Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Education in Islam

Most of the times when we think about education, by default the western concept of education come to our mind which lacks the essential knowledge of faith i.e. the existence of Allah as our Lord and His sole right to be worshipped wholeheartedly by all human beings. Education for majority of this world means secular education which tends to give more emphasis on job-oriented goals. Unfortunately we Muslims are also getting deceived by this sort of education and starting to believe that the only way to success is to get secular education.

Sometimes parents do not have any intention to bring up their children in proper Islamic way. Instead, the secular education becomes the only priority. However, I do believe that secular education is necessary in order to succeed in this world but there should be more priority given to become the true vicegerent (khalifa) of Allah on this earth. In fact, this concept of secular education is alien to Islam.

Islam is a way of life not just a mere religion. Education entails everything that brings you closer to Allah SWT. For example, being a doctor makes you have more knowledge about Allah SWT’s magnificent and sophisticated creations as well as serving His creation to the best. Through this profession, you tend to be more able to worship Allah with proper understanding. That is just an example of one profession. There are plenty of other noble profession, through which we can manifest our devoutness and love for our Creator Allah SWT.

In Islam, education is comprehensive and we do not need to separate this system into secular and divine. Its in fact during the renaissance period of Europe , the so called intelligent people came up with idea of separating religion from every aspect of public life , thus religion was forced to be confined in private arena and science and technology become godless arena. We can see the devastating effect of that in our modern life. We as the super intelligent beings of twenty first century have managed to kill more innocent people in more sophisticated ways than ever before!

Even in Muslim world, the effect of renaissance was corrupting the empty minds of so-called Muslims. When Muslims are not practising their deen properly, they get deviated quite easily by Satan and his agents. Thus, the history of colonialism and imperialism gives us the vivid picture of polluting and corrupting the Muslim mind with secular ideas. Unfortunately during that period majority of Muslims also fell into trap of ‘divide and rule’ policy and ended up having two groups in a same society: one educated in western tradition and enjoying the fruits of prosperity and the other ended up with so called religious education and trapped in limited field of religious institutions which were disappearing quite rapidly. You can see the example of this in every country. Thus, you can notice around Muslim world traditionally the intelligent kid is sent to become a doctor or an engineer and the ‘dumb’ one is sent to madrasa ( religious institution) to become a ‘alim’(Alim is one who has attended a reliable institution and received sound knowledge of the Qur’an, Sunnah, Fiqh and Arabic from qualified tutors) . Sadly we tend to underestimate the importance of religious education. Societies as a whole don’t view religious education as something cool and trendy. I can’t blame them that much as I personally would not send my children to madrasa as the track record of them are unfortunately not that good either. I believe Islam promotes very strongly to be smart and best in both worlds. Even in the Qur’an Allah SWT has taught us a prayer where we can ask for the best of both worlds.

Let us as Muslim mothers, educate our self with the best of both and teach our children to be balanced in their perspective. If we as mother do our job properly, Insha-Allah our sons and daughters will carry the real message of Islam which will free this world from all the false and dangerous ideas, Insha-Allah. May Allah SWT guide us towards the right path.

Monday, 17 November 2008

The crisis of modernity and the role of the Muslim women

Society has witnessed a lot of change in last couple of decades. Men's roles and responsibilities, hopes and aspirations have changed through out this period. As a result, gender roles have acquired new meanings. Education has played a very vital role in empowering women and their social status. Majority of women are more likely to be found in workplace than ever before. The way women in modern days perceive their life varies from the traditional way. Now a days, in our society a so-called 'successful woman' is the one who seems to have it all i.e. good look, good education, at least a graduate degree, a good well-paid job as well as a nice family , most probably with one or two children.

Apart from some exceptional 'superwomen', it is almost impossible for most of the women to cope with so many responsibilities in such a limited time and maintain a 'successful' reputation. That’s why the tale of 'superwoman' seems a myth to a lot extent. The pressure and expectation created by the modern society causes lot of stress for women. It has left most of the women with double burden of private and public life.

If we go back to the rise of feminism in 1960s through out most of the western nations, the movement was triggered by western women becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the way they have been treated. The inequality in almost every sphere of life made them rebel against the society. To a lot extent, strict patriarchal values played a major role in oppressing women. Unfortunately, though Islam views men and women as equal partners in society who complements each other, the Muslim societies around the world treated women more or less in a same way as their western counterparts.

The majority of Muslim societies are to a large extent influenced by the West through its brutal legacy of colonialism and imperialism. As a result Muslim women in modern times have also witnessed lot of change in their lives. The rise of modernity has enabled women to have some luxuries in their life such as the right to have liberty, equality, education and so on. However, we as Muslims cannot view the whole concept of modernity as something very positive for us to follow. We need to scrutinize the nitty gritty of what it really means to be modern.

Modern world is getting increasingly secular in its nature. The complete absence of Devine entity in our public life is what the ultimate goal of a modern life is. Religion has to a lot extent been forced to the private arena and the major institutions are left secular in their vision and course of action. Modernity promotes the idea of individualism, instant gratification, the preference of wealth and fame over ethics and morality. No doubt the rise of modern society has given birth to negative understanding of life and the expectations of men.

For modern Muslim woman Islam is not just a mere religion rather she perceives Islam as a way of life which is termed as Deen in Arabic. A modern Muslim woman tries to maintain a balance between her public and private life. Whatever has been prescribed to us by our Lord Allah SWT to follow in order to remain as practising muslimahs, we try to follow that to our best of abilities. The way the modern society wants us to perceive and plan our life is not compatible to what our Lord wants from us.

Unfortunately Islam as a religion has been portrayed as very rigid and oppressive to women due to ignorance and cultural practise of majority of Muslims around the world. Sadly local culture which to a great extent is not approved by Islam and its teaching, has been dominating Muslim mind over the years and as a result our beautiful and universal Deen, Islam has been unfairly judged through the action of so-called Muslims who lack proper knowledge of the Quran and the Sunnah of our beloved prophet Muhammad SAW.

We as Muslim women have lots of things to do to create a strong Ummah like our golden age of Islam. First, we need to educate ourselves through in-depth study of the Quran and the Sunnah of our beloved prophet SAW and only through learning and practising sincerely our religion we can empower our women and the whole of the Ummah Insha-Allah. We also need to remember that Allah has entrusted us with a great responsibility of Khalifa which makes us, Muslims and Muslimahs the representative of our Lord on this earth. We have been sent with a noble mission. We have already promised Allah before Him sending us for our great mission on this ephemeral world to worship Only Him and follow Only His guidance wholeheartedly and try to propagate this noble message to everyone as well as creating a world based on justice.

We Muslims women are not weak and powerless because we have Allah as our Lord and Sustainer. He is sufficient for us as a Helper. He is also the best of the planner. So what are we waiting for? O my dear sisters in Islam let us embark on a journey of learning, practising, propagating this wonderful faith of ours and uniting this great Ummah of our beloved prophet Muhammad SAW. Let us help each other to know and worship our Creator with our best of abilities and march to jannah together. May Allah SWT grant us His Mercy and His acceptance of us as His khalifa.