“Not everybody can give up their lives and go study somewhere, not everybody can learn full time, not everybody can learn overnight, not everybody can learn within a year, but everybody should be on a journey of learning” – Nouman Ali Khan
We must take advantage of the explosion of information we have today. The easy accessibility of the internet.
If you don’t have basic knowledge on your religion, people can easily take advantage of you. Someone will come out with a crazy claim, alleging it’s source is from the Qur’an or the Shari’a, and because you have this belief that this person knows more than you, you are going to believe them and even more dangerously, follow them.
Assume you’re going to your local printing shop, requesting to get a booklet of 50 pages printed, all in black and white with the exception of two or three pages in color. If you don’t have the basic knowledge of printing prices, at least the minimum and maximum margin of a price per page, you could be easily fooled. Imagine the worker tells you to pay 50 BD for the booklet, 1 BD for each page, even adding that he discounted you for the pages in color. Are you going to believe them? Are you not going to question the absurdity of this inflation? A single page would cost 0.25 fils, even 0.50 or even a 100 fils if it’s a really fancy printing shop with extraordinarily high-quality ink imported from the founding country of pigmented ink. But not 1 BD for a page! Right? From a religious standpoint, this would be the same. This is the same in religion. If you don’t have the basic knowledge of your Islam, your Qu’ran, you could be easily deceived and taken advantage of only to find yourself following scholarship and seemingly more knowledgeable people because you haven’t taken the time and effort to learn and comprehend your religion.
One of the basic demands of our Qur’an is to learn and reflect.
Don’t stick to second-hand information. Form your own opinion. It’s a form of Ijtihad. Ijtihad is not an act reserved for the most clever and religious of people. It’s for all of us. In Islam, all of us are equal. We and our superiors and subordinates are equal. We and our great messengers are equal. We were created equal and therefore we are equal.
The solution is to directly connect with your Qur’an. It has millions of messages to be deciphered and undertsood. It is there for you to reflect and prosper. It’s there for you to free your intellect, and have your own perspective.
The idea of following scholarship without thinking on your own is absurd. There is absolutely no point in praising a figure so great and knowlegeable without first and foremost, attempting to imitate their Ijtihad and efforts they put in coming up with their opinions, reflections and solutions. You don’t have to be a philosopher or a religious scholar to learn, understand and form your own opinion.
It’s not that you should undermine those hard-working pious scholars, not at all. But you should be able to leave a room, a lecture, a religious sermon or even a casual conversation, with your own opnion and standpoint.
We are all here to experience Islam. Don’t let the path of others blind you to your own. Your parent’s Islam is not better than yours, nor is that of your greatest Sheikh. Simply, their Islam is different, the outcome of their experience of Islam is different. Islam is different for all of us. It’s not about coming up or inventing your own Islam that is more suitable and comfortable to your lifestyle and claiming that it is your own way of Islam. No. It’s really about learning the truth of your religion through dedicated research, reading and learning. Don’t believe that people know more than you and sway towards them and their heavy basket of knowledge.
Don’t allow yourself to be just fed the religion you were brought into or converted/reverted to. Your beautiful religion is not a mathematical equation that’s going to be the same for everyone. Each Muslim’s soul, purpose, and experience is different. Therefore, the outcome of each person’s Islam is different. How it looks and feels like is different. Islam suits us all, after all it is for all of humanity but it does not mean we all have to be the same. Find your own Islam. Learn first-handedly about your religion. You might face a difficult test in life or exposed to a revolutionary experience that shapes your perspective of Islam forever. Not everyone will get this same revelation and breakthrough. We are all tested in different ways, we all have different realizations and breakthroughs that define and redefine our Iman, our Islam.
Why is there a million interpretations to a surah, verse or hadith? It’s simple. Our opinions reflect our experiences, our knowledge so far. Tomorrow we might learn something new and that will wholly change our initial opinion and perspective that someone who would be quick to notice will call you up on it, calling you you a Munafiq or indecisive person. But you know wholeheartedly that’s not really the case. There’s no shame in acquiring new information and reshaping and defining your opinions. Changed knowledge and experience changes one’s perspective, you really have no hand in it so let it be. Allow yourself to learn and continue to learn.
If you commit to learning and reflecting, surely Allah will guide you, there is no doubt about that.