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علي حرفوش @asalkhuzai
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Read and Think Better, Not More (Thread)

I'm going to focus on one golden rule, to surmise: when you read, suspend the mental straitjacket of categories or compartmentalization. Also, this is more of a tirade, bear with me.
1- I am not referring to ontological categories i.e. essentially mutually exclusive things that exist in the natural world. I am referring to conceptual categories. For example, when we read - before thinking - we commit a category act: "this is a history book, etc"
So basically we've limited the potential insights and thinking before the reading begins. Why? The brain makes associations through categories. So when we read a history book, we make mental associations with other texts we've read on history, and so forth.
2 - But what if we suspend those categories, and think through themes instead? For example, a theme could me: modern man and in exploring that theme we suspend those category-walls in the mind and read, not just books in the 'political philosophy' shelf at Barnes and Noble...
...but also those in the self labeled "economics", , "religion" and even "self-help"? More so, what if we go to the "best selling fiction" shelf and read through those novels, asking: what does this tell me about modern man, and what made it a best-seller?
3- If the theme we want to explore is: US-Russian geopolitics, we would first stroll down to the current events shelf, but what insight could we get from also going to the history shelf, or maybe in comparing American novels to 19th century Russian literature?
4- To illustrate, with regards to fiction: we've all come across shows like 'the walking dead' and other shows about zombies, the end of times, apocalypse, etc. It is entertaining...
But do we stop to ask; what do these shows represent? Is there a theme (finality, nature of man, chaos?). And what does this theme tell us about, let's say, modern anxieties? What do those zombies represent?
5 - Another example, is music videos. The other day, my sister showed me this music video called 'This is America' - I watched it like 50x because it told me more about modern America than most non-fiction books that I've read.
There is another point to be made here. We should also stop to ask, why do these categories exist and and demarcated as such? What can we learn about the modern world, culture, when the "self-help" books are in one section/category, and "religion" or "philosophy" in another?
Or, why a particular book in one category and not in another? A text on the existence of God, is put in the philosophy section as though the question of God's existence bears no implications on "self-help" etc.
I think, wa Allaahu 'Alaam, this is also important in determining the trajectories we pursue in life. It shouldn't be the case that you can either master international relations/geopolitics at college OR siyassa shari'iyah in a madrassa.
Why is it that we have scholars who can teach Mawaridi's tract on Islamic political jurisprudence but cannot comment on Kissinger's volume on diplomacy? What is at stake when we compartmentalize geopolitics in a category different from political fiqh?
When we think beyond categories, trust me, the world becomes fascinating. You become attentive to mundane details. You become fascinated with street graffiti, the way a building is designed, why people choose a backyard patio versus front-yard porch.
Think about that during your next commute to work. Enjoy.
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