Medina Stories #13 – Knowledge Is Not Just About Information

Tom Facchine


Channel: Tom Facchine


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The speaker discusses how people study Islam differently when traveling to the United States, as it is a rich learning experience that is not just about information. They also discuss how people travel without eating and drinking water, as it is a poor environment for them to live in. The speaker emphasizes the importance of learning how to accept what comes to them and not just sitting and not thinking about it.

Transcript ©

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It's a good thing that in North America, there are more and more opportunities to study Islam. Here, that's a good thing, I think. But at the same time traveling abroad to the Muslim world is always going to play a very important role for reasons it has a longer tradition of scholarship. And so the type of scholars that are available to you there and take a place like Medina, you can't even count the number of scholars that are there, there are folks doing things officially there are folks doing things out of their homes, like it's such a rich ecosystem of Islamic learning, but also because there's a reason why traditionally, scholars of our OMA have traveled. And part of that is because

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knowledge is not just about information, like the kind of Western paradigm of knowledge would have us believe it's also about transformation, and the Islamic kind of epistemology, or the Islamic philosophy, whatever you want to call it. So the knowledge that you gain has to transform you, it has to actually turn you into a better person, if it doesn't guess what you're headed for trouble. If you're studying Islam, and the process of leaving your home, leaving your homeland, or immersing yourself in a place where you don't speak the language. The weather is different, the culture is different, everything's different. It has transfer transformational benefits that you can't get from

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staying in the comfort of your own society of your own home. And some of the things even today, I just look back on what we went through. And I just laugh, and it was crazy experiences, but really helped me really helped humble myself, really helps give me an experience that I can always kind of look back on. Like, for example, when we were in Medina, they ran out of room in the dormitories. So they put my cohort in, like a dormitory that was off campus. And it was new. Right. So that was that was good, like the building was new home the design, so it was nicer. But because it was separated from the campus, like the services were really poor, so we used to run out of water all the time,

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all the time. It was like maybe six buildings that were connected to each other by a fire by a fire escape, almost like a housing project, right. And if the water ran out in one building, then we all go across the fire escape to the next one to use the sink or to use the bathroom. But but one by one, the buildings would run out of water until the university called for the water truck to come and fill up the water. Now what would happen sometimes, okay, the only easy way, for those of us who didn't have enough money to be buying water all the time, I would say these plastic water bottles and I had a whole my desk in my room, I have a whole line of them probably like 10 or 15 water

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bottles, empty water bottles, every time because the the the mesh tube across the street had a water cooler, every time I go to the machine for prayer, I'd stuffed my pockets with empty water bottles, and then I'd go and I'd fill up two or three, and I put them back and I bring them back to the room. That way I'd always have water either to drink or either to wash something or whatever. And that's what we did. That's what we did. And that experience is extremely humbling, you know, so now, okay, we're here in North America. And Alright, if I don't have my, you know, my five o'clock coffee, or if I don't have this, or I don't have that, I'd like to think that I've developed some ability to be

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patient with those sorts of things because, you know, going, going without, like, for example, when one of the first times I went on Hajj, we were with some were put in some hotel I was I was a guide on Hajj, and somebody who wasn't necessarily supposed to be in our room, came into our room, because there was kind of like a scholar there. And they wanted to kind of be close. And so I got back last to this room, and all the beds were full. So there was no place for me to sleep before traveling. I mean, that would have really upset me a lot, right? I just put down my stuff on the floor and slept on the floor. You know, it's just, it is what it is. And so like living over over there. I mean, it

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kind of taught us those sorts of things, we had to stand out in the hot sun to get our meal tickets, bone, they used to call it bone, these little meal tickets that had the university's seal on it, you had to buy them if you want to use the cafeteria, and they'd have this little tiny window. And you'd have to go there at only certain hours. Sometimes they are sometimes they're not at the end of the month, your tickets are going to run out, you need to buy more tickets, if you're going to eat at the cafeteria. So there'll be a huge line and you'd be sitting in the sun or standing in the sun and you have to be patient and then the guy decides to go on break.

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And you're the next in line. What are you going to do? What are you going to do? You know, at the end of the day, those experiences, they break you they break you in a good way, in a good way. You have to learn how to just kind of accept what comes your way. And I'm not obviously I've got so much room to improve and develop but if I had not traveled abroad, I don't think I would have developed the ability to tolerate things like that or to to be patient with things like that.