Morality and Spirituality

A Harvard professor by the name of Julie Reuben has documented in her book, The Making of the Modern University: Intellectual Transformation and the Marginalization of Morality,

the historical transition in the life of US universities over the period 1880-1930. She points out the developments that led universities to leave their tradition of building character along-with imparting knowledge and the negative impacts on society of this change of approach.

Most colleges in the US started out as religious seminaries and eventually embraced scientific and technological material in their curricula. Many difficulties arose for them in the execution of their new educational programs and Reuben argues that the educators tried to create something that may be called a ‘modern’ approach to moral education. She concludes that the process largely was unsuccessful and the universities eventually chose to focus solely upon providing technical knowledge and abandoning moral goals.

Keeping Reuben’s conclusions in perspective, we see now and in the past, graduates, even from elite universities, taking part in perpetrating miseries around the world, committing financial fraud, engaging in lies and deception, largely without recognition or remorse. One may ask, that how does one reconcile the morally reprehensible acts and one’s conscience? The fact is that people develop justifications, in sophisticated or unsophisticated ways, for their actions, and that is part of human nature. As one sinks deep into corrupt behavior, insensitivity also sets in and the act does not seem wrong anymore. An excellent work by Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, documents the actions of the ‘educated’ which caused great physical, psychological and emotional harm to many. Similarly, Jonathan Glover’s book, Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century documents genocide, mass killings and levels of barbarism unparalleled in human history. At the level of an organization, we see that despite elaborate corporate governance structures, rules, and checks, fraudulent behavior is becoming common-place. People bound primarily by external rules tend to look for loopholes, workarounds, whenever they have an economically rewarding opportunity to do so.

The events of the past century and now, are evidence of the failures of the mainstream education system in inculcating lasting moral values in individuals. The failures seem intuitive if one contemplates a little. In the absence of a spiritual basis for moral values, there is no firm foundation for the teaching of values and its implementation in the real world. The realization that we are created for a purpose, and will be held accountable for our actions after we die, creates an internal moral compass which is more powerful than any external control. The institutions of learning in the Muslim word in the past combined, what Islamic scholars identify as ta’lim (imparting of knowledge) and tarbiyah (the imparting of values). Tarbiyah, derived its core curricula from primary Islamic sources, the Quran and Sunnah (the narrations of what the Prophet Muhammad SAW said, did or approved of) allowing humans to understand their place in this world and their responsibilities towards it.

A final point to consider is the increasing specialization and fragmentation of knowledge which have become the norm for a university education. What this does is that it creates a situation where most are only considered or know of what they are doing in the larger scheme of affairs. People then often justify their link in the wrong ‘ends’ by saying that they are just doing their job which is not wrong in itself. In the Islamic moral framework, one cannot participate in an activity leading towards a wrong end and moreover as a general principle, the means don’t justify the ends in Islam.

To sum up, it is pertinent to understand that external controls have their place, but without a spiritually-rooted value system, nurtured in an individual from an early age and incorporated into our mainstream education system, the world would be a chaotic and unsafe place to live. In each and every one us, there is a tremendous need for purpose, let’s try and make sure our purpose aligns with our worldview, the Islamic worldview. There is no understanding of this world that is true and holistic, but that given to us by our Creator.

The inspiration for the above post is the following article by Dr Asad Zaman published in the Express Tribune (June 15th, 2015) titled “The Marginalization of Morality

Preliminaries for an Islamic Education

In attempting to write a textbook on “Real Statistics: An Islamic Approach”, I am faced with the dilemma that there is too much preliminary material to cover. The general differences between an Islamic approach to education and the Western approach are huge, and require extensive and detailed discussion. Furthermore, students have all gone through Western education for many, many years and have absorbed Western mindsets and methodologies. So the process of unlearning what students have been taught to believe is difficult and time-consuming. At the same time, we cannot spend half the course studying principle of education, and start statistics after the mid-term. I have come up with a compromise, where I have written a preliminary Chapter, that would be given to students to read on their own, according to their own time and interest. This is the Chapter ZERO. The first Chapter provides bare minimum essential background information, and the second Chapter actually starts on the statistics. Also, together with the statistics, I plan to cover elements of the Islamic approach, and highlight and emphasize differences with the conventional approach in the process of teaching statistics. I have now created three chapters, which are available at RSIA Chapters. The material to be covered in the preliminary chapter is listed below. This is also too much material, and I hope to cut it down to a more reasonable size in the final version. Suggestions from readers on what to include and what to cut are most welcome.

This preliminary chapter is a discussion of the basic principles of education. All students  have already LEARNED the wrong lessons about education and knowledge, because they have all been trained via a Western educational system. They have learned a theory of knowledge (epistemology) without actually learning any philosophy. They have learnt this by demonstration – what is covered in the courses is (important and useful) knowledge. What is not covered is NOT important. In particular, since Quran and Hadeeth are not mentioned, they have learned (without explicit mention) that our Islamic intellectual tradition is of no value or importance in the modern world.  To counter this false impression, there is a huge amount of preliminary material which needs to be covered. I am condensing this material to the following posts and video lectures, meant as the PRELIMINARY chapter for my planned textbook on RSIA.

1. First Steps Towards Light: How to begin the journey from darkness to light, from ignorance to knowledge. The main message is to take stock of our lives, and to recognize the extremely precious gifts we have been given. Every moment of our lives is worth more than the entire planetful of gold. And yet, we have learned to sell our lives for money, and be happy at this bargain. If we start counting our blessings, we will not be able to do so. Gratitude for what we have been given is the best way to increase our blessings. If we are grateful for the knowledge we have been given, Allah T’aala will guide us towards more.

2. The Ways of the Eagles: The biggest obstacle on our path to knowledge is our lack of confidence in our own abilities to learn, and our lack of trust in Allah, the Creator of all knowledge. Loss of confidence has been created by our defeat, and by deliberate psychological campaigns required for the conquest of minds that is the essence of colonization. To regain our confidence, we have to unlearn the Eurocentric history that we have been taught in our Western education, according to which Europeans have all the glory, while every one else is an ignorant barbarian.

3. The Search for Knowledge: What Islam calls knowledge is very different from what the West calls knowledge.  Accordingly, the way to seek knowledge via an Islamic approach is very different from the methods we have learnt during our Western education. The Western education teaches us to value money and careers over everything else. Islam teaches us how to live our precious and unique lives, in order to achieve the hidden potential for excellence which every human being is born with. Learning how to live, and how to become a human being requires very different type of knowledge from the chemistry, biology, and economics that we have been taught in our Western education.

4. Unlearning Jahilliya and Re-learning Islam: A huge obstacle to our learning process is created by the false lessons that we have learnt from our Western education, which teaches us how to become a human resource, instead of teaching us how to become a human being. These slides list the false lessons that we have been taught, and compare them with the truths of Islam. It is my hope to create a video for these slides later on.

5. Three Mega-Events Which Have Shaped Our Thoughts; The process of colonization has wrapped multiple chains around our minds. Freeing ourselves required recognizing and understanding these thoughts planted in our brains. European colonization of the globe created a defeated mindset, leading us to believe that we are inferior, and Europeans are superior. European rejected God, and created a secular society, in which the most valuable knowledge is that which is objective, same for all, and unrelated to religion. We have absorbed the false idea that objective knowledge contained in Western textbooks is superior to our own intellectual heritage. Finally, living in a capitalist market society teaches us to value money above all things, and to value all things including human lives, by the price of these things on the market. This makes us ignorant about the most precious things about our lives, which cannot be purchased in the marketplace.

6: PP1: The First Principle of Pedagogy: Before we begin our study of statistics, we must ensure that our study is done with the right intentions. The value of our efforts depends upon our intentions. Living in market society, and being trained via a capitalist educational system automatically teaches us to make the wrong intentions. By making intentions to use our knowledge for the benefit of mankind, for the sake of the love of God, we can turn our learning into an act of worship.

Many of the links have full 90m video lectures, so this is actually a substantial amount of material, too much for a preliminary chapter. In order to learn what to keep, and what to cut, I would appreciate very much if you  leave a comment about what you think is the SINGLE most important point that you learned from reading/viewing. Different readers will have different views, but I will get a good idea by collecting responses from many points of view.

Launching An Islamic Revolution in Economics

[bit.do/azai4] Final Part 4 of talk on “How Islam applies to Economics” By Dr. Asad Zaman, Ex-VC PIDE  English Re-Recording of Original 1hr talk in URDU at Econ Dept. Karachi University Monday 16th Sept 2019 — 14m Video of Part 4:

So we started this talk with the question: “(How) Does Islam apply to modern economics?”. Conventional textbooks seem to be completely unrelated to Islam. As we have seen, this is because conventional economics is about a market society based on humans lives for sale in a labor market, competition, greed, individualism, and hedonism. These values are opposed to Islamic values. Islam does NOT apply to modern economics – it tells us to reject the whole thing, and build a new economic system on entirely different foundations. Islam works on TRANSFORMING human behavior towards Cooperation, Generosity, Social Responsibility. Of course, we may object that this is too idealistic – we can never create a perfect society, where everyone acts like an angel. The answer to this objection is that Islam is concerned with PROCESS, not with OUTCOMES. That is, we are required to WORK for change, to struggle for a good society. We are not responsible to achieve success. The Prophet SAW was tasked with the responsibility of taking the Deen of Islam to all of mankind, but he was told that Guidance was solely in the hands of Allah. Similarly, we are asked to struggle to spread the ways of Islam, but the outcomes of our efforts are solely in the hands of Allah.

How can we work to create change? One effective technique is to replace conventional economics courses with radical replacements, which provide a critique of standard theories, and provide Islamic alternatives. I have developed many courses which provide alternatives to conventional courses on the basis of these principles. Before I discuss the courses, I want to provide some general advice to Muslim students and teachers of economics.

Advice to students: Students frequently become frustrated and unhappy when they learn that they have been taught false theories. It is important that you don’t give up, drop out, abandon study because all economics is based on wrong ideas. Even though economics is all wrong, these ideas are running the world today. We cannot understand what is happening in the world without learning these ideas. To have any chance of creating a viable alternative, we must understand these ideas. So we must study harder, to learn the weapons being used by the enemies.

Advice to teachers: We must teach economics in a DIFFERENT way. Don’t teach it as the TRUTH. Teach it as a theory which is used to make policy decision. Don’t focus on micro-details; how to do the calculations. Instead, understand and teach the CONCEPTS beneath the theories. See through math and technicalities, as discussed earlier. Learn how these theories are used to make policies. Teach students how to DRIVE the car, not how the ENGINE is constructed. Since the Western educational model does not teach these things, you will have to learn them on your own. My courses, described below, will provide a lot of help with them. Become a student, and learn along with your students. Use Fellow Traveller model: we are all learning together, but I am a senior learner, a little bit more experienced than the students. See my lectures on How to Become A Great Teacher for more details.

SOME NEW COURSES: As explained, I have developed alternatives to conventional courses. One of these courses is Advanced Microeconomics I [shortlink: bit.do/az4micro] This starts out by covering the Hill & Myatt: Anti-Textbook on Microeconomics. The purpose is to create a link with conventional micro. The student will learn all of the basic concepts taught in conventional micro, but in a critical fashion. The textbook goes through standard theories of micro – in context of how they are USED in the real world. Explains why the theories are wrong, and why they lead to wrong policies. There is a serious question which emerges – why do wrong theories continue to be taught, even though there is huge amount of evidence against them? The answer has to with how Power shapes Knowledge. Theories which are taught serve the interests of power. Theories like Marxism are rejected and ridiculed, not because they are wrong, but because they are harmful to the rich and the powerful. As I have explained in detail, modern economic theory is really Economic Theory of the Top 1% (ET1%) – it protects the interests of the rich and the powerful, while pretending to be objective and neutral.

This is why Islam help us launch a revolution in Economics. We need to construct a theory of the bottom 90% – ET90% – which protects the interests of the weak and powerless masses, against the rich and wealthy. As a first step, we must learn to see through the deception of conventional economics. We must study conventional theories, not as an apprentice learning the truth, but as an external observer watching a magician to learn the secrets by which he deceives the public – see Thousand Snakes: Image and Reality of Western Economics.

One of the key deceptions is the WRONG model of human behavior: homo economicus. The idea that we are all selfish and greedy, and that this is rational behavior, serves to justify and allow the rich an powerful to do whatever they want. Actually, this concept is contradicted by actual human behavior. This theory is used to justify laissez-faire economics – just let everyone do whatever they want. By the ridiculous theory of the invisible hand, if everyone behaves selfishly, the society will automatically reach the best results. See Game Theory for Humans with Hearts.

The Islamic Perspective on this is that economists have the wrong model of human behavior, and also the wrong model of what makes us happy. We can create a new basis for Micro if we start by differentiating between NEED and WANT (as discussed earlier, and in greater detail in “Scarcity: East and West”). There is enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed. If we make the objective the fulfillment of NEEDS, discouraging fulfilment of Wants, and encouraging people with excess to give to those who are in need, this is enough to launch a  Revolution in Economics.

I have developed new courses in Microeconomics, which are a compromise between the full ideal Islamic course, and the current neoclassical economics courses. Advanced Microeconomics I is based on using existing alternative approaches. One of these is Behavioral Economics, which studies actual behavior of human beings, instead of the axiomatic behavior which is mathematically predictable. As we have discussed, many development in Islamic Economics can be brought into the picture, to provide genuine alternatives – see Islam’s Gift: An Economy of Spiritual Development. Closely related is Experimental Economics, which engages students in real world experiments, which allows them to see that actual human behavior is very different from what economic theories say. In particular, human beings do not optimize; they use heuristics for decision making. This makes it impossible to calculate outcomes using simple mathematical formula. A solution is provided by the techniques of Agent Based Modelling. This allows us to deal with Heterogeneity (many different types of agents). Instead of mathematically calculating outcomes, we can simulate results on a computer.  This allows us to go beyond the “equilibrium” theories of economics, which belong to nineteenth century physics. Another new development discussed in our new approach to micro is Evolutionary Game Theory. This allows to model change over time, without having any equilibrium in mind.

Advanced Microeconomics II (2018): This course is based on Holt & Davis text on Experimental Economics, it examines conventional micro theories within an experimental framework. By being subjects in experiments and by running experiments themselves students learn the vast differences and contradictions between economic theories and real-world markets. Course provides students with deep intuition about real world economics which is not available by studying formulas as in conventional courses.

Similarly, I have developed pedagogical materials and videotaped lectures on more than TEN courses. These educational materials have a Radical Design, based on Islamic Pedagogical Principles. Testing them on students, we find Radically improved educational outcomes. The principles involve teaching students how to DRIVE, and not technicalities of the Engine manufacture. That is, our courses equip students with real life skills of value in solving real world problems. This is based on the Islamic principle of providing BENEFICIAL knowledge, and of avoiding useless knowledge. In addition, teachers and students should make the intention to use knowledge to serve mankind, out of love of God. For more details about these courses, Lookup ONLINE COURSES on asadzaman.net  In particular, for  Advanced Macroeconomics, see: bit.do/az4macro  This course is based on integrating history with macro – the goal of the course is to study the real world events which led to the development of macro. Students will learn about the Great Depression, the Gold Standard, and its replacement by the Dollar in the Bretton Woods Agreement. Many aspects of the changing and evolving global economic and financial systems are discussed and studies in the new advanced macro course. The point is to enable the student to understand real world macroeconomics issues, rather than mathematical theories based on bizarre assumptions made just to make it possible to do the calculations with pencil and paper.

End of Part 4 of 4. For the earlier parts, see Part 1: How Islam relates to modern economics?, Part 2: Conflicts between Islam and Economics, Part 3: The Shock and Awe Factor. This concludes the four part lecture. May Allah T’aala make it beneficial for the Ummah of Muslimeen, and for humanity as a whole. Ameen.

First Steps Towards Light

The previous sequence of six posts was about “How to become a Great Teacher“. I would like to follow up by providing advice on “How to become a great student”! The methods of education currently in use all over the world are extremely harmful to our hearts and souls – As the Prophet Mohammad SAW taught us, people are born on the Deen of nature (Islam) and then trained away from it by the educational process. A western education teaches physicists how to build bombs, but does not provide any moral training regarding how it is wrong to kill innocents. Islam teaches us that even taking one life is like killing all of humanity! However, if you listen to the first lecture on “The Moral Side of Murder” at Harvard by Michael Sandel, you will come away believing that it may be OK to murder innocents, in pursuit of a higher cause. It is not just that a Western education does not teach us about morality – rather, exactly the WRONG lessons are taught, which poison our minds, and teach us to think, act, and feel in the wrong ways. With TV games teaching children to enjoy killing and bloodshed from young age, it is no surprise that there is a mass shooting nearly every day in the US, on the average. It is a copy of this same education that we receive here in Pakistan, which is designed to turn us into feelingless robots and money-making machines. We will get soul-killing jobs which will involve denying loans to the poor who desperately need money, and denying essential medicines to the poor who cannot pay for them, or selling products like baby milk-powder in order to make profits by killing babies.

What happens when we do not train hearts of students to feel compassion!

Because we have travelled thousands of miles away from the pure Deen given to us by our Prophet Mohammad SAW, God’s Mercy to all Mankind, we have to take a large number of steps to get back to the original message of Islam. One of the first steps is to realize the value of our lives, as the best of the creations (see The Value of Human Lives). But, much more than philosophy, we need to take practical steps to put our lives back on track. A good place to start is by recognizing the tremendous gifts and blessings of God that have been given to us:

Ubaydullah ibn Mihsan reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Whoever among you wakes up secure in his property, healthy in his body, and he has his food for the day, it is as if he were given the entire world.”  Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhī 2346

Training of the heart starts here — when we wake up in the morning, praise Allah for giving us a new life, after the small death that is sleep. Today is the first day of my life. Today I have been given the entire world as a gift from God. Feel as happy as you would if you were granted everything that you have every wanted — these blessings that we have been given are better than what has been given to the greatest kings and the wealthiest and all those whom we are used to envying. Billions of people living on this planet do not know who created them. Billions do not know the purpose of our life on this planet, they do not know what will happen after we die, they do not know what actions are beloved to God and will be weighed heavily in the scales, and they do not know what God does not like. So the knowledge of Islam that we have been given is much more valuable than all the Economics,Physics, Chemistry, Maths, and Biology that we have struggled so hard for so long to learn.

First let us fill our hearts with gratitude towards our Creator for not only giving us this great gift of life, but also of giving us the knowledge about His own existence, and even more – asking us to take Him as our friend! Just imagine: God the Lord of the Entire Universe, has given us an opportunity for friendship!

Q2:257-Allah is the Protecting Friend of those who believe. He bringeth them out of darkness into light.

Not only has Allah T’aala promised to be our friend, and to protect us, but also to guide us out of the darkness into the light. That is, out of ignorance into knowledge. Allaa T’aala is the source of ALL knowledge, and HE gives portions of this knowledge to whomsoever HE desires.

To fill our hearts with gratitude, reflect on all the millions of blessings we have been given. Think about the poor, unfortunate, deprived, people — millions of them – who do not have enough to eat, fear for their lives, have uncertain futures, or live in poor health, and cannot enjoy life. Reflect on your own body. Feel the regular pumping of your own heart, the blood rushing through the veins, the tingling of the skin, and the thousands of pleasant sensations the body produces — each sensation is a witness and a testimony to a well-functioning system for our well-being — even if a single nail of our hand grows in the wrong direction, or our tooth aches, or some small portion of the body is disturbed, our whole life experience becomes unpleasant. Even one instant of the joy of living that is granted to us is such a tremendous blessing of God that we can never pay back for the gift that has been given to us.

Gratitude for the blessings a great first step, because Allah T’aala has promised to increase his blessing to those who give thanks. Next, given that we have been granted one more day of life, let us use it in the best possible way. Think about what we can do that would be pleasing to Allah. Plan to make this day valuable. Allah T’aala created life and death as a competition to see who among us would do the best of deeds. How can I win TODAY? What is the best that I can do for my God today, in recognition of the great gift that He has given to me?  AGAIN to answer this question, we need GUIDANCE from our Lord – we need guidance at EVERY STEP, to ensure that this step is going towards Allah, and not towards His anger, nor towards ignorance and darkness. So pray to Allah that I devote this day to you and please guide my footsteps towards your Noor, and increase me in knowledge and protect me from sins, from ignorance, from the tricks of the Shaitan, from the evils in my own Nafs, and from your anger. These are first steps on the path to knowledge.

POSTSCRIPT: After I wrote this up, I found the following quote from Imam Abu Hanifa which confirms and strengthens the message above:

یں نے علم حمد اور شکر سے پایا کہ جب بھی کوئی علمی نکتہ سمجھ آتا یا فقہ و حکمت کی کوئی بات ہاتھ آتی تو میں کہتا: الحمدللّٰہ، یوں میرا علم بڑھتا گیا۔ (سیدی امام ابوحنیفہ رحمہ اللّٰہ)
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‏قال أبو حنيفة رحمه الله: إنما أدركت العلم بالحمد والشكر، فكلما فهمت شيئًا من العلوم ووقفت على فقهٍ وحكمةٍ، قلت: الحمد لله، فازداد علمي.
[تعليم المتعلم للزرنوجي: صـ٣٨]

For related materials, see: Farewell to IIIE Students, Similarly my video on “Secrets of Success, Lessons from my Life Experiences”, which was my farewell talk at PIDE, is linked in the following post: Important Message for Students. Both of these talks contain a lot of advice for students. I will try to unpack these messages and present them in a step by step and simplified way for implementation by students who would like to learn  How to become human beings instead of human resource. To summarize and recap – try to develop feelings of intense gratitude towards Allah for all the great Gifts that we have been given. This requires looking inside our bodies and souls, looking outside at the wonderful world which supports our lives, and looking at great knowledge provided to us by the greatest teacher. Next, in recognition of this gift, try to use THIS day in the best possible way, to do the best possible deeds, and to take a few steps towards Allah, after asking HIM for guidance on how best we can do this TODAY – not sometime in the future.

Research, Teaching, and Study Opportunities

Email below was sent to participants of my online course on Real Statistics: An Islamic Approach. I am posting this on the Blog so that others can also participate — Using an Islamic approach to education changes everything. An ENORMOUS amount of work, time and effort is required to create genuine Islamic alternatives to the secular modern Western education we all receive. The reasons why this is necessary have been explained in the sequence of previous six posts on “How to Become a Great Teacher“. Everyone should be able to find some suitable role in which he/she can participate in this work.

EMAIL to participants of the RSIA Study Group:

I have written up the first two study units – Islamic WorldView and Islamic Education — on the RSIA course website. I am thinking about devoting the third module to Study Methods for Students – because HOW students should study these materials is VERY DIFFERENT from rote-learning and even mechanical understanding of computations and models that they have used in Western education. Learning which reaches HEARTS is very different from learning done by the MIND. For an example, see my recent post on Game Theory for Humans with Hearts. Please fill out the Google Forms Interests Survey  (linked again at bottom of this email) to give me feedback on what you would like to see more of in future developments for this course.

Because a very diverse group of people have signed up for this online course, with different backgrounds, different interests, different capabilities, and different levels of time-availability, I cannot design a  common course useful for all. So, I am sending out this letter to get feedback on what different people want, so that I can subdivide them into suitable groups. Based on the interactions I have had, participants of this online course can be sorted into the following categories LISTED BELOW. The feedback form will enable me to assign different people with different interests into suitable categories, so that each subgroup can receive trainings relevant to their interests and capabilities. It is important to note that Islamic orientations creates radically new approaches to all conventional topics, so that new and exciting pathbreaking research is possible in all areas of social sciences. After having a look at the categories of participation below, please fill out the Google Form linked below, so that I can have a better idea of your interests, and create suitable groups for all participants in this course.

Auditors: Follow my blog, read posts, and comment on topics which interest you, from time to time. Share posts with friends via social media. For this purpose, go to the blog: bit.do/aziwv and click on the blue “Follow” button on the middle of the right-hand side.

Regular Students:  I have online courses already AVAILABLE on TEN different topics – see webpage TEN COURSES, with links to websites with lectures notes and video lectures. Students can self-study online courses. If there is sufficient interest, we can arrange for groups to work together on a regular schedule with a teaching assistant, and even provide a certificate of course completion. .

Teachings Assistants: If there are groups of regular students who would like to take the course in a SCHEDULED format, with weekly lessons, then I would like to organize them into small groups with a teaching assistant – preferable someone who has knowledge of the material being covered. However, this is not completely necessary. They can handle the administrative chores associated with assigning lessons, grading quizzes, communicating with students, providing feedback to students about progress, and providing feedback to me about course structure and leaning outcomes.

Research Assistants/Supervisees: Some students would like to do research under my supervision. The goal here would be to produce a publishable paper. For those who would like to do this, to produce research paper, I recommend that you should start by reading the post on – Guidance for Research for MPhil/Ph.D. Students. Next read Thesis Writeup Guidelines. Next go to IIIE Student Guide. This last website contains a step-by-step guide to preparing a research proposal. Follow the outlined steps, to produce a research proposal. This is actually a very good way to begin a research project – it avoids waste of time due to poor selection of research topics. In this process of preparing a research proposal, you can get feedback from me regarding choice of topics, etc. Once you have a good proposal, getting the research done is made much easier because a good proposal gives a good roadmap, with clarity about the goal that you have and a lot of guidance regarding the path that you must follow.

Teachers of Courses: I have online course already AVAILABLE on TEN different topics – see the post on Another Syllabus for Islamic Economics for a list of course, with links to websites with lectures notes and video lectures.  Teachers who teach in these areas can look at the materials available and utilize them as either the main syllabus, or as supplementary units for adding to their current syllabus. They will find a lot of coverage of new and unusual topics, presented in ways not easily available. The initial challenge of learning a new approach will be made up for by the extra value you will be able to add to the students education. Also, these approaches all lead to new approaches to the subject matter with lots of angles for doing new research on the topics presented.

Colleagues (Producing Textbooks); I have MANY collections of lecture notes in various stages of completion for courses in Micro, Macro, Monetary, Game Theory, Econometrics, Statistics, Mathematics, Bayesian and others. My great desire is to write up TEXTBOOKS by building on these lecture notes. I would be happy to find volunteers who are experienced Teachers, and are willing to do the work of writing up the notes, and doing the necessary work in filling the gaps, preparing exercises, finding data and other real world examples to illustrate the concepts, and the many other issues involved in preparing a textbook. We can produce a textbook together as co-authors. Another type of work required in this context is setting up an online course. Someone who has some experience with setting up online e-courses could be very useful here.

 Co-Authors for Research Papers: I also have many research papers in draft form which I have not had time to complete writeup. These could be written up and produced for publications. Again, I would be happy to guide anyone who is willing to do the work involves, and has sufficiently good language skills for doing writeups, for co-authoring a joint research paper.

Please FILL IN Google Form on:  Interests Survey – This will enable me to create suitable subgroups, according their interests, to work together.

Re-Shaping Lives: Identity and Purpose

[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:

Related Posts:

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.

 

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.