The educational failure and the failed Muslims
Dr. Firoz Mahboob Kamal
Staying ignorant: the gravest sin
Acquiring the right knowledge plays the most crucial role in transforming man’s fate: both here and in the hereafter. And ignorance (jahiliyyah) works as the most devastating predicament; its consequence is most awful. In Islam, knowledge has a special connotation and marker. Fire is known by its flame. Similarly, knowledge is known by fear of Allah Sub’hana wa Ta’ala. It is not only writing, reading and arithmetic skills but also the Qur’anic literacy. The acquired knowledge must give insight, generate fear of Allah Sub’hana wa Ta’ala and show the right path called siratul mustaqeem. Otherwise it is not true knowledge. Whereas, ignorance is the darkness of the mind. It is the lack of ability to see the right path. Hence, its consequences are disastrous –both here and in the hereafter. Because of ignorance, people deny Allah Sub’hana wa Ta’ala and His prophets and get deviated from the right path. They engage in major sins and ultimately reach the hellfire. Thus ignorance nullifies the whole purpose of life. Such men live only to add more agonies in the hellfire. This is why ignorance (jahiliyyah) is called the mother of all sins. Therefore, the most precious good deed is to free people from ignorance. This is why delivering the Qur’anic knowledge to anyone is better than a charity of giving billions. Because billions of dollars doesn’t save one from the eternal hellfire but the Qur’anic knowledge does. This is why Islam didn’t start its mission by prayers or fasting, but by removing ignorance (jahiliyyah). Hence iqra (read) is the first revelation from Allah Sub’hana wa Ta’ala. Moreover, like five times prayer and month-long fasting in Ramadan, seeking knowledge was made obligatory on every man and woman.
The pre-Islamic jahiliyyah (ignorance) in Arabia ended more than 1400 years ago, but modern men’s jahiliyyah thrives even today amidst all scientific knowledge and material progress. Because of ignorance, idolatry, gambling, alcoholism, obscenity, homosexuality, pornography, torture, mass-murdering, ethnic cleansing, economic exploitation and other vile acts survive with the ancient scale of barbarity. Modern men’s ignorance is not in scientific invention, but in discovering the truth. Skills in knowing the Truth come only through Divine knowledge. And delivering such knowledge is the exclusive domain of Allah Sub’hana wa Ta’ala. Therefore Allah Sub’hana wa Ta’ala proclaims, “Showing the right path is my task” –(Surah Layil, verse 12). Also revealed, “Allah Sub’hana wa Ta’ala is the friend of the believing men and women and takes them from darkness to the light. (And Shaitan does otherwise). Shaitan is the friend of the non-believer and takes them from the light to the darkness.”–(Surah Baqarah, verse 257). The Holy Qur’an was revealed to show the enlightened right path. Without the Qur’anic knowledge, the greatest Truth remains undiscovered and the objective of education remains unfulfilled. As a result, human life meets total failure.
The crimes of modern education
Education is not a mere professional or a skill need, rather the most basic human, religious and civilizational need. Otherwise, a student fails to become a Truth-seeking honest human; thereby he fails to participate in raising a sane civilization. Hence the role of education is crucial. Its success is measured not by the number of degree holders, professionals or per capita income, but by the number of people saved from hellfire. Enlightened insights, intellectual capacity to identify the Truth and purification of thoughts, behaviour and character are the real markers of educational success. Even dogs or monkeys, if trained, can do miracles. Man can do too. The success of modern-day’s universities’ in adding such skills is undeniable. But its failure in saving people from hellfire is awful. By preaching atheism, secularism, materialism, Marxism, hedonism, and Darwinism, these universities have opened a lot of highways to hellfire. Therefore, colonialism, imperialism, racism, supremacism, enthnic cleansing, wars of occupation, and use of chemical bombs and nuclear bombs are not the only crimes of modern education, taking billions of people to the eternal hellfire are its most catastrophic crimes.
Allah Sub’hana wa Ta’ala loves His greatest creation –the humans. He wants their ultimate success –both here and in the hereafter. But such a success is entirely pre-conditional. It does not come through mere supplication, rituals, economic success or scientific inventions. It can be attained only by following the Divine path (siratul mustaqeem). Only this Qur’anic path leads to paradise. And no segment of the path should be left uncovered. It is indeed the most important deed in human life. Thousands of prophets were commissioned by Allah Sub’hana wa Ta’ala to show that path. They didn’t come to teach science or technology but made Allah’s greatest gift – the true path to paradise known to mankind. Man’s ignorance cum educational failure is not measured by inability to build a pyramid, spacecraft, or a computer, rather by inability to discover the greatest Divine gift revealed in the Holy Qur’an. Such inability takes humans definitely to the eternal hellfire. Death without knowing and following this Qur’anic Truth will cause the greatest regret in the hereafter. Of all ignorance, this is indeed the most devastating one. Such a regret will torment a disbeliever endlessly in the endless life in hellfire.
Men and women’s Muslimness is crucial. The ultimate success in life depends on it. So, Allah Sub’hana wa Ta’ala warns, “O you who believe! Fear Allah with all fearfulness – as deemed appropriate for Him, and do not allow death to overtake you unless you are a (true) Muslim”.–(Surah Al-Imran, verse 102). So, for the believers, Allah Sub’hana wa Ta’ala sets the priority. It is not attaining success in professions, politics, or business; nor becoming a proud Arab, Afghani, Turkish, Iranian or Bengali, but to be a committed and Allah-fearing Muslim. For that, it does not require birth in a Muslim family but needs qualitative Islamic change in belief and deeds. Fear of Allah Sub’hana wa Ta’ala is the essence of such change. And such change comes only through true knowledge –the true understanding of Divine guidance. Allah Sub’hana wa Ta’ala reveals, “Of all His servants, only those who are endowed with knowledge (of Qur’an) fear Allah.–(Surah Fatir, Verse 28). The prime objective of education is to generate such fear of Allah Sub’hana wa Ta’ala through Islamic knowledge. But if education promotes atheism, secularism, materialism, nationalism, Darwinism, Marxism; then it only adds deviation and takes people to the hellfire. Such education then becomes the most harmful criminal act on earth. And it is committed by secular education. In the name of religion and faith, a lot of vile acts are still being done. Ancient ignorance like worshipping man, animals, idols, and deities still survive in the lives of billions. Likewise, awful criminal acts are also done in the name of education. Teaching falsehood and adding deviation towards hellfire thus gets public acceptance as modern education. As a result, billions of people are on the path towards hellfire.
First thing first
The first thing must be done first. Otherwise, a range of other good things stands unattainable. Seeking Islamic knowledge is such a first obligation. Without fulfilling it, becoming a true Muslim remains inconceivable. Hence, the first revelation of the Holy Qur’an was not on salah (namaz), fasting, hajj, zakat, or jihad, but it was “Iqra” –which means “do read”. Reading and understanding the Holy Qur’an serve as the greatest means to access divine knowledge. In fact, the Divine guidance comes only through it. Acquiring such knowledge is acknowledged as the most important act of ibadah; other forms of ibadah get added value if it is done with a deeper understanding.
With a void of understanding of the Holy Qur’an, ibadah becomes mere lifeless rituals. It fails to bring any paradigm shift in mind; nor does it bring any qualitative change in behavior and deeds. Such prayers do not prevent people from corruption; rather people with such lifeless rituals may even overtake the non-believers in vice. Bangladesh with its 91 percent Muslim population is a perfect example. Very few countries have such a huge number of mosques and mosque-goers –as are found in Bangladesh. More than 2 million people assemble in the annual ijtema of Tablighi Jama’at. But during the initial years of the current century, Bangladesh stood first in the list of most corrupt countries in the world five times. It is not an economic failure, rather an educational and moral failure. Thousands of its schools, colleges and universities couldn’t add any higher understandings of Islam to the people, rather have been a factor to add devilish deviations and worldwide disgrace. The Muslim countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt, and many others are not far behind in corruption either. Those who claim to be Muslim have failed badly to learn and practice the basics of Islam.
Seeking knowledge is so crucial for being a Muslim that even a short engagement in learning is superior to spending the whole night in non-obligatory (nafl) prayer –as narrated by the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). In the days of the Prophet (peace be upon him) even the war criminals could be freed on the condition of transferring writing, reading, and numeracy skills to the Muslims -as done with the kafir captives of Badar. The most distinctive attribute of the early Muslims was the spectacular success in fulfilling this first Islamic obligation like seeking knowledge. They excelled not only as practitioners of religious rituals but also as the torch bearers of knowledge in jurisprudence, politics, philosophy, geography, mathematics, astronomy, chemistry, human and social development, and military science. The Holy Qur’an was the first book in the Arabic language; but in a very short span of time, they developed the richest treasure of knowledge in the contemporary world. Their success was so great that within a short period of time, the ignorant people of Arabia became the most educated and the most civilized people on the earth. As a result, the Muslims became the number one global power and could defeat both the Roman and the Persian empires.
The failure of the west
The western civilization added enormous values to stones, metals, minerals, agricultural goods, and other stuff, but added no moral and spiritual values to humans. In fact, the western educational development is very asymmetrical. In its one-dimensional materialist milieu, it deliberately ignored moral and spiritual development. The toxic ideologies that gave birth to colonization, imperialism, ethnic cleansing, genocide, slavery, exploitation, and other dehumanizing instincts got a global expansion by them. Through scientific progress, the greediest criminals of the west gained the most devastating tools in their hands. As a result, the western colonialists and imperialists could cross all records of past savageries of human history. They killed more than 75 million people in only two World Wars. The Red Indians in the USA, the Aborigines in Australia, and the Maoris in New Zealand were almost ethnically cleansed by them. They did not bother to drop nuclear bombs on the civilian population of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Millions of people are put to death in Congo, Vietnam, and other parts of Asia and Africa. Their killing machines are still all-time active. The people of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Palestine are the recent victims. All beasts in all ages could not inflict such deaths and devastations on humans as were inflicted by these torchbearers of this western civilization.
No doubt, science never advanced with such a tremendous speed in the past as it has done in the last one hundred years. But it is also true that such huge and terrible atrocities never happened in any segment of human history either, as happened in modern times. That too happened at the hands of the flagship countries of the western civilization like the USA, the UK, France, Germany, and Italy. The worst crimes like military occupations, colonization, genocides, ethnic cleansings, multinational capitalism, and global exploitation are their original inventions. Here too, the west’s failure owes to its educational failure. The secularisation of knowledge has robbed people of their moral and spiritual compass. So, the people fail in distinguishing the right from the wrong. Because of that, the vilest criminalities like genocide, ethnic cleansing, dropping nuclear bombs and drone attacks get their moral, political and legal approval. Such failure can only lead to a civilizational failure and cause havoc for mankind.
Islam’s main focus is to ensure humans’ ultimate success -both here and in the hereafter. For such a success, the moral and spiritual development is the main agenda of Islam. Islam identifies it as the number one issue in humans’ life. No amount of economic and scientific progress will benefit man and woman unless they develop morally and spiritually. This is the prerequisite of any sound civilizational development. Only such developments ensure Allah’s blessing –indispensable for any real success. The Holy Qur’an reveals, “Certainly Allah does not change the affairs of a people unless they change themselves.” –(Surah Ar-R’ad, verse 11). And education is the real change-maker. A man adds value to his own soul only through it. Hence, from day one of the revelation of the Holy Qur’an, educating self and others has been the number one obligation in Muslims’ life. Whoever denies or ignores it, ignores Allah Sub’hana wa Ta’ala and His Divine agenda. Through proper education, Islam could add the highest possible values to the early Muslims. In those days, Islam did not have any college or university but turned every mosque and every household into effective learning institution. And the Holy Qur’an was the only textbook. Through such educational inputs, Muslims became the living angels on earth. In any part of human history, has a ruler of a vast country –at least ten times larger than Pakistan ever travelled five hundred miles only with a servant and a camel? Did any ruler share the ride on his camel with the servant? Did any ruler pull the rope of his camel while the servant was seated on its back? The second Caliph Omar bin Khattab (ra) did it while he had to travel from Medina to Jerusalem. And Caliph Omar (ra) was not the only man with such moral highness, there were many like him. Islam did not build any pyramid, great wall, palace or spacecraft, but built the best possible men and women. Thus Islam could raise the finest civilization on earth in history.
In the early days of Islam, the dynamics of Muslim economy, culture, and civilization were not dependent on added values on metals or materials, rather on humans. In no other part of history, humans received such a huge uplift in their morality, values, deed and dignity. Even thousand years after the emergence of Islam, equality of man and woman, daughters’ share in inheritance, liberation of the oppressed, equal justice for the all, freedom of the slaves were not even on the menu of social reformations in other faiths and civilizations. But Islam put them into practice about 1400 years ago. The occupation of the foreign lands, the enslavement of the weak, and ethnic cleansing of the occupied lands was the rule of the Greek and the Roman civilization. The western people are proud of their Greco-Roman legacy. The Persian capital Persepolis was burnt down by Alexander –one of the founding fathers of European civilization. But his heinous crime was forgotten and his occupation of the foreign lands by swords was eulogized as a great success. And he was labelled as the Great.
Islam brought not only a change in faith but also a moral, political, cultural, and civilizational change. Still, it remains unsurpassed in the whole of human history. Without progress in understanding the Divine Truth, such advancement was unthinkable. Whatever glorious achievements the Muslims achieved in the fields of Tafseer, Prophet (peace be upon him)’s traditions, fiqh, Islamic jurisprudence, philosophy, and moral science, are the works of the early Muslims. They studied and translated a huge number of books written by non-Muslims. Even the works of the Greek scholars reached the west through their works.
The awful failure in education
The awful failure of today’s Muslims is not in the industry, agriculture, or business but in education. Whereas education is obligatory before all religious obligations. Educational failure has proven to be the mother of all failures. Such failure has caused them to forget even the main purpose of their creation. As a result, they failed to carry out even the most fundamental duty as Muslims. Many have returned back to the old jahiliyyah –the day of old ignorance. Due to such retreat, Allah’s sharia law has been replaced by the kufr law in Muslim lands. Surprisingly, to implement such falsehood, the enemies of Islam did not need to launch any war. The so-called Muslims did the job themselves.
Like a physical disease, jahiliyyah –a moral disease has its own manifestations. Therefore in Muslim lands, such jahiliyyah is showing its worst symptoms. Instead of pan-Islamic brotherhood, the culture of tribal feuds, wars, disunity, disintegration, and rebellion against Allah Sub’hana wa Ta’ala’s laws have thrived in almost all Muslim countries. Islam survives only as religious rituals; and the rules of Allah Sub’hana wa Ta’ala remain only in the Holy Qur’an and books of hadees.
For spiritual growth, learning the truth and de-learning falsehood should go hand in hand and must happen each day. Muslims need a constant renewal of their connection with Allah Sub’hana wa Ta’ala, otherwise, the death of true belief and spirituality is inevitable. Five times prayers, month-long fasting in Ramadan, zakat, hajj, regular study of Qur’an, and giving charity are the Islamic curriculum to accomplish such rejuvenation of iman. But Shaitan has his own institutions and tools too. To disconnect people from Allah Sub’hana wa Ta’ala, sports, music, prostitution, gambling, wine, pornography, and so-called cultural shows are not the only weapons. The educational institutions are working as the main tools. With the increasing number of secular institutions, de-Islamization has attended a high momentum all over the Muslim World. So, in most Muslim countries, jahiliyyah is gaining more strength and inundating the Muslim minds. As a result, Muslims are getting more disconnected from the Almighty Lord and more deviated from siratul mustaqeem. The outcome of such de-Islamization is so revealing that most Muslims have already de-learned the Truth that they are the only people who have been appointed by Allah Sub’hana wa Ta’ala as His viceroy (khalifa). What could be the worst sinful act than dishonoring such a graceful Divine appointment? It amounts to dishonoring Allah Sub’hana wa Ta’ala’s great wish. Can a true Muslim ever think of that?
The word “Muslim” carries a very missionery and revolutionary connotation. It doesn’t mean merely to be a believer, rather a very committed and revolutionary actor –acting in the same way as shown by the prophet of Islam 1400 hundred years ago. The revolution starts from self and spreads to others in various societies and states. Failing to act in that way brings him the most disgraceful failure: both here and in the hereafter. Such failure takes him straight to the hellfire. The most important task of educational institutions is to generate an awareness of this Divine responsibility. But in fact, the education system has failed to discharge such a duty in almost all over the Muslim World. The current education system –even in religious madrasas, has dismissed such a sense of responsibility to deep oblivion. It is indeed the greatest educational catastrophe. This is why today’s Islam –as practiced by most Muslims looks spectacularly dissimilar to early Islam. And Muslims thus proved to be the failed people on the earth. 24/10/2021