It was around midnight when I felt like cutting my fingernails… toenails actually. My friend who was sleeping over at my place suddenly yelled:
“Don’t cut your nails”
“Cutting your nails at night will bring you poverty”
“heh! who said so?”
“it is written in the ahadeeth”
“I don’t’ know but my mother knows”
“Please tell me you’re not serious?”
“Wallah, I’m serious.”
“Hmm! Do you know why Arabs and Muslims are backward my friend?” I said while *tick* the mouth of my nail cutter took a bite out of of my big toe nail. “It is because most people still think the way you do!”
She nodded her head in slight agreement and some hesitation. Of course, how can you expect someone who had been hearing all this nonsense throughout their entire life to change their mind in one night even in the most trivial of things such as cutting your toenails!
Unfortunately, my friend is not unique. As a society in general, our umbilical cord is still attached to the placenta of ignorance in the days of Jahiliyya. We lack the ability to examine the knowledge we receive. We’re just not critical enough…we’re not analytical enough… and we don’t even know our faith enough to the point that we fear questioning some nonsense just because “gee! This might really be part of what I’m supposed to believe in.” “Read!” Gabriel revealed to Muhammad some 1400 years ago and we have yet to do that in the 21st century. Wasn’t it the prophet who said that spending more time learning is better than spending more time praying…that one learned man is harder on the devil than a thousand ignorant worshippers…that the ink of the scholar is more holy than the blood of the martyr? Wasn’t it Imam Ali who said “Use your intellect to understand something when you hear about it… for surely there are many who repeat the knowledge that they hear, and there are few who examine it.” So why don’t we do that? Why are we a bewildered herd as Chomsky would put it?
Well, the answers are obvious but to overcome them is the challenging task because the problem is that as a nation we’re ignorant and in order to be critical of ourselves we need to have the ability to think and realize that there is something fundamentally wrong with us but to have the ability to do that…we need to be critical to begin with…so basically throughout the past few decades we’ve done a good job of cornering ourselves in a Cath-22 situation and the only way out of this conundrum is to… is to…
I don’t really know!