Education the way forward for Muslims

izharEducation an Islamic Perspective

Narrated by Ayyub Ibn Musa: The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: “A father gives his child nothing better than a good education (Tirmidhi).Man is nothing but an animal. It is an education that teaches him many things, teaches the manners, rules and regulations of life. All these things result in transforming a man from an animal to a well-mannered human being. Nothing in the life can be achieved if we don’t have belief in ourselves. Education is what brings change and self-confidence in us. Nelson Mandela said: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” An educated person tries to understand each and every thing on his own rather than blindly following anyone else. Good heart and good soul are enough but a literate tongue and pen in hand give you wings to fly.

Knowledge is a blessing from Allah bestowed on his chosen servants. The Hadith of Prophet (S.W.T.) emphasizes the value of knowledge. It is narrated by Abu Hurrairah (RA) notes: “When a man dies, his acts come to an end, but three, recurring charity, or knowledge (by which people benefit), or a pious son, who prays for him (the deceased)” (Sahih Muslim: Book 12, Hadith 4005). Therefore, in the Qur’an and Hadith, the importance of education is explicit; in Islam seeking education is obligatory, and that knowledge is considered to be the path towards greater closeness to Allah and source of continues reward from Allah (swt).

Islamic V/S Modern Education

Nowadays lot of people talk about the differences between Islamic and Modern education without actually knowing the fact. Education means knowing about something and humans are asked about on various occasions in Quran to research, investigate and comprehend to know hidden facts in the universe like Quran says “Verily! In the creation of the heaven and earth and in the alternation of day and night there are indeed signs for men of understanding (Quran 3: 190)”. Modern scientific education primarily helps us to discover the nature and solidifies our belief in Allah’s creation. Allah s invites people to ponder on its creation at numerous places in Quran (Quran 45:3, 51:20, 12:1, 26:2).

It is true that there are several theories and methodologies which are against basic principles and teachings of Islam, in those regards Muslims must be fully aware and refrain from such beliefs. For example Darwin’s Theory of Evolution which is baseless and fundamentally contradicts with Islamic belief therefore Muslims should not accept such things. There is no Quranic verse or Hadith of Prophet (s.a.w) which fundamentally differentiates or discourages Muslims to attain modern education. In fact modern education is need of the hour.

Issue of Muslim and Non Muslim

This is another modern challenge and argument faced by today’s Muslims that can they learn from Non-Muslims? Answer to this would be yes of course. Islam does not restrict its followers to learn only from set of people, except in learning religion of Allah (i.e. Quran and Hadith). We know from the historical fact that after the Battle of Badr Prophet (S.A.W.) asked the Non-Muslims prisoners to teach Muslim children in Madinah to read and write. At one occasion Shaitan taught a Sahabi Ayat-at-Kursi to protect his asset and Rasulallah (S.A.W.) did not object.

It is important for Muslims to understand that whatever teachings of Muslims and Non-Muslims, contradicts with Quran and Hadith they have to leave such knowledge. History shows that House Of wisdom founded by Caliph Hasun-al-Rashid in 8th century was well known as Centre for Learning, sharing information, ideas and culture, besides Muslims scholars, people of Jewish and Christian background were allowed to study there. It was unrivalled centre for learning and numerous original contributions to knowledge in the field of humanity, mathematics, astronomy, and physics were made from there.

Today similar approach is needed to revive history by Muslims for scientific advancement. Educational and scientific collaborations with universities in western countries such as USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Germany and others will be fruitful for Muslim’s social and economic advancement. There are Islamic countries that have already taken such initiative and are benefiting in large way and others need to follow their footsteps in these fields.

Indian Muslims

Muslims are not new to India they have inhabited India since long ago. Stories about braveries of Muhammad ibn Qasim are still narrated in Indian households who marked the first Muslim conquest of India. Muslims lived and enjoyed glorious past in India However today’s situation leaves us totally disheartened.

Despite the fact that Muslims ruled and governed India for more than 1000 years and they were first one to oppose British rule in India. Muslims sacrifices and contributions in Indian independence can never be denied, but unfortunately right after independence Muslims are marginalised and have remained as victims of discriminatory policies from Indian politicians. India is a country where Muslims once flourished now present very dismal picture about their social and economical conditions.

After independence Indian Muslims have been targets of several communal riots where they suffered heavy social and economical losses. According to several reports and studies Muslims in India are subjugated, deprived, betrayed and are left behind backward communities in India on several social, economical and political parameters. It’s not that absence of Muslim political power in India is the reason for their backwardness.  It is Muslim’s social leadership is responsible for this Status Quo to a large extent. The overall percentage of Muslims in bureaucracy in India is just 2.5% whereas Muslims constitute above 14% of the population of India. Literacy rate among Muslims is 59.1% which is below national average of 64.8%. Sachar committee report found that about one third of small villages with high Muslims do not have any educational institutions. After all these facts report also found that Muslims face fairly high level of poverty.

Above report shows very disappointing figure about Muslims educational scenario. At times when we had power in India we built Taj Mahal when Muslims needed Oxford. With this I don’t mean that they did something wrong by building Taj Mahal an exemplary model of Muslim architect but if they had built Taj Mahal and universities at the same time to educate Muslims no one would have questioned them.

Amidst all these disappointing facts Muslims are left with no hope from government and other social institutions to stand up for their rights thus they are left disheartened, confused and lack courage to stand up for their rights and often fail to devise affirmative action plan; therefore they have to stand up for their own rights and carve their own path of growth and development. After all this cannot be achieved without education.

Education is not merely Muslim but a National Issue

Literacy and level of education are basic indicators of the level of development achieved by a society. Spread of literacy is generally associated with important traits of modern civilization such as modernization, urbanization, industrialization, communication and commerce. Higher levels of education and literacy lead to a greater awareness and also contributes in improvement of economic and social conditions.

India has always cherished a glorious heritage in sphere of education. Universities such as Nalanda, Taxila But after 61 years of Independence A large part is deprived of even primary education, leave apart the professional education. Higher Education System in India compare to developing / developed countries needs substantial improvement. Budget allocation by Govt. of India as per 2012 plan is about 6 % which is not going to be adequate and present government has further reduced the budget expenditure on education. Despite India having world’s youngest population but it is lagging behind other developing countries and even recently World Bank removed India from list of developing nations. It thus imperative on citizens of India and other intellectuals to look education as national issue and not merely a Muslims problem.

Europe Renaissance

Fall of Rome in 476CE marked the beginning of dark ages for Europe which typically emphasises the social, cultural and economic deterioration that supposedly occurred in the Europe during this period. During this period entire Europe lived in ignorance with no scientific discoveries and economic advancement at the same time Muslims lived and enjoyed prosperous life where knowledge was celebrated and Muslims made significant number of contributions to several fields and served the humanity to best of their ability.

However this situation was troubling everyone in Europe and they soon realised and took affirmative action which marked the beginning of European renaissance in 12th century. Renaissance resulted in a series of social, political and intellectual transformation for Europe.  Renaissance took Europe out of long period of cultural darkness to age of enlightenment. The renaissance was furthered aided by inventions of printing which allowed the literacy and availability of text to grow explosively and reach to masses. City of Florence emerged as the centre for renaissance and centre for learning in Europe as it was city of Baghdad for Muslims during golden age of Islam. This was time when Europe started building its universities and first university of Paris was built in 1160CE. Universities in Europe still play central role in policy decision making and knowledge dissemination through their researches. It’s high time for Muslim nations that they give importance to institution building since they are not only centre for learning and source of knowledge but also play important role in spreading the culture as well.

It is time for Muslim’s Renaissance

Conditions of Muslims are not very different from that of Europeans of dark ages. Muslims today are going through a series of social, cultural and economic deterioration similar to Europeans during Dark Ages. If corrective measure are not taken by Muslims leaders, scholars and intellectual there is going to be further deterioration in the conditions of Muslims globally. At present Muslims are victims of internal conflict within community and suffering from civil disorder which is very unfortunate for a community which constitute 1/5 of the world’s population.

Muslims need social, political and economic reformation and reconciliation within and outside the community and this cannot be achieved without having proper knowledge of religion and modern education. It is very unfortunate for the follower of religion which teaches to obtain knowledge even before worshipping their lord are behind other communities in every aspect of this field. There are more than 50 Islamic countries in the world but if we count number of universities in these countries combined together are not even 10% of those in western world and scenario is not very different in India where Muslim population is more than 15% but the share in educational institutions are less than 2% . As discussed Universities played vital role in European renaissance that too can happen in Muslim world on condition they take necessary majors to educate their masses. Following points may help Muslims to rebuild their future without compromising on their religious values;

  • Focus on building more and more educational institutions.
  • Promote importance education among community.
  • Promote scientific and modern education along with religious education.
  • Create scholarship for higher education.
  • Collaborate with established institutions wherever e necessary.
  • Muslims should have cordial relationship with Non-Muslims.
  • Muslims should actively participate and cooperate in India’s growth and development.
  • Muslims must educate large number of females in the community.

Author Er. Izhar Khan is an Engineering Graduate from University of Mumbai and Postgraduate from University of Glasgow. He is self Employed and currently lives in Mumbai.

He can be reached at Izhar.seerat@gmail.com


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