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The Need for a Sound System of Education
Moiz Amjad
(Tr. by:Nadir Aqeel)


They say that a Saljuq monarch one day assembled his royal aids and remarked: `We have an expanding domain. We are doing whatever is possible for the welfare of our subjects. But, we are aware that we are not without foes. Foes that are lurking around our borders waiting for the opportunity when they can charge upon us and disrupt the system. We wish that the prime minister may address this need and think out a plan to thwart their designs. The state would be too pleased to spend whatever amount is required to protect the Muslim state against the enemies of Allah. We have full faith in our prime minister and he has the mandate for whatever he deems appropriate. We only want him to ensure that our enemies should never turn towards this kingdom with nefarious designs.' After quite some time the ministers again met before the throne to review the performance of the prime minister. The king began: `Relying on you, we had assigned you a responsibility. To help you discharge it, we spent from the treasury without any hesitation and you were given all the authority. We expected you to arrange arms and ammunition, establish factories to manufacture weapons, set up institutions for military training, infuse the spirit of Jihad among our young men and make this kingdom invincible for our enemies. But we have yet to see any signs of the scale and manner that would merit the execution of this colossal job.

The prime minister replied with contentment that he has already done the needful and nothing remained to be done nor did he think anything else was required. The king stared and said: `What? Have you done anything at all? There are no signs of it !'

To this the prime minister replied thus and indeed his reply has a great lesson for all the nations who in any degree are concerned about their future. He said: `Your Majesty, I have built strong forts for the defence of the brains of the state. All the money has been spent honestly in the right cause. God willing, none will be able to cast a malafide look on our country. The forts I have raised are unprecedented in any other domain. The armies I have raised, the consummate commanders our soldiers have, are unheard of elsewhere. I have spread a network of institutions for education throughout the kingdom. The breed that we will nurse in these institutions, given their comprehension of the spiritual and temporal worlds, their command on the disciplines and arts and given their morals and character, no enemy would dare think of assaulting this nation. It is my conviction that a nation which bears a sound moral character and has received proper education, and whose objectives in life are effectively conveyed to the next generation, has a very safe and secure future.'

The Institute of Policy Studies Islamabad conducted a survey of the English medium schools in Pakistan to explore the cultural and religious trends of their students. The findings were astounding. Fifty five percent students do not wish to continue living in Pakistan. In a few schools, this percentage was as high as 63. Only 57% students could read Allama Iqbal; those who could figure out his poetry were much less. 85% students loved to read English novels. Only 24% offered daily prayers. Lamenting on the findings of this survey, "Tameer-i-Millat Foundation" comments:

"Painful as these are, the results provide a glimpse into the future -- a future that will turn every thing upside down -- a new crop of men and women will emerge who will serve not their nation but others, who would hate themselves for what they would not be, who will romanticize about the West, investing it with everything good and looking at their own people as despicable scum of the earth."

Man is not born equipped with education and skills. God has provided for his education essentially through the following three means:

His intuition is an important pool of knowledge wherein God has stored many realities in a way that they gradually manifest themselves in his personality as he grows. The concepts of part and whole, love and hatred, and many other concepts of space and time he does not need to learn because God has imprinted them in his very nature and he receives them and realizes them, as he grows, as a matter of instinctive realities.

He also receives information through his senses which he then understands, analyses and classifies to deduce results. These results have precipitated a long history of discoveries and inventions.

The third source of his knowledge is Revelation through which he has received many divine directions. Man has been showered with this blessing from the day he arrived on this planet till the days of Prophet Muhammad (sws), when this source attained finality.

Enriched by these three streams, man has created an illustrious history of human achievements. He has a treasure of experiences. Every community and society, in varying degrees, maintains a legacy of all the three sources including the divine revelation. This is particularly true in case of Muslims who proudly claim that they have the God given law in its final, perfect and complete form.

It is our natural obligation to transmit this treasure of experiences to the next generation. Rather this is one of our prime responsibilities to arrange for its transmission to the succeeding generations. An author has underlined this fact when he attempts to define education in the following words:

"Education: A debt due from present to future generations." ("Peter's Quotations", George Peabody, Pg159) (ref)

What have we earned? What do we have with us? How do we apply our minds to realities and how do we try to approach them ? What history do we have behind us? What lessons has it taught us? What shape have we given to our sciences and arts? What do we believe in and how have we evolved it through modifications? How do we define our value system? Actually we process all these and fuse them into a host of sciences and disciplines and then try to hand them over to our succeeding generations in a gradual manner. We want them to carry on this legacy, enrich it, examine it and if necessary modify and amend it and thus contribute to the enrichment of our collective knowledge. Obviously, all this will not happen spontaneously, and not without a lot of effort and without evolving a system for it.

History, sciences and experience are the building blocks of the social psyche of a community and consequently of the individuals who depend on the community for the development of their personality. The social fabric is woven and maintained on the strength of these traditions and mores. It is from this fabric, that state, society, culture and civilization rise and flourish.

It is quite obvious that without our efforts to ensure communication of our experiences, values and knowledge to the future generation, the baffling progress in sciences, rise of civilization and culture, advances in arts and disciplines could not have been realized. We would still be living the lives of cavemen, clothed in leaves, burning fire by rubbing stone, eating wild bushes and raw meat and drinking unclean water. So we have compelling reasons to believe that whatever progress we have made could only be realized through safe, organized and honest transfer of our experiences and knowledge to the subsequent generations.

Besides conveying sciences and experiences, it is also imperative for every society to make over to its successors, its ideals, beliefs and values. A western intellectual, Dean Willian R. Inge, points out:

"The aim of education is the knowledge not of fact, but of values." ("Peter's Quotations", Dean William, Pg161)

The "Encyclopedia Britannica" asserts:

"Education can be viewed as the transmission of the values and accumulated knowledge of the society."  ("History of Education", Vol 6 , Pg 316, Ed 1973)

It, therefore, becomes our vital responsibility to evolve a system to safely and effectively transmit our goals and ideals to our descendants. It is as significant as the need to evolve a political system, an economic system or a system of social relationships and values.

This is what education and training signifies.

If you wish to predict the future of a nation, the easiest and surest way of doing it wold be to study its education system. Actually the system of education of a nation determines its destiny. It determines the value system of the future generations, their mental and moral outlook, their fields of interest and the form they will assume within the span of next twenty or thirty years.

This outstanding significance of the system of education demands every nation to be sensitive about it at all levels -- at the individual level, at the level of a family and at the level of the state. We should remain alive to the fact that if a society grows irresponsible about its system of education and training, its future is jeopardized and, to say the least, looms on the bounds of uncertainty.

Bearing this in mind, when we turn to the education system of our country we feel sorry to say that this subject has been the victim of extreme and blatant negligence and laxity of our rulers, elders and intellectuals. After fifty years of trials and errors, a perusal of the education policy shows that probably it is only aimed at spreading literacy and short of which no higher ideals have been thought of. It is not based on principles. Its authors do not know what do they want to convey to their descendants. They are hopelessly oblivious of the fact that their policy making is actually determining (or should we say undermining) the future prospects of a nation.

Syed Abul Aala Maudoodi points out:

"The children of every nation are actually the judicial order sheet for its future. Nature sends it blank and the nations are asked to write a judgement to mark their future on it in their own hand. But we are that bankrupt nation that hands over this order sheet to others so that they may write on it whatever they wish, be it a death sentence for us." ("Ta`leemat", Pg 58)

What traits do we want to nurse in our people? What type of human beings are we aiming at? What kind of citizens do we require? What role do we expect them to play as a member of the Muslim Ummah? What type of Ummah are we interested in building? We have to search for the answers to these questions and on those answers would rest the ideals and objectives of our system of education and training.

If we seek the answers to these questions from the Holy Quran, we would immediately realize that we should aim at the formation of an Ummah that can shine as an ideal for both, individual and collective righteousness. It flows from this statement that to achieve this goal we must make the development of individual character the cornerstone of our education policy. Sciences, economics and other disciplines are to us mere instruments to realize this collective objective. Two institutions are critical for the building up of morals and character of a nation: mother's training and education at school.

No individual or institution in a nation can match the role of the mother towards the evolution of its character. There is no training institution greater that the lap of a mother. It has no substitute. It is the first school the child is exposed to, from where he learns the first lessons, internalizes values and determines his objectives in life. In other words, a mother lays the first building blocks for the child's character and moral makeup.

The second training institution is the school which the child attends. This system of education is actually the stream from where the society gets clean drinking water. If it gets turbid and starts stinking, then you never know which parts of the society may also start stinking any moment. This institution is so important that even the mothers are being trained and educated by it. Therefore, it is high time to study and analyze our education system minutely and all its aspects need to be examined with reference to our national goals and objectives. The state should underline its functions and obligations to improve the existing arrangement and at the same time every individual should also come up to play his due role.

(Translated from Moiz Amjad's Commentary on Ghamidi's "Manshoor")

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