Of Religious Knowledge: The Long and Winding Road

If I were to be given free time to kill, here’s what I think will be my ultimate first choice:

To go and attend religious classes on tafseer, the classical one and also listen to tasawwuf lectures from some notable shaykh.

Within branches of religious knowledge I have came to know, tafseer has always been my favourite, and tazkiyatunnafs, for a choleric, outwards and ‘just do it’ kind of person like me, is essential. You know you just need a consistent dose of that to keep your feet on the ground.

But why?

It is the safest route – I guess. Rather than squeezing your brain  studying modern and ‘secular’ knowledge which you probably never know whether it is wrong or right, it is always safer  to resort for something that require less of your intellectual effort – classical, traditional, somehow seem to have acquire the status of ‘never proven wrong’. All that you need to do is listen and agree. No confusion at all.

And that was what I did in my two months in Egypt. Attending lectures on classical texts every morning, Arabic classes in the afternoon, tafseer classes in the evening  – everyday for two months.

Yes, I was happy, but it was not satisfying. I have to say that, I am sorry.

To be a muqallid really seems to be safe a choice.

But then I come to this conclusion – the safest may not be the best.

You might have to challenge yourself to think – and given the correct intention, and some contigency plan in the case of serious confusion and possibilty of being led astray – I think it will be alright.

I know it will be alright.

It is of the same nature as the case of enjoining goodness and forbidding evil : you know you might be influenced if you go out there and face the evil world, but you still venture out because there is some goodness you can bring about.

In this case, probably here’s a simple example : you know there’s some bad things there in Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion’ that might confuse you, but you still read it because somehow you know you can learn something from it.


p.s. I am feeling numb (and dumb) from my cough expectorants – in case this entry doesn’t make sense, just ignore it!


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