Part 2 of Why I Write What I Write
Naturally, when discussing an Islamic matter in my posts, I’ll present Islamic evidences where necessary and relevant. But these proofs are intentionally not exhaustive or extensive because, for the purpose of this blog, presenting Islamic proofs is not my focus.
My Reflections Are Informal
The goal of my blog is for readers to reflect, feel inspired, and be empowered by the simplicity of Islam—not to become convinced by my point of view or to use my blog as an official source for “Islamic evidences” on issues discussed here. As I mentioned in Part 1, my hope is that readers seek knowledge for themselves if any subject should spark their interest.
Unfortunately, when we focus on presenting exhaustive evidences for a particular view (or when we feel the need to be convinced by them), we often get lost in the debate. We begin to analyze the “validity” or “strength” of a particular point. We scrutinize the trustworthiness of a book or scholar that is referenced. And sometimes we even scrutinize and attack the bloggers themselves. Consequently, we forget that sometimes the point is not who is right or wrong, but that others have a right to another point of view, even if it’s not mine or yours.
Proofs Are Misleading
I think most Muslims are aware of false proofs being used in arguments. But even when a writer or scholar is sincere, trustworthy, and honest, even “authentic” proofs can be misleading to the layperson—because there’s so much we don’t understand about the principles of permissible disagreements.
Complex issues like the sciences of hadith, scholarly disagreement about certain evidences or historical accounts, and even the fact that some “weak” hadith are actually valid as evidence (not to mention that it is very rare that the authenticity or weakness of any hadith is agreed upon by all hadith scholars) become central to understanding the proofs on an even very basic level. Therefore, to introduce exhaustive proofs into an informal blog would require an equally exhaustive explanation as to how to understand those proofs.
Already, the widespread ignorance of what issues fall under permissible disagreement and what issues do not, is causing so much confusion amongst Muslims that laypeople actually imagine they are “commanding the good and forbidding the evil” by attacking and maligning believers, students of knowledge, and scholars who hold an opinion that they are unfamiliar with—especially if that view appears “too lax” or “too good to be true”, as rigidity and overburdening oneself has become synonymous with “authentic Islam” in many religious circles today.
“Is Beauty Evil?” Uproar
I myself witnessed the phenomenon of overzealous laypeople in response to my “Is Beauty Evil?”blog. Interestingly, most open critics were not even aware of the historically documented, Islamically permissible view attributed to famous Companions and scholars that some acquired zeenah (adornment or beautification)— like henna, rings, and kohl—do not fall under the zeenah that a woman must cover in public (so long as it is not excessive and does not go beyond what is customary). Yet these same critics were foremost in announcing that I was violating Islam itself for even writing the blog. It goes without saying that before you can enter into a refutation, you must be aware of the validity of the opposing view.
Similarly, before I can enter into presenting exhaustive evidences for a point of view, it’s best that my readers know that the point of view even exists in Islam. And those who are interested in understanding the matter further can refer to scholarly discussions on the topic, not my blog.
For surely, if a reader is unfamiliar with the validity of a point of view itself, my blog should not be his or her initial source in learning the scholarly evidences.
But My Scholar Said So!
So many of us think that because our scholar, madhhab, or group has provided exhaustive proofs for a point of view (and because our group has extensively “refuted” the opposing view) that the issue is black-and-white and “case closed.” But this is simply not the case, as any scholar or student of knowledge will tell you regarding permissible differences (most of which will never be resolved conclusively in this world).
In reality, what we as laypeople (especially those who consider themselves “blind followers”) are experiencing is more akin to being an audience member during a debate match—where we are exposed to only one side—than becoming privy to some definitive, conclusive knowledge on the topic.
But because most Muslims are not aware of this aspect of permissible differences, I do not wish to make my blog the platform for what can be perceived as my using extensive proofs to “refute” a person’s scholar, madhhab, or sect. I understand how deep a person’s connection, attachment, and love can be for a person, opinion, and group, especially at the early stages of seeking knowledge—and it can be almost painful to read anything that appears to disrupt that spiritual utopia.
As such, I prefer to merely discuss an issue in an informal manner, thereby providing the reader “food for thought” as opposed to overwhelming proofs.
Moreover, because the goal of my discussions is less about convincing readers of “my” side than about informing readers a legitimate varying view exists, presenting exhaustive evidences is unnecessary in this context.
Then We Can’t Trust You!
“If you don’t give all the evidences,” I’ve been told, “then you can’t expect anyone to trust your point of view!”
And that’s absolutely right. But that too is the point.
By all means, don’t “trust” my point of view, or anyone else’s for that matter—even when they appear to have all the proofs on their side.
Ask questions, doubt, and research—until Allah guides you to what you are absolutely sure is the point of view you should trust, regardless of whether or not it mirrors mine.
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