Professor Dr. Mohamad Tajuddin Mohamad Rasdi
8th December 2015
In my previous article, I had suggested that most Muslims have a disturbing attitude that the only civilization that they are concerned with is only the 1500 years of Islam in the Muslim world. Muslims seem to look down and even reject the sum total of human civilization as ‘jahili’ or ignorant.
I think this is the wrong attitude to take and my reading of the Qur’an and hadiths does not conclude such a stand. The problem with most Muslims is simply that they let their thoughts and ideas be formed by the religious scholars trained in the limited mindset of the Madrasa.
Muslims are either too lazy to read and understand the Qur’an and hadith on their own or they are being frightened by the clerics that studying these sources without the ‘proper’ guide of ustazs will make them go astray and incur the wrath of Allah The Most High.
I have therefore called many times in my writings to reeducate the ustazs or religious teachers by exposing them to the greater awareness of the rich thoughts and ideas of humanity. Muslims, in brief, must be brought back into the fold of humanity.
It does not mean that Islam is being ‘compromised’ but I have enough experience as an academic that the interpretation of an event or an idea is more meaningful and richer when a larger context is used rather than a small one.
If ustazs were trained in the USA or Britain or Europe, they might have different views and interpretation of the sources of Islam then those trained in the so called Muslim countries of Egypt, Saudi Arabia or India or Iran.
Carrying on my discourse of reeducating Muslim back into the fold of humanity, I have outlined a proposal for an institute that would retrain the Ustazs or religious teachers into a more global looking, modern life savvy, open minded and culturally sensitive communicator. I propose that these ustazs to go through a course in Masters in Islam and Civilizational Studies at an institute I would name as CICS (pronounced as ‘sis’) or Centre for Islam and Civilizational Studies.
The candidates for the Masters course will be fully funded for two years. The main thrust of the program is to create an awareness of the thoughts and beliefs of other cultures and faith throughout the history of humankind and how Islam fits into such a larger framework of existence. The candidates will firstly be introduced in the first semester to the various civilizational studies of non-Muslim cultures. Next, in the second semester, the candidates will be asked to choose a culture and he will be instructed in the language, history and culture of that particular group. In the third semester, the candidates will be asked to immerse fully in the chosen culture for six months and observe and record all the important rituals, events, values and belief of that culture. In the final semester, the candidates will write their thesis of which 50% of the writing shall be about the important points concerning the culture he was immersed in and the second part of the thesis will be his own ideas on how to explain and communicate the teachings of Islam to the said culture.
At the moment, the entry requirement for this fully sponsored program are candidates who have a degree in Islamic Studies, can speak Arabic, can comprehend English well and must be a male. Females are disallowed because of the 6 month Cultural Immersion part. The course outline for this program would be something as follows:
Masters in Islam and Civilizational Studies (2 years)
Subject 1 History of Western and Eastern Ideas on Society
Subject 2 Concepts of Religions and Beliefs
Subject 3 History of Scientific Ideas
Subject 4 Methods in Anthropological Research