Posted by: Dawud Israel | October 15, 2008

How Dogma fails and Context Wins in Islam

Bismillah

1) Perhaps the biggest issue is the obsession over bida- simply because the hadith that is used has become a “super-hadith” being the deciding factor between many religious practices. People have mentioned that the oft-quoted, “every bida is in hellfire” may not even be an authentic hadith, which is one issue but the main issue is that- why does this hadith exercise so much influence on everything we do? Misguidance comes often when people quote one or two hadiths above all other hadiths resulting in a very narrow and uninformed understanding of Islam.

2) Often in religious discussions what happens is one person says, “Let me show you everything and then let you decide”. What then happens is they present one side of the discussion, say “we aren’t forcing–use your mind” and then you come to conclusion they want. Like putting you in a room with one door and tell you to be open-minded in finding the door, it’s a setup to get you to swallow one dogma when in fact it may not even be the correct view. Areas where this pops up are especially in areas such as Sufism, militant Islam, takfiring.

The other side is never present and it may be out of fear that the other side may be correct, or because it may “misguide” them (although it’s still Islam) and so this is deceiving and it’s not hard to see how shaytaan can manipulate this. You would believe that whoever presents this argument to you, says “decide for yourself” is talking to you as if this is the entire picture- which is not the case at all.

3) Another issue is the balance in fatwas and other discussions. Often you will hear about how a religious practice has a bad history of bida and other weird rituals. And so you get the impression it should be abandoned. But the thing is, it is still in the Sunnah! What happens is, especially among shuyookh, they will answer a question with the assumption that it is dealing with some certain aspects of it- and so answer accordingly. But may not fully explain the issue- again not hitting the whole picture. For example, in the discussion of the 15th of Shaban, brothers discussed over and over again with the impression that it is bida simply because some groups would perform some strange rituals on it…and then at the very end say, “But if people want to perform extra deeds, it is always good”…most people recall the majority of the discussion that makes one think it’s a bad practice, when in fact, the opinion of some of the madhabs is that it is praiseworthy. The key here again is to present the whole picture and take into account how average Muslims will pick up on fatwas and interpret them and make them crystal clear and understandable

4) Other times you hear a talk about a shaykh who will go on and on about this problem. He will make jokes and imitate gangster-speak, get some laughs and then he basically uses just a few minutes to discuss the solution to the problem. The advice he gives is abstract…go on and on about the problem but then give 2-3 minutes of advice that everyone knows, but not how to implement it or practice it. So the problematic situation is presented but the solution offered is, a variatin of “be good”.

I am not the first to notice this so here is what Jami rahimullah said, when asked about hypocrisy and honesty:

“How wonderful is honesty and how strange hypocrisy! I wandered to Mecca and to Baghdad, and I made a trial of the behavior of men.

When I asked them to be honest, they always treated me with respect, because they had been taught that good men always speak thus, and they had learned that they must have their eyes downcast when people speak of honesty.

When I told them to shun hypocrisy, they all agreed with me.

But they did not know that when I said ‘truth’, I knew that they did not know what truth was, and that therefore both they and I were then being hypocrites.

They did not know that when I told them not to be hypocrites they were being hypocrites in not asking me the method. They did not know that I was being a hypocrite in merely saying, ‘Do not be hypocrites’, because words do not convey the message by themselves.

They respected me, therefore, when I was acting hypocritically. They had been taught to do this. They respected themselves while they were thinking hypocritically; for it is hypocrisy to think that one is being improved simply by thinking that it is bad to be a hypocrite.

4) Forbidding the evil…but forgetting to enjoin the good! I think that’s all that needs to be said.

5) Using “absolutes” in fatwas. The truth is there are virtually ALWAYS exceptions so a fatwa or opinion that tries to be absolute is a tell-tale sign of it not being genuine or part of the deen.

Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la illaha illa ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, ameen.


Responses

  1. [“4) Other times you hear a talk about a shaykh who will go on and on about this problem. He will make jokes and imitate gangster-speak, get some laughs and then he basically uses just a few minutes to discuss the solution to the problem. The advice he gives is abstract…go on and on about the problem but then give 2-3 minutes of advice that everyone knows, but not how to implement it or practice it. So the problematic situation is presented but the solution offered is, a variatin of “be good”.”]

    its the difference between a shaykh telling a muslim that smoking is vEREEEEEEEE bad, and the christian who invites people to a volunteer-run organization that has strategies, guides and non-judgmental support groups for quitting smoking or “Breathing Easy”.

    Many shaykhs are copying the easy answers from the back of the textbook, while the christian organizations, are working hard to get the solutions,

    Can you imagine how powerful our dawah would be when we we’re really helping people towards the solutions to get out of the bad (the real forbidding of evil) and enjoining the good of the deen?


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