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As we always say, when a person is said to be a scholar, it is important for us as a Muslim to investigate his 'aqeedah and manhaj first before defending him or before taking knowledge from him. This becomes fundamentally imperative as we have a lot of people today parading themselves as scholars without justification. 

If you choose to be listening to all kinds of lectures (bid'ah, quasi bid'ah, celebrity, comparative religion, sunnah etc.) altogether; you will keep confusing yourself. You can't be reading all kinds of books and think you are doing good to yourself. It will be very hard for you to have a bearing as far as the proper manhaj is concerned. Scholars are not known just by their eloquence, writing skills or the population of the followers they control. If you take your time to investigate what some of those many Muslim claim to be following wrote in their books; you will be shocked. 

It must however be noted that; when we say we should avoid these people with defective ideologies and methodologies; we are talking to ourselves (students of knowledge). The scholars can read their books, listen to their lectures and refute them where necessary. The scholars have the tools to deal with their errors with the use of the best form of jarh wat ta'deel. But in our own case; we can't be too sure we have the necessary anti-virus to sieve the truth from their misguidance. They have several methods they use in winning the hearts of the unsuspecting Muslims.

One thing I am always happy about is; if you revive a Sunnah and those who embrace it practice it accordingly; your share of their rewards would always get to you whether you are dead or alive. Anas ibn Malik reported that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said: 

"الدال على الخير كفاعله"

"One who guides towards righteousness is a righteous doer" [At-tirmidhi]

On the other hand; one thing I am always afraid of is; if you initiate a bid'ah or any deviant beliefs and those who embrace it keep practicing them; there is no way you can escape some of the consequences of their misguidance. After all, you started it. The verse, "ولا تزر وازرة وزر أخرى" [Suratun Najm] cannot operate in your favour. 

When the scholars talk of 'udhru bil jahl [giving excuse to scholars on their mistakes], it is appalling how some people apply it today to mean all kinds of mistakes. Under a post last week, one of our sisters, Gia Daniel mentioned and I vehemently agreed with her that the excuse of mistakes in fataawa of scholars is exclusively reserved for the scholars. The non-scholars like us and those who pretend to be scholars are not inclusive. You cannot just pick up your pen and start writing on a field you have little or no knowledge about. You can't assume the role of the scholars on matters that are not really clear to you. Otherwise, your inconsistencies will expose you and you will have no defence for your intrusion. Then, the worst thing is for you to reject correction when you are corrected. We have seen some scholars who refused to write; not because they can't write, but because of the danger of documenting their words on matters they are not really sure of.

So, the best way we can save ourselves the danger of innovating defective, deviant and false beliefs is for us not to claim to know what we do not know. Shaytaan is always out against the believers. He would try to influence you to do what you are not supposed to do. That is why we must be very careful. A lot of people who caused the division of this ummah with their cancerous ta'weel delve into matters of the deen without requisite knowledge. 

We have said times without number that; knowledge and understanding of this deen is far beyond expertise in Arabic language or being an Arab. Wallahi, on the Day of Judgment, you will be shocked to see some of those who understand Arabic entering hell, while those who do not understand Arabic while on earth are entering paradise. The well-known Mallam may be seeing entering hell, while ordinary shoe-maker is entering paradise. The understanding of Arabic language should aid us to Aljannah and not hell-fire. We are in a world where those who cannot really speak Arabic even understand and practice Islaam better than the so-called Arabists. 

You cannot say since you understand Arabic, you can interpret the Quran and Sunnah the way you like. You cannot say because you are a philosopher, you can say anything you like about the deen. You cannot claim to have hidden knowledge; then start interpreting the provisions of the shariah against its obvious meanings. It doesn't work that way. There are lots of things to be considered to know who and who can be referred to as scholars in the deen. Abu Hurayrah رضي الله عنه reported that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said;

"من كان يؤمن بالله واليوم الآخر فليقل خيرا أو ليصمت"

"Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, should speak good or keep mute" [Bukhari and Muslim]

May Allah forgive our sins and includes us among those who would inherit His paradise.

First published on 1st Dhul Qa'dah, 1435 AH (26th August, 2014)

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