"High School" Psychology in Ignorantism
Ignorantism defines not just people's day-to-day behavior, but their entire lives and perspectives; who they select as friends, how to discriminate between people, what a person's rights and wrongs should be. High school years are one of the most critical periods in a person's life, when the foundations of the Religion of the Ignorant are laid. Concepts envisaged by Ignorantism, along with mindsets, forms of behavior, reactions and ethical understanding are all shaped at this time.
One of the most obvious features of the Religion of the Ignorant, which is the thirst for rank and status, first emerges in a powerful form during the high school period. This thirst is emphasized in the Qur'an in these words:
… [the life of this world is] a cause of boasting among yourselves… (Surat al-Hadid, 20)
In the high school years, a climate of competition emerges among students. Those who learn to be competitive with regard to grades and taking notes will also begin practicing this in other matters they will encounter in later life. Trampling on one another in subjects in which they are rivals is regarded as completely normal, and when it comes to areas where people share joint interests, looking out for one another is equally unexceptional. Outside school, a spirit of unity against the prevailing environment forms, although between classes or different groups in the same class, there is unrestrained competition.
The custom of Ignorantism, whereby people are classified according to beneficial interests, is shaped during high school years. Groups in high schools are bound together by mutual interests. These groups are generally formed by youngsters from families of similar income levels, students from similar socio-economic circles, diligent students or lazy students. The class as a whole unites only in the face of other classes or against the teachers.
Attitudes welcomed in the Religion of the Ignorant are moral defects such as opportunism and arrogance, rather than virtues indicated in the Qur'an, such as modesty, honesty and submission to Allah. This distorted logic first develops in high school, where students will be popular because of their wealth, attractiveness or "attitude." The way they walk, dress, speak and move become the fashion and are imitated by others. High schools always have their own styles of walking, laughing and dressing. The classic style is a blasé air, an insolent facial expression caring nothing for what is around it, a bag on one shoulder, and a rolling, ponderous, indifferent gait. Laughing loudly and swearing are thought to be signs of character and are widely esteemed. The subjects that groups of friends discuss are generally the same. Girls talk about people they like, clothes and make-up; and boys discuss girls, clothes, football, teachers and lessons.
Judging people not according to their character and moral values but by their material wealth is a deviant sickness of Ignorantism. At high school, it is most important to appear to be wealthy, and intense efforts are made to that end.
Someone wearing ordinary clothes will generally find it hard to approach a group wearing designer labels. It is essential to be beautiful or wealthy to join. An ugly student will be unable to join a group whose members are handsome or beautiful. The caprices of the rich and beautiful are generally tolerated, and a blind eye turned to their spoiled behavior, because they are the source of the group's prestige and pride. Even taking the school bus is regarded as a sign of wealth up to a certain age. As many additions as possible are made to the school uniform to give the impression of being well-off. Girls try to wear high-quality, expensive hair clips. Both boys and girls have a strong interest in brand labels. Designer sweaters and socks all stem from an effort to give the impression of wealth. That's why the best way for a family to please their high school children is to buy them designer outfits. The less well-off compete by means of a few brand-name clothes they've saved up for, because the most important criterion is money and the signs thereof. Money is the way to be esteemed and popular with those around.
Even as examples of poor moral values begin to seem attractive, so good values begin to be denigrated. Attitudes like modesty and honesty begin to seem unattractive. Being hard-working is only esteemed in internal school relations. Taking notes, or studying together forges friendships between certain hard-working but asocial types. In choosing one's friends, it is important to select the most entertaining. Ethics are not considered a prime consideration. It's entertainment value and making jokes that matter. As a result, friendships are always temporary and are not based on sound foundations. As their true characters begin to form, students split away from one another, since as people grow older, more powerful interests than making others laugh and entertaining them come to the fore.
Everyone will have a best friend, to whom they will confide what happens with their boy or girlfriend, and with whom they will share all their secrets. Their sincerity will be in direct proportion to the level of information imparted on that subject. They will confide their thoughts about everyone to that person alone, and will expect them to do the same in return. This is a friendship of confidences. The fact they know things about each other that nobody else does represents a special source of pleasure for the pair concerned. In order to give the impression they know certain things to make others jealous, such sincere friends whisper to one another in group situations, and look one another in the eye and smile.
It never enters a student's head whether their friend has proper moral values, is a believer, has faith, or is honest. Important matters of that kind are not generally grasped during the high school period. Devout people are laughed at ignorantly, so nobody easily speaks of their beliefs.
Relations between the genders are based upon exploiting one another. Boys tickle or slap girls playfully on the pretext of being intimate. They're keen for their friends to see them together with the girl who can earn them the most prestige. As for girls, going out with the most handsome boy in the class is also a source of pride. Partners are also exchanged in groups of boys and girls. When they tire of one, they start going out with a friend's ex boy- or girlfriend, and tend to criticize whoever they have just split up with.
Everyone must go out over the weekends in order to have something to talk about on Monday morning. If they've not actually been anywhere, they will start to make up fantasies in order not to feel at a disadvantage, and will relate these stories as if they were real. Girls and boys take pleasure in making double entendres or being sharp-tongued, beginning as a form of defense mechanism against other people but eventually becoming a normal style. Since a group psychology generally dominates in schools, those with a very placid and easygoing nature entering school suddenly adapt to the group psychology and begin doing and saying things they never would normally. Wrong and ugly behavior is welcomed within the group. When with the group, students risk doing things they would never do alone. They oppose their teachers and wolf-whistle at girls, trying to maintain their position in the group.
Seeking others' approval, one of the most significant characteristics of the Religion of the Ignorant, is mainly absorbed during the high school years. Seeking to prove oneself is a widespread phenomenon. Students constantly seek approval from teachers, friends and relatives. Since these all must be pleased differently, they adopt a number of different personalities, which leads to a rather distorted character emerging. During this time, the feature of Ignorantism of changing personality is acquired. The structure expected by the group matters in the formation of a person's character, not his own will. Since different requests come from all kinds of people, an unstable morality develops. This is very definitely the exact opposite of the moral values of a believer, who serves Allah alone, seeks His approval only, tries to please only Him, and therefore possesses a very sound and stable character. This difference between believers and deniers is described thus in the Qur'an:
Allah has made a metaphor for them of a man owned by several partners in dispute with one another and another man wholly owned by a single man. Are they the same? Praise be to Allah! The fact is that most of them do not know. (Surat az-Zumar, 29)
The different classifications among students in various forms in the Religion of the Ignorant may be summarized under the following names:
The rebellious type: Their most distinguishing characteristic is their being indifferent to everything and standing up for themselves. They are derogative in every word, incident and environment. They oppose their teachers, mock everyone, have an inordinate amount of self-confidence and constantly make jokes. They are actually sensitive and generally insecure, but seek to cover that up with untoward and difficult behavior. They never reveal their emotionality, speak coarsely and want to be seen as cold types. Since they have to behave in the manner expected of them, they never let their fear or sadness appear on the surface. These people are invariably invited to parties and social occasions, because they entertain others and make them laugh.
The angst-ridden type: These are pessimistic, always troubled and unable to adapt to any environment. They constantly complain about everything. Nothing pleases them, and they find something wrong with everyone. Introverted, they never reveal their true thoughts, and generally have no friends. Since there is nothing entertaining about them, they are not very popular.
The spoiled type: Generally comes from wealthy backgrounds. They always stress their wealth at every available opportunity. In conflict situations, they always involve their families as a way of overcoming the problem. This type tends to seek its own personality in its family's wealth.
The swotty type: Regards themselves as inferior to their peers because of various physical imperfections. In order to compensate, they emphasize their knowledge and concentrate on their studies. They seek to attract attention by establishing an expertise in specific subjects, such as electronics, computers or collecting. They take every available opportunity to bring these subjects up to demonstrate their knowledge.
Any high school consists of a number of types, a few of which we have listed here. When the value judgments of Ignorantism form in students' minds, the main ones are factors such as being entertaining, wealthy or showy. Young people learn to judge others not in terms of moral values like honesty, sincerity, altruism—or, most important of all, faith—but in terms of what benefits might accrue to themselves. As they grow older, their high-school interests such as being entertaining or showing off give way to more powerful ones.
In people who become accustomed to blind belief in rules whose reasons they are unaware of, the mechanisms of reason and conscience are relegated to the background and abandoned to atrophy, at just the most productive period for their development.