Wafiq Syed

“Stay away from malicious gossip and fake words" (Qur'an 68;11).

Intellect Over Culture

Many Muslims in the west lose their connection to Islam primarily because of one reason; they view it as a cultural tradition and not as a way of life. This is the damaging result of the way we as friends, parents, and elder siblings educate those around us about Islam. Instead of educating Islam from an intellectual perspective of providing proofs and explanations, we encourage others to participate in rituals because “it’s just what we do.” Or the famous line from parents: “we did it back home and we should not lose our culture and tradition.” It is a tragedy when the daughter asks her mother, “why do we wear hijab?” and the mother can only answer, “because you have to and everyone will look down upon you if you don’t.” In some cases people get angry at the one who is questioning and exclaims, “don’t ask questions! Just do what you’re told.”For instance, when asked “Is there really a God?” some of us get angry and view the questioner as someone who does not even believe in Islam.

We have forgotten that asking questions is not bad at all but rather encouraged in Islam. The Qur’an tells asks us in several places: “Do you not reflect? (47;24) Do you not ponder? (4;82) Do you not understand? (2:44)” The prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) stated, “the cure to ignorance is to ask and learn.” So, instead of becoming angry you should rather be happy and appreciative of the fact your son, or daughter, or parent, or friend is trying to learn and understand. The lack of teaching Islam through intellectual lens is why we have people performing Islam rituals and practices without even knowing why. Without the answer to why, the rituals and practices lose meaning and consequently a person stops following Islamic teachings because they don’t see any reason in doing so.

In short, the point I am trying to get across is that if we would like our fellow Muslims to remain strong in their faith, we need to first educate ourselves and educate those around us using reason and proofs. Does God even exist? What is the purpose of our existence? Where are we going after death? Why must we wear hijab? All these questions along with other list of questions are important and need to be answered intellectually. As an Ummah I believe we have to stop pushing away these questions because we feel we cannot answer them and understand ourselves. Weak belief in Islam means weak pillars. We live in the “age of information” and answers such as “because you have to” has ceased to suffice anymore.


6 comments on “Intellect Over Culture

  1. mydeenisbeautiful
    January 4, 2015

    nice article .. mashaallah.. it’s really true… we must use our intellect in wisdom in shaa allah

    • mydeenisbeautiful
      January 4, 2015


  2. Tabassum Pasha
    January 7, 2015

    This is actually really true, personally i think this is one of the reasons that reverts to Islam are better Muslims than a lot of the people I know, because they truly understand the religion. Where as muslims who are born into muslim families, consider Islam to be more of a culture or tradition, and those “traditions” have become routinely and are not being done due to understanding of our faith.

  3. Aadil
    February 18, 2015

    Assalamualaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuhu.

    “This topic is very close to my heart. This was a well needed post especially for the second and third generation children in Western countries that have come from a Desi culture. Obedience is the key word and any questions are a straight sign of disobedience. This is how I left Islam but God willed be to come back and I am back with the faith of a convert inshaAllah. Many youth these days ask questions with replies being given to ‘ask for forgiveness, you have angered Allah (SWT)’ and ‘you are a disbeliever/hypocrite’. This is completely and utterly wrong for a few reasons. 1) It drives many youth away fro the beautiful deen. 2) Allah (SWT) tells us not to blindly follow our forefathers and Allah (SWT) also tells us to ponder over the verses not to superficially read. 3) Just because you ask questions, it does not make you a disbeliever or hypocrite and it is very wrong and serious to call someone this without solid evidence. 4) Just because you may have faith and you have found it in your own personal way, it does not mean that your children are on the dame level of eman. Remember when you asked questions. And if you say that you have never asked questions the that means your ‘faith’ is a blind imitation or you are lying. The best of men and the best of women both asked questions and both sometimes despaired but we are all human and we need a calmness in our minds (answered questions) and a calmness in our hearts (faith in Allah (SWT)).”

    The above was the comment that I gave in response via email to this article: http://howtobeahappymuslim.com/?p=414, the response was then posted on the website.

    JazakAllahu khayr. Allahu alam.
    Assalamualaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuhu.

    • Wafiq Syed
      February 21, 2015

      Wa alaykum salam brother, thank you so much. Everything you have said is correct and beneficial. I appreciate you taking the time to share your points. Masha Allah. 🙂

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