The religion of Islam as completed by the final Messenger, Muhammed (SAW), is an entire way of life. Everything we do is Islam. The way we worship, eat, put on our clothes, removes our clothes, work and play is Islam. Even the way we treat other people is Islam!
For something to be everything; it natrually needs to be balanced and always upon a middle path statically.
During my journey calling towards the middle way in our affairs; I have unfortunately come across individuals who have taken it upon themselves to criticise the beliefs of other believers. They proclaim an individual to be an innovator in religion and fail to find inner peace and contentment until they do everything in their capacity to expose the supposed perpetrator. This unfortunate reality is further emphasized when individuals from the general public declare war against an Islamic propgator (daa’i), student of knowledge (taalib ilm) or scholar (sheikh).
Why unfortunately? Isn’t due criticism the middle way!? Isn’t innovation in the religion frowned upon and forbidden is Islam?
Well YES and NO…
NO- when the criticism is void of following due diligence and the established guidelines in Islam.
YES- when the criticism is based on established paramters and guidelines. The keyword here being ‘established’.
Islam being a middle way and a complete way of life, has without doubt, listed for us *clearly* the rules and regulations before a conclusion of any kind can be declared upon the believers.
Failure to follow these guidelines natrually would take a person off the middle way and cause them to become abusive of the rights of the other believers, all of which carry severe penalties in this life and the next.
Whenever a declaration of someone being an innovator in religion or misguided is passed; there will always be a third party. This party is represented by the innocent bystanders who try and make sense of all chaos. Their woes are further aggravated when the disadvantaged labels are thrown against people they respect, or even teachers whom they learn their religion from.
“I’m confused! I’ve just heard that my teacher is a person of bid’ah (innovation), and the people labelling him practice the religion better then me and come across as so sincere!”
“The person labelling my teacher is the same person who introduced me to him!”
“The person warning me against the brother is the one who introduced me to Islam. I cannot doubt his intentions!”
These are but some of the voices shared by the innocent onlooker.
In addressing this, I would like to share two points, as follows:
1. Our pious before us have taught us that the way to the hell-fire can also be paved with good intentions. It is imperative that we understand sincerity does not turn misguidance into guidance.
2. It is not enough to be sincere. Conformity to the teachings of the final Messenger (SAW) in practice must exisit as well.
This reality is established in our first article of faith, the ‘shahaadah’, in which we never seperate the fact that there is no one worthy of worship besides one Allah (sincerity), from the fact that Muhammed (SAW) is His servant and messenger (conformity to the teachings of the final Messenger (SAW).
Based on this; a (sincere) individual lacking (conformity) creates a paradox, and a paradox is a sight for sore eyes!
In the spirit of celebrating ‘how’, I end off by sharing with you established principles based on evidence and precedent in terms of the practice of the pious and rightly guided before us related to the topic of passing declarations over other believers. Contemplate these principles and hold tight onto them, especially when a sincere individual visits you in the future with a similar matter to the one addressed by this post.
These principles are as follows:
1. Declaring a Muslim as a disbeliever or innovator is a religious verdict which carries rules and regulations and can only be determined by those who Islam has established as authorities over us in these matters. This does not include the general public.
2. It is forbidden (haraam) to declare a Muslim as a disbeliever or an innovator in an unestablished way.
3. It is compulsory to verify the actual occurence of the speech or act that is being used to declare someone a disbeliever or innovator.
4. It is compulsory to verify that speech or act that has been established as having occured to be from the matters declared by established evidence to be a matter of disbelief or innovation.
5. It is compulsory to ensure that all the established conditions in Islam have been met before declaring someone a disbeliever or innovator, in the event of point 3 & 4 above being established. (The list of these conditions are not the point of this post and are known to the authorities in Islam.)
6. It is compulsory to establish the non-existance of the factors which *prevent* the ruling of disbelief and innovation being applied upon the accused, in the event of point 3 & 4 above being established. (The list of these factors are not the point of this post and are known to the authorities in Islam.)
7. Only those who have been established as authorities by Islam in passing ruling over the believers can offer declarations of disbelief and innovation, not the lay-public.
8. The established authorities by Islam in this matter can differ in their rulings & declarations over another due to differences in their conclusions from their study of the matters discussed in points 3,4,5 & 6. These differences in conclusions are valid, and as such, it is impermissible to declare oppossing counsel as misguided.
9. Whoever’s Islam and guidance has been established with certainty; it impermissible to declare disbelief or misguidance upon that person except with oppossing certainty established by evidence. It is not enough, and in fact prohibited, to declare a ruling based on suspicion.
May Allah increase our knowledge, forgive us and correct the affairs of the believers across the globe. Ameen.
And Allah almighty knows best.