Friday, August 26, 2005

Four Years to Knowing Everything...About Nothing

When I started university one thing amazed me. Everyone thought that they were experts. Their opinion was very important -- indeed, it was correct -- fact, if you will. In blog-hopping the past few weeks, the same phenomena struck me once again.

What is it about modern education that has stripped us of our humility? We attend university for three or four years and deem ourselves experts fit to speak on any aspect of whatever we studied. So one who has studied Islam whilst not a Muslim, believes they can speak about Islam without restraint. Yet, never once questioning the source of their studies. How objective were they? What was the stance of those with whom they studied?

Universities pride themselves in their 'objectivity', and yet, there's nothing objective about them. To understand something, should one not go to the root of it?

The scholars of old studied for decades, had every text in their field memorized my heart, and yet spoke with such humility before God and their audience. This is largely absent today. I miss that.

The more you learn, the more you should realize how much you don't know. Not the reverse.

And Allah knows best.


  1. Yes--it is ironic that the study of the humanities in particular do not cultivate humility or epistemic modesty in many people any more.

    It is a serious crisis. I'm not sure how we go about changing this without models of noble character. But where do the models of noble character come from without the grace of God?

    Socialization has limits...

  2. Anonymous2:25 AM


    Both this reflection and Mohammad's comments were excellent.
    The major problem which faces man is precisely his inability to realize that there is something terribly real which lies beyond his self. The absence of such a transcendent perspective has rendered humanity intellectually impoverished- by intellect here I mean, of course, the Intellect (as in the Latin 'intellectus'), and not the 'intellect' which, by its very nature is discursive, seperated, disoriented and prone to error. The Intellect, however, is gathered, oriented and united to its Source which is the Intellect Itself. From the perspective of the Intellect man is also "poor", but this need is the realization of his ontological poverty (al-faqr al-wujudi), and his ultimate need for God, who Alone is the source of all peace, grace and knowlede. This understanding of man is at once traditional and relevant to fulfiling the groping of promethean man's intellectual and spiritual needs. The humility implied by not knowing is ultimately based on the realization that one's ignorance characterizes his own existence, and that man can only step outside of himself when he knows that what is beyond himself is all that is truly real. Indeed, "God is the rich and you are the poor" as the Real says in the Qur'an.


  3. Mohammad and Mohammed,

    Barak Allahu fi kum for your thoughts and reflections. It's refreshing to know others feel it too...