The Group that Lured Under the Pretext of Empathy and Superiority
A few weeks after my conversion, I was invited to join a Facebook group, a page termed as a ‘support group for Muslim converts’, which I enthusiastically plunged into (yay, an entire community who understands me!). As a new convert, there were so many questions that I had and I had thought I had finally found a group that could answer my questions.
As a fresh convert, I was quite bold and not very shy. The group had around 1.5k members at the time I joined (there’s even more members now), but I felt brave enough to type in my first question after seeing one of their posts about websites that are deviant from Islam.
Then, boom. Terms that I had never seen before- “Wahhabi”, “Ahl as sunnah wa al-Jama’ah” etc. came up, too much for a new Muslim to handle, really, and even as I tried to ask what they meant- I was left with even more questions and doubts, which was dismissed by the group administrator and I was told to read from the earlier postings; as the definitions were all there. And I remember, I felt very stupid after that. But humans are innately curious creatures, and I was stirred, because –wow!– so many things to be learnt! And so, even though I stopped posting up my questions after that first and last incident, I continued prowling and stalking post after post, so intrigued that so many of them had so many things to say, and everyone seemed so knowledgeable!
Comments came in droves at a time, each would probably be about a few paragraphs long. Everyone seemed so articulate in communicating their point. I was confused, but I was hooked, in a weird way. I also added S, because after the group accused the place I was learning my Islam from as ‘wahhabi’, he showed some concern about my sources of Islam.
About some months later, S stepped in.
S: “I think you should leave the group.”
Me: “But why? I am learning so many new things!”
S: “The people in the group discuss without a conclusion, or with someone to guide their thoughts. It’s like a debate, trying to convince others that their viewpoint is right. What makes you think you can gather what Islam says is right or wrong from what they say?”
I was reluctant to leave. (it was my only source of learning and ‘support’ at that time. Notice that I put inverted commas on ‘support’, because they didn’t exactly give me the support, but I was just feeling a little better knowing there were people who shared the same learning journey as I, in the group). At that time, I couldn’t see, I couldn’t know. How could I, a new, fresh, –gullible!– muslim convert?
An Islam that caters to the Nafs… isn’t Islam any longer
The very structure of the group was wrong- it was the perfect ground to breed one’s own version of Islam just based on forming conclusions and ‘agree to disagree’ perspectives. It was perfect to cultivate a form of Islam that catered to the nafs, and question anything that came in its way.
“Muslims must not learn Islam as a subject but must learn to subject themselves to Islam”
– Almarhum Ustaz Zhulkeflee Bin Haji Ismail
Whenever I think back about this incident, chills are sent up my spine. Alhamdulillah by Allah’s grace that I was dragged out of that group. I was too unlearned, I am still too unlearned- to perceive the Truth from a slurry of perspectives from individuals whose backgrounds I have absolutely no idea about.
Since that incident, a wave of fitnah has continuously been attacking my home country, with a scholar banned from entering upon arrival, an imam deported, and statements made that could cause not just a convert, but any muslim, AND non-muslim, to form an incorrect impression of the teachings of Islam just by the authority of Fear itself, and those who know how to work with that Fear, in their seemingly eloquent persuasions.
It’s a scary and confusing time for us all. I found myself scrolling back on Ustaz’s timeline, helpless, trying to find something that he would say about all of this. And then, Alhamdulillah. It is clear.
“They have made their oaths a cover [for their falseness], and thus they turn others away from the Path of Allah. Evil indeed is all that they are wont to do: this, because [they profess that] they have attained to faith, whereas [inwardly] they deny the truth – and so, a seal has been set on their hearts so that they can no longer understand [what is true and what false].”
“Now when thou seest them, their outward appearance may please thee; and when they speak, thou art inclined to lend ear to what they say. [But though they may seem as sure of themselves] as if they were timbers [firmly] propped up, they think that every shout is [directed] against them. They are the [real] enemies [of all faith], so beware of them. [They deserve the imprecation,] “May Allah destroy them!” How perverted are their minds!“
(Qur’an, Munafiqun, 63: 2-4)
“Verily this is knowledge (which contains the rules the Deen, so look thoroughly into the person from whom you acquire (the knowledge of) your Deen.”
– Imam Muhammad ibnu Sirrin (rhm.a)
A New Muslim’s Notes on Sifting Truth from Falsehood
- Examine The Adab of the one whom you are seeking knowledge from. If the person finds it alright to speak ill of others (no matter who they are), boasts arrogantly about himself and his knowledge, and looks down on and is impatient with those who don’t know, beware. Why would you seek knowledge from someone who cannot control even his own ego?
- Stay away from Facebook comments. Especially those that come after some Islamophobic news content. They’re mostly just an angry troll mob disgusted with anyone and everyone who aren’t like them, and engaging them is just going to waste your time.
- Division, or Unity? In whatever you are learning, or whoever you are learning from, does the gems of knowledge you gain serve to unite or divide people? Remember that the ummah of Prophet Muhammad s.a.w is the whole of humanity- that means Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Does terming someone a “Wahhabi”, “Kafir”, etc. do us any benefit aside from the obvious harm of distancing yourself, and creating enmity with him?
- Just Leave. The scary thing is that you can become influenced bit by bit without you even realising it. And that’s where the danger lies- slowly, everything becomes okay. That’s when you’re no longer subjecting yourself to Islam, but subjecting Islam to your Nafs. So, just leave that group, or that source that you’re unsure about- it’s better always to be safely gaining your knowledge from a reputed, learned scholar.
- Make lots and lots of Dua. It’s really easy to get misled, especially nowadays, especially when the truly learned amongst us are leaving us one by one, and false ‘teachers’ are taking their place. But with Allah’s Mercy and Grace, and our conviction in Him, insha’Allah we will get through this.
“Oh Allah! Enable us to see the Truth as Truth and give us the ability to follow it. And show us the falsehood as false and give us the ability to avoid it.”
May Allah guide and help us all, insha’Allah, Ameen.