07 Jul What Are Islamic Scholars?
What Are Islamic Scholars?
I do not like the term “scholars,” as I have mentioned in my lectures and in various posts; what we call “scholars” were actually “jurists,” which means they were, what we call today, “lawyers.”
Our understanding of what constitutes “scholars” is fundamentally incorrect. Our understanding of what “scholars say,” (and why) is also, many times factually incorrect.
Our ability to argue with scholars, is what we lack, because the scholars have failed us and we have failed ourselves, because we have refused to learn and the scholars (today) who teach, teach our Islam incompletely.
There is a methodology towards Islamic study, and while I have written and said, publicly, how I believe that Islamic education, as it is packaged today, continues to prevent Muslims from thinking critically (which, funnily enough, is the Islamic methodology), we cannot blame the scholars, especially as there are many who do, indeed, teach the methodology.
So, I level the responsibility on our own shoulders, and I will tell you why:
You see, when you go to your weekend course on the Fiqh of underwater basket weaving, or whatever, what you are doing, is you are learning a set of facts about Islam. So, it goes “Oh, The Prophet did x, y, z and now I know this. Hooray.”
So, what you have ended up with, is a patch-work of fun facts on Islam. Masha Allah, I am actually impressed, many have this overwhelming amount of knowledge, but what worries me is that we have not understood the fundamentals, the foundations of our faith.
You can challenge a scholar, but the scholar is 99 times out of 100 going to win, not because they are smarter or better, or whatever, but because they have the knowledge of the how-to, and as Muslims, especially young Muslims, we seldom, if ever, care to learn about those aspects.
Because they’re boring. Learning about Ijma or Qiyas is boring, and the only jurisprudential tool that people want to learn about is “Ijtihad” which no one understands, but everyone talks about.
So, yes, Islamic scholarship, especially in the West, doesn’t teach us these aspects of our religion. On the other hand, no one wants to learn about it either. Everyone wants to learn about how to get married in the “Halal way” or whether “if my dad, drives a red car, and my mom wears Hijab that is egg-shell white, am I going to hell;” we’re never asking about the how, and yet we have these constant debates, back-and-forth, because no one actually has studied these aspects. The result is that people are arguing with their particular patch-work of Islamic knowledge, rather than through the Islamic methodology.
Have I studied these things? Alhamdulilah, yes, I have. Let me tell you this: it’s the easiest part to get to know, just to know what it is; the hard part is applying it.
Is this a complete, comprehensive post that explains the entirety of Islamic scholarship? No, it doesn’t, but I hope that it brings some perspective, and hopefully, will make you choose the boring book on Islamic jurisprudence over the more exciting Rumi or Al-Ghazali book, because I promise you, reading the book on jurisprudential methods will help you understand Rumi and Al-Ghazali a lot better.