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Good Ideas and the Information Overload

The beauty of a statement is in its depth of meaning and the wisdom therein such that the eloquence of a man’s rhetoric is rendered unappealing without it.

Whether it is Martin Luther King preaching of his dream or Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah declaring another victory; all stem from an idea, and depending on its meaning and wisdom, people will flock to it with inspiration.

Many a time we find that people are eager to tell others what they think or do especially with the rise of social media. How often has a hash tag or status been about a person’s need to tell us an empty thought on their mind? We live in a noisy place where everybody wants to say something and it usually  amounts to empty statements of nothing. When knowledge and wisdom are saturated with such noise, there becomes an information overload occupying people’s mind and depriving them of something useful.

It is noteworthy to remember the Quranic verse: Then let man look to his food. (80:24)

Imam Al-Baqir (as) when interpreting the above verse mentions that ‘food’ is knowledge and asks the question: “Your knowledge, where do you get it from? From who do you get it from?”

In this modern age more than ever we must ask ourselves this question and ponder about our behaviour towards what we allow ourselves to take in as useful information. How often do we refer to experts in a field? What makes someone an expert as opposed to an enthusiast? Would we listen to lectures from a person with an interest in health, or would we go to a trained person for medical advice? Often we find that people have become so lenient that they take information from anyone who offers it.

The need for ‘good ideas’ is needed now more than ever. There is a need for God-fearing expertise and scholarship, and their efforts and endeavors are rewarded abundantly. It is narrated that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said that the pen of the scholar is equivalent to the sword of the soldier and the scholar who dies in his bed is similar to the soldier slain at war.

Good ideas liberate the minds of masses and bad ideas subjugate them. A common misconception is that Islam rapidly spread after the demise of the Prophet by the sword whereas the Arab armies of the time simply didn’t have enough reservists to occupy such a large terrain by force.  In reality,  it was ‘a good idea’ and therefore, Islam liberated the minds and the lands.

Today, we need to liberate our minds that are plagued and suffering from enslavement, economic and political destitution and a failed social structure. Let us not go through life without understanding it. Let us not allow ourselves to sink in the ocean of untested ‘ideas’ spouted on medias by non experts.

Unfortunately the current overload of information is not new, it just simply has a new medium: social media. It remains our duty to be objective when reading, hearing, and even stating things online. We owe this to ourselves and our faith.

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