Nurturing and sustaining a muslim elite


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Nurturing and sustaining a muslim elite

  1. 1.
  2. 2. Creating And Sustaining an Effective Thinking Muslim Scholar A lecture by: Sh. Muhammad Issa Hay-atul Ulamaa-Tanzania Delivered to Dodoma Muslim University Students on 26 th Dec, 2010 At Dodoma
  3. 3. Introduction <ul><li>The University's Muslim Society has an important role in shaping an environment of critical thought and purposeful action. </li></ul><ul><li>Campus days offer the best time for our bright ones to explore and reflect upon the issues facing the Muslims and the community as a whole. </li></ul><ul><li>However, it can be a breeding ground for all vices and evils corrupting University Muslim Students in their campus and off-campus life. </li></ul>
  4. 4. The Challenge <ul><li>Like the challenge posed to me to come out with this topic then, I would like to pose a similar challenge to our current post graduate and undergraduates Muslim Students. </li></ul><ul><li>Who is a Muslim Student? What are the characteristics of a Muslim Student? What are the key problems facing University Muslim Student community? What are the solutions to these challenges? </li></ul><ul><li>This is not a test. It is a call towards excellence in thinking and reflection among University Muslim Students. </li></ul>
  5. 5. The purpose of this topic <ul><li>Creating awareness among University Muslim Students. </li></ul><ul><li>Identifying issues of concern to University Muslim Students and possible strategies for dealing with these. </li></ul><ul><li>Forging links between Muslim Students at University level and nationally, and </li></ul><ul><li>Building on their sense of community as Muslims first then students later.. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Contd <ul><li>Involvement in building leadership capacity among University Muslim Students. </li></ul><ul><li>Achieving an ongoing process of engagement with University leadership so that its programs and policies can be more responsive to the needs of University Muslim Students and community as a whole. </li></ul><ul><li>Creating a Muslim Student and not a Student who happen to be a Muslim. </li></ul><ul><li>Inter-relate between (faith-) identity and College life experiences; </li></ul>
  7. 7. Contd <ul><li>Impact of these experiences on learners’ educational engagement and his or her performance in practical life; </li></ul><ul><li>Links between educational achievement, employability and socio-economic position; </li></ul><ul><li>Implications of educational, social and economic marginalisation of Muslims in Tanzania. </li></ul>
  8. 8. The Path of Knowledge <ul><li>Knowledge (Ilm) occupies a dominant position in the Islamic world-view. </li></ul><ul><li>According to Franz Rosenthal, “in Islam, the concept of knowledge enjoyed an importance unparalleled in other civilizations. </li></ul><ul><li>It dominated over all aspects of Muslim intellectual, spiritual and social life. ( Franz Rosenthal, Knowledge Triumphant, The Concept of Knowledge in Medieval, Islam, Leiden, E. J. Brill, 1970, P 334 ). </li></ul>
  9. 9. Contd <ul><li>The Prophet (pbuh) says;- </li></ul><ul><li>“ Seeking knowledge is compulsory to every Muslim” ( Muslim ). </li></ul><ul><li>In this hadith, the Prophet (pbuh) refered to ‘Al ilm’ meaning “The Knowledge about the guidance of Allah (SWT). This is “faradh ayn’ i.e. compulsory to each and everyone of us. </li></ul><ul><li>All other branches or fields of knowledge, fall under ‘Fradh kifaayah’ i.e. knowledge which if some posses it, it suffices to the rest the community. Example, medicine, hydrology, commerce, engineering etc </li></ul>
  10. 10. <ul><li>According to Islam, human knowledge has two main sources: Divine source and human. But, essentially, even knowledge from human effort is knowledge from Allah. </li></ul><ul><li>So 'Knowledge' is obtained either through revelation or through human intuition, reason, rational thinking, deduction, experience or empirical observation. </li></ul><ul><li>The two sources are complementary to each other. ( The Concept of Knowledge in Medieval, Islam ). </li></ul>Sources of Knowledge
  11. 11. Challenges facing Muslim Students. <ul><li>Despite the current socio-political tensions </li></ul><ul><li>between the Islamic and Western worlds, there is a largely unquestioned allegiance on the part of </li></ul><ul><li>many Muslims to the normative modes of thought and action associated with Western modernity. </li></ul><ul><li>Since the days of gaining limited independence from direct colonialism after World War II, most discussions on education in the Muslim world have been concerned with seeking empowerment in the modernist world system. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Contd <ul><li>However, there is a general lack of awareness among Muslims, and Muslim Students in particular, that modernity and its knowledge system is based in Western culture and society. </li></ul><ul><li>Along with the more obvious curricular and methodological issues relating to modern Western education, significant political implications emerge when one considers Western education as an interconnected series of norms and allegiances. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Contd <ul><li>To the extent that Islamic education draws upon modern Western models, it is subject to this normative system. </li></ul><ul><li>But while Western education works to create allegiance to the norms of modernity, Islam has established its own system of norms and allegiances. </li></ul><ul><li>Allegiance to the norms of Islamic thought and action provides the basis for a workable social, political, and economic system. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Contd <ul><li>Allah says in the Quran; “Say (Oo Muhammad), verily my prayers, my sacrifice, my living and dying are for Allah, the Lord of the creation. He has no partners. This I am commanded, and I am the first among those who surrender to (Him).” (6:162) . </li></ul><ul><li>This is how the mind set of a Muslim, whether a student in college or a doctor, politician, businessman etc should be. </li></ul><ul><li>Sadly, the Muslims retreated from this clear conscience, and developed followed an alien value system-The western Judeo-Christian value. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Contd <ul><li>The Western system, as we know it today, is a system which is ruling the world today, and it is demanding from Muslims, and other peoples worldwide, allegiance to its system of norms, which by Islamic standards are corrupted. </li></ul><ul><li>The university community, where our Muslim elite are, is no exception at all. They are constantly bombarded with western ideas and values. To a Muslim student, its is a place either, where his/her faith go to die or become corrupted . </li></ul>
  16. 16. Avoiding conflict of interest <ul><ul><li>Acting within the Islamic system of norms and </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>allegiances can create conflicts of interest for those </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>whose allegiances are intertwined with the </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>currently dominant Western modernist system. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>According to Islam, knowledge and guidance derive </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>ultimately from a divine source, not from worldly </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>desires or corrupted texts and scientific deductions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>and experimentations. </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Contd <ul><ul><li>To know Islam is to express allegiance to its set </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>of norms, but this allegiance can create a </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>dilemma when those norms become deviant vis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>à-vis a corrupted yet dominant set of norms. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>And this is not just a theoretical presumption </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>because the dominating western normative </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>system threatens to subvert or destroy what it </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>sees as deviant sets of norms in order to </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>maintain supremacy for its own corrupted set </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>of norms </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Contd <ul><li>As one western scholar put it, “The west has ruled the world not because of its superior values but because of its superiority in applying organized violence .(Professor Samuel. P Hantington, “ Clash of civilization and remaking of the new world order ). </li></ul><ul><li>In the Western system, which is based on falsehood and corruption, allegiance to a divine set of norms may come only at great sacrifice, not only in terms of life and livelihood, but also in terms of faith and practice of one's religion to the fullest extent of its ascribed potential. </li></ul>
  19. 19. Contd <ul><li>The university, where knowledge is imparted, is an important site for exploring the interplay between conflicting sets of norms and allegiances. </li></ul><ul><li>Its where “A clash of culture” between Islamic culture and western culture happens at its all aspect, academically and in practical life. </li></ul><ul><li>This is especially evident if one views education as a process of becoming , rather than as a body of knowledge with certificates and degrees or as a preparation for a profession or livelihood. </li></ul>
  20. 20. Contd <ul><li>When a person seeks an education, that person is in a sense making a commitment to become someone different than when he or she started. </li></ul><ul><li>Depending upon how much the educational system differs from one's own religious and cultural system and norms, this process of becoming can be quite profound. </li></ul><ul><li>Entering into such an arrangement means that the person who exits the other end will be quite a different person, with various degrees of allegiance to the particular set of norms adhered to and promoted by the system from which they sought their education. </li></ul>
  21. 21. A Muslim Student or Student who happens to be a Muslim? <ul><li>Education is a two way process. On the surface, a student seeks and obtains some knowledge, training, and certification from a particular educational institution. </li></ul><ul><li>On the other hand, the student also becomes inculcated or assimilated into a system which normally has its norms and values always contradicting with his/her own system acquired or learned from his/her social group. </li></ul><ul><li>Lord Cromer, Colonial Education Minister said; “Our goal is not limited to conversion alone. Does it not suffice to know that those who pass into our educational system in the end doesn’t remain a true Muslim? If we can achieve only that, then our investment has been fully paid” (Colonial Archives, London) </li></ul>
  22. 22. Education, therefore, takes place within a complex system of intersecting norms and allegiances. First , there is the education of the self. To be a Muslim means to know Islam as a normative system; To be considered as an educated person in an Islamic system means first and foremost to have allegiance to its norms and to make every effort to exemplify them. Contd
  23. 23. contd <ul><li>Next, there are implications for any particular community of Muslims that may be continuing </li></ul><ul><li>the norms of Islam along with their local languages and cultural practices. </li></ul><ul><li>Then there are implications for Muslims in the country and worldwide, the Ummah, in terms of making cultural, political, social, and economic connections with other communities, developing over the years into a broad-based Islamic movement. </li></ul>
  24. 24. Contd <ul><li>Finally , there are implications for humanity, involving identifying its problems and hindrances to establishing ethically just societies. </li></ul><ul><li>Unjust normative systems and their patterns of allegiance feed back into the development of self, community, Ummah, and humanity. </li></ul><ul><li>In other words, joining a system of education with its norms and allegiances may have potentially profound repercussions for generations to come. </li></ul>
  25. 25. Contd <ul><li>This affects not only the practice of one's religion, but also virtually every other aspect of life, ranging from political and economical to social and cultural aspects. </li></ul><ul><li>Western civilization maintains a network of allegiances to its normative system of thought and action, and this network operates through educational systems and its accompanying temporal rewards. </li></ul><ul><li>Thus, any movement toward liberation from this system to another, especially one claiming allegiance to divine norms, will have to rethink the purpose of the forms of education it values and pursues. </li></ul>
  26. 26. Strategy for Survival <ul><li>Like other peoples recently emerging from colonialism, Muslims need to re-evaluate their goals for education—including an assessment of community needs—before embarking on an a western-oriented educational system. </li></ul><ul><li>At best, introducing the Western system is like laying a thin socio-cultural membrane over indigenous societies and norms, creating a sort of cultural schizophrenia. </li></ul><ul><li>Schizoprenia, literally, the term means “split mind”. It’s a mental disorders which may be observed as a failure to make logical connections to various life phenomena. </li></ul>
  27. 27. Contd <ul><li>At worst, imposing the Western system of education builds a support mechanism for direct political and cultural colonization which has weighed upon non-western peoples, Muslims included, for several centuries now. </li></ul><ul><li>Ignoring any consideration of this fact cannot be seen as simply remaining “neutral” or “objective.” but rather, in the present climate of dogmatic American hegemony, ignorance or passivity amounts to self-degradation and tacit support of colonialism, directly or indirectly. </li></ul>
  28. 28. How to create an effective Muslim Scholar? <ul><li>Classifying and Prioritizing Knowledge. </li></ul><ul><li>The Islamic tradition encourages Muslims to “seek knowledge.” In a series of celebrated hadith, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said, </li></ul><ul><li>“ Seeking knowledge is incumbent upon all Muslims”. (Muslims) </li></ul>
  29. 29. Contd <ul><li>While Muslims have heeded this call of Prophet (pbuh) for centuries, recent developments in western civilization are posing new challenges to Muslim seekers of knowledge. </li></ul><ul><li>Western civilization is rushing headlong into a commodity-driven and individualistic “information age” with little sense of the difference between information and knowledge, and with few criteria other than advertising and desire to make distinctions. </li></ul><ul><li>In order for Muslims to avoid drowning in the information whirlpool, some knowledge selection criteria seem necessary. </li></ul>
  30. 30. Contd <ul><li>To illustrate just one example, use a large online bookstore or search engine, and type in a key phrase like “child rearing.” thousands books, articles, and web sites will immediately appear. </li></ul><ul><li>In practical terms of time and money, it would be impossible for any Muslim seeker of knowledge to read what is contained in all of those instantly located sources. </li></ul><ul><li>Nevertheless, if someone tried to read all those sources, he or she will be “seeking knowledge.” But will he or she then be Islamically knowledgeable? </li></ul>
  31. 31. Contd <ul><li>In answering such questions, with respect to the above hadith on seeking knowledge, a key problem arises in translation of the Arabic word `Ilm, which is rendered above as “knowledge,” and which is also often rendered as “science”. </li></ul><ul><li>But if `Ilm is knowledge, then in the Hadith, what is the word for “information”? </li></ul><ul><li>Do the Hadith and other traditional sources that speak of seeking knowledge also apply to seeking information? Does the Islamic tradition possess the resources for making meaningful distinctions? </li></ul>
  32. 32. Classification of knowledge <ul><li>One can spend a lifetime seeking knowledge, but without some criteria to classify that knowledge and thus give it meaning, this “lifelong learning” could be a journey to self destruction. </li></ul><ul><li>We should bear in mind that knowledge we seek may be False at the expense of “True knowledge” that is more important and meaningful, as implied by the above cited hadith. </li></ul><ul><li>The hadith about knowledge is not really about what is halal and haram in seeking knowledge; it is more about classifying and prioritizing the time and effort spent on seeking knowledge. </li></ul>
  33. 33. Contd <ul><li>Example of false knowledge; </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Fraud psychology claim about evolution of God. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Knowledge about cure of death. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Darwin theory of evolution. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Even true knowledge can be Useful or Useful </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>knowledge. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Prophet said “ اللهم اني أعوذ بك من العلم لا ينفع ” . </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Example of useless knowledge is: Sending </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>moon and Mars rovers while Millions go hungry. </li></ul></ul>
  34. 34. Contd <ul><li>Even useful knowledge can be divided into appropriate and inappropriate knowledge. </li></ul><ul><li>Example of inappropriate knowledge is Gynaecology for men and Civil engineering for women. This is to protect women. Thailand, Japan, India separate buses for men and women. </li></ul><ul><li>During the periods of onset of modernity and colonialism, Muslims abandoned a key part of their tradition: the ability to classify and prioritize the seeking of knowledge as outlined in the above hadith, and as put into practice by Muslims prior to modernity and colonialism. </li></ul>
  35. 35. Building Upon Islamic Knowledge <ul><li>As a result, the West now decides what is important knowledge and what is not, and this is done according to the beliefs and goals of Western civilization. The intention of seeking knowledge is for material gains and not for the worship of Allah. (Quran Chapter 96: 1) </li></ul><ul><li>An elaborate system of certificates and degrees, acting like so many rewards and punishments, has assured that the Western system of knowledge is taken as the universal system. </li></ul><ul><li>This pious fraud is at the core of the challenge facing Islamic education today: that despite what labels Muslims may put on it, most education is either Western-directed or western-oriented. </li></ul>
  36. 36. Garbage in, garbage out <ul><li>Let us conclude this topic with a look at the outcomes of the Western educational system, and compare them to those expected by the Islamic system. </li></ul><ul><li>In the West, it is possible for someone to complete a rigorous course of study in higher education, but to emerge as emotionally impoverished and morally bankrupt individual. </li></ul><ul><li>Even Muslim students, in the west and indeed everywhere in the Muslim world, have fallen into this Satan’s trap. </li></ul>
  37. 37. Contd <ul><li>Religion becomes like a fairytale, when they got old enough, they knew better than to believe in it. </li></ul><ul><li>Most have little or vague “Knowledge” about Islam and have, maybe, memorized the right rituals like salat at home to get by. </li></ul><ul><li>After reading all the western-oriented texts, they start asking, why should I believe something on faith? After all we cannot see God, heaven or hell. How do we know Islam is right anyway? </li></ul>
  38. 38. Why this happens? <ul><li>Because of glitter of Freedom. </li></ul><ul><li>Young people long for the day when they can move out of their homes, away from their parents or gurdians and go to university and finally be free. </li></ul><ul><li>Freedom from their parents, from restrictions on their lifestyle, from everyone telling them what to do. This is why in university you find a whole generation that does what they want. Life’s short they say, let’s enjoy ourselves while we can. </li></ul><ul><li>So it goes, for Muslims in schools and universities, you find the most amazing things, Muslims who don’t pray, Muslims who date, drink alcohol etc. Why is this happening? </li></ul>
  39. 39. A typical double identity <ul><li>Double Life of Muslim Students Mar 25th, 2007 by Claire Coleman </li></ul><ul><li>Sofia Ahmed is a Muslim Student in one of the western Universities. She is a 24-year-old engineering student and a dutiful daughter of a well-to-do, traditional Muslim family who have raised their daughter to shun such western temptations. </li></ul><ul><li>She has been leading a double life. During a typical week, she will study in her university library by day, then head to any one of Liverpool’s many student bars at night. </li></ul><ul><li>There, she will party until the early hours: drinking, smoking and experimenting with the hedonistic lifestyle of a typical British undergraduate.“ </li></ul>
  40. 40. Contd <ul><li>But at the weekend, she plays the role of a completely different person; “Every Friday I get on a train home to Manchester to stay with my family,” she says. “It isn’t up for discussion; it is just expected by my parents. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Before I leave, I tidy myself up, make sure I don’t smell of drink or cigarettes, and head home to play the dutiful daughter, helping my mother in the kitchen, attending mosque and sitting with my parents’ guests.” </li></ul><ul><li>This is “Schizophrenia” or slip mind we discussed earlier. A cycle of on-an-off Muslim generation of today’s world of globalization. </li></ul>
  41. 41. Contd <ul><li>On Sunday night, Sofia returns to Liverpool and the cycle begins again. “Within half an hour, she says, I will be slipping into a sexy dress and be on my way to a bar to meet friends.” </li></ul><ul><li>Thus, for most teenagers, school or university life brings the first experience of freedom from parental control. It is a taste of a life to come, where they will be independent individual. </li></ul><ul><li>When she graduates this year, she will return to her parents’ home, where she’ll revert back to the life of a “good girl”, cocooned in a close-knit Muslim community where drinking, smoking and having boyfriends is considered sinful. </li></ul>
  42. 42. Peer pressure for pure pleasure <ul><li>Sofia admits; “In my time at university I have done everything that is forbidden by my religion. I didn’t set out to rebel, nor did I feel peer pressure to do what I’ve been doing,” she says. </li></ul><ul><li>“ I was just genuinely curious about what all my friends were getting up to. You can’t grow up in this country and ignore the culture around you.” </li></ul><ul><li>So, as more Muslim students than ever go into higher education, this double life is becoming something of a hidden social phenomenon. </li></ul>
  43. 43. Change for the best <ul><li>Sofia says: “After four years of living it up, I feel as if I’ve got it out of my system . </li></ul><ul><li>I’ve always known that my years at university would be a fixed time in which I would be able to live my life the way I wanted to, but after doing what I thought I wanted, I realised that what my parents have planned for my future is the best .” </li></ul><ul><li>Yes, this realization comes at last, but how many will get a chance to live and realize that they were indeed wrong? Only Allah knows. </li></ul>
  44. 44. May Allah Bless Muslim Brothers and Sisters who are in the journey of seeking knowledge-Amiyn.