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Education and the Muslims -- a response to Manzur Ejaz, The Jang

Vinod Kumar

In his excellent article "Education and the American family" (The News International, May 29, 2000), Dr. Manzur Ejaz while giving details and information of the education system in the USA, in the last paragraph points out glaring discrepancies in educational achievements between the people from Pakistan and India. He rightly questions "why Pakistani immigrant youth are not compatible with their Indian counterparts despite having the same educational setting in the US".

The situation in the UK is also no better. In the educational field, the Indians are doing the best of all ethnic groups in the UK (bracketed in top with the Chinese) followed by the British and the Blacks. The Paksitanis (and the Bangladeshis) lie at the bottom of the economic and educational ladder.

It is true that Indians have achieved a high level of competence in most fields of education and specially in the information technology. India will find it increasingly difficult to fulfill world's hunger for its high technology specialists -- not only from those who are educated in the US but in India also. A technical degree from any of the IITs in India will get a job in any of the high tech firms in the US -- in short, Indian engineers and high tech specialists are in high demand, not only in the USA but also from UK to Japan and Germany to Australia.

Dr. Manzur Ejaz's observation "why Pakistanis are not compatible with their counterparts" and call for "more sociological research", are valid and very timely. It assumes even more seriousness because both Indians and Pakistanis, mostly come the same racial and ethnic background and shared the same educational institutes till fifty years ago -- then why do such gross disparities exist? As a matter of fact this disparity in educational achievement is not limited to the people from Pakistan but in general to all Muslims from the subcontinent of India. When one talks of India, one is basically talking of the Hindus, and when one talks of Pakistan, one is talking of all the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent.

Given the historical background, Muslims having ruled the Hindus for centuries when the Hindus were denied even basic human rights to their religion and education, their nation plundered and temples demolished, and were forced to withdraw into own shells, Muslims should have been at the top in every field of human endeavour, at least vis--vis the Hindus. But Muslim backwardness is not at all surprising to any logical and impartial observer and analyst of human psychology, behaviour and history.

True, the Muslims ruled India but what did these rulers do? India was a store house of knowledge in almost every field when the Muslim invaders came. They closed down all the high institutes of Hindu and Buddhist learning, from which the Arabs and the Persians had copied, learnt and borrowed heavily, and burnt down all the books in the tradition of Caliph Omar who wrote to Amru about the fate of the books in Alexandrian Library, and I quote:

"The contents of those books are in conformity with the Koran, or they are not. If they are, the Koran is sufficient without them; if they are not, they are pernicious. Let them, therefore, be destroyed."

Well, all Muslims today might not destroying the libraries but still the belief that the entire knowledge of the world is contained in the Holy Koran find many takers. And it is no wonder that in the tender age when the mind is most receptive and open to new ideas and learning, Muslim children spend their time memorizing the Koran instead of attending to the basics of science and mathematics that form the foundations of modern, or for that matter any, society. More Madaris where memorizing the Koran forms the main subject are being opened daily across the subcontinent by the Muslims; and hardly any, where the sciences and the mathematics form the core of the syllabi.

Muslim society of Indian subcontinent needs to conduct serious and honest sociological and intellectual study to find if indeed the Koran contains all the wisdom and knowledge of the world -- on this depends not only the future of the Muslims but of others too, who live there, and also of the world at large by extension.

And if they find, indeed it does -- then as Caliph Omar wrote "let them, therefore, be destroyed". Why do we need them? Why should the like of Dr. Manzur Ejaz be concerned that the Indians do better in education than their Pakistani counterparts. By memorizing the Koran, the Muslims are learning the ultimate knowledge anyway.

On the last note, it is not mere coincidence that the name of the paper in which Dr. Manzur Ejaz's article about education is published is "Jang" -- it goes to show where the priorities of Pakistan lie or how the Pakistanis think? There is no national or regional Hindu or Indian newspaper named "Yuddha" or "War" -- not even a minor one -- at least to my knowledgwe.