Skip to main content

Systematic Reading

Question and Answers
How can one ensure a systematic approach to reading and learning in order to maintain coherence and avoid intellectual deviations in the accumulation of knowledge, particularly in the context of religious sciences and contemporary issues?
| The Fountain | Issue 156 (Nov - Dec 2023)

This article has been viewed 8027 times

Systematic Reading

In This Article

  • Some individuals read everything that comes their way without any particular order, choice, or consideration of their needs. By doing so, they place very inconsistent, disorganized, and unregulated knowledge in their minds.
  • One crucial way to cultivate systematic thinking and safeguard oneself from intellectual deviations is by understanding established truths and essential fundamental disciplines.
  • it is crucial to develop and systematize the accumulated knowledge passed down from our predecessors, elucidating obscure points, and adapting it to contemporary needs while considering the demands of our time.

God has created the universe in a perfect system. A person who correctly reads the “book of the universe” will immediately notice this wonderful order and harmony prevailing in existence. For instance, all the food and drink provided for our use serve a purpose. When consumed correctly and in moderation, it becomes apparent that they are perfectly aligned with the needs of the human body.

Every part of the realm of existence is in harmony within the measures of creation. As a part of this realm, a human being should also adhere to such a system and seek harmony in the learning process. Reading, learning, evaluating, and then transforming knowledge into a product cannot be effectively implemented without a system. Otherwise, the acquired knowledge may become an unnecessary burden, leading to confusion and potentially throwing a person off balance. Just like mixing incompatible chemicals in a laboratory can result in something dangerous and harmful instead of the expected benefits.

Some individuals read everything that comes their way without any particular order, choice, or consideration of their needs. By doing so, they place very inconsistent, disorganized, and unregulated knowledge in their minds; you see them saying very strange things in unexpected places. Due to the lack of systematic reasoning and a structured approach to reading, their views may significantly vary from one day to the next. What they considered accurate yesterday, they may deem it incorrect today. Occasionally, they present four different views on the same day. One would hope that at least two of these views would align harmoniously. Yet, alas, all four differ from one another, with each one contradicting the others. Strangely, they perceive all these perspectives as correct, defending them vehemently and asserting their validity.

One crucial way to cultivate systematic thinking and safeguard oneself from intellectual deviations is by understanding established truths and essential fundamental disciplines. Subsequently, acquired knowledge should undergo scrutiny in light of these foundations. When looking at this matter from the perspective of religious sciences – such as in the case of Islam – it is imperative to first grasp the fundamental principles of the Qur’an and the Sunnah. It is then essential to study how the Companions of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and the pious predecessors comprehended these principles. Afterward, familiarize oneself with the extensive body of work encompassing the approaches and interpretations of authoritative scholars and jurists, who serve as the intellectual heirs of subsequent generations. Only with such a foundation can one accurately address issues pertaining to Islamic sciences, present a well-founded perspective on these matters, and ensure that the views expressed are handled within a structured framework.

Our brain's neurons can store a wealth of information from every book read, effectively transmitting multiple files to the cortex. However, without adhering to a systematic approach and without being tested against the fundamental disciplines of the relevant field of knowledge, this process yields nothing but a jumble of information. Consequently, the outcome becomes a multitude of unstructured and undisciplined thoughts, leading to uncertain destinations.

Moreover, it is crucial to develop and systematize the accumulated knowledge passed down from our predecessors, elucidating obscure points, and adapting it to contemporary needs while considering the demands of our time.  In the words of Imam Shafi’i, “May God be pleased with the pious predecessors for accomplishing significant tasks that needed to be done. May Allah also be pleased with them for leaving many tasks for us to complete.” It's important to remember that each individual is a product of their time. As human beings are not timeless entities, their thoughts are influenced by a particular era they live in. With the passage of time, these thoughts undergo transformations, reflecting the interpretations of their times, which affect their forms, patterns, and even colors.

The Qur’an is the word of God; for that matter it is timeless, and time cannot affect it. Similarly, the rulings clearly specified by our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) cannot undergo changes over time, as elucidated in his sayings. However, time comes into play in certain rulings, which are open to interpretation. In fact, the authoritative scholars took this into consideration in their legal opinions. It is imperative to proceed with this perspective in mind, consistently taking into account the interpretation of time for the tasks that require attention in our era.

In today's interconnected world, resembling a global village, we coexist under the same roof with others, a reality that should not be overlooked.  Furthermore, contemporary life brings about unprecedented distractions, occupying people's minds more than ever. Additionally, the diversification of knowledge fields has led to the subdivision of once-unified scientific disciplines into various subfields, each nurturing its own experts. Unlike the past, it is no longer feasible for a single individual to assert authority over every matter today. Hence, it is essential to acknowledge these factors when seeking solutions to modern-day issues. The most effective approach lies not in individual action but in the establishment of scientific committees tasked with comprehensive examination, considering every aspect. Established committees, whether dedicated to fields such as interpretation, hadith, jurisprudence, theology, or the methodologies of these disciplines, should diligently reexamine the issues. They must scrutinize matters in the light of primary sources, account for the contemporary context, consider the interpretation of the time, and undertake a fresh classification and organization of these matters. Such an approach will facilitate contemporary access to the wealth of knowledge in these areas, fostering comfortable learning and ultimately maximizing their overall utility and benefit.


More Coverage

For us to be able to fully perceive the holy days, it is first necessary that our spirits and consciences are ready to feel such music and poetry from the heavens and beyond. Those whose inner depths, outward experiences, and colors of life are on...
For many people, especially in today's world, it is very hard to reconcile the personal, sometimes seemingly intolerable, suffering of admirable and pious people with Divine justice and love. Believers of all religions face this challenge. There a...
Jam‘ (absorption) literally means coming and bringing together. In the language of Sufism, it means fixing all one’s feeling, sight and consciousness on the Ultimate Truth, to the extent that one is absorbed in Him and does not feel the existence ...