The Ghazali Project: Revival of Deen

[] Part 6 of “How to Become a Great Teacher”. This is the final and concluding part of a 6-part lecture. For the first part, see: See also: Principles of An Islamic Education, for many readings on this topic, including all 6 parts of this talk.

The first word of the Revelation is the command to “Read”. God tells us that He gave knowledge to man of things we did not know. This knowledge, conveyed to mankind by the greatest of all teachers, our Prophet Mohammad SAW, changed the course of history. 13m English video explains how we can revive these teachings to launch the same revolution today. Urdu Version of this talk is at the bottom of the post.

What were the effects of Islamic Teachings 1450Y ago? They transformed ignorant & backwards Bedouin to World Leaders. These teachings launched a magnificent civilization, which enlightened the World for a thousand years!

Burning Question: Can we re-create this revolution today?

Conditions today resemble Jahiliyya! There is a book with the title: Mothers who kill their children! All around the world, we see: Oppression, cruelty, inequality, Endless Wars. The Law of the Jungle: Might makes Right – those who have power can do anything they want, and no one can question their right to do so.  Today, Ignorance masquerades as knowledge. And the Muslims are the most backward people on the planet.

To solve the problem, we must first understand the causes of the problem. At the root of the problem is the global conquest and colonization carried out by Europe over the 19th Century. This destroyed the institutional foundations of the Islamic civilization, and led to shock-and-awe of the superiority of the West. This led to the mindless imitation of the West by the Muslims, which was foretold in the prophecy that you will follow the ways of the Jews and the Christians, even to the extent of crawling into lizard holes behind them. The problem we face today may be termed the “Modern Mu’tazila”. The ancient Mu’tazila were so impressed with Greek philosophy that they declared it to be on par with the Quran. Today’s Modern Mu’tazila are so impressed with the Wisdom of the West, that they consider it to be on par with the Quran.
In fact, Western knowledge is radically different from the teachings of Islam. Western knowledge structures were developed during the process of conquest and colonization of the globe, and they are meant to support this process. Accordingly, the West defines knowledge to be that of the External World. The purpose of education is to acquire knowledge which will lead to wealth and power. The methods of teaching: are meant to create standardized parts for production of wealth. Human beings are turned into human resources, for exploitation by capitalists. This is opposed to the Central Insight provided to us by Islamic teachings: Man is the Most Precious among all the creations of God.

To solve this problem, we need to follow the same steps that Imam Ghazali took in his time to deal with the problem of Greek Philosophy. The Ghazali Project is based on Three Steps required to launch an Islamic Revolution in Knowledge today, based on three books that he wrote:

1: Al-Munqid min al-Dalal: Deliverance from Error

2: Tahafat alFalasifa: Incoherence of Philosophers

3: Ihya Uloomud Deen: Revival of the Religious Science

The three steps required today can be explained as follows:

Step 1: Deliverance from Error

Colonization is the conquest of knowledge. This has corrupted our understanding of what knowledge is, what progress and development mean, and prevented us from understanding and following the teachings of Islam. Our current condition can be described as Jahl-e-Murakkab: Compound Ignorance. This means that we think we know Islam, when we don’t. We think that if Islam had the power to solve today’s problems, then we would not be in our current bad condition. Therefore, we think that Islam cannot solve modern problems. To solve modern problems, we MUST acquire Western knowledge, developed over past three centuries.This also means that Quran is NOT complete and sufficient for our guidance today.

Imam Ghazali was perplexed by the large number of different schools, all of which claimed to have the truth. So he searched for certainty – how could one discover the truth. Eventually, he came to the realization that we must ABANDON ALL PRE-CONCEPTIONS. All of the knowledge that we have is uncertain. We can only rely on the light of guidance from the Noor of Allah to fill our hearts. We must unlearn the training that we received from the West, and start with a fresh mind, in order to be able to understand and implement the brilliant teachings of our Deen – which came as a stranger, and has become a stranger. (see Getting a Real Education)

Step 2: Tahāfut al-Falāsifa — Rejection of Western Wisdom

To understand the nature of Western knowledge, we must understand Western History of Global Colonization and Conquest. Western Wisdom is the Philosophy of Global Conquest, Ruthless exploitation, Genocide. They believe that “All is fair in love and war” – that is, there are no moral barriers to the oursuit of wealth, power, and luxury. See Colonial Atrocities.

Because of the deadly ethics, we have seen the deadliest century of human history. More than 50 million human lives destroyed by the two world wars. An unending sequence of wars against human, other species of flora and fauna, and the planet itself. Because the tremendously damaging impact that humans have had on the entire planet in a very short time, geologists are calling this era the Anthropocene: the name indicates the shaping of the planet by human actions: destruction of animals, flora, fauna, oceans atmosphere, melting of polar caps, and global warming.

What we all admire as Science & Technology have created tremendous increase in the power of human beings, but at the same time, a tremendous decrease in morality, compassion, and humanity. The result has been destruction of individual lives, families, communities, past the point of no return in the West. When more then half of the children are born to single parents, they never experience the warmth and comfort of a loving home, which can nurture and protect them, and create within them the capacity for compassion and live. The outcome of the destruction of families is the destruction of society and creation of sociopathic behavior on a global scale.

Third Step: Ihya Uloom-ud-Deen!

Once we understand that Western knowledge is about power, wealth, and luxury, which has caused tremendous damage, then we understand the extreme importance of reviving the teachings of Islam. The problem is that we need to learn how to apply the Quran to ALL domains of knowledge. The claim that Quran can solve modern problems needs to be IMPLEMENTED, practiced and DEMONSTRATED. To do this, we need to reject the idea of Secular Knowledge. The idea that social sciences can be developed without any input from religion, and without any reference to morality, is just wrong. We have swallowed these absurdities because of the ILLUSION of Western Expertise. Shock-and-Awe created by global conquest is like the The Thousand Snakes of the magicians of Fir’awn which frightened our Prophet Moosa AS. We must learn to see through the Ridiculous Claims of Economic Theory, and realize that economists could not predict the global financial crisis, and could not provide policies to repair the damage afterwards. A Social Science which removes the heart and soul of man from consideration is responsible for the tremendous inequalities, injustice, and oppression that we see today. We need to replace Western theories with Islamic Wisdom. All fields of Western knowledge are ripe for REVIVAL.  The Social Sciences are urgently in need of reform, because they are based on wrong theories of human behavior. But also the Physical Sciences are taught in an unbalanced way. Tt is wrong to provide power without teaching responsibility that comes with power. Failure to do this led to graduates of the finest Western educational institutes carrying out mass murders efficiently, without compassion or compunction.

Implementing Islamic teachings will lead to dramatic changes on many fronts. Western methods of teaching are full of dualities and separations – artificial splits, fragmentations, and specializations, which prevent us from seeing the big picture. See Launching an Islamic Revolution in Social Sciences.

One of these is the split between Theory and Practice, which has led to a vast number of theories which have no application, and vast numbers of areas where we apply policies which have no theoretical basis. The West has also created a Mind and Heart split, and excluded human emotions from the domains of knowledge. This is what permits the cold calculation that sacrificing millions of lives is worthwhile for the sake of gaining greater power. Islamic teachings would re-instate the need for moral considerations, and enrich the homo economicus of economic theory by giving him a heart and a soul. Even in the Physical Sciences, the stronghold of the West, many changes are required from an Islamic perspective. We should learn to see the many miracles of nature which surround us as the Signs of Allah.  This should create within us a respect for Nature, as a Gift of God to all of Humanity. All of the Creation is part of the family of God, and the planet has been given to all of us. We need to learn share the planetary resources equitably between ourselves, and also leave the planet in a better form for the generations to follow.

To conclude this lecture on becoming a great teacher, we need to teach our students to strive for EXCELLENCE.  Allah is not asking for MEDIOCRE performance, but for the BEST!

الَّذِي خَلَقَ الْمَوْتَ وَالْحَيَاةَ لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ أَيُّكُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْغَفُورُ

We have only one chance at this life! Let us give it our best shot! Learning how to apply Islam to modern problems is a vast task in which we will need to engage as partners with our students. As we struggle to implement the teachings of Islam in our daily lives, and to spread these teachings to all of humanity, we will be guided to the pathways of knowledge, recognition, and love of God, which is at the root of all wisdom.



POSTSCRIPT: For related materials, see Principles of an Islamic Education, which also provides a list of all six parts of this lecture on “How to become a great teacher. Previous discussions of the Ghazali Project — the work required today to create a revival of Islamic teachings – are given in: The Ghazali Group, The Ghazali Project, and Diagnosis: the absorption of Secular Thought. This last post (Diagnosis) is very important — Why are the Muslims not able to SEE the revolutionary potential of Islamic teachings today? The reason is that absorption of a Eurocentric worldview which is part of a Western education blinds us to the message of Islam. Unwrapping these blindfolds for ourselves, and helping fellow Muslims do the same is a HUGE project, which requires lots of work on many different fronts. For those who would like to participate in this project, I have created an email discussion group for this purpose. Click on the link, to join: The Ghazali Group.

Recently, I have started a weekly lecture series at Masjid al-Muzammil to explain to some Ulema the basics of the Ghazali project for the revival of Deen, and the analysis on which it is based. These urdu lectures are linked, and English summaries provided, in the following sequence of Posts:

  1. MaM01: Diagnosis and Solutions for Problems Facing the Ummah
  2. MaM02: Origins of Banking [may be OMITTED – only of interest for Islamic Finance]
  3. MaM03: The Greatest Challenge Facing the Ummah
  4. MaM04: Building Islamic Foundations for Social Sciences
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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.

6 thoughts on “The Ghazali Project: Revival of Deen

  1. Pingback: The Ghazali Group | An Islamic WorldView

  2. Pingback: Diagnosis: Absorption of Secular Thought | An Islamic WorldView

  3. Pingback: Greatest Teacher of All Time – AZ Students

  4. Pingback: Diagnosis and Solutions for Problems Facing the Ummah | An Islamic WorldView

  5. Pingback: The Greatest Challenge Facing the Ummah | An Islamic WorldView

  6. Pingback: The Modern Mu’tazila | An Islamic WorldView

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