One of the best things about the internet is that it cuts out the middle men‘. Doing so can make things hassle free, cheaper and can provide a sense of control – putting you completely in charge.
However, sometimes when middle men are cut away, especially in regards to deen, so too is a layer of protection! In such cases the internet tends to become a dangerous tool; resulting not only in confusion for the now‘but putting into jeopardy one‘s Aakhirah.
Many people use the internet for Islamic purposes; good research can be done and very beneficial Islamic articles can be found. However, when we start referring matters to Mufti Google‘in search of Fatwa‘s, the danger of being misled is inevitable. Such searches will usually produce thousands of results. Many websites are run by Shias and Qadianis, and can be difficult to detect. Fatwas from such websites will not be coherent with the doctrines of the Ahl-Sunnah Wal-Jamaah. Furthermore, even when dealing with a Sunni website, what assurance is there that the site‘s author is a scholar?
The Shariat is very clear in prohibiting those who are not well versed in the principles of Islamic jurisprudence from expressing their own opinions in Shari matters. What is one to do if two different answers are found to the same‘question? Naturally, one can easily fall prey in following the Nafs and personal desire. Answers could be from any of the four Sunni schools of thought; however each ruling derived using different legal principles. Hence real caution needs to be practiced before accepting what is found on the web‘
In fact rather than looking to revolutionise the way we seek Fatwa's, the safest option, and the method we are obliged to follow, is to seek answers to our Deeni matters directly from reliable Islamic scholars; such has always been the prescribed practice of our pious predecessors.
Allah Ta‘aala says in the Quran:
“Ask Those who know if You do not know.”
This noble verse instructs us to approach and ask people who have sound Deeni knowledge, because Allah has entrusted them with it.
Even the Quran, the book of Allah was not left to individuals to understand and practice without the intervention and guidance of the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Alaihi Wasallam). Allah Most High explains this concept in the following verse:
“Allah did confer a great favour on the believers when He sent among them a Messenger from among themselves, reciting upon them verses (of the book), sanctifying them, and teaching them the scripture (book) and wisdom, while before that, they had been in manifest error.”
For centuries Islamic education has been taught through direct contact with teachers. Without an authentic teacher and guide (one who is armed with the combination of knowledge and experience) the pitfalls of ego and desires can easily confuse and lead us astray. Self-teaching is a western phenomenon, living in the west, we assume we can apply our cultural norms to Islam as well. However, Islam is not of the west, thus, the western norms cannot be applied to it successfully. Perhaps sensing the lack of importance people would attach to acquiring authentic knowledge, the great scholar Muhammad ibn Sireen narrated: Indeed this divine knowledge is part of deen, hence see from whom you take your Deen