بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the Name of Allah (SWT), the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Understanding Islam: The Story of the Three Blind Men
There were three blind men that wanted to know what an elephant looks like. Somebody took them to the zoo and directed them to the elephant cage. Since they cannot see, they used their sense of touch to get a description of the appearance of the elephant.
They went around the elephant touching it from different parts. One of the blind men grabbed the ear of the elephant, the second one grabbed the foot, and the third one grabbed the tail of the elephant.
When they went back people were asking them, “what do you know about the elephant?” The one who grabbed the ear said, “Well the elephant is very wide and flat”. The other two became upset and said, “No, that is not correct”. The one who grabbed the foot said, “He’s wrong. It’s just like the trunk of a tree”. The third one said “Both of you don’t know what you are talking about, the elephant is like a long rope”. They continued arguing and could not come to an agreement on the appearance of the elephant.
Why did they get this different understanding of what an elephant is? It was because of their physical impairment and being limited to their sense of touch. They were all telling the truth and described to the best of their knowledge. But they were accusing the others of lying. Why? Because they don’t know where the others are coming from.
As Muslims, we often do this. We have a certain understanding of Islam and keep a tunnel vision of what we think Islam is. What we know is Islam and everything else is not. And we don’t have appreciation for other points of view and accept the fact that we may be missing some important parts of the religion.
Because Islam is a comprehensive religion we need to know everything from its message. The more comprehensive our knowledge of it is, the better our understanding of it will be and of what goes on around us.
We often talk about the Sahaba (RA) and their Ibada. We talk about their worshiping at night, making thikr, reading quran, fasting, sala. But did you ever notice that in one certain period towards the end of the lives of the Sahaba (RA), almost every one of the Sahaba (RA) was a political leader or an army general? Every one of them fought Jihad for the sake of Allah. Every one of them had to make sacrifices in their lives and some even left all their wealth to make hijrah to Medina.
So this picture that you have in your mind that the Sahaba (RA) were people being like priests living in monasteries is not true. All of them towards the end of the lives were either a mayor of a town, governor of a state, or leader of an army at the frontlines. The Sahaba (RA) were very involved in establishing Islam in the world. Their mission was to establish Islam and live it.
Abdullah Ibn Masood (RA) said “The companions of the Prophet (SAW) were the least superficial of the people”. They were very simple in the lives that they led and they were comprehensive in their understanding of Islam and applied what they knew. And that’s why they are considered to be the best generation that ever lived. After the prophets, they were the best human beings that ever lived.
We ask Allah to make us follow their path. To give us a complete understanding of the message of Islam, and the strength the live by this knowledge, and to know what role we need to play to establish Islam in the world.