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30 Days Blogging Challenge: Day 16 – My thoughts on education

30 Days Blogging Challenge

Education is an important index of a country’s development. The quality and strength of human resources gives us an insight into the level of progress the society has achieved. Although literacy and education are two different realms, the system has somehow merged the two. Here lies the major problem.

The focus of the government has always been how many people know how to write their names rather than focusing on whether they know the alphabet. With the mission of making everyone literate, the government overlooked the basic foundation of education — learning.

Learning has taken a backseat in this mad rush for grades. In our system, we never value the aptitude. We just honour marks. Learning notes by heart has become the order of the day, to hell with clarity on concepts.

Ultimately what matters is your knowledge; your attendance in class being the least significant element of education. Passing a few tests and flaunting big degrees does not make a man. Look at Chetan Bhagat – an alumnus of IIT and IIM, yet with the intelligence of an animal-that-must-not-be-named.

Every system has flaws in it. Nothing is 100% perfect. Then why do we always keep on blaming the system for all wrongs in our lives knowing that it cannot be perfect? Well to begin with we all are part of the system, change should start with us, and the system will automatically change.

P.S. – Parts of this essay are copied from an earlier blog entry I had posted few years back.

Book Review: Jihad or Ijtihad by S Irfan Habib

“While Europe was still stuck in the Dark Ages, scientists in the Islamic world were translating Aristotle, and making huge strides in astronomy, mathematics and philosophy. Two thousand years later, the idea of ‘scientific progress’ seems to be locked in a hopeless war with Islam. When and how did Islam lose its enthusiasm for the workings of the natural world?”

S Irfan Habib, the celebrated Historian, has gifted us a great book with meaningful insight into the history of Islam and has tried to question the ambiguous idea of ‘Islamic science’ as a category distinct from ‘modern’, ‘Eurocentric’ science. Jihad or Ijtihad challenges stereotypes, as well as propaganda.

The author traces the evolution of the myth of Islam being pitted against modernism and challenges the idea by dwelling upon the life and works of the visionaries of the nineteenth century and continuing with the modern day ideologues. He cites the lives and works of famous men like Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad, for rejecting the myth that Islam and its followers are ‘anti-modern’.

The book attempts to make sound observations on Islam’s contribution to “modern science and education” and establish the idea that Islam is in no way delinked to modernism. The book questions ‘Eurocentrism’ of modern science but does not contribute to the propaganda of Islamic science. Instead the validity of the same is put to question.


Book Review

Jihad or Ijtihad by S Irfan Habib


Political Islam has been responsible for purging Islam of all humanitarian and pluralist values. Muslims made seminal contributions to science during the 8th and 9th centuries and most of the scientists belonged to Mua’tazila, a people who belonged to school of freethinkers and rationalists. Ijtihad, or independent reasoning was the prerogative of the lay believer during the era, rather than conformism.

At the root of the project ‘Islamic science’ is the fear of secularism, rationalism and its (science’s) total rejection of orthodoxy. But even while loathing science, the very same Islamists do not feel qualms in using technology and employing it for dissemination of their obscurantist ideology. Sir Syed Ahmed Khan likened this attitude to fanaticism and taassub which blinds the Muslim society from accepting anything from others and considering all nations except their own inferior.

The book exposes the hollowness of some of the postulates of the ‘Islamic Science’. For instance, the Journal of Islamic Science, from Muslim Association of Advancement in Science, at Aligarh says, “In Islamic science, rationality is not denied but in case of contradiction it is revelation that will prevail.” The author questions, “How does it fit into the definition of science which is nothing other than pursuit of the unknown?”

Overall, the book is a useful read and serves to tear the deceptive veils the naïve followers of political Islam are covering themselves with, apart from enlightening the cynics about the modernism inherent in Islam.

My Rating: 4/5 stars


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