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Activism and Knowledge

ImageI am not saying that the youth who like to call themselves “revolutionary” or “activists” have no knowledge, but I am saying that we all need to make sure that we are doing what is necessary to gain the knowledge we need in the areas of Islam we want to help.Activism. Revolutionary. Change. We have been hearing these words quite often for the last several years now. There is this pile of current issues, and it is building higher and higher: marriage, politics, leadership, the list can go on.

Throughout these years, we have seen a boom in “youth activism”, and of course it is not a bad thing. The problem arises when we see this increase in the young involved in the issues, or more specifically, when the mouths open and words fly out about issues.

Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (peace be upon him) has said: “God does not approve the action of anyone without his insight, and mere insight means nothing without action. Insight leads a person to proper action. Insight means nothing without proper action. Lo, the conviction of one interacts with the conviction of the other.” (Al-Kafi)

I am not saying that the youth who like to call themselves “revolutionary” or “activists” have no knowledge, but I am saying that we all need to make sure that we are doing what is necessary to gain the knowledge we need in the areas of Islam we want to help. Understanding the human brain as well as Islamic principles will aid us in solving problems or changing things in our communities.

Today there seems to be a general behavior pattern going on among the communities, youth or not. We see a lot of emphasis on “change” and “revolution”, yet we are all behind on learning and excelling in our basic Islamic foundation, for example, our knowledge of Islamic history. In order to understand how our Ahlul Bayt (peace be upon them) struggled and succeeded on certain issues, we need to read the history. The only way we will know how to follow their lead is if we know what they did. Aside from history, there is Islamic jurisprudence. Many of us are not well-versed in the laws and rulings of how to live our day-to-day lives.

This all ties in to a bigger picture: self-struggle. The self-struggle in Islam is the one telling us to focus on worldly benefits instead of our religious duties. If we were to all focus on and learn about our own shortcomings, we would be able to tolerate and help others with our knowledge and experience in solving certain problems.

If we also look at our current state, we see a huge emphasis on community efforts, attempts to unite masses, etc. This is certainly a wonderful effort and a blessing to see that at such young ages, Muslims are advocating for unity and peace. But unfortunately, it seems with this focus on push for peace and togetherness, we have slacked on our individual self-building. We all are aware that, “One who knows himself knows his Lord.”

This self-building will come when we attempt to increase our knowledge, be it by reading the Holy Qur’an, books of narration, or polemic works by Islamic scholars such as Martyr Mutahhari, Imam Khomeini, or Sayyid Baqir as-Sadr. We have not plunged into unlocking the knowledge and secrets of prayers; rather, we are too focused on pointing out who is and is not praying.

The push for change and activism is a huge effort, and one which requires skill, logic, and rational thinking: all things which are in their best shape when accompanied by knowledge. Too often we see arguments and disunity occur due to people speaking out of emotions or anecdotal evidence, with very little factual knowledge on a particular issue.

We have examples of our brothers and sisters who spend years delving into the Divine secrets and beauty of Islam, for example in the religious schools, acquiring as much knowledge as they can. Let us try our best to do the same, no matter what our circumstances are. Our Ahlul Bayt and past scholars have left us an endless wealth of information and knowledge on how to live our lives, and thanks to the Internet, much of this is available with a few clicks of the mouse.

Our Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) has said: “Attainment of knowledge is the duty of every Muslim. Lo! God loves those who have a yearning for knowledge.” (Al-Kafi)

Having regular Islamic discussions or book readings is always a good start. Talking openly about current problems and struggles and how the Ahlul Bayt has advised to attack problems is the best way to seek experience.

The Prophet has also said, “Get together and advise each other and hold discussions. Such discussions refine your hearts. Hearts become rusted like swords, and their refinement lies in academic religious discussions.” (Al-Kafi)

The more we seek knowledge of our religion, be it about verses of the Qur’an or laws of jurisprudence, the more we will grow to love Islam and succeed in the struggle to create “change” and “revolution”. So let us take a little break and peek into our mind, strive to fill it with the secrets of Islam, and appropriately implement these true teachings of Islam into our activism.

About Madiha Zaidi

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  • ZaraSyed

    Salam Sis, great article! Thanks for bringing us back to reality. Knowledge is like a never-ending story, yet sometimes we think we know it all.. 😉

  • Hassan A.

    One key element that is also lacking is the involvement of our scholars. Even though you might not think of a scholar as someone who would like to “plan” a project or event, it is important to involve them early on so that their knowledge can be infused into every aspect. You will be surprised at how much they know about planning and execution as leadership doesn’t involve just giving speeches….

    Very good topic and article! God bless your efforts.

  • Sana Husain

    this article has a great message and it’s definitely making me think & rethink. thank you for sharing it with everyone.