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Interview (14 Jul 2016 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Spirituality and ‘Modern’ Education

By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan for New Age Islam

09 July 2016

Q:  ‘Modern’ schools, by and large, are geared to preparing students for material ‘success’, and not to making them better, God-conscious, kinder, more compassionate and caring human beings. They generally have little or no room for spirituality. Partly as a result of this sort of mis-education, many students grow up to think that becoming materially rich is the purpose of life. Few such students care for religion or spirituality or the Hereafter, and for this the system of education they go through has a major role to play.

How do you respond to this? What suggestions would you have for people who would like their children’s spiritual side to be nurtured, which the present ‘modern’ system of education pays little or no attention to?

A: As a matter of fact, the present situation is indeed what you have pointed out. At the same time, according to the law of nature, even after achieving material gain a person does not get peace of mind. Many people who experienced this and later read our writings revised their course of life: they made spiritual gain their priority over material gain.

My experience has been that many people want their children to develop spiritually. However, I do not find them truly sincere. If they were really sincere, they could prevent, partially or totally, their children from becoming victims of materialism.

I have a two-point formula for parents who want to nurture their children spiritually. First, the atmosphere of the house should be totally in control of the parents. The parents should make an effort to turn their homes into spiritual places. For example, instead of their discussions centring on food, clothes, furniture and other such material things, there should be discussion on spiritual issues. In Muslim homes, there is often a lot of negative conversation. If parents truly want their children to change, they should try, in the real sense, to change the atmosphere of their homes.

Second, parents should not only be well-wishers of their children but they should also be well-educators of their children. Parents should engage in deep study and, based on this, address the minds of their children. Reason-based guidance addresses people’s minds.

If parents adopt this two-point principle, then it is nearly certain that they would be successful in the spiritual upbringing of their children.

Q: Given that spirituality is hardly, if at all, addressed in the present ‘modern’ educational system, would you suggest an alternate system of schooling, or would you suggest reforms within the present system?

A: I do not believe in reform of the education system. Today, the system of education is aimed at training professionals. A high kind of professionalism is possible only if the education provided is as it presently is. If spirituality were added to the existing curriculum, it would lead to neither development of spirituality nor of professionalism. The saying ‘If you run after two hares, you’ll catch neither’ will be applicable if you tried such an approach!

In the case of professional education, we in India need to improve our standards and bring them at par with US standards. And as far as inculcating of spiritual values is concerned, it is a subject of informal education. This kind of education is received outside of the college or university campus, for example, in seminars, conferences, libraries, constructive journalism, and through magazines, discussions, and interactions. I too am involved in this work of informal education. 

Q: What do you think of the growing number ‘Islamic schools’—schools that provide students general as well as Islamic education? On the one hand, they provide students with religious education and what they regard as a religious environment, which is something that their parents value. On the other hand, since such schools are attended only by Muslims, they tend to further isolate Muslims from others in religiously-plural societies. In such societies, what system of schooling for Muslim children do you suggest that so that they can acquire religious education (in addition to general education), and, at the same time, be able to enjoy opportunities to study with and befriend students from other communities?

 A: I am not a proponent of such kind of Islamic schools prevalent among Muslims today. This would make Muslims a ghetto community. The right method is the one followed by Christians: they make seminaries for their theological education and have established secular schools for general education. Muslims too must adopt this pattern for education. This would prevent isolation and ghettoism among Muslims.

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/interview/maulana-wahiduddin-khan-for-new-age-islam/spirituality-and-‘modern’-education/d/107954

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