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The Qur'an warns about speaking without knowledge:

And do not pursue that of which you have no knowledge. Indeed, the hearing, the sight and the heart - about all those [one] will be questioned. -- Qur'an 17:36

One of my Muslim friends uses this as a reason to avoid speaking about Islam almost entirely, and encourages others to likewise avoid talking about Islam. He seems fearful that he might be punished for inaccuracies in statements he makes.

I'm not sure what to make of his approach. On one hand, it's good to be cautious, but maybe this is going too far. After all, surely talking about Islam is necessary to learn about Islam.

Question: Are we encouraged to talk about Islam, or should we be cautious to avoid talking without knowledge?

I'm not seeking a judgement on his approach, but seeking the relevant material from the Qur'an and Sunnah.

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I think we should be cautious about talking about Islam but not to the point that we don't talk at all. We are commanded to remind people with the quran lest they be brought to destruction:

"And leave those who take their religion as amusement and diversion and whom the worldly life has deluded. But remind with the Qur'an, lest a soul be given up to destruction for what it earned; it will have other than Allah no protector and no intercessor. And if it should offer every compensation, it would not be taken from it. Those are the ones who are given to destruction for what they have earned. For them will be a drink of scalding water and a painful punishment because they used to disbelieve." [6:70]

Also we are the ones who should command good and forbid evil:

“You (true believers in Islamic Monotheism, and real followers of Prophet Muhammad and his Sunnah) are the best of peoples ever raised up for mankind; you enjoin Al-Ma‘roof (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam has ordained) and forbid Al-Munkar (polytheism, disbelief and all that Islam has forbidden), and you believe in Allaah” [3:110]

In surah Asr Allah says that those that do not call people to the truth are in loss:

"By (the Token of) Time (through the ages), Verily Man is in loss, Except such as have Faith, and do righteous deeds, and (join together) in the mutual teaching of Truth, and of Patience and Constancy." Surah Al-'Asr [103]

However one of the worst things to do is to speak about Allah without knowledge:

“Say: The things that my Lord has indeed forbidden are al-Fawaahish (great evil sins, every kind of unlawful sexual intercourse, etc.), whether committed openly or secretly, sins (of all kinds), unrighteous oppression, joining partners (in worship) with Allah for which He has given no authority and saying things about Allah of which you have no knowledge.” [7: 33]

Also our prophet(pbuh) advises us to speak good or remain silent:

Abû Hurayrah relates that Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should speak a good word or remain silent. And whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should show hospitality to his neighbor. And whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should show hospitality to his guest.” [ Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim ]

Therefore our duty is to command good, forbid evil and convey the message of Islam according to our ability. But making sure we don't speak about Allah, prophet(pbuh) and our religion without knowledge.

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It depends ...

If we simply recite Quran or read Hadeeth for people, we are talking about Islam and we are not using our own understanding of Quran/Hadeeth, so that nothing goes wrong ...

But when we are to use a specific verse of Quran or a specific Hadeeth in practice to support a specific idea, then it is expected that first we have a good knowledge of Quran/Hadeeth. However, as our knowledge is never complete, we should never claim that we've done it right and what we mean is certainly what Allah meant when He revealed the verse to His Apostle, peace be upon him and his household.

All-in-all, In Shi'ite it is encourage to talk about Islam, e.g. we have Ahadeeth that say whoever spread our words would be rewarded such and such, and we also have narrations saying preach our words so that people's hearts will be attracted to us. And if talking about Islam is supposed as a way to better learn Islam, then we are more than encouraged to do so.

... as far as I've understood, and God knows best

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I cannot quote you Quran or Hadeeth on the subject but I will tell you a story. My dear uncle, who is very pios person, never spoke about hadeeth or Quran. I remember only once he spoke about religion when I questioned the faith. He simply said, if there is no God, what power is helping small seed to sprout, and small sapling to turn in to a giant tree. In otherwords, one cannot avoid the sense of mystery around us, and thus religion/spirituality is an essential experience.

I know one person, who spoke continously, citing hadeeth, Quran, seerat but after sometime I just could not stand him and avoided him.

My uncle spoke, only when he felt, I am in danger of losing my faith. The other person was speaking so much to protect his own faith.

I think there is not much in speaking, or sharing hadeeth or verse of the Quran. It may fell on deaf ears or soon forgotten or taken in a wrong way. Best thing is to practice what we learned, and others will learn it indirectly from us.

Of course, there is time to talk, that is to learn, ask questions, or answer a question, share something to ease pain or comfort or warn a transgressor or increase someone knowledge (knowing that person want his knowledge to be increase) etc. Through talking, we can get knowledge but only throgh practicing, can we get conviction in our knowledge.

Some people came to our dear mother Aysha, Prophet sallahu alaihi wassalam dear wife, and asked about him. She replied, he was like a walking Quran.

Prophet sallahu alaihi wassalam describes a momin, who recite Quran, is like an citrus fruit, who is sweet inside and fragrant.

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What you're saying seems like a very conservative approach. Some are very open-minded.

Both are not good. Islam wants us to have balance. Yet even when we aer seeking balance it doesn't mean that we'll be 100% correct all the time :)

By Amir al-Mu'menin from Nahj al-Balaqa:

وَ قَالَ عليه‏السلام: مَنْ تَرَكَ قَوْلَ لَا أَدْرِي أُصِيبَتْ مَقَاتِلُهُ

Whoever abandons saying, "I do not know" meets his destruction.

So if you don't know something then be silent

However from Qur'an we have:

Al-Imran 13

إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَعِبْرَةً لِّأُولِي الْأَبْصَارِ

Indeed in that is a lesson for those of vision.

Al-An'am 11

قُلْ سِيرُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ ثُمَّ انظُرُوا كَيْفَ كَانَ عَاقِبَةُ الْمُكَذِّبِينَ ...

Say, "Travel through the land; then observe how was the end of the deniers."

The word تعقلون and تدبرون have been used in Qur'an MANY times. Sometimes in the sense that Allah is saying: "Don't you want to reflect?!!!" (افلا تدبرون)

God is instructing us to go into a somewhat unknown territory ie what should I reflect...it's a very generic saying...just saying try to problematize The Quranic stories...try to look into Allah's creation and learn learn learn. (Whatever conclusions that we have should be measured with the Qur'an and the Prophet's Sunnah)

My point is Islam doesn't us to become people where if someone asks us what should I do about this? And I always say I don't know I have to see Qur'an...I have to ask my scholar...I don't know anything myself. Islam wants us reflect and have تفقه فی الدین (have profound understanding of religion)...yet if the person has never read Qur'an nor any narrations nor listens to any scholars and just prays likely this person should be silent and not speak and say "I don't know" and let others who reflect, study, write etc do the talking. Though I personally find it rare to see a scholar saying I don't know...even when I'm in class with children I find it hard to say "I don't know" ...It's not good.

At the end even the best of scholars are not immune. There are many scholars whose words have deviated from Islam because they couldn't say I don't know or just couldn't stop following their desires (yet because scholars or Muslims are deviated it doesn't mean we should socialize with them as they have the rights of Muslims) ...look at the open-minded scholars...some say The Qur'an was all a saying for Muhammad and he was a great poet, some say his Ahkam don't have any application...are look into what some Sufis say...they say if you get close to Allah then you don't need to pray (They say this while Prophet Muhammad was the greatest person yet prayed like he was the greatest sinner)

In order to stay pious and be free from error it's recommended to always seek guidance from Allah (say Bismillah and say auzu billahi...) and if you're a Shia it's recommended that you also seek guidance (and do Tawassul) to your living occulted Imam so he can guide you against Satan

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    Thank you. However, I'm uncomfortable with the "many scholars who have deviated" paragraph. I get the idea: "don't be too hard on yourself; not even scholars get it right, and some people have particular unorthodox views, yet somehow get by", but when I read it, it comes off as judgemental (within an otherwise-fine answer). – Rebecca J. Stones Apr 29 '17 at 1:36
  • @RebeccaJ.Stones 3 notes: 1. If I was pointing fingers then perhaps 2. but I just made a general statement that some scholars have deviated sayings...though they still deserve respect for their effort and humility... (ie I dont want to be judgemental about the scholars rather about their ideas...I'll make and edit to include that) but also هل يستوي الذين يعملون و الذين لا يعملون?! 3. What do you say about a Muslim scholar who changes ahkam left and right, brings down the rank of the prophet.? Islam accepts differences but not conflicts. – Honey Apr 29 '17 at 2:53
  • @RebeccaJ.Stones If scholars don't stand tall against foundational differences then how can others be able to distinguish between right and wrong? I don't mean scholars should shun every scholar who says what they don't approve as brothers in Islam have certain rights and deserve respect. – Honey Apr 29 '17 at 2:57
  • It seems you got the verse translations wrong see your quotes of al imran and anaam – Kilise Jul 28 '17 at 9:55

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