Become a Scholar for the Time in Which You Are Living In
By: Ayatullah Murtudha Mutahhari
There is a speech from Imām Ja'far ibne Muḥammad as-Ṣādiq (a.s.) which is a very lofty speech. This hadith has been narrated in al-Kāfī in which the following sentence is mentioned in a (long) hadith:
“The person who is fully aware of the time in which he is living, will never be overcome with bewilderment (of the things around him).”
This means that the person who knows, recognizes and understands the time in which he is living will never fall prey to confusion or perplexity about the things occurring around him.
The word “confused” used in this hadith is commonly used in Fārsī in the meaning of a strong or forceful attack that is launched against another person. However in the Arabic language it is in the meaning of a person who is carrying something and all of a sudden, out of his own inability or unawareness, becomes negligent of his surroundings.
In this hadith the Imām (a.s.) has told us that, “If a person is fully aware of his own surroundings, then he will never fall prey or victim to the confusion and bewilderment of those things around him, such that one time he looks and forgets even his own hands and feet and he is not able to make use of his own strength and energy nor is he able to gather together his thoughts to solve a problem.” This is truly a great saying.
There are many such important phrases in this same hadith, although I have not memorized all of them, however another line states:
“That person who does not use his intellect will not be successful, and that person who does not have knowledge will not be able to use his intellect.”
The meaning of intellect is the power or ability to deduce and rationalize something and to establish a relationship between two arguments – meaning to bring about the prerequisites for an issue and then come to a conclusion. The intellect takes its source of inspiration from knowledge and thus, intellect is the lamp whose oil which it runs upon is knowledge. The hadith then goes on to say:
This means that whoever understands (something), then his outcome will be that he will possess a virtuous, honourable character since the outcome of a treasure or priceless good is through the work which it puts forth. By this it means that we should not be afraid of knowledge and we must not think of knowledge as being something that is dangerous.
However in reality, we are the complete opposite meaning and manifestation of this hadith that states:
From the beginning to the end, from the top to the bottom, from the door (of the Masjid) to the Miḥrāb, all of us are unaware of the times in which we are living. We are simply sitting down, unaware of our surroundings, dozing off. One time we are accosted that, for example, this land must be divided up and that the land must be cleaned and tilled (to make use of it). Unknowingly, it is as if this issue (in relation to the cleaning and tilling of the land) launches an offensive upon us since we are completely unaware of the time in which we are living. We do not have the foresight or speculation of what would happen in the future and have not planned anything to determine what our responsibilities will be or what we should be doing.
We in reality, do not know what is going on in this world and what is being done beyond the curtains. We have suddenly faced the issue of womens’ social rights. Here, we don’t have enough time to think over it and analyze all of its aspects in order to determine its importance. Are those who are defending the social rights of women really serious? Do they really want to attract more fans? Or is there another benefit that they intend to gain from arousing such questions? Along with these, there will come other doubtful and unknown matters that we do not know.
Some sixty to one hundred years ago among the other Islāmic countries, the issue of guiding and leading the youth had been brought up, but they have been busier in pondering and discussing this issue than we were.
 Al-Kāfī, Volume 1, Pages 26 and 27