The Arrogance of Religiosity

My pet peeve on Tumblr, and in general regarding the way we address each other, is still the haughtiness that is displayed by people that pretend to be sincere in their use of the term ‘Oh so-and-so…’. Then there are those that use words like ‘Indeed’ and ‘Verily’ in their posts disguised as advice as if they are such authorities that such a pompous use of language is warranted.

I say this about both the layman and the scholar alike. This use of language is taken from the style that is evident in the translations of the Qur’an, which is obviously fitting for Allah to use when addressing His creation. But to use it when talking to people or addressing people on Tumblr? Really? We think we’re so accomplished and aloof that we can address others as ‘O Muslims’ or ‘O Believers’ or use condescending terms like ‘Ahlul Bid’aa’ or the ‘Awwaam’ and the like?

The annoyance I have with many people that assume a position of authority after studying Islam in some form or another is that more often than not they cease to engage meaningfully with others, and instead start assuming a level of superiority that is rarely, if ever, warranted. We’re so steeped in arrogance that the moment we study Islam formally, we assume that it’s our responsibility to start preaching before we even start practising.

These are generalisations, I admit. And like all generalisations, there are exceptions. But look around you and I am quite certain you’ll agree that the number of sincere and humble scholars of the present day are few and far between. Most people that ascend the pulpit these days assume that by putting in the general disclaimers about what supposedly refers to them before it refers to anyone else is sufficient to disguise the arrogance and condescension with which they engage with those that don’t formally study Islam.

It’s the same old thing. We forget what it’s like to be Muslims, because we’re so indulgent in wanting to tell everyone how they’re supposed to be Muslims. I’m often reminded of the stories of the Sahaba when they used to travel to foreign lands. They didn’t first need to learn the language and the culture and make big bayaans and write extensive treatises in their efforts to spread the word of Islam. They convinced others about the superiority of Islam over any other way of life simply through the way they conducted themselves. By contrast, these days we’re told that we are not qualified to engage in debate or discussion with anyone about Islam unless we hold a man-made title that signifies our level of proficiency in Islamic studies.

We’ve turned Islam into an academic pursuit, embellished with sects and madhabs and pretentious scholars, while forgetting how to simply be Muslims. May Allah save us from ourselves.

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