Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayaat 170 – 171
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala now points out to another error of mankind. When someone is called to the path of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, he rejects it and remains stubborn on the path of his forefathers.
When you tell someone of an ayah of the Qur’an or reference a Saheeh hadeeth they will respond by saying, “But I have always seen my parents do it in such-and-such a way.” Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala calls such people as sheep who hear the sounds but do not understand what is being said.
Our sources of guidance should be the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. If anything contradicts with these two main sources then it is not something that should be followed.
No one intends to disrespect their elders. Back then when information was not as widespread as it is today, there is a possibility that people followed only what they were told. But as one studies and learns religion, a new world opens up before them. Then practices do not remain limited to mere rituals but they also become the worship of the heart. After learning that something was the Sunnah of the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam we should be more moved to perform it. If something is not proven by the Qur’an or ahadeeth then it is best to leave it.
Recall the previous ayah, where we learned that the innovations too are an act of Shaytan. Therefore, we need to be vigilant of our beliefs and practices. Saying, “But I have always seen my parents do it,” will not save us. We will be exerting ourselves and yet gaining nothing out of it i.e. getting no reward for it.
Ibn Ishaq reported that Ibn ‘Abbas radhiAllahu ‘anhu said that this was revealed about a group of Jews whom Allah’s Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam called to Islam, but they refused, saying, “Rather, we shall follow what we found our forefathers following.” So, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala revealed this ayah (2:170).
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says that the example of those who live their lives in misguidance and ignorance is like that of wandering animals. They understand not what they are told. If the shepherd heralds them or calls them to what benefits them, they would not understand what is actually being said to them, for they only hear unintelligible sounds. “They are deaf, dumb, and blind,” meaning they are deaf, as they do not hear the truth; mute, as they do not utter it; and blind, as they do not see or recognize its path and way. They do not comprehend or understand anything.
Therefore, in Islam there is a special emphasis on using our intellect and becoming people of understanding. When the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was perturbed by the false practices of the people around him he isolated himself in the Cave of Hira and reflected on the purpose of creation. It is then that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala opened up his heart and revealed to him the purpose of our existence.
May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala make us of the people of understanding, grant us insight into the matters of Deen and this world, and not allow us to follow anyone blindly, aameen.
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