‘Don’t believe everything you read’
– These were the words of wisdom of the great Shaykh ‘Abdullah Sirajuddin (rahimahullah), the senior Teacher of my Honourable Shaykh, Al-Muhaddith Muhammad ‘Awwamah (may Allah protect him).
He offered this advice to Shaykh ‘Awwamah in his early days of study, after he approached his Teacher to clarify a dodgy incident about Imam Bukhari (rahimahullah) which he had just read the night before.
Shaykh ‘Awwamah states:
‘While he (Shaykh ‘Abdullah) was teaching us the famous book in Hanafi Fiqh; Al-Ikhtiyar in the fifth year, I came to his lesson one day after reading a strange incident about Imam Bukhari (rahimahullah); that great unique Imam who had served Islam so faithfully.
According to this narrative, Imam Bukhari was asked about an infant boy and girl who were fed the milk of the same goat. Can they marry each other?
The narrative claimed that Imam Bukhari (rahimahullah) said that they will not be able to do so (due to them being foster siblings)
So the ‘Ulama of the town had banished him due to his extreme ignorance!
When I quoted this to Shaykh ‘Abdullah (rahimahullah), he addressed me with complete dignity and wisdom, calmly saying:
“Don’t believe everything you read.”
Shaykh Muhammad ‘Awwamah elaborates: ‘By Allah, this statement served as an enormous lesson for me, a module for me to follow. It was an entire code of conduct that he summarised in one sentence!
I heard it from him fifty years ago which I now quote for others to benefit.’
Lessons for us
The first lesson here is that whenever we encounter information that is questionable, or which seems odd to us, we should immediately refer it to the senior knowledgeable people that we have access to.
Unfortunately, in our era, people hardly ever bother to verify the information they receive or pass on. This has fatal consequences. We shouldn’t be so naive as to accept everything that is thrown at us, unless the sender is a reliable authority in the field that pertains to that piece of information…
We most definitely need to check the status of whatever we are reading, be that in a book, on a screen or on social media.
The Social Media Pitfall
Social media has undoubtedly put a world of information literally at people’s fingertips. In addition to its benefits, mass-misinformation is just one of its many pitfalls.
Many of us are gullible, and believe whatever we read. That is exactly the opposite of the purpose of this article!
Some of us merely see the sender, and suffice with that. As if to mean that the one who sent it is the original source!
The sender probably also thought the same when he received it…
The ‘Copy & Paste’ trend
It’s no secret that people ‘copy and paste’ all the time without quoting their original source. This is wrong in itself. You may read a full article on it here.
Just one evil outcome of this ‘copy and paste’ trend is that by the time it reaches the third or fourth hand, the original source is forgotten, thus removing real credibility from that statement. That is if the source is really credible. But how would we know that?
The message we are reading could just be some bogus drivel…
Therefore, we are cautioned: Do not believe everything you read!!
That really seems difficult in our era, especially since many are in the habit of having conviction on whatever is thrown at them! May Allah Ta’ala grant us the true realisation of the above. Amin.