Friday, September 18, 2009

Prophetic guidance in conveying knowledge

Nowadays we find people with beneficial knowledge everywhere. Among these people, some share what they know and many don’t. The ones who share also have different motives. Some are sincere and some are not. Furthermore, some people of knowledge think that they are so smart that they become overly confident in themselves and become arrogant, while the truth is, everything that we have is a blessing from The Almighty.

Anyway, one of the reasons for holding back beneficial knowledge is greed and selfishness. One example is in the scientific community, where people do their best to keep their results (although useful for others) for themselves until they can write a publication or until a company buys their research to be patented, which is a manifestation of greed and selfishness. It's how things work in our corrupt society, and it's difficult to get rid of it.

Some people don’t share beneficial knowledge due to being afraid of opposition, being debated or being humiliated. Most of the people that I know (including myself most of the times) get annoyed or angry when people oppose the thoughts they have, and usually build a psychological barrier to block the opposing person.

The highest peak of knowledge is the knowledge to know God, our Creator. Through this knowledge, one will know who he truly is, where he comes from and where he will be heading. But in our civilization, this kind of knowledge is one that is evaded by most people, and when it is talked about, people end up emotional and arrogant. It’s not the first time this condition has happened. It has happened every time since the beginning of humanity. And to teach and remind us, God sent prophets and messengers for us. For the prophets and messengers, this is definitely a daunting task, and from their struggle we can learn a lot about the best ways to convey knowledge.

One amazing example can be found in story of Prophet Nuh (Noah), peace be upon Him (Surat Nuh; 71). He was sent after corruption entered into the first generations of humanity (the sons of Adam). When conveying knowledge to his people, he did it out of love, kindness and sincerity, only because he did not want his people to go astray. So the words that came out were also full of compassion and kindness. Although the response of the people was negative, he didn’t give up. Rather, he asked forgiveness for the people and persisted in conveying his knowledge.

The beloved prophet relentlessly continued his task night and day, openly and secretly, to no avail. The people grew even more arrogant and rebellious. According to Islamic tradition, this went on for 950 years. Eventually Nuh a.s. realized that the people cannot be changed, and made a supplication that would eventually end his overwhelming task.

Nuh a.s. has set the bar for all of us when conveying beneficial knowledge to others. The first one is sincerity. The Prophet didn’t ask anything for the knowledge that he conveyed. All he wanted was God's recognition and for the people to be safe and truly successful. The second one is patience. Rather than getting angry and upset with the people who didn’t agree with him, he made supplication on their behalf and continued his efforts. The third one is persistence. He continued conveying the knowledge for 950 years. So when we give up after one or two debate sessions, think about the amount of trials that Nuh a.s. had to face.

Nevertheless, before conveying beneficial knowledge, one must first obtain it. Through knowledge, people can be more beneficial for other people. That is why the action of gaining knowledge has always been honored and the people who have knowledge are considered to have a higher status in all societies. However, for knowledge to be truly beneficial, one must be able to sincerely and willingly share their knowledge to others, and convey it with kindness, patience and persistence like what Nuh a.s. did.