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Read in the name of your Lord who created!

Many Islamic historians report that the first words revealed to the Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him and his family) were "Read in the name of your Lord who created."  Unfortunately, many in our community do not see the importance of reading. 

Many Islamic historians report that the first words revealed to the Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him and his family) were "Read in the name of your Lord who created."  Unfortunately, many in our community do not see the importance of reading.

A conversation with two locals, one a member of the clergy, the other a student, recently brought up the issue of the community’s lack of interest in reading.  "It’s a disgrace," said the scholar shaking his head.  "Here, people bring you gifts of baklava, they don’t bring you knowledge."  "You know, non-Muslims, even if they have a five minute gap in their schedule, they pull out a book and read.  Our people don’t like to read," added the student shaking his head.

What these two locals have to say can be applied to many communities in North America.

Not having an interest in reading is more than a matter of not having a hobby–many psychological surveys have been conducted showing that reading is a better way of retaining information than simply listening.

Our Shia community must take an interest in reading literature.  Reading opens whole worlds of possibilities.  It is a basic component of all successful civilizations and a sign of refinement.  People who don’t read and stay aware of the important trends and ideas coursing through their societies are at special risk of being marginalized.

After 9/11, North Americans flocked to libraries and book stores to find out more about Islam.  There was a high level of interest in our faith and it was the perfect time for many of us to play a stronger role in highlighting the best in our community.  At the time, some Muslims themselves realized that they did not have that much knowledge about Islam when they tried to explain it to non-Muslims.  Just because someone is born a Muslim doesn’t mean that he or she doesn’t need to read up on it.    On top of that, we had a lack of good English literature about our faith.  Now there are many translations being done of important works, and there is a wealth of books that can be accessed online, often for free, so there is no excuse left for not making reading a part of our lives.

Allah has shown us that the path to enlightenment lies in reading.  Really, it’s hard to see what’s not good about reading.  It’s about time we as a community see its importance.

 

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