- What, another rule?
- How was I supposed to know that?
- What does that have to do with being a good Muslim?
When I decided to become a Muslim, I was told that all I had to do was say the Shahada. Then I was told that I had to believe in and abide by the Five Pillars. Fine, I can handle that. But when I get told that I have to eat with my right hand only or remove all my body hair, I want to scream. Muslims who inform me of these rules are dead serious; there’s no doubt in their minds that you have to do these things or … What? Go to Hell? Seriously? That’s what Allah cares about?
I get that we’re supposed to obey Mohammad. I even understand the value of following his example. And I realize that it’s from the Sunnah that we get our instructions about exactly how to pray. But it seems to me that we have to use both common sense and discrimination when it comes to choosing which ahadith are to be followed.
An argument could be made that Muslims don’t have to follow any ahadith. After all, the Qur’an is supposed to be enough. Giving the Sunnah the same authority as the Qur’an seems to me to be a form of idolatry. Mohammad was just a man. He was not divine. We are to submit to Allah alone.
And then there’s the issue of whether or not a hadith is even genuine. The Qur’an has a perfect provenance: it came straight from Allah through the angel Gabriel. But we have no such assurances about the Sunnah. Human witnesses are not infallible. I appreciate that great care has been taken to establish the strength or weakness of a hadith. But we still can’t be 100% sure the way we can be about the Qur’an.
The advice I usually see is to consult an imam about these issues. Well, I’m sorry, but imams are human. Their opinions can be tainted by their own prejudices and cultural backgrounds. And, besides, how do you know if a certain imam is even qualified to issue fatwas? Who do you go to if you have doubts? Do you just pick someone off the Internet? And what if you don’t know Arabic?
I’m not opposed to learning ahadith and following the Sunnah. But I have to have something to hold onto when I’m feeling overwhelmed by all the rules and regulations that are thrown at me. I need to know what the bare minimum is for being a Muslim. And I believe I’ve found that in the very name of our deen: Islam.
Submission to Allah is the key. If I’m truly submitted, Allah will show me the way.