Just a quick recap/reflection on Western Sunrise. I really enjoyed the entire experience and all the stories the shaykh shared with us about his travels. MashaAllah, he’s been everywhere! Bermuda, Zanzabar, Ethipoia, Senegal, China, Singapore, Pakistan, Brazil, Barbados, Jamaica, Timbuktu, Morocco, Spain, Italy, Sicily, France, Saudi, India, caucasus regions, Peru, you name it! Anaam and I made a list of all the places he mentioned in the class :)
The second weekend was mostly focussed on helping us develop historical consciousness. I was amazed at how empowering and enlightening this class was and Sh. Abdullah did a fantastic job of convincing us that we’ve been brainwashed all our lives. :) Last Saturday, he spoke about how curriculum makers are pretty much in charge of deciding the kind of mindset kids will develop over time. This is especially noticeable in history and literature books. Even in science, a lot of American textbook writers have successfully convinced students that a few American and European scientists were the real masterminds behind everything the world knows about science today. Muslim accomplishments in a variety of subjects are rarely mentioned and if they are, the Muslim names are Latinized. (ie: Ibn Rush-Averroes, Al Haytham-Alhazen, Albucasis-Az-Zahrawi, etc.). It’s eye-opening to see the lengths that were taken to maintain a Euro-centric status quo.
He also mentioned that the greatest challenge Islamic schools across the country and abroad are facing is the inability or lack of initiative to bring the sacred and secular knowledge together. There needs to be a comprehensive approach to both aspects of knowledge for the coming generation and a revival of the spirit of knowledge that existed in Bayt-ul-Hikmah many centuries ago (minus the Philosophy). If we look at the Muslim world, it’s quite obvious what the problem is and why we are having to deal with the issue now. Those students who learned in madrassa’s a few decades ago (and even now in some places) were taught just the sacred knowledge with little to no understanding of other subjects while students in the secular/western schools were/are being taught worldly knowledge with about an hour worth of ‘Islamiyat’ studies every day. So now, those students from the madrassa are qualified to give you a fatwa or a tafsir on an ayah, but they have no clue about how to lead a country…and since the secular systems are failing us now, the masses don’t know where to turn. On the other hand, the doctors, engineers, accountants, etc. who were educated through the western systems often see the sacred system as backward and unnecessary. So the challenge lies in bringing these two different kinds of knowledge together which is exactly what the Islamic model of education calls for–moderation. In Bayt-ul-Hikmah in Baghdad, scholars from all over the world came together in pursuit of knowledge. Their perspectives and ideas were appreciated, translated, and improved upon. Of course, a lot of philosophical ideas seeped in as well and we learned that some of them are still affecting deviant groups today. So inshaAllah, it should be a long term goal for Muslim School administrators and educators to provide students with comprehensive knowledge of Islamic sciences and history along with secular subjects that an average student would learn in public school. But even if this does happen a few years from now inshaAllah, the issue of developing an Islamic mentality still exists. One of the sisters brought up the fact that a lot of parents don’t value Islamic history very much and because of that, the apathy towards learning about it is transferred to the kids. So until we don’t become truly “Makkah-centric,” the problem of acknowledging and appreciating the rich history of the Muslim Ummah will remain for upcoming generations. Instead of just translating or conforming to the western models of education (I feel a tangent coming on), we need to rediscover ourselves through our history so we can project into the future inshaAllah. I know I always tend to attack Pakistan’s politics, social service systems (or lack thereof), and education models, but it’s because I know Pakistan has potential and it frustrates me to see the utter lack of human decency that exists among the ruling class which in turn, is causing millions of people in Pakistan to suffer through extremely difficult times. This goes for a lot of other Muslim countries as well unfortunately. Most Pakistani students have memorized useless Shakespeare and Hobbes and whatnot and it’s just pathetic that they’re appreciation for Islamic knowledge and history isn’t even half of that. (My mind is turning into a giant web right now. Key words and concepts that are popping up include: colonization, western hegemony, rise of the rest, pluralism, corruption, silent majority, tyranny of the majority. I need to organize my ides better). Anyway…so these are just some thoughts I gathered after the class. Maybe I’ll write a paper on this or something because my ideas are all over the place right now. Speaking of research topics, this class sparked my curiosity big time! I really want to write a paper on the truth about the Dark Ages and the Renaissance. Other cool topics: Understanding the root of deviations in Islamic history and their impacts on Muslims today, the Murabitun movement and how it contributed to the spread of Islam below the Sahara, the spread of Portuguese in India, the rise of Muslims after the 15th century, the travels of Zheng He and why they are not considered as big of a deal as Columbus’ so called discovery of America. The best part about the notebook for this class is the awesome book list at the end of each chapter! :) This class left me with a lot more questions to ponder upon than actually answering the ones I came in with, which is great. Alhumdulillah, I really like the Shaykh’s teaching style and all the material we covered was definitely enlightening. If I were to sum up the moral of the class, it would be that Christopher Columbus was a liar who did not discover America in any which way, rather he “mimicked the voyages of earlier explorers and began a dark period of colonialism and genocide that is still plaguing the world”. :) Overall, awesome class. If you’re into history, you should definitely take it, and even if you’re not, still take the class when it comes because you’ll have a lot more appreciation for who you are as a Muslim and bi’ithnillah you’ll feel motivated to pursue knowledge about our amazing history on your own. :)
okay, I’m done.
EDIT: This wasn’t quick at all. :p