x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Three steps to restore the Arabic tradition of thought

After attending the Friday sermon last week at the neighbourhood mosque, I felt as though I had been detached from the world. I could not stop thinking about the points highlighted by the imam.

After attending the Friday sermon last week at the neighbourhood mosque, I felt as though I had been detached from the world. I could not stop thinking about the points highlighted by the imam. "Proactive thought," he said again and again through the course of the sermon. It made me realise that a lot of our actions in society are performed as a matter of habit rather than with attention to their significance.

@body arnhem:The process of thought and reflection, along with educated reasoning before performing an action or formulating an opinion, is not only something our culture has boasted about for many centuries, but also an important point emphasised in Islam. However, in recent times, with busy lifestyles and demanding jobs coupled with the easy availability of the necessities of life, this process of thought has begun to disappear from our society.

Many people today are constantly running away from thought and reflection by keeping themselves busy with work or indulging in some kind of entertainment or hobby. As a result, many follow trends blindly and form beliefs based on popular consensus rather than a calculated thought process. This gives birth to a form of ignorance which is detrimental to a society's intellectual development and parasitic to our intelligent and rich culture.

The lack of conscious decision making and opinion formulation in our society has led to irresponsibility and disastrous outcomes such as domestic abuse, adultery, personal bankruptcy and corporate embezzlement. In addition, it has also contributed towards the lack of credibility of and trust in professionals and individuals across the region. In order to revive a diligent thought process, it is crucial that individuals understand its roots in the culture and value for civilisation. I believe this revival can be achieved by following three steps, which I believe are supported by Quranic verses.

The first step towards educated reasoning is attaining knowledge. Knowledge forms the basis for thought and is a foundation upon which opinions can be built. It is the key to understanding and participating in a thought process. Knowledge also confers instant credibility when used appropriately. Are those equal, those who know and those who do not know? Quran 39:9 The importance of education was further emphasised in Islam by putting education before all matters and placing it in the first words of the Quran that were revealed to Prophet Mohammed (PBUH).

Read! in the name of thy Lord and Cherisher -. He Who taught (the use of) the pen,- Taught man that which he knew not Quran 96:1-5 The next step towards reviving an intelligent thought process is to understand its significance. Why this is important can be seen from an Islamic and cultural perspective. In Islam, thinkers and scholars are exalted and described as the ones who truly fear Allah (Quran 35:28). Islam has also repeatedly praised those who think and contemplate the wonders of Allah's creation of the heavens and the Earth and has described them as men of understanding and their reward as gardens of paradise under which rivers flow (Quran 3:191-195).

The extensive amount of praise and reward for reasoning and contemplation is actually directed toward the end result of this thought process, which is a conscious testimony that has earned the Islamic nation superlative praises (Quran 3:110). Although Islam had a significant role in encouraging thought and contemplation, Arabs were also known for their determination, which resulted from a form of conscious reasoning. Their love for poetry and the perfection of the Arabic language was to some extent sparked by their will to communicate these beliefs accurately. This led to the establishment of devout morals and manners driven by conscious efforts which earned Arabs respect and credibility.

Finally, the third step towards reviving thought and contemplation is communication. Thoughts and ideas should be shared between people of different backgrounds, dialogue should be facilitated and communication should be promoted. This exchange of ideas allows for more understanding of the big picture and the ability to perceive others' perspectives. The exchange of thoughts and ideas also causes a firmer understanding of what may be an initial framework for a belief. This concept is beautifully summarised in this excerpt from the Quran:

O mankind! We created you from a single (pair of) a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other Quran 49:13 Initially, I had wished these three steps were laid out to me by the preacher on Friday instead of the passion-filled sermon that had no basis for verification. But as I thought more about it, I was grateful that I had the opportunity to research and formulate an opinion of my own.

A friend once told me: "Sometimes I take time off to think and I go for a walk." It's about time we also added more value and credibility to our decisions and opinions even if it means we need to take time out to take a walk, metaphorically or otherwise. Let's attain the appropriate knowledge, understand the significance of thought and be able to communicate with others. Let's think. Mohammed Kazim is an Emirati health-care analyst and commentator based in Abu Dhabi