Reflections Seeking Knowledge

Is Ignorance Bliss?

By Maira Mukhtar

“No, stop! I don’t need to know,” interrupted a friend not wanting to discuss religion. “I’m not ready to practise just yet and Allah is too kind to punish anyone for things they are unaware of.” Her simplistic view made me wonder whether or not I was putting myself under unnecessary burden by digging deeper. I saw the temptation. I realized it would be wonderful not knowing the negative consequences of a seemingly innocent pleasure. One could indulge in its sinfulness without carrying the burden of any guilt. After all, you can’t be held responsible for something you didn’t know about in the first place. Fortunately however, my conscience shook me and forced common sense to take over. The universal idea of pleading innocence on the basis of lack of knowledge has been made infallible over centuries by the accursed Satan and further adorned by our own whims and fancies. We give ourselves up to the devil and allow him to steer us along a blinded path and consequently live a life we hardly have any control over. But, is this how we want to continue to live until ultimately death pushes us into the realm of the afterlife?

Since man began to live in clusters, there have been rules, spoken and unspoken, to make sure life proceeds smoothly. Man needs some kind of direction to give him a sense of purpose; this direction is outlined by laws and regulations of an area to ensure peace and stability. Imagine living in a country where the law is hardly implemented and corruption is widespread; a land where there is no sense of security; a state that lacks the basic infrastructure. Think of most of the developing world if you will. Why are the resourceful ones settling in the west? What compels people to move out of their homelands, leave their families and choose to live in places that are usually in contrast with their culture, religion and social values? You see, where there’s no consideration for the law, essentially, there is insecurity, fear, confusion and eventual chaos. People choose to settle in the developed world due to its stern adherence to the laws; this not only leads to a deep sense of safety but gives way to numerous opportunities, which finally culminate in peace, stability and contentment.

Ponder this; if one genuinely ignorant of traffic rules drove, in all innocence, on the wrong side of the road, would that exempt him from being fined? If a killer finds justification for his crime claiming purity of intention and goodness of the heart, would that deter the law from prosecuting him? The answer is fairly logical; declaring ignorance will do very little to save a person. Freedom comes only with abiding by the law. Why then do we suppose that in matters of religion, we are free to choose our own way?

When it comes to the hereafter, the outcome rests exclusively on our ability to keep to the fundamentals. Like everything else, religion is composed of a set of rules too; a guideline for all to follow if we want to achieve a state of true peace and tranquillity. There are only two possible ends to our existence; heaven or hell. One is a result of confusion, doubt, negligence and disregard of the divine principles; the other an outcome of knowledge, understanding, realization and complete obedience. Hence, we have to stop living in this shared delusion of ours and instead of choosing to remain ignorant, strive for knowledge and understanding. The more we learn and the more we struggle to follow the divine laws, the better will be our chances of attaining immortality in a state of indescribable ecstasy rather than chaotic wretchedness. I’d rather be aware and in control of my future than take the foolish risk of losing paradise—for there is not a soul that would ever knowingly trade absolute bliss with eternal damnation.

So, think again; is ignorance really bliss?

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  • Assalaamu’alaykum,

    Masha Allah. I agree with much of what you’re saying, and am equally adamant about bringing such faulty logic to an end. The point is not to avoid knowledge because you’re afraid of the realisations that may come, but to seek knowledge out to help prevent your mistakes. But the ignorance you still have, despite your genuine and uninhibited quest for knowledge must surely be forgivable? There are exceptions under the law in the case of minors and psychosis, and God is capable of being much more just than we.

    • Assalaam o alaikum!
      Even though, i might not be the best candidate to answer, but of what i do know is that Allah judges all our actions based on our intentions. (Innamal a’amaalu binniyaat) So if we truly set out in quest of knowledge, we need to know that there will never be a point in this life where our knowledge will ever be complete. For Complete Knowledge rests with Allah alone.

      For errs made while in the quest to come closer to Allah, in seeking Knowledge, Allah is Truly the Most Forgiving, The Most Kind. (Ghafoor Ur Raheem) And He Loves those who come to Him in repentance seeking His Forgiveness.

      So if we’ve set out the right way, with our hopes in Allah, let our hopes remain firm, that as long as we keep asking, He will Guide us to true Hidaaya in sha Allah. For He loves us 70 times more than our mothers. Mothers who can’t stand our sad faces, let alone our tears. AlhamduLillah

      Please forgive me for any mistakes made,
      Wassalaam ma-al Ikraam,

      • JazakAllah for your thoughtful comments. You are absolutely right… Indeed Allah is the most merciful and repeatedly forgiving. If one errs while trying (and everyone makes mistakes for no one is perfect) Allah will surely forgive any shortcomings. Allah judges intentions and takes into account all efforts. However, my focus is just on so many of our brothers and sisters who knowingly deprive themselves of knowledge just because they are afraid of submitting. For such ignorance, there will be no justification… and Allah knows best!

        • AlhamduLillah, May Allah guide us all to the true path, and grant us allll with hidaaya and the talab (the want) for His Deen (Islam)…

          Everyone of us is in need of duaaz.

          And truly. Allah Knows Best!

  • In the first reply to the above article Mai says wisely in my opinion that the ignorance we have despite our genuine & uninhibited quest for knowledge must surely be forgiveable.Isn’t this really a summation of the human condition?One could continue by asking what then do we do with our errors of discipline or theology even.We are taught to pray and follow Allah’s(swt) guidelines.But one comes accross obstacles both of knowledge and of practise.I am asked to do lots of work for others.Invariably I try to do it in respect of the teachings on paying the poor law ie. the idea of giving out of what bounty one realises Allah has given even to oneself.But doesn’t it come at a price when one sees as one does here in England the whole glass of a bus stop smashed by wilful damage or say the environs of a fishing pond where migratory geese make their sojourn all its banks and waters a deposit for so much lazily left rubbish from the consumer society?.I find myself quoting my translation of the Qur’an which says ‘…most of them are ingrates’As much as one would wish a kindness to be passed on how can one make one’s own discipline a priority when faced with the damage & disbelief around one?Inshallah, can it be done?.

    • Ofcourse it can in sha Allah, for struggling against the fitnah of this world is mujaahida, (Struggle against one self)

      the more we face dissappointment from the world around us, the more we learn to rel only on Allah (to do tawakkal). Tawakkal was the strength that caused Musa ‘alaihissalaam to not panic, and turn ONLY to Allah, when at the edge of the river, and the Pharoah’s army behind him. that’s Tawakkal in Allah, and Allah only strengthened it by parting a way in the river. A miracle. And that is how it works. The more we learn to believe that Allah is the Sole Entity on whom we rely on, the more firm Allah makes our belief in Him.

      In ahadith,the people who do tawakkal have been described as birds, who set out in the morning, with an empty stomach in search of food, relying on Allah to provide for them, and come back satisfied.

      This is where we understand that as long as we’re doing whatever we can to better the situation we’re in, Allah will see to the results. If it’s meant to be for the better, it will happen according to our plans. If not, then Allah will surely give us something better. In either case, we are rewarded for our struggle and effort. Alhamdulillah ‘ala kulli ‘haal.

      Please forgive me for anything wrong i might have said, for that was from me,
      May Allah help us all in our struggle towards Him,

      Wassalaam ma-al ikraam

      • These are inspiring notes that Hope has added here. I may not be so well versed in hadith and scholarly aspects of Islam, but I have read that at the time of the Prophet Muhammed,(peace be unto him,) even the then arabic speakers there who welcomed the original recitations were seen thus as converts.So there’s no shame sometimes in ignorance of terms even subtleties of meaninggiven that one
        may have proceeded in the morning with a work effort like a bird seeking food, and trying to
        follow the precepts set out in the Qur’an. Hope’s reply is like a signpost to me,and as such much appreciated. can work on much encouraged.Brian Cokayne,Btockport, England

        • JazakAllahu Khair Brian for instigating such a thoughtful and mind provoking dialogue. Hope has indeed added much for our understanding.
          Allah’s kindness is beyond our comprehension. Allah promises us that His help is always near but the responsibility of taking that first crucial step is ours. Allah no doubt takes into account our intentions. It is thus out of Allah’s infinite mercy that He may forgive our sins, big and small, done knowingly or unknowingly… as long as our intention is pure for Him and our efforts (according to our own capacities) are sincere… and Allah’s knows best… May He accept from all of us, Ameen!

        • AlhamduLillah, May Allah guide us all to the true path, and grant us allll with hidaaya and the talab (the want) for His Deen (Islam)…

          Everyone of us is in need of duaaz.

          And truly. Allah Knows Best!

      • With extreme apologies, there’s a correction that’s needed:
        Mujaahida is to struggle
        one of the forms of mujaahida, then is to struggle against one’s self.

        Wassalaam ma’al ikraam,

  • Sad that followers of a prophet to whom the first verses reveled from ALLAH was to ‘Read’ now considers that their ignorance will save them in the hereafter.. According to them, it should be a great harm prophet did to this Ummah that he made them knowledgeable and asked them to gain it in all ways possible!

  • Asa….absolutely true maira… I myself firmly believe in reading n knowing more about Quran. It simply makes ur life more beautiful n gives u the peace of mind….we shud always struggle to better ourselves n I strongly believe Allah swt will look at our efforts n our intentions….in sha Allah

  • Loved the article! A must forward to all my friends n family. JazakAllahu khair for sharing it with us. Please keep ’em coming. Will look forward to reading more from you inn sha Allah!!

  • A great and well written article. Many of us fall into this trap, but we really do have to come to our senses and acknowledge the fact that we are not going to be here forever, and that it is in the best of our interests to seek the truth and not be ignorant about it. Anyways, I really enjoyed your article. Keep up the good work and thank you for sharing.

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