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Competitive re-branding

We have this tendency of over-praising our products and services. And the limited extent to which you can do that is absent in books by marketers (originally of West and their copy-cats in east). I's listening to a lecture on Ethics of Trade in Islam, in which Abdal-Hakim Murad was telling that Allah on the day of judgement would look upon a man who took oaths while buying and selling. That's a little bit complex to understand. Applied to bragging we do on our trade, it fits the paradigm. Billions are spent by Coca-Cola on "re-branding", they talk about "brand loyalty" and brand this and brand that . . .  Human and natural resources are slaughtered blindly in this mania of over-advertising. How despicable and ugly the practices of moderns who are cut off from revelation . . .

Innovation & Technology

My friend holds: "Innovation has no upper limit." I agree and suggest: No technological innovation be adopted without knowing its consequences.

Meeting Minutes: School-think

Today, I had another successful meeting with a young and yet very energetic, motivated and dynamic medical student, who was schooled back in Saudi Arabia, on school I am building these days. He showed great enthusiasm in this project, the aim of which is to provide an Islamic educational model as an alternative to some of the best educational institutions / models / systems /experience in the whole world. He has even agreed to prepare a manual for Biology department to revolutionize or at least overhaul the way teaching is done and the way books are written. He wants to see our school as the best Islamic school for the community of my city.

The best part was the way schooling is done in Saudi A. It's fascinating to know how conceptual, activity-based and highly-biased-towards-developing-thinking-skills it is. So we benchmarking it: We need the books taught there and the it's taught, and all co-curricular activities are done. (Need to make database of all benchmarks.)

Here, I'd like to discuss some random points that he shared informally with me:
  • The Think-Tank teachers are given permanent job.
  • The books we write on INDUCTION based, i.e., make students interpret and derive results from the data, rather than making knowledge narrow through the use of deduction.
  • Moral Training in Morning (MTM): Back in his school, every morning students would prepare speeches/skits/any other way of presenting lessons based on Quran + Hadith + Discussion(-based); powered by a student affairs, or something, committee (consisting of a few teachers + students) who prepare the program. SO instead of having teachers give boring sermons on stage, students enact situations to teach moral lessons from Islam and hadith that is very interesting for pupils*.
  • Encouraging salah/prayers: We can encourage pupils to pray, apart from making Zuhar prayer compulsory for 10/10+ pupils, by asking teachers to motivate students to prayer two rakah prayer during mid-day break in school-mosque.
  • NO WRITTEN HOMEWORK that makes children dull. Rather we make students do work (activity based) in the classroom. And all homework we give is like task-work or like puzzles, for which there are no ZERO marks; every answer is appreciated, but the right answer is more appreciated.
  • Islamic studies taught in Saudi A. is not a single subject but many subjects: During 3 years (at some level) they teach us whole Quran 10 surahs/year for which there's a proper exam; Tafseer of 3 paras of Quran; Memorization of 100 hadith/fiqh points.

Do an experiment

Do an experiment with Qur'aan. I have experienced that if I have a metaphysical or philosophical problem or issue disturbing my head, and I randomly open a page of Qur'aan & look at any random verse, and I have experienced it so many times that that very first verse cleared my doubts and gave solution with certitude to my problem.


Allah says in Quran, Surah Kahf (18):
103: Say: "Shall we tell you of those who lose most in respect of their deeds?-
104: "Those whose efforts have been wasted in this life, while they thought that they were acquiring good by their works?"
105: They are those who deny the Signs of their Lord and the fact of their having to meet Him (in the Hereafter): vain will be their works, nor shall We, on the Day of Judgment, give them any weight.
106: That is their reward, Hell, because they rejected Faith, and took My Signs and My Messengers by way of jest.
107: As to those who believe and work righteous deeds, they have, for their entertainment, the Gardens of Paradise,
108: Wherein they shall dwell (for aye): no change will they wish for from them.
These ayats tell us about the elements of success and failure in human life. People today criticize religious people in Muslim community as rahibs, without knowing the proper meaning of the term; just for the fact that they believe in Allah and not in the false idols create by West (like, nationalism, materialism, and a whole array of ideological, philosophical idols), pay little or no attention to this world while its time to pray preferring akhirah over this life;for the fact that they don't amass wealth, but make provision for akhirah. The condition of this ummah has been degraded to such an extent that "when the name of God comes, speak it not loud"; the universities in the heart of this ummah teach to seek any sensical or non-sensical paradigm, "but not to open Qur'an."

These ayahs remind man 'of careful ears' to know the worth of this world and describes the 'rules of game' to be played in this world. Again, it is a clear, concrete mind-opening reminder to those indulged and embedded in dunya for them to rethink what they deem to be 'good', but has no real value in the 'sight of God'. Real goodness and real happiness can only come from the worship of God and serving his creation (and Prophet Muhammad was most successful and happiest person because he worshiped God greater than anyone and served humanity greater than anyone from his beginning till his end,s.a.w.). Frithjof Schuon remarks in his book Spiritual Perspectives and Human Facts:
The Negro peoples have doubtless not produced a Dante or the builder of a Taj Mahal, but they have produced Saints,and that is what counts in the sight of God.
This is a thoughtful passage to be contemplated over and over again by those who are obsessed with the ideas of (indefinite) "progress" and "development" because what they do in this world concerns and has direct effect on their Eternal Life!

The Philosophy of Priorities

This takes us down to the question: What is the philosophy of Priorities in Islam, in context of life in both world? As we know, Islam is a religion not only of Day of Judgement but of this world as well, encompassing all spheres of human life, from worship of Allah to the ethics of trade. Qur'an is very, very clear about it. Our success or failure depends on which life we prefer, and I would like to end it by quoting two set of verses from Qur'an:
37 Then, for such as had transgressed all bounds,
38 And had preferred the life of this world,
39 The Abode will be Hell-Fire;
40 And for such as had entertained the fear of standing before their Lord's (tribunal) and had restrained (their) soul from lower desires
41 Their abode will be the Garden.
Surah Naziat
In another place in Qur'an, Allah says:
16 Nay (behold), ye prefer the life of this world;
17 But the Hereafter is better and more enduring.
Surah Al-Ala

Much Islam, not Allah?

I was moved by Sheikh Hamza Yusuf's criticism on Muslims that these days they talk much about Islam this, Islam that, but there is little remembrance of Allah Himself... Meditate on it, and compare the behaviour of those before...

Courtesies of Trade in Islam

Ah! How ignorant are Muslims of the Gems in Hadith, ready to guide us with utmost comprehension, compactness and simplicity as Golden Rules, in all walks of life that concern us most (of course, Prophet was not sent to tell us how to manufacture products, etc.). As a student of business, business strategy and game, and industrial management, little do we care about implications of/by the teachings of our deen. I realized this after listening to the following by Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad, Cambridge Univ. on the Ethics of Trade: Click here.

You notice one thing throughout the lecture, whether your believe or not - the relevance of principles of Islam in any age, because, as Sheikh says in the khutba, Islam is not only for the Day of Judgement but for this dunya or world as well.

School Policy Questions

1. Do you appreciate the idea of making school teacher do publishable, applicable research to bring innovation and quality to school education?

2. Do you think there should an educational advisor who is the key hidden person in the evaluation of teachers and students, program setter, synthesizer of all parts of a school system who does not reside in the school and is physically not a part of the running system?

Are you ready...?

Call of a genuine social scientist homo islamicus

"I cannot live like a social scientist who compartmentalizes his mind and refuses to study life directly. I cannot mis-treat supra-rational, or super-natural experiences i encounter in my life, and by ignoring them dispose them in favor of this compartmentalization of knowledge. i refuse to follow the current fashions of mind which commit such intellectual sins. i rebel against it." (Highly prosaic, phrases not accurate... me "nalaiq")

A Talk on Motivation

One day in near future a very dynamic department in Pak govt is going to arrange a workshop for various university students on the topic of Motivation. Never underestimate this topic as novel and impractical. It can be very practical. It unleash hidden potentials of many dormant souls, recharge their innovation cells, finish the clouds of vagueness about the direction they seek wherein to invest their energies. It can revive the spirituality of work in them. And we know the fruits of fanaticism, whether spiritual or related to work.

Critical Quality Checks for new Islamic Schools in Pakistan

I met an Islamic scholar who teaches at various leading universities of Pakistan. He is not an educationists in the strict sense of the term, as he doesn't relate himself with formally initiating educational programs, like school, etc. Nonetheless, he provided us with critical remarks on the dilemmas a new Islamic school maker may face and contingencies/solutions to the issues. I's impressed by the far-sightedness of the scholar. And with pessimism I hope to innovate, grow and do things people deny as possibilities. List of quality-checks which sort of contain the ways to tackle the issues:
  • You cannot impose Islamic teachings by ignoring other sciences outside religious studies at school level, because in doing so, you'd be a long-term failure. (A school is best when it serves the Ideals of the system that produces institutions. Producing
  • A faculty lacking spiritual qualities would fail to inculcate Islamic values
  • Without a long-term investment of a few crores, it would not produce sustainable quality
  • Don't make it a business at least for a few years, as a contingency to the challenges of this field
  • You cannot have a bias towards East or West which is outside abode of Islam - if it is of high-quality, benchmark it. Truth is that West has created standards today
  • There are parent reservations, because religious studies are not in these days
  • Feed-back from these who are serving in this field
  • Don't think of starting it unless you've a whole team of teachers, who are spiritually steadfast and professionally proficient.

Save children from the demons of acadmeic work

Till 6-7 age, children are in imaginary world. They have little, in fact no, powers of discernment. Our sunnah advises us to let our children play in that age. 'Dumb them down' with formal academic education and you destroy the flow. Here's a great article that sheds light on these issues, with developed arguments and research for support on stand-by: When Play is Work. Written by the founder of a home-school program institution in America, Nabila Hanson.