Iqbal, education, and modernization

Today we see lot of unrest in the society; still a clear demarcation line has not been drawn between what is westernization and modernization, what is literacy and education. Lot of intolerance and hatred around, social insensitivity, attitudinal rigidity, ingratitude, statistical thinking, all this  is eating into the vitals of our society.   There is a missing link; what are the basic objectives of education and what we are teaching in our institutions.  The rate of delinquency is increasing and an unconcerned attitude on the part of society is deviating the youth off the track. Parents and teachers are mute spectators as cyber-crimes are increasing.  There are cases of youth going astray; they lack compass and direction. Just like a ship cannot reach its destiny without rudder same is the case with our present system of education, without any sound educational philosophy we will not bear fruits. The educational philosophy of Dr Allama Iqbal has answer fro us. It is a compass which shall make our path auspicious and directional.

Dr Iqbal observes that a class of conformists is being churned in our schools who do not have courage to ask creative questions. They lack the courage to defend the justified cause of the brethren in their absentia and follow the crowd with sheepish mentality. He laments that the world is entangled in structured customs, rituals and traditions. In the midst of this storm the role of the teacher was expected to be of torch bearer, and change setter. But unfortunately these blunt minded souls have become the blind followers of these customs and traditions. In the contemporary times we have made hell of our lives amidst plenty, people suffer from free floating anxiety. In one of the poems Iqbal addresses Himalayas and tells it to relate the story of that simple life which was free from the stain of a rogue formality. Dr Iqbal was particularly dismayed at the deep rooted, incorrigible, servile and slavish mentality that had crept in the minds of Muslim teachers and students. In the contemporary times the voice of dissent is not tolerated and respected in a class. It breeds slavish mentality.

Dr Iqbal observes in slavery the heart dies within the body and spirit becomes a burden on body. Slavery saps life from the body, what hope of any good can you have from a lifeless body. A slave is ready to selloff both his faith and intelligence at a cheaper price. The Holy Quran which teaches a believer to be sovereign. Slavery corrupts the mentality of the nation to such an extent that whatever was originally right has now been declared as wrong. These slaves of the west are of the view that the Holy book is deficient as it does not teach a Mumin the manners of slavery. Originality of imagination has died away to such an extent that eastern people have turned into blind imitators of the west. There is a numb culture growing up very rapidly. We are becoming stoically selfish. Engrossed in our own images, we are building up a context that is so overpowering with its cumbersome architecture of detachment and disregard. With an indignant amazement we watch people suffering and even being eliminated but we are not actually moved.

With a disgraceful deception, we consume only information about everything horrendous happening to others and later subtly settle down in a non-sensitive world as sheer spectators with no genuine concern. Iqbal asserts that there is a dire need to reboot our behavioral configuration and explore the sensitivity chip afresh. For human beings sensitivity is deep embedded in their personality, it just needs to be re-discovered. Taking pains to remove the pains of others is the true essence of generosity. Righteousness is the ornament of knowledge. According to Iqbal true education is an awakening of love of truth, social justice and opening eyes of the soul to greater purpose of life. Dr Iqbal impresses upon the younger generation to respect elders and take care of their parents in their old age.

Iqbal grieved like a little child upon the death of his mother Imam Bibi (November 9 1914). He wrote a detailed  poem “In the memory of my late mother” in Urdu. The poem ends with a brief prayer that has become perhaps the most common epithet on tombstones after the Quranic inscription “Aasman teri lehad per shabnum afshani karay—” (May the sky shower dew drops on the grave; may this abode be guarded by ever growing blossoms). For the development of Khudi (Self) man has to come out from the cocoon of self-centeredness and try to feel the pain of others.What happens in the real world people think my universe is my family, outside is none of my concern. Once there is a metamorphosis from self-centeredness   to other-centeredness Almighty Allah rewards the person in unexpected ways for his unreciprocated and unconditional approach for his fellow brethren.

Regarding the evolution of  soul to higher  orbit in our youth (Akhabiri-Ruh) Iqbal says that they have to think and act above the statistical plane of profit and loss. Youth is an opportunity and you should not let that opportunity go waste in spending your time in lethargy, day dreaming and chasing non-directional goals. Dr  Iqbal believes in a strenuous life because in toil we flourish.

Iqbal’s main source of inspiration are the teaching of Islam and the life of the Holy Prophet. The preface to the book ‘Reconstruction of Religious Thoughts of Islam’ begins with assertion that The Quran is a book which emphasizes deed rather than an idea.

Women Empowerment is to conceptualized within Islamic prism, Iqbal says the contemporary civilization has granted me liberty, which is liberty only in name in reality it is nothing but captivity. Iqbal has a firm faith in perpetual change. A static mind or a static society is un-imaginable for him. In his delightful poem ‘Kinar-i-Ravi’ he says ‘the vessel of life of man is on the move, in an ocean of eternity it appears and disappears but never suffers defeat at the hands of death’. In another poem Chand aur Tare Iqbal says ‘every atom in this universe is restless, our job every morning and evening is to be on the move, there is a death hidden in static state, those on the move have gone ahead and those who halted a bit have been trampled’. In Bal-i-Jibreel he says ‘every particle of the universe is palpitating, the caravan of the existence does not halt anywhere. Life is only an urge to move on, it has experienced many crests and troughs. Journey is more dear to it than destination. Journey is the tool and equipment of life .Journey is reality while rest is unreal.’

Regarding modern Knowledge Iqbal says ‘The  power of the west comes not from lute and dancing of the unveiled girls, its power comes from science and technology; the turban is no impediment to science, brains are necessary not European clothes, if you have a nimble intellect and perceptive mind that is sufficient. Even if one studies under western education system there is no risk provided unpunctuated faith in one Allah is embedded in the very nature of student’.

Iqbal stressed to revisit teacher-student relation rooted in gratitude and values. Fear Psychosis is induced in present day teachers that if they confront students on genuine grounds management will throw away them from their jobs. “There were times when student were ready to offer even their hearts,  the most cherished possession, in return to the service of the teacher. But now times have changed to such an extent that after the lesson is over the student asks his teacher to present his bill for payment.”

Showkat Rashid Wani is  Coordinator (Education), Directorate of Distance Education, University of Kashmir