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Stands >2006 Stands >The Stand of  Rabih `1 6 1427H /April 4, 2006 A.D.


 

Seeking knowledge in Islam

Sayyed Fadlullah: We feel disgraceful when we read in the newspapers that the Arab world is one of the least reading peoples, since it means that it has reached the bottom or the civilization ladder. To rectify such a state of affairs, we should mobilize all our efforts to encourage the members of the nation to read and learn about the experiences of others including those of the enemies and especially the Zionist experience in Palestine and its effects on the region and the world .

Asked in his weekly seminar the following question: How does Islam view the significance of reading?

The Religious Authority, Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah, said That the first verse that was revealed to the Prophet(p.) was His saying: "Read" is a clear proof of the significance Islam associates to reading as a way of acquiring knowledge that takes the nation from the darkness of ignorance to the light of science.

In this respect, Islam was able, through the methodology it established for reading, to move the illiterate nation (The Jahiliya Arabs) to a civilized one that played an undeniable role in the progress and civilization of mankind.

It also contributed in founding the pillars of modern civilizations. And this fact was acknowledged by many international leaders and thinkers including Jawaharlal Nehru who describes the Islamic civilization as the mother of modern civilizations.

The Arabs and Muslims reached this position only because they had a profound conception of reading that did not encourage isolation and arrogance. It was an understanding that opened up on what the others produce and adopted a humble approach to science regardless of its sources. This conscious understanding of the cultural, intellectual and scientific dimensions of reading is the major component that led to the spread of Islam in the world. The Persians, for example, did not abandon their great cultural heritage to adopt Islam as a result of force. They did so because they found in Islam a religion that opens up on the issues of this world and the Hereafter.

We are convinced that civilization was born through reading, in the larger sense of the word that opens up on man universe and life, and not on the conception of reading and science that is reduced to the religious text and the neglect of studying life and the universe. Such a wrong approach towards the concept of science glorifies the theoretical and the religious sciences at the expense of the practical sciences. And this led to the decline of the nation, which became dependent on other nations in all its scientific needs. The nation which God wanted to be the best nation and which the first verse in its Book is "read" became, as the latest surveys indicate, the most ignorant and the least reading nation.

We feel disgraceful when we read in the newspapers that the Arab world is one of the least reading peoples, since it means that it has reached the bottom or the civilization ladder.

To rectify such a state of affairs, we should mobilize all our efforts to encourage the members of the nation to read and learn about the experiences of others including that of the enemies, especially the Zionist experience in Palestine and its effects on the region and the world.

We should also stay away from the misleading and superficial culture that addresses the instincts, and tries to steel our youth and make them focus on subjective trivial formalities that deepen the instinctual aspect, at the expense of values and the broader scientific inspirations.

This problem in reading has been reflected in the rhetoric, which is, in one way or another, a product of the culture. Any decrease in the cultural level of any nation would lead to a decrease in the level of the rhetoric. That is why we find our Islamic and Arab rhetoric has turned into an emotional one that does not address the nation's problems. Religion itself is no longer an effective civilized element, since we have implicated it in our emotional mazes and our tunnel of myths and legends. We have erected a wall of backwardness between religion and science posing it as an enemy of science, and forgetting that it urged for "seeking knowledge from birth to death" as Muhammad (P.) has advised us.

Yet the problem is not only structural; it is also formal, We can see this in some of the phenomena that invaded our lives. it is not sufficient ,for example, that a city announces itself a cultural capital without presenting a practical program to activate the reading and the cultural movement in the city to become one.

I believe that the media, publicity and parading facets have dominating our cultural life as it dominated our political one, and that we have turned to be more concerned with the superficial aspects of things at the expense of their content.

I call for an attentive reading that will lead us to a sober and mindful criticism, which I consider as one of the major pillars that can contribute to the return of the nation to its civilized and scientific tracků We have to review our heritage to study it carefully so as to eliminate the flaws that were added to it and clear the mines that were implanted in it. We have also to develop the study centers that could make us learn about our enemy's weak and strong points. Moreover, exploring the universe and knowing its secrets is a task, which we are entrusted with even before others.

We have to read the contemporary reality and try to forecast the future regarding the movements of the states and the planned projects for the region, as well as the change in the political sphere between one stage and another, because we feel that there is a big danger in that Israel has started to draw its future along the lines of the plans it developed to accompany the changes in the region. Meanwhile, we as a nation are drowning in our sectarian strife, and competing for the shares the American arrogance will give us here and there. We are not trying to draw our future us a nation, or even sit once to discuss in a frank manner how can we build our nation or our countries, and not our sectarian projects that are more like the castles built by the children on the seashore, which would be soon be swept away by the waves.