07 Jul How do you learn about Islam, I’m actually scared. I don’t want to be jealous
How do you learn about Islam, I’m actually scared. I don’t want to be jealous
Assalam-o-alikum. Firstly, you’re awesome, MashAllah. I just found your blog and it’s so helpful. I will go through it at a later time properly. Now, I have two questions:1. There is so much emphasis on learning about one’s religion that it’s overwhelming and I’m actually scared thinking there’s so much I need to know. How do I stop stressing and actually do something about it, other than reading your blog? 2. How does one to terms with the fate & make peace with it without being jealous. Thnks
Wa alykum as-salaam,
I’d like to begin by thanking you for your praise, I don’t think I deserve it, and you will probably agree after actually going through my tumblr. Insha Allah, I hope to improve and actually earn the praise you have given me.
Your first question is a question that many Muslims ask, and every time I hear it, I honestly say alhamdulilah. Why? Because, it means that Muslims are hungry to know more, they want to, and they are pushing themselves to know for themselves, rather than being given Islamic knowledge. This desire, in my opinion, is one of the major reasons Islam is strong, because we, as Muslims, are expected to pursue knowledge, not simply to receive it.
This aspect of the Islamic tradition is one of our greatest strengths, but, as your question illustrates, because Muslims (especially in the West) are such over-achievers, we put this tremendous pressure upon ourselves to know everything there is to know about Islam. When you factor in the fact that Muslims are constantly asked about all aspects about Islam by our friends, neighbors, and co-workers, you feel a certain pressure to know everything.
I understand the pressures of feeling that you need to know all the answers. So, just relax, and know that it’s okay to say “I don’t know.” I say it, a lot, and most probably more often.
However, the other issue that we do not talk about, and this bothers me, personally, is the way that Islam is packaged and presented to us, as Muslims, by our leaders today.
There is this perception that the “scholars” have education in all aspects of Islam. That these scholars, somehow, have some magical or mythical understanding of all aspects of Islam is, honestly, laughable.
I’m not commenting on the status of an Imam or whether a particular scholar has a higher level of piety and closeness to God. Only God knows the true answers to these questions.
The scholars that we think of as these super educated, all-knowing vessels of knowledge is problematic, and I’ll tell you why.
Scholars specialize their education. No scholar, and I mean this, no scholar has a scholarly education and opinion on all aspects of Islam. They study particular subjects. My grandfather, a Sheikh from Al-Azhar, had his doctorate in tafseer, or Qur’anic exegesis. Others study Usul al-Fiqh, Usul al-Deen, aqidah, or even Arabic linguistics. There is an endless amount of topics to study, and as humans, we have limits to our understanding.
Let me put it to you this way, if you asked a doctor what their specialization in medicine was, and they responded “everything,” you would laugh, right? It would be ridiculous, because doctors specialize in things: orthopedics, cardiology, etc
I tell you all this because Muslims constantly compare themselves to scholars, and they also go to scholars for answers to things that are not in their field of specialty. What bothers me even more, is that people listen to those with some sort of Islamic education, many times, in subjects that the educator is not specifically trained in.
Can a scholar (for example) whose specialization is aqidah comment on aspects of Shariah? Of course, they will have familiarity with the subject, but, again, the issue is that they have limits.
How does this relate to your first question? I talk about the scholars to bring up a point, that all people, even those who’s life’s work is studying Islam will be ignorant to aspects of Islam. If those who’s profession involves Islam cannot know everything, then why would you be so hard on yourself?
My suggestion would be to explore the aspect of Islam that interests you the most, and in my experience, you will learn about the other fields as a result, while having a deep appreciation of the specific approach that you focused upon. You should be aware of what you know and what you don’t, and this will make you more humble and also better prepared to approach finding the answers to questions you don’t know the answers to.
The way I’d put it, is this way: when trying to draw water from the ground, is it better to dig six, one-foot wells or one, six-foot wells?
To use myself as an example, I chose Shariah, and it was this particular aspect of Islam that I began to be exposed to other aspects of Islam as a result.
Also, alhamdulilah, because of your questions, I have had to return to my notes and earlier basic foundational education earlier in my life, which has improved my understanding and my connection with God. So, I must thank all of you for helping me. Rabina yu’barik feekom, insha Allah.
So, to clearly answer your first question, I suggest you focus on a particular aspect of Islam that you find interesting, because it will open the doors to other avenues and other fields of study. Also, even if you become the greatest scholar to ever live, be humble in whatever knowledge you gain, because there is always something you won’t know.
It is from that perspective, humility, in which I’d like to answer your second question. All knowledge that improves you and others is Islamic knowledge, whether that is biology, sociology, or engineering: the knowledge that you have is not just a gift for you, it is a test from God.
Gifts are easy to be jealous of, because you look at it as something to possess. Knowledge is a gift from God, but, again, it is also a test. No matter what your knowledge, and in this regard you could have more knowledge to benefit people than a super knowledgeable scholar, the test from God is what do you do with that knowledge.
Your fate is in your hands. Sure, there are things in which God only has dominion over, but we do not believe in predestination, because if we did, then what are we being tested on? Your fate is what you make it, and thus, it is up to you what you end up doing. Insha Allah, you rise to the potential given to you by God.
With these two ideas in mind, in that your fate is in your hands and that knowledge is not just a gift, but a test, you should look at those who have knowledge not as someone to envy, but someone who is tested more than you. They have a greater burden, because they are more aware of what harm they can do to others and themselves. You should not envy them, but feel sorry for them, because they will have more to answer for than you or I.
I think the pursuit of knowledge, regardless of the consequences, and in view of the benefits to you and your society, is the way towards God. I’d like to close with a great quote from Sheikh Muhammad Karam Shah al-Azhari, a Pakistani scholar who studied at Al-Azhar in Egypt: “If the flame of knowledge burns out then human contemplation is incarcerated by superstitions and nonsense.”
Insha Allah, I hope I answered your question, and if you or anyone else has a question on this, or any other issue, please do not hesitate to ask.