According to Iqbal, the purpose of education is to serve as a mechanism for achieving a harmonious equilibrium between individualism and collectivism. Within this utopian society, Iqbal emphasizes cultivating individuality as a core value while simultaneously acknowledgin5g the importance of fostering a sense of social consciousness and community responsibility.
Education serves as a means to achieve a desired outcome rather than a goal in and of itself. The education system serves as a means to achieve a society's cultural legacy and beliefs through ideology. Education should impart views and concepts aligned with the nation's core values. According to Iqbal, religion encompasses all aspects of human activity and morality, making it a comprehensive and holistic way of life. In order to fulfill this objective, the individual employs the Quranic terminology "Deen," which refers to a whole way of life. Iqbal espoused the perspective that the pursuit of "Deen" should serve as the primary objective of education. Iqbal suggests that dynamism and the innate inclination towards having desires define the quality of existence.
The particular perspective in question served as a guiding force that spurred the intellectual development of Iqbal, influencing the articulation of his educational axiology. The overarching goal of education is rooted in the fundamental concept of enabling individuals to fulfill their designated duty as God's vicegerent.
However, when infused with values, such ideals can improve a person's mind. Implementing a novel educational experiment propels these values forward since this aspiration's prioritization aligns with the current era's demands. Iqbal unequivocally expresses his intention to imbue education with an ideological framework, asserting that any form of instruction not aligned with religious principles is deemed demonic. Iqbal's emphasis on religion as an educational ideal diverges significantly in structure and substance from contemporary interpretations. The perspective above fails to acknowledge, demonstrate curiosity towards, comprehend, or value contemporary social, political, scientific, and philosophical issues. Iqbal compares a religion that fosters self-awareness and a deep connection with God to one that emphasizes the mechanical performance of rituals and the superficial act of counting beads.
To understand Iqbal's educational philosophy, one must first comprehend the roots of Shayir-e-Mashriq’s thoughts on the importance of education for a person. According to Iqbal's conceptual framework, education should equip students with the necessary tools to prioritize cultivating and sustaining their individuality. This emphasis on individuality is the central objective of education. This achievement can be actualized by ascribing itself to an ideal. The aim is to accomplish this by imbuing the entire sphere of education with the essence of an ideology. In this context, Iqbal suggests a comprehensive revision of the curricula and establishing a conducive environment to facilitate the realisation of this objective. Iqbal's educational framework emphasizes the necessity of incorporating religious perspectives into teaching all subjects. This framework entails providing the students with an understanding of religious viewpoints throughout their educational journey.
Iqbal's Contribution to Education, Knowledge, Enlightenment, and Educational Philosophy
Iqbal firmly believed that to achieve complete success, humanity must wholeheartedly submit themselves to God, as God's "Wahid (one and only)" nature signifies humanity's unity and society's cohesion. Iqbal's expression of hope for the future of humanity is exclusively situated within the framework of Tawheed:
Furthermore, Iqbal held the belief that the personality of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) plays a crucial role in the spiritual liberation of both individuals and humanity as a whole and will continue to do so indefinitely. It appears that Iqbal has drawn inspiration for this thought from a verse of the Quran:
(Al-Quran, Surah Aal-e-Imran, Verse 31)
The educational system should provide instruction that inspires students to emulate the life of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) as a model for achieving spiritual liberation of the utmost magnitude and for establishing a distinctive society founded on the principles of individual freedom and equality. The notion of prophethood posits that Iqbal is a source of motivation for all our practical endeavors. The concept of prophethood predicates the foundation of our being on this planet. Moreover, prophethood has laid the foundation of our religious and social standards and collective sense of purpose. The societal impact is prominently evident in the radiant beams sent by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH):
Iqbal’s Vision for Education
Allama Iqbal's proposed axiology of education mainly derives from his fundamental philosophical ideas. Within the framework of creation, the duty of humanity involves establishing oneself as a participant in the divine characteristics and as a collaborator in the process of creation. Hence, an optimal existence is deeply rooted in pursuing creative endeavors, as it undeniably shapes an individual's educational development. The particular perspective in question served as a guiding force that spurred the intellectual development of Iqbal, influencing the articulation of his educational axiology. The overarching goal of education is rooted in the fundamental concept of enabling individuals to fulfill their designated duty as God's vicegerent.
He regards acquiring knowledge as a form of prayer to conquer nature. When someone's love for God takes over all their other desires, they develop a personality with heavenly tastes. This love helps them understand that the material world is less important than people in achieving social goals.
Dr. Iqbal assured his contemporaries that individuals with unwavering faith and a strong connection with the divine could alter predetermined outcomes. Islamic principles form the fundamental basis of Iqbal's educational viewpoint. However, he has endeavored to integrate this foundation with whatever valuable elements he encountered from other sources. This viewpoint represents the pinnacle of Iqbal's axiological hierarchy. It is essential to recognize the fundamental ideals that constitute the primary foundation of this hierarchy. In this discussion, we can classify monotheism, prophethood, and self-consciousness as the core subjects. In this discussion, we can classify monotheism, prophethood, and self-consciousness as the core subjects. In Iqbal's envisioned educational framework, the tenet of monotheism, also known as 'Tawheed,' holds a prominent position. Through his in-depth study of monotheism, Iqbal shows that for the human mind to develop fully, it needs a solid spiritual foundation: monotheism. This fundamental concept will serve as a guiding force for an individual, determining the direction and extent of their thoughts and perspectives. As a consequence, echoing the words of Iqbal, the entire universe acknowledges and reveres its everlasting magnificence:
Iqbal argues that the educational process should guide individuals' intellectual endeavors based on the fundamental principle of Tawheed, which emphasizes the unity of humanity as a single brotherhood. Any civilization based on this idea is a cohesive unit whose members are linked like siblings, regardless of race, ethnicity, or travel plans. The principle of monotheism serves as a psychological remedy against exploitation and class conflict, among other issues. In practice, this idea has the potential to foster unity amidst diversity. Iqbal provides a comprehensive overview of the entire matter in his renowned lectures:
“The emerging culture identifies the basis of global unity in the idea of Tawheed. Islam, when seen as a political entity, serves as a practical mechanism for embodying and integrating this principle into the intellectual and emotional aspects of human existence. The requirement is for individuals to exhibit allegiance to the divine rather than to political seats of power. Given that God serves as the ultimate spiritual foundation for all existence, one can argue that an individual's loyalty to God is synonymous with their allegiance to their inherent, moral and ethical principles.”
In his lecture titled "Iqbal's Credo: An Outsider's View," Dr. S. K. Ghose, a renowned intellectual from Bengal, analyses Iqbal's perspective on the connection between the self and society in pursuing a purely psychological basis for human unity. Iqbal's suggestions shed light on the fundamental aspects of traditional culture.
According to Iqbal, a society that neglects to acknowledge the inherent unity of human brotherhood is always destined for disintegration. According to Iqbal, a fundamental obligation exists in reconstructing a novel social structure through implementing a purposeful educational system. The concept implies that cultivating a cohesive and unified individual identity is essential for achieving societal harmony. He expresses astonishment at the need for a clear objective for advancing global education systems. Iqbal's conception of an ideal educational environment entails establishing a firmly grounded society, with its foundation steeped in spirituality, rendering it impervious to any detrimental external influences. According to Iqbal's statement:
“Pursuing a solely psychological basis for the unification of humanity becomes feasible upon recognizing that the beginning of all human life is rooted in spirituality. Following this conceptual framework, people set out on the arduous path of self-validation, self-actualization, and personal growth, leading lives marked by intense engagement and cultivating profound inner fortitude and abundance. In pursuing an optimal educational environment, the individual remains steadfast in refusing to acquiesce to malevolence, deceit, or subjugation to any unjust authority. The inherent uniqueness of humanity, along with one's self esteem and devotion to a spiritually centered existence fosters a deliberate and emotionally aware approach.”
According to Iqbal, a society that neglects to acknowledge the inherent unity of human brotherhood is always destined for disintegration. According to Iqbal, a fundamental obligation exists in reconstructing a novel social structure through implementing a purposeful educational system.
In Iqbal's analysis of the idea of Tawheed, he discerns a distinction between believers and non-believers, or between haq (truth) and batil (falsehood), not solely based on narrow theological disparities, but rather on the divergent approaches and attitudes towards life. He regards acquiring knowledge as a form of prayer to conquer nature. When someone's love for God takes over all their other desires, they develop a personality with heavenly tastes. This love helps them understand that the material world is less important than people in achieving social goals. The presence of obstacles in one's life might motivate personal growth and create favorable conditions for self-development. A divine being owns the entirety of the universe and the energies that may appear destructive serve as vitality's origins.
Iqbal developed his educational perspective by integrating religious and scientific elements into the curriculum of established Muslim educational institutions. Incorporating Iqbal's teachings into the educational system is crucial for developing ulema from a larger perspective.
How to Shape Iqbal’s Ideas in the Modern Educational Realm
Prior to engaging in the discourse around contemporary education, Iqbal undertook a comprehensive examination of the subject matter from a broader vantage point. Adopting a critical perspective, he disapproved of the Western education system and its global expansion, focusing on its impact on the Islamic world. Despite acknowledging the material and scientific advancements made possible by Western societies, he felt compelled to critically evaluate the uncritical acceptance and widespread adoption of Western practices within Eastern cultures. He believed that Muslims residing in India are experiencing a lack of progress in all aspects of life due to their tendency to imitate Western practices, resulting in a detachment from their cultural legacy.
Throughout his educational goals, Iqbal has consistently stressed the need for an educational system to change the social foundations of the state, especially in places with a strong religious culture. According to Iqbal, the cultivation of critical thinking skills inside the educational system will undoubtedly contribute to forming a society focused on the well-being of its members.
In his discourse, he specifically alluded to the waning prowess of Muslims in science and technology. In his critique of the conventional framework of Islamic education, he delved into its fundamental underpinnings. Iqbal says that unthinkingly following theological beliefs is the main reason religious thought needs to progress, and people need to think more critically about current events in the United States and other countries. This particular methodology identifies Iqbal as having a significant influence on the total impact of religion. Iqbal positions the fundamental objective of religious devotion as:
“Religion, in its more elevated forms, transcends mere dogma, priesthood, and ritual. It possesses the unique capacity to ethically equip contemporary individuals for the weighty responsibilities accompanying modern science's progress. Additionally, religion has the potential to reinstate within individuals a mindset of unwavering belief, enabling them to cultivate a sense of personal identity in the present and beyond.”
Iqbal developed his educational perspective by integrating religious and scientific elements into the curriculum of established Muslim educational institutions. Incorporating Iqbal's teachings into the educational system is crucial for developing ulema from a larger perspective. These individuals must contribute their intellectual acumen towards addressing pressing concerns humanity faces, with a particular focus on the Muslim Ummah. Iqbal maintained that contemporary ulema and preachers cannot effectively disseminate information, since their understanding of Islamic scholarship and historical context is limited and constrictive. Iqbal proposed that ulema must possess comprehensive familiarity with disciplines such as history, economics, and sociology and cultivate a profound comprehension of Islamic literature. It is important to note that Iqbal, in his writings, expressed admiration for the intellectual integrity of esteemed scholars such as Shah Waliullah, Allama Kashmiri, and others. He highly praises Shah Waliullah, referring to him as a scholar of great repute, possessing profound insight, a broad vision, and a distinguished theologian.
Iqbal regards Allama Kashmiri as one of the most knowledgeable traditionists in the Muslim world. Throughout his educational goals, Iqbal has consistently stressed the need for an educational system to change the social foundations of the state, especially in places with a strong religious culture. According to Iqbal, the cultivation of critical thinking skills inside the educational system will undoubtedly contribute to forming a society focused on the well-being of its members.
Iqbal posits that one wishes to enhance one's existence, imbue life with significance, and regulate the faculties and behaviors of the individual. Desire is the primary resource by which individuals construct their identity, shape their cultural values, and establish societal structures. According to Iqbal, the purpose of education is to serve as a mechanism for achieving a harmonious equilibrium between individualism and collectivism.
Iqbal demonstrates a profound reverence for knowledge and its indispensable significance in human existence while concurrently acknowledging the potential hazards that may arise from excessive intellectualism in contemporary society. In isolation, knowledge cannot foster tranquility, deliverance, or offer solace to the human spirit. Knowledge's principal purpose is to foster skepticism and inquiry, to delve into and investigate, ultimately guiding individuals towards exploration and pursuit. Without any social purpose or ethical guidance, technology can become a tool for extensive exploitation and contribute to cosmic catastrophe, as manifested in our contemporary day. All non-natural calamities, such as floods or earthquakes, are anthropogenic. It is a man who often uses his tremendous knowledge and excellent efficiency for ill reasons. Iqbal asserts that intellect, manifested in science and technology, should not be seen as the definitive authority and determinant of human behavior and fate.
In Iqbal's philosophy, the overarching objective of education is to elevate humanity to a lofty place within the framework of existence, second to the only sustainer and ultimate creator–God. Iqbal's philosophy of education articulates an additional significant aim: to establish a harmonious relationship between an individual's spiritual development and achievements in the material realm. Consequently, it establishes a clear objective for humanity's accomplishments in science and technology. The purposes of education encompass the emergence of new aspirations, which play a crucial role in cultivating an individual's distinctiveness. Iqbal posits that one wishes to enhance one's existence, imbue life with significance, and regulate the faculties and behaviors of the individual. Desire is the primary resource by which individuals construct their identity, shape their cultural values, and establish societal structures. According to Iqbal, the purpose of education is to serve as a mechanism for achieving a harmonious equilibrium between individualism and collectivism. Within this utopian society, Iqbal emphasizes cultivating individuality as a core value while simultaneously acknowledging the importance of fostering a sense of social consciousness and community responsibility. Iqbal adheres to the perspective that human nature is the sole reliable indicator for acquiring information. The culmination of education is contingent upon the level of human consciousness. Shayir-e-Mashriq associates the inherent attributes of human consciousness with the innate desire to embrace an idealized concept of utmost beauty and flawlessness.
The writer is a Ph.D. in Islamic Thought and Culture from the National University of Modern Languages, Islamabad, Pakistan. He is the author of five books and has published 41 research papers. Additionally, he is a columnist for Daily Pakistan Observer and received the Best Paper Presenter Award at the Globetz International Conference in Turkiye in November 2021. He is currently serving as Visiting Faculty at Air University's Faculty of Social Sciences in Islamabad.
E-mail: [email protected]
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