As part of Let’s Speak web series, Free Press Kashmir is starting a debate on different societal issues. In a first, here is a piece debating the ‘mis-usage’ of religion in the society.
It’s imperative that a person who goes out to preach religion in public should be knowledgeable and highly noble. But in Kashmir, people given the task of preachership are usually not qualified. They either don’t have the knowledge required or else their conduct is not at par with the requirements.
It doesn’t mean that a preacher should know everything about the religion in details and be clean of all forms of sin. That would be asking for something impossible, for a human inherently forgets and sins.
However, it’s a must for every preacher to be a man of integrity, wisdom, good manners and to reiterate authentic knowledge. And that’s something missing in most of our preachers.
If we look around, and listen to our preachers speak on pulpits, social channels; lecturing, or even debating, we might hold our breath and think, ‘How is such a person formally eligible for preaching what the Prophet of Allah (Sallalahu Alayhi WaSallam) once taught?’
Many a time, after hearing a preacher speak in a mosque, or at an event, I honestly have felt very disappointed, and even disgusted!
I could make out how some preachers on pulpit lack the prerequisites that Islam lays for public preaching. For me, such glaring absence makes them more dangerous to the Muslims than a fierce outside enemy.
But it would be a great generalisation if I were to say that all the preachers working on the ground to solve the issues of the community are unfit for the job. No, that is not the case. We’ve diligent and honest preachers who really care about the Ummah and its future.
But apart from the qualified and pious ones, our society is not free of preachers with inadequate religious training, ignoble conduct, lack of fairness and the absence of justice.
There is a group which lacks religious knowledge, while there is another, that despite having strong religious knowledge are unfair and unworthy of this lofty position.
Ones that are deficient in their knowledge are a calamity of a different sort who wage a reverse intellectual war on Islam based on their naivety.
These people would speak about science without having studied it, speak about economics when they know nothing about it, or worse even speak about religion when their preaching and Islam’s teachings are a valley apart.
We don’t find a dearth of preachers who speak about religion and make all kinds of funny conclusions making it look dumb and illogical. Some of them love to put all blame of the mishappenings of Muslims on conspiracy theories.
In their perspective, every second Non-Muslim especially the Jews have only one aim in life – conspire against the Muslims! Most of the times their thoughts are too lame even to be reasoned and dissected.
However, there are a number of preachers possessing knowledge and holding stations of influence but unfortunately with partisan mindsets and biased hearts. They are the ones who are willing to play with the cohesion of Muslims in our society based on factional, rather cultish behaviour. Their hidden desire for fame and defence of their own methodology has blinded them to seek greater objectives of the Islamic law which are peace and unity among Muslims.
Now, getting to the crux of the debate, I would direct your attention to some Social Media drama that took place recently.
After coming back from office, I opened my Facebook to see that a few young bearded people were shouting and abusing each other in the middle of Lal Chowk. This saddened me and I went on to search for the chief debater.
While I watched his video clips, I came across one where he casts out a section of Muslims out of the ranks of the general assembly of Muslims (Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah).
He stated that praying behind the Ghayr Muqalideen (People who don’t follow a particular Imam) are invalid, marrying them is impermissible and having any sort of relations with them is not accepted in Islam.
This set me thinking, because I knew the obligatory nature of Taqleed or blind following of one particular school or a scholar is a well-known dispute among Muslim scholarship. That was nasty and a dangerous statement from where I saw it. This means a lot when put to application, and if our society absorbs such ideas, it is going to break apart sooner or later.
The Ghayr Muqalideen commonly referred to as the Ahlul Hadeeth in the South Asian Subcontinent are a people that were and are a part of a revolution which fights against the ridiculous decay of legal thought of Islam due to the blind following by scholars in the region.
The great disaster that Taqleed by scholars has brought upon the Ummah is humongous, but out of the scope of the debate here.
This doesn’t mean that it is permissible for everyone to get a copy of the Quran and decide aspects of Islamic Law for himself. No!
A person who does not know about an issue is to find a person who knows and is qualified to issue a legal verdict. The person after asking him is required to follow the verdict unless it is in contradiction to something widely known in the religion.
In that case, he is to find someone else to validate the answer. Generally, the person one should refer to should be a Scholar or at the least a Student of Knowledge.
Being a Student of Islam, I knew how the young molvi saab was wrong according to any credible juristic methodology. This is because, to cast someone out of Ahlus Sunnah, one needs to have irrefutable proofs.
All the conditions to cast him out should meet, and all the barriers to it should be lifted. This is a delicate ruling given by various scholars of repute, knowledge, integrity and old age. It is not fit of a young guy, a recent graduate from a Madrassa to be speaking on such issues.
I decided not to talk to this person directly as he was very aggressive in the way he spoke. So, I went to find on the major scholar who he follows and I thought perhaps talking to him, I would be in a better position to understand the issue and perhaps ask the scholar to advise his follower.
I rang the scholar up and to my amazement he was even a bigger troublemaker!
I asked him that on the basis of which principles and rules do you cast the Ahlul Hadeeth, or the Ghayr Muqalideen out of Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah.
He replied, “They reject Ijma”.
Now that’s a disaster!
I was lost on the audacity of this ‘Mufti’. Having had a cursory look at the Principles of Juristic Reasoning of the Ahlul Hadeeth, I knew that things are contrary to what this man said. It was clear to me that he lied on purpose because even beginner level Urdu books mention Ijma as the major source of Islamic Law and an evidence in Islam.
I told him that they accept Ijma and it is known widely by anyone who studies Islamic Sciences.
Puzzled because of my cross-questioning, he said that they don’t apply the Ijma. I asked for evidence, he said, ‘They don’t accept the Ijma of 20 Rakah Taraweeh, Triple Talaq and the Extra Adhaan that Uthaman Radi Allahu Anhu introduced for Fridays’.
I told him, ‘I am a student of the Hanbali Fiqh, and these things are found in our books too and we also dispute these things, why don’t you cast us out of Sunnah?’
With many scholars, the ‘Ijma’ on 20 Rakah of Taraweeh doesn’t exist and it is a disputed issue from times much older than today.
The books of one of the greatest Hanbali scholar Ibn Taymiah have a great refutation on the issue of triple talaq, and many scholars don’t agree with the second adhaan of Uthmaan.
Now, whether these opinions are right or wrong is debatable. But to say that this group does not accept the Ijma as an evidence in the Shariah, due differing with other scholars particularly from the Hanafi madhab, is a pure case of misleading people.
I mentioned to him that Imam ash Shatibi doesn’t cast out people like this, the rules he has laid are not as random and haphazard as yours.
To bring the reader’s notice, Imam Shatibi’s monumental work al-Itissam is considered to be a backbone when it comes to dealing with innovations and innovators.
I then started to establish his errors and told him that we need to first form the foundations on the basis of which we start labelling people as innovators and cast them out from the body of Sunni Muslims.
A person is not thrown into the ranks of innovation just because he disagrees with you, or because he disagrees with your methodology or even worse he makes an error in the secondary principles (Furoo) of this religion.
However, Mufti Saab decided to hang up the call when I told him that such callous judgement may be like oppressing a full group of Sunni Muslims.
For any student of the Shariah, it is clear that some people lie and deceive others just to grow the numbers of their followers. Their motive is to break up the very roots of cohesion of the Muslims who worship the same God, accept the same Messenger and live by the teachings of the same Shariah encoded in the speech of Allah; Quraan and the teachings of His Messenger; Hadeeth.
The Prophet asked us to come out of the darkness of discord, live in peace and love each other. The great well-known hadeeth of the saying where the Prophet equated Muslims to one body, and if one part of it was in pain, the whole body would feel it.
If this hadeeth is from the teachings of Muhammad Sallalahu Alayhi Wasallam, then why do we allow some hate mongers, divide the community on the basis of their own understanding of particular aspects of religion? Why should common Muslims pay the price of hatred and division among the leaders of religious cults?
Whenever a preacher tries to divide us on the basis of methodologies and interpretations, we should be strong enough to ask for clear proof. Proofs from the Quran, the Sunnah, the Sahaba and the Ijma of early Muslims.
Remember, the essence of Islam is brotherhood, cohesion and community; people who try to break it have an ulterior motive in their claims.
The writer is a Communications Professional with a British Master’s Degree in International Business & Management. He is the Co-Founder of Cut & Paste, the first of its kind Creative Marketing Agency in Kashmir.
Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position and policy of Free Press Kashmir. Feedback and counterviews on the debate are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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