A ln embroidered book is always nice to look at and keep on a shelf.

Complex "Usuli" terminologies and knowledge of metaphysics might make you appear an intellectual and by all means you might actually be one.

But unfortunately none of that really matters.
Contrary to recent perceptions the Ottoman Empire had the finest Kalam scholars even in the late 19th Century. Scholars whose knowledge would awe any Ulema today.

Even Kawthari, who I am not particularly fond of, was a sea of knowledge by himself.

But none of that mattered.
Literacy in Ottoman lands were shockingly low. Beyond certain elites, hordes of people were illiterate.

Because Ilm was made needlessly complicated.

The stagnation was real. Ordinary people were comfortable with the traditional and simple way of life.
Soldiers were content with outdated drills. Ulema were content busying themselves with abstract matters.

Do note that Kalam tradition(particularly the Maturidi strand) had reached it's peak in the 19th Century.
But the Ottoman lands lacked infrastructure and had no response to various western incursions into Muslim lands. Nor did they fully understand how to adapt to the emerging systems.
When the Tanzimat era rolled around elites scrambled to adapt to western way of life.

Unfortunately in the worst ways possible. While some technology was copied. A disproportionate amount of the Ummah's wealth was wasted on construction of the opulent palaces we admire today.
The elites loved the western way of life so much that when the Ottoman Sultanate was abolished it wasn't uncommon to see Muslim elites in western garbs. Particularly women without Niqab or any kind of head covering.

Within mere decades the face of the Muslim elites had changed.
And all the "accumulated knowledge and traditions"?

Yeah they are still guarded in textbooks and the Ulema.

But they are largely irrelevant in our daily lives. As they have always been.
In the new era knowledge of material sciences was more important. So the elites and the enthusiastic middle class who wanted to keep pace with the westerners chose to study in western institutions and gain western knowledge.

And the Ulema chose to protect their traditions.
They wanted nothing to do with the Institutions that were set up by those who unseated them.

Some even declared it haram to study the English language. Let alone study western books.

So this historical divide has become the wide chasm we see today.
And now today we have same enthusiastic middle class kids trying to recapture the aesthetic tradition of the pre-colonial scholarship as the western way of life begins to stagnate.
I once thought that intellectualism was key to revival too. That if we can somehow recreate that pre-colonial tradition we can dramatically change our communities.
Buuuuut, after years of readings so many books and papers and after watching so many initiatives and revolutions fail, I look in the mirror and ask myself. What have I gained?

What was the point of it all? We are nowhere close to resolving our community issues.
Mastering or even getting a plausible understanding of aesthetic intellectualism might is great for self-esteem. It restores a sense of confidence and love for the Din and all of the Ulema.
But for practical intents and purposes we are still rock bottom.

I had a long conversation with a Sufi brother in Turkey a few days ago. He is a Talib who is currently studying Risale Nur. He has a decent grasp of the ongoing issues in Turkey.

Our topic of discussion was...
Funnily enough Ertuğrul and the impact it has had within the Turks.

If I remember correctly brothers like Dilly Hussein and Salman Butt were raving about the positive impact of Ertugrul in the Muslim Communities.
And trust me, Ertugrul is wildly popular in all Muslim circles. Some brothers swear by it. 😂

And I can certainly attest to the renewed Enthusiasm in Muslim history that Ertugrul has inspired.
So what's the outtake? One TV episode is more effective than any book.

People consume simple concepts and slogans easily. The more you complicate a topic the less receptive the masses will be to it
So anyway, naturally one would assume that Turkey is becoming more Islamic thanks to Ertugrul.

The assumption is flatout wrong.
All shows like Ertugrul have done is sanitize Kemalism to the Muslims and reinforced Turanism.

Our brother from Turkey relayed to me that Ertugrul is full of nationalistic concepts and pro Erdoğan Propaganda. It basically does not acknowledge the Kurds at all AND...
it presents every non-Turk Muslim leader as completely incompetent. Furthermore it puts a special emphasis on how a Turk can only trust a Turk.
The Subtitlers have done a remarkable job erasing the nationalist elements of the show.

However to the Turkish audience Ertugrul represents Erdoğan and his struggle against the traitorous Arabs(and the kuffar).

The show is basically does PR for Erdoğan.
So yeah, the Ottoman Caliphate patch has been delayed comrades. We will have to wait for a while longer.
Without digressing any further back to the original point of the thread. Ideologies aren't enforced with just intellectuals. Intellectuals even in secular communities have very little relevance outside academic circles.
The average American is more likely to know Kayne West rather than say, someone like Chomsky or let's say Norman Finkelstein.
So aesthetic traditionalism might appear to be the panacea to the current problems in our community.

But is it really? All I see is a repeat of the old problems that lead to the rise of colonialism in the first place.
Some of the opinions that "intellectual Sufis and Usulis" have regarding lay people is just plain offensive. Like no other way to put it.

Other than that like their pre-colonial predecessors they are, unsurprisingly, insular and averse to any tradition and knowledge...
that doesn't align with their aesthetics or rather praxis.

Case in point, how the trads responded to CRT. Their takes were just plain painful to read. A sobering reminder why our communities crumbled so easily to the western juggernaut.
Even if we, for arguments sake, agree that CRT causes Aqeedah issues. They aren't comfortable with other Islamic traditions either.

Just ask these Kawtharist trads their opinions regarding the Zahiri Madhab, the Athari Aqeedah or Ibn Taymiyyah.
And watch their Sidi adab and "we are all Ahlus Sunnah" go down the drain.

Numbnuts like Abu Khadeejah are dime a dozen. But I wonder which Ashari on Twitter ever called out how Said Foudah mis-characterizes Ibn Taymiyyah.
Or how Said Foudah coopted the Islamophobic narrative against Muslims and tried to link Ibn Taymiyyah to ISIS.
So again. What does aesthetic traditionalism with it's rationalistic Usul impart on individuals ultimately?

Nothing consequential if I have to be honest. Like snobby secular Philosophers of the west our Usulis are also out of touch with their communities.
Sure they have their fan following. They would gladly buy the fancy gold embroidered books with eye pleasing calligraphy.

But their ideas and concepts remain just tools of abstract discussions rather than an instrument to truly establish Islam.
Our Ulema aren't really any different from the secular scholars. They are just part of the very system they claim to oppose and I don't believe that these Ulema and Usulis have what it takes to really live up to the tall claims they make to their Muqallids.
You will definitely gain knowledge from them. You will definitely be able to understand a lot of the so called accumulated tradition.

But you are not really going to be able to do much with it. Perhaps maybe get your friends and family to pray? Answer their doubts? I guess...
that is enough for most people.

But if you want to really reshape the world, pursuing intellectualism is really not the way.

An individual who can institute social change can be a scholar.

But not all scholars can be Influencers or trend setters. Scholars study societal shifts
They can't actively shape society.

Because if scholars and academics can really apply the vast knowledge they have, then the almost all successful businessmen would be MBA instructors. But they are not. Not in most cases.

Having knowledge is useful.
But knowledge in and of itself does not translate to practical proficiency.

There are countless other factors involved.

Populism has been popular over the centuries and will be popular for years to become.
The Prophet(ﷺ) was not a scholar. He was not a politician. He was not a Sufi.

He was not any of the Modern labels we have made.

He was the greatest human being of all time. And he came to establish the Nidham of Allah.
And the man who completely reshaped the world spoke in a language that was understandable to his people.

He(ﷺ) did not construct ivory towers of Usuli/Esoteric terminologies and acted condescendingly towards ordinary people even if they mistreated him.
So I respect the aesthetic tradition. I respect knowledge and knowledgeable people.

But I don't deem them and their discussions to be necessary or relevant for the Ummah.

The Deen is simple. Islam IS simple. Ilm is supposed to appear simple.
A true master of his craft is one who can showcase his skill in a such a manner that it appears eye pleasingly easy. Not something needlessly complex or unapproachable.

And that is what scholars and students of knowledge are supposed to do.
But unfortunately our enthusiastic Celebrity Shaykhs and Facebook/Twitter Tullab seems to have lost sight of that.

Khayr, iA. It's not completely hopeless.

May Allah bless you all with knowledge and the insight to make use of that knowledge.
You can follow @IbnMosharraf.
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