In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
Yesterday, I re-activated my Facebook account, which I had closed a year ago. My reaction was interesting; I felt overwhelmed by the amount of information and activity happening all around me. Continually updated status, games and chats. I knew then and there, while I will continue to keep my account activated, I will only open it once a day to reply to comments of my dear friends and family and to update my page, if any.
Recalling my experience; the feelings of anxiety of reading or seeing something not appropriate and fearing that I could be tempted to check my Facebook page every 10 minutes, made me think hard about allowing Adam and Daniel to set up their own Facebook accounts.
I know by not having Facebook, they are considered ‘uncool’. Daniel told me that they are the only boys at school who aren’t on Facebook, but I’m sure that can’t be true. I cannot believe that there are no other parents who share the same sentiments as I do about exposing my sons to the negative elements in Facebook.
I was chatting with my former student who was on Facebook yesterday. She asked me why I didn’t let my boys to have their own Facebook. I told her that I was concerned about the things that they would be doing and talking about with their friends on Facebook and she replied, (which I thought was so insightful of her) “Isn’t it good to be open and talk about everything?”. I explained to her that Prophet Muhammad salla Allah alayhi wassalam only spoke when it was necessary and I wanted Adam and Daniel to be like him and not spend time unnecessarily chatting on Facebook.
AlhamdulilLah, she told me what I said made sense and that she will think about it. Even being separated by thousands of miles and more than a year since I last saw her, I am still “Teacher Cher” to her and that made me feel happy that I was still able to share knowledge with her.
This brings me to an serious matter, which I hold very dearly to my heart. The lack (or loss) of sacred knowledge i.e. Al Quran, Hadith and the counsel and advice of great muslim scholars, for ordinary people, on everyday matters.
We have begun to rely less and less on the knowledge of Islam and more on information fed to us by secular materialistic sources, with reels of degrees and titles behind them. One of the advice given to me by Dr. Malik Badri before I left for Ireland was to find myself a good Imam, one who could counsel me in matters of faith and daily affairs. It took me almost a year to finally find an Imam here in Dublin who I felt reassured to receive knowledge from, as he is also a scholar. I made sure I checked his background throughly and specifically, I followed my gut instinct, which I didn’t have when I was checking the other Imams here.
This is important to me; knowing that the person whom I will be taking advice from and acting upon that advice, is himself a reliable source of sacred knowledge. There is a reason why Imam Bukhari discarded thousands of hadiths, because their chain of narration was weak and the person narrating was lacking in character, in one way or another. There is a story of him travelling a great distance to receive a hadith from a narrator but he turned immediately back when he saw that person mistreating a horse!
Now, more than ever, we must begin to shift through our knowledge base and thoroughly check the people we are receiving these knowledge from. I had two experiences where I turned away from accepting knowledge from such and such. One was a man, the other a woman and both are well-known muslim speakers in Malaysia, with university qualifications. The man was telling a story about Prophet Muhammad salla Allah alayhi wassalam and as he was giving an example, acting the role of Prophet Muhammad s.a.w., I was repulsed by his words and action and thought, “The Prophet would’ve never said something like that!” I’ve never accepted any of his works, even when others were singing his accolades.
I went to a halaqah, where I didn’t know the speaker, even though she was an established speaker. I liked her presentation and the information she shared, but I wanted to make sure it was reliable so afterwards, I went up to her and asked her for her qualifications and background. She gave it to me but I was surprised at her anger/ impatience? of being asked. Never went to any of her talks again after that…
Allahu A’lam. I don’t know why I’m being so persnickety about checking the background of scholars and speakers I receive knowledge from but I can tell you that it has made a lot of difference in shaping my world view. Insha’Allah, I don’t think I’ve been taqlid about any branch of knowledge, reading and acting upon both the works of Imam Bukhari (Saheeh Bukhari) and Imam Malik (Al-Muwatta), for example.
Let me share with you this hadith, which acts as a reminder to us that we are just temporary travellers in this Dunya and our Final Abode is in the Hereafter.
“Truly, Allah does not remove Sacred Knowledge by taking it out of servants, but rather by taking back the souls of Islamic scholars [in death], until, when He has not left a single scholar, the people take the ignorant as leaders, who are asked for and who give Islamic legal opinion without knowledge, misguided and misguiding” (Sahih BukhariÂ – Fath al-Bari, 1.194, hadith 100)
Allah knows best.