Bibliophiles Drought: Muslim youth and aversion to reading


An old man reading books to acquire knowledge
old man reading books (I think)

Seeking of knowledge is one of the core collective obligation that we Muslims have. Although this may apply to knowledge of the Deen as per the ulama and students of knowledge, it is also true that ilm of the dunya is complementary to the knowledge of the faith. Reading of books is one of the best and primary means of acquiring knowledge. The benefits of reading are enormous.

As a result of rote and coarse methods at schools and educational institutions, reading seemingly becomes a chore and uneventful. History which is normally fascinating, becomes a chore and uneventful. The science that is so filled with wonders becomes a chore and uneventful. The maths that is filled with complexities that shape the man made wonders we have around us, become a chore and uneventful.

Related: The education system is designed to enslave the youth

School itself with its monotonous and soulless books kill the child’s curiosity and inner desire to seek knowledge. And this applies to most good students as well. Even the nerds today only study as a chore and exactly the moment they give their school finals, the books are flung and there is suddenly a rain of torn papers.

What is real reading?

Reading doesn’t always have to be a chore. It does not always have to be a soulless task that requires completion by deadline of most concepts and ideas that won’t ever come to use in practical life. It does not always have to be very scattered and chaotic thing that necessarily requires notes and practice. Most importantly, it does not have to provide things we never even asked or cared for.

We read all the time. Despite reading being a general word, most of us subconsciously assume reading as the action of sitting and reading a news paper or a book.

There are books that aren’t soulless?? What??: Seeking of knowledge and Islamic history

There have been great scholars in the past despite lower population but lower number of great scholars today despite us having access to endless resources. Why is that so? It is simply because the ulama and the scholars of the time did not have any sort of pressure to seek knowledge. They could delve into whatever picked their interest. They could dedicate their lives to whatever interested them and they were not limited to specific fields.

Salahuddin Ayyubi r.h was a Sultan by the day, a Hafiz by the evening and an astronomer by the night. He was also specialised in maths, classical Arabic and poetry. Imam Shafi’i himself was not just a faqih but also a medic and an astronomer. They seeked knowledge as it interested them and they gave very interesting mixtures of opinions from the plethora of field they specialised in.

They were no different from us in the sense that they would not spend their time behind a single skill or form of knowledge and they would not zealously dedicate their time if they did not find any inherent value or worth. Many of the scholars of the time simply sought knowledge as a leisure and didn’t have to study maths or science at the end of a stick.

Scholars during the time of the Abbasids got paid in gold equivalent to the volume of books they wrote. Yet they were under no pressure to do so. They travelled and sought knowledge from hundreds or even thousands of people and were not mandated to do so by the state or their societies. They didn’t have any compulsion that would lead them to detest or form an abhorrence to reading.

What does one miss out on by abstaining from reading books?

You are missing out on seeking knowledge for free. And by free, I mean freedom from obligations of institutions or society. You could read a book on how to make friends and it could give you simplified action based knowledge regarding how to interact with people backed by science.

You could read books with profound takes that change your worldview. You could read a book on how to get better humour. Better yet, you could read books filled with cringey jokes which you could use to annoy your friends. Books are an entire media of their own.

Even people like Donald Trump have written their own books and have collaborated with other writers experienced in certain fields. Many such books are filled with solutions to problems we are facing. And since the author may have went through the same struggles we face today, we get accurate solutions and find the writings, relatable. Alive. Filled with human soul and feeling.

I don’t know how you may feel reading this but I am surely aware that you are not finding it a chore. You might understand what I am trying to convey. Many of you may enjoy Islamic history but you absolutely abhor history classes.

Benefits of reading books

1. They provide solutions for problems you might be facing today.

2. They provide different perspective and understanding of things.

3. They help you in challenging harmful norms.

4. They help you in improving your ability to communicate and express yourself and your ideas.

5. They provide a more organised rendering of knowledge that could have otherwise been learnt vocally through conversations. You can also always refer back to books in case you forget what you’ve learnt.

6. They help you understand varieties and diversities in various arts and fields of knowledge.

7. Books are the best mediums to find concentrated information regarding a particular topic that concerns you.

The benefits of reading can encompass all aspects of our lives. They can help us in improving our spirituality, discipline, financial, historical and scientific literacy and most importantly your communication skills. Hence not only is it important for you to read but it is also necessary to get better as a person and explain to others the benefits of reading.

Problems we face today and their solutions.

Most of the problems we face today, have solutions written eloquently in various different books by a variety of authors with different backgrounds and different life experiences. They too have found their solution from benefits of reading.

There are books written by rich people that were once poor and the books explain precisely how they got their. The books are a manifestation of their mentality, habits and behaviour. There are books by disciplined people that were once lazy and incompetent slobs. There are books by people that have befriended millionaires and statesmen that are too busy to form baneful connections despite formerly being antisocial. The possibilities are endless.

Most of the arguments against education system are all from books that comprehensively address that topic. The best financial books are always thrashing the education system and schools for being slave factories.

Conclusion

The youth’s aversion to books is a result of the education system which seeks to turn reading and seeking of knowledge into work and chore rather than leisure and pleasurable.

The books are monotonous and soulless which result in young people growing disgust and abhorrence for reading despite never having explored alternative books that actually address their problems.

Books open up a world of opportunity (in an abstract way) to learn from the experiences of others on how to progress and succeed. And since it is written by people that once faced the same problem as us, their writings are a manifestation of how they used to feel and how we feel. And with our circumstances in mind, they provide solutions to many of the obstacles we face.

The biggest critics of the education system are books themselves. The education system was designed to create hatred for knowledge due to compulsion to seek redundant knowledge that don’t benefit us individually but rather benefit corporate leaders.

(And right after writing this long article, the eventually narrator feels like a clown, occasionally pressing his nose awaiting honking noises— coming to the realisation that those that hate reading won’t read this article and this article might be of no value.)


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