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How to know which Islamic scholars to follow

salaam alaykoum. I'm wondering which shaykh or scholar should I listen to? Because they differ and it's very confusing for me who's trying to understand islam . How did you do to find reliable scholars? How should one do to avoid extremists one, or the ones who don't have evidance for their claims etc. Jzk

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

A powerful criterion is to see which scholars are respected by the kind and decent people you meet. People with similar hearts are attracted to each other. You will never find a kind and sweet person following some crazy fringe scholar. This means that any Muslim you meet, if you find their behavior and thinking acceptable, can teach you about a number of scholars that might be worth listening to.

Muslim countries have their own “national” scholars that are respected by the majority of the mainstream Muslims of that country, for example Mohammed al-Ghazali (not to be confused with the more famous al-Ghazali) and Ali Gomaa in Egypt, Said Nursi in Turkey, Salman al-Ouda in Saudi Arabia, and so on. These scholars are all worth listening to. We also have globally respected classical scholars like Imam al-Ghazali that are worth reading.

You are not required to agree with everything some scholar says or to belong to their school. You should make your own way by taking in all the knowledge you are able.

An important criterion for distinguishing between scholars is the Quran. Read it many times to learn the worldview behind it, then use what you have learned to judge what others say about Islam. We call the Quran a “guide” because it is designed to help you find the way, it is designed to help you make sense of all the conflicting information you receive so that you can find the middle road between them.  A person that says something that clearly clashes with the Quran’s teachings is clearly taking a narrow and extreme position. The Quran tells us that Abraham (Prophet Ibrahim) argued with God’s angels to save the people of Sodom and Gomorrah from punishment, despite their being great sinners. Someone who takes pleasure in the idea of sinners being punished has clearly failed to take Islam’s teachings to heart.

And God knows best.

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