Assumptions in the traditional sense are simply an emotional based opinion or suspicion about a particular event or individual. Assumptions are just tidbits of information that often come from our imagination because of a thought or perceived experience. These informational tidbits convey very little about anything except how ignorant we actually are about the subject. This simply means that we formulate a response and a belief based on virtually nothing at all. We have no evidence to support what we think, we have no evidence to base any kind of intellectual response on and we generally have no reason to have any opinion at all. Even if we recognize the fact that we have little to no knowledge on a matter we still seem to have a strong and misguided opinion about it.
It is this approach to “Tidbit Education” that has pushed us further towards a world that promotes blatant ignorance, and general contempt for others and their views. Tidbit Education is the lazy mans system of study that future generations will suffer from far more than they will from any dictator or global pandemic. For example if we look to our legal system we have allowed assumptions to be reason enough to arrest and incarcerate thousands and hold them for decades without being able to provide any evidence to prove even the basis for the initial assumption.
Imagine accusing an individual of stealing then appearing in a court of law to testify. We are asked by the prosecution about the alleged criminal who on a particularly hot day was standing on a corner near an ice cream parlour. We explain to the court that we witnessed the accused enter the store and return moments later smiling while devouring a tasty looking chocolate ice cream that he did not even bother to share with anyone. Based on what we witness of the mans appearance and behaviour; combined with his general lack of generosity we can only assume he did not pay for the ice cream, and is in fact a criminal who should be convicted of theft.
What do we think will happen with such a testimony that lacks anything in the form of actual evidence? Do we think this is enough information to even accuse an individual of a crime let alone have a trial? For discussions sake let us imagine based on this single tidbit of information we arrested, convicted and punished the accused for the crime of theft. Would we accept this as a fair and just trial?
Imagine if we went a little further and decided to question other possible witness’s to the alleged crime, but we chose the witness’s in a selective way. What if our approach was to choose individuals that we knew had a negative bias towards the accused while limiting those who had a positive or even neutral view. What if we ignored the individuals who had the best possible view of events like the parlour employees and its patrons. Would we consider this to be a fair and objective approach to determining one guilty of a crime? In principle most would agree that such an approach is far from being built on justice, but when we look to reality it is clear that we prefer the tidbit approach to life over one based on actual effort to find truth.
The ice cream scenario may seem odd and over simplified, but what if we changed it up a bit. What if we decided to take a comparative study class on world religions and we approached it in a similar fashion. What kind of grade do we think we would get if we ignored the comparative study aspect to the class and only showed up when our chosen faith was being discussed? What if we decided to only read books written by individuals who had the same belief as us? What if the methodology to our reading assignments was to randomly open a book, read a single page and then moved on? Would we call this an honest comparison of world religions? Can we call ourselves experts or even be remotely qualified to even discuss the belief system of others after we took such an approach to study?
Most would agree that such an approach is ludicrous. A method of behaviour that accomplishes very little except to reinforce our personal bias, but are these examples really that far fetched? Time and again we are faced with tidbit experts who may present a beautiful case, but when their assertions are put to the test they tend to lack any real substance. If we examine further we quickly find that the educated individuals begin their study using numerous faulty approaches starting with: assumptions, false assertions, lack of honest effort, use of limited resources, subjective bias towards what material is acceptable, an individualized attitude toward various opinions, and of course a motivation that is based solely on the acquisition of bragging rights due to proving another view to be invalid.
Where is all this leading you might ask? Simply, we need to change. We need to change how we think, we need to change how we act and we definitely need to change how we learn. The longer we continue to look at the world in such a limited and individualized context the more complacent we become in our approach to gaining knowledge. Real knowledge is what we need to prevent us from suffering from the delusional side effects of feeling superior to the other members of the human race. We are not now nor have we ever been superior to any other individual, but we do have the ability to make superior choices.
[49:13] O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَىٰ وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا ۚ إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ
Don’t wait, make the intention to change now. Make the intention to be honest and humble in our approach to seeking knowledge. Make the intention to sincerely seek truth even if it goes against our current sensibilities and against our emotional attachments. Make the intention to remove our personal bias because truth is not subjective. Truth does not always fit our lives the way we like, but it is the best option for the best possible future. The truth is there, unfortunately because of how we seek knowledge very few of us will actually find it.
O’Allah guide us to all that is beneficial and help us to abstain from all that leads to harm. ameen!