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The Salafi Fallacy

Let me talk a little about the understanding that traditional Islam has had and here we are talking not about a kind of new-fangled Islam that trusts our own fallible, time-bound prejudices to interpret the Quran and Hadith but it is based on the accumulated wisdom and reflection and discussions over centuries of thousands of transformed souls.

Everything I’m going to say in this session is based on the expectation that we recognise that the Ulama know the Quran and Sunnah better than we do. Another sign of the dispersal and confusion of the modern Muslim mentality and initiation of the logic of multiplicity is that we are now trusting ourselves and we say Quran and Sunnah, neglecting the fact that the Quran and Sunnah always has an interpreter. That interpreter can either be ourselves or it can either be the consensus of thousands upon thousands of great transformed souls. People who know the Quran and the Sunnah outwardly and inwardly better than we ever will.

So I would say that it is a form of implicit shirk to say I’m going to bypass the traditions and go directly to the source – Quran and Sunnah, because it is to set up one’s own judgement to be superior to the judgement of all of those others, which is an absurdity. It’s probably the greatest most pernicious error in the modern ummah. To say, well, 100,000 Shafi’ee Ulama might have come to this position and I’m not going to really trouble myself to read all of the thousands of books through which this position was negotiated and arrived at. I’m going to say I know better. That is really a form of pharaonic arrogance. This is not a minor error, a minor slip in our understanding of how Islamic education should take place. It’s a very fundamental error. It’s a protestant error if you’d like.

The idea that our personal consciences are so refined and pure that we can understand the scriptures better than earlier generations, whole armies of great purified souls. It is an absurdity, a form of arrogance. It’s also a form of backbiting. To say that the Ulama simply got it wrong and that we’re going to get it right. This probably the greatest act of collective backbiting in the history of the Ummah. We should be eating the dead flesh of deceased Ulama saying that they got it wrong. They were a people of Taqlid. They were Asharis. They were Hanafis. They were and whatever and that we can get it right. That’s backbiting.

Transcribed summary version of lecture snippet by Shaykh Abdal-Hakim Murad.

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