A Simple Thought – Friday, 15th October 2021

Have we read our operations manual yet?

We can gloat all we want about how we are the most superior in creation yet to descend this planet, but as long as we have not accepted, read, understood and implemented our ‘product manual’ – the Holy Qur’an, we may be lost in perpetuity.  Just as when you acquire a new piece of equipment, you need to read the manufacturer’s operation instructions, and yes this may vary from person to person, as some may be more literate in the said equipment than others, but skipping the exercise altogether, can potentially lead to loss of function at best, or damage to the device at worst.

Beyond headline statements, many of our scholars can barely muster up important and engaging facts about the Holy Qur’an and, for instance, why it is so important for us to adopt it in full.  Like many speakers do with Islamic History, where rhetoric and prose-filled phrases fuel the applause of common men and women, this practice, in fact takes away the unique opportunities to learn from those who are qualified to teach.  But this has been the trouble from the start, where majaalis were historically dominated by people from geographic areas who exported their own local threats to places like East Africa, and this ritual has continued even when we now have sterling speakers from the West as well as the Middle East and Persia, that not enough teachings are given to us during these important nights.

I frequently remember how at the age of 18 and a topper at Husseini Madressa, I was cornered and pretty much baterred by an Ismaili classmate as to what Shi’a Ithan’asheri really meant, the literal meaning of the Twelvers.  I just did not know so I went on talking about what I had been hearing of how we were the entitled creed, etc, after the Holy Prophet (SAW).  In turn, he silenced me by saying there was no need to speak of this voluminous history perspective if I did not even know the meaning of the sect I claimed to be belonging to.  De ja vous… when a few weeks ago I watched this profound video showing how the code of 10 was dominant in the Holy Qur’an’s shortest Sura – Al Kawthar.  And here I was only knowing that the Qur’an could never be duplicated but what elements made it so solid, nobody ever spoke of. Yes, of course the Madrasah cannot teach us everything and we must also take initiative to learn ourseves, but I strongly contend that the onus of teaching starts immediately someone starts preaching about a given subject, unless of course the whole point of Majaalis is entertainment after all, as we may find this to be the case in many places.

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About the author

Mohamedarif is a marketing professional and educationalist with a penchant for writing as a hobby since childhood. As he experimented writing about sporting events at first and then current affairs, he quickly developed a skill for observation of his environment and began to write on reform topics, especially in connection with the community. To further feed his pursuit of writing, he founded several newsletters and bulletins at his school and at the Husayni Madrasah in the 1980's, all the time learning from others already in the field not just about writing, but also about pre-press and production processes. He was also the editor-in-chief of the Knowledge Magazine in 1995–1996. A decade later, importing a flurry of ideas into his new home, Nairobi, he first founded a two page community newspaper then became a regular writer of the Friday Faculty before establishing the Community on Friday, a fully fledged Madrasah magazine in 1996. And while his writing at the community continued, he simultaneously started writing for a business weekly, pairing in with his newfound role as a marketing professional. During his time in Nairobi, he wrote several speeches for sitting chairmen and presidents while also giving some himself, developing his concurrent role as a public speaker and trainer.

With changing times and a decrease in advertising sponsorship, as well as a fall in overall readership, Mohamedarif transformed this publication into an electronic blog. Thus was born the Community on Friday in its present format.

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