Exerpts from Education in Islamic Society (Progressive Islam Journal, 1945) and Intellectuals in Developing Societies (1974)

This post is a bit bookish and relates to Islamic Education, Foolishness and Corruption.

So...... i was in the library and picked up a book by some scary sounding neocon Singaporean thinktank on 'Seeking Integrated Knowledge and Success in Madrassah Education in Singapore'.

One of the papers was by a man i respect and in it he cites the Late Syed Hussain Alatas (Author of the Myth of the Lazy Native, Captive Minds, Intellectuals in the Developing World, the Sociology of Corruption).

I have heard about the Progressive Islam journal in conversation before, but i havent had a chance to read it directly or indirectly. Anyway, before some essentially secular people some confused people and some downright opportunist jumped on the 'progressive' bandwagon.... say 50 years ago when the world was very different there was this journal that Prof Alatas was involved with for many years. theres two quotes....

The most urgent problem for the world of Islam today is the formation of new elited who are very learned in the Holy Quran, the Hadith, the Sunnah of the Prophet, the Sharia and last but not least in the affairs of modern science and philosophy.

Islamic education shall aim at a harmonious formation of the human personality. This education shall not only strive for the harmony of thought and action, instinct and reason, feelings and emotion, but also for depth of knowledge and beauty of character. One can experiance harmony also in a negative way. the Islamic concpet of harmony includes the formation of a certain type of character rooted in humility towards God, love towards fellow creatures, perseverance in times of affliction, honesty, decency, uprightness, courage to say the turth, a balanced attitude towards issues which involve human emotions etc. Thus education without an emphasis on character formation has practically no value in Islam.

Syed hussain was a humourous man as well as a profoundly challenging one. Here are some quotes from 'Intellectuals in developing societies' 1974 ( he actually wanted to call the book 'revolution of the fools' but the publishers didnt have the same sense of humour).

I really want to render this onto the web, but i dont fancy typing all day. I'll leave the empirical case studies he cites and grandstand his understanding of the fool.

The essential chatacteristics of a fool are,
  1. that he is not able to recognise a problem
  2. if told to him he is not able to solve it
  3. he is not able to learnt what is required
  4. he is also not able to learn the art of learning
  5. he usually does not admit he is a fool
A man does not become a fool if he does not know everything, for no one can konw everything. Similarly, a man is not a fool if he lacks experience, for a surgeon doing his first operation does not need to be a fool. A man is not a fool if he does not attain what he strives for owing to lack of opportunity as in the case of bankruptcy owing to uncontrolable circumstances rather than mismanagement. Neither failure nor success, knowledge nor ignorance, consitututes the ontological essence of the fool. An ignorant, illiterate man need not be a fool if he has the ability to learn and successfully makes use of the opportunities to hand.
In developing societies four types of administrators and political power holders can be found. They are
  1. the intelligent and honest
  2. the intelligent and dishonest
  3. the foolish and honest
  4. the foolish and dishonet
When a fool is corrupt and mischievious, this corruption and mischief bear the trademark. If he is honest, sometimes his honesty results in difficulties.
Later on he supplements the five characteristics of the fool.

To complete the above we should add the following
  1. a fool does not think contextually both in terms of space and time, and in the dynamic interrelationship of factors
  2. a fool reacts only to the immediate and cannot see beyond
  3. a fool has a mind that thinks in terms of limited causes and not of successive causes and effects
  4. a fool is a creature of habit and is not critical of the foundation of his own thinking
  5. a fool cannot reflect upon a problem or a situation
  6. a fool is inconsistent
  7. a fool is not analytical in his thinking but descriptive
  8. a fool lacks mental energy and always follows the line of least resistance, and
  9. a fool cannot speak at a high level of abstraction without contradicting reality.
These qualities isolate the fool from the intellectual and intelligent man whose traits are the very opposite.

and to conclude, the origins, effects and the need to study this further.

..after the independance following the 2nd world War, there was a sudden increase inthe volume and intensity of administration and other decision-making contres covering diverse projects which were introduced in increasing number by the newly independant state. During this period there was a shortage of intelligent manpower to deal with the sudden increase of planning and administration, both in the official and private realms, in the newly independant states. Hence the rise to power of the fools. Once the fools come to power, they perpetuate their own breed. With the fools came nepotism, provincialism, parochial party politics, to condition selection and ascent in th ehierarchy of administrative power. Fools cannot cope with a situation where merit and hard word are the criteria of success, and so corruption is the hallmark of the rise to power of the fools, making farce of government tenders and leading to beurocratic intrigues to gain office or promotion. Where fools dominats it is their values which become society's values, their consciousness which becomes society's consciousness.

Modern Western political science has focussed attention on the problems of legitimacy, the problems of systems of government, the problem of participation, and a host of other porblems. But it has not focussed attention on the problem of manpower with reference to the fool. No matter what the system is, be it democracy, a dictatorship, communist of liberal democratic, the factor of the fool is significant. Any system dominated by fools will not work. The fool cannot awaken resistance against injustice and cannot fight against corruption. Last but not least, he cannot inspire. His pronouncements, however doctored they may be with statistics, facts figures, concepts and plans, cannot call forth great actions.

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