Saturday, May 23, 2009

Reflections on the first to third chapters of Aqeedah Tahawiyyah

Reflections from Reading Aqeedah Tahawiyyah

I have recently been reading Aqeedah Tahawiyah prepared in English by Shaykh Muhammad bn Yahya Ninowy (may Allah prolong his life and bless him for his efforts). Aqeedah tahawiyyah is one of the simpliest and easiest manuals in explaining Islamic aqeedah without creating any conflicts.

It was Shaykh Ahmad (may Allah bless him) who forwarded me some materials and guides... I eventually started reading it alone and now am reading it with Sister Nur. She has been very supporting and guiding as to how the text is being read (studied with a teacher). We have been done last Saturday morning with chapters one to three. And I appreciate and am very glad with how I saw things .

I have decided to write my reflections and understandings of the first three chapters as a result of my readings.

It is important to note in the words of Shaykh Muhammad bn Yahya Ninowy that, “Aqeedah is Islam, as it constitutes our faith, must be found on unshakeable convistions and established beyond doubt, therefore Muslims are demanded to search for the indisputable truth, base their aqeedah on sound convictions and naturally...use their intellect and oppose blind imitation.”

As this being the basis of our path, I put my reflections on the feet of the illustrious scholars to see if indeed it is under the shade of the aqeedah of Islam.

One must understand that indeed Tawheed or the path of understanding tawheed is a knowledge acquisition process. Although basiocally worship for the laymen is learning by imitation (taqlid) of the scholars as taught through the chains of transmission). It must be emphasized that people ( Muslims in particular) become accountable to Allah for their actions and decisions on the basis of their knowledge ... and that belief must always be substantiated by knowledge. It would be best be put in the principle of : belief=knowledge+understanding and faith=belief+satisfaction. One must always consider that the main role of aqeedah is to teach tawheed in effect teach man the correct set of beliefs and valuesto prepare one's heart for the correct state of belief. (perhaps prepare him for yaqeen)

A lot of people conceive Monotheism as tawheed. Perhaps it may be so and it may not be so.Tawheed establishes what is the limitations and concepts when associated with understanding how to aproach things. How to know the gulf that separates the One who has created and the created. The verse in Surah ikhlas is the best parameter to use, “wa lam yakoon lahu kufuwan ahad”.

Reflecting on what are the basic prerequisites to studying Aqeedah tahawiyyah indeed it is but important that the following which I have found to be trully important among them was that worship and obedience is always the result of applying acquired religious knowledge. And that this acquired knowled is required to be put into action. Remebering that every act of worship must be firmly grounded on correct knowledge. Mere intentions are not enough.The path to faith must be based on the correct understanding and knolwdge of Faith, Islam and Tawheed.

There are 4 things that I have realize as a result:

  1. To possess correct knowledge one must go back to the basics so that all succeeding efforts to acquiring knowledge will bebguided from the basics

  2. Correct actions only will come from correct knowledge

  3. Good intentions and acttions are not enough but must be firmly based on correct and accurate knowledge

  4. We are mandated to acquire knowledge.

A very notable part of the discussion and reading is that one must acquire knowledge from a teacher and not mere books. One taking ones knowledge directly from a book is a suhufi, bereft of the guidance and teaching of a teacher. A good point to consider here also is that books can never answer back your questions in detail, and that teachers contain the sum of all his personal knowledge, experiences as well as that of the teacher who had preceeded him or her. Thus this is indeed one of the very important reasons why transmission of knowledge through teachers is needed. I have discovered in this process the five (5) criterias in acquiring knowledge:

  1. Sincerity to Alah

  2. Great effort must be exerted in this process

  3. Take knowledge from someone who posesses it (a teacher not simply a book or a person who has learned through a book)

  4. Students must employ proper etiquette with their teachers

  5. Humility and kindness.

Tawheed is made up of two categories, one is fard/obligatory to be understood personally like the five pillar and 6 fundamentals of belief and second is the communal obligations wlike understanding the precepts and basis of Islamic teachings and the ability to refute those who are teaching the wrong concepts.

When one possess knowledge it is a divine task upon him to impart it to others like truth being told . And that finally ones words and speeches should never be without basis.

Wa salaatu wa salaamu alal ashrafil anbiya'ah wal mursalin wal hamdulillah hirabeel alameen.

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