By Shofi Ahmed:
Books are written and films made with the perspective that it’s a machine-generated dream world we live in. Often demonstrated by a popular cultural meme red pill and blue pill. It’s a metaphor representing a choice between the red pill and blue pill.
The red pill represents an uncertain future— but it would free from the enslaving control of the machine-generated dream world and allowed to escape into the real world. However, living the “truth of reality” is harsher and more difficult. On the other hand, the blue pill represents a beautiful prison a life of luxurious security—it would lead back to the blissful ignorance, living in confined comfort without want or fear.
If we look closely we can find it as a reminder of “Age of Ignorance”. The Jahiliyyah period before the advent of Islam in 610 CE. Nonetheless, whether we can find the relevance in it or not a closer look will reveal that the populace of that period even turns out to be better. Let me explain.
A topic of a recent Jumma khutba given by Imam Shafi Patel at Holloway Masjid in north London was the speech of Jafar bin Abi Talib (may Allah SWT be pleased with him). That he gave at the court of the Abyssinian king. It was described as great. In it, he accepts and describes how awfully disgraced their Jahiliyyah generation was.
More or less we all are aware of it. Today we would like to view it in a different light. We would like to ask ourselves a question with the hope to get the answer, which is acceptable in critical thinking. More so it would be nowadays widely studied cognitive bias free.
The people of Jahiliyyah age needed no black swan event. They themselves were sunk in the darkness. Yet how come they, not others, happened to see the most handsome swan appears on their water. Not only a prophet but the leading light of the prophet flock touch down on their soil.
What have they done or had in common to have this extraordinary privilege? Answer it right and In Shaa Allah we will see how relevant it’s even in today’s highly celebrated modern era. Let’s try.
‘How long is a piece of string, we know it’s any one’s guess. But the question I have for you, you have the answer at your disposal.’ Once I said that to an office mate of mine who also works for Penguin, a leading secular publisher in the world.
“How big a crowd of intellectuals do you think we have across the spectrum of modern professions say at Oxford, Harvard, Penguin, BBC or CNN whom we can count as open minded without a second thought? Or rather the fact is we have become fixed minded sort. We tend to have our own interpretations over sublime matters whether its natural science, art or religion. So no matter how crystal clearly a Bible verse might say otherwise we could incline towards our own interpretations.” I went on saying:
“See the Bible been changed. That’s not open minded. It leads us to create our own ‘subjective social reality’ from our perception of the input. This can be a cognitive bias which is a systematic pattern of deviation from the norm or rationality in judgment.” She agrees breathing a sigh of discomfort. Well, I wasn’t happy either but the truth is it stands.
For the truth being open minded is crucial. Now let’s look back to the Ahle Jahiliyyah people and we will rediscover them as keeping their heads above the water. The truth is though they were sunk in darkness, brisk in wrongdoings but deep in the heart they had flickering flames.
When they realised, comprehended that Muhammad (PBUH) was true. They had the guts to accept the truth and the fact that they were wrong. That’s their extraordinary quality. They were truly open minded people unlike the modern-day fixed mindedness at the top level and sinking into blissful ignorance taking the blue pill.
People who were worst enemies of Islam instantly turned its best allies as if in Islam they found their lost treasures. That they accepted wholeheartedly. For example in the famous Battle of Badr Khalid BIn Walid (RA) was still in the wrong side. He fought fearlessly against the Sahabis, the companions (RA) causing loss of lives. But soon he realised Islam is true he reverts back and becomes a greatest general of Islam. No fixed mindness or self-ego could hold them back from accepting the truth, accepting Islam.
It’s a core virtue they had in common. Like then we need it today. Need it for people of every age and generation. Because Islam is true is for people of all ages and generations. Like truth is omnipresent it can be found everywhere regardless of time and space. If one is willing to accept it’s never far.