2. Islamic Education versus Assimilation

2. Islamic Education versus Assimilation



بسم اللَّه الرحمن الرحيم وصلى الله على سيدنا محمد وعلى ءاله وصحبه أجمعين وسلّم




Title: Islamic Education versus Assimilation

Author: Muhammad Mujtar Medinilla

(Translated from the original Spanish by Salsabil Morrison)

Publication date: 2/5/2015


Assalamu alaykum. Welcome to the [title] Programme of the MFAS. This is the first of 12 sessions which make up the [title] module. The lecture will last approximately 40 minutes during which time you should make a written note of any questions that may occur to you for clarification after the lecture. 




With the permission of our Emir and our shaykhs, I would like to start with the translation of the first ayats from Surat-ur-Rahman.

In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the giver of Mercy.


The All-Merciful

Taught the Qur’an

He created man

And taught him clear expression

The sun and the moon both run with precision.

The shrubs and the trees all bow down in prostration.

He erected heaven and established the balance.

So that you would not transgress the balance.


INTRODUCTION

Insha'Allah, this presentation will hopefully enable us to think; to stop for a minute and, in the words of Nietzsche (from whom I will quote frequently), "leave the frenetic rhythm of the epoch, which crushes and overloads us before we can even approach the major themes, enter in… sit down in the silent meadow, to reflect on what is going on…”  

In short, the main subject of this presentation is the unavoidable necessity of taking the matter of education into our own hands, the hands of the Muslims. This represents, firstly, a survival measure; secondly, the establishment of a means of recovery and advancement; and finally, the raising of a generation prepared for leadership.

Tackling education is a difficult matter because, on the one hand, the whole world has something to say about it, whilst on the other hand therefore, everything that can be said already sounds clichéd and commonplace. A return to principles becomes necessary, a return to the beginning, to recapture our meanings, as if we were starting afresh, as if we had just discovered them in all their splendour, full of sense and significance. My theory is that we need to elevate the degree of training, both in our own generation and in the generation of our children, in order to face properly the mission that awaits us. 

When Miguel de Unamuno realised his son, Fernando, would have to go to school, he wrote the following in a letter to a friend, "And to think that this human soul, because it is a real human soul, might be ruined in the hands of teachers and amateur educators -  believe me, he will go neither to school nor college, no. I will teach him everything, I will have to learn it all over again.” 

“I will learn it again!” This is what I realised as a young man beginning to break away from the parameters in which I had grown up. I realised that I had to recover language again, recover the full meaning of words. Spain was in full political transition and I was feeling totally put off by the use and the abuse of these big concepts that had just become dull, tedious and unclear; in fact I was so tired that I used to carry the dictionary with me everywhere in an innocent attempt to recover the meanings of those big words whose meanings had been lost.

This is a realisation that still occurs to me, that perhaps we need to learn again, in order to recover afresh the profundity of key concepts such as Murabitun, Tariqa, Da’wa … and reactivate them in our present circumstances. 

Now I bring to our attention the great Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The three works that comprise Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister provide us with an autobiographical insight into an important phase of his own experience of learning. His protagonist, Wilhelm, often reminds me of our own situation. I see myself as a modern day Wilhelm Meister, yearning for instruction, for knowledge. Most of you are probably also new Wilhelms; equally thirsty for learning, for knowledge and for elevation above the inferiority that has dominated our upbringing within this system. 

The day I finished my studies, the director of the teacher training college where I had been studying, gathered us all in the auditorium and told us: “You have learned nothing here. I hope, if you are good, if you have good will, that from now on you will start to become teachers…”

The gift of Islam is enough for us and there is no better gift so I do not contradict this fact with the previous statement. On the contrary, it is Islam itself that provides us with the motivation to take up the challenge to improve ourselves and to transform our lives.

Regardless of the amount of time that has passed, Wilhelm, ‘William’, remains a valid role model for us. A product of the bourgeoisie, he is subjected to a succession of events in the midst of widespread vulgarity and mediocrity. From school he rises up from the lowest to the highest, experiencing the harmony of aristocratic life. 

The main presentation is divided into three parts: 

1 The circumstances

2 What we should do 

3 Our proposals for and from Granada


1  THE CIRCUMSTANCES

Well known western thinkers have clearly analyzed what is happening. However, our teachers have gone a step further and given the solution, the Islamic solution. What I will try to do is somehow examine the unavoidable consequences of our current state of affairs and the extent to which they will affect education and teaching, and later, try to share some ideas on how we might avoid allowing education and teaching to suffer these consequences. 

In Nietzsche’s The Twilight of the Idols we find this statement: "Goethe is not a German event, but a European event.” 

It has been said of Goethe that he was the beautiful singing of the swan, yet he was unaware of what was coming. Somehow, he did not belong to the world of the 18th century, nor did he belong to the new world; the one that had appeared as a result of revolutionary barbarism (let us not forget that we are in the time of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution). William’s perseverance in pursuit of perfection should have been comical in the eyes of the people of his time, as though he were being completely unrealistic. Similar perhaps to how people today might react to us. 

What Goethe wanted was totality, wholesomeness. Nietzsche took the term “overman” precisely from Goethe. This “will to power” of Nietzsche, so badly understood and negatively interpreted, especially by the humanists, who only find in this concept the culmination of their own shirk, of their denial of the power of Allah. However, it is easily understood by the Muslim as the search for a more abundant, noble and sublime way of life.

If the overman is Nietzsche’s ideal, the real human being seems to be the one that aspires to it, or the one that occupies himself with the over-coming process, says Nietzsche, such as the artists, the philosophers and the saints do. However, at the centre, between the servants of the evident and the solitary, there are the combatants who are, he says, “filled with hope.” 

 To excel themselves, they are obliged “to give form to their own character”, including their genetic heritage, their parental influence and their social and educational conditionings. However, there is still a long road ahead. We are not a finished product. In fact, what we are now is barely even the raw material.

We need to work on ourselves, to depart from the conditions in which we find ourselves. Nietzsche cites Goethe as an example of someone who gave form to his character. Goethe was many things, playwright, novelist, thinker, scientist - but what Nietzsche admired him more for was this particular quality; he spent his whole life trying to make something of himself. I learned from Shaykh Abdalqadir that the first time Napoleon saw Goethe he exclaimed, "Look, there is a man!” Departing from the many dubious unrestrained passions and wild ideas that he had in his youth, Goethe created a man, in the fullest and most authentic sense.

What Nietzsche could not explain was how, although it seemed as though they had struggled to reach the same thing Goethe had, those who came after him should not, as a result of this effort, obtain the overall result i.e. “ a Goethe, a wholesome Goethe, as opposed to an instinct which was instead chaotic, nihilistic, lost and weary…” 

Nietzsche, as we well know, was completely against the idolatry of his time. However, he was also able to see what the forces of the “new world” were heading towards. In his book “On the Future of our Schools”, he reflects on the state of culture and education at that time, especially with regard to the secondary schools in Germany which were, at that time considered a benchmark for the other nations of Europe. Nietzsche warns against losing the sovereignty of culture and putting all cultural efforts at the service of the state. The same is true of education; the aim of education should not solely be to serve the state. The Prussian State was one of the first examples of culture and education being used in this way and it can be seen again in another agricultural state, the USA.

Furthermore, it is important to understand that in industrialised England the function of the school as transmitter of family and societal values changes significantly from the late 18th century, with the French revolution and the industrial revolution. Now, the need for centralisation and uniformity within both the population and the new economy, determine the features that up to today, define education. The state school system arises from the convergence between these political and economic interests.

A widespread misconception nowadays is the idea of the unassailable heights attained by the ancient city-states. Our excuse for doing what we do is because that is how it used to be with the ancient Greeks. However, their state completely avoided this utilitarianism, which consists of accepting culture only insofar as it benefits the state and being rid of anything that serves no obvious purpose.

There is also confusion about the sense of the Greek “Paideia” and its alleged analogy with democracy. This is happening today and it is especially within the world of journalism that this fraud is generated: Greek Paideia as the perfect example of democracy.  

The journalist is the slave of the present, the slave of the moment. This is what has replaced the great Nietzschean genius, the genius that liberates one from the present. Journalism is the definition of and the visible locus where the two great evils against which Nietzsche warned us are united. In his time the matter was at its beginning, today we can see it in its completion; what he warned us against has now arrived.

These are, in fact, two dangerous tendencies of which Nietzsche was already warning us in his time. On the one hand, the extension and distribution of culture to everybody and, on the other, the restriction and weakening of the very same culture. The process of the last two hundred years leaves us, today, in a situation that is out of balance. In an article entitled “Culture and Depression”, recently published in the Spanish press, the columnist raised a question which he himself acknowledged was maddening and absurd:

“What if in the world of culture, just as it is happening in the world of business, we were just playing with purely speculative values? What if we were raising artificially, in the ‘Stock Exchange’, the price of a few very damaged, dubious products? The blame for these occurrences would have to be attributed to all the propagandists, who have spent years trumpeting the ‘economic value’ of cultural goods, and who have insisted upon making culture a business arena comparable to any other, with the same parameters. What if we had deceitfully inflated the value of some cultural products, while at the same time we had seen that the importance of the limited number of works that truly represent a life experience was diminishing, and so shut out a genuine wealth of knowledge about human existence?”

I have had the opportunity to read many reports, signed by professionals, reflecting upon this question; the suitability of education to the market and the commercialisation of higher education in Europe. For example, in his report Neo-Liberal Globalisation and the LOE (an acronym for the most recent Spanish educational legislation), Enrique Javier Diaz Gutierrez, professor of Didactics at the University of León, concludes as follows: "In education, the discussion does not focus anymore on a liberating syllabus, based on achieving the vital development of our pupils that guarantees them full citizenship and real participation in the construction of a just society, but in a syllabus suited to the job market, in order to increase international competitiveness and profit.” There are many similar quotations too numerous to include here.

 However, our Education Minister, Angel Gabilondo, has stated: "The social aspect of education is crucial in order to guarantee the European economic recovery process [as well as] to secure the social status of Europe and to legitimize the European model we want to construct… A universal education, with quality and fairness, is the best option against unemployment.”

As a result, one is quite repelled by everything that comes out of the mouths of politicians, at a regional, national and European level; they have even put together a “council of wise men,” with Felipe González, former prime minister of Spain as Chair, to remind us of the importance of raising our levels of educational attainment and for education to become more competitive.

After declarations of good, charitable intentions, the universities and centres of higher education, such as ESADE or the University of Georgetown, controlled by the Jesuits, prepare the new economic leaders. They study philosophy, but not to recover the Greek pursuit of virtue, or out of love of a classical education, but merely to improve their negotiating skills as a tool for use in the business sector. By the way, Javier Solana, ex-foreign affairs representative of the European Union, works at present for ESADE. The following headline appeared in the press just recently: "Javier Solana claims for Europe the role of ‘world government laboratory.’” Of course, he is strongly in favour of ‘evolving’ the concept of sovereignty.

It is more than a coincidence that in the whole of Spain there is not one single university among the world’s top hundred; but, nevertheless, Spain has three business schools in the top fifteen worldwide. 

Today ‘well-intentioned’ academic multiculturalism declares pathetically, throughout the universities, the destruction of centrality, of totalitarianism, and praises the cultural globalisation of “their” culture (or should we say, their lack of culture) while the pretence remains that school gives shape to, and implements everything that in reality society cannot. The great ideals of tolerance, democracy and equality are simply ignored in the ‘real’ world, but they have to be imposed in the schools and ‘transmitted’ without the essential element that is the necessary example of society as a whole. Schools are legally obliged to uphold that which has clearly failed to occur in wider society, and as time goes on, the absolute contradiction between the declared ideal and the reality becomes ever clearer. The distribution of a common culture for all, which Nietzsche warned us of, along with the decline in the quality of education, has today resulted in what they define as the ‘caring school’.

When you hear the phrase ‘caring school’, you are bound to say, “That sounds good, what an excellent idea!” However, it is not a model that encourages the development and use of the intellect, nor is it, in fact, one that seeks to promote care, or therefore, a capacity for empathy. In fact, the implication and undertone of the phrase ‘caring school’ has very little to do with caring in the sense of empathy, rather it is simply to care in the sense of ‘inclusion’ or ‘containment’. Namely, the caring school is the one that can ‘accommodate’ everyone. Everyone and anyone can be stuffed into it and its aim is simply to keep them all gathered together. This caring, inclusive school, in fact, ends up excluding 31% of its students, who are destined for academic failure. In Ceuta and Melilla, two Spanish territories with a strong Muslim presence, this academic failure ‘targets’ more than 50% of the school population, mostly the Muslim population, and therefore does NOT include, but rather abandons them.

This is the model that is being followed. The Spanish Minister of Education, Mr. Gabilondo, declares that it is not a question of standardising according to the lowest common denominator, but this is exactly what is happening.

In an extreme way, the evils announced by Nietzsche have taken shape, not only in Europe obviously: 

The inadequate teaching of language;

The ignorance of the classical languages and the lack of connection to the mother tongue;

The ‘free expression of personality’ without an adequate understanding of  ‘personal autonomy’;

Contempt for the importance of guidance as part of education;

The erosion of clear cultural references;

The break with classical antiquity;

The corruption of art;

The deterioration of philosophy and thought.

I was impressed by Rais Abu Bakr’s affirmation of Heidegger in the speech he gave in 2005 on the occasion of the opening of the Dallas College in which he announced, “the end of the Age of Education in Europe.” In the same talk, commenting on the insight of Jean-Christophe Rufin, medical doctor and political expert, into the capacity of democracy to assimilate and its need to gain political strength through confrontation with an enemy, despite its apparent weakness. He explained, “the absolute power of democracies to incorporate has now led to the state being more and more involved in the education and ‘cultivation‘ of the Muslims. This state of affairs is, of course, even further aggravated by the realisation that only the Revelation has escaped complete integration.”  

The general conclusion of most studies and reports about the presence of the Muslims in Europe, originating from the widest possible spectrum of sources, is clear: In spite of the complexity and variety of communities and individuals, all the adaptations and adjustments made by the Muslims will never result in their assimilation. 

Alhamdulillah! Assimilation is a concept that we instinctively reject. The meaning of the word is very clear: "To make equal”, to "make alike", “to make something external, something that comes from outside, similar to the existing reality.” 


2  WHAT WE SHOULD DO

“The Age of the Republic has ended. The age of the Princes has begun!”

With this Shaykh Dr. Abdalqadir closes the introduction to his book The Muslim Prince. He declares it, “…a guide for the young leader of a new society as he emerges into sunlight and leaves behind the smoking, burning ruins of two hundred years of darkness.”

It is essential that we reflect on our goals, as Shaykh Muhammad al-Kasbi reminded us in a class only one month ago. We must know what it is that we want and then we can focus on the means to achieve it. Those means, he said, can be varied (and I would add, undoubtedly, according to each community’s circumstances).

He also said that our schools have to be informed by an awareness that we, as Muslims, have two very clear goals: 

To obtain the Garden

To govern the Earth

 Our schools and educational projects in general, have to be “schools of leadership”, because, as Shaykh Muhammad said, you cannot separate the aim of gaining the Garden from the responsibility of khilafa of Allah on earth; our responsibility for governance. It is not so much a question of Islamic education being in opposition to assimilation, but rather, a question of Islamic education and the regeneration of Europe and the rest of the world.

What we have to try to strengthen are the bonds of community cohesion, the social cohesion that in the West appears impossible to reconstruct. Islam and Muslims are the new ‘social adhesive’. Western society has lost the battle against the individualism and social break down which have resulted from the ‘welfare’ state, but Muslim society can offer an example of community resistance.

However desirable as a goal, setting up a real ‘educational community’ lies beyond the capacity of the modern school. It is, therefore, down to us since it is well within our reach. Our system, based upon the early traditions of Islam, has to be based upon a congregation of education and culture; a community education, not an education for the masses. 

What is important to understand is that the regeneration of society has to begin with young children, and with full commitment on the part of those that have the capacity, both by word and by example, to transmit this education. In the words of Nietzsche, “What is needed are educated educators, noble and superior spirits that can affirm themselves in every moment by means of word and by means of silence, beings of a mature and sweetened culture, not these coarse ‘wise’ persons that colleges and universities offer today. The educators are missing, the first condition of education is missing.”  These are educators who are aware that, as Oscar Wilde said, “Instruction is something admirable, but the most important things in life cannot be taught, they can only be found."

We need educated educators because we need guidance, there is a need to have guides in the upbringing of our young people, “…at that stage in life,” as Nietzsche wrote in The Future of our Schools, “when the young person sees his experiences wrapped, as it were, in a metaphysical rainbow, in the sense of being out of their reach and difficult to understand; when man feels the supreme need for a hand that guides him.” At this crucial moment in the life of a young person, modern society, including the education system, leaves its youth alone, stranded, abandoned to them selves to achieve their own ‘autonomy’, to be ‘free’, so that they can give ‘free expression’ to their personality.

The entire education system is a long ‘linear’ process, the sole aim of which is a place at university. Every day there are more degrees and every day more are needed; master's degrees, PhDs and more, all in order to be able to gain access to a job. We have to think of an educational alternative; the current situation of informal Islamic home education, as opposed to formal education at the hands of the State, is not the solution. We should not use up our energies, so necessary for activity and creativity, in this exhausting effort. 

At this point, we need to mention the fundamental role of the high school, particularly the baccalaureate, in what must be our future target of establishing a solid educational system in Europe, one that the kuffar will have no choice but to sanction. We mustn’t underestimate the importance of the high school, the secondary cycle of education that is so crucial in the formation of future generations, since it will represent the real cultural foundation for the majority, as well as being a solid base for those who will eventually end up in university. 

I am not speaking about scholastic education nor, much less, about creating an academic caste. I am speaking only of looking for the right form, of finding a way, in this time and place, to develop our own educational model; one that will allow us in the near future to establish the ijaza, the personal accreditation between the pupil and the teacher; not between the student and the institution. An ijaza is the certificate by which the teacher recognises and authorises his pupil to exercise or teach a certain discipline. We must establish a flexible organisation, adapted to the rhythms of learning and to the growth of every individual learner. We must recover traditional teaching methods, the circles of knowledge, a system of arbitration and interdisciplinary meetings, amongst other things.

However, this will be difficult if all this is not accompanied, in this non-cultural age, by the recovery of an authentic culture: “This culture that begins precisely from the moment in which one can treat a living thing like a living thing.” (Nietzsche).

If you are wondering then what the culture of Islam is, I have learnt from my teacher, Shaykh Dr Abdalqadir as-Sufi, that Islam is a ‘filter’ for culture. We do not need to replace our own western culture, but we must rescue it, we must ‘cleanse’ it. 

Education needs a context. Among other things, it also needs the recovery of classical culture; the Greek and European mythology that preceded the arrival of Christianity. There was a time, about twenty years ago, when Shaykh Abdalqadir found me reading a chapter of The Hobbit to the children and he said to me, “What are you doing? We have to recover pre-Christian mythology. Because it retains certain values, values that are complementary to the Deen.” We cannot recapture this model of education without, at the same time, recovering its cultural components: literature, narrative, art and philosophy; philosophy as education for the spirit.

To me, the difference is not between modern education and traditional education, but between good and bad education. The great Turkish ‘alim and sufi, Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, with the support and financing of Sultan Reshad, embarked upon the establishment of a university in the East of Anatolia, which effort was brought to an end by the advent of the First World War. Following his syllabus, we have to merge three educational systems into one:

Modern education (mektebe)

The traditional Islamic sciences (madrasa)

Sufism (Zawiye)

As for Sufism and the zawiyas run by the tariqas, I would like to point out that even today one is amazed by the fact that in the whole of the African Maghrib, especially in the south, the standard of literacy was higher and more widespread before colonisation than it has ever been since. 

To establish a new educational method today also means confronting the question of creativity, because to develop talent is not a mechanical process, but an organic one. We return to the beginnings, to agriculture, hence the word culture; to tend with care. I believe that a concept exists in the very precise German expression, "Hegen und Pflegen”, which comprises both caring for the person and recognising their talents.

“The current educational system mines our minds in the same way in which we extract minerals from the ground,” says Kim Robinson, a contemporary educational expert from Liverpool, who was also a schoolmate of several members of the Beatles. He points out that Paul McCartney hated music class and nobody in his school seemed to recognise his musical talent. Kim Robinson is now an authority on the matter of creativity in education, one of whose key observations is that our schools and educational projects have to be those in which our children are in their own element, like fish in water.

It is not a matter of placing alongside the word school the adjective Islamic, but rather, establishing a new liberating school, a transformative school, one that allows every youngster to be ‘in their element’, and that instils in our youth a yearning for knowledge, without losing a single speck of tawhid. 

At the end of the 19th century Miguel de Unamuno wrote the novel Love and Pedagogy in which he brought out the contrast between love, heredity and tradition on the one hand, and pedagogy, adaptation and progress on the other. That is, he highlighted the contradiction inherent in the approach of scientists and pedagogues operating in an empty modern world separated from real existence, obsessed with their methods, formulae and classifications as the means to reveal the secret of life, whereas they are being taken further and further away from it. 

We are not opposed to the science of pedagogy. In the hands of the Muslims, any pedagogical method, be it Pestalozzi, Steiner or Montessori; any of them can be put into practice with enormous benefit. In the hands of the Muslims all the pedagogical ideals find their just measure, their opportunity for application in the real world. As they say, every instrument sounds good when the score is good.

The way outlined by Shaykh Abdalqadir in his books, TAWHID, HUBB, AMAL and SAFAR, indicates to us the order that our schools should follow: 

First of all, the child has to find, both in school and in life, UNITY-TAWHID. This leads to LOVE-HUBB (love is assumed at all times, because for the teacher love is like courage for the soldier, it is always assumed). This, in turn, leads to ACTION-AMAL and this to TRAVEL-SAFAR. I remember the educational programme Shaykh Abdalqadir outlined at the beginning of the Maestranza of Granada approximately twenty years ago, culminating with the departure of the boys out into the world on a journey.

Shaykh Muhammad al-Kasbi has pointed out to us that Iman is half gratitude and half patience. This should inspire us to discover and to encourage the talents and qualities of the new generations and to have the patience to prepare them properly and instil in them confidence in Allah, and in their parents and teachers. 

The relationship of teacher and pupil should be based on example. This is illustrated in the teaching transaction between Allah (subhanahu wa ta ‘ala) and Adam (alayhi salam). Also, it finds its true meaning in the Revelation, and in the conduct of the Prophet Muhammad (blessings and peace upon him).

"Qul amantu billahi, thumma-staqim” (“Say: I believe in Allah, then go straight”)

It is the inseparable relationship between Iman and knowledge; between knowledge and usefulness; between Adab ad-dunya and Adab ad-Din. The centre of a school, of a madrassa, is the mosque because the function of the school does not consist of satisfying the requirements of a state ideology, but is directly related to  ‘ibada, the worship of the Creator.


3. OUR PROPOSAL

Whereas the first two parts of this presentation have mainly been explanatory and, to a certain extent, one could say polemical, this final part aims to be more emotive.

When I first knew of the title for this conference, ‘Expectations of Islam In Europe’, I quickly went to the dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy of Language and found the dictionary definition of the word expectation: Any hope of obtaining a thing, if the desired opportunity is provided. 

Let us be seekers of opportunities. Let us be optimistic, like those who wait watchfully, wide-awake, on the look out for what they are certain is coming. To act with hope, in an epoch defined by the absence of expectations, lack of motivation and conformism, which it seems, is the result of the proclaimed victory of the so-called ‘western system’ through its spectacular and progressive development of capitalist managerial methods. Shaykh Abdalqadir’s observation about this scepticism is compelling: "Scepticism is nothing but fear.”

In fact, instead of “Islamic Education versus Assimilation”, the title of this conference could have been “Hope versus Despair” or “Hope versus False Expectation”. In other words, submission to the will of Allah and implementation of the Deen of Islam following the guidance of the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace upon him), as opposed to assimilation into the Kafir system.

Shaykh Abdalqadir has said, “For Allah nothing is impossible. Allah does what He wills. You can be a Muslim in any place and situation.” Shaykh Muhammad al-Kasbi adds, “And let us try to correct and to improve [our own behaviour] as much as we are able.”

Our expectations must be high and the projects that we embark upon must be great. However, the methodology, as our people of knowledge teach us, consists of advancing step by step in an orderly manner, while elevating the circumstances. In the field of education it consists of establishing charitable foundations (awqaf), schools and other educational centres in abidance with the laws of each land, and in accordance with the particular features of each community. We will then grow in strength until we gradually develop a firm and well-established network across the whole of Europe; a network of collaboration, cooperation and convergence. This will be in close connection with the rest of the Ummah, particularly with the Maghrib, Turkey and the Balkans.

Our proposal and our determination (the first in our community, among many other important proposals) is for THE SCHOOL OF THE SHAYKH. 

Shaykh Abdalqadir has transmitted to us his knowledge and his idhn for many years and our Amir, as soon as the mosque was completed took up this task with great courage. Together we now have a team that is becoming larger and more determined every day.  

Our proposal is that we work together, that the Muslims of this city and those outside of it make the school their own. We are aware that no institution can transmit this nobility by itself; that is something that can only happen in a clean society, as our Shaykh has made clear.  

The one thing I wish to emphasise is that this project will require the help and participation of other communities, particularly with respect to secondary education and the future establishment of a boarding school. The prospect of a boarding school is a challenging but pivotal element, and is essential if we are to reach the highest possible standards of excellence.


CONCLUSION 

I remind myself of the words of Sidi Karim Viudes during the Educational Seminar held in Granada in January earlier this year: "The future of Islam remains to be created; the opening is enormous. The future is completely open… The Islam that has to come to Europe will surprise us, it does not necessarily have to be just like what we have had until now.”

I would also like to evoke once again the figure of Goethe, as a stimulating reminder to us of the Wilhelms of this age. In his search he managed to attain a correct view of the sciences and nature. He immersed himself in life, in his own circumstances; he looked for wholeness and shaped himself completely, uniting all the aspects of his being.

Inspired by the real suicide of a young man because of a passionate love, Goethe wrote a novel that we all know, The Passion of Young Werther, a novel that raised enormous interest in the whole of Europe (Napoleon himself read it seven times and possessed a profound understanding of the work).

The inevitable conclusion is that Werther, the tormented young lover, succumbs to those emotions and passions, but Wilhelm, on the contrary, does not allow himself to be dragged by his passion into self-destruction. Rather, his experiences give rise to self-restraint, and eventually, to wisdom. So that Wilhelm, by end of the trilogy, is Meister - Teacher.

In some way, the characters of Wilhelm and Werther are a metaphor for two opposing tendencies in modern Europe: Wilhelm as the struggle for life and constructing a new world; and Werther as submission to pure nihilism. 

“Goethe”, and here again I quote Rais Abu Bakr, “recognised the clear and spontaneous core of all genuine Islamic education and the doctrine of Unity…” and “…He concludes with the knowledge that only in the meeting with Islam can a person achieve real recognition of the spiritual level that he himself has achieved.”

Shaykh Abdalqadir published a fatwa in Weimar in 1995 declaring our acceptance of Goethe as a Muslim. In the last two paragraphs of that fatwa, he concludes: "Goethe, the leading poet of Europe and glory of the German language and intellectual life, is also the first Muslim of modern Europe; reawakening in the hearts of people the desire for knowledge of God and of his Messenger, a knowledge that has remained latent since the darkness that had descended on Islamic Spain. In view of his dazzling affirmation of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, he should be known among Muslims as MUHAMMAD JOHANN WOLFGANG GOETHE.”


I thank you for your hard fought attentiveness in the scorching heat of the afternoon and for your presence here.

As-salamu alaykum

That brings us to the end of today’s lecture… [recommend further reading etc., if any]. The subject of our next lecture is… [title]… [recommend preparatory reading, etc., if any]. Thank you for your attention. Assalamu alaykum.


References