We are living in a time and a place where the role models are easily available and span across nations. This is especially true of the youth as they are now able to access people through internet and social media.
For those who aren’t aware, social media has now made role models of ordinary people. These are people, often without any real talent, who have followers in the millions and views in the tens of millions. We even have terms for them as the internet has named them influencers.
The Muslim Ummah is facing challenges unlike ever before. We are amongst a crowd of followers and to stand firm is often near impossible as it goes against the grain of the rest of society.
However, the notion of critical thinking or independent thinking is not a new one. Nor is it something that is discouraged in Islam. As Muslims, most of us may have been born into the faith and this is an immense blessing, but we are told to question and use reasoning to have faith.
The principle of the Quran, from numerous ayats, is to encourage us to think about the Earth and the Heavens, to ponder over life, existence and the meanining of our creation. The imam mentioned the 10th ayat of Sura Al-Mulk which is translated to say:
And they will say, “If only we had been listening or reasoning, we would not be among the companions of the Blaze.”
Dear brothers and sisters, we need to recognize that following the masses is not something that befits a Muslim. We are taught from Allah SWT and from the Messenger of Allah SWT, peace and blessings be upon him, that we are blessed with a mind and that we must use it to reach our own conclusions.
This is true also of our parents. We must not rely on tradition or handed down beliefs without sound reasoning we conduct ourselves. After all, if this were true then how can we successfully invite others to Islam as they would simply counter with the fact that they are also blindly following what their parents have taught them.
Allah SWT speaks of this in Sura Al-Maidah, ayat 104 which is mentioned by the imam in today’s reminder. It is translated to say:
And when it is said to them, “Come to what Allah has revealed and to the Messenger,” they say, “Sufficient for us is that upon which we found our fathers.” Even though their fathers knew nothing, nor were they guided?
Dear brothers and sisters, we need to understand that we are now encased within a form of living that is heavily leant towards no critical thinking. Whether it is the social media superstars mentioned earlier, or the political parties and their agenda or the mainstream media news we are fed, we live in a time where everything ought to be questioned and it begins with questioning ourselves.
But having independent thought and becoming a nation of thinkers does not mean that we alienate ourselves from others. First we must recognise within ourselves if we are followers or thinkers and then share with others the critical thinking that leads us to calling ourselves Muslim.
If we ponder over the example of Prophet Ibrahim, peace be upon him, we are taught that the attempted to guide his father to the truth but did so with love, compassion and respect. We as Muslims, also need to be wary of our role and how best to carry it out.
And so, this reminder concludes with 3 step plan that we can all implement today in order to be of those who are leaders in critical thinking and reasoning and not followers of others.
- Look within ourselves and see if we are followers or leaders. Dear brothers and sisters, the temptation of social media is great. Most of us have a ritual of looking at the news feed in these channels. The question is, even if this is something that we are engaged it, are we using these tools to boost our knowledge and our roles as Muslims and as leaders of society?
If we are to fulfil our roles in this time as place as a representation of the truth then we need to first see who our influencers are? Is it someone we’ve never met on YouTube or is it a respected scholar or speaker on Islam? Who we put in the place of a role model will ultimately dictate who we become.
- Are we referring to the ultimate tool at our disposal when it comes to independent thinking? All of us are aware that the Quran is a timeless miracle, capable of delivering guidance and wisdom to help us become worthy representatives of Islam. But how many of us are making an active effort here? As mentioned today, in Sura Muhammed ayat 24 it says:
Then do they not reflect upon the Qur’an, or are there locks upon [their] hearts?
Dear brothers and sisters, each of us ought to make a sincere and consistent effort to dedicate time towards reflection on the Quran. Whether it’s through learning Quranic Arabic to help understand, or through a translation or through respected scholars teaching lessons from the Quran. This ought to be part of our ongoing learning process in life.
- Recognise that we are Muslim and that we are put here for a purpose beyond being a Muslim. Dear brothers and sisters, we are here not only to follow the religion of Islam but also as representatives of this faith. Only on the day of judgement will we realise who we impacted as Muslims and what trait of our behaviour and our character they adopted or interpreted as being something belonging to Islam.
We need to understand this fact and therefore not only perform the mandatory but also to aim to follow as many sunnah acts as possible so that we are recognised as Muslims. So many reverts to Islam recognize traits in Muslims around them that brings them to Islam and so we must be wary of our impact and act accordingly in our everyday lives.
Dear brothers and sisters, we are living in a time and a place where the need for critical thought is as important as ever. The internet may be the source of many problems, but it is also a source of accessible information that can help guide us towards critical thinking and becoming true ambassadors of Islam for others to follow.Read More
This week’s reminder is about intellect and evidence from Quran and Sunnah
Dear brothers and sisters, we spoke last week of the great gifts that we have been given from Allah SWT and one of those we spoke of was the revelation that is the Glorious Quran.
However, one of the ones we are going to touch upon in this week’s reminder is that of intellect or the human mind to think, to understand and to comprehend.
So in this day and age, where we have the revelation from Allah SWT. A direct speech of our Lord, the master of the Day of Judgment, in a form that is guarded and is free from any deviation since the day it was revealed, why is is then that we have those who disbelieve?
Allah SWT spoke of this in the Quran and the imam mentioned it today. Sura Imran, ayat 101 can be translated to say:
And how could you disbelieve while to you are being recited the verses of Allah and among you is His Messenger? And whoever holds firmly to Allah has [indeed] been guided to a straight path.
Dear brothers and sisters, as you may know, each and every ayat of the Quran has a blessing and a lesson for us to ponder upon. If we look at the translation of this, we can derive that it is only the defiantly disobedient who hold on to their desires and their inertia for ignorance do they remain in a state of disbelief.
We hear again and again of people who come to Islam after studying the Quran and in fact we heard of this once again in the news this week with the German Far-Right political party, known for its anti-muslim rhetoric, having to release a statement because one of it’s executive members reverted to Islam. Allahu Akbar.
We have people who disbelieve, reiterating a narration that the mind and the spirit cannot co-exist. They claim that science disproves religion and that if there was a mindful person then they cannot be believers in religion. In essence they place science in place of religion and they dismiss the opinion of those who believe as not using their heads.
So how does one tackle this firstly and secondly why is there this disagreement between the two?
Firstly, we need to understand that science and religion are not opposite to each other. In Islam, we are taught to have critical thinking, the Quran tells us to ponder, to give it some thought. Indeed, when the Quran was being revealed, each letter, each word, each ayat was meticulously read and studied for lessons and for guidance.
The Quran is the verbatim word of Allah SWT. In other words, it is the direct speech of Allah SWT without translation, via the Prophet SAWS. So, if we ponder the verses of the Quran, does it make us at odds with critical thinking or with science?
The misfortune we have growing up in this country is that we are not taught the impact that Islam actually had on sciences. From glasses to coffee to the actual concept of organised learning, i.e. universities, these all came from Islam.
We have pioneers throughout history in all areas of critical thinking and in all areas of science. On top of that, we have the glorious Quran itself telling us about areas of science, challenging man to replicate the miracles within the book, asking us if we can see these miracles then why do we not believe?
Just a layman’s study of the Quran will discover topics such as Astronomy, Geology, Biology with detailed explanations on the human embryology and the water cycle. This contradicts the narrative that science and religion cannot exist as the Quran is also a book of science as well as being a complete teacher in life.
We don’t need to fall silent when we hear of those who claim religion has no place in the mind of a critical thinker as we have a book here that not only encourages it but then challenges it through scientific facts which could not possibly have been known 15 centuries ago.
So with that being said, how is that we still have people that disbelieve or disagree with the message?
This part of the reminder can be divided into two parts. Firstly, the disagreement can be due to the hadith being fabricated, the translation being misinterpreted or worse still, take out of context to suit a certain opinion.
We ought to take a lesson from this in that, especially in this time and place of misinformation, we ought to be conscious of this danger and thus spend effort in verifying what we hear from reputable teachers we know.
The second reason can be down to our own shortcomings when it comes to understanding the lessons in the Quran and from the hadith.
The imam mentioned a hadith in which the Prophet SAWS is translated to have said:
Verily, the (peoples) before you were ruined because of their disputation in the Book. All the parts and the Ayat of the book of Allah confirming each other, put what you know into action and whichever you have no knowledge about then leave it for it’s scholar.
Dear brothers and sisters, we can derive an important lesson from this hadith and that is we should avoid the habit of being the online Sheikh. This phenomenon has come about through the advent of the internet where these days everybody shares their opinion on complex topics and often without study and indepth knowledge of the subject.
We ought to remind ourselves that those hadiths and ayats being commented on are usually done by people who dedicate their lives to this area of study and for us to refute or comment is disrespectful at the very least and actually contradicts the overall message of using our brains wisely.
After all, if there is a topic on Rocket Science, we wouldn’t dream of going on a forum and debating the points with other experts unless we are experts ourselves.
The lesson here again is to follow the advice and guidance of teachers that have proven to be of good reputation and have sound knowledge. For most, the first port of call is their local imam.
Dear brothers and sisters, we have been blessed with sound mind and a thirst for the truth. Let us not be of those who waste it in mindless activities and instead use it for the pursuit of the truth and guidance that comes from the Quran and the Sunnah.Read More