Knowledge and Books alone are the true DNA of the traditional Muslim identity. Its renewal, too, can only be based on the revival of the Written Word— contends Mujeeb Jaihoon as he calls on Islamists to end pussyfooting with clumsy political and existentialist conspiracies.
Reading Room in the Muslim Homes
Art and art festivals are a consolation for the disheartened souls. Art is an act of charity: it radiates joy for its audience. Art is a form of prayer: it rejuvenates the broken-hearted. Art has many forms. Yet, the greatest form of art is reading. Reading, being the first command of Quran, is the foundation of all arts.
Every modest home today commands a kitchen to fulfill hunger and Prayer rooms for offering ritual worship. Living rooms for entertaining guests and bedrooms for enjoying sleep. Yet, one wonders, how many modern Muslim homes have a Reading Room to honor the primordial command of Quran?
Wealth & Books
World’s greatest billionaires spend much time reading non-mammonistic material in order to cultivate their knowledge about the world around them. Fostering knowledge of humanities is essential for the overall development of the individual. Economy, after all, prospers on the profitable manipulation of the consumer’s emotional variables. Developing and distributing a merchandise requires in-depth knowledge of the buyer’s minds, including his spiritual quotient.
The Holy Prophet did not leave behind a painting, musical composition nor theatrical play for his Community to thrive during later less-holy times. The Holy Quran is a Book, one that is best used for Reading. After all, all the world’s major religions prospered based on a Scripture text.
Crisis of Reading in Islamic World
Islamic Civilization had previously contributed countless literature to the world of knowledge. Presently, however, the lack of reading is a major crisis of the Muslim world, especially the Middle East. Reading, however, is essential to create a pluralistic community with right-thinking cool-headed minds— a culture that is much needed in our extremist times.
Speeches and songs fade with the conclusion of the ambient occasion. Social media ‘statuses’ too. The Written Word and its reading habit transcend the torrents of time. The amnesiac minds included. Passionate religious activists should therefore exert as much energy for reading as they do for event organizing.
Written Word: DNA of Traditional Muslim identity
The Islamic Civilization was not accidentally founded on Event Management. Nor is the Muslim Ummah an Event Management company. Showbiz and Skyscrapers cannot afford to square this existentialist circle. Knowledge and Books alone are the true DNA of the traditional Muslim identity. Its renewal, be it spiritual or economic, can only be based on the revival of the Written Word.
Mosques and Libraries Deserve Equal Patronage
Mosques should be complemented with Libraries as well. Arguably, both should be patronized, read as funded, with equal devotion and dedication. Islamists need to squarely face this reality and end pussyfooting with clumsy political and world domination conspiracies.
Sayyid Muhammad Ali Shihab Thangal (1936-2009), the late beloved statesman of Muslim Kerala and an ardent booklover who traced his lineage to Hadramaut in Yemen, was once asked about his greatest loss as he was forcibly pushed to enter public life. ‘My freedom and time for reading books and travel’, he replied.
The modern Muslim need to maintain a similar affection for the world of books and reading. For, change is unthinkable without books, the divine repository of knowledge.
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Mujeeb Jaihoon is a UAE-based Indian writer whose passion extends beyond the realms of the ordinary. As prolific traveler, Jaihoon has extensively traveled to cradles of ancient civilizations in various parts of the world. He also serves as director at several educational institutions, besides playing an advisory role in community development projects. He is also a regular speaker on issues pertaining to education and women empowerment, while remaining a vocal critic of wars and injustice. His published books include Slogans of the Sage (2017), an illustrated coffee table book of aphorisms, which has been warmly received by several world leaders including Manmohan Singh, former Indian PM, Sheikh Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak, UAE’s Minister of Tolerance, Rahul Gandhi, as well as other interfaith advocates around the globe including Lee Wesissman, the Twitter-famed Jewish activist. In 2017, a college magazine in Kerala listed Jaihoon among the ‘Golden Fighters’ along with Prakash Yashwant Ambedkar, Medha Patkar and Nick Ut, the Vietnamese American photographer for the Associated Press. He was also featured in Young Indian Visionaries, a thoughtfully researched compilation that profiled the vision and success of 70 young Indian visionaries in the UAE.
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