My name is Shazad Khan and I’m passionate about learning and teaching. I founded U-Knowit to provide myself with an online platform to reach people that I couldn’t have reached otherwise. I’ve been teaching a range of subjects for nearly two decades now which include, Critical Thinking, English for Academic Purposes, Interactive Learning & Communication Skills, Arabic and Islamic Studies. I’ve also been blogging at micropaedia.org since 2010. U-Knowit is basically an accumulation of my struggles, passions, reading, learning and meanderings; all systematically organised into modules for intellectual consumption.
But enough about me… I have a question for you – what type of person are you?
Are you passionate about empowering yourself?
Do you want to learn new skills and knowledge?
Do you struggle with the ability to write academically?
Do you struggle with being a Muslim in a Western context?
Do you find yourself in a pickle over pronouns and prepositions?
If you answered yes to any of these questions – then you’re in the right place. Now without wanting to generalise too much, I believe that most people fall into one of three categories.
- The Victims
My intention here is not to offend anyone, I’m highlighting this to illustrate my point. But the little voice in the minds of people who do not want to empower themselves sounds something like this:
- It’s too hard.
- It’s too expensive.
- I have no skills and don’t know how to go about getting them.
- Even if I want to improve my skill-set I have no idea of how to go about it.
You’re not actually to blame if you have these thoughts. I’ve actually had them myself. But to put it quite bluntly, they are just plain old excuses. A life worth living is one where you take risk; where you tread uncharted territories and “boldly going where no man has gone before.”
Unless you fight this inner voice, it will constantly impede you getting anywhere in life. You need to take that first leap of faith and just do it.
2. The Wannabes
Again, I’m highly generalising here but please bear with me. The wannabes know that the only way they can get themselves out of the hole they’ve dug themselves into is by actually doing something. But they’re just not ready to take the action.
If they finally do pluck up the courage to take the first leap, they’re held back by negative comments made by their friends.
If you have friends who are never wanting to get out of their own hell-hole, most likely you will never want to get out of yours. And, unsurprisingly, the opposite is also true: if you have friends who are encouraging, positive and always wanting to improve themselves, it’s highly likely that you are too. Remember:
You are the sum total of the views, opinions and worldviews of your closest five friends.
So, to put it quite bluntly, you need to ditch your negative friends and start hanging around with people who will support you in your learning journey to become a better person.
3. The Open-Minded
Being open-minded is always a good thing. You have the ability to see things from different perspectives and to empathise with the other. You take the risk of listening to your opponents and if need be to change your own opinion. This takes courage and is usually the first stepping-stone to success.
Think about this, nearly all successful people have been open-minded risk takers. And if you want to be successful, you need to be an open-minded risk taker too.
But here’s the reality of all this. We need all three groups to run parallel for us to operate as a healthy cool-headed individual.
- You need the objections of the first group for you to be more prudent in life. You don’t want to be taking a leap of faith for every opportunity that knocks your door. You need the inner voice to sort out the wheat from the chaff.
- You need the knowledge-base of group 2 to synthesise the pessimism of group 1 with optimism.
- You then need to have the daredevil of group 3 to take the risks to better yourself.
OK, so you’ve got me interested in improving myself. What next?
Well, this is why I created U-Knowit. As a great admirer of the traditions of the East and the West, I believe that a serious student should acquire the great works of both these traditions and treat them as a shared possession – a frame of reference and further communication for all who acknowledge it, and which permits the steady appreciation of new works, new sympathies and new ideas. Memorising Shakespeare’s Sonnets, reading aloud Rumi’s Mathnavi and performing the stories of Kalilah wa Dimnah – such ought to be the beginnings of a literary education.
The pursuit of knowledge is not for financial gain nor for securing employment; it is to become part of a long hailing tradition, culture and religious community.
So with this aim in mind, I wish to harness both these traditions and develop in students an appreciation of the best works of the ancients. To enable young minds to appreciate, articulate and communicate in a highly engaging way.
I believe that culture is a source of emotional knowledge, as to what to do and what you should feel. This knowledge comes to pass through ideals and examples, through images, narration and symbols. We convey it through the forms and rhythms of art, literature and architecture, and they are a reaction to the fragile nature of human life.
Our civilizations have been uprooted – both Eastern and Western. But when the tree is uprooted, it doesn’t always die. Sap may find its way into branches, which are divided into foliage every spring with lasting hope in living things. This is what U-Knowit aims to preserve – an Islamic identity flavoured in Western tradition. Culture and religion are not only precious to us, they are a real political cause, and the fundamental way to preserve our moral heritage in the face of a cloudy future.
I do not have a package of ready-made solutions, rather a stimulus to thought, an appreciation of the best of traditions and a challenge to inventions.