| Narrow-mindedness is defined
as lacking tolerance or not having the mental faculty to see beyond the
superficial and recognize the underlying truth. Currently, this tendency appears
to be widespread in all segments of Muslim communities.
The primary reason for
this deplorable condition is ignorance, the inability to recognize this
deficiency and to take corrective action. This situation is further aggravated
if the ignorant person considers himself to be the epitome of wisdom, and if, he
is in a leadership or a highly visible position, he can cause unnecessary harm
to a family, a community or a an entire nation.
Absence of insight can
also result in narrow-mindedness by having a negative effect on one’s thought
processes. Insight is a rare virtue, and quite different from ignorance. A
person who lacks insight may possess some knowledge, but derives no benefit from
it due to a lack of analytical skills while someone with insight assesses his or
her knowledge of a situation and then selects and uses its relevant parts.
Through insight, they are able to see what others may not. Ibnul Qayyim, the
famous Islamic scholar and author, said: "One person may read a text and
learn one or two lessons from it, while another may learn one or two
A rigidly traditional
individual’s perceptivity, like that of a captive frog in a deep well, is able
to function only within narrow parameters. He does not realize that there are
boundless vistas of knowledge beyond the scope of the well; therefore, his
mental and intellectual evolution remains stunted. He is unable to take
advantage of the knowledge available beyond his limited horizon.
Blind imitation creates
another obstacle to one’s intellectual growth. The two world wars of the past
century are the perfect examples of this disability that can allow ruthless
political or religious leaders to manipulate the minds of people who are unable
to form their own objective view.
habitually look at things from one angle and accept them as actual facts without
thinking that there may be a different side to the issue, or that reality may
actually be quite different from appearance. In the following verse, Allah
points out that the appearance of the hypocrites may not be a true indication of
their reality: "And when you see them, you like their appearance, but when
they speak and you listen to them, they seem worthless" … and then He
goes on to give this warning: "They are the enemy, so be warned of them.
The curse of Allah be upon them, how they are perverted." [63:4]
Furthermore, some people
are impressed by quantity at the expense of quality. Referring to the battle of
Hunain, Allah says: "On the day of Hunain, your numbers impressed you but
did not benefit you." But, "If there be amongst you twenty who show
fortitude, they will defeat two hundred." This does not, of course, mean
that appearances are to be completely disregarded or that quantity is totally
irrelevant. These fundamentals should not be valued in isolation, but should be
understood through insight and common sense.
A failure to prioritize
or differentiate wrong from right often leads people to lose sight of the
broader picture. Often people will focus on the immediate and disregard the
potential disastrous effects of an action further down the road. Along with
ignorance, narrow-mindedness and, of course, a lack of insight, these gaps
usually prove detrimental to that individual’s future.
By: Ahmad as-Sowayyan