Little knowledge is a dangerous thing

In good old days there used to be joint families. There used to be many brothers and consequently many daughters-in-law. The people would mostly listen to myths and folktales. During that time, in a joint family, a daughter-in-law fell seriously ill and was hospitalized. The illness was long, and took lot of time for recovery with some severe episodes in between. Sick lady began to blame her counterpart (another daughter-in-law) in the family. Ultimately bore in mind the single hypothesis that her illness was due to some magic trick played by her counterpart. This became a big issue in the family and even its ill effects started spreading in the relationship around.

A learned person among their relatives visited the family to inquire about the well being, as well as the sick daughter-in-law. He was made aware of the gravity of whole situation in the family. The learned man was puzzled by the situation. He became curious to resolve it.  He used his logic. The learned man asked the sick lady casually about her health. In the lengthy conversion she divulged the cause of the illness as the magic played by her counterpart. Learned person asked the sick lady, “Have you gone through medical science books”. She replied in negative. OK.

The learned person said I have come here to inquire about your health and not to plead any body guilt or innocent, nor to discover the cause of your illness. But medical science teaches us that there are thousand causes for falling ill -infectious, non-infectious or of genetic nature. These you don’t know because you are ignorant. So you know very little of the whole and vast reality. 

But from the society you have got it that magic is the only reason of any illness. I agree it could be one, but please don’t take me as if I am pleading the innocence or guilt of your counterpart. However, I am advocating medical science which gives us wisdom about the cause and cure of diseases.

Why don’t you include these thousand options also in your hypothesis as a reason for your illness? The sick lady pondered over it and began to realize her ignorance. She started thinking differently based on logic and argument about her illness. This diluted her original hypothesis of her illness and diminished the rivalry.  Finally resolved the family matter as well.

The learned man made the sick person to come out of sick thinking based on ignorance and little knowledge. Learned person said it is always better to think comprehensively and in a balanced way. Never depend on little knowledge for drawing conclusions. As it is rightly said , little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

This old story struck my mind after long because in the present threat we are showing our

serious concern about the small and optional things of Islam creating greater chaos. I have received so many whatsApp messages regarding Taraweeh etc.  Most unfortunate is that not only the common masses but a good number of religious preachers or scholars are also deeply involved in it.  In my opinion this happens because most of us are genrally ignorant of the sacred teachings of Islam. We are miles away from its understanding and comprehension. Moulana Anwar Shah Kasmirir, before partition of India, rightly said in his speech in Jama Masjid, Srinagar;  “Muslims here are blind in knowing  religion, so are the preachers here  blind by one eye”. 

We have picked up scattered bits about Islam from society, myths or religious quacks etc.  We hardly bother to open a page of holy Quran or read a sacred saying of prophet Muhammad PBUH for its understanding. For example missing Taraweeh in congregation in mosque etc.  Taraweeh prayer is  Sunnah Muakkadah and not obligatory (fardh). Offering it together is optional (nafal). 

But most people consider that whole Islam is encapsulated in it. Missing it means missing everything. Had we bothered to understand the book of Allah or Prophet’s biography the situation would have been quite different? We would have well realized that the most has been already lost, even deleted from our memories. Only remnants are left with us as was prophesied by the beloved prophetPBUH as narrated by Abu Amamareha “ A time will come when the organization of Islam will fall apart. The people instead of correcting it will remain confined to the left over only”.

Lawrence Brown, an English writer in his book “The Prospects of Islam” also makes a mention of this sorrow affair of ours. Can’t we be wise and holistic. We need to understand first the message of Islam in totality.

What it offers to us and what it expects in return. This will perhaps bring us closer to the category of people of understanding, vision and strength as Quran repeatedly emphasized in Quran.

To conclude, Hazrat Alira  narrated that the prophetPBUH said “There is no worship without comprehension, no knowledge without wisdom and no recitation of Quran without pondering”

Prof Shakil Ahmad Wani  is former Director Education, SKUAST-Kashmir