Sunday, December 14, 2008

Pushing the Ulama in the Philippines further

A step towards the migration of intellect towards higher understanding.

It is a grim realization that the ulama in the Philippines as a whole has not yet matured and reached its full potential. The label “Warasatul al-Anbiya” cannot be still appended to them.

One may see that even in the worldview that as a general concept, a lot of them hasn't come up to their counterpart from the other parts of world. At present, when one looks at the curriculum being used to train Ulama in the country we see a wide disparity. Indeed from how we look at it since the collective culture of the Muslims in this country hasn't evolved or matured, as a result even the religious institutions did not progress a bit further, with a few exceptions of certain Muslim intellectual and religious personalities; but as a whole the Philippine Muslim religious institutions need more than a face lift but an overhaul.

One may like to look at the curricular content in the educational institutions used to train Imam's and the religious. A simple survey would show that when we would try to match the curricular standard with he modern educational institutions training their Christian counterparts in the Philippines, they would lag really fa r behind. One couldn't even find equivalency between the madrasah's and the regular public educational system.

This is quite alarming, add to this, Filipino scholars sent abroad to study Islamic studies come hope ill-equipped and ill trained, due to several circumstances. Most of the Filipino Muslim's best minds have taken the path of secular knowledge like engineering, medicine and other fields, and normally those who have lesser educational opportunities due to various circumstances like not being able to pass the collegiate entrance exam, dismal academic ratings in public school system, financial incapacity to pursue further studies, one or several of these and other factors push these students to “study in Madrassah” not as an option but the only choice to gain an education and gain social acceptability in their conmmunities. Others who may be able to go abroad to continue their Religious studies abroad come home ill-prepared due to the fact that they were not fully trained in Arabic before leaving and specializing only in Arabic language and not in other fields only delimits them the capacity of becoming translators. And being unprepared intellectually to read the Islamic classics in Fiqh, Shari'ah and other Islamic fields also leads them further to translate and teach concepts even not within their reach or breadth of understanding. This has far-reaching consequences. Add t this the literalist-narrow-mindedness of Salafi ideology has led other Filipino Muslims to the Pitfalls of Radicalist fundamentalism.

With these things in mind, one may be induced to think, “could there be a probable solution, comprehensive so that to otherwise mitigate if not eradicate the problem?”.

Although indeed due to the perceived Government bias against Muslims due to the Mindanao conflict reservations of government intervention would be highly doubted and the fear of politicized intervention thus losing track of the original objective; still it is the best objective although to be done in another manner.

One of the things we have done was comparative analysis of the curricular content of Southeast Asian, Egyptian, Syrian Iranian and Western Islamic religious educational models and try adapting selective characteristics of these systems. When we were given an opportunity to design the Commission on Higher Education's BS Islamic Studies curriculum, we included these important facets thus , ensuring that even following the minimum standards set by CHED in BS Islamic Studies education, we can at least raise the quality of Islamic scholarship in the country.
In the case of Malaysia and Singapore, both countries allowed the profligation of Sufi-oriented Islam in their countries as well as allowing the proliferation of the Islamic classics and Islamic Philosophy. Even though the government takes an indirect hand in this matter, but allowing Sufi Islam to profligate is a good idea.

I would like to emphasize on record that despite the comments on the evolution of the Amercican Muslim movement, I personally believe that even their experiences are worth studying and emulating (except of course the theological evolution before the Honorable Late Warith Deen Muhammad took over the American Muslim religious institutions).

Perhaps by trying to do this, we can push the Ulama a step further in professionalizing themselves as we face more challenges.
More to come later.

Reflections of Peace making and the prevention of War:

(A post Waging Peace Philippines conference reflection)

One always would think that Peace is the absence of War, perhaps that is what others may say... from a perspective that has not seen perhaps the harsh realities of the world. However, when one goes around in Manila, far-fetched from the dismal and grave realizations of war, wounded, dying and mournful suffering of the orphans, widows, the dying and the mourning... one may see that perhaps this is a skewed perspective. For even in the midst of the urban jungles of imperial Manila, one sees the gory images and thoughts of violence, though not like images of war in Mindanao, Afghanistan or Iraq... and yet the thoughts and images would also prove alarming.

After several wars and Peace conferences, I was pondering.. where does this all lead us into... is this but another endless road and Quixotic crusade against imagined dragons and devils... of undefeatable crusades and quests... as one searches for the indomitable Holy Grail of peace.....

I normally don't watch the news on TV unless I see a compelling reason to do so.... PR releases of Kapuso AABC Scholarship Initiative grantees to raise the morale of School faculty staff and students by recording them, Storms monitor so that I can determine even without the declaration of CHED of suspension I can declare a school holiday; Public events that may require a suspension of classes like SONA, or monitoring financial status of the world so that I may be able to forecast what could happen in the country. But when I watched the Anti-Chacha rally recently, I was petrified to see conflicting images.... people wanting change but people who personally needed to change themselves but challenge people to change themselves. Ironic isnt it?

Then it suddenly came into my mind... how could one wage peace when all people wage war? However in my mind I see there lies a contradiction, war only happens when conflict escalates, and as the brilliant War strategist Von Klauswitz would say; “War is the continuation of Political policy in another way”, thus I was enamored to ponder more as to how to go around exactly the opposite of this argument.

I remember that one of my Guru's has said, that in this world, battles are fought and though these battles are fought fiercely, they may not appear to be physical at times... but the effects are disastrous. Yes, battles are not merely fought on the fields..but most importantly I the mind of men. What Von klauswitz may have tried to say or couldn't say, is ... being a man of war..... he envisioned war as an extension of the politics of a person or society forcibly imposed on another.

But if these battles were fought in the mids of men, then it is clear... that when the war of ideals are lost in the mids of men, then its continuation ensues in the battlefield of men. Thus one of the greatest battles to be fought by those waging Peace against those waging war is not merely the battle to convince people that War is not the solution... but that to end war the battle to ned conflicts must also begin in the minds of men.

I do hope that the next time Peacemakers meet and talk about waging Peace.. this would also be considered in their strategies.

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