reddit and /r/islam really need some trained ‘ulema

Reddit’s major subreddit for Islam, /r/islam, really needs a resident mufti. Or at least it needs a place for redditors to get serious answers. Take this new thread for example, where someone asks

Q. Is it haram for a young Muslim woman to move out?

Before this can be answered, we first need to know some details about the person’s situation, motives, and foreseeable consequence – as all of these can play a role in the ruling. Moving out due to fear for one’s religion, life, intellect, dignity, or wealth has one answer; leaving a safe location for one where any of those are likely to be put into jeopardy has another. Moving out knowing that their parents are fine with it is one thing – moving out against their wishes and knowing it will break their hearts is another. Moving beyond the distance for shortening prayers to a place without a maḥram also presents some issues. These and many other things need to be known before anyone can give an answer. Yet, without any addition details, we get:

A. No. You can live alone provided that you are a sound person.

Interesting, but not really adequate. So what about a woman who has done something wicked and knows that she will do the again if she stays? And what about unsound people living amongst people who are even worse? This reason (if you are a sound person) is more appropriate when answering a parent asking and not when answering a[n adult] child.

Reddit has a community convention of using /r/ask* for subreddits where specialists in a field answer question related to that field. These subreddits are moderated: top-level answers must come from specialist and must be documented – or at least well-documented and well-written. Examples of this include /r/askhistorians and /r/askphilosophy. Something similar to this is needed for Islam. Unfortunately, /r/askislam is taken and it’s private. So I propose that /r/askilm be used for presenting questions and answers related to traditional Islamic disciplines (‘ilm and ‘ulūm), following guidelines similar to the ones used by the rest of the /r/ask* family. Its moderators will need to ensure that scholarship is key and keep a close eye out for dodgy answers and abuse. It’s just a proposal. It won’t work without advanced students and scholars committing to answering.

UPDATE. This is being discussed on /r/islam. (Yes: I am /u/musafurber.)

  • anon

    So I see /r/askilm is taken by /u/musafurber (who I am assuming is in fact you, not an imposter).

    I now know your reddit account! Time to barrage you with pms! (Just kidding).

    I’m posting here wondering if I you are fine with me posting this blogpost to /r/islam. I am assuming there is a reason you have not done so yourself.

    You may want to also create the subreddits “askalim”, “askanalim”, “askulema” ect. They can be setup to redirect to /r/askilm.

    • musafurber

      Yes, /u/musafurber is me. It’s not the account I actually use so PMs will probably go unread. I opened /r/askilm instead of something else so that it would be analogous to the other ask* family.

      Feel free to post it to /r/islam.

  • anon

    In addition to my other comment you way want to see if /r/redditrequest/ can help you obtain control of /r/askislam. I don’t know if they do private subreddits though. Iif the private community is in fact an active one, you will be out of luck, as redditrequest is to free up dead, unused subs.

    • Guest

      Seconded on this. r/islam is easy to stumble upon, and “askilm” could be about anything. What I mean is, Ilm or Ulama aren’t common or colloquial words, even in Arabic.

  • Talha

    Ameen – it seems we do need this kind of volunteer work (if the ulema have time) since many, many people look to the internet for their first resort to questions – and there is SO much ignorance out there.

    On a tangential note, Mufti Saheb, I have noticed that a lot of the detractors of Islam try to post some of the Shafi’i opinions on topics such as non-Muslim minorities to make their case against Islam. Now, from my reading on the subject, it certainly seems the Shafi’i school’s published opinions seem more restrictive and stern vis-a-vis some of the Hanafi and Maliki rulings, but I’d like to know (if you could spare the time):
    1) Are those the generally the relied upon (mufta bihi) opinions or are there reliable minority dissenting voices?
    2) From what you know about the Shafi’i school scholarship from Egypt to Indonesia, are any of them stating that the Shafi’i school’s opinions on these matters should be followed or are they promoting looking into the other schools for opinions that allow for more flexibility in the current international framework and in civil governance? Since this is obviously not in the realm of personal fiqh, but rather governance that which affects all.

    I’m just trying to figure out whether they really are trying to make another mountain out of a mole hill – which they love to do.

    JazakAllahu Khair for all your efforts!