When the socio-economic levels of a society goes down the toilet, all aspects of its civilization go right down with it. Muslims have been amongst the poorest of nations for a few hundred years now and along with other things, our scholarship has been abysmal as well. This has inevitably affected the quality of our religious scholars, the so called ‘ulema’. The vast majority make a mockery of the sacred position society has elevated them to. Society has entrusted them to serve as guides on the road towards spirituality, but on the whole they have betrayed this trust. It’s not their fault I suppose. I’m a doctor, and I’m relying on Western medical textbooks to teach me medicine. Throughout my years of studying medicine, not once I come across a Pakistani textbook I could rely on. Western medicine has been leading the rest of us for hundreds of years now. I can still be a great doctor because I have access to Western textbooks. But what about our ‘ulema’. As original sciences have deteriorated to laughable levels in the Muslim world, so has religious scholarship. The difference is that while we have Western sources to learn science from (so we can still become doctors, build dams, airplanes, roads and so on), our religious scholarship is still stuck centuries in the past because we can’t (or don’t?) use Western resources for this purpose. Instead, religious scholarship in this day and age consists of memorizing opinions of scholars who lived in a different time and who would turn in their grave if it were known to them that their life’s work had turned into intolerant dogma.
Who is to blame here? I would have been a terrible doctor if I did not have Western material to study medicine from. The religious scholars of today don’t have anything comparable to fall back on. The best minds of the ummah don’t go towards religious scholarship, so it’s not surprising the ulema cannot emerge from the prison of dogma that it has found itself locked into.
If there is any hope, I see it in the scholars of Al-Mawrid
, whose work had literally saved me from abandoning Islam a few years ago.
What brought this rant on?This