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Nausheen
 
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Quote Nausheen Replybullet Topic: Scholars and scholarly knowledge
    Posted: 11 March 2005 at 8:51am

Topic:  Scholars and scholarly knowledge (1 of 2), Read 13 times 
Conf:  Islam: Basic Understanding
From:  NAUSHEEN
Date:  Monday, February 14, 2005 06:15 PM 

Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullah wa barkatuhu,

How do we know whether a particular scholar can be followed?

Who is qualified to teach others?

Insha allah this will benefit those who seek truth in sincerity.

Maa salaama,
Nausheen


Be not heedless of thy Lord
for even the blink of an eye,
Lest He directs His attention towards you,
and finds you unawares.

==================================================
 
Topic:  Scholars and scholarly knowledge (2 of 2), Read 14 times 
Conf:  Islam: Basic Understanding
From:  NAUSHEEN
Date:  Monday, February 14, 2005 06:38 PM 


Isnad (chain of transmission) a requirement for anyone who claims to be a scholar?

Answered by Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam, Darul Iftaa (Leicester, UK)


Question:
I have read one of your recent articles and I wanted to know what is the legal requirement for someone to be considered a knowledgeable scholar whom we can take knowledge from. Is Isnad one of the requirements and is there any evidence for this deduced from the sources? Also, I have noticed that Isnad is not usually mentioned by the scholars as a prerequisite for someone to be considered a Mujtahid. Can one therefore become a Mujtahid Mutlaq without Isnad - i.e. self taught?

Answer:
In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

There are two aspects to your question. The first is regarding the importance of the chain of transmission (Isnad/Sanad) in relating Islamic knowledge, and the second concerns the status of learning from a qualified teacher. I will attempt to shed some light, Insha Allah, on both of these topics in the light of the Qur’an, Sunna and the statements of classical scholars.

Isnad (chain of transmission)

Allah Almighty has honoured the Ummah of the best of creation, our master Muhammad (Allah bless him & give him peace) with many special characteristics that were not given to any other nation before.

From among these favours is the unrivalled and unique feature of Isnad in relating the various sciences of Islamic knowledge. Isnad was regarded by the early Muslims (salaf) as the first and primary condition in relating any aspect of Shariah even if it was merely relating one word.

With this, Allah Most High fulfilled his promise of preserving the Deen which includes the book of Allah, Sunna of the beloved of Allah and the various Islamic sciences that are indispensable in understanding the former two.

Allah Most High says:

“We have without doubt, sent down the Message; and we will assuredly guard it”. (Surah al-Hijr, V.9)

The message here refers to the book of Allah and also the Sunna of his blessed Messenger (Allah bless him & give him peace), for whatever the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) says is from Allah Almighty, for Allah Most High says:

“Nor does he (the Messenger of Allah) say (aught) of (his own) desire. It is no less than revelation (wahi) sent down to him”. (al-Najm, V. 3-4).

The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) explained both verbally and practically the contents of the book of Allah. The Qur’an is quite ambiguous and limited in stating the laws of Shariah, and the Messenger of Allah’s (Allah bless him & give him peace) duty was to explain these injunctions.

Allah Most High says to his Messenger (Allah bless him & give him peace):

“And We have sent down unto you the Message (Qur’an); that you may explain clearly to men what is sent for them”. (al-Nahl, V. 44).

So the promise of preserving the Deen is not restricted to the Qur’an, rather it encompasses the Sunna and also the Companion’s (Allah be pleased with them all) understanding of the Sunna and the understanding of those who took from them.

Isnad is a unique feature of the Messenger of Allah’s (Allah bless him & give him peace) Ummah. No other nation, religion or community can claim or boast to have such rigorous analysis of the various aspects of their faith.

Early Muslim scholars examined and analysed each and every statement that came to them, whether it was the statement of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace), his companions (Allah be pleased with them all) or anyone else. They studied the life and character of those who were part of the transmitting chain (isnad) in the strictest way possible.

Thus, the Ummah witnessed an amazing introduction of the ‘science of studying the reporters of Hadith’ (rijal al-Hadith) which was unprecedented and is unrivalled till today. The recording of the names, dates of birth, dates of demise, qualities and characteristics of thousands and thousands of people is something that only Muslims possess.

Books such as, Tahzib al-Kamal of al-Mizzi, Tahzib al-Tahzib of Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, Mizan al-I’tidal of Dhahabi and Lisan al-Mizan of Ibn Hajar are just some examples of this amazing phenomenon. There are also books that are dedicated to preserving the biographies of the Sahaba, such as Tabqat of Ibn Sa’d, al-Isti’ab of Ibn Abd al-Barr, Usd al-Ghaba of Ibn al-Athir and al-Isaba of Ibn Hajar, in which the biographies of approximately ten thousand companions (Allah be pleased with them all) have been covered.

Imam Abd Allah ibn al-Mubarak (Allah be pleased with him) said:

“Isnad is part of religion (deen), and if it was not for Isnad, one would have said whatever one desired. When it is said (to the one who speaks without an Isnad): “Who informed you? He remains silent and bewildered”. (Introduction to Sahih Muslim, 1/87, al-Jami’ li akhlaq al-rawi wa adab al-sami’ and others).

He (Abd Allah ibn al-Mubarak) also stated:

“The one who seeks matters of his deen without an Isnad is similar to the one who climbs to the roof without a ladder”.

Sufyan al-Thawri (Allah have mercy on him) states:

“Isnad is the weapon of a believer. When one does not possess a weapon, then with what will he combat?”

Sayyiduna Imam Shafi’i (Allah have mercy on him) says:

“The example of the one who seeks Hadith without an Isnad is of a person who gathers wood in the night. He carries a bundle of sticks not knowing that there is a snake in it”. (Meaning, he gathers and collects all types of narrations, the genuine and spurious, m).

Baqiyya ibn al-Walid (Allah have mercy on him) once related to Hammad ibn Zaid (Allah have mercy on him) certain narrations that were void of Isnad. So Hammad said: “If only they had wings”.

Imam Ibn Taymiyya (Allah have mercy on him) states:

“Isnad is a unique feature of this Ummah and Islam. Then from among the Muslims, it is a specialty of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama’ah”.

(The above excerpts recorded by Shaykh Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghudda (Allah have mercy on him) in his excellent work ‘al-Isnad min al-Din’ P. 18-20).

These and many other similar statements of the predecessors imply that the early Muslims held Isnad to be indispensable in order to acquire Knowledge. So much so, that in order to relate even one word in their books, they would mention a whole chain of transmission that covered three or four lines.

Isnad was not only mentioned in order to narrate Prophetic traditions, rather, it was related for every form of knowledge, such as the exegesis of the Qur’an, stories of the pious and worshippers, incidents of history, etc.

After the Prophetic traditions were gathered in the great compilations, such as Sahih al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim and others, and the compilations in various other sciences, it was not deemed necessary to relate every statement with a chain of transmission going back to its original authority. Rather, it was sufficient to have an Isnad or Sanad going back to the author. The Isnad of the author going back to the original authority would be mentioned in his book.

Till this very day, we have scholars from around the globe relating Prophetic traditions and other branches of Islamic knowledge with a chain that reaches all the way to the authors of the books.

The six major books of Hadith are generally taught with a Isnad that goes back to their authors, and from them to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace). Many scholars are seen to travel and make distant journeys in order to acquire Ijazah and a higher form of Isnad.

In terms of Isnad with regards to prophetic traditions, the scholars of the Indo/Pak are (perhaps) at the forefront. The science of Hadith is given special attention and almost every student that studies in the various Islamic institutions (Dar al-Ulooms) is blessed with a Isnad in each of the major books of Hadith. Even major Arab scholars are seen to travel to the Indo/Pak in order to acquire Ijazah and Isnad from the great Hadith masters.

In terms of other branches of knowledge, such as the science of Tajweed, Fiqh, etc, we see the Arab scholars at the forefront in relating and teaching the various books with Isnad. Major scholars in Syria and elsewhere have a chain in the recitation and memorization of the Qur’an that goes back to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) via the angel Jibril to Allah Almighty Himself.

The major books in Hanafi Fiqh (and other madhhabs) are taught with a Isnad/Sanad going back to their authors and to Sayyiduna Imam Abu Hanifa (Allah be pleased with him) himself. Books in other sciences are also taught and related in a similar manner.

In conclusion, Isnad (or Sanad) is a unique feature with which our Ummah has been blessed. It has always been regarded to be indispensable in teaching and seeking knowledge. Scholars mention, that even today, one should acquire knowledge from a scholar who has a Isnad or at least a teacher who he studied with. Having a complete chain of transmission is not a pre-requisite for teaching. However, what is necessary, is that the one from whom one takes his/her knowledge, is amongst those who studied by other shuyukh. This is discussed further in the following section.

Learning from a qualified teacher

Allah Almighty created man different from animals. Animals are not in need of a teacher or trainer in a way man is. We see for example that, when a fish is born, it automatically begins to swim without being taught how to do so. If a man was to take the example of the fish and throw his new-born baby into the river thinking that he will swim, then he is without doubt insane, for a fish is not in need of an instructor who instructs it how to swim, while a man needs a tutor to teach him to swim.

Take the example of the new-born chick; the moment it comes out of the egg, it begins to nibble at food without being taught. However, a human baby will not know how to eat unless it is taught practically how to consume the various types of foods.

It is the Sunna of Allah Almighty that he fashions human beings in such a way that they are in need of practical instruction from a teacher in order to learn any science, technique or craft. From the moment one is born, one is in need of practical teaching and guidance in all aspects of life.

There is almost consensus on the fact that it is virtually impossible for one to master any science or art in the world without the guidance and tutelage of a qualified teacher under whom one practically learns the fundamentals of that science. It is not possible to gain expertise in any field unless one submits himself to the guidance of a teacher.

Take for example the science of medicine. If one was to think that I will read and study the books on medical science in the comfort of my home, thus become a medical practitioner, then he will be considered to be insane by almost everybody. If this individual was to perform surgery on a patient or begins to treat people, then his patients will not end up anywhere other than the grave yard!

Even if this individual is very talented and knowledgeable, the guidance of a tutor is indispensable. Suppose this individual is able to understand the books of medical science and He masters the language in which the books are written, he will still not be permitted to work as a physician or surgeon unless he studies under the guidance of a qualified person in the field of medical science. No government will ever allow this individual to take up the medical profession due to the fact that he did not pursue the method necessary in order to take up this profession

It is the same with all the other sciences of the world in that the guidance of a teacher is necessary. No body would allow you to practice law until you don’t attend a law school and learn form a qualified barrister. Let alone the major sciences, even the simple art of cooking is not achieved by merely reading a book. There are several books published explaining the methods of cooking different types of food. If an individual who had never cooked in his lifetime cooked by merely reading the procedure of cooking mentioned in the book, then you can imagined what the outcome would be!

So, it is the nature of man that he can not acquire knowledge merely from books unless he has a teacher and mentor to train and guide him. He needs to stay in the company of a qualified teacher who will help and assist him on every step and save him from the errors that may be committed. This applies to every science, art and craft, and sacred and religious knowledge is of no exception. It is not possible for one to acquire sacred knowledge unless one is trained by a qualified teacher and mentor.

This is the secret behind a book or scripture never being revealed except Allah Almighty sent a Messenger to explain its contents. There are many examples where a Prophet was sent by Allah Almighty and no book or scripture was revealed unto him, but there is not a single case where a book was revealed without a Prophet carrying it.

The simple reason behind this is that if a book was sent on its own, man would not possess the capability to understand it without the teaching of a Prophet. If Allah wished He could have sent the book on its own. Every individual could have found a book when he woke up in the morning, and a voice from the heavens would have declared: “Obey what is in this book”. But Allah, the Creator of mankind, who is fully aware of the human instincts, chose to send the book with a teacher who would explain the contents of the book, both practically and verbally.

Allah Most High explains this concept in the following verse:

“Allah did confer a great favour on the believers when He sent among them a Messenger from among themselves, reciting upon them verses (of the book), sanctifying them, and teaching them the scripture (book) and wisdom, while before that, they had been in manifest error”. (Ali Imran, V. 164).

Similarly, Allah Almighty says:

“And We have sent down unto you (Messenger) the message, that you may explain clearly to men what is sent for them”. (al-Nahl, V. 44).

Therefore, it is the Sunna of Allah Almighty that He has kept two means for the guidance of mankind. One is through the medium of His books (kitab Allah) and the other is the Prophets and their successors. Hence, both the book of Allah (kitab Allah) and men of Allah (rijal Allah) are necessary for one’s guidance. Sufficing with one of the two will surely lead to deviation.

At this point, it would be useful to quote the great scholar of Usul, Imam al-Shatbi (Allah have mercy on him). The following is the crux of what he stated on this issue in his renowned treatise al-Muwafaqat:

“The most beneficial and effectual way of gaining knowledge is by learning it from those who are masters in their field. It is necessary to have a teacher in aspects of knowledge that need explanation and interpretation. It is not impossible for one to gain knowledge without a teacher; however, normally it is observed that a teacher is of utmost importance. This is, somewhat, agreed upon by the scholars.

Scholars said: “Sacred knowledge was in the hearts of men, then it moved into the books and the keys to these books are in the hands of scholars (rijal)”. This implies the necessity of acquiring knowledge from the people who master it.

The basis for this is the Hadith which states: “Verily Allah does not take away knowledge by snatching it from the people but He takes away knowledge by taking away the scholars, so that when He leaves no learned person, people appoint ignorant as their leaders. They are asked to deliver religious verdicts and they deliver them without knowledge, they go astray, and lead others astray”. (Sahih al-Bukhari & Sahih Muslim). If this is so, then the scholars are without doubt the keys for this knowledge”. (al-Muwafaqat).

Imam al-Shatibi (Allah have mercy on him) further mentions three signs and characteristics of a expert qualified teacher:

1) He practices what he teaches,

2) He himself has been trained by a qualified scholar,

3) His students follow and pursue in his footsteps, for if his students generally tend to not follow him, then this is a sign that there is something inherently wrong with him. (ibid)

There are many benefits and wisdoms in learning from a teacher. Sound understanding of the texts, its correct interpretation, being saved from making errors in understanding the texts (for each science has its own special terminologies), getting questions and queries that may arise answered, practical application of the knowledge and obtaining the Baraka and light of guidance from that special teacher-student relationship are just a few to mention.

In conclusion, it is necessary for one that he learns his knowledge from a scholar of knowledge, piety and wisdom, and who himself has been taught and trained by a similar scholar. That does not mean it is incumbent for an individual that each time he picks up a book, he must find a scholar to teach him, rather one needs to study the fundamentals of each science with those qualified, thus become acquainted with the different terminologies, terms and expressions used. Thereafter one may study a book on his own with always referring to senior scholars whenever something is unclear.

And Allah knows best

Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari
Darul Iftaa, Leicester, UK
www.daruliftaa.org


Be not heedless of thy Lord
for even the blink of an eye,
Lest He directs His attention towards you,
and finds you unawares.


 

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ummziba
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Quote ummziba Replybullet Posted: 06 April 2005 at 3:36pm

I thought this very interesting article might be relevent to the topic:

The Confusion of the Scholars
by Yahiya Emerick
Have you ever been confronted with such stupidity that you were speechless? It happens all the time and in all spheres of life. The person driving ahead of you can't make up their mind whether to turn left, right, stop, go or travel ahead. The teenager is wearing a full "uniform" of baggy pants, shaved head, ear-ring and gold chains and exclaims he's being "unique." Or my favorite example is that of a man at an auto auction who yelled out "three hundred" when the auctioneer just lowered the price to fifty. Stupidity is sometimes an art form and many people spend a lifetime perfecting it.

Usually, the strange actions and behavior of others have little immediate impact on our lives. It often takes a long time for the stupid actions of some to build up to a point where the rest of us suffer. Take for instance the problem of the United Nations. Two-faced people will stand up and tell us that it's the forum for the world and that it's committed to world peace, conflict resolution, justice, etc... But after almost fifty years of bungling, this front for Western, secular domination has prolonged more wars than it solved.

The UN's budget is riddled with corruption and inefficiency and UN headed military missions come with more feebleness, bad action and/or inaction than anything else. (Think Bosnia, Somalia, Korea, Rwanda, etc...) Twenty years ago it didn't matter as the two superpowers kept the world on a tight leash. But now that one superpower is gone, the UN's stupidity and confusion is unable to keep the last superpower in check, let alone tin-pot dictators. The prolonged weakness now makes the world more dangerous.

What about Muslims? Are there any incredibly stupid actions which have built up to a dangerous level. Of course! Of the many to choose from, which one am I going to pick on today? Yep, you guessed it. I'm going to point out how some (not all) "scholars" have steered us wrong and taken us away from the path of Islam.

You often hear the terms, Shaykh, Scholar, 'Alim, 'Ulema, Maulana, Mullah, Allamah, Imam, etc... There are so many people with these titles in front of their names that it's dizzying. You know how so many Muslims are into the whole " Doctor" thing? Seeking status by having everyone call them Doctor? Well, the whole scholar thing is there too and it's much older than the Western oriented " Doctor" worship. (Sometimes you see people writing their names as " Dr. Shaykh whatever." Now that's funny.

Here's the problem I see. When I first became a Muslim, I read so many books that extolled the wondrous virtues of the Islamic system. That is the system that I love. And one of the things that was mentioned over and over was that there was no clergy in Islam. No "Holy" men or intermediaries between Allah and people. Then I was introduced into the whole culture of "Scholars." That's where my alarm bells started to ring.

Of course, I have nothing against a person acquiring a lot of knowledge, whether it's for Islamic learning or worldly benefit. I have nothing against the concept of the scholar, the doctor, the engineer, etc... I do have a problem if some people use those terms as a cover for their arrogance and mistakes and then it affects me in a negative way, either directly or indirectly.

For example, as you well know, there are many competing groups of Muslims today in the ideological wars. There are the Saudi-funded Salafies, the Iranian funded Mullahs, the Egyptian/Syrian Brotherhood groups, the Tablighi Jamaati people, the mysterious Hizb at Tahreer, the Jamati Islami groups, the African American Muslim groups, the secularist Indo-Pak groups and about twenty others. Each group has its own scholars who "prove" to the faithful that the other groups are inferior. These same "scholars" often issue "Fatwas" or religious verdicts about items of concern for individual members and life goes on in the happy dreamland of exclusive truth.

These groups often issue contradictory Fatwas and rarely ever work together on anything. How many of you have been to a gathering of one of these or other groups where the "big scholar" is treated like a celebrity? ell-wishers and sycophants fawning all over him. (It's always a "Him." What's the average, concerned Muslim suppossed to think when the "scholars" are often so full of pride and arrogance that they are repulsive? The heirarchy involved in the "scholar" system in amazing! The big Maulanas are usually the fattest. The medium Maulanas have shorter beards and smaller bellies, while the Maulana wanna-bees are thin and stand off in the fringes of the great procession. (Don't get angry at me for pointing out what everyone knows.)

So where does the stupidness come in? There are several areas to look at and the first is on the issue of who is a "Scholar" or "Shaykh?" Allah is very harsh against the Jews and the Christians for considering their priests and rabbis as people who could make religious judgments without consulting Allah's revelations. The priests made the eating of pork allowed for Christians, with no authority from Allah or from Prophet Jesus, while the rabbis made laws such as a woman could not be in the house during her period and that milk and meat could not be eaten together. In this respect, the people "worshipped" their leaders besides Allah.

Sadly, this is exactly what Muslims have done for the last thousand years. In the early days of Islam, no one went around with austentatious titles, as if they were somehow set apart from the rest of the people. Everyone was usually addressed as brother or sister. No one earned overly glorified titles, either, just because they studied with a Sahabi. The only real special term that I have ever come across which was frequently used by the Prophet to describe others is 'Alim (learned person). And this term was never used in the sense of a "priest" or Holy man. It was just that: a person who is learned.

In Madina, everyone was "learned" to one extent or another. The trader knew how to practice Islam, the housewife knew how to practice Islam and the traveler knew it too. If someone needed to ask a question about Islam that they didn't know, they would go to a friend or neighbor. For really detailed questions, they might consult someone who was known to be a teacher. But they wouldn't fawn all over the teacher nor would the teacher dress or act in such a way as to set him or herself apart from the rest of the believers.

Centuries passed and a funny thing happened. The Islamic world spread in so many different directions and millions of people were becoming Muslims. The common knowledge of Islam was not so common anymore. If a Muslim teacher went to any area where Islamic knowledge was scarce, suddenly, everyone was wanting to be around him. The teacher became special. (Think of Sufi-style Shaykh worship for example.) Fast forward many more centuries. There are millions of Muslims, but few know much about Islam. Teachers have become "holy" men and have such titles as "Shaykh" or "Maulana". They are a special class, or caste, of people who are sought after and revered by people who want to see their "god" in the flesh because the concept of an unseen Creator is to intellectual for most. (Hence, Muslim "Saints!"

So what of the world today? Any person who learns a few dozen ahadith and one or two ajza is calling himself a scholar and making pronouncements about Islam to his flock who knows little. I have met people who knew little about Islam calling themselves Imam, or Shaykh or whatever. Who made them Imam? Who promoted them to the role of a guardian of the Deen? Was it their ignorant followers? Was it by virtue of the fact that they attended some madrasa in another culture? Is it because they're rich? Who knows? All I know is that a real scholar doesn't call himself by a title. He doesn't need it. A real knower of Islam realizes he knows so little and is humble. A title makes him feel uncomfortable. That is a real Muslim leader. But what we have mostly is a clergy class. (Think of that hadith about the Day of Judgment where the pretentious scholar is thrown in Hell.)

And what do the self-appointed scholars say? The stupidity is amazing! (These are all actual Fatwas One scholar will say that chewing gum does not break the fast. Another says that using a fork is haram. A third says that eating McDonald's meat is okay while a fourth says of it, no way. One scholar says human cloning is halal, while another says it's haram. One local scholar in New York says the Sunnah is not important and that most ahadith are fabricated. One in Egypt says that wife-beating is okay if the wife doesn't make an effort to look pretty while another says that mortgages are allowed under duress. (Have you ever heard the Fatwa that living in America is haram? It's there.) Each one of these scholars backs up their arguements with Qur'an and hadith, in a usually twisted way, and then says anyone who does otherwise is a kafir.

The Muslim masses, especially in the West, become very confused. The Blessed Prophet advised us to ask the learned people if a tough question comes up, but we have incredibly un-learned people leading us. I'm sure you are all aware of that hadith where the Prophet said that he doesn't punish a nation until the learned are no more. I'm sure you'll agree that having a lot of "scholars" doesn't preclude learning being gone.

The biggest confusion among the scholars that I've seen is the issue of Bida', or innovation in the Deen. The blessed Prophet once remarked that if anyone brings something new into Islam that it would be rejected. On another occassion, he said, referring to Islam, that every innovation was a wrong and that every wrong will be in the fire. So what have some of our self-proclaimed scholars gone and done? They have included ordinary, everyday things in this definition of Bida'. Even though the Prophet was talking about people changing the beliefs and practices of Islam, our "scholars," in their infinte wisdom, have said that any new invention after the time of the Prophet is also an "innovation" in Islam.

I'm sorry, I have no clue how a new type of saddle, weapon, hairbrush, toothpick or shovel can possibly be called an innovation in the Deen. They have no relation to the Deen. Everyday items for common use are just that, ordinary aspects of life. Of course, these "scholars" apply this rule selectively. They will take a plane when they go to Hajj, instead of riding a horse. They'll use a microphone instead of shouting and they'll print their ideas in books. (Remember, the Blessed Prophet did not use any printed books in his da'wah.) Oh my gosh! Bida'! (Look at page 691 of Reliance of the Traveller and you will read a hadith where the Prophet encourages good innovations. I guess the scholars didn't read that hadith from Sahih Muslim.)

If you think I'm exaggerating, then ponder over the things I've written. Have you seen anything like it? Have you seen pride on the faces of those who claim to be scholars? Which brings me to my last point. Many scholars make Islam seem totally distant and unreachable. How many times have I been sitting in a Masjid or lecture hall and saw some scholar expounding on Islam in an overly-technical way? Why do you think that teenagers and twenty-something Muslims run away from the Masjid? The scholars use too much Arabic terminology and don't explain things in a digestible way. If it's Sunnah to speak to people according to their level, why do our self-appointed leaders speak as if they're addressing a gathering of scholars all the time?

Don't get mad at me. Don't write angry letters about me. I'm telling you the truth. Listen, I understand the Arabic terminology. I understand even the most difficult concepts. Perhaps you do also. But the average Muslim has no clue what Taddabur is or what derivative verbs are or what Tassawaf is or what Usuli Fiqh is. We have ninety percent of our "next generation" one step away from kufr and these "scholars" give lectures that few of the youth, teenagers, converts or average Muslims can understand.

Of course, the older, immigrant Muslims may understand some of the speech or du'at because they grew up in a Muslim country and heard of some of the concepts. But Islamic knowledge is cut off in the generation raised in the West. Don't the "scholars" of Islam realize this? They are acting like they are teaching in Medina when in fact they are in pre-Islamic Mecca. (Do you know how many da'wah workers mess up their da'wah by using excessive Arabic grammar and concepts that American people don't understand?)

I've often lamented that in our Masajid and centers, in many cases, the Imams and "Scholars" have no clue about the needs of their community. They often can't counsel, teach effectively or even show compassion and understanding.

I'm just glad that there are a few good scholars around. I just wish there were more, that they could be in the majority. Then we wouldn't have the confusion and stupidity on such a high level making it difficult for all of us. I know of one Masjid where the Imam carries a gun and has pulled it on Muslims in the Masjid! (How did he get to be an Imam?)

Have you ever heard of a Doctor of Divinity? It's a special degree that Christians usually get before they can become priests or ministers. The candidate must not only study the beliefs and teachings of his or her religion, they must also study: marriage counseling, youth psychology, administration, public speaking, philosophy, comparative religion, management, writing, literature, etc... Why doesn't the board of directors of Masjid X,Y or Z require this from their Imams and resident "scholars"? In many communities I've been in, the Imam, who is almost always a hafiz, is the least respected because all he knows is the Qur'an, he usually has no practical knowledge of anything else whatsoever. The Islamic movement needs real, well-rounded and versatile leaders. We need humble people who don't hide behind titles and enter exclusive "scholar's" clubs.

I don't want anyone to think I'm speaking out against the concept of scholars. I'm not. I repeat, I'm not. I'm speaking out against the laziness in the Ummah which has let our standards for what a scholar should be drop so low that anyone, regardless of intelligence can claim to be a scholar, and then have people follow him. (Do you know how many "Imams" I've seen carrying sticks to beat their students of Qur'an?) I'm also speaking out against those who have acquired such a high level of knowledge but then don't know how to relate it to the people. (Do you know how many big scholars I've seen drunk on their own knowledge while the people around them are lost?)

Some brothers from Saudi Arabia once told me an interesting thing. They said that in thier country, everyone tries to get their children on the doctor track in the schools. If the child isn't smart enough to do that, then they try to direct them to the engineer track. But if they fail in that also, then they send them to the religious schools to be an Imam, and that is the lowest level of respect in society. May Allah help us to reclaim the middle ground and bring the knowledge of the real scholars to the masses who are in desperate need of it. Ameen.

Peace, ummziba.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but your words...they break my soul ~
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