Madrassah: Islamic institution of education — II

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Dr M Athar Khan

IMMEDIATELY after creation of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, holding of the first Pakistan Educational Conference at Karachi from 27th November to 1st December 1947 for determining the future educational policy and program of the country was realization of the need for a national system of education for Pakistan. The country’s founding fathers’ urge for reorienting the colonial system of education to suit to the genius of our people and be consonant with our history and culture is evidence of the realization of the need for a national system of education ever since the country came into existence. However, from the beginning such a reorientation had not only been slow but it is still nowhere close to the direction that was set in the first Educational Conference seventy-two years ago. It is really a matter of concern for the education policy and decision makers of the country that what, the first and the then Education Minister of Pakistan Mr. Fazlur Rahman, had said in 1951is equally true in the 2019 also. He had admitted that reason for the situation of education in the country was nothing other than that the education planners and decision makers of the country were the product of a system of education which was based purely on Western values and had ignored our religion and culture. Consequently their knowledge of Islam, its history, its culture and the role it had played in the advancement of mankind was either superficial or inadequate and they felt diffident when it came to giving a practical shape to the policy of the Government whereby the entire educational system was to be reorganized and based on Islamic ideology.
Study of civilizations of the world provides evidence to the fact that survival and flourishment of civilizations had been subject to their systems and institutions of education. Chinese, Vedic, Egyptian, Greek and Roman civilizations are examples of civilizations that had established and preserved their institutions of education survived and flourished. Whereas Mehrgarth, Moenjodaro, Harappa provide examples of civilizations of which no record of institutions of education is found so vanished that nothing except their ruins is left. Even in the world of today development and prosperity of nations is very much dependent upon and subject to their own institutions and systems of education. Rise and fall of world civilizations and progress and decline of education in them are closely linked together in cause and effect relationship as it is evident from history of several civilizations of the world which flourished and disappeared or they progressed and deteriorated. There is no exception.
Conquest of Spain in 711 A.D. marked rise of Islam as a great world civilization. Institutions of education were established, which contributed tremendously to strengthening the Muslim state of Spain by spreading education and producing great minds and masters in all fields of arts, sciences and knowledge. They not only revived the stock of knowledge bequeathed by the great masters and scholars of the past that for long had been lost and buried into the ruins of once great civilizations of Greece and Rome, but they also added to it, preserved and passed it on to the coming generations of the world that continues even to this day. It was, of course with the decline of the Muslim Empire that Madrassah—the Islamic Institution of Education—once the great institution of education of the world also deteriorated and degenerated to the extent that the very nomenclature Madrassah became to be deemed derogatory and irrelevant to the modern times. History and analysis of the present state of education in Pakistan reveals the fact that the Madrassah should have been the best and the only institution of education which really suited to the ideologies and the genius of the people of the country. But this fact was never realized by the education policy formulators, planners and decision makers of the country. Instead, in their enthusiasm for immediately catching up with the developed nations of the modern world, in all areas of social concern including education they eagerly resorted to follow their systems and philosophies in toto. It did the country more harm than good. The institution of education was particularly affected and was made a complete shambles.
Madrassah—the Islamic institution of education has a definite philosophy, system and organization that are based upon the injunctions implied in the connotative meanings of the first word of the revelation (Wahi) Iq’ra and the Qur’anic concepts of Man, Ilm and purpose of life and creation, Whereas, the foundations of the Madrassah are rooted deep into the history, culture and traditions of the world of Islam. Together they create its Islamic identity and entity that distinguish it from any other institution of education of the world—both of the past and the present. Madrassah is more of a concept based upon beliefs on revelationary truths rather than outcomes of human needs, changing conditions of times and places, and circumstances as it is in case of the institutions of education of the world. Madrassah as an institution of education presents a system of education that surpasses all education systems of the modern world in its merits. Madrassah provides a copyable model of a perfect education system. There is no denying the fact that almost all modern education institutions are adopting and commercialization the features that are characteristic of the Madrassah. —To be continued
—The writer is Prof & Advisor to the VC, Sarhad University, Peshawar.

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