In the enlightened and noble history of Islam, there was no such scenario as someone asking a simple question and getting 15 different answers that end in a dog-fight on every street corner, like we see today. That’s because there was no such thing as asking a simple question and having someone reply by quoting Hadith. The current demand for Hadith quotations is due to the lack of faith in the authenticity of our scholars. That lack of faith in authenticity comes from the lies and deceptions of a single group of Muslims who have no desire to show respect to the Ummah of Muhammad, to our great scholars and traditional disciplines. That group rose out of what is now Saudi Arabia around 250 years ago. Today, they are funded by Saudi oil money to propagate their assault on Sunni Islam. They seek to legitimate their existence by casting aspersions against the authentic Creed and Practice that Sunni Islam has always honored. Whether you call them Wahhabi, Salafi, or ahl-al-Hadith, their various sects spring from the same bloody mentality of seeking to destroy Sunni Islam and to dominate its people. They have deceived and radicalized millions of Arabs and thousands of Converts.
Among the major pitfalls of Muslim Converts in the late 80’s throughout the 90’s was the presence of two serious difficulties:
- The lack of classical Islamic texts available in English
- The dominance of ignorant Arabs in the community
The first of these has begun to be overcome, thanks to the diligent penmanship of convert scholars and others, so I’ll focus on explaining the second, hopefully in a way a recent Convert can understand.
Converts easily believe that Islam belongs to the Arabs, but it’s actually the opposite: the Arabs owe their continued existence to Islam, as their now-defunct societies had only flourished under the prevalence of Allah’s Religion. But over the centuries, they’ve lost the very roots that Islam requires. Spiritual discipline is almost unheard of in Arab society now. If you were to line up 1,000 Arabs and ask them “what is your madhhab”, you’ll get one of 2 answers: “I don’t know”, or “What do you mean Madhhab? I only follow Qur’an and Sunnah”. Both answers are wrong and both indicate that the Arab has completely lost Islam.
What confuses the Convert is the fact that the Arab can rattle-off verses of Quran and Hadeeth for whatever question one may ask. It has to be understood that ISLAM WAS NEVER TAUGHT THIS WAY, except among the Sahabah and the very next generation. They lived in an environment in which one could see Islam by looking at the Muslim. There was no doubt or confusion among them as to what the Qur’an meant or which narration to apply to their question. For all generations since then, it has been incumbent on all Muslims to follow qualified scholarship. For 1300 years, qualified scholarship has been the domain of the highly disciplined schools of the 4 Great Imams of Sunni Islam – Abu Hanifa, Malik, Shafi’, and ibn Hanbal, RadiAllahu Ta’ala ‘anhum.
It has been documented from both Imam Shafi’ and Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal that neither of them would accept the independent legal reasoning of anyone who had less than 400,000 Hadith in their personal knowledge. The 6 great collections combined only equal roughly 35,000 Hadith. (Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi, Nasa’i, abu Dawud, and ibn Majah). It might be worthy to note that none of these great Hadith collecting Imams were Arab, or at least not purely Arab. They were almost entirely Persian, long before a Shia’ Iran existed.
Additionally, to qualify as capable of deriving Sacred Law directly from the Qur’an and Hadith, one also must posses:
- Complete mastery of the Arabic language, which few on earth have today
- Mastery of the Qur’an and its related sciences
- Mastery of the sciences pertaining to Hadith comparison and authentication
- Mastery of Arabic poetry
- Mastery of the principles of analogy
- Mastery of the narrations and consensus rulings among the Sahabah and early Muslims
- Mastery of logic and dialectical methodology
- Most importantly, correct ‘Aqeeda(Creed), which has unfortunately eliminated a few scholars throughout history.
So, as a Convert wanting to learn Islam properly, the authentic Truth of the Qur’an and Rasulullah’s teachings, you have two options:
- Begin learning the disciplined teachings of one of the 4 Madhhabs that have held Islam intact for the last 1300 years
- or, memorize an entire library of books and declare yourself an Absolute Imam.
- Let’s put that in a picture so you can visualizet it…
So, the sooner you get it out of your head that in order to be a wise and knowledgeable Muslim, you must be able to quote Qur’an and Hadeeth, the sooner you’ll be a wise and knowledgeable Muslim ! The two have little to do with one another. If you’ll study the Fiqh of one of the 4, you’ll be following the Islam that the Arabs tossed-away and forgot. You’ll be laying a foundation for more advanced studies and spiritual travels. You’ll be a link in a chain of discipline that connects you to the Great Lawgiver (Allah s.w.t.) and the Great Witness (Muhammad s.a.w. ).