Addressing and responding to differences and errors, for the love of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
Recently, I attended a course that addresses the common matters some people take an issue with regards to the beliefs and practices of Sunni Muslims. The content was somewhat simple but more importantly I feel, was the approach taught to us when dealing with people and good amount of emphasis this part was given.
That’s what this post is about, that’s at the bottom of the post. But first some background which I suggest you read.
The actual course is based on a book taught in Arabic to first year students of the main syllabus at school. The course I sat in was an additional one organized during the mid-term holidays, by the Greater Malay community living here and taught by a senior student in Indonesian language.
About Sunni Muslims. The people of Ahlul Sunnah wal Jamaah, ASWJ.
The majority of Muslims in the world are Sunnis though some aren’t aware that this is the creed subscribed by them, their ancestors and locality. Some Muslims within this fold and also those beyond it, take an issue with some of the belief and practices of the Sunni creed.
Not about difference of opinion.
I’m referring to those that take an issue. Meaning, they take or follow a different opinion or creed altogether, and insist that the other is wrong, sinful and at times hinting at disbelief, if not more. This may happen out of sincere ignorance and at times arrogance. That’s an issue of approach.
The issue of difference in the first place, typically comes from the result of learning unknowingly from foreign teachers of a different creed. Some foreign or international Islamic organizations today operate in Malaysia for example, this is one of it.
At times it is the case of flying foreign speakers who teach things that contradict parts of the long and widely established belief and practice of the local land. Sometimes this result in some Muslims challenging their parents and ancestors.
For example in Malaysia, Maulidul Rasul is a public holiday which says a lot about how widely established it is and not merely accepted or allowed. Today some Muslims in Malaysia aren’t interested in it, this is not the issue. But some, say it is wrong and sinful to celebrate, and seek others to stop celebrating it.
The actual Sunni position.
The belief with certainty that this creed is correct and most correct. Should others follow another creed, manifested in their belief and practices, they may do so and it may be correct. But it does not involve in going out forbidding others in what they choose to follow for they too may be correct.
The teacher ended the course with these six points on applying this knowledge to deal with differences.
Firstly, we are the people of Ahlul Sunnah wal Jamaah, the Sunnis. And as we follow the Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) example and those after him, we’re on the path of purification – emphasizing on reflecting the self.
Secondly, between us and others, we all have dalil (guiding references in Islam). We exalt knowledge and sincerity in seeking the Truth. We respect others and do not make takfir (declaring others as disbelievers).
Thirdly, this knowledge of Sunni creed and the sciences connected to it needs to be studied indepthly. For example, the book we are studying is meant for intermediate students of Islamic sciences.
Fourthly, our character is respecting and trusting to previous scholars, where the knowledge expounded required a great effort from them. It is after through them that we manifest the religion today in great varying aspects.
Fifthly, this knowledge whether within the book taught or elsewhere, is not a weapon to start or incite conflict. This is not to be used to start debates or patronizing others in trying to make them follow what we follow.
Sixthly, as part of the people of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), unity must be borne in mind. Conversations and discussions should be on what helps our relations and brings us closer.
*Graphic/pic source unknown. In Sunni mosques, homes and elsewhere, you’ll often find these two names, Allah and Muhammad (pbuh), together on the wall in a frame or in two separate frames side by side. This too, symbol and art, is a manifestation of Sunni creed. You’ll also find it on the Royal Malaysian Police. It used to be side by side on every arch of the Two Sacred mosques in Saudi Arabia until the country was largely influenced with a different thinking fairly recently and went out of their way to remove all the wall plates with Muhammad written, and now both flanks of each arch reads Allah.