The only way to empower the human race is by educating them. The first word revealed of the Quran was “Iqra” – Read! Seek knowledge! Educate yourselves! Be educated.
In Islam to seek knowledge is considered a sacred duty. The acquiring of knowledge is worship, reading the Quran and pondering upon it is worship, travelling to gain knowledge is worship. The practice of knowledge is connected with ethics and morality – with promoting virtue and combating vice, enjoining right and forbidding wrong. This is called in Quran: “Amr bil-l ma’ruuf wa nah-y ani-l munkar”. It is obligatory on every Muslim, male and female.
Prophet Mohammed through his companions wanted this message to spread throughout the world. Prophet Mohammed and his companions laid very much emphasis upon the importance of education. As the Supreme Head of the first Islamic State, Prophet Mohammed decreed education as incumbent on all people, male or female. It is on record that with a view to spread education
at a mass level, he declared it compulsory immediately after the establishment of the first coalition government at Madinah. It was in the very second year of the regime that his law regarding compulsory education began to be implemented.
His companions followed him in laying emphasis upon education. It is also on record that some of the Prophet’s companions visited Malabar in India even during the Prophet’s lifetime and spread education in that part of the land. They didn’t only strive for primary but also higher education, and established a number of internationally reputed seats of learning there.
For Prophet Mohammad Saheb, education was a weapon to liberate humankind and rid the world of the human suffering caused by ignorance and other societal ills. The companions of the Prophet spread such education which helped a person to be a whole man. The true goal of education was the cultivation of individual character on the basis of respect for humanity. The education was
guided by the principle of -Totality.
A lot of efforts are made even today but somehow the totality is missing. Since I am not a specialist in the field, I have no intention of discussing individual education methods or the various aspects of the educational system that require reforms but will like to speak on the big concern of missing the Concept of totality.
When I speak of totality I mean interrelation. Nothing or event exists in isolation; everything is interrelated in some way with everything else to produce one great total
image. To take an immediately apparent example, I might cite the human body itself in which the head, hands, torso, legs, internal organs and all individual cells are intimately intermeshed to form the whole. And we cannot overlook the connection between the physical and spiritual.
From ancient times, the ability to perceive the invisible threads interweaving all things has been considered a kind of wisdom, but today’s education system has turned its back on this wisdom and has pursued a continual course of fragmentation. A person who has technical education today does not know anything about religious education
and vice versa. The education we are spreading today is an education in piecemeal. We are forgetting that an educated and informed person who does not know the connections among things differs from a dictionary only in that he eats and the dictionary does not.
We all know that the future depends, for us, on education. We know also that this education, to be of any avail, must extend through all degrees, from its lowest and humblest applications, up to the highest and most disinterested grades. We must have technical education and we must have a higher research also. We must have education of women, as well as education of men. We must have secular education, as well as religious. And, almost more important than any of these, we must have education of the people, and for this, we must depend upon ourselves.
Education separated from society can have no vital force; likewise, there is no future for a society that forgets that education in totality is its true mission. Education is not a mere right or obligation. I believe education in the broadest sense is the mission of every individual. To awaken this awareness throughout society must be the highest priority.
If a religion is worthy of the name, and if it is one that can respond to the needs of contemporary times, it should be able to nurture in its followers the spiritual base for becoming good citizens of the world through education in totality.
The crisis of education is a crisis of life. The crisis we face today strikes at the very roots of education and learning. And yet it is in education and learning that we will find the doorway to the future.
I request that we accept responsibility for the future of humankind. From the bottom of my heart, I ask the members of Markazi Jamiat Ahl-E-Hadees Hind to do all within their power to make fine whole human beings of our youth. I shall conclude my remarks by expressing my hope for and pride in the part that the Prophet’s Companions played for humanity by spreading education of love, peace and empowerment.
(‘Prophet Mohammed’s Companions and Spread of Education’, excerpt of the speech delivered at a public meeting at Ramlila Grounds, Delhi at the invitation of ‘Markazi Jamiat Ahl-E-Hadees Hind’)