The Divided Opinion


‘You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.'

Harlan Ellison


Again, it has resurfaced. The pages of newspapers are back as they were when the Palestine and Israel war was ravaging. It is the talk of the town- spreading like wildfire. It is the trend on the social media platforms. It is about Islam, shariah law, and terrorism. It’s all around – the lies, the narration of a lazy-to-read man, the bias version of a religious bigot, the irrelevant conclusion of the so-called political and social analysts, and the sit-on-the-fence judgment of a liberal Muslim, and all.

How people actually form opinions on a given issue, as well as what sorts of opinions they form, depends partly on their immediate situations, partly on more general social-environmental factors, and most importantly, partly on their preexisting knowledge.

This editorial is not to justify the re-emergence of the Taliban and prove the validity of shariah law being used in Afghanistan, and neither to call America the culprit ;It is however aimed at addressing people on how to comment on contemporary issues in society. The manners involved and the sense of judgment required.

All around. Some Muslims are in support of the Taliban, exonerating them because of the inclusion of Shariah law in their governance. Some are deliberately against them to swerve away from being called religious bigots. So did it happened during the Israeli-Palestinian war. As Muslims, what is expected of us?

It is worthy to note that some are taking advantage of the actions of the Taliban to spread Islamaphobia, kick against Islam, and propagate bigotry.

In the words of American-born political analyst, Robert Worcester, Opinions are “the ripples on the surface of the public’s consciousness—shallow and easily changed.” This, to us, is clear that no matter how strong opinions are, they are subject to change if the individuals holding them learn of new facts or perspectives that challenge their earlier thinking. This is especially likely when people learn of a contrary position held by an individual whose judgment they respect.

For every right human enjoys, there are limitations to it. Giving an opinion on contemporary issues is a right every individual should enjoy. It is however advisable to keep numb when one's opinion is unsolicited.

Section 45 of the Nigerian Constitution mentioned that freedom of expression is subject to certain restrictions provided by law necessary to respect others' rights, protect national security and uphold public morality. Hence, to protect national security and uphold public morality, opinions that are likely to cause chaos in the community are not to be made.

To the common man on the street, his opinion might be a cog in the wheel. To personalities with relevance in the society - religious leaders, OAP’s, students of knowledge, public affairs, and social analysts who people revered in the community to be of “opinion leadership,” It is noteworthy to address the way they address issues.

The prophet warned us against suspicion and giving information on things we are oblivious of- or with inadequate knowledge. Chipping in on issues without adequate knowledge is an act that is not expected to be encouraged. The world we are in is global and, the news is at our fingertips. The importance of adequate knowledge and understanding of the concept one wants to voice his opinion on cannot be overemphasized. It is unethical to live in the thraldom of one's ignorance.

In the theory of cooperative principle, as described by Grice (1975), one of the maxims of cooperation in conversation is quality, meaning, the statement to be made must be factual- without any measure of doubt; do not say anything for which you lack evidence. There are many cases where silence is the wiser path to trend.

To Muhammad Ali the 'greatest', silence is golden when we cannot get a good answer. When issues with which we have little mastery are being discussed, it is better not to talk than give wrong information that might fuel misconception and hatred.

As earlier quoted from the words of Harlan Ellison, ‘You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant”.

When you are thrall in your emotion, keep it when while giving opinion in the public. Acknowledge your emotion when it creeps into your thought and try to avoid its influence on the side you take. Be conscious of this, as well: Do not be unjust to people because of your hatred towards them. Be wary of religious affinity in social issues.

The good sense of justice defines us as a community; it says that we all care about one another, that we are deeply grieved when evil befalls the other party, and that one shall listen to the other party.

Beyond national and intenational contemporary issues, these could also be applied to our interpersonal relationships with friends. Like a graphic curve, life situations have a turning point. In its turning point, it is a product of an idea that is acted upon.

Brethren, let us all act upon our Islamic ideas and, I have no iota of doubt that millions of realities will be transformed.

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