Nigerian Muslims who have been following discussions on the execution of a young woman by unknown youth in Sokoto would note that a number of obscure social media “Islamic scholars” have emerged. Some of them arrogated to themselves the right of ijtihad, a thing some of the greatest Islamic scholars of all times avoided unless absolutely necessary. It is unfortunate that people kept sharing such stuff as it suits the position they have taken on the matter.
When you decide to be a Muslim, you have taken a big decision to be a student of knowledge throughout your life. We all know this because the first passage of the Qur’an revealed to our Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) is essentially an instruction to sit up and learn. Thereafter the Prophet lived the remaining 23 years of his life interpreting the Qur’an revealed to him piecemeal using both verbal and practical approach. By the time he left, the religion was complete and a whole body of knowledge was on ground safely transferred from generations to generations of Muslim scholars.
The knowledge is huge as it covers all aspects of life. Take the five pillars of Islam, for example. Whole books have been written on aqidah which constitutes the first pillar of Islam. There are books on Salah (prayers), the obligatory and supererogatory aspects of it, prayer timings, adhan, iqama, the core body of prayer, etc. Same with Zakah, Fasting and Hajj.
The daily transactions of a Muslim in the market are well detailed in terms of halal and haram. There are books on rights, including rights of other Muslims, non-Muslims, neighbours, colleagues, animals, environment, etc.
How would the sick be handled while still alive and after their death? What happens to their heritage? How is to be shared? These are clearly stated.
All aspects of Islamic knowledge are available in detail and in sum and Islam is not a teach-yourself religion. It has to be learnt from those who know it.
Take it easy. I am not saying every Muslim must be a professional Islamic scholar just like not everyone must be a medical doctor or an engineer. You are probably 40, 50 or even 60 and above and have been working hard in the area Allah has placed you. Keep working hard to earn a lawful means of livelihood for yourself and your family. That is an aspect of Jihad you are making.
Having said that, I believe you would agree with me that you would not accept any quack to offer medical services to yourself and your family in the event of sickness. Most likely, you would look for the best affordable specialist to treat you and your loved ones. You would check their qualifications. You would not pick a document from an unknown specialist on the internet and begin to apply their medication and think you would be okay. When you want to build a house you would look for the right Architect to design it for you and the right engineer to supervise the work.
You are doing all of the above when it comes to Islamic knowledge. When you are going on hajj for the first time for example, you would normally meet the scholar in your area to ask questions. You would probably attend the courses organized by the local pilgrims’ board. You are doing that to avoid wasting your money and make sure that you perform a hajj Allah would accept.
When your father dies, you would call someone you believe has a good knowledge of inheritance to help you share what has been left by the deceased. You do that for zakah, etc.
As a Muslim born to a Muslim family, you learnt to recite the Qur’an and pray from your Islamiyya days, many thanks to your parents who took you there. Yet, you keep learning from your local Sheikh to make sure you recite the Qur’an even more well and perform a prayer that is devoid of mistakes
My brother, if you only consult an Islamic scholar you trust on all of the above, which are what you do daily and/or from time to time as a Muslim, why do you think you need a social media “scholar” to tell you the Islamic position on blasphemy, a thing not essential in your daily routine of Ibadaat? I guess you are not contemplating insulting the personality of the Holy Prophet (SAW), and you are most probably not aspiring to be a Shariah court judge to know the kind of punishment you would pass on a blasphemer.
But in case you have abandoned your Sheikh and/or dropped all your Islamic books thinking you don’t need to learn more about Islam, I am afraid that you are already preparing yourself for an eternal destruction. Please go back, get an Islamic teacher you trust and continue.
As for the Sokoto case, we have shown sufficient anger and anyone contemplating a repeat of what the young woman did would have to think many times. Let us leave the Muslim leadership to handle the rest. We should have confidence in the Sultan and his team.
May Allah forgive our shortcomings. Amin.
Professor Jibia writes from Bayero University, Kano