O you who believe! if a deviator brings you a report, scrutinize it carefully in case you attack people in ignorance and so come to greatly regret what you have done. [Hujurat 49/6]
One destructive flaw that is openly manifested in some people that call themselves salafi or claim to be on the salafi dawah (this is not exclusive to salafis but seems particularly acute amongst some of them) is the penchant to search out the flaws of others, publicize them, make takfir, boycott people more knowledgeable than they are when in reality it would have been better for them to refer it to the people of knowledge that they claim to be following, all the while delighting in calling almost everyone else deviant, warning others to say away from prominent lecturers, and are given to much harsh rhetoric that is not reflective of the light of Prophetic guidance.
The believers are brothers, so make peace between your brothers and have taqwa of Allah so that hopefully you will gain mercy. [Hujurat 49/10]
I remember one conversation, with a convert that fell out of Islam on people described above, she was confused and torn between the arguments that some in this group relish indulging in about how this or that person has “deviated”. I advised her to not busy herself with nonsense refutations, read as much as she could, and not allow anyone to browbeat her into something she was uncomfortable with. My concerns for her although she had the outer accoutrements down pat were her inattentiveness to the pillars and increasing her understanding of the articles of faith.
Most of these people are quite harmless, although the government can’t tell the difference. Some are recent converts or born-again Muslims, some are well-versed in aqeedi refutations but have little knowledge of Arabic or Quran, some are quite knowledgeable but “do not have the fiqh of that knowledge”, some practice outwardly yet internally their hearts are dead or on life support and eventually moderate their views or leave Islam altogether, others inadvertently found themselves in such company, some are armchair jihadis, some actually go out for jihad, and some commit acts that have nothing to do with jihad much less Islam. One of our teachers once said, that while access to knowledge has increased, actual knowledge has decreased. It seems that the honor of their fellow Muslims especially the people of knowledge even the ones they have strong disagreements with and demonstrating good adab and akhlaaq has become something light for them, something of little importance.
O you who believe! people should not ridicule others who may be better than themselves; nor should any women ridicule other women who may be better than themselves. And do not find fault with one another or insult each other with derogatory nicknames. How evil is it to have a name for evil conduct after coming to faith. Those people that do not turn from it are wrongdoers. [Hujurat 49/11]
The Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam said, “…the one who mocks scholars will lose his religion”.
Hasan al-Basri once came upon a people arguing with each other and said, “These people have become bored with worship, and speech has become light upon (their tongue), and their piety has decreased and that is why they speak.”
In addition to that as Umm Zaid pointed out, some seem so content with themselves as “self-satisfied Muslims” and the superiority of their beliefs that they feel free in often disingenuous attempts at explaining or understanding “the other”, their own Muslim brethren with whom they disagree to denigrate and mock their views relentlessly. One sometimes feels in reading the arguments put forth by Muslims about other Muslims, the anguish of one that was invited to dinner only for the host to break out into an offensive blackface skit and the listener or reader is left sitting there awkwardly.
In the post 9/11 political and social discourse and perhaps also as a reaction to the political correctness of the 90’s, in addition to the increasing popularity of conservative radio talkshows, blogs, and increased competition between news outlets particularly the 24-hour news channels, we have witnessed a coarsening of the debate in the public sphere. Not only about Islam, Muslims, and peoples that “look Muslim” in general but also in political discourse.
I am continually amazed at the coarseness of many political, social, and religious commentators, bumper stickers, and protests. Discussions about the failed DP World ports deal, niqab, immigration, the Danish cartoons, elected Muslims officials, and manufactured Muslim outrage have allowed racist and xenophobic views to be aired in the open and have given them a measure of credence, when really as Bush’s former speechwriter once said, they should be consigned with all other failed ideologies to the “dustbins of history”.
O Mankind! We created you from a male and female, and made you into peoples and tribes so that you might come to know each other. The noblest among you in Allah’s sight is the one with the most taqwa. Allah in All-Knowing, All-Aware. [Hujurat 49/13].
I do not have a problem with a person thinking that their view of this or that is superior to the views of others, obviously if it wasn’t superior and believed to be correct, there would be no point in holding fast to it or defending that opinion. I do however take exception to a person that feels so secure and self-righteous in their opinion that they resort to sarcasm, name-calling, and mocking others as if that adds any weight to their opinion. It is one thing to disagree with a person and bring valid evidences to support your argument and another much less credible to make sweeping generalizations and personal attacks, grasping at straws of perceived faults and mistakes, and to make their feelings the basis of disagreement.
I have my disagreements with the Bush administration and of the three main faces of the administration namely Bush, Cheney, and Rice, I mentioned to one acquaintance that I thought Cheney was the most articulate of the three in conveying the underlying set of principles of the government. And my friend, responded by saying something like, “I think they are all stupid”. Well, I don’t think they are all stupid, rather their worldview, which informs their policies differs greatly from my own, yet I recognize that it comes from a foundation of thought and beliefs which has some credibility and to dismiss it entirely as simply stupid does not further the debate.
In the same way, many Muslims dismiss other Muslims with different views as their intellectual inferiors as though real intelligence would result in everyone having the same outlook and opinion. Perhaps it is a genuine mistake, perhaps it is ignorance, or perhaps it is a disease of the heart that has been manifested in view of the public, may Allah protect us from that.
Imam Shafi’ee once said, “I think my opinion is right but I could be wrong, and I think my opponent’s opinion is wrong but it could be correct”.
Allah knows the unseen things of the heavens and the earth. Allah sees what you do. [Hujurat 49/18]