Campus Politics

September 7, 2008 at 6:46 pm (Uncategorized) (, )

Some things in the last day or two reminded me why I hated to get involved in campus ISoc (Islamic Society, equivalent to the MSA) politics while I was at university. It bothers me that different factions fight over meaningless things as if they were important, and are so busy going around labelling each other Sufi or Salafi or whatever that they never got anything done, and rejecting this Sheikh or that speaker on the basis of not finding their aqeedah sound, as if their own knowledge were sufficient to allow them to make those judgements. In fairness to those people, however, they are following the advice of their own adopted shuyukh, with which I don’t take fault – the thing I find blameworthy is the gratuitous abuse that happens, in the name of preserving the deen or something, that there is no excuse for in our adab.

I have often wondered if that was not a failure to understand the mind and ideas of those people in question. It makes me think of the way people reacted to the likes if Ibn Taymiyyah in his own time – they thought his ideas were dangerous, and it has taken us several hundred years to catch up to him in understanding – now, you wouldn’t find anyone questioning his theological soundness. So perhaps we should entertain the idea that we may not have reached a sufficient understanding that would allow us to correctly access their ideas, and the fault may lie equally in ourselves and our lack of knowledge.

People also forget that the differences between scholars are a source of mercy, not conflict: the universality of Islam necessitates a broad spectrum, in order that everyone might find their place on it. Everyone is at a different place in their personal development and closeness to Allah, so it has to be able to accommodate people of every kind and at every stage, from the ‘liberal’ muslim, to the ‘extreme’, and we calibrate to the happy medium via the Qur’an. What has to be understood is that these states are the result of the health of our relationship with Allah (where both extremes indicate low health).

When the hadith about the number of groups is cited by one group or another, they seem to think it refers specifically to them. I remember asking my dad about this hadith when I was younger (I was anxious I wouldn’t be in the right group), and his patient explanation that it didn’t refer specifically to one group, but that the group would consist of all of those people throughout the ummah who fit the criteria. There is also no indication of the size of the group, so to assume all but a very few special muslims are going to hell – well, that is SILLY. People should really not concern themselves about whether or not everyone else is going to hell until they’ve looked to themselves.

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