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Effective Reading In Terms Of Islamic Movement – Interview With The Vice President of Jamat

Syed Sadatullah Husaini, Vice President of Jamat-e-Islami was interviewed in a program organised by Girls Islamic Organisation, Telangana & Odisha. This interview was conducted in Urdu titled 'Mutalea Ki Ahmiyat' which can be translated as 'The Importance of Effective Reading'.

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#1: What is the meaning and importance of Mutalea?

Mutalea comes from the root word – Ta, Laam, Ain; which means ‘to emerge’. Hence, Mutalea is something that never had its existence and emerged due to the interaction of two participants. Here, knowledge becomes the subject of emergence when you interact with a book. Mere reading does not result in the emergence of knowledge. Your lively interaction with the book is what you call Mutalea. When you become an active participant and interact with a book, knowledge is produced. (In English, we may translate Mutalea to effective reading).

Let us now talk about the importance of Mutalea or effective reading. Mutalea connects us with the human history. It is often said that the one who never reads lives a single life, but the one who reads lives a thousand lives. One who never reads limits his experiences only to his life. On the contrary, one who reads connects himself to human history and hence, attaches himself to abundant human experiences which are no more limited only to his life.

#2: For one’s intellectual development, at what age do we begin Mutalea?

The sooner, the better. The habit of effective reading should be taught to one from a very young age. Since habits strengthen with age, it is advisable to begin effective reading as early as possible.

According to a study, an individual gains 70-80% of his knowledge within 25 years. After this age, he learns less from explorations and more form experiences. Hence, while on one hand, effective reading must begin since childhood; on the other hand, a student must dedicate most of his time on strengthening his skills and developing himself in the educational and intellectual field through Mutalea.

#3: Can any Islamic Movement progress without Mutalea?

Undoubtedly, there had been various Islamic Movements that have progressed without Mutalea. If we understand this on an individual level rather than Islamic Movement, our Islamic Movement itself has produced great personalities who have helped in the progress of Tahreek E Islami without any core Mutalea. These individuals developed themselves intellectually through the fieldwork they performed and through their acquaintance with influential members who would practice Mutalea.

An individual may help in the progress of a Movement by acquainting himself and being influenced by certainly personalities. However, this is not how the personality of every individual is designed. Each personality has some set scopes and limitations to his ocean of knowledge. For example, you may get your cup of knowledge through an Aalim who is well equipped in his field of study. Yet, he might never be able to produce the knowledge a library can. A library hasn’t got limitations or scopes. It isn’t defined to one field of study. It can equip you with knowledge of various subjects which can help you understand your field of study even better; through the factors of relativity and connectivity. Hence, there couldn’t be a better alternate for an individual to visit a library and read a book!

Now, this is the case of the individual level. Let us imply this similar aspect to the programs of an Islamic Movement. Islamic Movement is a visionary and ideological movement which aims to bring forward it’s ideology on a global level – in front of the world. As being responsible members of this Tahreek. It’s very important for one to know about the only efficient technique to turn this goal into a reality. This technique is: to conquer ‘the minds of an individual with your ideology first; consequently, the conquering of his mind will result in actions that are in accordance with this ideology.

The terms ‘conquer’ and ‘defeat’ are mostly used to describe a war. A war is the state of armed or equipped conflict between two parties. Any discussion between two people is actually a ‘mind-war’. To conquer such a war, you’ll need equipment that your mind supports – and that equipment is knowledge – and the most effective way to gain knowledge is Mutalea. Thus, when one reads effectively, his mind is equipped with knowledge, as a result of which he can conquer this mind-war and defeat the other party’s ideology.

Another important technique to win is: to equip your mind with the knowledge of the opponent’s ideology. In simple terms we can say, the Ilm of Jahilliyah is equally important. The knowledge of the society dynamics and the knowledge of one’s own ideology together can help and individual to conquer any individual and influence him with your doctrines.

Hence, the fundamental objective of the members of Islamic Movement has everything to do with the mind. This, Mutalea becomes the defining factor of alive and dead.

#4:What can be the factors of the shifts in reading trends and interests of today’s generation?

The advancement of knowledge can never become a problem for Mutalea. Mutalea can be from anywhere. It shouldn’t be limited to paper.

I would totally disagree with the point that they’re is a shift in there reading trends and interests of today’s generation. On the contrary, observe that today’s students read more and study even harder than those back in history. The International Book Fair that had been conducted in Delhi had 70-80% participants which were students.

In today’s times, books and editions are being published more than ever. Yet, in Islamic Movement in particular and in Muslims in general, there can even observed quite a negative shift when it comes to reading trends and reading interests. However, this is our problem, not the society’s.

#5: Considering the cognitive aspect, do paperbacks and e-books have any difference?

As such, there isn’t any difference. However, if we consider e-books and internet, then these two are definitely different things. E-books are available  in electronic format. But internet has wider perspective. They consist of various platforms including Facebook, Twitter and what not. If our reading is confined to non-serious reading (usually found on these internet platforms) results in a negative shift gradually.

For example, if newspaper is said to be a writing in haste, so it should also be a reading in haste. If we put excess time on content which is not written intellectually, then this affects our overall development in a negative way. And if we consider newspaper a writing in haste, then content on social media and internet platforms is even more of a haste. Consequently, they’d affect our overall development in an even more negative way. However, if we study serious issues on Kindle and other e-books, then that doesn’t affect our overall development in a negative way. Reading in electronic formats do have advantages if they are read as seriously as we read paperback text.

Talking about audiovisual formats of Mutalea, they have disadvantages more than advantages. Here, the real data is shortened. In more amount of time, less knowledge is produced. But in other formats of Mutalea, more knowledge is produced in more time. When you study through an audiovisual format, you should be well read to understand what needs to be picked up and what needs to be omitted.

#6: How do we develop our interest in Mutalea in the members of Islamic Movement?

Beginning with audio books – audio books are actually a bad option to gain knowledge since they farther us from books. Audio books are like a no-option-left-solution. It is for the old, busy or weak. Hence, they shouldn’t be encouraged as they weaken the reading habit. Books – paperbacks, hardcovers and e-books are the best, tried and tested way to gain and attain knowledge.

Interest in Mutalea needs to be developed from a very young age. The environment and ambience should be one which promotes reading and knowledge. This environment should also motivate others to read. Every activity that we do should be a medium of our own preparation. For example, study circle are also a very good way to promote reading. Also, every individual activity that we do should be study and research-based. When we are eager to learn something new everyday, this spirit will lighten and enlighten us.

#7: What kind of content should be read?

Before moving on to this question, let’s understand why one should read. Basically, we have three important roles. Firstly, as a human being, to lead a respectable life in the society, a minimum level of knowledge is required. Let’s deem this as a compulsory amount of knowledge one needs to acquire to lead a life of human dignity in the society. Secondly, as an Islamic worker (or a member of Islamic Movement), one needs to acquire a good amount of knowledge. Now this has two reasons – to imply the true teachings of Islam on our own lives and to invite others to Islam.

Knowledge is basically of two types. The first is Farz E Ain Ilm. As the name suggests, it is an obligation on every single Muslim. Why does this individual obligation of knowledge exist? To survive. And what are these obligations? To have the knowledge of Halal and Haram, to have the knowledge of actions which should be accomplished and which should be avoided. Thus, to live a respectable life in the society.

The second type is Farz E Kifayah Ilm. Farz E Kifayah is an obligation on a group of Muslims. That, we can say , an obligation on a community. Why does this exist? If enough people perform this obligation, then the obligation is released form other Muslims. If nobody does it, all Muslims are held accountable. For example, praying Salatal Janazah. What are these obligations? To fulfil the social.needs do people is a Farz E Kifayah – and to fulfil these social needs, it is very important to gain expertise in our chosen field or subject.

In any Islamic Movement, we need writers, mufassireen, economists, sociologists and more. Hence, it is advised to choose and excel in a field. Coming back to our main question – what all should be read? Having briefed up about aginaing knowledge of your chosen field, it now becomes important to study intellectually into the light of Quran, Hadees, Seerat, Islamic History and the books of Aslaaf. Thus, apply your knowledge and help in the progress of Tahreek E Islami.

#8: To what extent is it advisable to be influenced by different authors, in such a way that they do not have any negative impact?

We, as human beings, have been created with challenges. Our mission is to confront Jahilliyah. And for this, it is very important to have the knowledge of Jahilliyah. But when we read these books, the most important thing is to not be defeated, but conquer them. And for this, we firstly need a strong foundation. When you have a strong foundation, confrontation becomes easy. To set a strong foundation, effective reading of Islamic Literature is advised. The other factors would be Taqwa (fear of Allah), constant Dua and the companionship and support of influential mentors.

#9: What is the advantage of reading Islamic Literature? What among these should be read?

Our Islamic Literature isn’t merely a research based study. This is the literature of a Movement. This is the literature that is the equipment used in a mind-war.

Coming to the question of what should be read. Let’s divide this literature into primary-education literature and secondary-education literature. In primary-education literature, we have some common books, which usually come as a part of our membership syllabus. In secondary-education literature, it is advised to study that literature which pertains to your chosen field of study.

#10:In what fields does Islamic Movement requires educational activism?

Islamic Movement is multidimensional. Hence, we need people in every discipline. However, if we talk of prior needs, a study on Hindustaaniyaat (Indian Studies) is very much required. Then, there is an equally important requirement of educational activism among children and women. There are also a number of subjects that haven’t witnessed any major research in the light of Islam such as sociology, psychology, media and law.

#11:How do we properly plan and stabilize the practice of Mutalea (reading)?

Of there is no goal, there is no use of planning. If there is no planning, you cannot achieve your goal. Same goes for reading. You first need to set a purpose to your reading, and then plan according to achieve that purpose. Reading without a purpose – I call it Aawaara-khwani! The organisation of reading itself starts with a destination. And the destination itself should motivate your to organisation your reading patterns.

#12: There have been various techniques to improve our practice of reading in the recent times such as speed reading and mind maps. How can members of Islamic Movement take advantage from such techniques to improve their reading practices?

The members of Islamic Movement should definitely utilize form all of these tricks and techniques. We have methods like speed reading and mind maps. There are also people who conduct workshops on effective reading. And if that isn’t enough, we of course have the internet, software applications and other technological advancements.

#13: In recent years, there have been a drastic decrease in members who read in Urdu language. What can be the solution for this?

The answer is simple. Read in English. I suppose, when we talk about Islamic Literature, after Arabic, English language has produced the most amount of books and content.

#14: How do you manage your time to read books?

Taking out time for something only happens when we are not habitual towards it. We dont take out time to eat, drink or sleep – because we are habitual to them. The only answer for this question hence, is to make reading your habit. If you make it a habit, you won’t need to take out or manage time to read books.

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