“The Bedouins are the worst in disbelief and hypocrisy, and more likely to be in ignorance of the limits (Allah’s (swt) Commandments and His Legal Laws), which Allah (swt) has revealed to His Messenger. And Allah (swt) is the All-Knower, the All-Wise… And of the Bedouins there are some who believe in Allah (swt) and the Last Day, and look upon what they spend in Allah (swt)’s Cause as means of nearness to Allah (swt).” (At-Tauba 9:97 & 99)
According to Tafsir Ibn Kathir Allah (swt) states that there are disbelievers, hypocrites, and believers among the Bedouins (nomadic tribes / villagers in Arabia). He also states that the disbelief and hypocrisy of the Bedouins is worse and deeper. They are more likely to be ignorant of the commandments that Allah (swt) revealed to His Messenger (sa).
Ibn Abbas (rta) reported that the Messenger (sa) said: “He who lives in the desert becomes hard-hearted, he who follows the game becomes heedless, and he who associates with the rulers falls into Fitnah.” (Ahmad)
Similarly, once a Bedouin man gave the Prophet (sa) a gift. In return, Allah’s Messenger (sa) had to return the gift with many to satisfy the Bedouin. The Prophet (sa) said: “I almost decided not to accept a gift, except from someone from Quraish, Thaqafi, the Ansar or Daws.” (An-Nisai) This is because these people lived in cities: Makkah, Taif, Madinah, and Yemen, and therefore their conduct and manners were nicer than the hard-hearted Bedouins.
Even today, human psychology remains the same. The merciless circumstances of life turn some of the villagers into callous humans. They teach their pupils harshly and mould them into stern and heartless individuals with questionable ideologies that have no roots in Islam. Secondly, they also lack exposure to the scientific advancements and cannot portray themselves as role models for the Ummah, because of the wide gap that lies between them and the educated masses. Our children want to explore Allah’s (swt) galaxies, while some Imams from the village can talk only about cattle and rice fields.
Unfortunately, the educated urbanized society does not feel the necessity to learn and understand the Quran, to address their spiritual needs, and develop spiritual leaders with a well rounded perspective of life. Since the Quran contains pre-figured phenomenon, it cannot be understood without staying abreast with modern advancements. Allah (swt) continually invites us to read and reflect, so we can draw closer to the Creator by unveiling the hidden meanings in the Quran. It is about building relationships and not just harping on a few do’s and don’ts in Islam, like unfitting clerics with limited comprehension.
The Prophet (sa) and his companions were men of extraordinary intelligence and mannerisms. They were the crème of the society who advocated Islam. If Allah (swt) had assigned the job to the illiterate and ignorant, would Islam ever had attained its glory?
Ali Bin Abu Talib (rta) said: “The hearts of the people have desires and aptitudes; sometimes they are ready to listen and at other times they are not. Enter into people’s hearts through their aptitudes. Talk to them, when they are ready to listen, for the condition of the heart is such that if you force it to do something, it becomes blind” (Al-Kitab al-Kharaj by Abu Yusuf).
I doubt if any of the religious clerics from the rural areas are imparting Quranic knowledge with this level of wisdom and sensitivity.
If we wish to develop a balanced and self-motivated Ummah as was prevalent in the Prophet’s (sa) time, we will have to integrate our worldly contemporary education with Quranic studies. This will lead to a more capable and dynamic breed of Imams and religious scholars, who will be able to guide their people in the future, while retaining identities and roots. We can’t simply leave’s Allah (swt) message in the hands of those, who are incompetent for conveying it with sublime purity.