I tuned into a new show on Al-Jazeera called Head to head with Mehdi Hasan and goodness gracious, the person he was interviewing was the atrocious Irshad Manji herself, an Atheist, lesbian passing herself off as an Islamic reformer. Though she had some very real criticisms concerning the Muslim world (how south east Asian cultures treat their women etc) I was frankly appalled at her ignorance of Islamic teachings and witless ranting. We blindly follow our Imams she says again and again, everyone should have a right to talk about Islam, not just the evil Mullah.
Perhaps the following story from Gems and Jewels will shed light on Islam’s view of the Clergy.
Once a scholar of Islamic Law back in the day, Bakr Al-Muzani, saw a a common working man carrying goods with him while constantly saying, “Alhumdulillah (all praise is for God),” and “Astagfirullah (I seek forgiveness from God).” The scholar was fascinated by the sequence of his utterance that he waited for the man to finish his work before he approached him and spoke to him. Al-Muzani then asked him, “Do you not know anything other that these two words?” The man responded, “Indeed I know much else and I do read the Book of Allah, except that a slave of Allah is constantly shifting between a state of blessing (from God) and sin. Because this is the case, I praise and thank God for the blessings He has given me first and then immediately seek forgiveness from Him for my sins.”
The scholar was baffled by the deep understanding this common hand of the religion and said, “Certainly this man has a deeper understanding of the religion than Bakr (himself).”
It may be the case that a common man can gain a deeper understanding of Islam and God many levels higher than a scholar of the religion. Islam is the only major world religion that does not have a Clergy system. You do not confess your sins to a “Mulla” what ever the hell that is ( a scholar is called a Sheikh). The scholar also does not contain some hidden privilege that he/she (oh ya women can be scholars too surprise surprise!) must impart on the masses. Rather, the scholar of Islam and the Imam is there for the guidance of the community, to teach the ignorant and to remove doubts on important, specific issues pertaining to the everyday practice of Islam.
Why?Well, a simple reason is that they have studied extensively and are qualified to answer your questions regarding the religion. They hold a status of respect in any Muslim community because any scholar deserves respect for his/her knowledge. Knowledge in turn deserves respect. A scholar is also more qualified to talk about the Religion than the common man, just as a doctor is more qualified to talk about medicine. There is not “great, evil mystery” surrounding the Shuyukh (scholars) of Islam. They are knowledgeable individuals and Allah loves knowledge. In turn Allah loves the righteous scholar. Do you oh common ruffian want that VIP spot? Easy Peasy. Gain Knowledge about the religion. There is no limitations.
I hope I’ve convinced you that this idea of Muslims worshipping their Imams and launching kamikaze missions because their “Sheikh said so” is a load of horse dung. If they are doing it, then they probably are:
1/Really stupid peasants looking for an excuse to make their lives a little interesting.
2/Just plain stupid.
Terrorists are plain stupid. But hey, you didn’t need me to convince you of that.