Thursday, May 6

Seeking Knowledge

There was a brief phase in my life when I went to Islamic talks and the like quite regularly. Due to my attendance at what appears to have been a fantastic madrassa growing up, the talks that attracted me tended to be less about practical stuff like scripture, fiqh and history and more about abstract things like how Islam fits in with politics and human rights and all that progressive stuff.

I found them interesting but also ultimately lacking in any kind of sophistication - they weren't really saying anything that wasn't obvious and if they did manage to present anything novel I struggled to see how such a concept would fit into my own daily life. Of course a large part of this reaction was due to the keen sense of cynicism I had been developing during my adult life, but whatever the reason I was losing interest in attending Islamic talks in general. Perhaps arrogantly I find my internal reasoning, some of which I discuss here on this blog, to be much more useful than some rockstar imam (sometimes along with his groupies) spouting what I felt to be blatantly obvious catchphrases and vacuous and rhetorical thought.

I don't see my stance changing much any time soon and so I usually find it easier to pass on talks and stuff when I get invited to them. Tonight however since us travellers were all invited to one hosted by the Muslim Professional Network, I thought it would be both polite, convenient and useful to attend.

Regardless of my own thoughts on this particular talk (I'm sure you can read between the lines) it did make me wonder about why I don't see the same value in them that my contemporaries do. I certainly don't think that I know everything there is to know, but I do trust myself to have enough of an internal basis and balance to know what the right thing to do is, both with respect to scriptural practise and living life as a decent human being. And all this is without knowing much of the complex (and in my view sometimes redundant) Arabic Islamic terminology I hear many others use in describing their own practise and perception of religion. And just to be clear: no, I don't consider myself to be a sufi or someone with sufi like tendencies. That's probably something for another post, but in short I'm way too literal to be able to handle that particular approach.

The real difference I see is that I don't seem to require the definitive and prescribed answers that others need to hear and understand in order to get on with things. This could just be because I don't have the same kind of questions, but as someone who explicitly recognises that there are different paths to God I don't think that there is anything wrong in having a different approach. However I do think that I tend to struggle less with the whole Islam thing than those who choose another, more explicitly "knowledge based" approach, do, and that's something I do see as a huge benefit and am glad to have.


  1. That fatwa article is still gross. Thats not a different approach, its a crazy approach.

  2. As long as there are literal and strict readings of scripture, there'll be literal and strict loopholes. Not that being literal and strict are bad things, but the two come hand in hand.