So now you have people, even some Imams, saying that you cannot follow the Quran and Sunna on your own. Wait a minute! This view, on the surface, is very misleading, and cannot be true in all cases. It is true that complexities from the Quran and Sunna, requires some scholarly detail and explanation. However, that is not true for all of the Quran, or all of the sunna. Such is absurd.
Honoring your parents for example, you can do that on your own without detailed explanation. Feeding the poor and hungry, giving charity, fearing Allah, wanting for your brother what you want for yourself, being truthful, are also things you can do on your own without anyone holding your own..
Being good to your neighbor, forgiving someone who was wronged you, being trustworthy, not backbiting, and not bearing false witness, are things from our scriptures that you can do on your own. And there’s much more of our religion that is easily understood without the aid of a scholar.
You do not need a shaykh to hold your hand in doing basic goodness. Even a 5 year old knows how to share his food without a shaykh showing him how. This type of intellectual dependency that teaches people that they cannot understand anything about the Book of Allah, and the Sunna without a shaykh, supports the narrative that Black Muslims are incompetent. It is foolish thinking. Do what is clear to you from scripture. If you don’t understand something, then ask questions.
Self-hate and self-doubt is built into the way that some Blacks have been taught Islam. You’d be surprised at the number of people that fell for the notion that, “there are no scholars in America”, or used to believe that your du’aa is not accepted unless it’s in Arabic. Or believed that all of our grandmothers and grandfathers are automatically going to hell since they weren’t Muslim.
Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad. Associate Imam, and Resident Scholar at the Toledo Masjid al-Islam in Ohio. He can be reached at email@example.com