MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Wednesday, February 28, 2024

There is no such thing as 'Islamisation' of knowledge. There is only knowledge. So dont waste time.

The constant in any discourse about religion (I so avoid trivialising the word 'Islam' by simply applying it everywhere) is anger, dislike (aka hatred) and ultimately violence. Either state sanctioned violence (arrest, prosecution) or mob violence (persecution). This is a constant where religion is involved. I hope a day will come where the people who claim to be religionists can sit and discuss things intellectually and in a civilised manner, especially over things in which they disagree, without feeling hatred and dislike. That would be a triumph of knowledge indeed. A triumph of civilisation. But that will not happen.

There is this rather weird idea known as the "Islamisation of knowledge" - an idea put forward by the Arabist scholar Ismail Faruqi.  This weird idea (I will not repeat the moniker too often) is an Arab construct. They carry a very heavy chip on their shoulders as a result of their losing out to the west and also being colonised by the west.  

In his early years Ismail Faruqi was more enamored with Arabism than 'Islamism'.  

"he continued to highlight his belief in Arabism with persuasive talks and books. This can be seen in how he titled  (click here) his four-volume series on Arabism

  1. ‘Urūbah (Arabism) and Religion
  2. ‘Urūbah (Arabism) and Art
  3. ‘Urūbah (Arabism) and Society
  4. ‘Urūbah (Arabism) and Man"

So are you really talking about Islamisation of knowledge or the Arabisation of knowledge? Please be honest.

Here is some more verbiage "Intellectuals and scholars have discussed the problematics of colonization, modernity and knowledge production, which led to several initiatives undertaken to disentangle these legacies of the West still prevailing towards Islam, Muslims, and more broadly the whole world. Among the notable initiatives that have emerged; Islamisation of Knowledge .."

"The discussion towards Islamisation of Knowledge took place during the First World Conference on Muslim Education held in Mecca in 1977 that resulted in a list of recommendations, including the need to pursue the Islamisation project in all areas of knowledge perceived to be problematic due to Western influences."

OSTB : 1977? In 1977 there were hardly any modern universities in the Arab Emirates (for example). Even today in 2024 literacy is on the decline in the Arab countries:

ALECSO Observatory : The number of illiterates in the Arab world  could reach 100 million by 2030. Literacy rate in the Arab countries decreased from 76.1% in 2014 to 73.6% in 2020, and the number of those who are unable to read and write is significantly on the rise".

100 million illiterate Arabs by 2030? Can you imagine the literacy levels in the Arab world in 1977? At that time there were only THREE universities in Malaysia.

And yet they had gathered to  "disentangle these legacies of the West still prevailing towards Islam"

Ok fine. 1977 was 47 years ago. Have they achieved what they set out to do over the past 47 years? Or is it still work in progress? Maybe they need another 47 years? 

Despite the passage of 47 years "the dire conditions of the Umma; political weakness, economic insufficiencies, cultural westernization, corruption of self and society; and the core problem lies with the education of Muslims" has actually gotten worse. So what have you been doing?

Or is the moniker just the bait - to entice the zealous to participate in the journey (with their "donations" and maybe taxpayers money) with no end to the journey?  It will be a 'lets journey forever' type of situation with no clear achievable objective. 47 years have gone by. What have you been doing?

Why this preoccupation with the west? Forget about the west. The next 200 years are going to be the east.  There was no Japanisation of knowledge, no China-isation of knowledge. Or Russianisation of knowledge. 

But without a doubt the next 200 years are going to be China, Russia, Japan, even Indonesia and India. And the rise of the east will be exactly because of the same reasons for the rise of the west  - the acquisition of useful knowledge.

Then here is something weird :  A master plan, ‘Islamization of Knowledge: General Principles and Work Plan’, was produced, which led to the establishment of the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) in 1981 as the leading agency to drive the project ahead. 

The IIIT was established by Ismail Faruqi in 1981 in Virginia in the United States. But isnt the United States the center of western domination and hegemony? If you wish to  "disentangle these legacies of the West still prevailing towards Islam" then why not do it from an Arab country like Egypt or Saudi Arabia? Why set up shop in the United States? 

(Actually this is a trick question. There are Arab politics involved. The Arab countries do not welcome outfits like the IIIT. For example the Muslim Brotherhood is closely identified with the IIIT. Some Arab countries have declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation.)

Here is some trivia - in 1986 Ismail Faruqi and his wife were butchered in their home in the United States with a Rambo knife by a black Muslim by the name of Joseph Young. Their pregnant daughter was also attacked but survived.  Joseph Young "had known the Faruqis and had visited their home" (New York Times here) 

You may also wish to read the first few paragraphs of the Court transcripts of the murder appeal of Joseph Young at the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania here.   Malaysian students are mentioned in paragraph 10.  

There is only knowledge. There is no Chinese knowledge or Christian knowledge or Japanese knowledge. So do not waste your time trying to define Japanese knowledge or Indonesian knowledge or Hindu knowledge. 

Of course if you do not have useful knowledge then the alternative is to create slogans. Slogans are useful if you wish to raise funds.  

For example :  Neither east nor the west. Islam is the best. Please donate generously.

The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of MMKtT.

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