Islam promoted education, intellectualism and discourse; it did not want Muslims to go down the path that led to the Dark Ages, notes Syerleena Abdul Rashid.
There is a growing cult of ignorance taking shape in our own backyard which has stirred quite a number of controversial incidents lately.
From love seats to K-pop to camels to PG13-rated child birth pants, the anti-progressive interpretations of religious doctrines are getting out of hand. To be honest, it has left a number of us feeling uneasy.
Malaysia is destroying itself through its acceptance of ignorance and reverence of false self-declared prophets.
Recently, the Perak mufti openly declared war against intellectualism by falsely claiming that intellectualism is influenced by desires, therefore (making it) susceptible to the devil.
“I advise them not to go overboard. Islam is based on faith… Don’t make any remarks based on the intellect or logic because they are laws of Allah… the intellect is governed by desires and it is influenced by shaitan (satan). Don’t be ruled by desires and rudderless comments.”
Unfortunately, such a mindset is not uncommon in our society these days, and we can thank growing sentiments that endorse anti-intellectualism, a dangerous disease that has contaminated our public institutions and rational discourse.
Contrary to what the Perak mufti wants us to believe, Islam upholds intellectualism and encourages us to search for knowledge. Prophet Muhammad required Muslims to get the best out of education – seek the path of enlightenment and knowledge, for ignorance is a sin.
Unfortunately, the modern world (and those who think like our dear Perak mufti) seems to have forgotten how Islamic civilisation rose to prominence in 610AD and lasted until the early 20th century – a period better known as the Golden Age of Islam.
Numerous Muslim scientists and other prominent intellectuals showered the continent with noteworthy accomplishments and made immeasurable contributions to development in areas including modern medicine, chemistry and algebra. Learning institutions were also established in places like present day Damascus, Cairo and Cordoba, which would later serve as models for modern European universities.
Islam promoted education, intellectualism and discourse; it did not want Muslims to go down the path that led to the Dark Ages.
Our problem is how religion is now being loosely (or harshly – depending on how you see it) interpreted by those who speak with forked tongues and how inept our education system has become. We give too much space for them to broadcast their illogical analyses, but we are too embarrassed to admit that we have become disconnected from the modern world that surrounds us.
By now, Malaysians are well aware that we live in a country where elected representatives and ministers can threaten citizens with violence, fallacious reports and even parade their ill-gotten gains brazenly in front of us.
The Malaysia we have learned to loathe, but still deeply love, is managed by the overly pious who constantly remind Malaysians not to question certain directives as they supply us with our daily dose of lies upon lies.
The toxic concoction of arrogance and ignorance will signal the death knell of our great nation. Regrettably, there are no quick remedies for this pandemic, no short cuts to get us out from this cesspool of stupidity and irrational thinking.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “The mind of this country, taught to aim at low objects, eats upon itself.”
Malaysians live in a society that accepts this false sense of democracy that has taken on a bizarre twist – ignorance is just as good as knowledge and malicious anti-intellectualism is now seen as a positive trait while uneducated ideals are accepted as fact.
Gullibly giving in to those who preach anti-intellectualism is one thing, but blindly following those who mask false doctrines through faith drenched in pseudo-intellectual sermons is far more detrimental to society than one can ever imagine.
What this simply means for average Malaysians like us: we will need to propagate the message of hope and rationality, and soldier on.