Perhaps thought inspired on sound principles has become the rarest commodity in the 21st century. It is increasingly difficult to reason independently based on reality due to the dominance of global thought rife in its philosophical paradoxes. Think tanks with vested interests make political, academic, social, cultural, economic and moral policies globally. They set the agenda of governments, media, university research, social policy, religious control and economic reforms through international organizations. Media has almost 24/7 grip on humanity's thoughts. Unless one completely isolates oneself, one cannot protect oneself from the influence of their thoughts. At the same time, one cannot develop correct thought to analyze a world which one is isolated from. The strategy to develop inspired thinking for the 21st century needs effort, sacrifice, patience and wisdom.
Bad intentions result in corrupt thinking which results in bad actions which result in bad consequences. Whereas, good intentions result in sound thinking which results in good actions which result in good consequences. To have sound thought we must have "good" intentions. Who defines "good"? our parents? our primary school teacher? our employer? our government? Good intentions are based on a deep understanding of the principles. Thus, to have sound thought, we must constantly be immersed in the Islamic paradigm by studying it from its sources, in a world which constantly streams ideas counter to it. To think properly we need to critically filter our culture, our social trends, our national trends, our media, globally promoted ideas and initiatives, ideas of deviant groups and ideas taught in educational institutes. We need to be global citizens having independent minds rather than minds tainted by nationalism.
By studying with and listening to a genuine Islamic scholars we reinforce our understanding. We must learn Islam academically in courses rather than just practice what our forefathers used to do. By doing this, we can glean principles of reality from it the same way we glean the laws of motion from the academic study of physics. Just like physics has natural principles which help us study aspects of the physical world from an internally valid systematic framework, Islam has natural principles which help us study reality of this and the unseen world. Whereas, western philosophy cuts off the stream of knowledge gleaned from the unseen realm, Islam uses that knowledge to guide intuitive reasoning to understand things more comprehensively. The vision of secular thought is monocular, that of Islamic thought is stereoscopic - using knowledge of both the seen and unseen universe to form it.
Intentions can be kept pure by living fully immersed in the Islamic paradigm and controlling exposure and influence of mainstream ideas which oppose it. This is possible by constantly studying Islam formally, thinking about it, implementing it and teaching it to others. The more we implement and teach Islam, the deeper our thought becomes. When thought is not juxtaposed among Islamic, cultural and secular worldviews it will not be confused. It will be possible to just continue building everything on the Islamic foundation as one learns new subjects of knowledge.
The intentions to acquire beneficial knowledge continuously should be for our higher spiritual development - to develop the light of understanding by which we can see things as they really are so that we positively impact the world. Care should be exercised that the world does not distract us from this mission for the hereafter. We should not covet by it praise,wealth, status, fame and honor. Lives full of meaning might be more enriching than meaningless ostentatious lives.
To understand the 21st century world one needs to understand modern knowledge. It is relatively easy to acquire empirical and analytical knowledge like that of the natural sciences, engineering, computer sciences, mathematics, etc. because they are based on observed/measurable phenomenon of this world and do not conflict much with Islamic principles. We should not try studying the humanities without first studying Islam well. Nevertheless, after studying Islam significantly, we should study the social sciences by using Islamic principles as a criteria to judge the knowledge before we decide to incorporate it in our framework of personal knowledge. Thus knowledge streams from a variety of disciplines can constantly be acquired by such self-learning.
Pure intention and correct knowledge are insufficient by themselves in developing sound thought. They need to be supplemented with good life experiences and keen observation of the phenomenon we experience with our senses. Thought is developed by practicing thinking about one's observations in the context knowledge and life experiences. To enrich thought, one needs to increase variety and depth of one's knowledge and experiences, Thus living in different societies, learning different languages, working in different industries and having a diverse social network is essential for rich thought.
The more one thinks at a meta level about things, the more one's thought develops. Thinking is a muscle which needs to be exercised daily. Writing one's thoughts allows one to think about them systematically and deliberately. One train of thought leads to another connected one. As the thought network develops, one can see trends and patterns of deep realization like it is done artificially in data mining these days. This is the beginning of wisdom. With time, one can develop discerning insight (firasa) which is sudden intuitive understanding.
To see reality as reality, thought must be pure. Pure thought is thought based on the right intentions, correct knowledge, positive assumptions, good character, good speech, good morals, good deeds and good living. Constant effort is needed to keep thought pure by studying and implementing Islam genuinely. Impure thought results in distorted concept of reality causing one to suffer from delusions about aspects of reality. Modern thought lacks such a basis, diminishing humanity's ability to understand reality for what it is.
When most of humanity will be immersed in virtual worlds, sound deep thinking will become increasingly rare. The masses will have reptilian brains that instinctively react immediately to stimuli. They will be controlled by few social architects who see humans as animals and will decide when and what global populations will think and do. The masses will constantly be concerned with personal physical survival. People will become like machines and machines like people.
Among all peoples of the world, only Muslims have the sources and methodology of sound thought development which can restore humanity to humans. Rather than rushing to adopt Western thinking, should not Muslims take the means to reform their own and then teach how to think to the world?