Referring to the Experts

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(Summary of Mufti Ebrahim Salejee’s majlis (Saturday 1st December)

The Arabs did not have the knowledge of heavenly and divine scriptures. Hence, when Nabi (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) informed them of his nubuwwat, they sent a delegation to the Jews enquiring whether the rasuls (messengers) that had come before, were men or angels. The Jews replied that they were men. So their minds were clear that all rasuls were men like us. And they had to be men and not angels, for if they were angels, then angels do not get tired etc. So how will they be able to understand human life? 

There are basically two categories of people: (1) ahluz zikr - those who have knowledge (2) ghair ahluz zikr (those who do not have knowledge). This is the system in worldly knowledge as well.

Then there are two types of texts that appear in the Qur’aan and Hadeeth: (1) Clear and categorical. Someone who has got the knowledge of this can follow this directly. For example, the prohibition of zina or the command of salaah etc. (2) Unclear and ambiguous or there seems to be a contradiction with other aayaat or ahaadeeth. To understand these, one’s knowledge needs to be extremely sound. When we are faced with such a text then the requisite is that we follow an imaam of fiqh. When people like Imaam Ghazaali, Imaam Raazi and even greater than them, Imaam Tirmizi (rahimahumullah) saw the need of following an imaam, then how much more in need are we. This is the consensus of all Ulama of the past that one will need to follow an imaam. In fact, the following of an imaam is a relief.

One has to be competent and have a high level of understanding to interpret the Qur’aan and Hadeeth. It is not the field of anyone and everyone. Some are geared and made for the field of hadeeth, and some for fiqh and interpreting the hadeeth. Such people are worthy of following. Look at a simple example. Everybody accepts Imaam Bukhaari (rahimahullah) as a luminary in the field of hadeeth, but he was not recognised in the field of fiqh. Therefore, we will find that Imaam Tirmizi (rahimahullah) who was his student, yet when reporting the views of the fuqahaa regarding a particular hadeeth he would enlist the names of Imaam Shaafi`ee, Imaam Ahmad (rahimahumallah), etc. yet he would not report the view of Imaam Bukhaari. Hence, for each field there are different people who are qualified and experts, and they are the ones who are to be followed.

In the time of the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu anhum) if they were not sure of anything, they would ask you to refer to someone more knowledgeable. Nowadays, everyone has become a mufti and has the ability to answer. If someone asks you a question and you have the slightest reservation, then ask the person to refer to someone. When the Ambiyaa (alaihimus salaam) and Malaa’ikah did not know something, they would say that we do not know. However, nowadays we feel ashamed to say, “I do not know.”

Date: 2012-12-01

Duration: 01:16:46

Format: MP3

Size: 13.2 MB

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