The 3rd and 4th ayah of Surat Al Hajj is a crucial one for those of us living in the Information Age—a time when there is easy access to information. We live at a time when information is literally at our fingertips, and so much of it is hurled at us with the speed of light. That being said, it is easy to get lost in the midst of it all. It’s easy for our positions on the most constant of values and principles to be swayed, even positions as certain as the existence of Allah [SWT], His Oneness, His Names and Attributes, His commands etc. Nowadays, anything and everything is being speculated on, and more so if it is any way related to Allah [SWT]. Don’t be fooled, all the opinions are based on unfounded evidence, just a whole lot of rotten garbage wrapped in eloquence. Pick it apart, and you will realize it isn’t worth a second of your precious time or effort. How can we possibly stand firm in the midst of these tornadoes and hurricanes or rather these “information disasters” as I like to call them? Allah [SWT] tells us in the 3rd ayah of Surat Al Hajj:
وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يُجَادِلُ فِي اللَّهِ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ وَيَتَّبِعُ كُلَّ شَيْطَانٍ مَّرِيدٍ
كُتِبَ عَلَيْهِ أَنَّهُ مَن تَوَلَّاهُ فَأَنَّهُ يُضِلُّهُ وَيَهْدِيهِ إِلَىٰ عَذَابِ السَّعِيرِ
“Among people is one who argues about Allah, without knowledge. For him (the devil) it is decreed that whosoever follows him, he will mislead him, and will drive him to the torment of the Fire.” [22:3-4]
How can we combat this information crisis! We ought to respect our brains by using them where they have been created to function, rather than abuse them by using them to bring about knowledge of a spiritual realm that is beyond our mental capabilities. That realm requires revelation—we cannot come to it on our own. So, we need a reliable source/s to ground us! Ones to fall back on! To turn to for counsel when confused or disturbed! Ones to run to for refuge from insanity! Ones to hold for us our head above the sea of information that we are swimming in right now, so as to stay focused on reaching safe shores at the very end—on the Day of Resurrection. There is a hadith by the Prophet (saw) in which he touches upon this issue, and I find it appropriate to remind myself and you of these two primary sources that were mentioned by the Prophet (saw) during The Farewell Pilgrimage: “I have left among you two matters by holding fast to which, you shall never be misguided: the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Prophet.” These are the primary sources that we need to hold on fast to if we want to face head on the information crisis we are going through—that of our Muslim identities and our belief in Allah [SWT].
Does that mean that we all give up our livelihoods and become Islamic scholars? No, but there is a threshold of knowledge that the Muslim masses, or layman/woman should have; a foundation if you will that establishes their understanding and confidence in their identity as Muslims. This will aid them in standing firmly against what seeks to uproot it. If you look at the early part of the Seerah of the Prophet (saw) you will see that the goal of the early revelations and the teachings of the Prophet (saw) focused on the basics of Eman [like a 101 of Eman]. At the very basic level, every Muslim needs to understand the fact that Allah [SWT] gifting them the Qur’an is a gesture of love. That Allah [SWT] is communicating with them through the Qur’an because He cares for them. He [SWT] is excited to meet them, and so He [SWT] has scheduled a return to Him [SWT] in a meeting place He [SWT] has adorned called Paradise where they will literally meet Him face-to-face. They need to understand that they will be held accountable for their actions. This is a basic understanding of the Qur’an so to speak.
They also need to know the Seerah of the Prophet (saw) so they bridge the gap between themselves and him (saw). Yes, unfortunately there are huge gaps, if not distances between the person whose life Allah [SWT] asked us to immerse ourselves in and us. Remember that the Seerah of the Prophet (saw) is the only thing that you are allowed to get addicted to after the Qur’an—absolutely knock yourself out, be obsessed with so that you succeed in this life and the next. He (saw) is a role model that never disappoints in whatever stage of his life—childhood, adulthood or old age. He is par excellence, the ultimate exemplar—he is the trendsetter for all humanity of all times who want to make it to Jannah. He set a trend for those who aspire to Jannah. The more you read his Seerah [his biography], you can’t help but love him (saw).
Relying on both of these sources, will enable us to acquire knowledge so that we have that characteristic of prescience or foresight of being able to detect falsified information especially as regards Allah [SWT], His message, His Messenger, the nature of the soul [knowledge of which Allah (SWT) has kept to Himself], events of the Hereafter, Day of Resurrection etc. Whenever we are in doubt about any information [any argument as the ayah points out] coming our way, we use the Qur’an and Sunnah of the Prophet as a litmus test. Our brains are precious and treasured gifts, and not waste baskets for every piece of rubbish to find an abode to settle in.
Remember in order for any of this to happen, you have to first remove any shred of doubt about the authenticity of the Qur’an and Sunnah in your heart. The evidences of their authenticity are unquestionable—so do your homework. The extensive and painstaking scholarship that has been undertaken by our predecessors to preserve it is astounding. It’s real scholarship! So, astounding is the scholarly preservation of the Qur’an in a language in which a mere accidental dot or stroke of the pen can change the entire meaning of a word, even a sentence. The diligence and meticulousness with which the companions committed the revelation to writing is all well documented and readily available to you—it’s public property for all of humankind. Furthermore, the documentation of every aspect of Prophet’s life is astounding. Indeed, no one’s life has been documented down to such minute detail. It’s a rigorous research in which his every gesture, action, words and even silence, facial expression, and disposition. It even went as far as to assess those who are authorities to pass it on. Who in the history of scholarship has a book like Kitab Al Rijal which assesses the names, personalities, qualifications, and morals of those who passed down the traditions of the Prophet (saw)—not a single stone is left unturned regarding these personalities. So, if you are in doubt about the reliability of the Qur’an and Sunnah of the Prophet (saw) that doesn’t mean they aren’t authentic sources but rather it indicates that you have not done your homework. It is worth studying, for your future life depends on it. So study it all, until it settles firmly in your heart. But remember you can take the shorter and easier route and believe in your Creator’s words when He [SWT] said:
إِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْنَا الذِّكْرَ وَإِنَّا لَهُ لَحَافِظُونَ
“Indeed, it is We who sent down the Qur’an and indeed, We will be its guardian.” [15:9]
Remember also, that should confusion and doubt dawn upon you when dealing with the book of Allah [SWT] and the Sunnah of His Prophet question the immaturity of your spiritual intellect. Turn to and ask those who dedicated and committed their brains and hearts to its study; those whom Allah [SWT] has blessed with an intellect saturated with them because they have immersed their lives in their study—the Islamic scholars. Remember the hadith of the Prophet (saw) narrated by Abu Sa’d Al Khudri (raa) reported,
There was a man from among a nation before you who killed ninety-nine people and then made an inquiry about the most learned person on the earth. He was directed to a monk. He came to him and told him that he had killed ninety-nine people, and asked if there was any chance for his repentance to be accepted. He replied in the negative and the man killed him also, completing one hundred. He then asked about the most learned man in the earth. He was directed to a scholar. He told him that he had killed one hundred people and asked him if there was any chance for his repentance to be accepted. He replied in the affirmative click here for rest of hadith . . .” [Bukhari and Muslim]
What concerns us about this hadith, is the fact that this man looked for the most learned man about Allah [SWT] on the earth to ask—he sought the best. He went to a monk, who has isolated himself to worship Allah [SWT]. But does that necessarily mean he was a scholar? No. The monk’s response in the hadith indicates his lack of knowledge of Allah’s mercy and in that he caused the man to lose hope; he caused him to despair. It actually cost him his life. In the end it the scholar who was able to help him, he was the one who had the knowledge of Allah [SWT]. So, it is your duty to take charge of who you get your information regarding this religion from, so do your research for that responsibility falls on your shoulders. If you were sick you would seek out the best medical expert, so how about your ailing soul would you not seek the best for it too?
So, first part is that we should re-assess our reliable sources and make Qur’an and Sunnah our primary ones and not our secondary. Know that you cannot convince anyone of Allah’s existence, His Oneness [SWT], His commands without first being convinced yourself, and you cannot be convinced without attaining the right knowledge acquired through the right sources. Plus, no one will acknowledge our sources if we don’t acknowledge them ourselves.
The second part to this is the fact that many argue [whether Muslims or Non-Muslims] with us about our belief in Allah’s existence, His Oneness, His right to be obeyed etc. without proper knowledge of our sources or contents thereof. Those interested in knowing who we are need to study our sources. If they claim they want to build bridges of communication between us and them then they need to familiarize themselves with the basics of who we are, and the basics of the sources on which our belief system is based. In what academic discipline is it acceptable for an expert to claim expertise in a topic without having made an in-depth study of the field of interest? In what discipline would an expert be considered a credible authority without having studied the major sources in depth? What publishing company would accept to put its name on a book based on unfounded research? It seems it is only accepted if the topic is Islam. Whichever way you look at it, we are living in the midst of an information crisis especially as it pertains to Islam on a number of levels:
1) Among the Muslims themselves who are drowning in the oceans of information regarding all that pertains to Allah [SWT] with no knowledge of the only two reliable sources—the Qur’an and Sunnah—to keep them afloat. When they engage in well-intentioned arguments and debates about Allah [SWT] their lack of knowledge causes them to do more harm than benefit.
2) Then there are opponents who argue the religion of Allah [SWT] based on dishonest, lazy and sloppy research based on every source except the Qur’an and Sunnah. They are unwilling to acknowledge the only two authentic sources left among humankind that serve that purpose. Such research is based on one of Shaytan’s many publications entitled Shaytan’s Research Style Manual. Its philosophy calls for its users to restrict themselves and rely on solely their limited human knowledge to explore knowledge of: Allah [SWT]; life in the spiritual realm; the Final Hour; Resurrection etc. Just like Shaytan relied on his unfounded claim that he was better than our father Adam [as] because he was created from fire:
قَالَ أَنَا خَيْرٌ مِّنْهُ خَلَقْتَنِي مِن نَّارٍ وَخَلَقْتَهُ مِن طِينٍ
“I am better than he. You Created me of fire but him You created of clay.” (7:12)
Similar arguments are at the root of evils such as racism, discrimination, prejudice, oppression, injustice etc. in modern day society and will be until the end of time. For Shaytan and those who follow his trend, hellfire has already been decreed. It’s a fate sealed with the word of Allah [SWT]. Imagine Shaytan’s evil laugh on the Day of Resurrection when he sees his followers step out from the dark depths of their ignorance of the Final Hour into the light of its certainty. The light of truth will be literally blinding and the follower of Shaytan who spent his life denying it, will address his Lord:
He will say, ‘My Lord, why have you raised me blind while I was [once] seeing?’ (Allah) will say: ‘Like this, Our Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) came unto you, but you disregarded them (i.e. you left them, did not think deeply in them, and you turned away from them), and so this Day, you will be neglected. [20:125-126]
So, let’s re-assess our sources of guidance today before it’s too late. Let’s give the Qur’an and Sunnah their rightful place in our lives. It is clear now why the Prophet (saw) taught us after praise of Allah [SWT] to start a Khutbah [sermon], lecture, speech with:
فإن أصدق الحديث كتاب الله وخير الهدي هدي محمد صلى الله عليه وسلم وشر الأمور محدثاتها وكل محدثة بدعة وكل بدعة ضلالة وكل ضلالة في النار.
“Indeed, the best of speech is the Book of Allah and the best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad, and the worst matters [in religion] are the newly devised ones, and every innovation is misguidance.”
He (saw) places at the forefront for every listener the two sources of our guidance—the Qur’an and Sunnah. So, should you !