Three Mega-Events which Shape our Thoughts

[bit.do/azgt4] Part 4 of talk on “How to be a Great Teacher”. Part 1 (GT1): Intro: The Greatest Educator, Part 2 (GT2): Obstacles to Excellence, Part 3 (GT3): Our Lives for Sale.

15m English Video above. See bottom of post for 18m Urdu Video.

The deceived eaglet, raised by crows, What can it know of the soaring eagles?

WohFaraibKhurda

To a much greater extent than we realize, the thoughts we think are shaped by the major tides of history. In the first place, colonization is a conquest of minds – millions of people cannot be ruled by thousands without giving their willing consent. To become a great teacher, we must first liberate ourselves from the low flying and carrion-eating crow-mentality that is created within our minds by our education. To do this, we must learn about three major historical events that have shaped the minds of all human beings living on the planet today. These are listed below, and their consequences are discussed further.

  1. European Global Colonization and Conquest: As Edward Said writes in “Orientalism”, nearly 85% of the planet was under European control  by the early twentieth century. This event created the “West” (the conquerors and the colonizers) and the “East” (the defeated and colonized), and the corresponding mindsets.
  2. European Transition to Secular Modernity: Abuse of power by Catholic Church led to the Protestant Reformation and religious wars. This eventually led to the exclusion of religious from the public domain, and the creation of secular modern ways of thinking, which now dominate the world.
  3. The Great Transformation to Market Society: The industrial revolution created the possibility of massive surplus production. To create and utilize this surplus for ‘love and war’ – that is is pleasure and power — required a complete reconfiguration of traditional society, along radical different lines in the political, economic, and social realms. The market society wields tremendous economic power, and has now become global, penetrating Muslim minds and hearts.

All of these three developments have had major impact on ways of thinking, always in conflict with Islamic values. As a first step, we must recognize the impact of these events within our own ways of thinking, and cleanse our own minds of the conflicts created by them. This involves a great deal of work. Some of the main points which need work are listed below.

Results of Colonization and Conquest: This created a superiority complex in the European-origin colonizers (see Orientalism) and a corresponding deep-seated inferiority complex in the colonized East. The need to justify the ruthless and brutal conquest, involving genocides of many races, complete destruction of many civilizations, enslavement of millions, and theft and exploitation of planetary resources belonging to all of humanity, on a mind-boggling scale, required the invention many “Myths of Eurocentric History“. To counter the inferiority complex, we need to re-learn history from the Islamic point of view. A key contribution and a starting place for this effort is Syed Abul Hassan Ali Nadwi’s landmark book on “What the World Lost Due to the Decline of the Islamic Civilization.” Restoring self-confidence destroyed by our defeats and domination by others requires work on many dimensions. One is to learn about the “Theft of History”  how Europeans stole inventions of other civilizations and claimed them for their own. For instance, “Islamic Origins of Science” shows how Copernicus was just a translator, and not a revolutionary.

European Transition to Secular Modernity: The standard story which is told about this is that, for the first time in human history, Europeans learned to reason. In the light of their superior knowledge, they rejected the superstitions of Christianity, and made tremendous strides in all fields of knowledge as a result. Their tremendous power and glory is due to the new was of thinking, acting, and being that they have invented over the past three centuries. This story is strongly in conflict with Islamic teachings, but is widely believed by Muslims today, because a Western education teaches us to believe in this story. In order to re-learn Islamic teachings, we need to take several commonly used words, and  UNLEARN the meanings which we have been taught. For example, the idea the Development means getting more wealth (GNP) is correct only for those who thing the robbing the entire planet by brute force is development. Islam, on the other hand, defines development as the development of human character and capabilities. Similarly, knowledge is defined as that which can help us acquire wealth and power, corresponding to a civilization based on colonization and conquest. Islamic knowledge teaches us how human beings can realize their hidden potential to become the best of the creations. The West defines prosperity as possession of wealth and power, while Islam defines it as excellence in conduct. Unlearning Western lessons and relearning Islamic ones is essential to follow the pathways and methods of the Greatest Teacher of All Time: Our Prophet Mohammad SAW.

The Great Transformation to Market Society: Today, we are at the bottom of the pyramid. Our thoughts are shaped in whatever direction the education we receive shapes us. We accept without question any knowledge coming from the West. To learn to soar above like the eagles, we need to look at where this knowledge is coming from. What are the forces that shaped the minds of the Europeans, and led them to the creation of the types of knowledge that we study in our schools, colleges, and universities? Why did our Muslim ancestors not invent this type of knowledge? To learn the answers to this question, we have to look at how the great tides of global history have shaped the lives and thoughts of mankind. At the root of the answers to these questions is the industrial revolution in England, which created the capacity for massive overproduction. This capacity was developed by other cultures, in other times and places as well, but this did not have any consequence, because over-production is useless in a self-sufficient society – what will we do with goods far in excess of those needed by the society? Through a sequence of peculiar and unique events in England, the emerging market society managed to launch a revolution, which destroyed traditional society, and created the modern world. For more details about this, see the Great Transformation in European Thought.

Next Post GT5: Reshaping Lives: Identity and Purpose: A great teacher reshapes lives of students by changing their goals and thereby their identities.

18m Urdu Video covering these topics:

Related: A collection of readings on: Principles of an Islamic Education.

 

 

 

 

 

This entry was posted in Education, Islamic Knowledge by Asad Zaman. Bookmark the permalink.

About Asad Zaman

BS Math MIT (1974), Ph.D. Econ Stanford (1978)] has taught at leading universities like Columbia, U. Penn., Johns Hopkins and Cal. Tech. Currently he is Vice Chancellor of Pakistan Institute of Development Economics. His textbook Statistical Foundations of Econometric Techniques (Academic Press, NY, 1996) is widely used in advanced graduate courses. His research on Islamic economics is widely cited, and has been highly influential in shaping the field. His publications in top ranked journals like Annals of Statistics, Journal of Econometrics, Econometric Theory, Journal of Labor Economics, etc. have more than a thousand citations as per Google Scholar.

9 thoughts on “Three Mega-Events which Shape our Thoughts

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