Prof Shakil Ahmad Wani
In the good old days there used to be joint families. There used to be many sons and consequently many daughters-in-law. During those days, in a joint family one daughter-in-law fell seriously ill and was hospitalised. The illness was of a lengthy nature with some severe episodes occurring in between. The sick lady began to blame her counterpart (another daughter-in-law) for her woes. She affixed in her head the single hypothesis that her illness was due to some magic trick played by her counterpart. This became a big issue in the family and even its ill effects started spreading in relationships all around.
A learned person among their relatives came on a routine visit to the family to inquire about their health as well as of their sick daughter-in-law. He was made aware of the gravity of the whole situation in the family. The learned man was puzzled by this situation. He became determined to resolve it. The means by which he resolved puzzles was logic.
The learned man asked the sick lady about her health as a routine query. He extended the conversation until she divulged that the cause of her illness was the magic trick played by her counterpart. The learned person asked the sick lady, “Have you gone through medical science books?” She replied in the negative. The learned person said, “I have come here to inquire about your health and not to plead anybody’s guilt or innocence, nor to discover the cause of your illness. But medical science teaches us that there are a thousand causes for falling ill. They can be infectious, non- infectious, or of genetic nature. These you don’t know about because you are ignorant of medical science. But from the society or from folk tales you know that magic trick is the only reason of any illness. I agree it could be one among the thousand reasons, but why don’t you, too, include the thousand reasons in your hypothesis as the possible cause of your illness?”
The sick lady pondered over this and she began to realise her ignorance. She started thinking differently and it slowly diminished her rivalry with her counterpart. Her original hypothesis was lost as a needle in a hay stack. Finally, the family matter was resolved as well. The learned man had made the sick lady shed her thinking that was based on ignorance and little knowledge. The learned person taught her that one should never depend on a little knowledge for drawing conclusions. As is rightly said, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing”, or “Better go without medicine than call in an unskilled physician”.
This old story I recalled after long because in the present pandemic we are showing serious concern about the options in Islam to deal with such a situation. I have received so many WhatsApp messages regarding Taraweeh etc which show that not only the common masses but a good number of religious preachers and scholars are also deeply involved in such debates. In my opinion this is happening because most of us are ignorant of the teachings of Islam. We have picked up threads or scattered bits of Islam from society, folk tales or religious quacks. We hardly bother to open a page of the holy Quran or read a sacred saying of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). This makes us prone to quarrel over trivial issues in Islam. For example, missing of Taraweeh in congregations in mosques. Taraweeh prayer is Sunnah Muakkadah and not Fardh. Offering it together is optional (Nafal). But most consider it as if the whole of Islam is encapsulated in it. Had we bothered to understand the book of Allah or Prophet’s biography, the situation would have been quite different. We would have realized that most of the teachings of Islam have been already deleted from our memories. Only remnants are left with us, as was prophesied by the beloved Prophet (PBUH), as narrated by Abu Amamareha: “A time will come when the organisation of Islam will fall apart. The people instead of correcting it will remain confined to the leftovers only”.
It is better that we understand first the message of Islam in totality. What it offers to us and what it expects in return. This will perhaps bring us closer to understanding, vision and strength, as the Quran repeatedly emphasises (38:45; 3:190; 13:19, etc). Wisdom, Vision and Strength form the core of Islam (Eiman). Allama Iqbal had cautioned, “If wit incites a man to say ‘No God but He’ it brings no gain: It has no worth at all unless affirmed by heart and brain.” Similarly, Sheikh Ahmad Deedat said, “The biggest enemy of Islam is the ignorant Muslim, whose ignorance leads him to intolerance and whose actions destroy the true image of Islam. When people look at him they think that Islam is what he is.”
To conclude, Hazrat Alira narrated that the Prophet (PBUH) said, “There is no worship without comprehension, no knowledge without wisdom, and no recitation of Quran without pondering.”
The writer is former Director of Education, SKUAST-Kashmir