[bit.do/azgt5] Fifth Part of Talk on How to Become a Great Teacher; for previous parts, see bit.do/azbgt, bit.do/azgt2, bit.do/azgt3, and bit.do/azgt4 —
Great teachers re-shape the lives of their students. They do this by changing their purpose for living, which impacts directly on their identity. To understand this better, it is useful to contrast Western and Islamic Education. This 12m video talk explains further. A 1500 word summary is also given below the video. An urdu version will also be provided.
Learning to be human beings, reshapes our lives, by changing our goals of life and our identities.
Islamic education is Individualized & Personalized, aimed at developing the unique capabilities of each student. Western education takes a diverse group of students, and teaches them all how to do the SAME thing, which will be useful to them in their careers; that is it will be useful to them in selling themselves for money in the labor market. Islam teaches us how to live, while Western education teaches us job skills. Islam teaches us about who created us, and what is the purpose of our lives. The West teaches us that our purpose is to earn wealth, pursue luxuries, and enjoy life. Islam teaches us about Excellence in Conduct, and provides for us the perfect model, in the form of the life of our Prophet Mohammad SAW. As such, it is life-transforming and revolutionary. A Western education, especially economics, teaches us the worst forms of conduct – selfishness, greed, and “all is fair in love and war” – that is there are no ethics when it comes to pursuit of pleasure and power. This education cheapens our lives and destroys our souls.
Whatever we teach automatically conveys lessons about the meaning and purpose of our lives to the students. We can re-shape student identities, by recognizing the hidden messages that we are giving them, which actually poison the souls of our students. We must CHANGE these message, and counteract these poisons. Especially in economics, we must explain to the students that we are NOT maximizers of utility (the pleasure we get from consumption). Maximization means pursuit of all pleasures, and this is what Islam calls the “worship of desires”. This is specifically prohibited by Islam. Islam teaches us moderation in consumption: REFRAIN from fulfilment of idle desires. Islam teaches us to give away what we love most, so that we can learn to control our desires, instead of being controlled by them (as in economics). Islam also teaches us to enjoy life, but in moderation – without excess and waste, and while being socially responsible, caring for others (unlike economics). Islam teaches that we are the best of creations, NOT human resources. The Goal of life is NOT to make money. Instead, education is to create inner spiritual transformation. Economics is actually the theory of the Nafs-e-Ammara (the worst of the creation), while Islam is about learning to be the best of creation (nafs-e-mutma’inna). A key element is this is learning to control our desires – which means NOT maximizing our utility!
To do this, we must learn more about our students – in terms of where they are in their own levels of spiritual progress. Our lessons must be adapted to the students capabilities, interests, and level of growth. We must not teach fish to fly, or birds to swim. We must tTake students from WHERE THEY ARE and AS THEY ARE, and teach them to take the NEXT step towards what they can become – the best of the creations of God.
In order to teach them how to take the next step towards their goals, We must first DEFINE THE GOALS OF LIFE! A general way of defining the Goal of Life is that it is about developing our hidden capabilities. God has made every human life very precious. How can we become the BEST of the creation? The potential exists in EVERY human being! We must learn to VALUE our unique and precious lives. To do this, we must convey lessons of our life experiences, understood in the light of the teachings of Islam. The FIRST REACTION to this is: We have to have a SEPARATE course on this – we cannot teach how to live via a course in mathematics! This first reaction is wrong! This comes from the myth/illusion of SECULAR knowledge which is created by a Western education. TO overcome this illusion, start with a discussion of the PURPOSE OF LIFE! Western approach to education is based on the fragmentation of knowledge, and specialization. They break up knowledge into very small pieces, disconnected from each other. Then, the question of “why should we study math?” has no answer.
We can provide the answer by connecting all spheres of human lives. We must learn HOW math can be used to benefit humanity. This not in a general abstract way, but very specific and concrete ways. We must learn about how trigonometry was invented to help navigate the seas, to explain how this knowledge was useful in the past. Once we are able to understand how knowledge is used to change and benefit lives, we will be able to convey this knowledge in way that touches the hearts of the students. The most important Islamic lesson for teachers is: Useful knowledge ENTERS hearts, teaches us how to live, and CHANGES lives.
Instead of studying each piece of knowledge separately, we must study all domains of knowledge together, and RELATE this knowledge to the most important questions we ALL face: Why are we here? What should we do with our lives? See my essay on “Learn Who You Are!” Are we commodities for sale in the labor market? Our heart answer NO! You can be what you want! Human beings have infinite potential for greatness. The TEACHER is crucial in recognizing the potential of the student. People are like mines containing precious material within their hearts! To bring out these hidden capabilities, we must change our Purpose for Study: We will use the knowledge we acquire to serve the creation of God, for the LOVE of God.
This puts a great burden on the teacher. It creates a HEAVY Responsibility: Provide USEFUL knowledge, which helps change our lives, and brings benefit to other. This is difficult because we have NOT been taught using this model – we have been taught fragmented pieces of knowledge, in isolation. We must learn to CONNECT knowledge with application, and especially with useful applications. WE must find out HOW the knowledge we teach is beneficial for humanity, and how it can change lives for the better. To do this, we must become students once again, because this knowledge is not readily available in standard Western textbooks. We must do research and study to find out how the material we teach is actually used. When we do this, we will find out how it is abused and mis-used (How to Lie with Statistics) as well as examples of beneficial use.
Because this will be a process of learning, we must adopt the Fellow Traveler educational model. We will be in process of learning how to make knowledge beneficial for human lives, and we invite the students to join us in this journey. This is where we can include Non-Muslims among our students. The idea of developing our hidden capabilities, and the idea of using knowledge for the benefit of humanity, appeals to all human beings. This is built into our human nature. Non-muslim students may disagree on some specific Islamic concepts, but they will share broad agreement on these general principles of an Islamic education.
This model of education is taken from the patterns taught to us by the greatest teacher of all time, our Prophet Mohammad SAW. We can see how powerful this model is by looking at the Value & Effect of Knowledge that was given by him to the companions, and by them to rest of humanity. The teachings of Islam led Muslims to world leadership. Our forgetting these methods of education has led to widespread Ignorance and backwardness among Muslims. There is a huge contrast between seeking knowledge to make money, and seeking knowledge for Self-Purification (Tazkiya). The love of world goods, wealth, pleasure is a disease of our hearts – Islam teaches us to have higher goals: “…Are you pleased with the life of this world (dunya) rather than the hereafter (Aakhira)? But little is the enjoyment of the life of this world as compared with the Hereafter” (Quran, Al-Tawbah: 38).
When we change our lives to strive for spiritual Advance & inner transformation, and try to learn excellence in conduct, then we will make the journey from being the worst of the creation (homo economicus, controlled by our desires), to the best of the creations (homo islamicus, better than the angels). This is the purpose for which this Ummah was created: to convey the final message of God to all of humanity. This revolutionary message has the power to transform our lives, and to create a revolution in the world around us, just as it did 1440 years ago. May Allah T’aala bless us with the understanding of His Message, and with learning how to apply it transform our own lives, and to spread the powerful Message to all of humanity. Ameen.
Next Post: GT6 – 6th & Final Post in this lecture: The Ghazali Project: Revival of Deen: This explains how global conquest and colonization by West created shock-and-awe of Western knowledge among the Muslims. The post explains how we can recover our lost confidence by recognizing the nature of Western knowledge as being suited to conquest and pursuit of power and wealth. Islam teaches us love, compassion, mercy for all mankind, and pursuit of excellence in conduct. This is knowledge of an entirely different sort, which still has the capability to revolutionize the world, just like it did fourteen centuries ago.
Related: Collection of Essays on “Principles of an Islamic Education“.
13m Urdu Video discussing the same topics:
1.[bit.do/azbgt]: Intro: The Greatest Educator, The knowledge given to man by God, in form of the Quran, and demonstrated in the person of our Prophet Mohammad SAW, changed the course of history. How can we learn to follow in his footsteps?
2.[bit.do/azgt1]: Obstacles to Excellence, Some major misconceptions about teaching, knowledge, and education, which are barriers in the path of our learning to become great teachers.
3.[bit.do/azgt2]: Our Lives for Sale.: The Western system of education is designed to turn us into human resources, commodities for sale in the labor market. We need to learn the Value of Human Lives, to avoid giving this message to our students. Instead, we must teach them that human beings are the best of the creations, and all the gold in the world is not enough to pay for even a small portion of our lives.
4.[bit.do/azgt4]: Three Mega-Events Which Shape Our Thoughts: Historical Events shape our lives and thoughts in ways that we do not realize, and we are not consciously aware of. These ways of thinking tie us down, and prevent us from realizing our hidden potentials as human beings, the best of the creations of God.
THIS POST: [bit.do/azgt5]: Reshaping Lives: Identity and Purpose: A great teacher reshapes lives of students by changing their goals and thereby their identities.
Teaching Fish to Fly: Explains how an Islamic education teaches each student according to his/her unique capabilities, and encourages them to develop their own hidden potentials. As opposed to this, Western education is a form of Brainwashing. See also, Recovering from a Western Education and Getting a Real Education.
My Journey from Theory to Reality: Explains how I learned that the theoretical applied distinction that I had learnt in my Western education was very harmful, and how theory must be learnt and studied in context of applications.
“Learn Who You Are!”: Explains how the process of Western education is designed to deceive us about our identities and our potentials, so that we can be purchased cheaply in the labor market.
Islamic Concept of Knowledge: Explains how what Islam calls knowledge is very different from what the West calls knowledge.
Islam’s Gift: An Economy of Spiritual Development: Article shows how Islam teaches us to sell our lives and wealth for the pleasure of Allah, instead of using wealth for personal pleasures.