Islam Means Education – at All Levels!
And that Means Reading!
(Bringing Islam to the World One Concept at a Time!
Taking the Qur'an to Every Home and Heart that Needs It --
And which One Does Not?)
Islam came to educate the world. And today, high schools, colleges and universities are places that people go to get an education.
For countless centuries, Muslims have referred to these places of education as Madrasahs, often located in the neighborhood mosques. And every neighborhood had its share of mosques.
And that is precisely what that expression, Madrasah, means: a place for learning. In Arabic, the word Dars means a lesson.
It is fair to say that those of us who live in the West – America, West Indies, Europe, Australia, elsewhere – do have a smattering of university education. We are blessed in that way.
And that – I mean university education of some type – places one of the most powerful tools of Islam directly in our hands: Reading.
For, reading is the First Commandment of Islam. The Qur'an says: Iqra’ or Read!
And that is that. Pure and simple: Iqra’ or Read. No ifs, no buts, just plain: Read.
And yet, Muslims as a people, I suspect, are not great readers. They have found all kinds of excuses for not following the Qur’an’s First Commandment in their daily life.
That way, Muslims also have done what other people have been doing forever: changing Allah's Deen. All the other people before them.
Just like Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, prophesied that they would. Even to the point of diving into a lizard's hole, if those before them, such as the Christians and the Jews, did.
One way in which Muslims did this is by adulterating the meaning of the words of the Qur'an.
For example, Muslims took the clear, powerful and most revolutionary Arabic word Iqra' (Read!) and changed it to a more convenient, exotic and "religiously" charged expression "Recite!"
The challenge in the Cave of Hira before the unlettered Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, was not to recite whatever the angel gave as a chant: such as A, B, C.
Even a parrot can “recite” that.
But the thing was to make a man who could not read, read. That was the challenge.
And that was the miracle with which the Qur’an began its tenure on earth: making a man read who had never been given the training to read or write.
And this was happening in a world in which, in all too many places, reading was the privilege of the aristocracy; of the members of the royal family; of the children of the rich and the powerful.
And of those who held positions of leadership in churches and temples as priests.
As for the common people, first of all, the world had no idea that there were people in this world who can be called the common people.
The world only knew kings, queens, princes and princesses.
And lords and ladies and nobles and barons.
And it knew priests, pundits, Rabbis and other religious power-holders.
What you and I call common people, the world called them by such names as “rabble.”
Or another name: “riffraff.”
But not “people.” Never people.
It was the Qur’an that gave the ordinary, common people of the world their name: PEOPLE.
An-Naas! That is what the Qur’an called them.
And it was a most powerful and revolutionary title conferred by God Almighty on the masses of humanity with which he had populated the earth.
And it meant People – all people. It meant every single human being on earth that ever lived, or shall live, regardless of the differences of birth or gender or class or race or color.
This is what the Qur’an gave the world.
And it was one of the most powerful miracles of the Qur’an.
And if the Qur’an had given the world nothing else, but just this one concept of People, that would have been revolution enough in human thought and life at all levels, for all time.
And what did Muslims do?
The Muslims went right ahead, and, following their Colonizer English-speaking Jewish and Christian mentors and masters, the Muslims changed the divine expression An-Naas – People – into a human Biblical perversity called “Mankind.”
I mean no disrespect to the Bible. For, no Muslim can ever be disrespectful of anyone’s scripture, least of all the Bible that is attributed to the prophets of God such as Abraham, Moses and Jesus, among others, Alaihimus Salam.
But my fight is with the evil expression “Mankind,” that is attributable to the Bible. But really a totally human concoction and an interpolation in God’s word.
For, the Christians and the Jews had done to the Bible what the Muslims are doing to the Qur’an right now through their flawed, imperfect and misleading English translations.
That is how Muslims adulterate the teachings of the Qur’an – by changing the meaning of Qur’an’s divine expressions.
So, what did “people” need, more than anything else in this world? They needed an education.
And what does education do? It changes the lives of the people. It is transformative.
Education liberates and empowers people. And it gives people the tools people need to live a successful life on earth.
So, education is power. All kinds of power.
And education gives people – An-naas – economic power by teaching them how to master the tools of the trade of making a successful living.
And, at the same time, education gives people political power by teaching them how to master their own lives and destinies on earth by providing them the tools and techniques of self-government.
Thus, true education – to give which the Qur’an came into the world, as in Yu’allimu-humul Kitaaba wal Hikmah – is totally something else.