#10 Reflections: We Follow Our Fathers, We Follow Our Culture
Writing has always been my fear but there are so many words inside of me, waiting for a page to fall on. So this is my attempt to push past this fear — a reflection a day (or maybe a month!) in writing.
Today in our weekly Quran Circle we came across a verse in Surah Luqman that made us pause and reflect:
وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمُ ٱتَّبِعُوا۟ مَآ أَنزَلَ ٱللَّهُ قَالُوا۟ بَلْ نَتَّبِعُ مَا وَجَدْنَا عَلَيْهِ ءَابَآءَنَآ ۚ أَوَلَوْ كَانَ ٱلشَّيْطَـٰنُ يَدْعُوهُمْ إِلَىٰ عَذَابِ ٱلسَّعِيرِ
When they are told, ‘Follow what God has sent down,’ they say: ‘We shall follow what we saw our forefathers following.’ What! Even if Satan is calling them to the suffering of the Blazing Flame? (31:21)
The context of this verse repeats many times throughout the Quran, mainly in the stories of the Prophets. Whenever a Prophet came to his people to invite them to the correct path of Islam, one of their main reasons for rejection was their desire to continue to keep to the ways of their forefathers.
But how does this relate to us?
When I read this verse, I see a parallel to the siituation we face in multiple Muslim communities today. I see a parallel between what the diisbelievers in the verse refer to as their ‘forefathers’ to what the Muslms of our communities refer to as ‘culture’ or ‘tradition’.
Yes, this verse talks abot a group of disbelievers refusing to accept the religion of Islam and continue upon the religion of their traditions. But this doesn’t stray far from those within our commmunities who refuse to accept what Islam actually calls to over what has been a longstanding tradition.
Legitimacy to the long-standing
As humans, we tend to give a lot of weight to things that withstand the test of time. The longer a tradition exists, somehow the more legitamacy it’s given.
Take the festival of Christmas from Christianity as an example. It is a well known fact that Christmas does not date back to the time of Jesus and was an invention later on. Yet, as years became centuries, this festival has suddenly been given the legitimacy of being from the Christian tradition.
Within the different pockets of Muslims around the globe exist the same problems. Wether it be the worshipping of saints to refusing the women to set foot in the Masajid.
What I am trying to say is…
Just because something has existed for a long time and has been practiced for generations does not mean that its legitimate. It does not mean that it is Islamicaly sound.
Let’s not be like the people mentioned in this verse who were so fixated on their traditions that they were blind to the truth when it was right in front of them.
Let’s be a community who are, on one hand, grounded enough to appreciate the work of our forefathers who set out these traditions yet open-minded enough to realise that there may be errors. That this might not be what God sent down.