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Are you Ready to Unlearn?
"Are those who have knowledge equal to those who do not have knowledge?!” (39:9).
If one examines ponders on the above verse, one will find a multitude of thoughts. Looking at this with a view to asking, “Isn’t it time to practice one of the highest forms of learning?” As human beings, we are brought up to learn and do things in a certain way. As we become adults, these have manifested themselves to become habits. It is at this stage that we realise that the highest form of learning is unlearning.
Think about it! How many myths has this pandemic shattered for humankind? The biggest of all is the materialistic nature of man. We have learnt to survive with very little, value what we do have versus what we do not have, appreciation of our loved ones and importantly a sense of inner peace with nature and our Creator.
Ask yourself how many shirts, shoes, jogging pants etc. have you actually looked at or worn since the lockdown! How many toys that you have accumulated over time for your kids have yet to be played with! How many selfies have you really taken of late! Let’s face it, everything has changed and realistically nothing has changed! Huh!
Yes, nothing has changed as such. What has changed is how we think, how we perceive and have resorted to asking ourselves the fundamental question – what does really matter?
The answer to the above question seems to present itself with tremendous clarity right now – HEALTH.
Everything about this pandemic has brought to bear our Islamic teachings and roots. It has connected us with Allah (swt) in a manner that our normal undertakings don’t allow us to or we don’t allow ourselves to. It has taught us to believe in being minimalistic in our belongings as was the case with our chosen ones. It has taught us to build relationships with our relatives and friends by inquiring of each other and being there for each other. This is the time when you realize how precious life is and, irrespective of whether your neighbour is a Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish or an Atheist, the need to be human and true to your values, needs to come to the forefront and this has been shaped by our Islamic principles.
So, if you had to be reborn today and had to reshape your inner self, what would you do differently? Would you be a hoarder, a social pariah, an unfeeling individual to the plight of others etc.?
The time has come to do that self-audit that our chosen guides have impressed on us repeatedly. How does one tell the difference between a need and a want? Well the only way to find out is trying to make do without it for a while.
Are you an impulsive shopper? The next time you are at a shop or a mall, and something takes your fancy, don’t buy it immediately. Give yourself a week to think about it and examine during the week, why you wanted to buy it. Or if you walk into a bakery – does the smell of freshly baked croissant make you buy it? Are you satisfying your stomach hunger or the hunger in your nose or eyes for that matter as it looks so alluring? It is this Jihad of the self, that lays claim to it being the bigger Jihad - the control of the want and by far the bigger battle, the curbing of the ego.
Here are some experimental questions. Do you need two or three cars? Do you need a house with four rooms? Can you survive with half your wardrobe? Do you need all the smart gadgets? Here is one that would be very uncomfortable – how many of our current apps do one really need? What if I just had a phone to communicate and nothing else – would I survive or can I survive? Some of your answers may be that the need is critical, but it is imperative that we ask the questions as this is what leads to living the thaqalain.
Material things are a means to temporary pleasure and usually a form of imprisonment and thus the desperate quest for “things”.
So, let's ask again, what are you going to unlearn and give up to achieve the highest form of learning whilst remembering that learning is not akin to knowledge but ideally is a means to wisdom. Dare we ask, ‘How wise are you?’.
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