How to Save Onese lf from Fixed Ideas
Before someone can discuss or even reject an idea, it is necessary to understand it; otherwise a person cannot reasonably reject it.
We find this is frequently the situation for those who turn away from the Qur'an: though they have not studied it, they assume they know what it contains, based on their own prejudices, conjectures, or "received wisdom" from their societies. Discarding the Qur'an without having the slightest knowledge of it is a clear indication that these people are insincere.
In fact dismissing ideas without first studying them is a common practice amongst people. Many people, though they cannot understand the ideas of those who differ from them, do not want to read their books because of their own fixed ideas. Communists read only books that support their own ideas, fascists read books with fascist ideas, atheists read the works of other atheists, and so on.
However, for a person who is not willing to study a subject, and basing their discussion only on their own presumptions, it is difficult to explain the correct and incorrect aspects of their thinking.
But for those who want correct and accurate information, it is important to be informed on every subject, otherwise it is easy to be influenced and misled. A knowledgeable, cultured person, who thinks independently and has a wide horizon, is capable of deeper and more detailed analysis and his ideas are based, not on rote learning, but on concrete evidence. Thus most of the time it is easier for such people to indicate what is right and explain what is wrong.
For people with faith, being knowledgeable in a wide spectrum of topics is important for a different reason. A faithful person who has a deep knowledge of the Qur'an and is at the same time cultured and possesses a wide range of knowledge has a clear point of view and is more accurate in decision-making than those around him. For example, a believer who knows the dangers of atheist ideologies, their logic and the systems which they promote can appreciate the superiority of the morality laid down by the Qur'an in much greater depth. A person with a deep knowledge of such ideologies as fascism or anarchism which are opposed to the Qur'an, discovers how the Qur'an discredits these ideologies, and realizes the harm they do to humanity, and in this way can explain that harm and the failings of these ideologies to others.
From this point of view, during a period when people are competing in their resistance to the faith, what is required of every Muslim is to be informed about ideas, to develop himself for a scholarly struggle against ideas that oppose the Qur'an, and to widen his general cultural knowledge and understanding of the world. To remain silent in the face of opponents through lack of knowledge, to be incapable of thinking, and to be unable to produce accurate responses to challenges from the other side is inappropriate for a Muslim. What is required is, on the one hand, to live wholeheartedly and with great desire, determination and faith, the truths contained in the Qur'an, and on the other, to comprehend the harm, evil and corrupt aspects of ideas opposed to the Qur'an. Muslims will be unable to counter those who oppose religion if they cannot engage skilfully with their ideas.
In addition, recognising the idolatrous religions, of which Allah speaks in a number of verses of the Qur'an, is important to realise the extent to which true religions have suffered degeneration through perversions. In this way it is possible to see how those pagan religions that existed in the past have also emerged in our time. In fact when the Qur'an speaks of other religions, Magians, polytheists and societies which worshipped al-Lat, al-'Uzza and Manat, it is drawing the attention of the faithful to the need to be informed on these matters. Hence a Muslim needs to know about other faiths and ideologies, to read their books and to be informed about each one of them.
In fact the Qur'an indicates a wide array of subjects on which a Muslim needs to be informed, such as biology, astronomy, botany, geography, history, chemistry, psychology and the arts. There are verses that show that a knowledgeable person with faith will learn about Allah's flawless creation in all its details and, by carefully examining the wonders he sees, may come to possess an even deeper faith in Allah, the One Who created everything. Moreover staying up to date with developments in these branches of science will help a person understand more deeply the wonders of the Qur'an. The verse "… only those of His servants with knowledge have fear of Allah..." (Surah Fatir: 28) draws attention to the importance of being knowledgeable and informed.
An Important Duty of Muslims
A significant proportion of people say that they believe in Allah and the Qur'an. However, many of them have likely never read the Qur'an, and have not put into practice the morality, worship and instructions which it contains. Passing one's entire life in ignorance of the Qur'an, paying lip service to the faith and not living out in the full sense the life the Qur'an prescribes is behaviour that Allah dislikes. Allah warns of this in Surat al-'Ankabut:
Do people imagine that they will be left to say, "We believe," and will not be tested? We tested those before them so that Allah would know the truthful and would know the liars. (Surat al-Ankabut: 2-3)
Thus it is essential for all those who say they believe in Allah and the Qur'an to read the Qur'an, to think deeply about its verses and, to put its teaching into practice. On the Day of Judgment people will be asked about the Qur'an and called to give an accounting of everything they have done.
As we have already mentioned, many people resist the Qur'an without reading or studying it at all because of the fixed ideas which they hold. But if they ever read it once and thought carefully about it, they would be unable to escape the truths contained in the Qur'an and would be forced to abandon their lack of faith. Instead of reading and arriving at this conclusion, they condition themselves in advance by saying, "Even if I read it, I will not be able to give up my own ideas and prejudices" and so they reject a sincere approach out of hand.
As we have examined in detail on previous pages, the situation is that a large majority of people are influenced by those around them into staying away from the Qur'an and rejecting its teaching. Some feel distanced from the religion due to a long lasting and negative influence from somebody with no knowledge of proper morality and who has applied it incorrectly, and for long years they cannot be rescued from this negative influence. Others take as their yardstick what they have heard from an atheist or an unbelieving enemy of religion and allow themselves to be governed by these ideas throughout their lives. The greatest mistake of such people lies in making decisions about religion on the basis of what they have heard and read from the wrong sources.
The true religion is the religion Allah handed down in the Qur'an, so it is necessary for anybody who wants to learn about religious morality—whether believing in it or not—to go first to the Qur'an, read it sincerely, without prejudice and think deeply about its verses.
Running away from the Qur'an unconsciously and without knowledge simply because of the above false perceptions and information is a great loss for everybody who does this and, unless Allah wills it, this loss will not be rectified on the Day of Judgment. Because of this everybody with intelligence and a conscience needs to read the Book, which Allah chose for Himself and sent down through His Prophet, while there is still time. Allah says that by means of it He will guide people to the ways of peace:
… A Light has come to you from Allah and a Clear Book. By it, Allah guides those who follow what pleases Him to the ways of peace. He will bring them from the darkness to the light by His permission, and guide them to a straight path. (Surat al-Ma'ida: 15-16)
In Surat at-Takwir, Allah warns people not to avoid the Qur'an:
Nor is it the word of an accursed Satan. So where, then, are you going? It is nothing but a Reminder to all the worlds, to whoever among you wishes to go straight. (Surat at-Takwir: 25-28)
Because of this the greatest obligation on the shoulders of the faithful is to make serious efforts to prevent others from shunning Allah's verses. So, first Muslims should explain the boundless blessings of the Qur'an and the signs of Allah's creation in the universe through scientific studies and to demonstrate the beauties of Qur'anic morality. Of course, a large percentage of people may not want to listen to these truths or read them so Muslims are required to try every possible method to reach those who do not want to read or listen.