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Interfaith Dialogue ( 6 Jul 2021, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Pursuit of Moral Knowledge to Save the Diminishing World Culture of Pluralism and the Responsibility of Religious Heads and Scholars

By Arman Neyazi, New Age Islam

7 July 2021

To Save the Dying Moral Civilisation of The Planet Earth, Religious Heads and Scholars Who Matter Should Come Forward And Take Responsibility on behalf of Humanity For Improving Moral Essence And Spreading Spiritual Teachings in this regard.

Main Points:

Education opens the door to enlightenment.

Education introduces human beings to the spiritual, social and scientific treasures hidden in and around us in the social atmosphere.

There is no longer any concept of the Teacher-Student relationship laced in the morality of respect, admiration and care.

Education sans morality is transforming the world into a mechanical device.

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Education opens the door to enlightenment. Education is the key to all kinds of knowledge that introduces human beings to the spiritual, social and scientific treasures hidden in and around us in the social atmosphere. Education is needed to understand the religious books and spiritual lessons in their originality.

(Photo courtesy: soapboxie.com)

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Moral Education Vs. Materialist Education

People may be pleased to say that education in the 21st century has got more prominence than that of the earlier ages. But it will be like demeaning the education imparted by Rishis and spiritual leaders sans books and copies. The degrees obtained by the students was known and prominently displayed with the names of the teachers (Gurus and Spiritual Sufis). We are aware that the students were treated at par with each other without any distinction of their social status. The Ashrams and the Kutiyas (rooms for students) were classic examples of uniformity. Earlier educational institutions imparted education in all the social and military spheres with the values of morality. Those days Guru-Shishya system was based on ultimate respect, admiration and care for each other.

Now the time has changed. Now people buy education according to their social status, and sometimes to raise their social status, as the education is on sale. Teachers are not taken as Govind (God) because gods can never be bought as they are not for sale. Therefore there is no longer any concept of Teacher-Student relationship laced in respect, admiration and care. Teachers are bound to teach (attend classes) and students are bound to read (attend classes) as both are bound with the relationship of a buyer and seller. Knowledge can never be sold and bought. Therefore, there are innumerable degrees but no knowledge. In absence of knowledge, our society ceases to acknowledge any kind of relationship, at home or outside it.

Education sans morality is transforming the world into a mechanical device. Rules are followed mechanically and implemented mechanically sans any kind of humane approach.  What society immediately needs is a humane touch and approach in every field be it social or scientific. Scientific inventions need the humanistic approach as much as the rules governing the social environment of human beings.

Once a humane touch is designed, developed and implemented in our educational system, it will begin creating human beings in the classes in place of ' rules implementing machines. These machines are not encouraging society to grow up and be a man of spirituality and humility with the essence of pluralism.

Acquiring Moral Knowledge as the Nucleus of Islamic Essence

Islamic texts are proof of the importance granted to education. The first five verses of the Holy Quran are related to acquiring knowledge and in this verse, we find the word ‘Read’ used two times, the word ‘Teach’ used two times and the word ‘Pen’ used once. Consider the verse:

“Recite in the name of your Lord who created – Created man from a clinging substance. Recite and your Lord is the Most Generous – Who taught by the pen – Taught man that which he knew not.” [Quran, 96: 1-5]

“Proclaim! (or read!) in the name of thy Lord and Cherisher (Quran, 96:1

"O my Lord! Increase me in knowledge" (20:114)

“There is no god but He: That is the witness of Allah, His angels, and those endued with knowledge, standing firm on justice. There is no god but He, the Exalted in Power, the Wise” (Quran, 3:18)

He Who taught (the use of) the pen, Taught man that which he knew not” (Quran, 96:4-5)

…they could devote themselves to studies in religion, and admonish the people when they return to them, – that thus they (may learn) to guard themselves (against evil)” (Quran, 9:122)

“And those who strive in Our (cause), – We will certainly guide them to our Paths: For verily Allah is with those who do right” (Quran, 29:69)

"God will exalt those of you who believe and those who have knowledge to high degrees" (58:11),

“It is only those who have knowledge among His servants that fear Allah." (Qur’an 35:28)

"And they shall say had we but listened or used reason, we would not be among the inmates of the burning fire." (Quran, 67:10)

"Are those who have knowledge and those who have no knowledge alike? Only the men of understanding are mindful. “(Quran, 39:9)

Prophetic Tradition on the Moral Importance of Knowledge

Along with the Quranic verses, the Prophetic traditions are full of narrations that throw light on Prophet Muhammad Pbuh’s concern regarding the acquisition of knowledge. The Prophet (SAW) says: Seek knowledge "even though it be in China."

"The acquisition of knowledge is compulsory for every Muslim, whether male or female."

"Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave."

"God has revealed to me, 'Whoever walks in the pursuit of knowledge I facilitate for him the way to heaven.'

"The best form of worship is the pursuit of knowledge."

"Scholars should endeavour to spread knowledge and provide education to people who have been deprived of it. For, where knowledge is hidden it disappears."

Someone asked the Prophet: "Who is the biggest scholar?" He replied: "He who is constantly trying to learn from others, for a scholar is ever hungry for more knowledge."

"Seek knowledge and wisdom, or whatever the vessel from which it flows, you will never be the loser."

"Contemplating deeply for one hour (with sincerity) is better than 70 years of (mechanical) worship."

"To listen to the words of the learned and to instil unto others the lessons of science is better than religious exercises."

"Acquire knowledge: it enables its possessor to distinguish right from the wrong, it lights the way to heaven; it is our friend in the desert, our society in solitude, our companion when friendless - it guides us to happiness; it sustains us in misery; it is an ornament among friends and an armour against enemies."

“Whoever follows a path in pursuit of knowledge, Allah makes his way easy to paradise.” (Bukhari)

“When a man dies all his deeds come to an end except for three: an ongoing charity, beneficial knowledge and a righteous son who prays for him.” (Bukhari)

Verses on Education from the Holy Books of Christianity

An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge. - Proverbs 18:15

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. - Proverbs 1:7

Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. - 1 Corinthians 8:1

In whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. - Colossians 2:3

For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money, and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it. - Ecclesiastes 7:12

“But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” - Genesis 2:17

Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reaches out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” - Genesis 3:22

For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. - Habakkuk 2:14

Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in your commandments. - Psalm 119:66

Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. - Psalm 19:2

There is gold and an abundance of costly stones, but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel. - Proverbs 20:15

Upanishads’ Encourage to Acquire Knowledge

The Upanishads and the Bhagwat Gita advocate acquiring the knowledge necessary to understand religion. It describes knowledge as a) lower knowledge and b) higher knowledge. Lower knowledge is means of understanding the social world and higher knowledge is called spiritual knowledge to understand the god. Hinduism says the purpose of education is to accumulate self-confidence and mental maturity among other things. Consider the following Shlokas and sayings from the Holy Books of Hinduism:

“May Brahman protect us both – the teacher and the student; may Brahman nourish us both; may we both acquire energy by this education; may we not hate each other (and not hate any other being in the universe).”  - Upanishads

“… Lead us from (mental and spiritual) darkness to illumination …” - prayer in the Vedas

Those who possess this wisdom have equal regard for all. They see the same Self in a spiritual aspirant and an outcaste, in an elephant, a cow, and a dog."  - Bhagwad Gita

There is nothing in this world more sacred than Divine knowledge. Whoever personally achieves success in this yoga (of Divine knowledge) realizes this truth in his self in due course of time.  - Bhagwad Gita

Who seeking knowledge, will gain knowledge. - Lord Krishna, Bhagavad Gita

The Supreme Lord said: My dear Arjuna because you are never envious of Me, I shall impart to you this most secret wisdom, knowing which you shall be relieved of the miseries of material existence. - BG Chapter 9, Verse 1

This knowledge is the king of education, the most secret of all secrets. It is the purest knowledge, and because it gives direct perception of the self by realization, it is the perfection of religion. It is everlasting, and it is joyfully performed.  - BG Chapter 9, Verse 2

Judaist Lessons on the Importance of Education

“Know this day and set it upon your heart that Adonai is God — in heaven above and on earth below — there is no other.” (Deuteronomy 4:39)

My son, heed the discipline of your father And do not forsake the instruction of your mother. -(Prov. 1:8)

That you may walk in the way of the good and keep the paths of the righteous. For it is the upright who will inhabit the earth, the blameless who will remain therein. But as for the wicked—they will be cut off from the earth; as for the treacherous—they will be rooted therefrom. - (Prov. 2:20-22)

For I hereby give you sound instruction; do not forsake my teaching (Torati). - Proverbs (4:2)

And now, O Israel, give heed to the laws and rules that I am teaching you to observe… - Deut. 4:1

You shall not move your countryman’s landmarks, set up by previous generations, in the property that will be allotted to you in the land that Yhwh your God is giving you to possess. - Deuteronomy (19:14)

It was from the heavens that [YHWH] caused you to hear His voice, to discipline you; while it was upon the earth that He caused you to see His great fire, hearing His words from within the fire. - Deut. 4:36

... “What a wise and discerning people is this great nation!” - Deut. 4:6

Sikhism Tribute to Education and Knowledge

That Teacher alone is educated, Who enlightens his mind with divine knowledge, Through the right reflection in a spontaneous way, Who sublimates his education into a right understanding of life, And cultivates devotional love for Ram Naam - Guru Nanak

He alone is the man of wisdom Who gains self-knowledge, And attains the realization of God, That seer alone becomes acceptable in the Court of God, Who becomes enlightened in his life. Through the grace of the Guru. - Guru Nanak

An educated person, a scholar or a seer wears the garland of Ram Naam ever round his neck. - Guru Nanak

He alone is an educated teacher, Who is God-centred - Gurmukh,

Education and Knowledge Embedded in Morality

To save the dying moral civilisation of the planet earth, all who matter, should come forward and take responsibility of improving human moral essence and improve the diminishing spiritual teachings.

World organisations must look into this serious problem of education sans knowledge and educations sans morality. Scientific inventions should also have morality as one of the traits of their inventions. Moral sciences are one of the most important calls for human beings to prosper in a way that could bring humility and brotherhood to the world social environment.

Consider what our learned social philosophers have to say about morality in education:

To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society. - Theodore Roosevelt

Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. - John Dewey

Education is learning what you didn't even know you didn't know. - Daniel J. Boorstin

Nowadays it seems that moral education is no longer considered necessary. Attention is wholly centred on intelligence, while the heart life is ignored. - George Sand

Moral education, as I understand it, is not about inculcating obedience to law or cultivating self-virtue, it is rather about finding within us an ever-increasing sense of the worth of creation. It is about how we can develop and deepen our intuitive sense of beauty and creativity. - Andrew Linzey

Only a moral education based on free inner discipline can bring to bear a salutary action and lead to true morality. - African Spir

If we are to go forward, we must go back and rediscover these precious values - that all reality hinges on moral foundations and that all reality has spiritual control. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

According to one prophetic tradition, Prophet Muhammad Pbuh says:  "The ink of the scholar is more sacred than the blood of the martyr." We are vicegerents of Allah on this earth hence we are responsible for the maintenance of the beauty of the land and the society. With powers of a vicegerent we are responsible to take care of our society and its welfare and in case of being irresponsible, punishment in place of reward is to be in the offing.

And Allah Knows the Best.

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Arman Neyazi is a columnist with NewAgeIslam.com.

URL:   https://www.newageislam.com/interfaith-dialogue/moral-morality-culture-pluralism/d/125059


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