Ignorance Is Not A Bliss

Say, “Are those who know equal to those who do not know?”

– Quran 39:9

The first divine verse Allah has revealed to prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was Iqra which means “read”. This gesture truly indicates the importance God has given to education/knowledge. The benefits of education are numerous as it plays an indispensable role in life and greatly contributes to the development of individuals and nations. Education creates employment, improves living standards, reduces chronic poverty and preventable diseases.  It unlocks the human mind as it spurs creativity, imagination and innovation. Similarly it leads to critical thinking and reasoning. When people are educated, they are hopeful and are socially & politically aware. They cannot be easily misguided, manipulated or exploited. On the other hand, when people are uneducated, their social mobility is limited and they have fewer choices in life.

Education is the gateway to society’s development and growth. The more a country’s citizens are educated the more chances that country will have to grow and develop economically, socially, culturally and technologically. Japan barely has any natural resources, yet in the 1960’s and 1970’s its economic growth was averaging nearly 8%. This is a true testament to the value of education which is a human capital.

In the 21 century, the future belongs to those who heavily invest in education since we are now transitioning to a knowledge-based economy where education is of paramount importance. That is why it is now more imperative than ever to invest more time, energy and money on education. Governments should invest heavily on education and make education one of its main priorities. Education is a precious gift. I believe that it is in our nature/DNA to share things. When we receive a good news we can’t wait to share it with someone else. Likewise, education is a glad-tidings and therefore it should be shared. We should not just expect or demand from the public and private education institutions to educate people as we know that governments cannot solve all the problems that exist in society and cannot also educate every single citizen. Hence,  we should all embrace the spirit of volunteerism . Every educated individual should strive to share his/her knowledge and try to educate the unlearned ones.

Ironically there is this wide-spread believe that only through teachers one can truly get full education and knowledge. Of course the primary role of a teacher is to disseminate knowledge to students. However, we have to realize that our teachers cannot teach us everything specially when there are many other students sharing the class with us. You have to take the initiative and educate your self. You have to realize that your teacher is just there to guide you.

Education is a long-term project. It is challenging and time-consuming. You need to have patience,perseverance and determination to successfully gain your desired level of education. To those who want[ed] to study but found it difficult can I hope get inspiration and courage  from the following classical examples. A man  once found studies to be extremely tough. He lost his will and confidence and decided to go back to his home town. On his way back he saw a well on the other side of the road.  To his astonishment he saw how constantly drawing water  from the well makes the soft rope cut the hard stone. Then by getting encouragement from what he just witnessed said to himself:if this soft rope can cut the stone, why shouldn’t I also master my studies.” Suddenly he decided to go back convinced that he will finish his studies. This man was none other than  the great Islamic scholar, Ibnu Hajar Al-Asqalani.

Always remember that nothing in life is impossible when heart and mind is put into it. In the words of the great inventor, Thomas Edison,” Every time I failed, I was one step closer to success.

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Products of Nature & Nurture

When we are young, our mind is fresh and our heart bold. We are full of dreams and hopes. We are full of  imaginations and curiosity.We are also free of biases and prejudices. We feel like we can do and achieve everything  that we set our minds on. We are not afraid of failure and see no limits to all the things that we can achieve.

 As we grow up, the people, experiences and the surroundings around us start effecting and influencing us. They start shaping our thoughts and perceptions about many things in life. Parents who are the first circle of trust for children are the ones that have the greatest impact on our way of thinking and seeing life. They instill in us many basic values such as speaking of the truth, justice, what is right and wrong and how to behave in certain occasions. They give us a sense of direction in life as they at this moment are our first role models. We also have to bear in mind that at this stage children are the most observant. They may forget many things as time passes by but still traces of many events and experiences will remain in their subconscious.

Whether it is negative or positive, it is this framework of mind and thought process generated through nature and nurture that shapes our attitude and outlook of life. Clearly parents have a major influence on their children. Many studies have recently shown that children who are brought up in healthy and stable environments are more likely to lead a happy and balanced life.

On the other hand, children who are brought up in a dysfunctional family where the environment is poisonous suffer from many psychological problems. Imagine you are growing up in a home where you don’t have a role model and you are constantly ridiculed and belittled. You are always criticized and told you can’t do this, you can’t do that. Of course, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out how all this negative and unhealthy environment will greatly effect your attitude.The chances are that you will start to believe all this nonsense and register them in your head. Your confidence and morale will take a direct hit and as a result you will grow up convinced or at least thinking that you are good for nothing. That is why it is imperative that parents/guardians make sure their children grow up in a healthy environment.

I have been lately observing and hearing about a rising trend in our society which I strongly believe is counter-productive. I see a lot of young students who are enrolled in subjects which are not of their own choosing. They have no interest and passion for studying those subjects and yet they keep going to classes and feel miserable. When you ask them why are you studying these particular subjects if you don’t like them? Their answer is always the same: Parents told us or insisted that we do this. I know parents have at heart the best interest of their children as they want their children to be successful one day. At the same time it is important that parents let their sons and daughters pursue their own dreams and aspirations. Instead of sitting on the driving seat, parents should take the passenger seat and let their children become the drivers of their own dreams and aspirations.

There are many difficult circumstances and challenges in life. You will have your share of set backs and disappointments. You will come across naysayers,pessimists and people who want to put you down. The best way to ride the storm is to always remember who you really are. Have faith and confidence in yourself . Have patience,perseverance and never lose hope. Surely the dark clouds above will pass.

The Role Of Women In Society: Part-1

                 “Give me good mothers and I will give you a good nation.”

 –Napoleon Bonaparte

There have been dramatic changes taking place in the world for the last few decades. This sudden change has had and is still having  major effects on all spheres of life, be it political, social or economic. Globalization has changed and transformed the world as we know it. Advances in transportation and communications technology has decreased the distances between continents. Borders between nations are now just lines on a map. Similarly cultural and social barriers are blurring. The world is now more open and more integrated than  any other  time of humanity’s history. We are now living in a global village where everyone and everything is connected.

This process of integration and openness has had unprecedented positive impacts on many areas. As borders opened up and barriers to trade and investment decreased, new industries were created. Innovation and employment soared. Similarly, millions of people came out of poverty. In a nutshell, globalization has transformed the fate and destiny of many nations on earth. On the other hand, globalization has also redefined the fabric of society and its values. Now more than ever, the age old question of: what is the role of women in society is reemerging and becoming more relevant than ever.

The role of women in society is an integral one. They are the glue that holds society together. They are of such unparalleled   importance that Allah has named them after a whole Sura in the Quran: Sura Al-Nisa. Almighty Allah has endowed dignified position and honor of highest pinnacle on women. Islam has ensured the rights of women in the Quran. While giving the responsibility of the maintenance of the wife and children on the husband, Allah has given women the right to education, inherit property from husbands, parents and next of kin. Allah has also given them the right to marry and remarry. The right to ask for divorce if there is mistreatment in the union. They are also given the right to own property, and manage their own business.

Additionally, the character of Muslim men is also judged based on how they treat their women as the hadith says: “ the best from among you is one who behaves best towards his wife.” Contrary to the mistaken beliefs of some people, this is how Islam treats and respects women.

Women are given the special ability to bear children and nurture them. Because of this unique ability that women have, they are direct contributors to the building of the nation and the advancement of society. That is why Napoleon Bonaparte, arguably one of the greatest generals in history once said “Give me good mothers and I will give you a good nation.” Women also play a major role in times of crises and war. They act as mediators and bridge the gap between opposing sides since they are known for their impartiality and smart political maneuvering.

As human beings we have the tendency to forget things very quickly and specially in times of mind-boggling changes as it is very easy to lose perspective on things. It is true that many of the traditional values are challenged and women are taking on different roles these days. This should not cause any alarm. In the words of Charles Darwin it is not the strongest, or the smartest but the most responsive to change that survives.” We are in a period of great transformations.  What we need to do is to adapt to the changes that are taking place in the world while at the same time hanging on and staying true to our faith, values and traditions.