Academic Discourse vs Popular Understanding – Tracking the Genesis of Sectarian Strifes
In almost every village and the town of our valley, there is a large chunk of our passionate youth that debate and discuss various sensitive religious issues on streets, in schools, colleges, mosques, and various other public places. Many of them unfortunately but quite naturally evolve into ugly fights. The result is that our society is plagued with the menace of hate speeches and mad debates/munaazira that have saturated our different social media platforms too.
The association with a particular group is not necessarily the real point of concern but rather the celebration of “cult mentality” among our young is the real cause of worry. Cults have closed minds that allow no diffusion of knowledge and genuine interaction, characterized by shallow understanding of issues and an arrogant approach of stifling the other. So, what has lead us to this sorry state of affairs? This problem is obviously a multi-layered one. In this article let’s explore one of its dimensions. Upon contemplation, it will dawn upon us that one of the most important reasons behind the problem of sectarian strifes is the irresponsible dispersion of academic stuff among the common masses. This dispersion was a result of the explosion of information that the world witnessed in the recent past which further got compounded by various religious movements that sprouted in the Muslim world in the 20th century.
Powerful things have their ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ as well. Although the religious movements earn the credit of attracting a lot of indifferent youth towards religion with the aim of teaching them a life of God consciousness at the same time, they also caused a large scale dispersion of a lot of academic, sensitive and nuanced stuff for our youth to frivolously bicker on. As already said things have their advantages and disadvantages. We cannot always plan the scheme of the things according to our own whims and desires. This had to happen the way it happened. Unfortunately, a lot of it cannot be undone now. The genie cannot be put back into the bottle. But towards the end, we will see if there is a possible way out after this.
But before that, it is important for us to note what this “irresponsible dispersion” has done in the context of what we are discussing. When academic discourse got dispersed, its rays fell on many. People started to have vague ideas about various issues. These slowly evaporated into debates which were later sustained by individual miniscule sporadic readings thus creating a vicious cycle. The knowledge, books, lectures, khutbahs were reduced down to serve only as fuel and fodder necessary for lighting up the debates to ensure one’s victory and the other’s defeat. Not to mention the ego element that knows its own chain reactions. The “lack of authority” today really haunts us! A case study would be the irresponsible discussions on hadith sciences which otherwise requires a lot of expertise to deliberate upon. Our youth devoid of the necessary tools feel equipped enough to debate complex nuanced issues only to confuse each other causing a whole disservice to the religious tradition. Similarly, we can take another example of the science of fiqh (jurisprudence). There is a world of difference between what our youth think about fiqh and what actually it is in the academic circles.
Therefore the root of the problem is the gulf between the real academic discourse and it’s watered down popular understanding. Now to mend our ways the dire need of our time is to bridge this gap. We need to strike the right balance between two possible case scenarios. The first is to leave our youth completely ignorant about religion and the second is to end up creating a whole bunch of half-baked self-styled scholars that are responsible for widening the gap between the populace and the academia. These “intermediaries” of self-styled amateur scholars need to be de-fanged who unfortunately are holding mimbers, travelling and lecturing across the length and breadth of the valley, active on various social media handles and irresponsibly voicing opinions on every single issue, spreading venom to divide and confuse people on issues that they themselves don’t understand.
The author is an engineering graduate and a student of Islam, Philosophy and Mysticism. He can be mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: Views expressed are exclusively personal and do not necessarily reflect the position or editorial policy of Oracle Opinions.