Artificial dichotomy of religious and modern education

  • A formulation that requires reconciliation

By Rana Ziauddin

Quaid-e-Azam, known as Baba-e-Qaum (father of Nation), always admired modern education. His quest for knowledge was eminent that how he mustered the courage for a voyage down the Pacific Ocean to get into Lincoln Inn’s college, which is established in Europe. He was a great believer that advanced education blended with religion can be the sole plan of action that can pave the way for the nascent nation to become a developed one in no time. Unfortunately, he died after 1 year of his service to the nation. His death shook the confidence and exuberance of the infant nation. His admiration to education is evident from one of his sayings:

“Education is a matter of life and death for Pakistan. The world is progressing so rapidly that without requisite advance in education, not only shall we lag behind others but may be wiped out altogether”.

- Advertisement -

Since the beginning of the modern age, most of the developed nations have separated religious and modern education from their state level and have come up with concrete policies of religious education by making schooling compulsory for every child. Following these footsteps, Pakistan also made laws, like article 25 A of the Constitution which categorically states that,

It is direful that no one in Pakistan bravely holds the responsibility to deliberate into the matter of how and why; after all, the education system of Pakistan remained osmosed with equity and remained under the impression that studying sacred texts is religious and studying nature and research-based knowledge of science is secular. Admiration of a few mixed with ignorance of many has endorsed the formulation of this divisive education system, and it has deeply penetrated our culture and inevitably affected the ideology of Pakistan.

“The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to sixteen years in such manner as may be determined by law.”

Over 73 years, Pakistan has adopted almost 23 policies and action plans to uplift the education system of Pakistan which is at complete distress from the very start. All these attempts to modernize education have always been demolished by the torrents of culture and the notions of conservatism. Most religious leaders, clerics and teachers rejected modern education and made strong attempts to speak against it. They termed modern education as western and in opposition to religious teachings. Following Zia ul Haqq’s regime, many anti-secular groups depicted their own versions of education and promoted jihad in a completely deteriorated context and prioritized it as the only means of education in madrassahs. This resulted in fueling the skirmish between a ramified transformation of religious and modern education dichotomy, which was once a part of Subcontinent. The religious fanatics known to be the graduates of these seminaries started to destroy schools and modern education institutions by accepting it as an act of God.  Therefore, the education system of Pakistan started to plunge into a ball game of extreme distrust between religious education and the modern education. Considering circumstance, the system took a journey where it became divisive. This division started producing alienation among the youth and ultimately between the society.

It has further created an ideological fault line within the Muslim society where religious education has been praised to the skies and modern education has been criticized as conflicting with Islam.

De facto, the administrative collapse of the state and the absence of law and order, ergo suggest the decline.

The system in its structure has adopted extreme disparity. It has started distributing lucrative and influencing jobs substantially to the elite, who are educated in the full English medium education institutions and prefer to get a modern secular form of education only because of their open-minded approach towards education. Meanwhile, students studying in seminaries (madrassas) or Urdu-medium educational institutions focus on religion or sacred text to be the utmost purpose of education and somehow are destined to join the increasing army of the unemployed. To converse they are further forced to use the idiom “Act of God” to defuse the sense of deprivation of their right of education.

Many international and local organizations, working for the betterment of the education systems and diligently making efforts to roll back the grim of uncertainty prevailing had disclosed that more than eight categories of the parallel education systems are advising education in Pakistan. Under complete ignorance, each of the education system own the liberty to devise a curriculum which they think follows the ideology of Pakistan, ideology of religion, and ideology of secularism. Therefore, each system attracts a certain social class and year after year hurls batches of students who experience life as opposed to each other.

It is direful that no one in Pakistan bravely holds the responsibility to deliberate into the matter of how and why; after all, the education system of Pakistan remained osmosed with equity and remained under the impression that studying sacred texts is religious and studying nature and research-based knowledge of science is secular. Admiration of a few mixed with ignorance of many has endorsed the formulation of this divisive education system, and it has deeply penetrated our culture and inevitably affected the ideology of Pakistan.

Talking about the remarkable history of the Islamic Golden Age; when Arabs moved to the Iberian Peninsula in the hearts of Medieval Europe expounds that how various Quranic injunctions and direction of Hadiths of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) placed values on education and inoculated the sense to interrelate and not to draw fault line between religious and modern education. These 700 years (8th-14th century) contributed a lot to science and technology apart from religion. The development of Mathematics, concepts of astronomy, Ibn Al Khattab’s description of candle clock, the making of a globe by Ibrahim ibn Sa’id al-Sahli, the introduction of 9 digit number to Europe, development of the compass, Al Zahwar’s contribution towards the science of physiology, pharmacology, therapeutics among other things, development of animal-powered waterwheel for water and agriculture and the introduction of new crops such as cotton, Asian rice, citrus fruits to Europe were all influencing. Inventions of that time have helped modern science. Modern day travel would be quite different in experience if there were no such things as airplanes. Although the invention of airplane is attributed to the wright brothers, but it was Abbas ibn Firnas the first person to invent the first flying machine. These astonishing contributions towards science and technology epitomize that the Muslims of that time accepted religious education as a guidance and modern education a tool to get recognition.

Thus, all the systems, concepts of science which are eminent in modern Europe and other modern world countries are all inherited or being adopted from the Muslims or Greeks. This transformation of Europeans from their darkest times to the golden times and vice Versa for Muslims was just because of the artificial Dichotomy that was created between religious education and modern education.

We should admit the fact that religious education is not just to read a sacred text and memorize the words of the Quran. It also includes the exploration of the universe and the production of new things for the betterment of human life. If we read the Quran by looking closely into the verses and their meaning, we cannot brush aside the main point. The Quran commands us to reflect on nature and everything it contains (3:191-2). It is a matter-of-fact that the Holy Book justifies everything that is in modern education and former is only a tool to study nature and human.

This antagonism between religious education and modern education must come to an end.

We need to understand the spirit of the Quran which requires us to reflect on the entire universe. Religious education is about reflecting on the words of God and reflecting on the work of God.  Some of the most useful gadgets that have brought great blessings to human life are the results of the ventures which are generally studied or practiced in modern educational institutions. Therefore, we need both to attain the maximum flair out of students. This will incorporate both skill and wisdom in students and help them achieve the glories of the past once again in modern times.

The writer is a science Student at Forman Christian College Lahore. He can be reached at [email protected]

- Advertisement -
Previous articleBahawalpur rally
Next articleOIC

2 COMMENTS

  1. Wohhhh amazing article, thanks for sharing, I believe that divide must end of modern education and religious education, Islamic education itself is modern education
    We explore worlds through words of Quran ,but we shoukd add all scientific achievements to tally with Quran because nothing is missing in Quran ,that why we can give confidence to our youth that Islam isn’t opposite of science but its great help to science

Comments are closed.

- Advertisment -

Must Read

Preparing you for default, nation told

ISLAMABAD: The nation is currently under preparation for the upcoming default, it was duly informed on Monday. The preparations have been underway for over a...