Published On:01 November 2010
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

Three Important Questions Indian Muslims should ponder

By Dr. Wasim Ahmad

A gentleman has asked three important questions. My humble submissions are as follows:

1. Does our responsibility end at imparting education till XII? I was of the opinion that we must have a plan for creating quality technical institutions so that a student who does not want to join IIT/IIM doesn’t feel choiceless.

Our responsibility does not end at imparting education till grade XII. There are some basic misconceptions among Muslims which have been created over many generations. For instance, the division of knowledge as ‘secular’ and ‘religious’. According to Qur’an there are three sources of knowledge; i) man himself, ii) the universe and iii) the history. If we look at these three sources of knowledge we will find out that no branch of knowledge is left out. Similarly, the strict (and unjustified) division that exists between dunyaa and deen needs to be dispelled. Obviously, it will take a very long time.

Yes, we should establish more educational institutions with very clear objectives in view. However, Muslims should join the existing mainstream institutions by all means. We have to shun our exclusivist and isolationist mindset which sometimes seems to be nothing but escapism as joining the mainstream institutions requires harder work. Muslim students should aim at joining the mainstream institutions. We should learn to live with the followers of other faiths. I have noticed that if the children go to exclusive environments they are not quite comfortable when they are faced with the larger society. We should not allow this situation.

2. I feel that IIT/IIM/Harvard are not the standards for education because our religious values do not allow us to become obsessive with anything. I have seen my friends and relatives who pursued education from the top rated institutions. They look obsessed. Am I right in my analysis or is it a wrong generalisation?

We have to aim at making this world a better place to live in – as a means of earning the good pleasure of Allah and hence Paradise. As Muslims we believe that it is possible only with the ideals of Islam. Because Islam combines the body and soul or spirit and matter seamlessly – the middlemost path. Because we are supposed to carry out the commands of Allah on this earth – in all the aspects of the worldly life. The qualification for that is knowledge – the indivisible knowledge. All those institutions which could give us that knowledge are most desirable. But because we and those institutions don’t have the complete picture we fall short of the ideal. On the top of that there are many misconceptions. It only means that ours is a long struggle – mainly of the mind-set and the approach. There is no problem outside. The problem is only in our way of looking at things. It is only in our thought patterns.

3. Can you guide me on how can I help the students make a better career preserving their deen after XIIth or Graduation?

Correctly understood, deen should motivate the Believers to master all the sciences of the world without separating dunyaa from deen. Deen can preserve us in a far better way than we think we can preserve it. We have to change our discourse and the way of looking at things. I have always wondered why we were told in the madrasah that we have to teach the world while actually we should first learn a lot from it. For each one of us the field of action – first and foremost – is the individual himself i.e. we ourselves. The field of action is not farther away. It is within us. We need to rethink all the information that we have gathered so far and revisit all the notions that we have grown up with. This is the only way to remove the misconceptions of others. We cannot remove the misconceptions of others without first removing our own.

We want to preserve our deen because we think that it is somehow threatened. Why is it threatened? It is threatened because its ideals have not been explained to us in a scientific and rational manner. Being born as Muslims, however, we want to preserve it despite thinking in the dark corners of our minds that it is weak. It is not weak. Our institutions are weak. We are weak. Islam is the name of beautiful universal principles. Principles are never weak. Ideals are never threatened. Objective truth is never weak or threatened. Muslims may be weak. Islam isn’t.

However, for the twin purposes of ‘preserving’ their deen and having a better career please inculcate among the students a rational and scientific approach. Ask them to critically think about all that you say to them and question it, too. Let them not accept anything without first evaluating and assessing it to the maximum extent that they can. Please ask them to ask you the connection between your two lectures – no matter how remote in time those two lectures may be.

Please ask them to start looking for the connection and a link between things and ideas. They need to develop the whole picture. Please tell them that you are not their teacher. You are merely a facilitator. Please tell them that you are their friend. Because you have accepted them as they are and you don’t want them to become like you. Please ask them never to “graduate”. Please tell them to teach you (by asking questions) because you are teaching, too. Please tell them that the classroom is not a classroom. It is a kitchen. And you all need to cook the choicest dishes together.

[Dr. Wasim Ahmad is Department Head of Islamic Studies, Preston University, Ajman, UAE. He can be contacted at malikwasimahmad@gmail.com or +971505363235]

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Posted by Indian Muslim Observer on November 01, 2010. Filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

By Indian Muslim Observer on November 01, 2010. Filed under . Follow any responses to the RSS 2.0. Leave a response

3 comments for "Three Important Questions Indian Muslims should ponder"

  1. great innovative direction and observation. Dr. Wasim endevours to open our minds to the ground reality that we need to focus our efforts on the ground, and the ground is nothing but the dunya itself. isnt the dunya our stepping stone stationed on which we learnt to fly on air? we need to drill in if we expect to reach out. we should not pass the dunya on tiptoe, we need to imprint our footprints on it like prophet Ibrahim did and leave our signature in the world. arent we in ourselves Allah's signs.

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  3. I've been closely reading Dr. Wasim's writings published in the Indian Muslim Observer. They are quite logical, enlightening and educative. If the Muslim community takes his writings seriously and looks up to it as a guidance on how to spend ones life adhering to the Deen and Duniya alongside, there is no reason why the community won't prosper. Such writings are the need of the hour. Congratulations to Dr. Wasim for presenting such enlightened writings. We expect more guidance from him in future as well.

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