When Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) conveyed the message from his Lord as revealed to him in the Qur’an, people recognized it (and still do) as life-changing . It made them question every aspect of their life. Exhaustively! It was an invitation to think critically about beliefs adhered to, traditions blindly followed, and cultures accepted wholeheartedly without questioning. Oftentimes Muslims are accused of over thinking–and it’s hard not to as a Muslim– for the words “mind” and “light” are mentioned over 40 times in the Qur’an. Every verse is an invitation to think ! But again, the Creator of the brain and its ability to think teaches us that even in thought we ought to be balanced. “Not thinking” can lead to misguidance, and “over-thinking” similarly leads to misguidance. We have to strike that balance–and that is wisdom indeed.
“‘No! They say: We found our forefathers on a course, and surely we are guided by their footsteps./ And thus in no way did We send even before you any warner into a town, except that its population living in ease and luxury said, ‘Surely we found our fathers upon a course and surely we are emulating (them) , we are upon their tracks./ The warner said: ‘What! even if I bring to you a better guide than that on which you found your fathers? They said: Surely we are unbelievers in that with which you are sent.'” ~ Qur’an Surat Al Zukhruf 22-24.
I thought of this after reading and teaching Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” to my students. It kept me up all night (if you haven’t read it you should–I’ll attach it to this post). It appeared in the New Yorker in the early 1948, and needless to say it caused quite a stir at the time of its publication. People were so offended by that shorty story that they canceled their subscriptions to the magazine. It also reminded me of the Allegory of the Cave” in Plato’s “Republic”. Below is a nice animated version of the Allegory of the Cave. A little literature helped me understand ayahs in the Qur’an. I love literature!