Posted by: Dawud Israel | July 29, 2008

Information Pollution

Bismillah

I’ve been really struggling with how we handle our information. I mean, I have a lot of books, a lot of quotes, hadiths, lectures, videos, websites, tidbits and just generally pieces of information everywhere that it makes you think twice.

What is it really worth? Do I need to read this and know this or know that?

Its become a big issue for me because it says a lot about what we are actually accomplishing not just as an Ummah but as humanity.

As an ummah, most of the blogging article I have read have really gotten me nowhere, have not solved any problems, created more controversy and been more a lip service or a feel-good for the author or more popularly meant to generate money from traffic. How much of it was practical and how much of it was of no consequence or benefit?

This is my experience and I am positive that the blogging world is more beneficial to Muslims who are just getting into practicing Islam…but for a veteran it’s a different story.

From the perspective of humanity, we don’t need to know a lot of things that we hear about in science or art or literature. Do we need to know how a person reacts or a certain line of poetry?

Yes, granted certain pieces are more life-changing and those are the ones that we need to look out for because they comprise what one would call ‘necessary knowledge’ but otherwise, it’s all excessive. I can tell you right now that although I may talk about certain things, they are more or less just a piece of information that I thought up and that it does not reflect anything of myself.

In short, what information do we actually need and what is considered excessive?

There is a quote I read that said: Education used to be about a transfer of information. In todays age when there is simply too much information, education is about extracting meaning from that information. And the stakes are high.

There was a time when I was against reading Islamic literature (not hadith or Quran or anything) because I felt it better to create my own thoughts and ideas about the religion. I would sometimes go back and forth against this or for this but I realized–whatever information there is about devotional life, I can learn on my own and all I really need are the basic texts and prayers. And regarding the sociology of Muslims, I can figure this out on my own–I don’t need research on it.

But in regards to non-religious material the challenge is even greater. As a result of the information age we know so much and can do so much that nothing is limited. In just my spare time reading I have come across so many pieces that discuss methods on how to cure the diseases we consider incurable or save the environment or solve malnutrition that it becomes easy to see why people place so much faith in science and so little in religion.

I, personally find more stimulation and benefit from an activist standpoint in being among scientific, innovative or other creative discussions and I am beginning to wonder why more Muslims don’t. We are talking about the whole entire world here and not just my prayer-rug.

So with that in mind, what really matters are the projects. I think I will be doing less talking and more on Islamic project work, focusing on accomplishing the initial goals I had set and maybe after a few months close down the site and start a new one. I’ll give more details on that later on Insha Allah.

Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la illaha illa ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, Ameen.


Responses

  1. 1) This reminds me of the one dua that RasoolAllah SAWS used to make about granting him Saws, knowledge that would benefit him, and to keep him away from the knowledge that doesn’t benefit him. What an excellent dua, that really sets things into perspective in this “information age”. I think it was in the beginning of a talk by Imam-ul-Amreeka (http://www.suhaibwebb.com/blog/general/the-siraj-wahaj-story-how-one-community-wiped-out-gangs-and-drugs/)

    2) As for not reading the Islamic literature outside the realm of Quran and Sunnah, and materials of others, i’m not so sure. I see where you are coming from, that some of it IS excessive, and you should extract the best information – but I think we should always be open and eager to listen to new perspectives on hadith and any ayah of the quran, and we will always get some benefit.

    This is a hadith from Bukhari that talks about this:

    Volumn 001, Book 003, Hadith Number 067.
    —————————————–
    Narated By ‘Abdur Rahman bin Abi Bakra’s father : Once the Prophet was riding his camel and a man was holding its rein. The Prophet asked, “What is the day today?” We kept quiet, thinking that he might give that day another name. He said, “Isn’t it the day of Nahr (slaughtering of the animals of sacrifice)” We replied, “Yes.” He further asked, “Which month is this?” We again kept quiet, thinking that he might give it another name. Then he said, “Isn’t it the month of Dhul-Hijja?” We replied, “Yes.” He said, “Verily! Your blood, property and honor are sacred to one another (i.e. Muslims) like the sanctity of this day of yours, in this month of yours and in this city of yours. [[[[[It is incumbent upon those who are present to inform those who are absent because those who are absent might comprehend (what I have said) better than the present audience.”]]]]]

    So we can see here, that it is encouraged to learn from the understandings of other people when it comes to Islamic knowledge, because the hadith, and the quran are so rich, that people can derive alot of lessons therein. For example, in the quran in surah Takwir, where it says “Wah Izul Mau ‘udati su’ilut, Bee Ayee Zambin Qutilat” it is saying and when the buried female-infant is asked, for what sin she was buried.

    I’ve been hearing that ayah over and over again and I just thought of the reference to pagan Arab practices. I listened to Sh. Hamza Yusuf talk about it, and he said that it is a good lesson for us to reflect on where today Muslim-men bury alive our muslims sisters by taking them for granted, and not nourishing them with education, and rights. I would’ve never got that out of the ayah – until i had listened to him.

    So I guess this example shows how it is important to read the works of others to get an understanding of the Islamic texts that you may not have gotten by yourself.


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