Religious Knowledge’s Careless Dissemination

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Mugees Ul Kaisar

IN almost every village and town of our valley there is a large chunk of our passionate youth who debate and discuss various sensitive religious issues on streets, in schools, colleges, masaajid and various other public places. Many of them, unfortunately, but quite naturally evolve into ugly fights. The result being that our society is plagued with the menace of hate speeches and debates/munaaziras that have saturated our different social media platforms too.

The association with a particular group is not necessarily the real point of concern but rather the celebration of “cult mentality” among our young is the real cause of worry.  Cults have closed minds that allow no diffusion of knowledge lacking any genuine interaction, characterized by shallow understanding of issues and an arrogant approach of stifling the other. So, what has led us to this sorry state of affairs?

This problem is obviously a multi-layered question. Upon contemplation it will dawn upon us that one of the most important reasons behind the problem of sectarian strife is the irresponsible dispersion of academic resources among the common masses. This dispersion was a result of the explosion of information that the world witnessed in the recent past which further got compounded by various religious movements that sprouted in the Muslim world in the 20th century.

Powerful things have their ‘pros’ and ‘cons’. Even as the religious movements earn the credit of attracting a lot of indifferent youth towards religion with the aim of teaching them a life of God consciousness but at the same time they also cause a large scale dispersion of a lot of academic, sensitive and nuanced stuff for our youth to frivolously bicker on. As already said, things have their advantages and disadvantages. We cannot always plan the scheme of the things according to our own whims and desires. This had to happen the way it happened. Unfortunately a lot of it cannot be undone now. The genie cannot be put back into the bottle. But towards the end we need to see if there is a possible way out after this.

However, it is important for us to note what this “irresponsible dispersion” has done in the context of what we are discussing. When academic debates got dispersed, its rays fell on many. People started to have vague ideas about various issues. These slowly transited into debates which were later sustained by individual, miniscule and sporadic readings, thus creating a viscous cycle. The knowledge, books, lectures, khutbahs were reduced down to serve only as fuel and fodder necessary for lighting up the debates to ensure one’s victory and the other’s defeat. Not to mention the ego element that knows its own chain reactions. The “lack of authority” today really haunts us!

A case study would be the irresponsible discussions on hadith sciences which otherwise require a lot of expertise to deliberate upon. Our youth devoid of the necessary tools feel equipped enough to debate complex nuanced issues only to confuse each other causing a whole disservice to the religious scholarly tradition. Similarly we can take another example of the science of fiqh (jurisprudence). There is a world of difference between what our youth think what fiqh means and what actually it is in the academic circles.

Therefore, the root of the problem is the gulf between the real academic discourse and its watered down popular understanding. Now, to mend our ways the dire need of our time is to bridge this gap. We need to strike the right balance between two possible case scenarios. The first is to leave our youth completely ignorant about religion and the second is to end up creating a whole bunch of half-baked self-styled scholars that are responsible in widening the gap between populace and the academia. These “intermediaries” of self-styled amateur scholars need to be de-fanged, who unfortunately are holding mimbers, travelling and lecturing across the length and breadth of the valley, active on various social media handles and irresponsibly voicing opinions on every single issue, spreading venom to divide and confuse people on issues that they themselves don’t understand.

Academicians and trained scholars need to increase their contact with society. They need to employ modern forms of media to increase their accessibility to common folk. On the other hand, readers and students need to display humility on nuanced academic issues and refer people to authentic scholars rather than giving half-baked copout answers, causing confusion and irreparable intellectual damage.

  • The author is a student of Philosophy, Religion Studies and Metaphysics

 

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