The Dangers of Narrow-Mindedness

The Dangers of Narrow-Mindedness
The Dangers of Narrow-Mindedness. Image credit: hobit&gollum.

Narrow-mindedness is defined as lacking tolerance or not having the mental faculty to see beyond the superficial and recognize the underlying truth. Currently, this tendency appears to be widespread in all segments of Muslim communities.

The primary reason for this deplorable condition is ignorance, the inability to recognize this deficiency and to take corrective action. This situation is further aggravated if the ignorant person considers himself to be the epitome of wisdom, and if, he is in a leadership or a highly visible position, he can cause unnecessary harm to a family, a community or a an entire nation.

Absence of insight can also result in narrow-mindedness by having a negative effect on one’s thought processes. Insight is a rare virtue, and quite different from ignorance. A person who lacks insight may possess some knowledge, but derives no benefit from it due to a lack of analytical skills while someone with insight assesses his or her knowledge of a situation and then selects and uses its relevant parts. Through insight, they are able4 to see what others may not. Ibnul Qayyim, the famous Islamic scholar and author, said: “One person may read a text and learn one or two lessons from it, while another may learn one or two hundred.”

A rigidly traditional individual’s perceptivity, like that of a captive frog in a deep well, is able to function only within narrow parameters. He does not realize that there are boundless vistas of knowledge beyond the scope of the well, therefore, his mental and intellectual evolution remains stunted. He is unable to take advantage of the knowledge available beyond his limited horizon.

Blind imitation creates another obstacle to one’s intellectual growth. The two world wars of the past century are the perfect examples of this disability that can allow ruthless political or religious leaders to manipulate the minds of people who are unable to form their own objective view.

Some individuals habitually look at things from one angle and accept them as actual facts without thinking that there may be a different side to the issue, or that reality may actually be quite different from appearance. In the following verse, Allah points out that the appearance of the hypocrites may not be a true indication of their reality: “And when you see them, you like their appearance, but when they speak and you listen to them, they seem worthless” … and then He goes on to give this warning: “They are the enemy, so be warned of them. The curse of Allah be upon them, how they are perverted.” [63:4]

Furthermore, some people are impressed by quantity at the expense of quality. Referring to the battle of Hunain, Allah says: “On the day of Hunain, your numbers impressed you but did not benefit you.” But, “If there be amongst you twenty who show fortitude, they will defeat two hundred.” This does not, of course, mean that appearances are to be completely disregarded or that quantity is totally irrelevant. These fundamentals should not be valued in isolation, but should be understood through insight and common sense.

A failure to prioritize or differentiate wrong from right often leads people to lose sight of the broader picture. Often people will focus on the immediate and disregard the potential disastrous effects of an action further down the road. Along with ignorance, narrow-mindedness and, of course, a lack of insight, these gaps usually prove detrimental to that individual’s future.


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Filed under Islam, Religion, Seeking knowledge

6 responses to “The Dangers of Narrow-Mindedness

  1. pelagian7

    [In the following verse, Allah points out that the appearance of the hypocrites may not be a true indication of their reality: “And when you see them, you like their appearance, but when they speak and you listen to them, they seem worthless” … and then He goes on to give this warning: “They are the enemy, so be warned of them. The curse of Allah be upon them, how they are perverted.” [63:4]]

    In John 7: of the Bible Jesus points to the long tassleled robe wearing Pharisees who quote scripture(often out of context). Jesus says they are a brood of vipers, hypocrites, and their words are like the snakes poison wine. Jesus then says don’t judge by appearances, but judge according to what is rght. Of the hypocrites he says you will no them by their fruits, because no sick tree can produce good fruit.

    I am a Christian who believes Jesus was a messiah, but a man messiah, and I think his closest followers were Ebonites who were chased from Jerusalem in 70AD. I think they became followers of another prophet, that you might know. I choose not to follow the traditions of either (culturally) but the wisdom, so similar, I find inspired.

  2. Pelagian7,

    The wisdom is similar because the religion is the same. The Message which Jesus brought is the same as what Muhammad brought–to worship God alone and to not associate partners with him. They were both Messengers and Prophets and were preceded by Moses, Abraham and the others, delivering the same message, peace be upon them all.

    Yes, Jesus was the Messiah but a man which received Revelations from God like the other Messengers. This is the belief of the Muslims. Jesus peace be upon him also had given glad tidings of a Messenger to come after him–which is the final Prophet Muhammad.

    Jesus, peace be upon him, was raised to the heavens and will come again to defeat the Anti-Christ closer to the Day of Judgement.

    The closest followers of Jesus, peace be upon him are the Muslims.

    I invite you to read the Chapter of Mary in the Qur’an

    with peace

    ibn ayyub

  3. pelagian7

    I have a copy of the Qur’an and may do so. However, I see some Jewish practices, Christian practices, and Muslim practices as culturally inspired traditions that are devoid of “God’s law” but are tokens of respect, yet enforced like law. They, the traditions, become unjust when they are judged on appearance alone, rather than with compassion and understanding.

    I am raised Christian and absolutely believe that Muslims today are far truer to Jesus’ teachings, who were King Davids teachings, who before that Moses and now Muhammad.

    So I cannot be accused of judging Muslims by appearances I will delve deeper.

  4. Please do.

    You say you are a Christian following Jesus and acknowledge that the Muslims are far truer to Jesus’ teachings which were the teachings of the Prophets before him and now succeeded by the Prophet Muhammad.

    Shouldn’t you then be Muslim?

    with peace

    ibn ayyub

  5. pelagian7

    “Shouldn’t you then be Muslim?”

    Ibn ayyub, I also follow some teachings of the Apostle Paul and use wisdom from many, such as Buddha (karma). The one thing I struggle with is what I see as cultural traditions. I read Mary, though it was spelled differently, and some of the other scriptures of the Qur’an, they are wise.

    I have been aware of the Muslim likeness to Jesus’ true teachings for some time. I also realize that many of our Christian traditions are Pagan in nature, but I find esoteric wisdom among those misunderstood teachings also. I guess I can’t be labeled this or that, I seek all God’s wisdom. With peace Pelagian7

  6. You’ll have to forgive me for the delayed response. Been caught up lately.

    I agree that there is wisdom to be found in other teachings, so long as there is no contradiction with the message of Islam, which is the message of the Messengers.

    You’ll have to be more specific about what you mean by cultural traditions. There is an outer dimension to the inward aspect of accepting the message of the Messengers from God. Accepting God’s message is following the message inwardly and outwardly in behaviour and actions.

    The inward aspect and tenets of faith is the same regardless of the Messenger: Abraham, David, Jesus, Muhammad etc., peace be upon them all. But what changes is the outward injunctions.

    with peace

    ibn ayyub

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