Compound Ignorance (Jahl murakkab)
by Sh. G. F. Haddad

The Romans used to say, mostly ironically, "dulcis ignorantia." Of course, ignorance is sweet only to those who believe that "whatever you do not know cannot harm you." But Islam considers certain types of knowledge required from every human being and other types merely recommended, while harmless ignorance applies only to that the ignorance of which does not cause a lasting impediment to obligatory knowledge.

The Ulema have divided ignorance (jahl) into two types: jahl basit (simple), and jahl murakkab (complex).

Jahl basit is basic unawareness - "I do not know." This is a minor problem in the sense that it is easily remedied and replaced with knowledge given the proper steps summed up by the act of asking. Even a superlatively knowledgeable person such as Imam Malik, will - or rather, must - at times say: "I do not know" and defer the matter to those who know, by asking. Ibn `Umar would bless the day in which he admitted not to know something. For to say "I do not know" is in itself a proof of one's knowledge that one knows something and ignores many things, as the maxim goes, "`Alimta shay'an wa jahilta ashya'."

Jahl murakkab, compound ignorance, is by far the real problem. Most of what is posted on SRI is characterized by Jahl murakkab, the disease of those who say: "I do know, I do know, I do know" and they know less than nothing. Of beneficial knowledge they are completely deprived, and mostly possess useless knowledge. This is not due to the nature of their material but to the disease in their hearts, ego pushing them into denial and obduracy beyond limits of which they themselves have no idea. Wal-`iyadhu billah.

A mark of this disease is that most of their discourse if from their own heads. They will turn to their minds and produce what they will call "Islamic views" - on Authority, Human Faculties, the Meaning of Surrender, Worship, Hadith, Salvation, Khilafa, Reform, Education, the Vote, etc. taking and leaving from the Book and Sunna what they please, like other Ummas did with their Books before. And it is all nonsense and causes for remorse in the Balance on the Day of Judgment.

Safety and remedy from this disease is to stick to what the pious Salaf said - those that went before us and whose Islamic knowledge and piety are unquestioned. Imam Ahmad - Allah have mercy on him - said: "How can I ever say what was not said before me?" The compound dolt or Jahil Murakkab, on the other hand, says: "How can I ever say what was said before me?" What is worse, he will quote from the Qur'an and Sunna to support his view!

Consequently everything that proceeds from compound ignorance is, by definition, new and original. It is innovated in essence and style though not necessarily in content as they dispose of the words of the Qur'an and Sunna, and Shaytan is past master at quoting the Five Heavenly Books. Nevertheless, it is easy to detect it, wal-Hamdu lillah.

May Allah grant all people of sound hearts never to be phazed nor swayed for even one second by the argufying devils who attack Islam from outside or - especially, in our time - inside. Their endless prattle and all they hope and work for is doomed to perish, and only what was done for the Countenance of Allah shall remain and triumph. This is the path of the Salaf; the path of Ahl al-Sunna; the path of the People of Shari`a and Tariqa; the path of the People of Paradise.

May Allah send blessings and peace on the Best of Creation, OUR MASTER Muhammad in this blessed month of this birth and at all times, and upon his Family and all his Companions.

Hajj Gibril
GF Haddad ©
[2000-06-24]



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