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Our parents, teachers and our scholars cannot surely be wrong, can they?

Updated: May 30

When all else fails, the proponents of Hadith repeat the age-old “argument” of “Our parents and our teachers and our scholars cannot be wrong and we will guide ourselves in their footsteps”.


This argument is flawed and has been identified within the Qur’an as the biggest hindrance in the path of accepting the truth of Allah’s revelations. Whenever Allah sent a Message to the people, they always resisted. Here are some of the examples of why people would not follow the Guidance delivered by the Messengers of Allah:

"And when it is said to them: `Follow what Allah has revealed!’ They say: `Nay! We will follow what we found our ancestors following.' What ! Even Though their Ancestors were void of wisdom and guidance?" (2:170)

When Prophet Nuh called them towards Allah’s Guidance, they replied to him:

"..Never did we hear such a thing among our Ancestors of old." (23:24)

When Prophet Hud told his people to not consider anyone or anything worthy of service besides Allah, they rebuked him and said:

"..Have you come to us that we may serve Allah alone and leave that which our Ancestors served..?" (7:70)

Similar answers were given to Prophet Salih and Prophet Shuaib:

"..Do you forbid us that which our Ancestors served?" (11:62)

"O Shuaib, does your Salat order that we leave of that which our Ancestors served." (11:87)

When Prophet Ibrahim showed them that they need to use their reason and serve only Allah, they had but one reply for him:

"They said:`Nay we but found our Ancestors doing thus what we do!" (26:74)

When people hear “new” things from Allah’s revelations, they are amazed at it and refuse to believe in it because they never heard such a thing from their ancestors. This was their response when Prophet Moses gave them the clear revelations of Allah:

"..Never did we hear the like among our Ancestors of old!" (28:36)

When someone tries to get the people to focus on Allah’s revelations alone, they always accuse him of trying to create innovations and divert them from the path of their “righteous” ancestors. When the Prophet Muhammad came to his people and started delivering the Qur’an, they accused him of innovations in the religion of their ancestors:

"..This is just a Man whose intention is to oppose you from that which your Ancestors served.." (34:43)

Today the Muslims have fallen in the same trap of Shaitaan. They insist that everything and anything passed down to them by their ancestors is Islam. Volumes have been written to show the piety of their scholars and Imams of the past.

Whether these people were pious or not are for Allah to decide, but the Muslims today insist that since these people were pious, they could never have believed in what they believed in.

This argument is logically flawed as the piety of an individual does not necessarily reflect that everything he believes is the truth. We must remember that all human beings go through a learning process all their lives and it is finally Allah who will judge who is pious and who is not as it is only Allah who knows the inner most secrets of the heart. The Qur’an has given a very simple answer to such faulty logic:

"They were a people that have passed away. For them is what they earned and for you is what you earn. And you will not be questioned as to what they did." (2:141)

Thus each sects insistent on proving its set of scholars and its set of Hadith as true is an effort that will avail them nothing as it is only what they follow and what they believe that they will be questioned about.

The Muslim “scholarship” today is full of references to Hadith and past scholars and very little is mentioned from the Qur’an. In fact, one finds that in most cases the Qur’an is used in as much as is needed to point people to other sources.

For example, many works use only the Qur’anic Ayaat of “Obey Allah and obey the Messenger” to establish a basis of their discussion, which then is entirely developed using Hadith. As one person rightly suggested that every Muslim knows “two Hadith and one Qur’anic Ayah”, pointing to the fact that the Muslim scholarship and law is based more on Hadith than the Book of Allah itself.

The Qur’an refutes this type of mentality and in the words of Prophet Yusuf, it says:

"If not Him you serve nothing but names which you have invented, you and your Ancestors.." (12:40)

Today the Qur’an is hidden under the dust of thousands of books of Tafsir and Hadith, and the people insist that one must go to either Imams or Sheikhs to understand the Book of Allah. When Qur’anic Ayaat are recited to them, they refuse to listen to them unless they confirm to one of their accepted scholar’s interpretation.

This kind of blind following only is a direct result of people refusing to use the gift of Aqal that Allah has bestowed on all human beings. Rather than study the Qur’an and do their own Jehad, the Muslims want to follow FORMULAS contained in the books of their scholars and the books of Hadith. Allah never authenticated any other book besides the Qur’an. To rush and follow other books and other people can lead only to destruction in this life and the life beyond:

" What! Have We given them a Book before this to which they are holding fast?" (43:21)

"Nay! They say:`We found our Ancestors following a certain way and we will guide ourselves by their footsteps." (43:22)

"Then their return is to the blazing (fire)." (37:68) "Surely they found their Ancestors on the wrong path." (37:69) "So they (too) rushed down their footsteps." (37:70)

And why is their end so destructive? Because when Allah’s Ayaat were recited to them, they would take refuge in the books of their ancestors and their established formulas rather than contemplating on the Ayaat:

"The fire will burn their faces and they will grin therein with their lips displaced." (23:104)

"Were not my Ayaat (verses) rehearsed to you and you did but treat them as falsehoods?"(23:105) "They will say:`Our Sustainer! Our misfortune overwhelmed us and we became a people astray!" (23:106)

Having looked at the problems with following ancestors without using one’s own Aqal, we now turn our attention to the question of Guidance. If we are to study the Qur’an on our own, then who will guide us?

Though, it is desirable to study the Qur’an with other seekers of guidance, the final Guidance comes only from Allah. Yes! Allah can Guide us in many ways – He may choose to Guide us through and ant, or a tree or a poisonous snake, and indeed, through a scholar.

However, the problem comes when we as human beings DECIDE how we will be guided. One should ONLY seek Guidance from Allah, then it is up to Allah to decide how He will Guide us.

Today, the Muslim world is full of scholars and “guides” who have taken the responsibility to guide people to the truth. Most of these people are probably very sincere and it is definitely desirable that one shares his ideas with others if he thinks that these ideas might help others.

The problem, however, is not these scholars, but the problem is their followers. It is the followers who blindly follow whatever their scholars say. It is the duty of ever individual to ONLY seek Allah’s Guidance and to study the Qur’an with reason, meaning that the Qur’an should be used as Al-Furqaan (The – Criterion) for judging the truth behind any scholar’s statements.

Let us now see how the Qur’an defines Guidance and Who it points to as The Guide:

"Alif Lam Mim. This is the Book; in it is GUIDANCE sure, without doubt, to those who are conscious of Allah; Who believe in the Unseen, are steadfast in prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them; And who believe in the Revelation sent to You, and sent before your time, and (in their hearts) have the assurance of the Hereafter."(2:1-4)

This Ayah at the beginning of Surah Baqarah states very clearly the purpose and the audience of this Book, the Qur’an.

So who is it that the Qur’an points to as the provider of Guidance? The ONLY Being that the Qur’an points to is Allah.

“Verily We take upon Ourselves to guide, And verily unto Us (belong) the End and the Beginning.”(92:12-13)

"Say:'The Guidance of Allah, that is the only Guidance'.."(2:120)

The next logical question is how we seek Allah’s Guidance?

“The month of Ramazan is that in which the Quran was revealed, the GUIDANCE to men and clear proofs of the guidance and the criterion(Furqaan)…”(2:185)

“And certainly We have brought them a Book which We have made clear with knowledge, a GUIDANCE and a mercy for a people who believe.”(7:52)

“Ta Sin! These are the verses of the Quran, the clear Book. The GUIDANCE and good news for those who believe” (27:1-2)

“Surely this Quran declares to the children of Israel most of what they differ in. And most surely it is a GUIDANCE and a mercy for those who believe”(27:76-77)

“Allah has revealed the best sayings in the form of a Book conformable in its various parts, repeating, whereat do shudder the skins of those who desire their Lord, then their skins and their hearts become pliant to the remembrance of Allah; this is Allah's GUIDANCE, He guides with it whom He pleases; and (as for) him whom Allah leaves to stray, there is no guide for him.”(39:23)

“Surely We have revealed to you the Book with the truth for the sake of humans; so whoever follows the GUIDANCE, it is for his own soul and whoever errs, he errs only to its detriment; and you are not a custodian over them.”(39:41)

In no uncertain terms, Allah has established that in order to seek His Guidance, we must go to His Book - the Qur’an. There is no other book (except for Allah’s other revealed Books) pointed out by Allah for the purpose of Guidance. In addition, the Qur’an also gives us an example of how the Jinns were Guided just by the Qur’an:

“Say: It has been revealed to me that a party of the jinn listened, and they said: Surely we have heard a wonderful Quran, Guiding to the right way, so we believe in it, and we will not set up any one with our Lord”(Qur’an 72:1-2)

“'And as for us, since we have listened to the Guidance, we have accepted it: and any that believes in his Lord has no fear, either of a short (account) or of any injustice.”(Qur’an 72:13)

We see in these verses it is implied that the Prophet was not even aware of when the Jinns were listening to the Qur’an, until this Ayah came to him and revealed to him the story of these Jinns. These Jinns received Guidance from what? Did they use Hadith? Did they go and “study” the Qur’an “FORMALLY” under a “Shaikh”? The answers to these questions is “NO”. The answer is that they listened to the Qur’an and received Guidance from it with the help of Allah.

But there are people who would say, “But what about the books of Hadith, and what about our Ulama?” Well, again the Qur’an has provided answers for that:

“Say: Is there any of your associates who guides to the truth? Say: Allah Guides to the truth. Is He then Who guides to the truth more worthy to be followed, or he who himself does not go aright unless he is guided? What then is the matter with you; how do you judge? And most of them do not follow (anything) but conjecture; surely conjecture will not avail aught against the truth; surely Allah is cognizant of what they do. And this Quran is not such as could be forged by those besides Allah, but it is a verification of that which is before it and a clear explanation of the Book, there is no doubt in it, from the Lord of the worlds.”(Qur’an 10:35-37)

It is important to highlight the part of the Verses, which say “Is He then Who guides to the truth more worthy to be followed, or he who himself does not go aright unless he is guided? What then is the matter with you; how do you judge?” No matter how pious and righteous any Imam or scholar is, the fact is that he/she could not have been Guided were it not for the Mercy of Allah. So the obvious question is “Who do we SEEK for guidance?” Do we seek humans who themselves need Allah’s Guidance, or do we seek the SOURCE Itself? The answer should be obvious:

“Verily those whom you call upon besides Allah are servants like unto you: Call upon them, and let them listen to your prayer, if you are (indeed) truthful!”(Qur’an 7:194)

“Say: Shall we call others besides Allah, which does not benefit us nor harm us, and shall we be returned back on our heels after Allah has guided us, like him whom the Shaitaans have made to fall down perplexed in the earth? He has companions who call him to the right way, (saying): Come to us. Say: Surely the guidance of Allah that is The-Guidance, and we are commanded that we should submit to the Lord of the worlds.”(Qur’an 6:71)

If Allah has clearly established that it is His Book only that should be sought for Guidance, then there should be no “ifs” and “buts” from at least those who claim to believe that the Qur’an is revealed by Allah. But sadly, the path of Hadith is hard to leave and the Muslim comes back again and again to somehow authenticate other books besides the Qur’an – they do this without considering the consequences of such an effort:

“These are they who buy error for the right direction and chastisement for Guidance; how bold they are to encounter fire. This is because Allah has revealed the Book with the truth; and surely those who seek causes of dispute in the Book are in a great schism. It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards the East and the West, but righteousness is this that one should believe in Allah and the last day and the angels and the Book and the prophets, and give away wealth out of love for Him to the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and the beggars and for (the emancipation of) the captives, and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate; and the performers of their promise when they make a promise, and the patient in distress and affliction and in time of conflicts-- these are they who are {rue (to themselves) and these are they who guard (against evil).”(Qur’an 2:175-177)

Why is the Muslim world so insecure now? Is it because of the West, or is it their own doing? Those who confuse the clarity in the Qur’an with other books are the people who are responsible for the situation of the Muslims today. Had they not confused Allah’s clear Guidance in the Qur’an with other books, they would be in security today as Allah has Promised:

"It is those who believe and confuse not their beliefs with wrong - that are (truly) in security, for they are on (right) guidance."(Qur’an 6:82)

“And on the day when We will raise up in every people a witness against them from among themselves, and bring you as a witness against these-- and We have revealed the Book to you explaining clearly everything, and a guidance and mercy and good news for those who submit.”(Qur’an 16:89)

Why are the Muslims to reluctant to trust in Allah? When Allah has promised that anyone who seeks only His Guidance will be guided, then why do Muslims today run to their respective scholars to get fatwas (religious rulings) for this thing and that? Perhaps some day the Muslim world will change this attitude and put their complete trust in Allah. If Allah has promised Guidance, He will also create the means for Guidance:

“And Allah increases in guidance those who seek His Guidance; and ever-abiding good works are with your Lord best in recompense and best in yielding fruit.”(Qur’an 19:76)

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