I feel like I have wasted years of my life with this thing we call traditionalism, which in reality is just an invention of the internet, imagined to frame the context in which we find ourselves.
An acquaintance of mine might be credited with boosting its popularity in our locality, his website once the foremost authority on this apparently authentic rendering of faith. In the name of defending the four madhabs, this thing we call traditionalism completely glosses over the differing approaches of the schools and the scholars they are named after. Thus does the Hanafi now promulgate the hardest positions of the Hanbali madhab, even when they clearly clash with those of his own school.
Today traditionalism as a whole, despite its vast internal variance, must be defended against the onslaught of believers ascribed made-up labels: modernists, progressives, liberals, Quranists, and on and on. They would likewise have condemned Abu Hanifa had they lived in those times, oblivious to what their own tongues are saying. They condemn without pause, but have no idea what they are condemning, or defending.
But this thing we call traditionalism is the end of the road, a dead end. Many a traditionalist gives their followers this binary choice: our way, or the highway. Follow us, or become a heretic or, worse, one who rejects faith altogether.
I choose to reject these labels we assign ourselves and others. I do not belong to a collective defined by nothing but an ism, by which one may be considered an insider or an outsider. I have wasted years on this invention of the internet, with its spokesmen and gatekeepers always ready to defend the boundaries of acceptability.
I have watched too many friends fall from the path because they were convinced that this invention was all there was. That they had to embrace this made-up construct in order to maintain their faith, only for their questions to remain unanswered when they confronted the difficult texts that complete adherence to traditionalism presented.
Yes, I have watched them drop off over and over as the years pass by, soon forgotten, leaving those left behind to wander on along their lonely road alone.
Once this thing called traditionalism considered itself the antidote to misguided puritanism, but in the end it became the same thing. It is just a club of the like-minded, self-assuredly saved, opposing the unending heresies, likewise everywhere imagined.
Everywhere, inventions. Yet more inventions of the web. The time has come to stop wasting our lives on these made up things.