[bit.do/azowss] When it was first proposed, the idea that there were realms of knowledge, and domains of human activity, OUTSIDE the purview of religion, this idea was vehemently rejected in Europe, where it first arose. However, due to a series of complex historical events, the idea gained strength, and eventually became universally accepted. Today, due to global hegemony of West, we have all absorbed this, without ever thinking seriously about the issue. What possible connection can there be between Chemistry, Physics, Economics, etc. and religion. When Napoleon asked Laplace about how he had written a book about the universe — astronomy and physics — without mentioning the Creator of the universe — he responded – I have no need of that hypothesis. My recent post on the Separation of Worldly and Religious Knowledge explains this further, and provides links to lectures which explain various aspects of this in much greater detail.
Abstract for The Origins of Western Social Sciences
On the whole, Muslims have accepted Western claims that both social sciences and physical sciences are equally fact and logic based, and “positive” descriptions of reality. In fact, Western formulations of social sciences hide ethical and social commitments to secular views which conflict the Islamic views. Widespread acceptance by Muslims of these false claims to factuality and objectivity has prevented the development of genuine Islamic alternatives, and has been a serious obstacle to progress in the project of “Islamization of Knowledge”. The goal of this paper is to examine the origins of Western Social Science, and to show how it is based on secular preconceptions antithetical to Islam.
The project of “Islamization of Knowledge” launched by Al-Faruqi (1982) , Al-Attas (1984) and many others, seeks to transform or modify Western sciences into forms acceptable to Islam, and in conformity with Islamic views. This is paralleled by the effort of Islamization of Western institutions, including financial institutions, many of which are in conflict with Islamic ideas about organizing societies. A serious obstacle to progress in this area has been the uncritical acceptance of certain Western ideas which are in conflict with Islamic ones. This conflict has blocked the emergence of genuinely Islamic alternatives; instead efforts have been diverted to modify Islamic ideas to match dominant Western paradigms of thought. The failure of Muslim scholars to distinguish between social and physical sciences has significantly hindered the project of Islamization of knowledge, which seeks to assimilate Western knowledge in ways compatible with Islam. The West has made spectacular progress in the physical sciences. The results of this progress, in the form of cars, aeroplanes, refrigerators, trains, rockets, skyscrapers, computers, etc. etc. are plainly visible for all to see. The prestige of Western physical science has led Muslims to give Western social science the same respect. However, social science is the study of humans and society. Western denial of God, spirituality, and morality has led to many errors in their formulation of the social sciences. Brilliance in understanding worldly affairs, accompanied by blindness in understanding humans is a common phenomenon. For example, Abu-Jahl was known as Abul-Hakm to his contemporaries. The parable of the one-eyed Dajjal may be a reference to this same phenomenon. According to the Quran:
When it is said to them: “Believe as the others believe:” They say: “Shall we believe as the fools believe?” Nay, of a surety they are the fools, but they do not know.
This indicates that those regarded as “intelligent” in worldly affairs have difficulties in believing like the simple folks. There is substantial evidence for the thesis that spectacular progress in physical sciences has been accompanied by equally spectacular decline in understanding the meaning of humanity in the West. Just as physical sciences can be judged to be successful by looking at the outcomes, so Western social science can be judged to be a failure by looking at the outcomes in the
There is accumulating evidence for massive moral breakdown in the West in many different dimensions. At the international level, the doctrine of “preventive military action” and US violations of sovereignty under the military doctrine that “you can only claim sovereignty if you enforce it,” represent a return to the law of the jungle.
Research on scientific methods of torture is documented by Klein (2007), and the impact of modernity on mass violence, massacres, genocides and general breakdown of human values is documented in Glover (2001) and Bauman (2001), Society is shaped by families, where children learn what it means to be human and part of society. The breakdown of this fundamental unit of society has been documented in many places, such as a recent report on “Fractured Families” put out by the Social Justice Foundation (2006):
This Report paints a worrying picture of family breakdown in the UK. We now have
one of the highest divorce rates in the Western world and the fabric of family life has
been stripped away in the past thirty years. This study also shows more clearly than
ever the destructive effects of family breakdown upon millions of children, as well as
the links between family breakdown and addictions, educational failure and serious
Consequences of this breakdown are apparent in the Josephson Institute survey (2008) which shows that more than 30% of the 30,000 USA high school students admitted to having stolen from a store, parents or friends. According to the Center for Disease Control, USA also has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the world. The vast majorities of approximately a million such pregnancies per year are unintended and have devastating social, economic and health consequences for both the unwed mother and the offspring. When we urge Muslims to study science and technology, it is because the outputs of these endeavors in the form of products and advances are plainly visible. Using the same logic, we should be extremely wary of a social science which has created such massive social disruptions in the West. The results in the form of loss of happiness,
satisfaction, contentment and well-being have been documented in many places; for example “Loss of Happiness in Market Economies” by Lane (2001).
An eighty minute video lecture on Origins of Western Social Science is linked below
Related readings and links are available on the webpage for the lecture: Advanced Microeconomics Lecture 29 Origins of Western Social Science. The paper itself can be viewed or downloaded from SCRIBD, linked below:
As the Quran states, we were all created before the Universe was created and made to recognize Allah. The effect of this promise creates an imprint on our hearts and gives our hearts the capability to recognize their Creator. We have been sent to this Earth for a test — to see who remains true to his promise to live a life while recognizing God, and who gets distracted by the temptations and distractions this life has to offer, and forgets God. This is why the Message of God — The Quran — has been called a REMINDER — it is not something new or strange, it is just a reminder of the message which is already imprinted on the hearts of all mankind.
This world has been filled with distractions, and our heart has been filled with desires — both of these are part of our test. As Allah T’aala states in the Holy Quran (3:14):
The love of desires, of women and sons and hoarded treasures of gold and silver and well bred horses and cattle and tilth, is made to seem fair to men; this is the provision of the life of this world; and Allah is He with Whom is the good goal (of life).
If our heart did not have desires, then there would be no test — like angels, we would not be tempted to do things which are not permitted for us. In addition to our Nafs (spirit?) which has been filled with desires, Shaitan (Devil) has also been created to deceive us with lies. This is also part of the test. The Shaitan spins a thousand lies, and makes them all seem so very attractive, that it is very easy to be mis-led, and to start believing in the wrong philosophy, the wrong ideology, the wrong religion. Faiz Ahmad Faiz has described this test in his poetry as follows:
gaḌī haiñ kitnī salībeñ mire darīche meñ, har ek apne masīhā ke ḳhuuñ kā rañg liye, har ek vasl-e-ḳhudā-vand kī umañg liye [see also: Unlock your infinite Potential]
There are thousands of crosses planted on my doorstep. Each of them carries the blood of its Savior. Each one carries the hope/promise of Union with the Almighty.
Each of the crosses represent a (false) ideology, or a message. But those who preach these ideologies are sincere believers who have painted their crosses with their blood — they have given everything for it — So we have to respect the sincerity with which they believe their message. Furthermore, they all promise the greatest possible prize: Union with our Creator.
How are we to find our path to our Lord, in the middle of all of these distractions? That is our test, which we all must face alone. This test is on an individual basis. Most importantly MUSLIMS are not exempt from this test. Just because you are born into a Muslim family, this does not mean that you do not have to find your path to Allah in the middle of a huge number of distractions and false ideas. Just as being born into a fmaily where your mother and father are doctors does not give you a degree in medicine, so every Muslim born must do his own effort and struggle in order to allow the heart to recognize its Creator. This is called TAZKIYA — purification of the heart — and this is the CENTRAL effort required of us. Our hearts become full of the love of worldly things and impressed with false ideologies — equivalent to the worship of false gods. They must be cleansed of these false ideas and filled with the love of God in order for us to PASS the test. If we fail to recognize our Lord, and if we do not elevate the Love of God, and His Messenger and the Deen of Islam as our highest and most precious love, valued above all other things, we will FAIL the test, and will be severely punished for this failure. If, on the other hand, we succeed in this test, we will receive a prize beyond our wildest dreams — a prize that no one has ever seen, or heard, or imagined.
But HOW can we find our way? Each one must travel on this path alone, but good companions help a lot, and the Message itself is a very powerful guide. We can also benefit from the experience of others who were led to the path, as in the following story of an Australian who found the way to Islam. On the way, he explored every religion, but did not explore Islam, because that was a “terrorist” religion, not worthy of serious consideration. Finally, not finding satisfaction, he decided to give Islam a chance. His story is given in the 14m video below. One key element of the story is worth noting. He had a lot of questions about religion. In all other religions, he would ask, and people would answer, according to their own opinions. Different people had different opinions. But in Islam, whenever he asked a question, people would show him the relevant verse of the Quran, which would always contain the answer to his questions. This is why Allah T’aala has called the Quran His greatest gift, which contains complete and perfect guidance.
POSTSCRIPT: Related Posts: Another Conversion Story – another atheist, finding himself in desperate difficulty, made dua to God — O God, if you exist, help me, and I promise I will find a way to you.
This resembles the prayer of Ibraheem AlaihisSalam, who was also looking for God and after thinking about the Sun and the Stars, he prayed to God that Unless you guide me, I will be unable to find guidance. At the time that I was searching for God, I was also inspired by this prayer – see my Interview with Insight Magazine, for more details of my own conversion experience.
A talk about the Message of Islam, and how it revolutionized the world. What is surprising is that this message has the same power today — it is just as revolutionary today as it was when it first came to the world 1450 years ago. Very sadly, just as prophesied, Islam came as a stranger, and has become a stranger, even to most Muslims. This talk explains how Islam provides us with knowledge that gives complete guidance for us in all dimensions of life. See post “The Nature of Knowledge as a Guide to Action“, which has links to both English and Urdu Versions.
The term “Eurocentric history” refers to history told from the point of view of the Europeans. Starting from the sixteenth century, Europeans made tremendous advances in certain areas, while the Muslim Civilization declined rapidly. By the start of the twentieth century, Europeans had conquered about 85% of the globe, according to Edward Said, author of “Orientalism”. This famous book shows that the Europeans acquired a superiority complex because of this victory. At the same time, the defeated acquired an inferiority complex. Because of dominance of the people of European descent, history all over the world is told from the point of view of Europeans. Accordingly, we in the East also learn this history, and absorb the lessons embedded in this history without questioning — no genuine alternatives currently exist. The non-Europeans have NOT written histories of Europe. There do exist voices among the Europeans who have seen the deep biases and prejudices that exist in standard European accounts, and have tried to compensate and rectify them, but the extremely important task of constructing a genuine alternative remains to be done. The best starting point for a genuine alternative is Syed Hassan Ali Nadwi’s book on the What the World Lost Due to the Decline of the Islamic Civilization.
In this post, I want to argue against one of the core concepts of modern thought, which is secularism – meaning that religion is separate from politics . According to European historians, the entire world was in the darkness of ignorance when the sun of reason first rose on the people of Europe – this is called the Enlightenment. In the light of reason, they discovered science, technology, governance, and all good things known to man. They also discovered the religion was mere superstition, which caused people to fight each other. They came to understand that “faith” and “reason” were opposites — people who were rational would not have faith, while to have faith was not rational. Thus knowledge about the world here and now has nothing to do with religion, which deals with the hereafter and our personal lives.
The story of how the European lost their faith, and started to believe that religion is a personal matter, is given in my paper on “European Transition to Secular Thought: Lessons for Muslims“. Briefly, A dramatic transition in ways of thinking took place in Europe between the sixteenth and the eighteenth century. Tawney (1930, Religion and the Rise of Capitalism) has written that in the sixteenth century, religion was at the center of all aspects of human existence. But by the eighteenth century, politics, economics and many other domains of human existence were completely separate from the religious dimension, while religion was confined to the personal and private sphere of human beings. This separation of religious and worldly material pursuits is the center and core of secular thought.
Very Unfortunately, Muslims today have also become infected with this thought, and have learned to believe in the European idea that there are spheres of human life, and intellectual effort which are not connected to religion. We think that religion has nothing to do with mathematics, statistics, physics, chemistry, because this is how Europeans teach the subjects, without any connections. We do not understand that connections exist, but they have been suppressed in the way that these subjects have been developed in Europe. In many different essays, I have explained how Islam offers us deep and unique insights into conventional disciplines which, according to European thought, have nothing to do with religion. Some of these essays are listed below:
- Economics for the 21st Century: Explains how rejection of God led European Social Science to reject all unobservables. As a result, foundations of economics lost sight of the central importance of human feelings, and reduced all human behavior to a drive for wealth and consumption. Modern economics is based on the completely ridiculous “Coca-Cola Theory of Happiness“.
- An Islamic Approach to Microeconomics: Post provides description, outline, and video lecture, which introduces a new approach to microeconomics which is aligned with Islamic principles. Thinking about Islamic ideas turns the course upside down. Instead of thinking that rational behavior involves maximizing utility, we should think more deeply about sources of human welfare.
- Statistics: An Islamic Approach? This always amazes people, just like I was amazed when I first thought about the concept. How can Islam possibly have anything to do with a purely technical subject like statistics? Surely 2+2=4, regardless of whether a Muslim or a non-Muslim does the calculation? The first lecture discusses, in great detail, precisely this question, of why an Islamic approach makes a difference to the study of Statistics.
- The Search for Knowledge: This lecture on research methodology explains why the very concept of Western KNOWLEDGE is very different from what Islam calls knowledge. Once we understand this difference, then it follows that RESEARCH, or the search for knowledge, must be carried out very differently in the two traditions. I have explained the differences in this lecture on Research Methodology.
According to the Quran, this is the best of the Ummah because it invites towards good and prohibits evil. How precious this mission was to our beloved Prophet SAW and his companions, and how hard they worked to fulfill it, is described in some paragraphs below. After this reading, there is a multiple choice QUIZ about the case of Asiya Bibi, and how we should respond to it.
My Prophet Mohammad (may the peace, blessings and mercy of Allah T’aala cover him) is praised by Allah T’aala using many different kinds of superlatives in the Quran. The Quranic uses the words ra’ufun rahirn (Quran 9:128) for the Prophet’s (SAW) characteristics of intense kindness, mercy, compassion and love.
“O Messenger of Allah! It is a great Mercy of God that you are gentle and kind towards them; for, had you been harsh and hard-hearted, they would all have broken away from you” (Quran 3:159).
His heart-ache and deep sorrow about the people who would not accept his message is reflected in: “0 Muhammad, you will, perhaps, consume yourself with grief because the people do not believe” (Quran 26:3). In Surah Kahf, we read: “Well, 0 Muhammad, it may be that you will kill yourself for their sake out of sorrow if they do not believe in this Message.” (Quran 18:6). And Surah Fatir says: “So let not your life be consumed in grief for their sake.” (Quran 35:8).
The book by Moulana Zakariya Kandehlvi, Hayatus-Sahabe, provides deep insights about the life and character of the Prophet SAW and his companions. The first chapter of the book is about Dawah – Invitation to Islam. The subtitle of the chapter explains how much the Prophet SAW and his companions loved to spread Islam. More than anything else, they desired all human beings to enter into Islam and be blessed with the love and mercy of Allah T’aala. They all made intense efforts to try to achieve this goal. The Prophet SAW once said to the Quresh that if you offer me the moon on one hand and the sun on the other, I cannot leave my mission of bringing guidance to all of mankind. The Quran tells our Prophet to announce that he and all his followers share this mission: “This is my way. I call to God with sure knowledge, I and whoever follows after me.”
We mention just one story from Hayatus Sahabe which illustrates the quality of his mercy. This is about the conversion of Zaid bin Su’na, a leading Jewish scholar of the time. Upon seeing the Prophet SAW, he immediately recognized him by his characteristics, but decided to test him regarding one of these that is not directly visible. Zaid bin Su’na gave the Prophet SAW a loan, and then a few days later, started demanding re-payment using very harsh and insulting language. The face of Hazrat Umar grew red with anger, and he threatened to kill Zaid. Upon this, the Prophet SAW restrained Hazrat Umar, and told him to repay the loan, and give him some extra because of the threat you made to him. Upon seeing this treatment, Zaid bin Su’na converted to Islam, saying that this characteristic of Hilm – tolerance and compassion – was among the signs by which the Prophet SAW would be recognized.
These are the stories about the Prophet SAW from which I learned to love our Prophet SAW. In light of these stories, I would like to ask the following questions:
Two women, a Muslima and a Christian, had a fight, and they said harsh words to each other. After the incident, consider which of the following responses is in line with the description of the Prophet SAW characteristics and actions:
A: The Muslima talks to her husband, who talks to the Imam, who gathers the people to conduct an investigation of whether or not abusive language was used. If he find so, then the Christian must be killed, and no mercy can be shown.
B: The Imam holds a meeting with all the Muslims, and gives them the following sermon: “The Christian knows nothing about our Deen and Prophet except what she sees of our actions. She cannot have a bad opinion about them, she can only have opinions about the reflection of these in our behavior. Obviously, her bad opinion shows that we have not fulfilled our duty of inviting her to Islam in a beautiful way. Tommorrow we will have to answer to our Prophet SAW about why we failed to make her love our Deen and our Prophet SAW by our bad actions towards her. In order to avoid the anger of our Prophet, let us all make an extra effort to be especially kind and merciful towards all our Christian neighbors. From now on, every day we will greet them well, ask about their problems, try to help to the maximum extent possible. “ Everybody in the village agrees to do as the Imam has recommended, and within a short period of time, all of the Christians in the village convert to Islam, because of the extra love and kindness shown to them by their Muslim neighbors.
C: The leaders of the nation say that we have heard a rumor that one ignorant and foolish woman has insulted the honor of the prophet. The only way to save his honor is to make sure that this woman is killed. No mercy must be shown. We will burn buses, cars, rickshaws, and hold up the whole nation until our demand for justice is met. This is what the honor of the Prophet SAW demands of us.
D: The Muslims of the nation consult each other about the emergency created by this reported abuse of our Prophet SAW, and wonder what was the cause of this abuse, and how we can get to the root of the problem. Looking into our hearts, we realize that the root cause is that we have abandoned the mission of the Prophet, which was to bring the guidance of Islam to all of humanity. How will we answer to our Prophet SAW and the Companions, who suffered so much pain and struggled so hard for this mission, when we did not even do one ounce of effort to give the message of Islam to those who live among us as our neighbors? The leaders resolve to remedy the problem by announcing a “Be kind to your Christian neighbor day”. Every muslim is encouraged to go out and do something special for the Christians among us. All the communities of muslims mobilize, and the Christians are treated with love and kindness, invited to homes, and assisted with their needs to the extent possible. Very soon, the effects of this kind treatment are seen by the conversion of thousands to Islam, as per the promise of the Quran (41:34) “Repel evil by that which is better, and then the one who is hostile to you will become as a devoted friend.”
Multiple Choice Questions
Of the options A & B, which one is in line with the Sunnah of the Prophet SAW?
Of the options C &D, which one is in line with the Sunnah of the Prophet SAW?
Which kind of behavior would our Prophet Mohammad SAW be pleased with?
Which kind of behavior bring honor to his name?
Which kind of behavior is likely to bring praise for our Prophet SAW in the words of the people, love for the Prophet SAW in the hearts of the people, and make people stop saying bad things about the Prophet?
On the opposite side, which kind of behavior is likely to lead people to hate our Deen and our Prophet, and cause people who are outside our reach and power to say more abusive things about our Prophet?
Aisha reported: A group of Jews asked permission to visit the Prophet and when they were admitted they said, “Death be upon you.” I said to them, “Rather death and the curse of Allah be upon you!” The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
“O Aisha, Allah is kind and He loves kindness in all matters.”
آج عالمی سطح پر مسلمانوں کے حالت بہت نازک ہیں – مسلمانوں کو اپس میں لڑایا جا رہا ہیں – اربوں ڈالر کے ہتھیار بیسیوں مسلمان ممالک کو فروخت کیے گے ہیں اور بہت سی جنگیں لڑائی گی ہیں – ہمیشہ کی طرح دشمنوں کی مسلمانوں کے خلاف انتہائی کامیاب پالیسی رہی ہے – قران بھی ہمیں اس کے بارے میں تنبیہ کرتا ہے کے جب تک ہم اپس میں جڑے رہیں گے تو ہمرے خلاف کوی غالب نہیں ا سکے گا اور اپس میں لڑ پرے تو الله کی مدد ہٹ جاۓ گی پھر کوی ہماری مدد نہیں کر سکے گا – آپس میں خانہ جنگی کی وجہ سے لاکھوں مسلمان اس وقت گھر بدر اور ملک بدر دنیا کے ہر گوشے میں پاے جاتے ہیں – اندروں یورپ بحث چل رہی ہے کے ان کے ساتھ کیسا سلوک کیا جائے – اس کے علاوہ پہلی مرتبہ فلسطینیوں کی بات عالمی سطح پر سنئ جا رہی ہے – اسی طرح کشمیر اور دیگر ممالک میں مسلمانوں پر بے انتہا ظلم ہو رہا ہے جس کے بارے میں پہلے دفع عالمی برادری میں غور ہو رہا ہے. عیسائیوں کا اپس میں انتشار ہے کے مسلمانوں کو ہمدردی دکھائی جانے یا نہیں – ایک بری جماعت کا کہنا ہے کے مسلمان درندے ہیں کسئ کو خود ہمدردی نہیں دکھاتے توہم ان کو کیوں ہمدردی دکھائیں – وہ لوگ جو اسلام اور مسلمانوں کے مخالف ہیں ان کا کہنا ہے کے یہ مسلمان دوسروں کے ساتھ صلح سے رہنا نہیں جانتے اور یہ قانون کی بلا دستی نہیں تسلیم کرتے
اس نازک موقع پر ی اسیا بیبی کے ساتھ ہمارا سلوک لاکھوں مسلمانوں کی زندگی پر اثر انداز ہو گا – یورپ میں پناہ گزین لاکھوں مسلمانوں کا جینا حرام کر دیا جانے گا کیوں کے ہم ایک کمزور عورت کے ساتھ عفو اور درگزر نہیں کر سکے – وو سلوک جو روزانہ اپنے اوپر کوڑا پھینکنے والی کے ساتھ ہمارے رسول ص نے کیا تھا وہ ہمیں کرنا نہیں آیا – اسیا کو تو ہم قتل کر سکتے ہیں مگر ان لاکھوں مسلمانوں کا کیا بنے گا جو آج غیر مسلمانوں کی پناہ میں ہیں – ہندو اور یہودی جو اپنے مظالم کی توجیہ پیش کرتے ہیں اس کو عالمی سطح پر قبول کر لیا جائے گا کیوں کے ان کی بات کی دلیل ہم فراہم کر رہے ہیں = خدا را نگاہوں کو بلند کر کے عالمی سطح کی سوچ پیدا کریں – اس وقت ٹرمپ کی طرح مسلمان دشمن لوگ کی جنگ ان ہی کے اندروں عیسائیوں سے جو مسلمانوں کے ساتھ ہمدردی کرنا چاہتے ہیں ہو رہی ی- ی دونوں فریق ہماری طرف دیکھ رہیں ہے – ہم سارے عالم میں مسلمان دشمنوں کے ہاتھ مضبوط کر رہے ہیں اور اپنی تنگ نظری سے لاکھوں مسلمانوں کی زندگیاں خراب کر رہے ہیں – اس کے علاوہ ایک اور جنگ ہمارے اپنے بچوں کے ذھن سازی کی ہو رہی ہے جس میں ان نو جوانوں کو اسلام کے خلاف ورغلایا جا رہا ہے – اس میں بھی عالمی سطح پر مسلمان نوجوان بری طرح مغرب کی ثقافت سے متاثر ہیں – ایک بڑا ہتھیار اسلام کے خلاف ہماری تانگ نظری اور بے رحمی ہے – اس قسم کے واقعے بھی اسلام کے دشمنوں کو بہت تقویت دیتے ہیں
It is really amazing that while the Prophet S.A.W. had the mission to convert the Kuffar towards Islam, and was sent as the Mercy to all Nations, today, the only way Muslims know how to deal with Kuffar is to hate them and kill them. Forget the Kuffar, even those who have mild dis-agreements with us are Wajibul Qatl. There is no concept of compassion and MERCY towards others, the idea that we have to persuade them with love and kindness, for their own sake, to accept Islam. Even the Prophet SAW was told that it is because he is kind and gentle that people are attracted towards him. If he had been harsh and unkind, people would have been repelled. Today our harsh and unkind behavior repels not just the Kuffar, but actually is driving our own youth straight into the welcoming arms of the Western culture, which appears very friendly and kind in comparison.
This situation of the Muslims is not part of our history. The Generosity and Kindness of Muslims, and their fair and just and compassionate behavior towards others is legendary and has been noted by many historians. How did this change? How did we become so hard of heart that even a rock would be shamed? This is discussed in my previous essay on Divide and Rule : (initial paragraph given below)
Islam does not teach hatred and violence. One of the greatest acts of Prophet Mohammad SAW was the forgiveness of sworn enemies, who had caused extreme damage to so many Muslims, at the conquest of Mecca. After all, he was sent as a Mercy to all Mankind. His heart was so full of sorrow for non-Muslims that he was consoled by Allah T’aala in the Quran, not to kill himself with sorrow. His job, and that of his followers, was to save the entire mankind from ignorance and darkness, and bring to them the light of Islam. He taught us that excellence in conduct involves doing Ahsan — kindness — in return for Evil. The Quran also confirms this message and says that if you practice this virtue, of doing good in return for evil, you will find that your worst enemies become your friends. But it is not to win friends that we are required to have the highest standards of conduct, and to be fair and just, even to our worst enemies. This excellence in conduct is a requirement for the special task that this Best of Nations has been given, which is to carry the Word of God to the entire mankind — as bearers of the Final Message of God, we must be models of excellence, because the very high task that has been assigned to us.
The question is: Why have models of hatred, intolerance, killing enemies of religion, become popular, even among pious Muslims, when Islamic teaching do not contain this material? This question has a long and complicated answer. [Read More]
Most people admire and appreciate my educational credentials — BS Math 1974 from MIT completed in 3 years at age of 19, and Ph.D. Econ 1978 from Stanford at age 23. They would find it difficult to imagine that it has taken me decades of life experience to recover from the damage that this education has done to me. The damage was done in so many different dimensions that it is hard to even catalog the whole list. However, before explaining this in greater detail, I must answer some questions which immediately arise whenever I make such statements.
Q1: Do I regret having had this education? To the contrary, I deeply appreciate having had this chance for training at the finest educational institutions that currently exist in the world. This type of education currently shapes minds and thinking of people all over the planet. Without having it, I would be unable to understand their mindsets, ways of thinking and communicate with them. Those who have not experienced this type of brainwashing would be completely ineffective as critics, or at providing remedies, for the disease which afflicts the vast majority of human beings.
Q2: Would education in Pakistan have been better? Not at all. All over the planet, what we have is copies of Western educational models – second rate, third rate, or even worse. Given that we have to drink of this poison anyway, it is best to drink it at the source, where it is pure and strong — as they say, if it does not kill you, it will make you stronger. Third rate copies are very bad because you do not understand what you are being taught, but you get exposed to the ill-effects anyway — you get all the bad but nothing of the little bit of good elements of the education. Remaining un-educated is also not an option, because the ways of looking at the world created by higher education are absorbed by every one and reflected in our conversations, social media, novels, and news — there is no escape.
Q3: But what about madrassas, or purely religious education — would that not have been better? Currently, our madrassas do not provide the kind of education that was available to Imam AL-Ghazali in Nishapur, where he said that I have now mastered all the knowledge that currently exists, except for that of the Sufi’s who claim that their knowledge is based on experience, and cannot be transmitted by books. The point is that religious knowledge is meaningful only when you know how to apply it to the world you live in. In the past, the Islamic tradition of education provided training in all subjects — math, chemistry, physics, technology, medicine, as well as the Quran and Hadeeth. By confining the subjects to the narrow scope which currently exists, students are ignorant about how the Quran and Hadeeth apply to the study of mathematics. Even worse, they are led to believe that Quran and Hadeeth have nothing to say about contemporary real world affairs — for this, one must consult Western textbooks. This has the immediate implication that Islam is not relevant to our daily lives in the modern world — it only provides information about how we can have a better afterlife, and go to Paradise.
Q4: People listen to me only because I have these great educational credentials. If I did not have them, no one would listen to the kind of crazy things that I am saying. So am I not being ungrateful, for saying bad things about the education that made me what I am today, and also gives me the respect and admiration of the people? As I said earlier, I am very grateful to the West for giving me the opportunity, along with many other foreign students, to take from the best that they have to offer, without any prejudice or discrimination. The intellectual tradition of the West has gone astray in many different ways, due to false philosophies which emerged and became widely accepted by everyone. However, people in the West, and in the East, do not realize this. These false philosophies poison our minds, and prevent us from leading rich and fulfilling lives, and achieving the potential for excellence which exists within every human being. This message is equally true and valid for Western and Eastern audiences. Learning about the false and poisonous philosophies underlying the western educational process is of essential importance in solving the tremendous problem humanity as whole currently faces. There is massive inequality — the majority of people in the USA suffer obesity from over-eating, while millions of children die of starvation and malnutrition. The planet is on the verge of an ecological catastrophe. Wars in the past century have taken millions more lives than in any other period of human history. The list goes on and on. Unless we wake up to the defects of modern education, it will not be possible to remedy these problems.
Q5: What I am saying today is a direct product of the education I have received. It is hypocritical, and self-contradictory, to use the education that I have to say that this education itself is bad? First, let me acknowledge that there were some very good things in the training I received. These were mixed in with very deadly poisons, but nonetheless, I did derive a lot of benefit from these good elements. But the ability to understand that this education was substantially harmful, and that it is possible to design far far better ways of training people — these insights came to me after spending four months in Tableegh. During this period, I learned many things which were the opposite of the ideas that I had absorbed at MIT and Stanford, and came to realize that in many ways, the truth was exactly the opposite of what I had been taught. So what I am saying today is an Islamic perspective on a Western education, which does not derive from my Western education.
I had hoped to get to some substantive issues, about how exactly a Western education is harmful, in a point by point way. However, the time I allocated to blog writing has already been exceeded by far, and the post is already quite long, so I will have to leave that for a later post. However, I have expressed this idea, and articulated some of the main serious problems with Western education in many different talks. For example, my talk at IBA, linked below, starts with the claim that a Western education is poisonous to our welfare:
The talk is highly condensed, and a lengthy point-by-point explanation of the ideas discussed in the talk are given in a sequence of posts starting from: Re-Learning Islam. A similar talk in URDU is also available: Comparing Islamic and Western Knowledge.