Rejecting the practice of the religion of what you are already upon without studying it in detail in favour of more [seemingly] “convincing” arguments is crass stupidity. I am concerned that a lot of youth, without taking the time to study their religion properly [according to their Madhhab], leave the tradition that they were on by default in favour of [blindly] following someone [a non-Madhhabi] who quotes Quran and hadith and makes a “convincing” argument. It is easy to “convince” someone who doesn’t really know much in the first place and thus our youth fall prey to misguidance.
When some young people rediscover their faith they end up rejecting their default religious practices as inherited by them through their parents. Whilst many non-Islamic cultural practices may have crept in, the foundations of what they were already upon are solid and established, rooted in the Quran and Sunnah and should not be dismissed out of hand without serious study and contemplation.
My advice to the youth who rediscover their faith is LEARN YOUR OWN TRADITION PROPERLY before you decide to jump ship. As with most things, appearances can be deceiving and none more so than in religion where you think you are going to something more “authentic” and “true” when in fact it is something with a veneer of authenticity based upon a faulty understanding of the religion.
They should also know that the Madhhabs are based on solid foundations and have stood the test of time and all those people from the élite of this Umma down to the commonfolk have all adhered to one of the four Sunni Madhhabs. The call against following a Madhhab is a new one, a bida that has appeared and which has grown more vocal over the last 100/150 years.
One of the root causes of this phenomenon is that most mosques and local religious authorities do not offer any foundational Islamic education nor do they have any concept of pastoral care. Many kids do not enjoy the mosque experience when they are sent as small children to learn the Quran by rote. Often times they are verbally and physically abused and once completing the Quran they leave the mosque with a negative association. Additionally, many youth are alienated from their local mosques and imams because the mosque is usually run by narrow-minded individuals and imams who have little or no command of the English language and who have no empathy or any idea of what the needs of such young people are. Faced with this, these young people go looking for religious instruction and pretty soon they will come across people who will show them “Quran” and “Sunnah” and quote “sahih” hadith and give them “authentic” aqida and all the while they are feeding them a slow poison that is turning them against their families and communities. We can’t blame these kids, after all, they have reached a stage in their lives where they have concern for their akhira and ultimately this is their driving their motivation and they are sincere, the tragedy is that they are looking in the wrong places for guidance because the right places are barren.
Course providers like Seeker’s Guidance offer free courses to get you up to speed…
Heresiology, whilst necessary, is dangerous. Rebuttals of erroneous aqida (tenets of faith) positions are necessary. The danger lies in the approach, the means and manner in which such things are conducted. There is also a major danger in the heresiologist’s own limited reading and understanding of the the issue at hand or the person they are investigating. Such things as context and situation are disregarded. They first start with sincere intentions and apply themselves to issues that need clarifying and make rebuttals of the positions of the heretical and deviant sects and this is of immense benefit to the lay folk who are the most affected by these issues. Once clarified, the heresiologist should stop there and move on to other things. But often times what next happens is that a counter-rebuttal is made, and then a counter-counter rebuttal has to be made and the ego merri-go-round is started. And so what happens next is more ego-driven than necessity driven. YouTube is replete with angry mullahs and young hot heads, barely out of school, challenging one another in the most ungracious of ways. Once the ego has firmly rooted itself in such a discourse, what happens next is like a cancer, it becomes self-destructive. Those who have become modern-day inquisitors then turn on each other, to see who is not on the “manhaj”, who is not “Sunni” enough for their liking. No one is spared, the great ulama of the present are fair game and you see them hounding their own scholars and trying to prove that their own scholars are heretics. It is only a matter of time before they start digging the graves of their own scholars.
UPDATE 4: Mufti Abdurrahman ibn Yusuf analyses the evidence – http://www.zamzamacademy.com/2010/09/feet-to-feet-toe-to-toe/
UPDATE 3: Shaykh Hamza Yusuf explaining the “feet to feet” – the narrator for the hadith was an 8 year old boy as elucidated by Ibn Hajr al-Asqalani. See http://youtu.be/Q8AdSuKKrwY
UPDATE 2: al-Talib’s blog has an excerpt from the 3rd edition of Fiqh al-Imam [published by White Thread Press] by Mufti AbdurRahman ibn Yusuf “Feet to Feet, Toe to Toe?” which discusses the hadith that the Salafis rely on to push their position.
Hanafis are often criticized for not touching toes in congregational prayer (by Salafis), who point to the hadith (I don’t know it off-hand). I understand that it’s not the hadith that is being questioned, but the interpretation.
This is specifically a problem for women, as we have to keep our feet close together, according to our madhab. Please send me details as I am trying to put this across to a salafi sister.”
UPDATE: The blog Dar al-Hadithhas a useful scan of evidences, for those who can understand Arabic. against joining the feet that a lot of Salafis insist on.
I was digging through some of my old emails and knew that I had an old post from the Hanbali Fiqh list when it was active. Anyway, this is something on the subject posted by Sidi Musa Furber:
Bismillahi Al-Rahmani Al-Rahim”Foot-pressing stance” During Prayer
As salaamu alaykum,
Does the foot-pressing stance adopted by our Salafi brethren have sanction in the madhhab of Imam Ahmad?
wa `alaykum al-salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu
I have not been able to find anything that explicitly says that people should pray with their feet and shoulders jammed together. The closest that I have found is that rows should be straightened using the ankles and shoulders as a guide to determining straightness, and that that rows should be tightened to remove any gaps. (See Kashshaf al-qina` (1:328), Ghayat al-muntaha (1:120))
And what is explicit regarding the feet is that they should be slightly parted. (See Kashshaf al-qina` (1:372), Nail al-Ma’arib (1:142))
Brothers and sisters who insist on jamming their foot up to their neighbors should realize that if their neighbor keeps moving their foot and they keep moving their foot to get rid of the gap, they run the risk of invalidating their prayer because of excessive needless motion. They should also bear in mind that while it is recommended to gather together the rows, it is prohibited to injure another Muslim without right (and this does happen) and it is offensive to annoy.
And Allah knows best.
wa al-salamu `alaykum