Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Imam who??

How much do we know the past Islamic scholars?

One of the many things that is largely missing in my life as a Muslim growing up in these modern times is the knowledge of past Islamic scholars. Till now I'm still guilty of being totally ignorant of many great Islamic scholars of the past though I have at least some knowledge of the profiles of popular figures in the world of politics, sports and entertainment industry.

I've also noticed this ignorance being prevalent among most Muslims in general. Once, I was watching a video on Hassan al-Banna and someone asked what was the video I was watching about. I replied its on Hassan al-Banna. The person said, puzzled "Hassan al-Banna? Who's THAT?!" And this, coming from a person with a religious background.

The most known Islamic scholar here is probably Imam asy-Syafi'i and an-Nawawi as the Muslim education in Singapore is based largely on the Syafi'e school of thought. And also the other three scholars of the four main schools of thought, Imam Abu Hanifah, Imam Malik and Imam Ahmad. But when the names of other great Islamic scholars are mentioned such as Adz-Dhahabi, Imam Ibn Taimiyyah, Ibn Katheer, Ibn Qayyim, most are clueless.

In fact, what spurred me to discover about some of the other Muslims scholars was sadly due to negative reasons. I had discovered some articles about Muslims dissing some Islamic scholars past and present suggesting and accusing them being out of the Islamic creed. And it got me thinking, is this true? These are Islamic scholars who dedicate their entire lives striving for the cause of Islam. How could they have been so wrong about their basic believes?

And alhamdulillah, after doing some research, I came to my own conclusion that there are some people out there who really have nothing to do but spread lies and judge unfairly on these Islamic scholars for their own thwarted agenda and not sincerely for the truth or cause of Islam. Worse, some are Muslims themselves.

I feel that so much can be done in the Islamic education system or among Muslims generally to learn the history and great achievements of past Islamic scholars. From their history, we can learn much about their lives, what happened during those periods, and lessons to learn from the actions of Muslims, positive or negative, during those times. From their lives and achievements, we will be inspired and look up to them as one of the many role models in our lives in addition to Prophet Muhammad(peace be upon him) and his most trusted companions.

It will not be easy to re-package the education of past Islamic scholars in a way that will generate widespread interest among the general mainstream Muslims though. The traditional way of educating history still, normally bores people. But it's something that is very important to have Muslims identify and realize the grace, beauty and greatness that Islam brings...when it is practiced properly as a way life.

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