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.