Deciding who to take religious knowledge from
By: Moulana Muhammad bin Haroon
In the fast developing world of today, a lot depends on “Making the Right Choice”
Making the incorrect choice is sometimes detrimental, depending on the venture at hand. Conversely, at times one can live with its consequences or even make up for the loss.
Deen is delicate
When it comes to the affairs of one’s deen (Religion) the margin for error is very fine. Therefore making the correct choice is absolutely essential.
Sayyiduna ‘Umar (radiyallahu ‘anhu) use to command the masses to accept knowledge only from reliable sources. (Fathul Mulhim, vol.1 pg.264)
This refers to:
Choosing the correct book,
Choosing the correct website,
Choosing the correct tutor or lecturer etc.
In essence it boils down to choosing the correct source of knowledge and information.
Just as we do when we consult in matters of worldly gain; we ensure that the consultant is adequately qualified.
A Screening Process
“Knowledge is indeed part of your religion” said the great Tabi’e, Imaam Muhammad ibn Sireen (rahimahullah). He further advised: “So be careful as to whom you accept your matters of deen from” (Muqaddimah Sahih Muslim)
This statement highlights the fact that not every person who claims to be an educator in deen is a legitimate one. Therefore not every “Islamic” radio station, booklet, speaker or webpage can be endorsed.
The need for a screening process is evident from the hadith in which Rasulullah sallallahu’alaihi wasallam said: “a time will arrive when not a single alim will remain; people will then resort to ignorant leaders who will pass rulings without proper knowledge, thereby deviating and causing others to be the same. (Sahih Bukhari)
Precaution of the Predecessors
Our pious predecessors were extremely selective when it came to choosing an educator.
Imam Malik (rahimahullah) says: “I saw (imam) Ayub Al-Sakhtiyani (rahimahullah) in Makkah on two separate occasions of Haj. During the third haj I saw him seated near the Zam Zam well, and each time he heard the name of Rasulullah he cried to the extent that I would take pity on him. Only after seeing such qualities in him did I accept Ahadith from him.” (Adabul Ikhtilaf, pg. 58)
The ustaadh (teacher) of Imam Malik, Imam Rabee’ah (rahimahullah) was seen crying in seclusion. When he was asked about the cause for him crying, he replied: “A catastrophe has befallen Islam, Ignorant people have been referred to in matters of Religion.” (ibid, pg. 53, jami’u bayanil ‘ilm, vol.2 pg. 201))
Ibn Sireen (rahimahullah) passed away in the year: 110 A.H, and Imam Rabee’ah (rahimahullah) in the year: 136 A.H, but the statement of each one of them is more applicable today than it was then.
Contamination and Confusion
The influx of Islamic literature and “religious speakers” has reached an unprecedented level locally and internationally. Undoubtedly, many of these are legitimate and reliable, but the existence of contaminated literature and incompatible lecturers is eminent. The honourable public is therefore strongly urged to be vigilant and to refer to their senior ‘Ulama and Madrasahs to first verify any source of information before accepting it; be it in the form of websites, booklets, journals or even lecturers. Imam Muslim (rahimahullah) – the author of the famous: “Sahih Muslim” says: “It is incumbent upon every capable person to refrain from accepting knowledge from unqualified, innovative and obscure sources.”
Note: Those who cannot differentiate should abstain or refer to those who can.
Failure to do so will lead to confusion in deen. May Allah Ta’ala keep us all on the correct path. Ameen.