The Allegory of the Cave
In this famous theory written by Plato, he imagines a group of people who have lived chained in a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall by things passing in front of a fire behind them, and begin to ascribe forms to these shadows. According to Plato, the shadows are as close as the prisoners get to seeing reality.
Contact is the key to effective communication. Contact between various members of a society is essential to build strong feelings of love and commitment. Contact within the same universities, schools, classes, organizations, events and other places where people go about their business enables people to get to know each other better, to understand or share in their ideas, beliefs, sorrows and joys.
“Allah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who have not fought against you on account of religion and did not drive you out of your homes. Verily, Allah loves those who deal with equity.” (Al-Mumtahanah: 8)
Contacts do not stop at a superficial limit like simply sharing the same universities or working in the same organizations, but it involves more intimate levels like sharing and emphatizing with others’ problems, concerns, happiness, grief, hopes, expectations and disappointments.
No contact means no effective communication. It obviously results in wrong information. People tend to observe from afar. They are not brave enough to catch the right people for the right and credible information. Consequently, people assume anything that may uphold their stance and assumptions tend to be wrong. Just like what is mentioned by Plato in his popular Allegory of Cave long time ago.
There’s where people build a vacuum domain of truth between them. No one dare to try to break into the domain. It needs a very high pressure, temperature, energy and very sophisticated ‘pump’ before the domain can be break. That is when prejudice and hatred come into play.
There are a lot of examples in the olden days for what we have been discussing right now. Obviously, one of them is Battle of Siffin. It was fought between Ali ibn Abi Talib and Muawiyah I, on the banks of the Euphrates river, in what is now Ar-Raqqah, Syria. Following the controversial murder of Uthman ibn Affan, Ali had become Caliph but struggled to be accepted as such throughout the Muslim Empire.
Muawiyah, the governor of Syria, was a kinsman of the murdered Caliph, and just wanted the murderers brought to justice. He is not a rebellion as his enemy wanted people to see. Ali was in difficult situation since the ummah at that time was in chaos without a leader. Muawiyah considered that Ali was unwilling to do this, and so Muawiyah rebelled against Ali, who attempted to put down the rebellion. The result was the engagement at Siffin. It is so confusing that Ali was in Madinah while Muawiyah is in Damascus. What would you expect for two sides without any proper communication system to make a dialogue to understand each other’s position? This is what I mean as ‘Vacuum Domain of Truth’.
Therefore, it is not fair to other side if we throw a lot of accusations merely based on other’s words which could be slanderous. They may have their own agenda or influenced by their emotions. People with high knowledge and credibility also may do the same mistake. No people are free from their emotion; they may use their knowledge as they like to fulfil their agenda. Who knows? So, the solution is to meet the right people, like in the previous case, Ali, listen with an open heart to their explanation.
I write this just for one reason.
“The Believers are but a single Brotherhood: So make peace and reconciliation between your two (contending) brothers; and fear Allah, that ye may receive Mercy.” (Al-Hujuurat: 10)
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