Questioning, respect, and authority

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

If I may make one comment, as a “Westerner” who accepted Islam in my early 20s, I feel that the concept of a questioning mind – including the questioning of authorities – can be a positive thing. While I seek clarification from those more knowledgeable than myself on certain issues e.g. Tarawih, I would indeed expect scholars to explain the “whys” – just as you did in your web page.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Walaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

There are two issues:

a) respect: the basis of dealings between Muslims in general is that they should be based on love and respect. This is especially true with any deserving of our deference, such as scholars and elders.

b) with this basis of love and respect, it is fine to ask and question. In fact, when the very young companion Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) was asked how he attained unto so much knowledge, he responded, “By a questioning tongue and an ever-sharp mind.” [paraphrase]

At the same time, we have to determine our methodological bases. If we agree where we are seeking to go, and how, generally, we should be getting there, then the scope of our differences will be limited. This is most important on the religious plane. The way of Sunni Islam is build on broad and accommodating yet clear methodological bases.

Perhaps the best available description of these is that given by Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad and Shaykh Nuh Keller in their articles on Sidi Mas’ud Khan’s exceptional site,, and through the lessons and lectures of Shaykh Hamza Yusuf and Shaykh Zaid Shakir (both at Zaytuna Institute,

And Allah alone gives success.


Faraz Rabbani

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