Can I Study Comparative Religion?

Answered by Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat

Question

Assalamu ‘Alaykum.

I am doing my graduation in Religious Studies and have doubts because some say it’s not permissible to study if I don’t know my Religion well. I enjoy learning it and want to pursue higher studies in the field. I studied essentials beliefs as a child. Will I be sinful for this?

Answer

Wa ‘alaykum assalam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh.

I pray you are well.

Protecting One’s Faith

Studying other religions, philosophy, and related matters is permissible for someone who has a grounding in the Islamic sciences. Otherwise, it would be impermissible to delve into such issues. It would come under the ruling of al Khawd fi al Batil (Delving into the False).

This is due to the many risks you’d be exposing yourself to. Many people are susceptible to confusion and doubts without proper training and understanding of beliefs and other aspects of the religion that could be misunderstood.

I’ve come across many people who have studied religion in such environments. It’s not where you would go to learn your religion to be closer to Allah. One scholar told me that to assert that the Hadith are actual statements of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) would cause one to be discredited.

I came across a doctor of philosophy from one of the major British universities. He has left Islam because Islam – supposedly – did not answer specific questions. When he stated the questions, I realized that they are all answered in the smallest commentary of Imam Sanusi’s ‘Aqida work (Sharh Sughra al Shughra). 

The approach to other Islamic sciences is not so far off. Whether it’s the doubts raised about Companions or the attitude that the Qur’an is not God’s word, the whole approach is corrosive to the faith of anyone who is not grounded in the sciences of the din.

Focus On What Benefits You

The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Be avid for what benefits you.“ (Bukhari) Pick a field of study which engages you, and if it can be used to help humanity as well, it is even better. Use it as a means of benefitting your din, dunya, and akhira.

If, once you’ve gained a solid foothold in the Islamic sciences, and you want to return to this field, go ahead with the intention of benefiting Muslims. Until then, don’t place yourself in a situation you won’t be equipped to deal with. 

May Allah grant you the best of both worlds.

[Shaykh] Abdul-Rahim

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat began his studies in Arabic Grammar and Morphology in 2005. After graduating with a degree in English and History, he moved to Damascus in 2007, where, for 18 months, he studied with many erudite scholars. In late 2008 he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continued his studies for the next six years in Sacred Law (fiqh), legal theory (Usul al-fiqh), theology, hadith methodology, hadith commentary, and Logic. He was also given licenses of mastery in the science of Quranic recital. He was able to study an extensive curriculum of Quranic sciences, tafsir, Arabic grammar, and Arabic eloquence.