Thursday, December 5, 2013

Merging of Islamic and Pakistan Studies in Institutions of Higher Learning in Pakistan

A move is afoot in all institutes of higher learning to merge Islamic and Pakistan Studies into one course. Currently these two are being taught as two separate courses each being a 3 credit hour course. In the merged scenario there will be one 3 credit hour course. There are several reasons given for this move, I will present some of those reasons that I came across during my discussions with faculty members from different institutes of higher learning. But before I do that I would like to present a possible background/explanation that I think is the driving factor behind this move.

When we, the Muslim Ummah, lost our political independence to Western powers we thought that we lost it because of lack of science and technology on our part. Even today when drone attacks take place we don’t retaliate because we fear the technical superiority of America. Even the loyal/well -minded Muslims believe that the reason of our current state of affairs is our technological backwardness. If we could just come close to west in technology we will regain our lost position. The problem is that we don’t realize that when Islam/Muslims spread it was due to the ideology of Tauheed, not due to their technical superiority. The early Muslims had unshakeable belief in Tauheed and they wanted to introduce it to the rest of the world. They believed that it is the best ideology for humanity and humanity can only be saved by accepting Tauheed. Similarly before Europeans spread out and conquered the world, they developed the ideology of scientific rationalism combined with the notion of freedom to pursue self-interest. They had absolute faith in it, and like us they wanted the whole world to believe in these principles. Just one quote in this regard “Not seeking self interest … is prima facie evidence of insanity, whether the label is a saint or lunatic. Such a deviance can only be met in a civilized society with force before it threatens the very fabric of civilization. When the deviants are whole societies, then the … ( democratic process ) to international politics can legitimize imperialism as civilizing mission to those individuals willing to accept the principles of civilization, and also justify the repression of any remaining barbarians in order to help others become and remain full-fledged persons.” (Cole K, J. Cameron and C. Edwards (1983), Why Economists Disagree, The political economy of economics.). I am not saying that East India Company was not interested in exploiting the resources of India and they were here only for philosophical reasons. They did covet and exploited those resources to the fullest, but in their minds they were also doing the noble duty of “civilizing” the barbarians. Whatever we may think of it but they still take their ideology very seriously. I did my undergrad in Computer Science from US and fully one third of courses were from humanities. They inculcate their ideology in their next generations. That is why when Bush said that they are fighting this war for “their way of life” he did not have to explain what he meant by it, they understood what “their way of life” means.
Coming back to the questions/reasons for merging Islamic & Pakistan Studies, here is what I came across.
1) What moral improvement has been achieved by teaching a full course on Islamic studies?
My response is, what empirical study has been done to measure improvement or lack of moral improvement?
2) They have studied Islamiat for the past 12 years so what new they are going to learn in undergrad course.
We don’t say that about English or Math or ….
3) Technology is changing so fast and there are other more important courses, we have to make room for those.
I understand the urge and biasness that every technical/professional person has towards his/her area of interest. Obviously you are studying it because you think it is important. The problem is that with a new discipline popping up every other month, how many can you squeeze in an undergrad degree? More over related to my earlier comments about the importance: in the back of our minds we think that Islamic studies is not that important as compared to, say Digital Image Processing, so let us include DIP and cut down Islamic studies.

Without a firm understanding of our ideology we are producing technologically trained but ideologically illiterate slaves for the global capitalistic system. If this is the intention, then the current move is a step in right direction, and I salute the backers of it for their clarity of purpose. 


Shan said...


First thing, up to what extent are we studying ISLAMIC studies up till intermediate?

Do we study Arabic, which is the most fundamental thing to do in order to understand QURAN which is written in Arabic?

Our PAKISTAN is known as ISLAMIC STATE, by definition a state can be declared as ISLAMIC if all Islamic laws are being followed and implemented in it, are we following or implementing all the Islamic Laws?

The thing is that if we talk about implementing Islamic Laws then yes many businesses will get shut down in Pakistan which obviously technocrats and business tycoons do not want.

So yes I agree with you that without a firm understanding of our ideology we are producing technologically trained but ideologically illiterate slaves for the global capitalistic system.

sami zahid said...

Nadeem Saab, your subject headline and content does not match completely. I agree to your view that Islamic Studies and Pakistan Studies should not be given a minimal role. But the Thing is it may be bitter but most our own Social and religious Studies teachers are not interested in making students think about why we need to study this subjects I am not taunting CIIT but its the whole system. We all read Islamic Studies from grade 1 to 12 but implementation is zero. 12 years we listen our Prophet(SAW) praised the truthful but we are biggest liars we lie in daily like there is no tommorow, He (SAW) used to help poors without making them feel small but today if we help we make announcement ten times so every one can know. He (SAW) ordered to get education and today how many of volunteer to make other study. Same goes for Pakistan Studies, People involved in this teaching profession never explained that Pakistan creation was not a piece of cake. It took Hard work and Scarifies.
First, Struggle towards the implementation of these studies to make them feel yes we are getting something if we can even get 0.01% of learning that will pay off everything. otherwise if we just want to pass our time sitting in classroom without paying attention will be losing moment for all of us.

Asif Shahzad said...

@shan & @sami, yes, its right we need a lot of improvement in what is being taught in these two courses. but after merging (and then may be removing altogether) we would loose the chance of redesigning the syllabus. so instead of merging these two subjects, our or HEC focus should be on improving these two subjects contents as per our traditions and ideology

Asif Shahzad said...

I take this matter in even broader spectrum. Here I share two cases: In Aug. 1-3, 1989, a symposium was organized for General Secretatries of National Christian Councils and Church Leaders From Eastern and Southern Africa on the topic of "Religion and Oppression: The Misuse of Religion for Social, Political, And Economic Subjugation". After the symposium, they published 142 pages report, which states on Page 12 (of e-book, URL shared below), "Vast efforts are being made and vast amounts of money is being spent - often by foreign organizations with no genuine roots in the churches or in our region - to convince Christians that their faith requires acceptance of injustice". This is surely being done by forces who are executing their agendas and don't want local people to take stand against injustice. Complete Report URL:
I think, by shortening (in higher education) and changing (at schooling level) the curriculum of Islamic studies, it may help them to do the same with Muslims and Islam in future to weaken the spirit of Jahad in Muslims.

Now the 2nd case. In history, specially in Colonoliazation Period, the west used the religious studies, local-heritage studies, local history, and other curriculum change as a tool to promote their ideology and to decrease the self esteem of local people by introducing 'latest' culture, supporting English language, and discourging local heritage and value. I see, here again, someone is involved in executing the new agendas. I also beleive, such things come at face, nor they become very clear in-start, but the nation cultivate the fruit later, after 20-30 years i.e. after a generation. For example, if you read the survey/book i.e. "The African Experience" ISBN: 9780205851713, it compliments the ideas shared in your post in another way i.e. by changing religious curriculum. Here I share some text from Chapter 4: "After colonial rule was established, the missionaries and the colonial authorities forged a very close working relationship. In most of colonial Africa, schools were staffed and run by missionaries but subsidized in varying degrees by colonial governments, whose interest in missionary education was simply to ensure that enough Africans were educated to meet the limited need for semiskilled workers in colonial bureaucracies. The missionaries had total control over the religious curriculum. Mission schools taught that the European presence in Africa was to benefit the African people and to uplift them from a state of barbarism. African customs were discouraged. African languages were banned in mission schools. African heritage was ridiculed and suppressed. The goal was to give Africans a new identity by requiring them to use new, Christian names. As I recall from my colonial school days, an African student who was proud of his African name and insisted on using it risked being severely punished or even expelled. In many ways, Western religion instilled submissiveness by stressing that life on earth was temporary and best used for preparing for eternal life."
I highly recommend the readers to read chapter 4:

Sir. Nadeem Sahab, I would be thankful of you add my shared points in main article above, so that if some official read your article, he could see the things broader dimensions.

Nadeem Chaudhry said...

Regarding Sami Zahid’s comment about Islamic studies teachers I would say that good and bad teachers are present in every subject in every country. I had good and bad teachers when I studied in US. But a bad teacher does not mean elimination of a subject. I am sure that there are many bad English, Math… teachers but no one suggested that we should eliminate these subjects.
I thank Asif Shahzad for his well-researched comment. I agree with the quote that he has provided. More specifically the part “In most of colonial Africa, schools were staffed and run by missionaries but subsidized in varying degrees by colonial governments, whose interest in missionary education was simply to ensure that enough Africans were educated to meet the limited need for semiskilled workers in colonial bureaucracies” is very relevant to what is going on now. Please bear with me and allow me to elaborate.
Before the steam engine, human power was needed to do a lot of manual labor. For example you have Egyptians using Jews as slaves to build pyramids, African slaves working in the cotton fields of U.S etc. No “training/education” was needed to get productivity out of those poor slaves. Brutality was freely used to control any undesired behavior ( read how his foot was chopped off when Alex Haily’s slave great grandfather tried to escape in “Roots”) . With the advent of steam engine mere human power was not enough you needed “semiskilled workers” and as mentioned above they were subsidized “in varying degrees by colonial governments”. By this mechanism the colonial powers taught what was needed to get the maximum productivity out of the local population. The other, more insidious, purpose of this education was the creation of a class of locals which was not only itself ideologically defeated but would infect their own countrymen with their defeatist ideas. In our part of the world we have a perfect example of it in the shape of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan. In a letter he wrote “Without flattering the English, I can truly say that the natives of India, high and low, merchants and petty shopkeepers, educated and illiterate, when contrasted with the English in education, manners and uprightness, are like them as dirty animal to an able and handsome man. The English have reason for believing us in India to be imbecile brutes.” Excerpt from a letter written by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan to the Secretary of the Scientific Society at Aligarh in October 1869.”
{The system wont let me put more than 4096 characters in one comment so I am going to split it into two parts}

Nadeem Chaudhry said...

With brute force and people like Sir Syed Ahmed Khan the colonial powers fully exploited the resources of colonized areas. Even after so called independence of the colonies things did not change much, the “gora sahib” was replaced with local brown sahib. But in the current postindustrial capitalistic age, two important factors need to be kept in mind.
First, the decline in the influence of national governments is replaced with the ever increasing power of mega multi-national corporations. In several cases the annual budges of these corporations are more than the budgets of many sovereign nations, e.g the net worth of ExxonMobil is more than twice that of Pakistan. As a result national governments are relinquishing many of their responsibilities to these corporations. A major area where governments have relinquished their responsibilities is education. These corporations provide funding/donations to educational institutions, but as the saying go “there is no free lunch”. In return for their “generosity” these corporations obtained influence over educational institutions.
Secondly, in this postindustrial capitalistic age, human intellect is the most important resource. Raw materials are still important, but human intellect is the key item in this age. In earlier ages the deciding factor was who controls the raw materials and lines of communications, now it is human intellect. Whoever can harness and utilize human intellect most efficiently will control the world. But human intellect has a problem; it resides with human beings, and you need the cooperation of those human beings if you want to use their intellect. You cannot force intellect out on a mass scale, the way you can force hard labor out from a population of chained slaves. So in order to harvest this intellect you need a mechanism whereby the people possessing it kind offer it themselves.
This is the job of secular education system, a system which promotes and glorifies technology and material possessions. This system wants technically trained slaves who are more than willing to work long hours, and then enthusiastically consume the stuff that this capitalistic ( environmentally disastrous ) system produces. Any ideology that challenges its basic tenants is sidelined in a very systematic fashion, like the case we are discussing.
Sorry for such a long comment, but I think it was needed to provide the necessary background.

Nabeel Asif said...

Thank you sir, for sharing your thoughts with us.

I just have some simple questions from those faculty members whose are in favor to merge Islamic Studies and Pakistan Studies.

It's about a course of Detch language. ( A 3 credit hours was in practice of some technical institutes).

What is the reason behind to offer Dutch course?

Why not we offer an Arabic language as a course?
I am not saying this because of religion baseness, the reason behind is the available jobs in Middle East ( Arabic Speaking countries).

Let's come to my conclusion that is if some kind of groups promote the thoughts to merge two courses then we start another thread to split Islamic Studies into two courses like Islamic Studies and Arabic Language.

Hopefully, the new thread will balance out this new TOPI Drama and we will stay as it is with the methodology of two courses: IslamicStudies and Pakistan Studies.

Nabeel Asif

Sulman Sarwar said...

1- I have a different take on the subject. Islamic studies is a major and very big subject in general whereas pakistan studies is nowhere near to that sort of breadth and depth. And my reason for saying that is the mere fact that Islam has history since 'ever since'..since the Adam AS to Prophet Muhammad PBUH and till now.. There are so many facets of islamic studies..for ex: aqaid, ikhlaq, ihsan, adaab, seerat-un-nabi (saw), muashrat, economics, inheritance, fiqh, quranic sciences, hadith and realted uloom, history and so on...So why not update the curriculum and incorporate all these topics into islamic studies so that when a student comes out of the university with an undergrad degree, he has a complete spectrum of basics of islamic sciences and hence can become a productive and 'responsible' citizen..

2- Pakistan studies on the other can also be expanded to become a full fledged course under History, Geography and Comparative Politics.

3- Just to further the discussion on languages. In Pakistan, 3 languages should be made compulsory to learn from year 1 to year 12: Urdu, English and Arabic and at undergrad level a minor subject should be offered for at least 4 semesters from Arts, Languages and Social Sciences domain so as to equip students from sci&eng to have a broader view of the world.

Rana Rameez Ur Rehman said...

Sir G Nadeem sb....As i have read some very important and significant productive researches and thoughts for the topic "Merging of Islamic and Pakistan Studies in Institutions of Higher Learning in Pakistan" but one point is continuously trembling my mind that why we should merge Islamic Studies with Pak Studies or we can disregard these subjects at institutions of higher learning in Pakistan, because as far i know to amalgamate some things is to cut the percentages of both merging topics, like after integration it will be 50 % of Islamiyat instead of 100% and same as with Pak Studies so from 50% mostly student can get about 30% of Course acquaintance and 30% of knowledge from 100% is considerable to " fail ".

Sir G... Why we can only make Development and Progress in the field of I.T, Economics , Management , Geography, Political Science, Education, Health, Community Development, Revenue , Food Sciences, Electrical, Judiciary ,law & Justice, Police and Law Enforcement Agencies, Army, Elite, Scientists, ,Graphics, Architectural, Mechanical , Automation, Digital, Laser n wave technology, Wireless Technology , Mobile Technology, Android Technology and many, many more technologies and fields of life by just , ignoring , merging and minimizing the worth of Islamic and Pak Studies from Our Institutions of Higher Learning in Pakistan....???....!

Sir G.... i think we are far away from technology ,true leadership and Science of Europe , America, even China because we are far away from our Religious tic Obligations , strong beliefs of our Islam, strong faiths of our True Religion Islam not because we are studying them in the higher education level.!

So i , Suggest to please focus and re think on the contents of Islamic Studies and as well as Pak Studies their teachers ,because at higher level is the real time to understand and implement all the teaching ,beliefs, faiths and Obligations of True Religion Islam and affcourse Quran , Sunnah , Ahadiths....!
and one thing more we should not to crtisize our leaderships who are deaf n dumb and even illetrates becuase some of us are sitting "idol " after having Ph.D and M. Phil degrees in various fields of life, they should come forward to lead our nation to the right directions , Like ... Our 1 lakh 24 thousands Peghambers ,True Prophets, Rasools , Khaleefa Al Rashdeeen......and .....Qaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Dr. Allama Muhammad Iqbal, Liaqat Ali Khan, Molana Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Sir Syed Ali Khan, Shah Wali ullah, and all Honour'able Personalities of our Muslim Ummmmaaaaahhhh....

Rana Rameez Ur Rehman said...

With all due respect...Sir G.. you have talked abt Americans Europeans Progressive situations... their progressive states are all because they are " Honest " with their duties , Nation, State, People, Population, Land , Country, obligations, Responsibilities , Errands , and we are not "Honest", Sincere, truth full with the same. i think that is the" only "reason of our backwardness from each aspect n field of life....!
Please accept Sorry for late n lengthy Reply because of hectic Routine of last week...!

mani said...

great share,

i want to add that Arabic should be added in first 8 years of education , Just Arabic language , so kids could understand the Quran them selves , and they do not depend upon some one else to translate for them.