Question: Is willful ignorance of the Sacred law sinful for a Muslim? If one is well-read in Islam, do they have a right to come to their own conclusions regarding the halal and the haram and/or beliefs?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate,
The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Seeking knowledge is obligatory on every Muslim.” [Ibn Majah, Bayhaqi, Tabarani]
Just as it is obligatory to have the correct beliefs, to obey all of Allah’s commands, and to abstain from all of His prohibitions, it is obligatory to seek out the knowledge on those things. That obligation cannot be done without the knowledge, and seeking knowledge of it is obligatory. [Birgivi, al-Tariqa al-Muhammadiyya]
Making Opinions About Religion
It is not permissible to hold an opinion as to whether something is Halal or Haram or which beliefs is the correct belief unless one has the prerequisite knowledge to do so.
The prerequisite knowledge is a level far above merely being well-read. One must master multiple sciences in order to speak about the Qur’an or the Hadith in an interpretive way. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Whoever speaks regarding the Qur’an without knowledge, let them prepare their seat in the Hell-Fire.” [Tirmidhi]
Thus the only people who have the authority to give legal opinions are the scholars who have taken their knowledge from other scholars in an unbroken chain back to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and have been authorized by their teachers and the senior scholars that they have reached such a level.
I hope this helps,
Allah knows best.
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a graduate from Tarim; a student of Habib Umar and other luminaries; and authorized teachers of the Qur’an and the Islamic sciences