Closing of the Muslim mind

Closing of the Muslim mind

Why Muslim contribution to knowledge production is now almost equal to nought

Name of the Book: Muslim Intellectual Deficit: Reasons and Remedies

Author: Dr Tauseef Ahmad Parray

Publishers: Idarah Matbu’at-e-Talaba Jammu and Kashmir

Price: Rs 150/-One of the most

important topics which has been disturbing Muslim intelligentsia is that how could a community whose very first revelation was IQRA (read) become intellectually so deficit that even after having more than one billion souls on earth, aren’t able to produce enough intellectual and scientific minds. And that there contribution to knowledge production is now almost equal to nought. Many writers have tried to find reasons for this decay in their own ways. Recently Dr Tauseef Ahmad Parray has also dwelled on this topic in his recently published book, “Muslim Intellectual Deficit…. Reasons and Remedies”.

Dr Tauseef Ahmad has divided his book into various chapters each of which tries to explain this entire process of intellectual upbringing of this Ummah, contribution of Muslims in various branches of knowledge, downfall of this intellectual community and efforts now being made to revive the golden traditions of intellectual excellence which had been a hallmark of this community.

In the first chapter, Dr Tauseef Ahmad has extensively written about Islam’s concept of Knowledge (Ilm). He has tried to argue that Allah himself has time and again laid emphasis on using Aql (reason/intellect). Dr Tauseef writes, “The noble Quran, for instance, uses the term ‘Aql (reason/intellect) in a wide sense; and it places much emphasis on thought,  reflection and meditation; and as Muhammad Hashim Kamali (based in Malaysia) puts it: “Approximately 750 verses, or nearly one-eighth of the Quran, exhort the readers to study nature, history, the Quran itself and humanity and humanity at large”. (page no 23).

In the next chapter Dr Tauseef has written about the contribution of Muslims in various branches of knowledge…. Medicine, Philosophy, Chemistry, Astronomy, Mathematics, History, Geography, Law, Theology etc (of course Muslims could make all this contribution only after Islam widened their idea of knowledge and exhorted  them to excel in all fields and not only in religious issues).

In the next chapter, he has written extensively about the reasons which collectively became responsible for the intellectual decay of Muslim world. As per author there were three major reasons responsible for this decay. Two of them were basically political in nature and third one was ideological in nature

1)Fall of Baghdad (1258 CE) and downfall of Muslim rule in Spain (1492 CE) were political reasons for this decline.

2) Establishment of Nizamiyah Madrasa (by Nizam ul Milk Tusi) was ideologically responsible for this decline. This new system of education was responsible for disinterest and heedlessness of Muslims in scientific knowledge and developments. They adopted a curriculum limited to “religious sciences” only, thereby bifurcation Knowledge into religious and worldly sciences…. Though neither Quran nor the Prophetic traditions used such terms/split. This ultimately led to closing of doors of Ijtehaad, thereby stopped any further process for thinking on new lines and facing new challenges.

In the next chapter author has also talked about the challenges Muslim world is facing in post colonial era. But not being a pessimist he has also pointed towards the efforts being made by Muslims to make their presence felt in the field of research now. In the regard he has added a chapter wherein he has given brief introduction of various modern research institutions established by Muslims.

Overall this book by Dr Tauseef Ahmad is a good read.  He has made a sincere effort to understand this entire process of Muslim Intellectual Deficit in a holistic manner. Those who are interested about these topics should read this book.

Zahid Fayaz teaches in the higher education department, govt. of J&K.