Confronting the Addiction
Is it time you confronted your Islamic information addiction?
Are you someone who attends 5+ courses a year but doesn’t fully implement and master what you’ve learned? Are you someone who purchases 10+ books a year but fails to read at least half of them cover to cover? Are you someone who has downloaded hours upon hours of audio lectures only for it to remain idle on your hard drive?
Then, you sir, may be an Islamic information junkie.
Now I’m not saying attending many courses & lectures, purchasing countless books and downloading gigabytes of audio to seek knowledge is necessarily a bad thing. It is negative if you only approach it as an information junkie and not an information user.
What is the difference you ask?
An information junkie is addicted to the process of obtaining information. Although he may delude himself into thinking otherwise, he has no intention of ever using the information he obtains.
An information user is very practical about what he seeks. He acquires information for very specific and pragmatic purposes. He uses the information he’s acquired to achieve specific goals such as memorize a juz of Qur’aan, develop da’wah initiatives, educate his family etc. There’s an outcome being sought from this knowledge gained.
An information junkie is happiest at the moment he is obtaining the information. However, his enthusiasm is ephemeral. Within hours or days of attaining it, the information junkie is onto other things. The course folder goes up on the shelf with the previous course folders. He’s now excited about the next new course.
The information user is proactive and begins with the end in mind. There is a vision or a long-term expectation when it comes to knowledge. He believes the knowledge he acquires now is a seed that he sows. Through patience and perseverance he will bare fruits that place him in a better position to leverage what he’s learned to greater benefit.
The information junkie is reactive and only in it for the here and now. He doesn’t believe in building a foundation and building upon it. He’s always on to the next hot thing.
An information user makes progress. See him reading a comprehensive book about salaah and there’s a very good chance that his prayer habits will change in the immediate future. He will have confidence in the performance of his actions and have a firm understanding of how to improve his khushu’.
The information junkie in contrast may have 10 books about salaah in his library. He may have even casually read them all but still finds doubts in performing his salaah such that he still doesn’t know how to perform sujood as-sahw.
An information user is someone who consumes information to profit from it. If he invests £60 on a weekend course in learning about some subject, he expects to see a substantial return on that investment either through implementation of it or teaching the knowledge to his family and community.
An information junkie consumes information like drugs or chocolate. It gives him an immediate (eemaan) rush and then nothing afterward. That’s why he always wants to attend more courses.
This is indeed a grave matter as the information junkie will be brought to account for not acting upon the knowledge he has acquired.
The Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم said,
“A man will be brought on the Day of Resurrection and thrown into the Fire. His intestines will be hanging out, spilling onto the ground, and he will go around like a donkey goes around a millstone. The inhabitants of the Fire will gather around him and say: “O so and so! What is your affair? Didn’t you used to order us to do good deeds and forbid us from doing bad deeds?”
He will reply, “Yes I used to order you to do good deeds, but I did not do them myself, and I used to forbid you from doing bad deeds, yet I used to do them myself”. [Bukhari, Muslim and others]
Abu Darda رضي الله عنه said,
“The thing I fear the most is when I stand on the Day of Judgment it will be said to me “you learned and what did you act upon what you learned”” [Jamiah Bayaan Ilm]
If you are an Islamic information junkie, do not despair. You can still curb your addiction and convert yourself into an information user by simply heeding to the following advice.
– The seeking of knowledge is an act of worship and like all acts of worship our intentions must be purified for the act to be accepted. We have to be careful of not falling into the trap of treating this act as a form of entertainment and not giving its full due. If we can understand why knowledge is sought it’ll make it easier to be sincere in this deed. Shaykh Ibn Baaz رحمه الله states, in relation to one who seeks knowledge,
“…he learns it to be acquainted with his deen, to have insight into what Allaah has made incumbent upon him, to strive to take the people out of darkness and into the light, so he seeks knowledge and acts upon it and teaches others about the good that a Muslim is ordered to do.”
Therefore before embarking upon any form of seeking knowledge, sincerely ask yourself why you are doing this and specifically what you intend to gain from it.
– The reason you will learn all this information and apply none of it is because you aren’t hungry enough. You were just hungry enough to get the knowledge, not hungry enough to apply the knowledge. And certainly not hungry enough to apply it every single day.
Even when you’re exhausted and tired with nothing left inside of your heart & soul. Even when you think you can’t go on and are struggling to learn a science. If you truly comprehended the magnitude of the knowledge you seek; you would spiritually, physically, emotionally and mentally condition yourself to achieve this act. Do not be half-hearted in your attempts to learn the Book of Allaah and the Sunnah of His Messenger.
Read of our pious predecessors and their struggles to learn and implement knowledge of the Book and the Sunnah. Ask yourself every day, have I done enough to attain the ultimate reward of Jannah?
– What do you attach the increase in your eemaan to? For many who are suffering from this addiction, their level of eemaan is dependent upon attending a course or listening to a YouTube lecture. Although they serve as means to inspire and motivate us it is a serious mistake to make them the primary source of increasing ones eemaan.
If there is no course to attend or no access to YouTube they feel a slump in their eemaan and yearn for an “eemaan boost“.
The true source of increase in our eemaan is through ‘aml as-saalih (righteous actions).
Develop a daily habit around core ‘ibaadat that cause you to sustain a strong level of eemaan. Strengthen your relationship with the Qur’aan, spending time not only reciting but also reflecting upon the Words of Allaah azza wa jaal. Increase the quality of your salaah by improving your khushu’ (concentration and humility). Fast every Monday and Thursdays to increase your state of taqwa. After having realigned your source of eemaan you’ll no longer feel compelled to attend next months “eemaan boost” session.
- Don’t attend another course or buy another book until you’ve made some progress with the one you previously purchased.
It is important to FOCUS – finish one course until successful. Additionally, follow a clear roadmap and stay on course without going askew.
Tadarruj (gradualism) in seeking knowledge is key and one should stick to their roadmap firmly. If right now you need to be focusing on a beginner level text do not feel compelled to start reading advanced issues on the subject because of its “exciting” nature.
Focus on the fundamental subjects of learning and leave those issues which are not of concern to you right now. Do not be afraid to say no to a weekend course because you need to be focusing on your Arabic and Qur’anic studies instead.
– One of the reasons people don’t follow through on the knowledge they’ve gained isn’t because they’re not interested but because they’re overwhelmed. To overcome this there is one important skill you must learn – chunking. (chungk’ing), v., Grouping together information into ideally sized pieces so that they can be used effectively to produce the results you want without stress or being overwhelmed. Chunking is the understanding that when we first learning something, that something feels like many things. If we break it down into chunks and master each part it will be easier to learn. Set specific deadlines for consuming and implementing what you learned. This will greatly help you in following through in your studies.
“When you first start to study a field, it seems like you have to memorise a zillion things. You don’t. What you need is to identify the core principles – generally three to twelve of them – that govern the field. The million things you thought you had to memorise are simply various combinations of the core principles.” – John T. Reed
Follow the above advice you’ll not only break your addiction, you will radically improve your life insha’Allaah.