In the name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful!
Allah knows the best and we have no knowledge than what Allah gives us. He is the One who teaches us and guide us to the straight path. And He guides whom He wants. May Allah make us among those who seek knowledge for the sake of Allah and His obedience.
In Islam asking questions is encouraged because questions keep the mind working and active.
Even Angles and Prophets Ask
The Qur’an motivates our minds and creates incentives for asking questions by directing our attentions to the amazing wonders of Allah spread everywhere in the universe and by showing us the magnificent works of His Hands.
We are told in the Qur’an about the Angels asking questions:
“And when thy Lord said unto the angels: Lo! I am about to place a viceroy in the earth, they said: will You place therein one who will do harm therein and will shed blood, while we, we hymn Your praise and sanctify You? He said: Surely I know that which you know not” (Al-Baqarah 2: 30)
We are also told about prophets asking questions:
“And when Abraham said (unto his Lord): My lord! Show me how You give life to the dead, He said: Do you not believe? Abraham said: Yes, but (I ask) in order that my heart may be at ease.. (His Lord) said: Take four of the birds and cause them to incline unto thee, then place a part of them on each hill, then call them, they will come to you in haste. And know that Allah is Mighty, Wise” (Al-Baqarah 2: 260)
This shows that there has never been anything wrong with asking questions as a way of seeking knowledge and exploring the universe and getting closer to Allah through unveiling the secrets of creation and realizing its truths. However, there is another verse –
“O you who have believed, do not ask about things which, if they are shown to you, will distress you. But if you ask about them while the Qur’an is being revealed, they will be shown to you. Allah has pardoned that which is past; and Allah is Forgiving and Forbearing.A people asked such [questions] before you; then they became thereby disbelievers.” – Quran 5:101-102.
A brief tafseer says, the sahabas were simply asking too many questions. But what type of questions where they asking that if answered would turn them into disbelievers.
This verse forbids people to ask useless and unnecessary questions because some people used to put such questions to the Holy Prophet as were of no practical good for mundane affairs nor for spiritual up-lift. For example, once a certain person while sitting in a gathering asked him, “Who is my real father?” Likewise, sometimes, some people put unnecessary questions concerning legal matters so as to get these defined, whereas they had been purposely kept undefined for the good of the people. Far example, when Hajj was made obligatory by a commandment in the Qur’an a certain person heard it, and instantly asked. “Has it been made obligatory to perform Hajj every year'” The Holy Prophet did not make any reply. The man repeated the question, but he again kept quiet. When the man put the question for the third time, he replied, “Woe to you! If I had said: ‘Yes’, the performance of Hajj every year would have become obligatory and people like you would have been unable to perform it and been guilty of disobedience. ”
The Holy Prophet himself forbade people to ask questions for the sake of it and to probe into things aimlessly. In a Tradition he warned, “The worst offender against the Muslims is the person who asked a question about something that had not been made unlawful but was made so because of his question.” In another Tradition he said, “Allah has prescribed some obligatory duties for you; let not these go unfulfilled, and He has made certain things unlawful, so do not go near them. He has prescribed certain limits, do not transgress them. He has been silent concerning certain things, but not because He has forgotten them; so do not try to probe into such things.”
In these two Traditions a warning has been served against a very serious matter. There are certain things and commandments which have been left vague and without details. This is not because the Law-giver had forgo ten to give details or to make them specific but because He did not intend to limit these in order to leave a wide scope for the people. Therefore if a person goes on creating one issue after the other, by putting unnecessary and useless questions and thus creates limitations and specifications, he puts the people to unnecessary trouble. Likewise if he tries to deduce the details by the force of his “reasoning”. and does trot rest content till .he has made the vague things specific and the indefinite definite. he in reality puts the Muslims in a very awkward position. This is because the more details we otter for the Unseen and the Next World, the more will be the chances for creating doubts about them and, likewise, the more limitations are imposed concerning the Commandments, the greater will be the chance for their violation.
“How do you perform salah in space?” is a good example of an unnecessary question. Such trivial topics of discussion should be left alone (unless you actually plan to travel to outer space).
These verses warn people who keep investigating unnecessarily into Divine injunctions. So fond and bent are they in this exercise that they would go to the outer limit of asking questions even about injunctions which have not been prescribed at all and for which there is really no genuine need that they be asked. In this verse, such people have been instructed not to ask questions lest they are subjected to some trial, or they have to face disgrace as a result of the disclosure of their secrets.
Part of knowledge is to understand what we, as human can not comprehend. That is to know our own limitation. Human mind give names to things and ideas. If we can not give a name to anything then we can not communicate it to others. That’s why our languages have similes. That’s what Allah has used in describing Heaven and Hell etc.
People are encouraged to understand this limitation and concentrate on things that is more relevant to this life, it’s purpose and prepare for the next one.
If you believe and truly disturbed by a question, the right way to seek an answer for this would be to submit yourself fully to Allah. Who can teach better than Allah? Ask the Almighty to help open your heart, give the right understanding of Deen and guide us to the Straight Path. May Allah also accept us uniting and benefitting Ummah rather than creating conflict and confusion among them. Ameen!