“Read in the name of your Lord Who created” (Al Alaq, verse 1).
“Read” is the first word from the Holy Quran recited by the angel Gabriel to the Prophet Mohammed PBUH. We often forget the greatness and importance of such a word. In an age of easy accessible information, we lose sight of assessing reliable information. Many people tend to use many of the ideas written in articles on the vast web as concrete evidence, treating many of these “thoughts” as facts and using them to prove arguments that are most often invalid. Not understanding that the pool of knowledge out there is much larger than we can comprehend.
Many people jump in discussion acting like the judge, treating all others as sinners for having the opinions they have. Not only do they lack appropriate information for such judgment, but before all they lack respect. If you read in a certain field and gain modest information to formulate opinions, it does not make them absolute. So before anything, learn to understand that not everyone will share your opinions, and your opinions are not the ultimate truth.
“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing” – Socrates.
Not to say that people are ignorant, nor is it to say that you can’t formulate opinions. But formulate opinions based on extensive research rather than brisk reading. Formulate opinions but be open to others, and sometimes, open to amend your own. There is nothing more beautiful than those who admit that the knowledge they have is not supreme, and are open to people who understand the world differently.
“And they ask you, [O Muhammad], about the soul. Say, “The soul is of the affair of my Lord. And mankind have not been given of knowledge except a little.” (Al Isra, verse 85).
We often meet opinionated individuals that are so attached to ideas that lack evidence. Most often these same individuals will never accept or even discuss any evidence-based statement you propose. Why? Because they are blinded by their confidence of the knowledge they have, thinking it is all there is. So, the question is, how do we deal with ignorant people? By ignorant I refer to people who fail to seek facts on matters they claim to know so much about, they pretend to know more than actual experts in the field.
I have been confronted with ignorant people in so many situations and such encounters end with nothing but arguments. It would upset me so much seeing the person in front of me talk about something that is within my field and knowing that what they’re saying is factually inaccurate. As many of you know, ignorant people will NEVER admit that they are wrong, but will find a way to show that they are right. Most often, the techniques that work best when confronted with such people is to ignore or physically separate yourself from them. Getting into arguments is never useful, because just like them, there are many things you are ignorant about too, and public shaming is not a nice strategy.
If the other person fails to acknowledge your point of view then ignoring seems like the best option. Rise above them because such people find it hard to understand your opinion, let alone change their own. You might not be able to change their understanding of facts but you can change how you react to their attitude.
Last but not least, try to model what you expect to see from them. As much as you’d like to shout things like “NO, THAT IS ABSOLUTE RUBBISH”, try things like “I understand your opinion/ judgment …. However, I understand it differently because of … Or we can do more research before making judgments”. As hard as it may seem, this actually works with time. Maybe it won’t have much of a direct effect on them, but you will get less affected by their ignorance.
“You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.” ― Harlan Ellison
Shamma holds a Masters Degree in Human Rights and a BA in International Affairs. She currently works as an instructor at Zayed University. Having volunteered with people with disability for more than 10 years, she devotes her career and free time to work closely with vulnerable groups to create a visible impact in society. Having interests in philosophy, human psyche, sociology, and literature her column “12 Lessons” will focus on issues that we face as a part of the trial and error process that is life.
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