Folks are facinated by scholars, scholarship, and Islamic knowledge these days. Its much like a form of entertainment to some people. It shouldn’t be that way, but it’s understandable that it is.
The wealth of Islamic knowledge, shuyookh, and books of knowledge available is voluminous, fascinating, and detailed, and grabs the attention. It will amaze you, capture your imagination, and even dazzle you, and as Americans, we love to be entertained. Still, scholars have done a remarkable job at recording, explaining, and preserving Islamic knowledge, and may Allah reward them all. Ameen.
Meanwhile, life goes on. Things are happening, new issues are coming about, and the world is changing. People are hurting, in distress, and in need of order and connectivity in to work together and help each other deal with shared challenges and problems, as well as employ religious guidance amongst then. For that you need to have communal governance amongst themselves, starting with the family.
Family begins with marriage and raising children. Families working together become a group (جماعة) and require an Imam or Amir, and a council (shura) where they can agree to do things, address problems, and gather and commit resources. You get the picture. It’s all very simple, and believe it or not, it’s all supported by fiqh. The fiqh that we love so much.
Fiqh is relatively simple, there are hundreds of people who know fiqh, you can look up fiqh in a fiqh book. You can even Google fiqh. Sure, there are differences of opinion, but fiqh is relatively cut and dry.
Everybody however, is not gonna know fiqh. Our problem isn’t Fiqh, it’s governance and order. For that you need basic structure starting with family, community (جماعة ) and a system by which people can thrive as a civilization as a community of people trying to pracrice their religion. Fiqh has to be actionable and in order.
A whole bunch of people running around quoting fiqh, or quoting their shaykh, is not going to do it at this juncture. We’re past that. I believe that if you have a knowledgeable Imam, or an Amir, and a council (shurah), and community of responsible, commited and dedicated Muslims, working together, then people as a whole will be better off.
Even a small community of Muslims is better than no community. Islam is not only a deen (way of life), it’s a system. Organized unity is better than chaotic, untethered, unity. And Allah knows best.
Imam Luqman Ahmad is an associate Imam and Resident Scholar at the Toledo Masjid al-Islam in Ohio. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.