Article by Taseer Salahuddin, published in The Express Tribune, May 26th, 2018. See US School Shootings:
School shootings in America are not a new trend. Very first event of this sort happened as early as 1764 in Greencastle, Pennsylvania, when a group of Delaware Indian Americans entered a school, killing a head master and nine pupils. Since then there are approximately four hundred and eighty six different reported events where more than 1260 people lost their lives, majority being children. If researched closely for the change of motives and nature of these killings over time, some very worrisome elements surface. Although no reason is justified for this sort of killing yet a shift from personal reasons to undefined, unexplained massive killing is appalling.
Those who are familiar with the American economy know that a major chuck of their production industry is related directly or indirectly to weapons and warfare technology. American president Eisenhower warned American public against the side effects of this ‘Military-Industrial Complex’ back in 1950’s. Even Eisenhower himself could not connect this over production of guns and their free availability to such gruesome malice. This being said one needs to understand that it is not the gun but the person behind the gun that kills. Therefore, motives of these killings especially by the so called educated youth are a very serious issue to be understood.
Before we look into the reasons of these mass shootings, we need to first ask ourselves how this is related to us. Should we be warned beforehand and take remedial measures? Are these far-happenings a source of ‘dragon awakening’ in our youth?
Pakistani education system is bifurcated into public and private institutions. My research and teaching lead me to prominent public as well as private sector institutions, both at school and university level. Gun-violence on the basis of political and apparently religious conflicts at public institutions is well known fact in Pakistan. Equally well known but mostly hidden under the carpet are the drug, guns and other issues at prominent private universities and even schools. Due to business interests and reputation, most of these incidences are hushed by the administration of the institutions themselves. Being a member of disciplinary committees of different universities for over twelve years I have felt a growing intensity and diversity of violence issues in our youth. Instead of hiding or denying the growing violence with or without guns at our educational institutions, it is high time that we search underlying reasons carefully and fight this problem face on.
Although many are writing in America about the reasons of these violent events and have highlighted multiple reasons from easily available guns, poor gun purchase system, poor moral training, broken families, misogyny, distance from religion etc. they have failed to point out the destruction of human values due to narrow, materialistic, commercial worldview. Americans are not ready to label these incidences as terrorist activities and treat each individual incidence as a separate issue, while actually all these incidences have a collective reason.
Due to scientific and technological progress of the west, world became overawed by their worldview. Like west, the whole world adopted a secular education system which focuses on logical and positivist approach to knowledge. This approach accepted only quantifiable and scientifically tested things as the scope of study and rejected emotions and human values as not study able items. Consequently, academic curriculum and trainings of humans became devoid of human values and emotions. Material status became the new standard of success. More respected in our society are the ones with bigger cars, better mobiles, huge bank balances and look-down-upon attitude. These implicit values attached to the western world-view slowly crept into our educational system as well. Another blow to this deterioration came from blind following of west and total disregard of research from our religious perspective, which was very much needed for developing a true Islamic world-view. This was the lens needed by our youth to understand our world in its current state and to set their everyday standards in accordance with the teachings of Islam.
What is happening in America today is also creeping into our country because of our youth being educated, trained and exposed to their ideal way of life. There is nothing wrong in adopting their scientific developments and technology, but we should be aware of implied impacts attached with their thought process. As Allama Iqbal rightly said,
O people of the West, Allah’s township is not a shop,
Money that you are thinking to be real is actually worthless.
Your civilization will commit suicide with its own dagger,
The nest that is created on delicate branch is not going to be durable.
We need to question ourselves as to why we are blindly following a civilization which is both literally and figuratively committing suicide. It is high time that educated Muslims started a mission of revitalizing Islamic values and world-view.
See also: Remembering Sabika Sheikh