View Full Version : Critique of teaching Islamic Studies

04-23-2010, 07:25 AM
While it is a fact that the religion or specifically Islam taught in Pakistan is the major reason for the backwardness of the Pakistani society [and all other societies in general] there might be a probability that it would not be the same case in the west. It is once we talk about what is being termed as progressive or or what is the concept of MSA,ISNA or other such societies in USA, for example , that one can comment.

Whatever I know about the very philosophy of religion or Islam is that after all the zeal, fervor and enthusiasm the new converts or the "born again" Muslims turn out to be no different than those who glorify Arab culture, language and civilisation instead of having a serious,sincere and intellectually honest approach to find out the reality ,if any ,in religion and how it can help solve the problems faced by humanity.

The version of religion taught in Pakistani institutions [called Madrassas, which I sometimes refer to as mad-rassas] is out of date and irrelevant to our contemporary problems and their solutions. The syllabus taught there was proposed hundreds of years ago by Nizam.

In the west, I am not sure until I know about the syllabus being taught, however,to the level I know it ,due to the faculty dominance or investment of the Arabs, what they teach to the common Muslims is more of what is called "organized religion" in the academia which is aimed at the glorification of the Arab culture instead of a serious inquiry into the truth and reality of religion as a metaphysical discipline.

Just for reference, here is a glimpse of "Dars Nizami" syllabus taught in Pakistan. One can see how far they get from reality after studying for so many years. No wonder after getting "graduated" from Dars Nizami , they start considering the masses around them as some lunatic aliens who need to be shown the right path.

1st year
nahv meer
ahkam us salat
insha ul arabia
tariqatul jadeda
ilm ut tajweed
sarf nihai
asas ul arabi
2nd year

tasheel un nahav
tasheel us sarf
noor ul ezah
tasheel ul mantiq & taleem ul mantiq
mutalitul arabia
hidayat un nahav
3rd year

osool e shashi
sabaa mualliqat
duroos ul balaghat
al itqan
ilm ulum quran
4th Year

sharah mulla jami
noor ul anwar
sharah tahzeeb
talkhees ul miftah
musnad imam e azam
risyaz ul salihen
5th Year

jalalain ukhra
mukhtasar ul muaini
mishkat shareef
6th Year

tuzeeh wa talweeh
tafseer ul bedawi
zubdatul fikr
sharah aqauid
final Year

sahih bukhari
sahih muslim
jami tirmizi
sharah muaini ul asar
sunan nisai
sunan abu dawood
asar e sunan
sunan ibne maja

The Islamic studies taught in universities are a perfect way to indoctrinate students' minds with the Arab culture. I condemn this approach. It is a cheating which the presenters and the propagators of the Islamic studies do. The serious students of Islamic studies should raise a voice against it. How is it a cheating? Here is the answer.

In 99.99% of cases Islam is projected as the way of life, the salvation for humanity, the only true philosophy of life, the perfect system of life, correct code of life, the universal teachings of the prophets etc etc.

All these definitions if analysed by any student of epistemology are purely academic ones. If you say that it is an explanation of life and existence, you need to refute the contemporary and/ or ancient ideas about life and existence. It encompasses the theory of origin of universe, the nature of life, the composition and nature of human beings, all these are the topics of physics, biology and philosophy.

If you assert the existence of God and consider it a source for all Islamic teachings you need to discuss the scholarly arguments for the existence of God or the refutation of non existence of God. This includes among other things the basic conceptions about logic, ontology and physics. You cannot neglect creationist vs evolutionary approaches, the scholastic interpretations of, for example, Shah Waliullah ,Jamaluddin Afghani,Syed Qutub,Mohmmad Qutub,Iqbal,Harun Yahya etc from the modern age and Ibne Rushd, AlGhazali, Almawardi, Ibne Arabi etc from the medieval age and a lot more.

Similarly you need to question the modern sociological theories and concepts about society, its growth, institutions, civil rights etc in case of social and family related injunctions of the Quran etc.You need to be aware of the the role of various revolutions and their contribution to the makeup of various definitions related to family, social group, community, soceity etc.

The same is true about a lot of other aspects of life which need to be considered. Without these considerations, as I claimed earlier, defining Islam, is just an effort to arabise people in the name of Islam. Asking them to learn the science of religion [Islam] while practically teaching them just about the language, culture and history of the nation who claimed to offer a solution to the problems of humanity and not critically evaluating the solution itself.

This is same as asking people to learn science and technology and practically teaching them about British, European and American cultures instead of teaching them about Pure and Applied Sciences like Physics, Maths, Biology, Chemistry, Engineering, etc.

شمله ور خراساني
04-23-2010, 09:23 AM
I don't know if your critique is just because I am not sure what your critique is.

However, I think you could help me out by elaborating what you think is wrong with the curriculum and what is missing or what should be left out.

Do you think that al madrassa's should close their doors?

What are your suggestions? Do you have any preference for any other type of Islamic studies that will help pashtuns to modernize their society?

I have my own critique of religious institutions as a whole and i dont think the backwardness of our society can entirely be blamed on madrassas.

The backwardness of our society is the cause of primitive and superficial method of teachings. The teachers in madrassas usually are blind to fiqh al waaqi. They have no comprehension of social sciences. They are unable to explain religion to their students adequately because they live in a backward society with limited resources and they never travel.

The classic orthodox scholars like abu haneefah, bukhari, muslim, ibn hanbal, ibn hajar, ibn taymiyyah traveled from town to town, visited numerous scholars, were aquainted with different opinions, different religions.

One of my favorite scholars is sheikh ul islam ibn taymiyyah. Not only was he a great scholar of islam, he was read allot of Greek Philosophy and he even refuted them in a famous work that is still quite popular.

Our mullah's have a very narrow and limited understanding of Islam.

04-23-2010, 10:45 AM
Sangar Khana

Your urge for reformation in the madrassa system is appreciable.However I think in context to Pashtuns we need to analyse it in much more depth. Let me reflect as per your points otherwise it is difficult for me to hold what is coming in my mind in the form of a flood.

All Madrassas should not close their doors but they should open their doors to become a part of modern school education.I do not think there is any need to study religion seperately.They can study it as one the subjects and at later stage for example after matriculation they can start thinking of specialising in it too like all other disciplines of engineeing,medicine,IT etc.This way they will be in touch with the real world and also have the skills to earn an honest and respectable living for their families instead of being a parasites and a source of conservatism and retrogression for the society.It should not be forgotten that the prevalent school system itself needs a reformative effort to make it more fruitful as it was also devised by the British to serve their prupose and the later rulers of Pakistan did not change it.


04-23-2010, 12:17 PM
Great post.

There is no way to reform Madrassahs. All of these so called Madrassahs must be merged with the primary and secondary education departments. The teachers of Madrassahs after getting proper training from the education departments may teach religion, theology, comparative study of religions, Islam as a religion as one subject in schools. At University level there can be specialization in Religious studies.

In Pakistan, a similar practice already exists where islamyat or dinyat as one subject is taught in schools. Arabic as a language can also be taught.

For Pashtun students separate subjects on Pashtunwali and Pashtun´s history and culture and Pashto language may also be included. The more practising Pashtuns we are , the less fundamentalists, extremists , fanatics and religious bigots we will be.