Integration of Knowledge

It can save as oxygen for 21st Century Muslims
Integration of Knowledge
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All religious knowledge, arts and scienceare the branches of same tree. All these aspirations are directed towardennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence andleading the individual towards freedom. Einstein, one of the most influentialphysicist of the 20th century recognized the profound interconnectivity ofreligion and science, in the process exposing the futility and utter ignoranceand arrogance of those who choose to hold either one supreme. One schoolchampions religion as the only way to know and understand anything and give nocredence to other ways of knowing outside that sphere. Their dogmatic andfundamentalist religious perspective is as rigid and ignorant as that of themost ardent scientific fundamentalists, they decry- a case of blind challengingthe blind. Neither science nor religion alone can provide all the answers tolife and the world we live in. When it comes to science and religion, theMuslims always find themselves at crossroads and end at siding with anyoneamong the two.

This problem of educational dualism hashampered our progress and development, which made us lag far behind westernnations. Therefore in the current scenario, the need for an integration basededucation system is baldy felt in Muslim world.

Integration of knowledge represents theintellectual and epistemological aspect of challenges faced by Muslims atglobal level. In the history of Islam, in a sense spans the tradition thatbegan with the patriarch Ibrahim and reached its zenith in the last prophetMuhammad (peace be upon him). Indeed the first revelation of the Qur'an is "Iqra"which connotes "to read and write" and the prophet of Islam continued itsprocess until the revelation of the whole Qur'an was completed during hislifetime. Muslim scholars and thinkers were concerned to develop man'sintellectual efforts in the various ages. The integration process of knowledgewas revived in the twentieth century by several scholars and thinkers, one ofwhom was Bediuzzaman Said Nursi (1877-1960) from Turkey.

Muslim scholars who proposed the process ofintegration have faced resistance from traditionalists. The accusation is thatthey are not loyal to Islam and deny its heritage. And that is what ishappening at present after the outburst of pandemic Covid-19 (corona virus).The question of the hour is that, whether response to such a pandemic shall bemade with religious and sectarian fundamentalism or a rational approach takingin consideration both scientific and religious logic.

A video circulating in social media shows apreacher misleading the common masses during the Friday sermon somewhere inSrinagar. In my native locality, a renowned religious preacher ridiculed thewhole teacher community because a teacher had told him that he got cold due tothe contact with infected person. The said mufti, used the pulpit of mosque tomislead people by saying that, infected person can't cause a disease, but Allahcan cause it, thus challenging the whole science of communicable diseases. Hewent too far with analogies by saying that corona virus can't be stopped byquarantine or self –isolation, but only by God's will.

Who will make these people understand thateverything happens with the will of God and these sources too are His creation.The problem basically lies in their distinction between science and religionwhich leads to religious fundamentalism among Muslims.  A person who is religiously enlightenedappears to me to be one who has, to the best of his ability, liberated himselffrom the fetters of his selfish desires and is pre-occupied with thoughts,feelings and aspiration to which he clings because of their super-personalvalue.

We can never have a true and fullunderstanding of medicine, health, illness and disease and healing as long aswe continue with a fragmented approach to the study of the human body and life.A man's value to the community depends primarily on how far his feelings,thoughts and actions are directed towards promoting the good for his fellows.We call his good or bad according to how he stands in this matter. It looks atfirst sight as if our estimate of a man is depended entirely on his socialqualities.

One of the highly influential intellectualand reformer was Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, whose writings greatly contributed tounderstand the reformation of the society and the necessity of the integrationof knowledge.  He believed that, "Thelight of conscience is religious sciences (ulûm-u diniye). The light of themind is civilized sciences (funun-u-medeniye). Reconciliation of both manifeststhe truth. The student's skills develop further with these two (sciences). Whenthey are separated, from the former superstition and from the latter corruptionand skepticism is born." This approach argues that without integration ofknowledge between religious sciences and modern sciences in accordance with theneed of time, the progress and development is not possible. Such an approach isparticularly compelling because it can eschew the accusation that Westernvalues are being imposed upon Islam.

Having laid emphasis on the cultivation ofboth the mind and conscience, Nursi attempts to help human/humankind behave asregardful to the general rules of the universe, as searcher, questioner,communicator, self-discoverer, 'lover of the creature through the Creator',constant learner, exerciser of what is learned, principled, sensitive, open-minded,risk-taking, balanced, thoughtful, knowledgeable, well-educated and contemporaryindividuals

Today, a number of scholars argue that theintegration process should be implemented in social and human sciences in linewith the revealed knowledge in such a way that sheds light not only on therelevance to the present situation, but also in a way that defines universalprinciples. Bediuzzaman argues that the barriers between religious and modernsciences must be broken down and way of a remedy modern science be taught inthe Madrasa's in place of obsolete ancient philosophy and religious science betaught fully in secular schools. He could thus be considered as one of thoserare individuals who were active in both in postulating ideas that provide thetheoretical bases for Integration of knowledge and for producing works thatrepresent Integration in practice. Thus to conclude, I would say that theintegration based education system is the only lifeline and oxygen for keepingMuslims intellectually alive in this age of accelerations, turbulences andglobalization.

Mir Irfan Bashir, Research scholar, schoolof Education, Central University of Kashmir

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