issues, they'll lean towards learning about the hottest topic, or reading books with the prettiest covers, or attending lectures with the catchiest titles. As a result, those charged with the duty to convey Islam to others will try to attract people to their halaqas at all costs, even if it means teaching them confusion - by busying people with issues of the religion about which they aren't prepared to learn.
Another negative effect of such a mentality is that a person may learn things about which they aren't even required to learn. A person who doesn't know his Lord - which is a requirement - has no reason to busy himself with comparative fiqh. One will be asked about who his Lord is, but they won't necessarily be asked why they didn't learn all the different opinions of the four madhhabs about Zakat.
An individual has to be taught 1) what branches constitute required knowledge 2) the benefits of the required knowledge (because there are hadiths that outline the benefits of tawhid, in addition to its requirement) 3) the required knowledge itself.
The greatest and highest requirement of the religion is the relationship of the servant with Allah (Ta'ala); that He is nothing like His creation and that He has complete control over His creation; that He has the Most Beautiful Names, and that faith and fiqh are incomplete without the knowledge of these principles.
Allaahu Ta'ala 'Alam
Asalaam Aleikum Warahmatullah Wabarakatu,
Very nicely written brother Hassan. A few comments/questions.
1) Concerning the issue of oration vs. true knowledge: The classic story of Odysseus vs. Ajax the Great in the winning of the garments of Achilles is one of the greatest examples of this.
According to the story, following the death of Achilles, Achilles's mother decided to give the greatest warrior his armor. Ajax was no doubt the greatest warrior that there was, but Odseeus argued so well that Achilles's mother was convinced that Odsseues was the greatest warrrior and awarded the armor to him.
2) Concerning what we should learn. My question is concerning the teaching of just tawhid:
a) Shouldn't this not be used as blanketed statement, but rather be given as an advice to specific people and specific situations. For instance:
1) You have some people who do no have the basic intelectual understanding of the oneness of God. i.e) Some who believe Allah is everywhere, others who believe God is inside everything (every tree, rock), others who beleieve that Allah is not all-knowing, etc.
These people do indeed require the basic foundations of Tawheed. You can't really teach the anything else until they have this down.
2) Then you have the large majority of Muslims that have the intellectual understanding of oneness but do not apply it in their lives. They have grown up and understanding clearly the oneness of Allah, they went to Islamic school, grew up in Muslim families but they don't apply it in their lives.
In almost all cases you can take the most nonpracticing of Muslims, during a party or something, If you insult Allah to his face he would punch you out. He understand what is haraam and halaal for instance, but chooses by himself how to acton that.
In this case what is REALLY needed is teaching them the practical application of Tawheed. Meaning showing him or her the signs of Alllah, reminding him of how Allah never gives up on his servant, teaching him that whenever he is need of help he shoudl call upon Allah, etc. They need proving and building their belief or closeness to Allah through the signs given to them everyday and the blessings. These people don't need an intellectual fiqh class on what is major and minor shirk and this and that. They need to be inspired. To cry at the stories of heaven and hell (by Islam Elfayoumi if you like), to hear basic stories of Prophet Muhammed peace be upon him and the companions, radia Allahu Anhum.
Amr Khaled had such a profound affect on the Muslim world, how? He told them stories of Rasullah peace be upon him, of the companions, of the prophets, etc,. Things that a child or a simple farmer could comprehend. Yet it had a schocking effect on the Muslim community who were being entirely unaffacted by the scholarly lectures given at every khutbah and lecture. They undertood the onesnes off Allah, but these little stories showed them how the real examples of the followers of Allah applied their eman through everyday hardships, toils, tribulations, famiily life, etc.
So basically I am saying you should not blanketdly use the word tawhid because it needs to be applied differently to different types of people.
The qu'ran says in Sura 16:125:
"Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious:for thy Lord knoweth best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance."
May Allah forgive me for not being able to express clearly by typing. I love you bro.
Here are my comments/observation to the above article:
I think a sweet talker is just that...people like to hear (or rather prefer) someone who has a command of language and has refined oratory skills...this is like 80% of what would resonate with the people in a public setting...this is extremely important in a country like USA where the younger Muslim Americans want someone who can communicate to them in their lingo..even though (in some cases) the content may be lacking or outright wrong.
So you cant expect people to not pay attention to some newbie/young sheikh who mesmerizes the crowd in his halaqa even though it is low in content...However, it will be unfortunate to have someone with oratory skill disseminate less than true information and authentic knowledge.
Sometimes we have good scholars but they cant communicate well....and then we have half baked student of knowledge who can weave pictures with their words....I think the best-combo would be that all the learned sheikhs have atleast one student (or hawari) who has excellent speaking and communicating skills...this way the audience get authentic knowledge that is pleasing to the ear.
But you are right on the money when you say that muslims (of today) dwell on trivial issues, yet they miss the big picture....when it comes to rat holing a topic to the nth degree, we all become imams/sheiks/allamas...yet no one pauses and steps back to see that if this discussion/argument/halaqa has any tangible benefits in the long run.
See, to detach oneself or be impassionate to non-important issues is very difficult for human beings...this requires maturity, patience, and forbearance....we tend to make a huge deal about the most tertiary issues when it comes to religion.
I am also of the opinion (and I agree with you) that the main purpose of ANY-halaqa should be centered to establish connection to Allah and RasulAllah (sallallahualehewasallam), regardless of what topic is being discussed...if the halaqas starts to tangent away from this main/core theme, then its like a group of people paddling in an ocean where there is no horizon to be seen and they are completely enveloped in darkness, and no matter where they head, they will be lost....similar to the experience of bani-Israel when they wandered for 40 years in desert.
And may Allah bless Br. Amr Khaled...he is doing a great job in reviving the stories from the Seerah of RasulAllah (sallallahualehewasallam), and that of the companions, insha'Allah....By the way, I have not heard Amr Khaled (as I am an illiterate when it comes to Arabic)...I am just relating based on what br. Rami said...and that is sufficient for me.
Ma'Assalaamaon November 18, 2006 1:18 PM
MashaAllah Hassan, this piece has about the best of use language I've seen from you. A major step up in your writing.
And Rami, you're right that what many Muslims initially need to hear is something that will "sway" their hearts, but that is just a means to the end of learning the principles of the Oneness of Allaah.
Assalamu-Alaikum Wa Rahmatallah,
Indeed you have listed many disheartening things...
but it is heartening that you have delievered this article
one that stresses where priorities and requirements lie
irfyon November 19, 2006 1:45 AM
1) Blank is the title of the article or did you leave the title empty by accident and the blog inserted the title Blank?
2) I feel stuck in a rut. The issues that are hot in the ummah today (niqab, moon sighting etc) are debated endlessly but the fundamentals of aqeedah are not discussed at all. It is easier to give dawah when people are interested than when people are not so you're stuck. If you don't attract people with catchy titles and hot topics then they don't come and if you do, you feel like you are sacrificing the more important things for lesser things. I guess we are in a similar situation that the Messenger of Allah was in when he was giving dawah in Makkah. People didn't want to hear about tawheed then either but he didn't give up. Nooh, Ibraheem etc Alihimassalm never gave up, we can't either.on November 20, 2006 11:29 AM
I typed in "Blank" as the title, only because I couldn't think of one. Then I thought, "Might as well leave it."
Also, without aqida, emaan is incomplete. When emaan is incomplete, there is little motivation or "swaying the hearts" for the believer, because emaan is the believer's only motivation.on November 20, 2006 5:17 PM
Br. Faisal...are you married yet? I know you were engaged or had Nikah this past summer...so whats the progress now my bro.
Make dua for me...I am feverishly looking for a wife now...seriously....and so are my folks back home.
Br. Gillette, your comments:
""Also, without aqida, emaan is incomplete. When emaan is incomplete, there is little motivation or "swaying the hearts" for the believer, because emaan is the believer's only motivation.""
I agree with the first part of the statement...but I have to ponder on the 2nd half which suggests that lack of motivation in a believer has to do entirely with incomplete Emaan.
Another way to think about this is: Can there be a believer who is not motivated (to do good things) but has complete Emaan...is this a true statement? Whats the proof....I hope someone can relate on this, insha'Allah.
on November 20, 2006 7:57 PM
"He said, 'Inform me about Iman (faith).'
"He [sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam] replied, 'That you affirm your faith in Allah, in His angels, in His Books, in His Apostles, in the Day of Judgment, and you affirm your faith in the Divine Decree about good and evil.'"
To have high eemaan in these things is to be highly motivated to please Allah, The Exalted, and to have low eemaan in these things is to have little motivation to please Allah, The Exalted.on November 20, 2006 10:10 PM
BTW, actions are a part of eemaan. The Prophet (salllallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said, "Eemaan consists of more than seventy branches. The highest of them is to testify that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah. And the lowest of them is removing a harmful object from the road."
Also, al-Bayhaqi wrote a book listing what he concluded were the branches of eemaan, based on verses and hadiths. To the best of my memory, he included the pillars of eemaan (Allah, His Books, His messengers, His angels, the last day, and qadr and qadaa).
Allaahu Ta'ala 'Alam.on November 20, 2006 10:16 PM
I have had my nikah done. I will be bringing her back to the US next winter inshallah.
My duas are with you my brother, may Allah give you a wife who is the coolness of your eyes and the joy of your heart.on November 21, 2006 8:55 AM
Wow there wasnt anything in this article that I disagreed with or that I found even remotely controversial or insulting. You are losing your edge bro :).
But seriously, it was an awesome article. Definitely one I plan to fwd out to ppl.
On a related side-note, its amazing how condensed and straight-forward a basic text of aqidah like the Tahawiyyah is, and yet when you cover it in classes with a qualified teacher you get SO MUCH other amazing related information that isnt written in the text itself and that elucidates certain points within it. Shows how lucky we are to have our ulema and our not just being a nation of books, 'na mean?...