There's an intellectually faulty attitude that I occasionally encounter with some Muslims.

It's beyond evident, that whatever opinion or claim of truth we encounter, should be in some way or the other provable/verifiable, be it a scientific claim, a news story, or a historical narrative, and perhaps the most specifically vital of all for us Muslims, rulings on the right interpretations of Quran and Sunnah.

To me, when the question of the right religious ruling or interpretation is at stake, especially when there are apparent conflicting or contradictory opinions among scholars of religion, a Muslim must no doubt find it imperative to objectively examine the arguments and proofs each side provide, if any, to support their positions.

But why is that this adherence to truth seems to be lacking or compromised among many Muslims. Are we supposed to just follow what past scholars told us without question? How even Islamic is that?

Post-script: Please care to comment why you disagree with this question when down-voting.

  • Rule: "Every word can be taken or left, except for the word of the Prophet".
    – مجاهد
    Jun 21, 2014 at 20:46
  • 1
    @Mujahidمجاهد, but we don't have direct access to the Holy Prophet's words! What we have is what we have been told that the prophet told!
    – infatuated
    Jun 21, 2014 at 20:49
  • so your question is about Uloom Al Hadith?
    – مجاهد
    Jun 21, 2014 at 20:58
  • @Mujahidمجاهد Yes, I guess it falls into that category. But Uloom Al Hadith is just a science applied by those who apply it. Another question would be, has the science been correctly practiced by all scholars considering all the serious differences on important issues such as prophet's succession etc.
    – infatuated
    Jun 21, 2014 at 21:22

1 Answer 1


There are three approaches that I have picked up from imams and other educated people that I have spoken to, as well as articles that I've read.

  1. The cautious approach : For instance, if one sheikh says to fast for one amount of time to make up for something and another one says to fast for longer, then it is more cautious to fast for the longer period of time.

  2. The majority approach: Whichever argument has the most support is the one to follow. This is possibly the least satisfactory approach.

  3. Consider yourself to be a layman: If you decide that you can't read up on our understand a topic, it is permitted to consider yourself a layman and simply follow a sheikh without investigation.

Unfortunately I don't know which of these approaches are most appropriate to practice. Islam rewards people who look into topics rather than just accept them.

  • Thank you for your contribution. So by saying that "Islam rewards people who look into topics rather than just accept them", you seem to agree that none of those approaches and, in fact, nothing except personal critical investigation can guarantee correct understanding of Islam.
    – infatuated
    Jun 23, 2014 at 8:02
  • @infatuated If your goal is to understand Islam, or any topic, blindly accepting our memorising will never be a substitute for learning the reasons the topic. Islam however is not a subjective religion, there will be an analysis by a scholar, and a correct understanding. It would be highly dangerous to assume only personal investigation would suffice. Jun 23, 2014 at 9:56
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    I never said we should suffice to partial personal investigations. But my question was focused on whether one should totally trust scholars given that we have no shortage of conflicting, opposing and radically different interpretations of Islam. I was arguing for necessity of objective examination of these differences and not just accepting what a "respected" scholar has to say. Because most scholars are respected and credible only to a limited audience, and often not to an audience that has been exposed to rival interpretations.
    – infatuated
    Jun 23, 2014 at 10:19
  • @infatuated absolutely, I understand more clearly now. I wasn't sure if you meant 'personal critical investigation' of the source material (Quran and hadith) or 'personal critical investigation' of the scholars opinions. Jun 23, 2014 at 10:22

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