Discussions with/without Proper Knowledge
Salam Walekum brothers and sisters. Today's topic is one which has been bothering me for quite along time. I know we are all conversant with the saying: 'Everyone has an opinion on every matter'? This brings one thought to my mind all the time. Almost all of us have an opinion to give on almost any subject. You start talking about football, we all start giving our point of views. You start about Israel-Palestine issue, we have an opinion. This necessarily is not the case from the experts of these fields; we can see active participants in discussions of football who may never have kicked a football all through their lives and / or a view of anyone about…let us say…violence in Palestine, Pakistan & Afghanistan, explaining to others who is right and who is wrong in that ongoing war. Any layman….just about anyone…tends to give his / her opinion and stick on to his / her opinion without enough information on the topic.
Similar attitude is observed when it comes to discussions about Islam. Each one of us has an opinion. There might be a discussion going on an Islamic matter in a gathering, and more than one opinion can be observed. It is usual nowadays. And the worst part is that most of us stick to our views, without knowing how far our views are correct.
The two important questions under discussion here are:
Is it okay for us to enter any discussion without proper knowledge?
When in a discussion, is there any set of rules to be observed?
Where can we seek the answers from? The best reference to any topic is our Qur'an. Let us see what the Qur'an says about this.
Refer to following verses from Holy Qur'an:
"When you were propagating it with your tongues & uttering with your mouths that whereof you had no knowledge, you counted it a little thing, while with Allah it was very big."
"And why did you not, when you heard it, say: It is not right for us to speak of this. Glory be to You (O Allah)! This is a great lie."
"Allah forbids you from it and warns you not to repeat the like of it forever; if you are a believer." Q 24 V 15 - 17
Now, let us analyze the situation in light of the verses of Holy Qur'an mentioned above. It is not allowed in Islam to indulge in discussions unless one has proper knowledge about the subject; it is stricter when it comes to discussions about Islam. But is it the case in actual? Not at all! Every now and then we all tend to argue over Islamic issues. Someone is arguing over dress code, someone has his/her own voice over Hijab; some others have to say a lot about Jihad; while others keep arguing about plus and minus of different Fiqh.
Beware, this is prohibited.
Yes, there are some requirements about how to take on the discussions. The first requirement (as mentioned in Answer 1) is that one should have adequate knowledge of the subject on which the discussion is going to take place. Talking more specifically about discussions related to Islamic subjects, there is another important rule to be followed. This is mentioned in following verse of Qur'an:
"And do not follow (or How can you follow) anything of which you have no direct knowledge of. (Remember) Whatever you hear, (whatever) you see and whatever is in your hearts or minds, you shall be accountable for (on the 'Day of Judgement') all of that." Q 17 V36
This verse of Qur'an has a very deep meaning. Islam swept away all the darkness and filth of the 'Period of Ignorance'. Earlier, people used to follow so many wrong practices; none of these wrong practices had any logic behind them. People used to follow the things / traditions / cultures just because they had seen their ancestors doing that for years and years. Islam removed all the wrong practices. Our beloved Prophet (SAW) invited the people to truth by means of Qur'an. And Allah guided those who listened to the knowledge.
The Statement of Allah is very clear. Unless we have direct knowledge about anything, we are not supposed to believe it, and follow it and talk about it. For a Muslim, the first source of knowledge is Qur'an; the next source is the Prophet's (SAW) Sunnah i.e. authenticated Ahadith. Any other source is allowed to be followed only if it does not violate Qur'an and Sunnah.
Now let us analyze what is going on. We keep on indulging in useless arguments and discussions without any references to quote, just for the sake of having our say. Every knowledgeable man has his own views, and everyone stick to their views. I implore people to not just listen to their alfas, imams or scholars, Yes I know they have more knowledge than we do but we should also do our research. Do not follow blindly. They should clearly mention the verse no. and the name of Chapter (Surah) from which they are quoting the said ruling. Similarly, exact Hadith No. or at least the name of the Chapter and the exact volume of particular collection of hadith should be mentioned when any hadith is used as a reference. Simply saying that 'Rasool-Allah (SAW) said so and so…' is not enough. Clear references are required. Not everyone is well versed with knowledge of Qur'an and Sunnah; such people should be kept in mind please.
No one should try to impose his / her views on others; rather all the discussions should be based on references from Qur'an and / or Sunnah.
This is very important for the matter to be understood easily by the listener. The Muslim society is already divided into so many sects, unfortunately. Members of one sect do not accept point of views of other sects, and the vice versa. However, if talks are done solely on the basis of Qur'an and Sunnah, most of the differences can be resolved.
The listeners too have a responsibility. Once coming to know about any Islamic ruling from the mouths of the scholar(s) of their choice, it is their duty to verify the ruling from Qur'an (if quoted from Qur'an) and / or hadith (if quoted from Sunnah). The listener should not feel as to how can he / she dare to doubt so and so scholar? It is not a question of doubting any scholar; rather it is a matter of following Allah. And Allah has told us not to follow things blindly without having a direct knowledge about them. So, it is the responsibility of each of us to verify the piece of information for our own safety. Similarly, those brothers / sisters who keep on circulating religious emails should verify the content before spreading it. Same is the advice for brothers / sisters who indulge in different online forums related to Islam. Be very careful about religious content originating from internet. Do not trust and circulate it unless you verify it. I repeat: do not spread such contents unless verified.
Before I leave, I pray to Allah and hope that the points mentioned above open our eyes and we Muslims start taking this matter seriously. Beware; it is not a trivial matter. Let us stop doing this. If we want to have our say in any matter, be it of any subject, and specifically Islamic discussions, let us study the subject well enough first. Then only we should start taking active parts in discussions and put forward our say. The knowledgeable people should remember that they should quote exact references while putting forward their words on the basis of teachings of Qur'an and authentic ahadith; the impact on the listener will be much better this way. Listeners are also requested to fulfill their responsibilities. Do not accept anything blindly. Verify it from Qur'an and / or Sunnah.
SORRY IF THE POST LOOKS FUNNY, TYPED IT WITH MY PHONE.