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Joseph A Islam
Salamun Alaikum (Peace be upon you)
ASK THOSE THAT HAVE KNOWLEDGE
Copyright © 2009 Joseph A Islam: Article last modified 15th January
Many Muslims quote the following partial verse.
'Ask those that have knowledge if you do not know'
This statement is arguably one of the most hashed, misquoted
verses of the Holy Quran and utilised as a justification by many Muslims that
knowledge can only be sought from 'special learned people' and 'those
that possess knowledge'.
DOES THE QURAN ACTUALLY SAY?
Both verses are nearly always partially quoted and torn out of
their proper context.
Two verses are usually cited to support this concept, verse 16.43 and
“And before you also the messengers We sent
were but men, to whom We granted inspiration: if you do not know,
ask of those who possess the Message”
“Before you, also, the messengers We sent
were but men, to whom We granted inspiration: If you do not know,
ask of those who possess the Message.
Nor did We give them bodies that ate no food, nor were they
exempt from death”
In both verses, one notes the Almighty God informing the
Prophet that before him, Prophet's were
only men like him who
He had granted
inspiration. They consumed food and they were not exempt from death. This was
clearly a measure of
for the Prophet so that there would remain no doubt in
his mind that he was indeed a Prophet.
It is to be noted that these verses are
directed at anyone but the Prophet and are context specific. What sense would
there be to ask the 'believers' to consult 'people of knowledge' if the
messenger himself was amongst their midst? This would also contradict many
verses where God clearly asks the believers to refer their matters to the
Prophet, especially in disputes. (4.59)
Also these verses are one of the most powerful support for
Even though God is revealing the message to the Prophet, he is
being asked to verify it for himself. This is one of the most powerful cues for
the use of volition and self verification. In this verse, God Himself is asking the
a particular claim.
If any wisdom is to be extracted, it is one of verification
of blind following.
WHAT THE QURAN ACTUALLY
ASKS ONE TO DO IS TO SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH BY USING ONE'S OWN FACULTIES TO VERIFY
AND NOT TO FOLLOW BLINDLY
follow that of what you have no knowledge. Indeed! the hearing and the sight and
the heart - of each of these it will be asked”
“(O man), do
From this verse it is clear that we must not follow any matters
of which we have no knowledge or have not sought any verification
with our own faculties. We will clearly be questioned with regards this. Any
groundless assertions about other people or events, statements based on
conjecture and unsupported by evidence, matters of inherited faith and
doctrine or indeed unverified matters of society, all fall within the ambit of this verse.
Those familiar with the story of Prophet Abraham (pbuh)
realise that this is exactly the approach Prophet Abraham (pbuh)
employed when he left the ways of his
forefathers. He questioned his inherited beliefs and searched for the truth
using his own faculties which put him at odds with his father and his people
who even set up to destroy him in a pit of fire.
See related article  below.
BLIND FOLLOWING OF YOUR
There is a powerful lesson to be learnt from the people of
the previous scriptures. It seems that many may have only repeated the action by
taking the opinions of men and their leaders over the message of God and what He
has revealed in His scripture. In essence and by doing so, many have set up
rivals with their Lords. What is one actually doing when the word of
their Sheikh / Leader / Imam contradicts or overrides a particular message from
the Quran and is not supported by it?
“They have taken
beside God their Rabbis and their Monks
and the Messiah son of Mary , when they were bidden to only worship One God”
LEADERS AND GREAT MEN WILL NOT
HELP ONE ON THE DAY OF JUDGMENT
"And they shall say: O our Lord! surely we obeyed our leaders
and our great men
so they led us astray from the path"
The Quranic verses clearly support
self verification and oppose the notion of 'blind following' (Arabic: taqlid).
Sadly and ironically, verses of the Quran are often misquoted to support the
same ideology that the verses are actually attempting to negate.
Burden of Proof - Prophet Abraham's (pbuh)