Updated: Nov 26, 2019
Let me tell you a little secret.
Preservation of the intellect is one of the most fundamental aims of our tradition.
Let’s open with something iconic! The slogan of great American advertising that would evolve into the mantra of a social movement!
“A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”
Over 45 years ago, when the country was in the throes of wrenching social upheaval -- civil rights, the Vietnam War, the feminist awakening -- and views which were both partisan and passionate, a UNCF board member thought that maybe advertising could have a place in helping raise awareness, so that their organization could raise the funds it needed to drive its mission to help African-American students get the placement and funding for higher education.
That slogan not only worked but endured beyond the massive social movements that helped it take flight and the advertising trends that it continues to transcend.
The reason it is so successful is because it is truth!
The mind is an amazing tool. It’s a great blessing. God states,
And We have certainly honored the children of Adam and carried them on the land and sea and provided for them of the good things and preferred them over much of what We have created, with [definite] preference. [17:70]
As human beings, God has distinguished us in many ways. We walk upright on two feet and eat with our hand, whilest other living creatures walk on four feet and eat with their mouths.
God has given us hearing, sight and a heart with which to understand, to benefit from, and distinguish between things to know which are good for us and which are harmful, in both worldly and spiritual terms.
The mind is one of those tools and serves as a uniquely recognizable qualities of mankind.
It sets us apart from the rest of creation. It is also a key factor in determining moral responsibility.
The Prophet ﷺ said, "There are three (persons) whose actions are not recorded: those asleep till they wake, the young till they reach puberty, and the insane till they come to reason."
Did you know, there are more than 200 classified forms of mental illness?
An estimated 54 million Americans suffer from some form of mental disorder in a given year including bipolar disorder, dementia, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders. With so many afflicted with such a trial, it is all the more upsetting when the mind is wasted by choice or due to rectifiable circumstance.
God states, "And surely, We have created many...for Hell. They have hearts wherewith they understand not, they have eyes wherewith they see not, and they have ears wherewith they hear not (the truth). They are like cattle, nay even more astray; those! They are the heedless ones." [7:179]
Meaning; they waste these senses and do not benefit from them as a means of gaining guidance.
Due to the position of the intellect, our Scholars have ranked the preservation of the mind among the 5 essentials of life!
We are able to derive from the divine law many tools put on place to do just that.
1. Prohibition of whatever impedes its physical function.
God states, "O you who have believed, indeed, intoxicants, gambling, [sacrificing on] stone alters, and divining arrows are but defilement from the works of Satan, so avoid it that you may be successful. Satan only wants to cause between you animosity and hatred through intoxicants and gambling and to avert you from the remembrance of God and from prayer. So will you not desist?" [5:90-91]
2. Prohibition of whatever deviates its conclusions.
The Prophet ﷺ once became angry when he saw some scripture Umar b. al-Khattab took from the people of the book. The Prophet ﷺ read it and said, "Are you confused about it?! I swear to God that I have come with that which is pure and clear. If Moses was alive now he would have not choice but to follow me." [Musnad Ahmad]
As if to say, "Why do you need to read a scripture of another faith, it will do nothing but deviate you from the revelation I have been sent to deliver."
To be your best you, your mind must be clear and in good working order. There are many ways to develop a healthy mind.
Dr. Whitbourne a writer for Psychology today mentions 3 main areas of focus when developing a mental health routine.
Both of which are mentioned by Imam Badr ad-Din al-Kinani in his book Etiquette of the Learner.
3. High levels of mental activity
If you don’t use it, you lose it. Or should I say, if you don't use it, you waste it.
As people of faith, we are asked over and over again in the Qur'an to use our minds.
"Say, 'Observe what is in the heavens and earth.'" [10:101]
"Do they not contemplate within themselves? God has not created the heavens and the earth and what is between them except in truth and for a specified term. And indeed, many of the people, in [the matter of] the meeting with their Lord, are disbelievers." [30:8]
God have given us numerous opportunity to exercise our minds to not only keep them healthy but to arrive at truthful conclusions which will benefit us; mind, body, and soul.
We are also regularly presented with opportunities to learn new things, review what we know, and expand our horizons.
To be your best you, the mind must be considered in a big way. You need to not only protect it from things which will corrupt its function and conclusions but also take advantage of every oppurtunity presented to exercise its abilities.
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