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Consuming Knowledge in Vain

The intrinsic value of knowledge is that you act upon it.It becomes too much when we listen to lectures yet fail to ponder on them and evaluate ourselves afterwards, resulting in no reform or action. Many of us exhibit such behavior and have fallen prey to over-consuming Islamic information without any real change within.

The intrinsic value of knowledge is that you act upon it.

The Muharram season has once again come and gone. We have cried for Imam Hussain and his family (peace be upon them all), learned about their lofty characteristics, and cursed their killers and the perpetrators of the tragedy of Karbala. For many of us, we get “in the zone” for Muharram by temporarily letting go of music, nonsense talk and movies, replacing them with lectures and Nauhas/Latmiyah. This is of course a good and commendable action, but when does it all become too much? It becomes too much when we listen to lectures yet fail to ponder on them and evaluate ourselves afterwards, resulting in no reform or action. Many of us exhibit such behavior and have fallen prey to over-consuming Islamic information without any real change within.

Our Imams have cautioned us to take account of ourselves every day, before our accounts are taken on the Day of Judgment. This is in order to improve on our faults and keep up with our good deeds, and should be part of our daily regimen throughout the year, especially during and after Muharram. There is no other period in the year where we have the opportunity to listen to so many enlightening lectures by speakers from all across the world, and discuss the details of the event of Karbala and how we may apply it to our lives.

To see if all of this information has been beneficial, the measuring stick is simple: Are we a different person now to what we were when Muharram first begun a couple of months ago? Have we picked up any good habits and gotten rid of any bad ones? Are we more kind and compassionate to our family members, work and school as we were previously? If the answer is in the negative or is hard to tell, we need to question why we are listening to all of these lectures in the first place. We listen to lectures for the first 10 days and whenever we can after that. This can end up being tens of lectures, if not hundreds for some. If with all the knowledge we have obtained through listening, we have not improved or progressed upon the path of improvement, we have well and truly wasted our time. The only thing we have gained is Islamic trivia to impress others with.

While listening to lectures is great, we must remember that when our Holy Prophet and the Imams (peace be upon them all) were asked a question, many of their answers were not 60-90 minute lectures that we are used to today. They were short sayings full of meaning and wisdom in order that we should ponder over them. When explaining the reason why he was sent to this earth, the Holy Prophet simply said it was to perfect the morals of humanity. This is a method we can use to make these lectures more useful to us. Instead of sitting in a lecture unprepared and taking in such large amounts of information, we need to come in with an intention to either note down key points of the lecture or try our best to take away a point or two that we can apply to our lives. There is no use listening to 3 lectures a day online when we can’t remember anything that we can use to improve ourselves. In Islam, it has always been about quality over quantity. Listening to one lecture a week which we can dissect and truly implement is far greater than listening to 20 lectures from which we have not been able to remember a word.

This article is not meant to disparage our speakers or those who enjoy listening to lectures. Our Ulema and speakers are the main reason why the religion is constantly progressing and being spread. However we must all be wary of falling into the trap of listening to lectures merely for the sake of listening and gaining information that we will never put to use. Muharram is one of the best opportunities for self-building, which is nothing more than perfecting our morals and habits, so let’s make sure to let it not pass by in vain.

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