Tasawwuf

Impediments to Strengthening the Nafsiyya Part 2 “Ignorance”

Impediments to Strengthening the Islamic Disposition

– Part 2: Ignorance

  • One of the impediments to a person building h/her nafsiyya and strengthening it is ignorance (jahl).
  • Allah mentions in the Qur’an the consequences of failing to attain knowledge and comprehending the reality with the mind: {And they will say: ‘If only we had been listening or reasoning with our minds we would not be amongst the companions of the blaze’…}.[1]

What are the dangers of remaining in ignorance? They include:

  1. Ignorance means one is not aware of the commands and prohibitions of Allah and so one would be living dangerously as a result.
  2. Ignorance would mean one does not know how to strengthen his nafsiyya and be aware of what prevents it from augmenting.
  3. Ignorance breeds doubt, misconceptions and uncertainty and these are intellectually unhealthy for the believer.
  4. Ignorance is actually a debilitating factor in that is causes a person to be inactive, lazy and lethargic.
  5. Ignorance can lead one into unwarranted religious practice and innovation (bid`a).

What are some of the ways in which to battle ignorance? They include:

  1. Studying diligently (e.g. fiqh, Islamic theological works, apologetic works, etc.) to gain sound and beneficial knowledge which is a means of lifting the veil of intellectual ignorance and misconception.
  2. Muhasaba (self-accounting) which is a form of an internal corrective of one’s states.
  3. Studying the life of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and learning lessons from his noble life.

Dangers:

  • One of the dangers that we can see today as a result of ignorance is that people become misled into going against the Shari`ah and hence end up steering from the Straight Path by being susceptible to Shaytan. Imam Ibn al-Jawzi comments on this danger as follows:

اعلم أن أول تلبيس إبليس على الناس صدهم عن العلم لأن العلم نور فاذا أطفا مصابيحهم خبطهم في الظلم كيف شاء

  •  “Know that the first means by which Iblis deceives people is by blocking their access to knowledge. This is because knowledge is a light and so if he is able to extinguish their lamps, he can knock them into darkness in any way he wants…”[2]

Effects of this include:

  1. Misunderstanding Islamic Law such that one abandons them thinking they are incongruent with prevailing laws and ideals.
  2. Lack of confidence in Islamic rulings as solutions for life – especially those rulings the western opponents of Islam often attack and vilify and hence one begins to explain them away, consider them outdated or to change them.
  3. Lack of confidence in the Islamic thoughts as intellectually superior than thoughts of other philosophies.

With Allah is all success.

s.z.c.


[1] Q. 67:10.

[2] See Ibn al-Jawzi, Talbis Iblis, p.310.

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