One of the unfortunate trends of our times is inflation of Nafs (self) and overestimation of one’s talents and capabilities. Adequate evaluation of one’s capabilities is commendable, but in the current era of techno-liberal advancement, more often than not, we find the tendency to overestimate and quite problematically, in areas of deep esoteric and exoteric concern. Labouring sincerely, under these false delusions while deliberating with complex maters could have been avoided altogether by resorting to expert guidance.
Unfortunately, we consider ourselves adequately qualified and capable of finding solutions to our religio-spiritual problems blissfully ignorant of the rich history, tradition, experience and dedication of pious servants (Ulamah) of Islam over a millennium. The realisation doesn’t occur that most of us are not even well informed, let alone well trained in Islamic sciences to derive Islamic rulings for our problems!
The issuance of Islamic verdicts requires in-depth analysis and detailed research. Researching the intricacies of a particular Maḍhab (legal school of thought) on a particular issue requires access to authentic knowledge, training and nurturing in the principles of the Maḍhab which have been carefully derived from the Qurān and Ḥadīth.
Similar to how we don’t even contemplate treating our own complex medical conditions or attempt “self-diagnosis”, we must consult Ulamah in matters of Islamic Shariah since they are the “experts” as Allah (SWT) has states:
“Ask those who remember if you know not.” [16:43]
Similarly Rasul-ullah صلي الله عليه وسلم has said:
“Verily, the cure of ignorance is asking.”(Sunan Abī Dāwūd, 1/132, Sunan Ibn Mājāh, 1/189)
Our pious predecessors ascended the pinnacles of knowledge and virtue due to constantly questioning the “Ulamah”. Someone asked the great Linguist, ‘Allāmah Aṣma’i (May Allāh Ta’ālā be pleased with him), ‘How did you attain what you attained?” He replied, ‘By constantly asking…”(Jāmi’ bayān al-‘ilm, 1/181)
‘Allāmah Zuhri (May Allāh Ta’ālā be pleased with him) said, “Knowledge is a treasure, and its key is asking.” (Musnad Dārimi, 1/147)
Asking is the path of gradual ascension in the ranks of knowledge. On the contrary, the consequences of not asking are rather too obvious.
A person might peruse a book or two, but what happens if the book is distorted, or the view mentioned therein is weak, or he did not understand properly? It is precisely for this reason that the great exegete, ‘Allāmah Mujāhid (May Allāh Ta’ālā be pleased with him) said, “Knowledge will never be attained by a person who is too arrogant (to ask) or too shy (to ask).”
Unlike any other science, Islāmic knowledge is a light (nūr) which is derived from the bosoms of ‘Ulamā, rather than books. In order to learn Islām, it is imperative to sit at the feet of ‘Ulamā, who have links of transmission of knowledge and spiritual wisdom, man to man, generation to generation right up to the Holy Prophet (Peace and blessing upon him) وسلم.
Our pious predecessors greatly warned us from attempting to explore the oceans of Islāmic sciences independently. Imām Awzā’i (May Allāh Ta’ālā be pleased with him), a famous and erudite jurist of his era, says, ‘Knowledge was sublime as long as it was taken from the mouths of the learned men. But when it ended up in books, its nur (divine light) vanished.” (Taqyīd al-‘Ilm pg.61 and its footnotes)
Someone once asked Imām Mālik (May Allāh Ta’ālā be pleased with him) if knowledge could be obtained from one who did not sit in the company of the ‘Ulamā (rather he sufficed with books only). He replied in the negative and said, ‘Knowledge should not be acquired except from one who has memorized (what they learned from scholars), accompanied scholars (themselves), practised upon his knowledge and has piety in him.’ (Refer to Adab al-Ikhtilāf pg.145)
Hence it is only wise, that in keeping with the aphorisms related above, we seek out the ‘Ulamā, associate with them and benefit from their knowledge and spirituality. But today a lot of us find ourselves in various diasporas and distant from our traditional centres of knowledge; where the ‘Ulamā are few and far between. Often we find ourselves in situations where we need to find answers to some religious question in times and places where the ‘Ulamā are not accessible. The internet can be a blessing in these situations if it is utilized appropriately. The increased dependence of people on the internet necessitates an increased presence of authentic Islām on it. And so, with the demands of the time in mind we have decided to introduce www.fatwaa.com, where seekers of Islāmic knowledge can ask questions and find answers to their day to day queries from authentic ‘Ulamā, thereby ensuring that all their actions are done in accordance to the Sharī’ah. While there is no real substitute for being in the actual presence of ‘Ulamā, this can serve as a means to that end. May Allāh Ta’ālā accept our humble efforts. Āmīn.