Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Stimuli of Muslim curricula!

This article was written by me earlier in 2012. I wrote it and just forgot about it. After seeing some articles on education by Umer Toor I came to remember it. So, it goes like this:
This article is written as a critique on modern education, its implications and to understand where it has lacked and how we Muslims have to transform education in order to preserve the human moralities and Islamic ideology. This is the first article which encompasses the influences on modern education and its origins. In further articles, it will be tried to come up with some rationale on which to build the structure of modern education which keeps human nature intact with its ethics and preserves the teachings and injunctions of Allah Almighty. There has to be a balance between what we take from the prevailing system in which we Muslims are dominated by another civilization and have to decide what is useful for us and what is it that divides and rules us. Just two hundred years back we were united but now grand walls of utilitarianism stands between us which has in fact nothing to do with us or our civilization.
Contemporary education or modern literacy I believe has harmed, as well as benefited human race. To understand the long lasting effects of modern education we have to go back in history towards its inception. From there I believe we can conceive the idea of what contemporary endeavor of modern education is. For now it is enough to say that it has given us war, bloodshed, imperialism, and nationalism. It has divested the superior human values from us and has evolved human society which is individualistic in nature, which compels men to be involved in performing feats of personal gratification having no room for love and care with shear selflessness. It has so far given two major wars or world wars in the human history. This cannot be said the age of enlightenment nor is it the Dark Age. It is a delusion of evolution without any direction. No doubt that science and education of people has given us some wondrous inventions and has laid the foundations of various subjects but these were supposed to make human life easier and were to make them civilized. But repercussions suggests that it has been disastrous. As humans we are on the brink of making some decisions which will in fact be the architecture of our future.
Now let us delve into the influences that modern curricula’s have in common.
The modern age of industrialization initiated by the Great Britain was founded on the sentiments of increasing productivity, On these grounds it can be said that it was related to greed present in human nature. It can also be linked to increase in population but more or less it can be related to greed or avarice. With this radical change there came a rush of inventions and products that changed the face of human society for ever. Previously wars were fought for land, ownership and money; this is not changed even now, groups or clans for their own sake of safety, protection and survival wage wars on other similar groups(by groups today, I mean Nations and corporations). Today, the businesses are running on the Machiavellian thought and totalitarianism without any bounds and without any ethics. This has created the domination of a system based on money and power. Capitalism whose decline has just been started in Wall Street outlines a system in which the whole of economy stands on the greed of humans for power and beauty, which when stripped off from ethics, results in the bigotry of unequal distribution of wealth.
This system is the sentiment of today’s educational system. The degrees which are now offered are only to sustain this system, to make it robust, and are only for its embellishment. The curricula have failed to give people any higher aim of living. Those who aspire for greater good are themselves restrained to a small local level and have up till now failed to achieve any milestone in bringing a halt to the devastation borne by a vast majority of people around the globe. (We are aware of bombings in Japan, massacre of Hitler, Bloodshed by Communists, Economic Depressions).
Capitalistic ideas must be taken critically and should be renounced as the final word for the economic system of humans. This indicates the revitalization of the sentiments on which the subjects are taught in schools and colleges.
Philosophical Purge:
The subconscious ruling of human nature and the deterrence it brought with it can be attributed to some of the Western philosophers. Though they have discovered in their way great deal of understanding of the human nature but still they have formed the basis of which modern obscenity, immorality, and materialism find their justification. These ideas must be subverted by pure Islamic intellect and ideology. Because in reality these ideas have explored the darkest sides of human conscience and brought to light those attitudes which were once considered taboo.
Machiavelli’s The Prince is one such example. In his book he suggests that for authority, ethical norms for rulers do not matter2. Similar strains on ideologies and actions are attributed to Sigmund Freud3. These dreadful ideas have in fact formed the basis of modern society, economies and governments.
Nail in the coffin for modern education are majorly the ideas of Darwin and Karl Marx4. Karl Marx perpetuating Darwin’s theory of evolution into historical materialism suggests in Marx’s critique of political economy that:
“… in every historical epoch the prevailing economic system by which the necessities of life are produced determines the form of societal organization and the political and intellectual history of the epoch; and that the history of society is a history of struggles between exploiting and exploited, that is, between ruling and oppressed, social classes.”
According to him the structure of society including politics, religion, arts, and philosophy are founded on the basis of economic conditions of prevailing era. People do read and are influenced with these writings just as Ilich Lenin was influenced and brought up the revolution in Russia.
The curriculum of Muslims today does not at any plane, deals with these adulterations and is harming the way our students are nourished ideologically. It spoils the higher obligation and rank that Allah Almighty has awarded to humans. So, to revive the educational system this philosophical purge is inevitable.
Revolutions and wars:
The unrests and revolutions that came in past few centuries have also framed the world view of education and its outcomes. The French revolution attributes a significant place for wiping out feudalism and is credited with evoking liberalism. This revolution preceded by the American Revolution instills a spirit of liberty in the educationist approach of institutions, teaching and learning. It also contributes the idea of democracy in the western world and it was through this revolution that basis of modern political thought is inspired. Political theorists and students now advance their thought after considering the universality of the ideas of democracy and capitalism without analyzing critical the implications of these systems.
Similarly, the Russian Revolution and Marxism has brought with it a completely different mindset and values and when they were first practiced in the revolution they were ferocious in prevailing these ideas to the whole world. The Nazi’s Nationalism was another despicable event that took place and failed. Now the world is left with a single dominion of Capitalism awaited to be replaced with something more ideal.
World wars can simply be attributed to Nationalism. Many of the subjects and fields of study were developed owing to the demands of warfare like Operations Management, Supply Chain Management, and Resource Planning etc. Even the invention of internet is accredited to the needs of military communication after World War II. The overall focus of the education in previous two centuries have not been on the moral grounds because if it were, people would have enjoyed a more safer, indiscriminate and peaceful planet. This so called “Management” and “Engineering” are nothing but the tools to keep the “system” running and to spread the void between rich and the poor, powerful and the oppressed, while their better purposes are still left unexplored.
These ideas have deep impact on the overall structure of educational system of Pakistan as well as other Muslim countries. The need is to understand the fragility of the grim situation that we are in and to find the ways out of it.
The fourth pillar of the state:
It can be said that today everyone is reading, writing, learning, understanding, persevering, and moving forward only for the sake of money and life style. The subtleties of men now rest in the hands of some ignorant celebrities and movie stars or a bunch of business giants and global corporate culture which are controlling and influencing a major portion of the population.
With its importance it’s termed to be the fourth pillar of the state and is the most influential idea rampant in the circles of life of contemporary global culture. It starts influences children from their childhood and matures as the child matures, develops like the child develops and does not die with that person but finds another prey. This fourth pillar of the state and its adversaries are now the most revered in society and people’s ideals are those who come on ‘TV”. This gives an unfathomable, surmounting and alarming situation for the decency and civilization of mankind. Our evolution is at stake due to this media because it has torn apart the garment of modesty from people’s eyes and it has once again took humanity to those primitive times when there was degradation of feminine gender and immodesty it faced.
The media has now become the tool and playground for a few to play and ridicule the many. This influence is also upon the educational system and it influences it indirectly. This has made people weary of studying printed books and has inflicted upon them procrastination and sloth. Which not only affects their learning and mental capabilities but drives them away from abstinence.
The memory of the child and his true freedom must be preserved in order to flourish true wisdom in the students and to conspire in them the motivation of learning.
Many things must have been left while writing this as this is no short topic it requires deliberate working and understanding of human conscience and zeitgeist of time in order to identify its fallacies. This article is just an effort to compile the thoughts into an organized form to better understand the problem at hand and to convey it to others.
The Islamic concept of educational system is based on the spiritual and moral grounds and implies a set of principles which are completely different and in fact in conflict with the contemporary world view of education. The modern education has moved on after renouncing the existence of any other world other than what they perceive and feel, this attitude has casted a curse on society which has sabotaged its moral values. Dignity, courage, austerity, justice, freedom, wisdom, virtuousness, integrity, and absolute sincerity are absent from today’s learned and literate man. Because if it were a part of the education or if education would have taught these moralities; there must have been less suffering by human race.
“To learn is to understand and to understand we need free thought and for free thought we need not to be slaves”
خرد کو غلامی سے آ زاد کر

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Filling the ideological vacuum

I just read the news here about China’s doomsday phobia about 21st December, 2012. It clearly illustrates the hollowness of character, aim and goal of these people towards life. First let us talk about this so called phobia. To me it all seems the modern superstition that has no logical or spiritual basis. Strengthened by the failures of Nostradamus, these are mere tales to which some, who have nothing to believe in, ascribe their faith.
The news in Asia times has narrated some incidents surrounding this ‘phobia’. China a place where more than one fifths of the world’s population resides, constitutes a fair sample of what the world is going through. It clearly suggests the following things:
1. The people are mostly becoming materialistic divorcing the spiritual side of humans
2. They are unclear of why they are here for?
3. Superstitions are still there in their hearts
4. Atheism, although is increasing very rapidly, still doesn’t provide the ideal of satisfaction and happiness
5. This voluptuous and promiscuous attitudes inculcate frustration in people all around the world (another indicator is the rate of suicides in the East Asian countries)
6. There are no foundations on which to build up the moralities and values of system (sometimes this has given people faith in their old traditions and cultures and they have been able to give economic boost to their countries like Japan and China. But still they cannot provide the true foundations of aspirations for a society)
In this scenario I feel that we Muslims have greatly forgotten our obligation of providing the world with answers to these questions of ideal, purpose and justice. Many have been persevering but like one professor (Tarrun Khanna) said “it is not enough”. [He said it in the perspective of revolution in entrepreneurial spirit of Pakistan. In response on being told of the efforts of ‘akhuwat foundation’ and some other Pakistani entrepreneurs]
What is the ideology of Islam? How does it answer these questions? How can it transform the present turmoil of societies? Is it something doable?
According to my opinion these are some questions that need immediate answers. The works of following authors can provide the answers in detail:
1. The Holy Quran & Sunnah of Prophet (Sallallahu alayehe wasalam)
2. The alchemy of happiness (Imam Ghazali)
3. The reconstruction of religious thought in Islam (Lectures of Allama Iqbal)
4. Quran and Modern Knowledge (Dr. Muhammad Rafi-ud-din)
5. Mahazarat e Shariat (Dr. Mehmud Ahmad Ghazai)
These are the writers as far as I know. But I wanted to write here what my own thoughts and reflections say about these questions and this “vacuum” that needs to be filled. So, here it goes:
1. We are created by one creator Allah (Subhanawatalla) [Nothing surpasses Him in any of the ma’roof qualities]
2. The highest intellect and understanding of this universe was revealed to the prophet (Sallallahu alayehe wasalam) and no one can better judge and do justice except for Muhammad (Sallallahu alayehe wasalam)
3. The purpose of this very small life given to us is to spend it in trying to persevere in the cause of Allah (that explicitly means that the decision of right and wrong, virtue and wickedness lies with the decision of Quran and nothing surpasses it)
4. It also means that people are not slaves of any ideal, concept or action apart from what Allah has revealed
5. This ideal of Allah divorces meaning of worldly endeavors of materialistic desires
6. The true satisfaction lies in the following of natural law, the law of Allah
7. The moralities and values that humans are to follow are not mere dogmas but are the foundations of the spiritual well being of people, they cannot be associated with human wishes and they cannot be evil or wicked in any form for other humans (This well being of soul, values and moralities cannot be attained by any other source)
8. The true happiness is when people realize the purpose that Allah has bestowed upon them and this ‘happiness’ is attained by following Allah’s commandments
9. The commandments are distributed in four elements two of Zahir (Outerself) and two of Batin (Innerself). (‘Ibadat (worship), Mu’amalaat (dealings) , Muhlikat (), Munajjiyat) [The details can be read in ‘Alchemy of Happiness by Imam Ghazali]
10. All the miseries that have befallen humans today can be solved by following the commandments of Allah and this ‘vacuum’ can only be filled with His love and affection that surpasses every other joy and bliss.
“The day that neither wealth nor sons will be of any benefit except for he who comes to Allah with a pure heart.” (Al-Quran, 26:89)
The above were my mere scribbles. I would love to hear your thoughts about this and to know more resources that can help in “filling the vacuum”. And please share about what you feel about “happiness” and “contentment” with regards to modern zeitgeist.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

New God!

A very striking example of "taaza khuda (Modern God)" on the website of Singapore's Housing Development Board which was established after 1960's crisis. It states that "Living environments are provided with community spaces for residents to mingle and interact. Public housing policies and schemes are formulated not only to meet changing needs and aspirations, but they also support national objectives such as maintaining racial harmony and stronger family ties, and focus on the needs of elderly and those who may be in financial difficulty." The moral values that we hold on to religiously are attributed to "National Interests". This is what Iqbal has stated as:
In taza khudaon mein bara sab se watan hai
jo parahan is ka woh mazhab ka kafan hai
There always have been virtue and wickedness. Although its understanding is inside everybody's heart but nobody except the Creator can define what is right and wrong. Socrates and Plato did try to form their Utopia by shear logic and thought but Rome didn't stay atop for eternity. It didn't ascribe the era of Peace, Justice and equality. The accounts of this so called 'magnificent' empire can be read in many books. (1. The history of decline and fall of roman empire, by Edward Gibbon. 2. Insaani dunya per musalmanon k arooj o zawal ka asar, by Syed Abul Hassan Ali Nadvi). It is clear that the fall was due to lack of civic virtue. Why is that? Because human logic is not capable of defining the balance of society nor it is an evolutionary process.
We as Muslims believe that right and wrong is what Allah and His Prophet (Sallallahu Alaehay Wasslam) has stated and nothing surpasses it. The foundation of Islam is on this that
"Whosoever Does not Judge by what Allah has revealed (then) such people are 'fasiqoon' to Allah." Ma'idah:47
Some people may argue that what bad is happening in West for not following moral code of Islam. The answer is beautifully given by Maryam Jameelah (May God be pleased with her)in her book "Western Civilization condemned by itself" that all the forces in such a society will work for its deterrence. Such a society cannot move on and humanity would have to suffer. And this is exactly what is happening in West.
The example of Singapore that I have stated is just a miniature that i stumbled upon on this website.
The marvels of West surpass this by several thousand exponents.
P.S: This post was inspired by my recent talks with Khwaja Khawaja Ahsan Ul Haq and Umer Toor.