The Mistake

What divided us and uprooted our sanctity of unity is older than we might believe it to be:

“. . . — that the diversity of men in religions and creeds, plus the disagreement of the Community of Islam about doctrines, given the multiplicity of sects and the divergency of methods, is a deep sea in which most men founder and from which few only are saved. Each group alleges that it is the one saved, and “each faction is happy about its own beliefs.”

Al-Munqidh min al-Dalal (Deliverance from Error) by Imam Ghazali (1058-1111 A.D), translated by  Richard J. Mccarthy, S.J.

What then started all this divergence and can it be said the beauty of religion? I don’t buy this argument of seeing beauty in disagreement. It has led us here and one cannot simply remain aloof to the predicaments of our society that this disagreement has brought. The problem is as old as our own history and its solution cannot be a mere modern interpretation of lexicons. The grandeur of the mistake must inspire us to delve further into our own beliefs. In the past we must seek this mistake and correct it so that we don’t founder in building our future.

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Islamic concept of education

Intisaab - Book Hikmat-e-Iqbal by Dr Rafi ud din

[Dedication of book Hikmat-e-Iqbal (Wisdom of Iqbal) by Dr. M. Rafi-ud-Din]

[Roughly translated as: To the lovers of beauty of the being (God), who in future will find the inevitable universal state based on the Islamic proposition of the philosophy of khuddi (human self-consciousness)]

Just read this article written by Dr. Muhammad Rafi-ud-Din. He outlines in it the philosophical rhetoric about the motives of education and has critically examined theories put forward by McDougal, and Percy Nunn. He is of the opinion that the purpose of education is not merely to build a “character” or to prepare an individual to “spend” his life rather, its purpose is to impart in an individual a complete code of ideology. The “ideology” he states has deepest implications on an individual’s life and the life of community which he is a part of.

He then probes into the matter of different ideologies (Capitalism, Socialism) that are the result of particular forms of education. He argues that these ideologies are the result of educational system of the particular peoples of these places. There is a right ideology and there is a wrong one and there is a need to be aware of the two. According to Dr. Rafi-ud-Din there is no way for an individual to know whether he is right or wrong as long as he is a part of that particular system. As there is no way to judge when there is prejudice. The solution he suggests is to rediscover the purpose of education, as every ideology strives on its educational system. He discusses the biggest problem faced by the western thinkers of education and states that they are concerned about matter only and resultantly they have attributed human development to be a mere extension of instinctive abilities of animals. Therefore, they are deluded in the present state of affairs where they don’t find appropriate to “impose” any “ideology” on the individual. This is the flaw of western educational theories as we as Muslims already have an ideology.

He then moves on to assert the Islamic ideology of education that it is based on the belief that reality of humans is through khuddi (human self-consciousness). He suggests to the philosophers of his time that if they accept this world view all their problems related to human sociology can be resolved. He then stipulates the things needed to have a healthy khuddi which should be the goal of Islamic education. Like healthy nutritious diet is needed to protect the body against physical illness, so does mental protection of khuddi is needed to protect the body from psychological illness. The diet for khuddi is love for a concept of beauty. The more beautiful one’s ideology is, more flourished there khuddi will be. Beauty is the nourishment of khuddi. He is of the opinion that different nations have different ideologies that they deem beautiful and are in love with them. Although there is partial beauty in those ideologies but the completion of this beauty cannot be achieved without God. God is the supreme beauty, he concludes, and the purpose of all knowledge is to discover the wholeness of His beauty.

It is inevitable for the people, who believe in an ideology, to form a communion and live their lives according to that specific ideology. If people who are in love with God’s beauty come together, the result will be the formation and following of universal principles of ethics, desire for knowledge and art. He then sees the decadent state that Muslims are currently in and he sees education as a decision of life and death for Muslims. In final pages he has iterated the example of dialectical materialism of Soviet Union. He has stated how their ideology forms the basis of their educational system and how it is flawed. He is of the opinion that Islamic ideology is a belief just like any other ideology and Muslims have the right to follow it just like other nations are following their ideologies.

It is an interesting read and you will be amazed by the thoughts of Dr. Rafi-ud-Din on education. He has written extensively on this subject in his book, “First Principles of Education”.

Beauty of love is in freedom

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Love cannot be a duty, because it is not subject to will. It is a gift from heaven, the best that heaven has to bestow. Those who shut it up in a cage destroy the beauty and joy which it can only display while it free and spontaneous. Here, again, fear is the enemy. He who fears to lose what makes the happiness of his life has already lost it. In this, as in other things, fearlessness is the essence of wisdom.

~ Bertrand Russell, On Education

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Learn to obey so that you can learn to cammand!

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[Source]

In the very far past I heard this quote in some movie I do not remember. Today, I read about it in ‘On education’ by Bertrand Russell. He debates on it in these meaningful lines.

He writes:

“. . . when we come to consider, not courage in this or that respect, but universal courage, something more fundamental is wanted. What is wanted is a combination of self-respect with an impersonal outlook on life. To begin with self respect: some men live from within, while others are mere mirrors of what is felt and said by their neighbors. The latter can never have true courage: they must have admiration, and are haunted by the fear of losing it. The teaching of ‘humility’, which used to be thought desirable, was the means of producing a perverted form of this same vice. ‘Humility’ suppressed self-respect, but not the desire for the respect of others, it merely made nominal self abasement the means of acquiring credit. Thus it produced hypocrisy and falsification of instinct. Children were taught unreasoning submission, and proceeded to exact it when they grew up; it was said that only those who have learned to obey know how to command. What I suggest is that no one should learn how to obey, and no one should attempt to command. I do not mean, of course, that there should not be leaders in cooperative enterprises; but their authority should be like that of a captain in a football team, which is suffered voluntarily in order to achieve a common purpose. Our purposes should be our own and, not the result of external authority, and our purposes should never be forcibly imposed on others. This is what I mean when I say no one should command and no one should obey.”

Islam at Crossroads by Muhammad Asad

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Excerpts from the conclusions of Islam at the Crossroads by Muhammad Asad.

“Islamic culture has had its splendid rise and its blossoming age; it had power to inspire men to deeds and sacrifices, it transformed nations and changed the face of the earth, and later it stood still and became stagnant, and then it became an empty word, and at present we witness its utter debasement and decay. But is this all?” . . . .

“What appears to be the decay of Islam is in reality nothing but the death and emptiness in our hearts, which are too idle and too insensitive to hear the eternal voice.No sign is visible that mankind, in its present stature, has outgrown Islam. It has not been able to produce a better system of ethics than that expressed in Islam; it has not been able to put the idea of human brotherhood on a practical footing, as Islam does in its supra-national concept of the ummah; it has not been able to create a social structure in which the conflicts and frictions between its members are as efficiently reduced to a minimum as in the social plan of Islam; it has not been able to enhance the dignity of man, his feeling of security, his spiritual hope – and last, but surely not least, his happiness.” . . . .

” By far the most important feature of our present-day condition is to be found in the intellectual and social spheres: in the disappearance of our belief and our creativeness and the disruption of our social organism.” . . . .

“Our first step must be the shedding of that spirit of “apology” for Islam, which is only another name for intellectual defeatism: only a masquerade for our own scepticism. And the next stage must be our conscious, deliberate following of the Sunnah of our Prophet. For Sunnah means no more and no less than the teachings of Islam translated into practice. By applying it as an ultimate test to the requirements of our daily life we will easily recognize which impulses from Western civilization might be accepted and which ought to be rejected. Instead of meekly submitting Islam to alien intellectual norms, we must learn – once again – to regard Islam as the norm by which the world is to be judged.”  . . . . .

“But only if we regain our lost self-confidence can we expect to go forward once again . Never will the goal be reached if we destroy our own social institutions and imitate a foreign civilization – foreign not only in an historical or a geographical sense but also in the spiritual one. And the way has been pointed out to us in the words of the Holy Our’an:

“Verily, in the Apostle of God you have a good example for everyone who looks forward to God and the Last Day” (surah 33:21)”