Dr Wasim Ahmad
Department Head of Islamic Studies
Preston University Ajman
Please allow me to ask this question. In my humble opinion our educated, too, are not educated – generally speaking. This is because of a faulty education system which does not enable one to “creatively reach out to the unknown” and does not motivate one to “develop a well-organized (coherent) body of ideas”. I will believe that our educated are truly educated when I will find that they have developed a holistic outlook. As long as they will continue to look at things piecemeal with an atomistic approach and will not worry about the whole picture I will hesitate considering them educated. I will hesitate considering them educated as long as they do not mind running into self-contradictory situations every now and then unmindful of the fact that TRUTH is free from self-contradiction.
Our educated are not educated unless they think differently. Unless they look at the things differently. Currently, they hold the same opinions which the uneducated and the less blessed among Muslims hold. The only difference is that the latter are not able to articulate those opinions as eloquently as the former are. Our educated are not truly educated if they, too, react to the situations emotionally. If they do not take the discussions to the final conclusions, they are not really educated.
In almost all aspects of our life we need to adopt a different approach. Almost about all the issues we need to think differently. There are numberless notions that we have inherited from the past and we are passing them on without scrutinizing them. If we do so, our future generations will most likely do the same. The most crucial area that requires rethinking is the divide between deen and dunyaa and deeni and dunyaawee ‘uloom. Apparently many among us do not believe in this divide. But in reality even those who do not subscribe to this divide keep dividing the same at the deep psychological level. This I notice on a daily basis. And among the educated.
Our educated, too, have plenty of preconceived notions. We ALL need to carry out an exercise which could be termed as “jugaali” – for want of a better expression. I am not aware of its English equivalent. Did not search for it either as I thought that no translation can probably convey the essence.
This “jugaali” we are not used to. We have not developed a habit of “staying with the problems longer”. We get bored and then change the topic half-way. Hence, we are back to ground zero – most of the time. The educated among us should have been more patient and keener to find out the truth (reaching out to the “unknown”). They are not quite concerned about it. Who else will be concerned about it is beside the point.
Only with “jugaali” we will be able to “reach out to the unknown”. Without this “jugaali” the fodder will not become food. It will not become juzw-e-badan. It has not become despite so many colleges, Universities and various other seats of learning. Our education system does not teach the art of this “jugaali”. It makes us master the art of “vomiting”.
I wish we could hear what the Muslim Ummah says to and wants from us. I don’t know if we have any tools to listen to its call. It could have spoken clearly and audibly. But there is too much noise. To make the matters worse, we have stuffed something in our ears and have that education system which makes us mired into the parts – leaving the whole beyond our reach and perspective (“Yet they divided themselves into factions, each rejoicing in what they had. So leave them in their bewilderment for a while.” (al-Mu’minoon, 23: 53). This is particularly symptomatic of our ‘religious’ organizations. The confluence of the two divergent streams of knowledge is not our concern. In other words, the dissipation of our energies and resources is not a cause of worry for us.
The example of our educated, too, is the proverbial ‘watching of an elephant by the a few blind men’. They all described the elephant as per the parts which they had touched. They could not describe the elephant as a whole because of not being able to see the entire mammoth animal. Ours is the same situation which is proved by the directionlessness of our efforts and the partial outlook that we have towards life. We are standing at various stations in our cognition and are passing judgements from there without trying to map the entire journey and decide the final destination (a VISION) – as regards this world. I kind of think that without our maximum efforts to turn this world into a veritable paradise our desire for Paradise will be and is hollow.
I have hardly seen any modern educated among Muslims who is concerned with the whole picture. I haven’t found them quite keen on putting all the bits and pieces of the jigsaw puzzle together in order to see the whole picture. They are as much atomistic in thinking as are the uneducated. Remaining contented with the atomistic thinking defeats the purpose of education. This is because “the whole has a value which the parts do not”. The whole has an extra property / quality which is missing in the parts.
The thankfulness is missing from among the educated as it may be missing from the uneducated. The educated were expected to be more and more thankful and should have spread this thankfulness among the masses. They have done just the opposite. This is in stark contrast of the injunctions of the Book. No surprises. Because our Right Hands are empty anyways. We will remain uneducated unless we think differently which is what the Book teaches us. The educated and uneducated both will blame the communal forces and both are equally oblivious of the fact that we have significantly contributed towards the communalism of the majority community.
Our educated ignore larger issues and are mired into smaller ones as much as our uneducated and less fortunate ones are. From this yardstick, too, I do not find much difference. Our educated will also discuss the utilities of the modern tools and gadgets as do the uneducated and the ignorant. Our educated will also not mind feeding the problems and starving the opportunities as the uneducated might do. Our educated, too, will spread negativity as do the less educated. Our educated too will instil in the mind of the twelfth player that he is the twelfth player and the twelfth player will remain the twelfth player. But the one who says it is himself a contradiction of his own claim.
Our educated will vehemently criticise the West for all its misdeeds. But he will not have any positive program for the same West and will almost discount it from the purview of the dominion of Almighty and our field of action. He will benefit the most from the West – at the personal level – but will react differently to all the emotive issues without realizing the implications.
Our educated will also learn wrong lessons from the right stories. An incident will occur and they too will react in a manner less desired, I guess. For instance, discrimination in services and selection in various competitions may be a reality. Instead of doubling the efforts many among our youngsters get disheartened before even the outset and get de-motivated. This they have learnt from their older generations. The ban on the entry of our speakers in certain countries was a story and a right one. We learnt wrong lessons from that right (factually correct) story. We learn history. We should learn from those events which divided the Ummah. But we refocus on the same issues over and again. Hence, history becomes counterproductive as it does exactly the opposite of what it was supposed to.
Our educated, too, are not transformed into leaders with the power of critical and scientific thinking. They, too, will wait for a leader to mysteriously arrive from somewhere and carry out the specific jobs. When asked about the kind of job they expected from the awaited leader they will not have a much clear idea about it. When asked what questions that awaited leader will answer, they will not be quite specific about it either.
Our educated, too, do not really appreciate the value of ideas. Just as the non-educated don’t. Our educated, too, will talk less of ideas and more of persons. No matter how many times they are reminded to discuss issues they will not do so. They will again start talking about persons. They are the ones expected to address the issues in a dispassionate manner. They will address the issues in every other manner except the dispassionate one.
Our educated, too, do not worry about the common thread and a connecting link between all that they say, write and do. They do not worry about the fact that all their speeches and writings as well as actions should support each other and should not run counter to any of the injunctions of the Qur’an and the authentic Sunnah. Not being careful about it, we say one thing now and counter it the very next minute. It happens so frequently that one is surprised at this phenomenon. Resultantly, we remain a confused lot. We don’t find (and don’t really seek) a clear direction. I am not sure how long will we persist in this situation.
Did the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) ever contradict himself? Didn’t he have the complete picture? Why his followers don’t? Did he support one thing on one day and opposed it the other day? Was his outlook atomistic or holistic? Did he have a positive program and a mission, too, for the entire world – despite the fact that he fought with enemies as and when demanded by the circumstances? We need to learn from the school of our Prophet (pbuh) and the Textbook.
The incoherence (disorganization) of ideas (bey rabtiy-e afkaar) – in the traditionally and modern educated alike – is the menace. It is the real culprit. And we need to fight with it to the last soldier