Maulana Wahiduddin Khan for New Age Islam
‘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
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.
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.
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
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.
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