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Al-Mawrid: An Institute of Islamic Research and Education
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi
(Tr. by:Dr. Shehzad Saleem)

Al-Mawrid is the name of an educational institution for whose establishment, I have aspired for years. The idea owes its inception to the glaring fact that the task of attaining Taffaquh-fid-deen1, is being carried out in our Ummah in a most inappropriate and injudicious manner, and that our religious educational institutions have been plagued with flaws which have rendered them completely ineffective and useless.

Their gravest flaw is that they are based upon the principle of Taqleed2. Here a student from the very first day is labelled as an orthodox follower of a particular sect. His destiny seems to be carved out before hand as a devout denouncer of every other sect and an ardent acclaimer of his own. He is made to believe that only his brand of beliefs is in direct conformity with the Qur’ān and Sunnah. He is brainwashed with the notion that only his sect has been divinely blessed with the true version of Islam. An inference attributed to a highly revered scholar of his sect stands supreme till the Day of Judgement. That it can be challenged by explicit reasonings derived from the Qur’ān and Sunnah cannot be dared thought of. On the contrary, it has become a part of his faith that such a scholar cannot falter.

It is this superhuman veneration that has actually given rise to the menace of religious sectarianism. Differences in opinion have often developed into severe conflicts. An atmosphere charged with lightning and resounding with thunder prevails amongst out religious circles. Every now and then a new episode of defamacy erupts form our mosques, which are unfortunately being used for these malignant offensives. The intense disregard they have for eachother has led them to violate all norms of decency. Just to safeguard their interests every wrong turn taken and every amoral policy adopted is paradoxically justified. Prejudices and bigotry have severely hampered the long needed compilation of Islamic law, and its subsequent implementation. Like nations at war, they continue their crusades against eachother---meanwhile, very close to them the forces of evil mock at them and continue to flourish.

There are some among them, who claim to be liberal by not insisting upon the taqleed of a single person, yet are adamant that after the fourth century Hijra, the process of direct deliberation and ponderance over the Qur’ān as a means for speculative deduction and derivation can no more be deemed admissible; a matter that stands closed and no one should dare open it. To them the explanation of a Qur’ān ic verse or a Hadith contrary to the conventionally understood meaning, outrightly amounts to heresy. Evident omissions and apparent flaws in inferences are accepted vehemently simply because no one ever disputed them. In their opinion, scholarship and research only consists of enumerating, as much as possible, the views of previous scholars in support of their own. As a result, all their mental pursuits are confined to compilation and collection of references, while the faculties of reasoning and intellect are impelled into a permanant state of dormancy.

The arguments, they give in their support have no basis in the realms of reality. All of them acknowledge that the Qur’ān is the first source of our religion. We need not elaborate upon the fact that the Qur’ān has always remained under the protection of God, and there is no question of anyone ever having tampered with it. Its authenticity stands unchallenged, and it has been passed on to us as it was revealed. Its meanings and implications like its language, Arabic, are very clear. All material required to study the semantics of the language is available to us, just as it was in the early days. After the Qur’ān , the Sunnah and Hadith are the second source of our religion. Most of their contents have reached us by way of 'amalee-tawaatur3, while the remaining content is in the form of akhbaar-i-ahaad4 which has been critically examined by our scholars and the portion found authentic has been transferred to us. They have even recorded the reasons which have led them to accept or reject a Hadith. In short they have passed on the smallest bit of information that might prove useful. These are the two sources of our religion, designated as the final words of authority. They are as accessible to us, as they were to our predecessors.

Therefore, any argument on these grounds

cannot be entertained in support of their principle of taqleed.

After this only two things can be alleged: firstly, the degree of piety achieved by our forefathers is now unattainable. Secondly, the extent of intellect and comprehension possessed by them cannot be emulated in present times.

The latter is just a claim that finds no basis in the Qur’ān and Sunnah, nor has it ever been justified in the field of observation. While the former is, also, just another claim, that is actually in contradiction with the Qur’ān itself, which unequivocally states that in the Hereafter the highest honour would be bestowed upon Assaabiqoon---people foremost in faith. They would grace this world in the earlier as well as the later times:

And those foremost [in faith] are foremost. These will be nearest to Allah in gardens of bliss. A number of people from the old and a few from those of later times. [56:10-14]

Whatever else affirmed by the proponents of this viewpoint is mere wishful thinking, which has no place in the world of reason and rationality.

Their second flaw is that though these institutions are centres of religious education, yet the Qur’ān which occupies the cardinal position in Islam has been driven in the background within their confines. The lofty status commanded by the Qur’ān as the Mīzān , the Balance of Justice and the Furqaan, the Distinguisher between good and evil, demands that it should be made the the pivot around which the whole curriculum should revolve. Students should be reared with the notion that in the Qur’ān rests the final authority, and it is the Qur’ān which rules over every matter in our religion. With this beacon in hand, they should be made to explore the various domains of knowledge and at every step seek its guidance. Every other subject taught, should merely help the students in having a better understanding of the Qur’ān . Everything accepted in our religion should be rigorously scrutinized under the light of this Divine Guidance. All basis of belief and faith should be directly derived from this Word of God, which should be considered the ultimate authority not only in all religious issues, but should also be regarded as the ultimate linguistic standard of Arabic. Students should be made to ponder over every word and meditate over every verse they encounter. They should be made aware that even the works of great jurists like Abu Hanifa and Shaaf'i, scholars of Hadith like Bokhaari and Muslim, scholastics like Ash'aree and Maatureedi, sufis like Junaid and Shibli must be weighed in the scales of this Mīzān, and nothing can be accepted from them which is not in consonance with it.

Our religion confers this supreme status upon the Qur’ān and consequently it should have held the same status in these institutions. But here, unfortunately, we know that during the initial years the only stress is upon its recital and committal to memory while in the later years students have a final glimpse of it in the commentaries of "Jalaalain" and "Bidhaavi"5. This is all as far as Qur’ānic teaching is concerned.

This estranged attitude towards the Qur’ān has resulted in there being no ultimate authority which can decide the correctness of a specific thought or a particular course of action. All religious concepts have become disputed and a subject of hot debate. Our religious educational institutions which could have enlightened us over these issues, are themselves plunged in pitch darkness. Suffice to say that these institutions can have no access to the exalted wisdom of the Qur’ān , just as a born blind person can have no idea about the sun's splendour.

The third essential flaw of these institutions is that the syllabus they follow is both outdated and ill-suited to the requirements of teaching and learning. It is generally believed that it was composed by Mullah Nizamm-ud-Din. While, according to Shah Suleman, the heir to the shrine of Phulwaaree Shareef, its initial seeds were sown by Mullah Fateh ullah Sheraazee, and after many subsequent changes and additions reached its present form. Nevertheless, it was composed during the time when our religion had been completely isolated from its sources. The afore mentioned treatment given to the Qur’ān speaks volumes about its inefficacy. The methodology of Daurah6 employed in the study of Hadith can never instil the fondness of contemplation, both in the teacher and the pupil alike. No importance has been given to the pre-Islamic Arabic literature, which has rendered the subtleties of language beyond appreciation. The books included for the teaching of Arabic grammar and rhetoric have an approach in which logical terminologies have overshadowed the diction , and even if a student has an initial aptitude to relish the finer aspects of a language, he finally ends up with its crudest comprehension. His aesthetic faculties are made to remain passive and he inevitably fails to acknowledge the finesse in a Qur’ānic expression. Whatever has been set aside for philosophy, logic and 'ilmi-kalaam7 in the syllabus inflicts a harm that surpasses its utility. Only the Hanafite Fiqh has been accommodated in the syllabus, and the concept of an Islamic Fiqh, irrespective of any school of fiqh, is non-existent. 'Ilmi-Usul8 is one discipline, pioneered and perfected by the Muslims; but unfortunately no book about it has been incorporated that could cultivate and develop the skill of Ijtihaad9 in the students. On the other hand, books like "Sadraa" and "Maibzee"10 are regarded with a sanctity which has rendered them an eternal part of the syllabus. Any revision of old books or introduction of newer ones is considered high treason. Two centuries have gone by since the ennunciation of this syllabus but the progress made in other branches of knowledge has failed to find any place in it. Tremendous advances made in philosophy, psychology, astronomy, economics and political science have been treated with an almost contemptuous disregard. We are well aware of the fact that the world of knowledge continues to grow and expand and this dynamism constantly replaces older concepts with newer ones. The last two centuries bear witness to this with so much of material which once shaped the intellect of the world now being regarded as redundant. But our religious educational institutions, quite unaware of these additions and abandonments, continue to blow their ancient trumpets.

‘Al-Mawrid’ is in fact the proclamation of a revolution in the field of Islamic education. Following are the details of this project:

1. The total period of education in this institution will be divided into three levels: primary, secondary and a higher level. The first of these will span over eight years, the second over four years, while the last level will extend over five years.

2. At the primary level only the Qur’ān and the language trio of Arabic, Urdu and English along with mathematics and calligraphy will be taught. Initially, students will be made just capable enough to read the Qur’ān fluently, and they will then be made to learn by heart the last group of the Qur’ān (Surah Mulk to Surah Naas). As soon as the students get acquainted with the Arabic language, the Qur’ān will be studied with a specific stress over its meanings. By including the essential teachings of Islam in the Arabic reader, and interweaving the Urdu reader with topics pertaining to general knowledge and the English reader with topics relating to science, the students will be imparted a comprehensive understanding of these languages, besides being enlightened with other branches of learning. The students will also be encouraged to read about subjects that interest them from the libraries. Furthermore, all modern scientific educational aids will be extensively employed in all these pursuits.

3. The study of the Qur’ān and the languages will continue in the secondary level. The Arabic course in this level will mainly consist of pre-Islamic Arabic literature, grammar and rhetoric.

4. All topics in various books will begin with an elucidation of the Qur’ānic point of view about these topics. Other details will be enlisted in coherence with this point of view, so that the relationship between the knowledge obtained from the Qur’ān and the knowledge acquired by means of rational inquiry and scientific observation is clear in the minds of the students.

5. At the end of the primary level the students will appear for their Middle exams, and on the completion of the first two years of the secondary level they will sit for the Matric exams; while at the end of this level they will appear for the F.A./F.Sc. exams.

6. The higher level in this institution will only be reserved for Islamic education. Only those students will be selected for this level who have completed the first two levels from this institution.

7. A concise yet comprehensive course will be offered by this institution for students and graduates of other colleges and universities who are interested in learning Arabic, and in procuring a general understanding of Islam.

8. This institution will also cater for specialization in various departments of Islamic education.

9. Scholars entrusted with the task of teaching in the higher level will specifically be the ones who only consider the Qur’ān and Sunnah as the source and basis of Islam and, as far as possible, practice what they preach.

10. These scholars will be freely allowed to form and express their opinions about the various matters and issues of our religion, wherever and whenever they want to do so within the limits set by the Qur’ān and Sunnah, so that all distinguished scholars are provided with an opportunity to lecture here.

11. The syllabus of the higher level will be Qur’ān oriented as mentioned before. Besides this the basic emphasis will be upon the disciplines of Arabic grammar and rhetoric, pre-Islamic Arabic literature, usuli-fiqh, hadith and lslamic law. The students will just be made familiar with the medieval trends and terminologies of philosophy and logic enabling them to read the works written in the older dictions. The essentials of modern philosophy, psychology, economics, physics and politics will be expounded to the students so that they are able to follow their methodology of reasoning and have the capability to explicate, in contrast, the views held by the Qur’ān and Sunnah. The syllabus will also constitute an anthology of world literature which will assist the students in developing a literary taste and in having some idea about the delicacies of the sublime language of the Qur’ān . A comprehensive book upon the principles and basis of modern law will also be part of the syllabus. All schools of fiqh will be taught and students will be made to consider themselves the beneficiaries of this vast heritage, and also made to realize that any biased affiliation in this regard is intolerable in the world of knowledge and learning. It will be made clear to them that from this profound legacy of our scholars, only material found in accordance with the Qur’ān and Sunnah is acceptable and everything else stands rejected without hesitation whatsoever.

14. Besides these mental pursuits, the character of the students will be moulded so that they profess a high calibre of moral conduct. They will be made to spend sometime everday in the company of pious scholars, and urged to pay special attention to the injunctions of Qur’ān and Hadith which pertain to self-purification and character-building. They will be induced to offer their utmost support and co-operation in furthering the cause of Islam, and also made conscious of the fact that after being enlightened with the true understanding of Islam it is their responsibility to urge and exhort the ruling class of our country to follow and implement the teachings of Islam.

These are the details of the programme and structure of ‘Al-Mawrid’. It is very well known to me that in our society no one, at the moment, will feel its importance. Yet it is my firm conviction that the nucleus of intellectuals, preachers and scholars needed for a movement which aspires for the revival of the Muslims can only be obtained from such an institution. By the grace and assistance of God my endeavours for its establishment began two decades ago. This final model is the result of a series of developments and alterations which the original idea has undergone. Previously, I shared this goal with close associates, but now I wish to communicate this quivering desire to the farthest of frontiers---for there may be someone somewhere in this wilderness who might cherish the calls of a loner.

(Translated from Ghamidi's "Baaqiyaat")






1. Taffaquh-fid-deen: The true understanding of Islam.

2. Taqleed: Blind acceptance of a jurist's verdict.

3. 'Amalee-tawaatur: The mode of passing on the established customs of the Prophet(pbuh) as religion to the Muslim Ummah by a vast majority of the companions of the Prophet(pbuh) through their practical consensus or perpetual adherence to such customs.

4. Akhbaar-i-ahaad: Traditions reported by a single or a few individuals.

5. "Jalaalain" and "Bidhaavee": Qur’ānic exegeses which have become famous by their author's name. The former is by Jalaal-Uddin-Assuyutee (d:1505 AD) and Jalaal-Uddin-Al-Muhallee (d:1459 AD), while the latter is by Abdullah-Bin-Umar-Al-Bidhaavee(d:1286 AD)

6. Daurah: A brisk oral recital of important books of Hadith before a teacher.

7. 'Ilmi-kalaam: Scholasticism ie. the aims, methods and products of thought which constituted the main endeavour of the intellectual life of the middle ages.

8. 'Ilmi-usul: The principies of deducing commands from the Qur’ān and Sunnah.

9. Ijtihaad: Independent or original interpretation of problems not covered in the Qur’ān and Sunnah.

10. "Sadraa" and "Maibzee": Two books of philosophy taught in Dars-i-Nizaami, the syllabus of our religious educational instituitions. They are in fact commentaries upon "Hidaayatul-Hikmah", a book on this subject by Aseer-Uddin-Abharee (d:1264 AD), which have come to be known by their author's name. One of them is written by Mullah Sadar-Uddin-Sheraazee (d:1640 AD) and the other by Moin-Uddin-Maibzee.

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