The Search Engine Dilemma!
Knowledge is boosted on the internet like an adrenaline rush. As a result, pursuing the knowledge of deen has become so much quicker and easier―and so much more troublesome too!
Seekers of knowledge could benefit from the excellent range of authentic Islamic courses and degrees available online. However, many of them are drawn towards the quick and easy method of learning―through search engines.
The continuous boosts of knowledge on search engines come with a load of controversy and speculation. Since nothing seems real over the internet, be it a person or information, questions arise over everything that teaches the deen―whether it is the authenticity of the website, its information, or the assurance of the scholar or teacher.
To avoid confusion or being misled when using search engines, there are certain measures that one must take:
The Filter Check
The internet is known to answer millions of questions. However, only a few of those answers turn out to be right. On that basis, not everything that is presented on the internet with regard to the knowledge of deen is the truth. Rather, there is much cause for fitnah in it. Hence, a filter is definitely needed.
There are certain conditions related by scholars when it comes to seeking knowledge of the deen. The scholars of Islam strictly state that one should not take knowledge from the people of innovation and people of desires, as such people tend to bend the deen for their personal benefit.
Shaykh Dr Khalid adh-Dhufayri (may Allah have mercy on him) said,
“We take the truth from the pure (unmixed) source, and we take it from places where there are no doubts and no innovation.”
This is a very important filter to use when one is seeking knowledge. It’s especially relevant to YouTube scholars/lectures, where people say glittery statements just for the views. But Islam doesn’t work that way; every major aspect of Shariah is like it is embedded in a stone, which can never be changed. Hence, one needs to check the sources or material a scholar or teacher mentions.
If the matter taught by the internet teacher invites speculation in his aqeedah or affirms certain innovations, the student must go old-fashion and refer to the books of earlier scholars for the right information.
The Identity Check
For the above filter to work, one must be aware of the online scholars they refer to for their knowledge. When seeking knowledge, one must not choose to learn from scholars or teachers based on their popularity alone.
The student of knowledge must look for the credibility of the scholar or teacher, as a scholar of correct aqeedah can be credible but not very famous.
The knowledge-seeker must conduct in-depth research on the scholar/teacher before deciding to learn from them. The books in the references (at the end of this article) mention a list of etiquette in seeking a teacher, but here are a few starters on how to go about the research:
- Verify the scholar’s aqeedah.
- Find out if they exclusively share authentic Islamic knowledge.
- Look deeply and scan their website, interviews, podcasts, and every other media they are available on.
- Look through the people and organizations connected to them. Sometimes, the connections can affirm the reality and status of the scholar.
- If one finds a minor mistake done by the scholar, they should not be quick to judge. Humans are bound to make mistakes and rectify them as well. This can be understood especially in terms of fiqh issues where a scholar makes a statement not knowing the exact evidence, and he later on corrects himself for it. No student of knowledge or a layman has any right to criticize the scholar, because a scholar is only criticized by his peers.
Here are some authentic scholars whose content can be found on the internet that one can learn from:
- Shaykh Albani
- Shaykh Ibn Taymiyyah
- Shaykh Ibn Uthaimeen
- Shaykh Ibn Al-Qayyim
- Imam Ibn Hajar
These filters may seem meticulous, but they are very important in order to gain authentic knowledge of Islam.
We research and look through universities and professors in order to receive the best of worldly education and degrees, then how come we don’t do the same when it comes to the knowledge of deen, despite the fact that it helps us in preparing for our akhirah?
Knowledge brings us closer to our Rabb. The great scholar Sufyan Ath Thawree (may Allah have mercy on him) said,
“The excellence of knowledge is due only to the fact that it causes a person to fear and obey Allah, otherwise it is just like anything else.”[Ibn Rajab]
Hence, with the right intention and goal towards seeking knowledge, Allah ﷻ Himself will aid us to benefit from the right sources of knowledge, as He says,
“…And fear Allah. And Allah teaches you. And Allah is Knowing of all things.”[Qur’an 2:282]
Written by: Musmirah
Edited by: The Editorial Team
© The Islamic Reflections Blog
- Sincere Counsel to the Seekers of Sacred Knowledge by Ibn al Jawzi
- The Excellence of Knowledge by al Hafiz ibn Rajab al Hanbali
- The Manners of Knowledge Seeker by Abu Abdullah Muhammad Sa’id Raslan
- The Etiquette of Seeking Knowledge by Shaykh Bakr AbooZayd
- Inheritors of the Prophets by Ibn Rajab al Hanbali