Integrate Modern and
Ibrahim B. Syed, Ph. D.
The prominence of education in Islam is well known to all of us. The very first verse of the Qur’an revealed to the Prophet of Al-Islam (SAS) on the night of power (Laylathul Qadr) in the month of Ramadan in 611 CE reads:
Read: In the name of thy Lord who created
Created man from a leech like clot
Read: And thy Lord is the Most bounteous
Who taught by the Pen Taught man that which he knew not.
Surah: A1-’Alaq (The Clot), 96:1-5
As we see the very first word of the Qur’anic revelation starts with ‘IQRA’ (read) or recite. Some scholars rightly think “Iqra” should be the sixth pillar of Islam. In Surah al-Zamar the Qur’an asks its readers “Can they be equal-those who know and those who do not know? and the famous Ahadith that “The ink of the scholar’s pen is more sacred than the blood of the martyr” and “The best form of worship is the pursuit of knowledge” are known to all. The Glorious Qur’an categorically states that those who are educated and enlightened can truly understand the Glory and Majesty of the Creator. How can an illiterate Muslim understand and appreciate the Signs of Allah (SWT) as commanded in the Qur’an. (2:118,164,219-220; 3:190; 10:5-6; 30:20-27; 45:3-6, etc.)
The followers of Islam should be educated believers and Islam is the religion of the educated masses, otherwise they cannot read, understand and implement the teachings and guidance of Qur’an Majid.
With such a magnificent background one would have expected the Muslim community to be the world leaders in education leading various nations from darkness into light. Yes, they did for almost one thousand years, starting from the eighth century of the Common Era. Unfortunately the picture today is very different and the average literacy rate is about 38% among the Muslims of the world.
In India, the national male literacy rate is 54%, but the Muslim male literacy rate is 18%. The national female literacy rate is 38%, whereas the Muslim female literacy rate is less than 5%. The average literacy rate for Muslims of the world is around 38 percent and in rural areas in Muslim countries, the illiteracy rate among Muslim women is 93 to 97 per cent. In spite of comparable levels of development the mean rate for literacy for the Muslims is 35 per cent lower than that for the Third World, and 40 percent below the world’s average. The data suggests that almost two-thirds of the Muslims worldwide are illiterate. This low level of literacy, evidently, is responsible for the grinding poverty, the backwardness, and the deplorable conditions under which the vast majority of the Muslims live at present. Pakistan is the most scientifically and technologically advanced Muslim country, however, the literacy rate for Pakistan, home to the world’s second—largest Muslim Ummah, is even lower than the average for the Muslin nations. What is most shocking is that India, the second most populous nation in the world, has a significantly higher rate of literacy than Pakistan and Bangladesh. Why this deplorable state? What can be done to change this gloomy picture? There are hundreds, or even thousands of Madrasahs both in Pakistan and India where the children receive instructions only to become Alim/Fazil. Madrasahs are falsely accused of as breeding grounds for extremism. The world conditions demand that the education for Muslims should consist of an integration of modern and Islamic education. Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf recently said, "People send their children to madrasahs because of the absence of educational institutions. We are working to bring the madrasahs into the mainstream. Now when students come out of them, they are only qualified to become religious scholars, which leads to the proliferation of mosques. We are trying to get them to include a more modern syllabus, with science and computer education. That way, madrasa graduates will qualify to get jobs in other fields. "
Computer literacy should start right from the primary school level. The aim of Islamic education is to initiate total change in a person-beliefs, actions, potential, faculties, thoughts, expressions, aspirations, energies and everything relating to that person; in other words the balanced development of the whole personality of a human being-the vice-regent of Allah on earth. It seeks to motivate every member of society to promote and encourage everything good (right) and discourage and forbid evil (wrong). Islamic education should facilitate the acquisition of knowledge, skills and virtues to achieve success and happiness not only in this life but also in the Aakhirah, by the Mercy and blessings of Allah (SWT).The Islamic Research Foundation International has been established to uplift the Muslim Ummah in general and particularly in the advancement of knowledge through spiritual and intellectual growth. The foundations of both the spiritual and intellectual growth are rooted in education. Hence the aims and objectives of the Islamic Research Foundation International are to award scholarships to Muslim students to advance their higher education in advanced countries, based on merit and open competition and to establish centers of higher learning. The most negligent area, which is vital for the intellectual growth of the Muslim Ummah, is research and development. Hence the e Islamic Research Foundation International has taken up this onerous responsibility to award grants to research workers based on merit and open competition. It is soliciting generous donations for an endowment fund to fulfill its aims and objectives.
I pray to Allah (SWT) for His Blessings and Mercy for all of guidance and us to follow His right path. Ameen!
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