The educational path to progress and serving humanity
Education is the key to wisdom and economic well-being of a person. With education, responsibilities to uphold and enhance peace and harmony could prevail. The focus has to be on children, the future generation.
Teenagers are at the crossroad of an age when they can easily fall out of education and society or proceed with education and rise to be useful adults of tomorrow. Unfortunately there are many Muslim parents, themselves being uneducated and rolling in poverty, care less or have no access to educating their children. This got to change, and Muslim countries and organsations have to take this responsibilities of educating Muslim children, through secular (main-stream schools) and religious education.
In recent years, two Muslim teenagers living continents apart became models of inspiration to other teenagers for their motivation in education.
The iconic figures are 17-year-old Malala Yousafzai from Pakistan and 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed from the United States of America. Both would have plunged into oblivion had not fate intervened to make them global sensation – for all Muslim and non-Muslim teenagers.
In October 2012, Malala was shot in the head by Pakistani Taleban militants for her involvement in educating Muslim girls. She survived the attack and became an inspirational figure to the world, becoming the youngest ever recipient of the coveted Nobel Peace Prize for her courage and determination to fight for Muslim children to go to school.
In Sepember this year (2015), the world was outraged by the arrest of Ahmed, a high-school student, who loved dabbling in robotics. He made a clock at home and brought it to school to impress his teacher. The teacher and the school in Texas, USA, mistook the clock for a bomb and called the police who arrested and handcuffed him.
In a surge of public support for the innocent boy, Ahmed was invited to a number of scientific gatherings and other science and technology establishemts such as the famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology and events like Google’s science fair in Google’s campus in California.
President Barack Obama congratulated Ahmed and invited him to the White House for the Astronomical Night to mingle with scientists, engineers, astronauts and science teachers.
Ahmed was also invited to meet Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who applauding the teenager, said: “Having the skill and ambition to build something cool should lead to applause…”
In his interviews with the media, Ahmed said that he wanted to do “my best not just to help me but to help every other kid in the entire world …”
Recently, Ahmed performed the Umrah (minor pilgrimage in Mecca) together with his family, according to a report carried by Berita Harian, a Malay daily of Singapore. Ahmed performed the Umrah through an invitation by the Saudi Arbian Government.
Education is the way to progress and happiness. Islam shows it. Muslims need to heed and embrace it as Islam’s very first guidance is the instruction to pursue education as revealed by God (Allah) Himself and recorded in the Quran, the Holy Book of Islam.
So, Muslims must be very honoured to possess a Holy Book whose Revelation:
• started with the word “Read” (in the very first Revelation),
• has a chapter entitled “Read!” and
• instructs people to read and write (the basis of education).
Reading is the cornerstone of education and the acquisition of all useful knowledge. It is also the foundation for studies, researches and investigations for further and new knowledge. And the instruction to read is the first commandment in Islam; it’s the very first word of the very first Revelation that Prophet Muhammad received from God through the Angel Gabriel. It is thus a very important Command.
The first verse of the Revelation goes: “Read! In the name of your Lord and Cherisher who created…” (Iqra, 96:1)
The first Revelation consisted of five verses, thus:
In The Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful
“Read! In the Name of your Lord and Cherisher Who created”
“Created man, out of a clot (of congealed blood).”
“Read and your Lord is the Most Generous,”
“Who taught by the Pen,”
“Taught man that which he knew not.” (96:1-5)
The instruction is also meant for all people of the world because the Quran is for all humanity, Muslims and non-Muslims. The instruction indicates the importance of education for personality refinement and accomplishments as well as for the progress of living and the development of the nation and the entire world.
Islam greatly values learning and knowledge. It commands Muslims to acquire education from anywhere in the world and be progressive. It encourages them to exercise their mind and use their reasoning and rationality in all matters, worldly as well as spiritual.
Islam encourages the learning of any branch of the sciences, including the proper use of, and researches on, the “bounties” Allah has provided on earth and in the universe.
Encouraging people to learn and acquire knowledge was always on the lips of the Prophet. Some quotations from the Hadith (Sayings of Prophet Muhammad) that highlight the importance of education are:
“Knowledge enables the possessor to distinguish right from wrong; it lights the way to Heaven; it is our friend in the desert, our society in solitude, our companion when friendless; it guides us to happiness; it sustains us in misery, it is our ornament amongst friends and an armour against enemies.”
“Studying is like glorifying Allah, and teaching is like charity.”
“Learn, teach and widen your knowledge and do not die ignorant. Allah does not excuse ignorance.”
“To the student who goes forth in search of knowledge, Allah allots a high place in the mansions of bliss; every lesson received has its rewards.”
Muslims ought to acquire education even if the place of learning is far away from his country and even if the required knowledge is available from non-Muslims. A Hadith states: “Go even to China to seek knowledge.”
Islam does not excuse ignorance or those who have no desire to learn and upgrade themselves educationally. The Qur’an addresses such people in very forceful terms:
“Those who do not observe, listen and understand are like cattle.” (7:179)
“Those who are blind in this world will be blind in the Hereafter.” (17:72)
Muslim women too have the same right to pursue education as the men. The Prophet said: “The acquisition of knowledge is the obligation of every Muslim, male or female.”
Muslim teenagers ought to be inspired by the personalitites and efforts of such teenagers Ms Malala and Ahmed as well as those who had excelled in education, especially at higher levels, in their own respective countries in the pursuit of education, and be motivated to pursue education as far as they could go to eventually serve the society, nation and humanity towards peace, progress and harmony for all.
** *** ** *** **
By: Shaik Kadir 14 October 2015