Friday, April 10, 2015

Mass Production of Alims and Alimaas and Teaching of Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi

There seems to be a rush for the mass production of "Aalims" and "Aalimas" which is in conflict with  the teaching of Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi: Becoming a good human (ach-ha insaan) is more important than becoming a buzurg because a good human would be a source of benefit to the fellow people, whereas a buzurg would only be a source of benefit to himself!!!!" With a heavy heart, I must point out the issues emanating from the establishment of of assembly lines for the mass production of certified "Alims" and "Alimas". Foremost among them is the contradiction of the intent to produce Aalims and Alimas with  the intent of Maulana Asharf Ali Thanvi (1863–1943) [1] "to produce a good human and not a buzurg", who is among the most revered religious scholars of the 20th century in sub-continent. 
I think the "hikmat" in Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi's teaching was to make sure that his disciples clearly understand that (i) being a good human comes before being a buzurg, (ii) to understand that "buzurgi" is a personal attribute, (ii) they need to protect themselves against "raya" and "superiority complex", which can be seen in the works of his disciples when they use "ahqar" in place of first person "I" and their names written on their published works typically has the prefex "ahqar" attached. This is also in-line with his thrust of "Tareeq e Qalndari"[2] that he followed all his life. 

Certfying that a person is an "Aalim" is problematic "literally" speaking, given the vastness of "ilm" and its dimensions for which several lifetimes are required. I don't see Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi's teaching would ever reconcile with his taking pride in calling himself "Aalim" and criticising  



which is superlative of considering one 
My thesis is that the product coming out from factories of mass production of "Alims" and "Alimas" inherits the same problems as are often observed in the products of similar assembly lines of conventional schools and universities i.e. materialism and lack of respect and love for the fellow human beings contrary to what was practiced and preached by the Hakeem ul Ummat. 

Since such mass factories for Alim and Alima production (aka madrassahs) seem to have acquired the structural attributes (and hence the underlying assumptions) of modern schools and universities, they consequently suffer from the same problems that are present in these school and universities. In their eagerness to imitate the structures of these mass prodcution lines of schools and universities, madrassah's mindlessly jetisoned some of their distinctive advantages. However, these madrassahs still retain some of their original attributes such as humility (e.g. use of addressing oneself as Ahqar), but Islamic schools have even jettisoned those remaining traditional virtues also in their zeal for spiritual marketing. In this post we identify the issues arising from the adoption of school/university structural elements: 

Relationship with Aalim/Shaikh:
Traditional madrassahs have been structured around the connection and relationship with the Aalim or shaikh. One used to go for learning with a particular Aalim, not with the brand name of the institution. Our schools were based on this association with the Aalim. A student was recognized by the shaikh or the teacher from which he received his all encompassing guidance. Recognizing the thirst and potential of the mureed (student), and given that he has acquired whatever the shaikh had to offer, the shaikh himself would recommend the student to another aalim or shaikh, often in a different city or country. The student established this close connection with the aalim or shaikh from whom he was associated. This companionship was responsible for the acquisition of not only knowledge of the scriptures, knoweldge of the world, but also spiritual knowledge and cleansing. The association was a complete package of knowledge, competence and character. 


Timelimitation for graduation. 
A student may graduate (get khilafah) in a few days or in months, or in years. Some may not get that even in a lifetime. 
[1] I dont' profess to have read all the works of Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi. I remember going through the monthly "Al-Ibqa" published from Karachi for which we had the subscription till the 1990s. It serialized the teachings of Maulana Ashraf Ali Thavi. My mother used to be a voracious  reader of Islamic works. She used to read it. Note the monthly would start repeating the series once the complete works were published. We maintained the complete file of these monthly issues starting from early 1950s till the 1990s. But then lost it due to wear, tear, humidity and pests. 
[2] My mother had great respect of Maulan Ashraf Ali Thanvi. She also had great respect for his desciples and their chain such as Mufti Mohammad Shafi. She would often talk about Maulana Qasim Nanautvi, Maulana Ashraf Gangohi, Syed Ahmed Shaheed, Maulana Muhajir Makki and others would fondly read any article or books that she could lay her hands on. She took me specifically to meet Mr Ghulam Haider and Shah Mohammad Sulaiman (he was our distant relative) who were khalifa/desciples of Maulana Mohammad Shafi. 

[2] Tareeq e Qalandari: I read reading this segment in the monthly "Ibqa" during the 1970s that serialized all of Maualan Ashraf Ali Thanvi. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Time Management of Social/Marriage Events in Karachi: A Case Study of How to Create Social and Youth Impact

It was first week of May of 2014 and representatives of Youth Impact came to see me at CBM. I was impressed to meet the team. They talked about the impact that they wanted to create on the youth and through them. They told me about their experiential learning program in which they take the youth for outdoor activities such as hiking, and other tours during which they impart training on leadership, problem solving, thinking skills, time management and other skills using the learning by doing approach. I was already excited about the concept of learning by doing, and had been implementing project based learning, problem based learning and "Experiential Learning" through various interventions described elsewhere in this blog. This had convinced me that our education methodology and our curriculum is totally disconnected from reality and real life problems. This disconnect has created a situation where the only thing on the mind of our graduates is their desire to leave the country (Why )