Short Answer: We are in a constant state of learning. And nobody knows everything all at once. Even the scholars changed their opinions over time. The important thing is to be honest with yourself about what you believe at this point and act based on those convictions, and give yourself permission to change and improve. It’s necessary to give other people that room to grow and change, too.
Thank you for contacting About Islam with your question. Dr. Shabir Ally addresses this question in the video below:
Aisha Khaja: So, Dr. Shabir, the question today… a viewer is asking:
“My main concern is about the whole idea of forming opinions and having beliefs…” there’s hardly anything… that this person believes to be true…
Initially, you know, he had some former literalist views. He saw… videos of you, Hamza Yusuf, and of other scholars, they changed into radical views, and now they are changing again.
So… this person says: “now my problem is… what if I change these views as well? And if so, what guarantees the fact that my understanding of Islam, per se, won’t continue to change in the future?”
Dr. Shabir Ally: Well, we are in a constant state of learning. And nobody knows everything all at once. And my own views have changed over time.
So, I can be asking the same question myself: how do I know that I will have the same views forever?
And the fact is that we don’t really know. We just keep learning, and our views keep changing. That’s fine.
And it’s just that we need to be honest about our views and where they stand at the moment.
And of course, our present views will be based on the culmination of everything we have learned throughout life—all of our experiences, all the books we’ve read, all the people we have met and spoken with, all of the lectures we’ve heard, and so on.
It’s an accumulation of all of the wisdom that God has given us to have.
So, you know, we just do the best we can; and whatever our convictions at the moment, we act according to it.
And at the same time, we should be tolerant of other views.
And I think this is one of the lessons that come out from the fact that views are constantly changing and improving and being modified. And we can and should be tolerant of others, knowing that this is how views go.
And in fact, some people think that the views of scholars don’t change.
And I would say that if the views of a scholar does not change, or do not change, then probably that’s not a scholar, because by definition a scholar is one who continues to study, continues to read, to examine, and critically analyze.
And that necessarily implies that views will change even to a certain slight extent.
Aisha Khaja: I think there’s also the worry that as an average person, not a scholar, that there’s also a lot of information overload, and how you manage that, right?
Dr. Shabir Ally: Yes, yes, but more to the question, you know, can we trust what we know now?
And the answer is: yes. You trust it enough, and you have to act according to what you know.
But don’t be too dogmatic about it and be tolerant of other and varied views, while at the same time being faithful to your own convictions.
I hope this helps answer your question. Please keep in touch.
(From AboutIslam’s archives)