Our Motto

The Motto of the Musim Faculty of Advanced Studies
"Let none come among us except those who are concerned with adab and siyar and who seek beneficial knowledge."

Adab, Siyar and Beneficial Knowledge

There is little disagreement that the world is in a period of unprecedentedly rapid transition. It has been heralded as a brave new age of information. However, there is ample reason to regard these developments with deep pessimism and foreboding as the inexorable rise of information and technology proceeds at the expense of an authentic epistemology. The recovery of a correct hierarchy of knowledges and their application to the transactions of civilised living is urgently needed in order to discriminate between two ways of being in the world: the one essentially nihilistic and the other one life affirming.

The dynamic juxtaposition of the respective clusters of meaning contained in the Arabic words adab and siyar reveal what we consider to be the essential touchstones that will guide our determination as a fellowship of scholars, academics, researchers and students to recover the vital connection between learning and behaviour and to create the opportunities for autonomy of thought and action that will be indispensable if the people of knowledge and understanding are to fulfil the responsibilities that await them in our time.

Adab contains the meanings of 'courtesy', 'discipline' and 'literature'. Courtesy is certainly one of the foremost requirements of the student and teacher in their meeting together, but it is equally a vital feature of any civilised society at all levels, in the family and in the marketplace. It is nevertheless one of the first casualties of the modern age, or more accurately, the 'technique age', in which we live. When the barrier of courtesy is destroyed, then the road lies open to the barbarities to which we are increasingly inured.

Discipline is an essential ingredient in any endeavour, not least in the fields of teaching, training and learning which are of primary concern to us.

Literature is of paramount importance on a number of levels. Firstly, it cultivates and transmits the relationship to language without which all knowledge and science are reduced to technical applications and exercises in pragmatism; a road leading to destinations which include 'total war', 'collateral damage' and genocidal 'final solutions' the abhorrent instances of which we see being carried out with greater and greater efficiency almost daily. Secondly, it is through literature that great authors and poets have transmitted their deep insights into the inner drives, actions and reactions of the human being, and have recognised the workings of history and new directions whose stirrings we must also assist through literature and poetry amid the otherwise dismal landscape of world politics.

Siyar contains meanings which encompass 'biographies', 'military campaigns' and 'histories'. These are the elements that will prevent any tendency in the study of adab towards becoming an arena of pure erudition limited to elevating but ineffectual 'humanities', rather than being a source of real and effective insight into the dynamic forces that move and shape history; namely, an understanding of the individual with his knowledge and his 'training' confronted by his destiny and his responsibility.

The use of the term 'beneficial knowledge' is a necessary counter to the concept of academic studies for their own sake, since we have seen the transformation of the academic arena into a handmaiden of the powerful hegemonic political and economic forces of our age while yet maintaining the myth of scientific objectivity and academic detachment. In truth, we do not deny that the discipline of scientific method has its place but neither will we deny its limitations or the limitations of the dialectical method, critical deconstruction and gratuitous polemic as a reliable means of epistemological advancement. The Muslim Faculty will nurture a determination on the part of staff and students to actively engage in the vital issues of the age and to inspire a new generation to assume the mantle of responsibility for indicating and ushering in the necessary revaluations and transformations whose historical immanence we can sense, but whose emergence is otherwise neither guaranteed nor inevitable.