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- Separating Wheat from Chaff – Independent Thinking in a World of Slogans - September 30, 2019
By Dr. Nasreen Ahsan – Educationist and social researcher
We live in a world where institutes and mass media try to influence us on a daily basis. In this ‘bombardment’ of ideas, we find ourselves baffled. Family members, religious leaders, media, politicians, social media, friends and advertisements aim to shape the ideologies we form about life and our role in it.
Ideas That Appeal
Some ideas appeal to us, probably because we find them convenient to implement. Dads changing babies, for instance, was an idea propagated by an advertising campaign, and which mother wasn’t impressed? The idea was attractive, because it served their interest and was inclined towards what they all secretly want.
Ideas We Reject
We outright reject some ideas. At times, it is because they sound terrible to us, or they are not particularly suited to our interest. Sometimes they go against our ideology or something that we have always accepted as a fact. Quite a lot of people are opposed to the idea of consulting a psychiatrist or counsellor, because mental illness is still not quite understood as a concept.
Beneficial vs. Destructive Ideas
How exactly is an idea or concept classified as beneficial? If we go by the above mentioned criteria – that an idea is good simply if it appeals to us or serves our interest – then a basic flaw arises here. Something that serves our interest will not necessarily serve another person’s as well. Something that we find good is not something that our neighbour, for instance, will agree with. The problem becomes even more prominent on social media: there is no guarantee that our followers and friends will find an idea correct or beneficial just because we do.
Imam Hasan al-Banna said: “Keep people away from false ideas by making them busy with true ideas.”
So back to the query: How do we decide that an idea or concept is absolutely flawless and perfectly applicable to everyone? Analyze it by keeping in mind the perspective of other people.
When you are presented with different ideologies, do you decide to adopt one simply because it appeals to you as a person?
What happens when an idea does not appeal to you or is against your opinions? What if you like the idea but your spouse or family members do not? Does it lead to family conflict or friction in your marital life?
Is there any universal criteria that we can use for analyzing ideologies or concepts we are faced with on media and social networks or via family and educational institutes? For Muslims, yes, there is one such criterion.
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