Developing the Light Within and Beyond Through Education
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Category : Education
Author : Sajida Zubair

The collective or social objective of acquiring knowledge include understanding nations’ ideologies, sense of belonging, understanding and respecting constitution, to develop socializing – as we know a human is a social being, mannerism, transfer of culture/values/ethics to a new generation, developing a sense of universal brotherhood to create a positive and peaceful society.

What’s the first thing that comes to our minds when we say ‘education’? Is it the educational system, schools, universities, teaching-learning process, discipline, manners or following rules?

The word ‘education’ cannot have a simple explanation.

Before we understand what education is or what is the purpose of education, let’s take an honest look at the current state of the human world. Let’s try to understand why, even as more people are getting ‘educated’, more this earth is becoming distorted and imbalanced? Where are 600 million humans currently engaged? What is the nature of their engagement?

Every sensitive heart will cry out that in every corner of the world human society, without any distinction of religion and beliefs, color and race, region and nationality, is in the grip of some or other crisis.

What kind of good we can say has not been violated?

As the Qur’an states: The collective or social objective of acquiring knowledge include understanding nations’ ideologies, sense of belonging, understanding and respecting constitution, to develop socializing – as we know a human is a social being, mannerism, transfer of culture/values/ethics to a new generation, developing a sense of universal brotherhood to create a positive and peaceful society.

Who is responsible for these conditions? Who has caused wrath? We cannot deny the bitter truth that highly educated people have created chaos. Mostly the educated class will be found carrying the responsibility of collective life and playing the monopoly of power.

Talking about our country, India has become one of the 135 countries to make education a fundamental right of every child when the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act or Right to Education Act (RTE) came into force on 1 April 2010. The RTE was an Act of the Parliament of India enacted on 4 August 2009, which makes education a fundamental right of every child. With 25% of seats for the poor and other categories of children, education was made accessible to all.

On 20 February 2017, the Right to Education Act, 2009 was amended to include a new landmark provision: learning outcomes. These aim at improving the quality of school education and increasing accountability in the teaching system.

Since then, for many years, the RTE Act has been lauded by educationists as a progressive legislation for improving access to education in the country, and for universalizing education as a right rather than a privilege.

So, these and many more steps taken by the so-called visionaries were supposed to bring a revolutionary change in the world. But unfortunately, education as a power and weapon has manipulated human minds. Under the noses of these educated people, there is oppression, chaos, disorder, loss and miseries. Due to the race of ‘getting it all’, the world has become nothing but a place where being selfish is the norm. We failed to understand that there is a huge difference in being educated and acting educated.
In the words of Allama Iqbal: “Knowledge is poison for the people of free will whose purpose/objective ends in winning two handfuls of barley.” Coming back to the question, what is education? The Oxford Dictionary gives us the meaning of education as ‘the process of teaching and learning.’ Education is not about going to school, obtaining big degrees or getting invited to give a lecture, or even winning an award,

rather, education is the act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment and preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life. The knowledge we acquire should be applied by not repeating the mistakes of the lost civilizations.

To understand what knowledge is, let’s go back to the creation of the first Human Being, Adam (May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him). In the divinely inspired order of the Qur’an, Allah chooses to introduce us to Adam AS in a passage wherein the angels ask Allah SWT as to why He was creating a being that is going to spread corruption and spill blood.

Allah replies ‘I know what you do not know’. Allah SWT teaches Adam the names of all things and then Allah asks the angels the names of these things and when they fail to respond and after Adam AS tells all the names to the angels and Allah says “Did I not say to you: I know the secrets of the heavens and of the earth, and I know what you reveal and what you conceal?”

This passage is the story of human origin. In this story of human origin, the first attribute that Allah SWT demonstrates to the angels is education.
Allah teaches Adam AS certain things and Adam AS had the ability to retain those things and also be able to explain it to others.

Basically, he acquired knowledge, he benefited himself and he benefited others too.

This shows the most important attribute of human beings is nothing but knowledge, because if you don’t have knowledge, there is no use of that creation of being.
For example, if we have a laptop, we need to have some data in it. Unless and until we have an operating system the laptop is not going to work. Similarly even human beings, if they do not acquire knowledge they are useless. If we do not acquire knowledge and benefit ourselves and benefit others with that knowledge then we are basically malfunctioning.

Imagine a world filled with malfunctioning humans; we would see zombies all around us creating an imbalanced society and destroying the meezaan (the divine order of balance and organization).

Let us now understand what knowledge is.

When we talk about knowledge there are two types of knowledge – one is the knowledge of arguments (Ilm-e-Hujjat) which is available in books and the other is beneficial knowledge (Ilm-e-Nafey), which is the result of enlightenment of the minds and hearts. Our education system is imparting limited knowledge only from the papers of the book to the answer sheets of the students, and thus, the purpose of education has died a silent death and turned humans into educated fools. Humans moved away from truth because truth requires change. When this type of education failed to enlighten the hearts and minds, hatred sneaked into them creating a catastrophic downfall of the best of the creations – Ashraful Makhluqaat. So, what should be the purpose of education or imparting knowledge? The most common answer to this question is: getting a good job or making a career. Yes, getting a job is one reason but there are so many more. Purpose of education explained by various educationists can be summarized by mentioning its collective and individual objectives.
The collective or social objective of acquiring knowledge include understanding nations’ ideologies, sense of belonging, understanding and respecting constitution, to develop socializing – as we know a human is a social being, mannerism, transfer of culture/values/ethics to a new generation, developing a sense of universal brotherhood to create a positive and peaceful society. Continuing to understand the objectives of acquiring knowledge advocated by major educationists on an individual level is to help students learn the etiquettes of living a life, to adjust with society, and holistic development of personalities.
I think the real or the first purpose of education should be self-realization. The real purpose of education is to elevate your consciousness and to develop critical thinking that must result in character building.
Education must help us evolve to a higher state of being.Assuming that the real purpose of education is only to get you a good job after you graduate is dangerous. If you see it that way then you are just limiting yourself. Education is crucial because it is the only way you can develop a holistic understanding of the world.
Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs talks about Psychological needs, Safety needs, Love and belonging needs, Egoist needs as well as Self-Actualization. This is about the higher sense of morality, to solve problems, make discoveries, accept facts and not being ignorant and actively contributing to society.
Finally the highest tier of this theory is Self-Transcendence which is all about true spirituality and enlightenment, where we feel the need to becoming more aware to develop new level of consciousness that results into having a content heart that is in a state of serenity – I would call it Nafsul Mutamainna. I think reaching a level of Nafsul Mutamainna should be the main purpose of getting an education or acquiring knowledge.

To achieve this objective, we as a society in general and as educationists in particular must bring a revolutionary change in the way knowledge is imparted.

  • We as teachers must provide not just reasons as to why education is important but also explain what is the purpose of getting educated?
  • The sources from which knowledge is transferred into the minds should not be biased or partial.
  • The mentors/teachers/faculties need to update themselves and develop their skills. We saw cluelessness when the pandemic hit the world, but soon virtual classes took over the traditional way of learning.
  • Visual learning must be encouraged – looking around us, pondering and learning.

As Rabindranath Tagore puts it, “Education means enabling the mind to find out that ultimate truth which emancipates us from the bondage of dust and gives us wealth not of things but of inner light (the light we can call ‘Noorun alaa Noor). It is a process of enlightenment. It is divine wealth. It helps in realization of truth.” Finally, we just cannot restrict our knowledge to the works of our Creator; rather we also need to know, understand and ponder over the words of Our Creator.

As Allama Iqbal summarizes, the purpose of an education or acquiring knowledge is:

Pour the self in education’s acid strong
When it becomes soft, mould it as you long

Knowledge or education must guide us to know our purpose in this world, rise above the angels and make the world a better place to live not just for ourselves but also for others.

1 Comment

  1. Azeez Belgaumi

    Excellent article..

    Reply

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