The Journey of My De-conditioning


After I completed my education at the madrasa, I knew Arabic but not English. The conditioning I received at the madrasa was to only read the Quran and Hadith, to observe prayers and fasting, etc. I had to break down this conditioning. In my family, everyone else was well spoken in English. So, after my studies at the madrasa, when I came home I felt like a dumb person in an environment where everybody conversed in English. I had the ability only to address the traditional mind, and not the modern mind. This was like a shock for me. I converted this shock into a learning experience. Instead of complaining about my situation, I tried to do something positive. Whenever I met English-speaking persons, I did not consider them as heretics or deviants, instead I tried to learn from them. I introspected why even after having a religious education, I could not address people's minds. At this stage, I got guidance from this saying of the Prophet: "A believer is one who is aware of his contemporary times." A believer must know both religion and his age. At my seminary, I learnt religion but remained unaware of the changes brought about in the modern age. People generally differentiate between religiosity and worldliness. They think one should focus on religion and maintain distance from everything worldly. This is wrong dichotomy. There is also a third category, and that is, knowledge of the trends and thoughts of the age. This was my discovery. I realized that we do not have to become worldly and materialistic, but we need to know the times in which we live in and the ideas which hold importance today. If we remain ignorant of this, we will never develop conviction in our faith. Knowing one's time and age means to rediscover your religion in modern terms. For this, knowledge of current discoveries and ideas is indispensable. I then started learning English and continued my studies in English for about twenty years.