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FIQ006E: Niqab - Just a Tradition? Part 3

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Alhamdulillah, from time to time, events occur to remind us to be more discerning in choosing who we take our religion from. It is not a surprise that those who wear the cloak of religion intent upon self-promotion and gaining mass appeal will eventually start contradicting themselves, the renowned scholars, the sahabahs, the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم and the religion itself.

Insha Allah, this post will close the niqab series of articles and will attempt to provide a few key learning points for students of knowledge and the Muslim masses in interacting with Islam in today's modern world.

1) Religious Titles

- Not everyone who has been afforded religious titles such as "Mufti", "Ulama" and "Ustadz" were given these titles based upon their qualifications or their expertise in Islamic knowledge.

2) Religious Edicts

- Religious edicts or opinions may not always be based upon the true process of ijtihad as performed by renowned scholars of the past. Edicts or opinions may be tainted by bias or vested interests of the individual.

3) Islamic Universities

- Not all universities are created equal. This principle should be extremely easy for Singaporeans to understand with school rankings prevalent in our society. A university which may have had a proud history and legacy may not necessarily be credible today. Those who are fair and diligent will be able to quickly notice the competency gap among different graduates by listening to their lectures.

- Further discussions with the graduates on what subjects were taught, how they were taught, the type of lecturers who taught them, what books were used as references, how they were assessed, how strict the discipline was, etc will shed more light on the educational standards of these universities.

4) Difference of Opinion

- One of the most common excuses given when a religious opinion is questioned is: "It is a difference of opinion". Within a few crafty statements, the person being questioned takes a position of higher moral ground and turns the table on the questioner: "You must be tolerant of difference of opinion". However, not all difference of opinions are valid or taken into account in Islam. Like everything else, there is a clear definition of a "valid difference of opinion" and a proper way of evaluating them. Such statements are just a means towards avoiding a transparent discourse.

5) Scholarly Critique

- Religious edicts, opinions and statements are never beyond criticism. With wide reading, one will realize that scholarly critique and counter critique is common among the scholars of Islam.

- This religious icon who considered niqab as "not from Islam" has long been criticised by several other scholars. His past unscholarly opinions of allowing women to be without headscarfs to conform to local laws and making usury (riba') permissible had been fiercely condemned.

Religious organizations who continue associating and inviting such scholars who have clearly contravened the basics of the religion will only diminish their organizations' credibility.

May Allah always keep us on His Straight Path and protect us from deviations and falsehood.

Wallahu a'lam.
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