When I first started this blog, I named it madhab al-irfy. That name offended a fair few people, and led to accusations that I was seeking to start my own school of sacred thought and/or law.
The purpose of the blog was in fact to put on cyberpaper my infantile spiritual reflections. I didn't want to cloud my views on religion and religiosity on the other blog, Planet Irf (though I'm not sure I succeeded in this regard).
So what on earth is madhab al-irfy? What is my view on how orthodoxy is defined? And why should anyone give a shite?
My views on orthodoxy haven't really changed since the early 1990's. At the time, these weren't terribly fashionable views. Here are some of them in a nutshell, each followed by a random image:
1. No need to reinvent the wheel. If you want to follow the sacred law of Islam in your life, you have four (4) schools of law to choose from. All are equally valid. Just pick one and off you go.
2. You can't just pick and choose between schools of law. Though at times, you can pick an easier option when the option within your chosen school is just too tough. But picking and choosing for the sake of it takes away your sense of discipline.
3. Islam has an outer and inner tradition. Some call the inner tradition tasawwuf, others call it ihsan, others zuhd and others (my favourite!) irfan. Then there is that word 'sufism' that makes me ill.
4. The inner science is best (or rather, necessarily) learned from a qualified teacher. No Byron Bay sufism for me, thanks.
5. All sacred sciences of Islam are transmitted from teacher to student. Teachers were once students of teachers who were once students of teachers who were ... and on and on, all the way back to the people of the salaf, the first three generations.
6. There are two legitimate ways among Sunnis to express one's beliefs. These are known as Ashari and Maturidi. Hardly any difference between the two.
7. I like the Tabligh Jamaat, but I wish they'd phone ahead.
8. I like the Barelwi chaps but I wish they weren't so fractious.
9. I love both of them, but I wish they'd keep their disputes geographically limited to the Indian sub-Continent.
10. I unconditionally love my Shia brethren, even if I find some of their views on history uncomfortable.
11. Anyone who claims all salafis/wahhabis are terrorists is a moron who should return to the Planet G%7eHFRFft. Believe me, things aren't nice on that planet. (As in, yes, I once promoted the same rubbish.)
12. People who claim to be religious scholars but refuse to show their qualifications when asked are more likely than not complete fraudsters. Any qualified scholars who continue to support them are parties to the fraud. May God help them.
13. Scholars and imams who defend violence against women and/or children are evil.
Gee, what else? Would anyone like to add some more?
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