All posts by Minhaaj Rehman

Minhaaj Rehman is a consultant, writer, and speaker with multilingual skills. Currently, he contributes to The News, More Magazine, ProPakistani, etc. He writes on diverse topics ranging from technology to education and politics to travel.

The Pygmalion of Modern Schools

This treacherous mirror on the wall has powdered many ugly faces ever since. Sometimes in the name of a benevolent side of the evil characters and at others, idolizing the misunderstood villains.

Psychoanalysis is considered a big breakthrough in the development of psychology as a science and ignoring many despicable aspects of Freudian psychology, it has seeped into mainstream discourse on the subject. The current state of modern education and its horrific decline has been psychoanalyzed by many as the failure of societies as coherent and compassionate environments for learning.

In one of my previous columns I have written about the evolution of Islamic schools and how European education system got its early institutions by emulating the principles. The contemporary education system is a stripped down version of it, devoid of its spirituality and frankly many of its foundational principles.

Times World University ranking lists the top universities in the world each year by laying out the criteria of academic excellence. Last year, five areas were analyzed to rank the universities accordingly.

  • Teaching (the learning environment)
  • Research (volume, income, and reputation)
  • Citations (research influence)
  • International outlook (staff, students, and research)
  • Industry income (knowledge transfer).

If the fact that institutions themselves provide the data that Times then use to rank universities doesn’t question the whole methodology there are a myriad of other reasons why the whole idea is an eye wash. Take, for example, the Teaching part. A Certain percentage is given to how much staff members make, reputation surveys and doctors to bachelor’s ratio which has no demonstrable bearing on the quality and contribution of the research.

These money making institutions have now officially invited everyone to join the rat race by making university incomes as a criterion of excellence which is exactly the reason their research should be doubted for conflicts of interest with their research partners. If that wasn’t enough the cartel of fake publications and conference papers upped their game. MIT’s student Max Krohn generated a high school paper generator that would generate gibberish papers that would pass the plagiarism tests and can be used to create papers for conference presentations.

With 30,000 peer-reviewed journals and 2 million articles published per year it is hard not to find a place for any article of any standing. For rich, the donations to get your children to top schools through the back door never gets old. The latest is Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, who got admitted to Harvard allegedly by the generous contribution of Trump Foundation. Rest of it is taken over by multinational corporations that coerce students into publishing pseudo-research to further their goals.

Now let’s compare it with traditional Islamic schools and the 8 principles laid out by Maulana Qasim Ali Nanotivi RA, founder of one of the greatest Islamic schools, Darul Uloom Deoband. These guidelines are the beacons of quality education and disciplining of the soul at the same time.

  • People who work for Madrassas should spend their time to increase donations through private means.
  • Provision of food should be a part of schools and if possible physical exercises should also be arranged.
  • It is of utmost importance that administration of Madrassa should objectively argue for what is right without worrying about their own reputation and benefits. The raison d’etre for these schools is to fight the tumults of atheism and Bidaa and not self-inflation.
  • Everyone in these schools should have their own means of income and should not live off other people’s donations. It is a service not a source of income.
  • Education should be imparted through a set strategy and scheme which is mutually agreed upon previously or afterward.
  • As long as schools don’t have reliable sources of income, it will remain prosperous and impartial. The day it started receiving money from organizations or a questionable individual it will go downhill because between fear and hope is the piety.
  • Donations from government and the rich are detrimental to the school’s impartiality.
  • Donations should only be accepted from people who have no expectations from these donations. Donations should be given without the hope of fame.

Imam Al Ghazali’s famous work ‘Munqidh Min Ad-Dhalal’ is his life story and expose of shoddy works of scholars for dollars. Next time when you send your children to these pygmalion sculptors of greedy, arrogant academics, somewhere in your subconscious never forget the importance of sending them to these priceless mystics so that they may see with their own eyes the real value of education and not its worth.


The Divine Logic

Its a very well said aphorism that atheism is a disease that rich suffer from and concoctions in religions (Bid’aa) start from the poor. This Freudian intellectualization of the divine and parochial smirk has its own feeble convictions.

Its the middle-class hardworking people that has intellect and spirituality that brings them closer to the truth because both extremely rich and extremely poor have neither desire nor the capability to discern the veracity.

Muslim intellectuals have spent an enormous amount of time to expand the false arguments to their logical conclusions and eventually defeated the so-called enlightenment of western philosophy.

One of these great Kalam tradition books in recent times is Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi RA’s ‘Al Intibahat Al Mufida fi Ashtabahat al Jadeeda’, roughly translated ‘Useful Admonitions for Modern Confusions’. The book has summed up all the rules and principles of logical fallacies with unprecedented dexterity.

It is still taught in schools to cope with atheistic fallacies. It encompasses the discussion in seven main rules that every student of logic should remember while arguing with the non-believers:

  • Not understanding something does not automatically make it wrong.
  • If something is logically possible and tradition affirms it, believing it is mandatory. (There are two kinds of logics. 1. Tradition (Naql) 2. Common sense. (Aqal)
  • The impossibility of something happening is different from there being no way of it happening. Very unlikely to happen vs impossible to happen.
  • For something to exist, it is not necessary for it to be seen or felt.
  • Things known from tradition does not need logical proves.
  • Logic and example are different things. Plaintiff can be asked for logic not for an example.
  • Contradictions between Tradition and Common Sense can occur only in four combinations: 1. Both Absolute (Qatai) 2. Absolute Traditionally but Derived (Zanni) Common Sense 3. Both Common Sense 4. Absolute Common Sense but Derived Traditionally. (Qatai injunctions are unequivocal words from Quran and Hadith and Zanni are derived through proper Ijtihad)

He then gives the examples to understand above 7 principles in real life scenarios.

  • If someone has never seen an elephant denying its existence doesn’t make it so.
  • If someone tells you that New York is bigger than Detroit and you haven’t been to either of them, denying its plausibility is wrong. It is very possible and if you trust the person narrating, there is absolutely no reason to deny that.
  • Someone who hasn’t seen a car finds it hard to believe that a cart can be pulled without a horse. For him it’s unlikely but logically it is not impossible.
  • None of us have ever seen our great great great grandfather yet we believe he existed. Similarly, no one has ever seen air yet we breathe it.
  • We know from history that Napoleon existed. One can question its veracity but cannot ask for a prove.
  • If someone tells you that Romans ruled Europe you cannot ask him for a precedent to believe that. It came down through historians and is very unlikely to be wrong and a similar precedent has no bearing on the argument.
  • Contradiction scenario 1 is not possible because only one has to be truth to contradict each other and two truths don’t contradict each other. The second scenario calls for preference of derived over common sense. The third scenario is a bit complicated and derived argument should be given preference for its obvious meanings and common sense should not be used as a decisive argument. The only exception where common sense should be given preference is scenario 4 where it should be accepted over tradition and tradition should be analyzed for its semantic spins.

These terms can be quite complicated for beginners in logic and people who want to know more can read it here.

The book goes on, applying these logical principles to arguments of Prophethood, Heaven, and Hell, Destiny, Angels, and prayers. It is considered a gem in sciences of argument and logic. It has especially become more important in times when the clash of civilization is at its peak and communication has become very easy between people from different cultures.

Despite all these arguments, one must understand that ultimate pinnacle of belief is not needing logical arguments for belief in Allah but the love of Prophet SA should suffice as the biggest argument.

Sayedna Ali RA was once asked during his sermon while he was talking about the torment of the hell, “You are speaking about it as if you’ve seen it”. His response should be a guiding principle for all of us. He said, “Had I seen it with my own two eyes, I’d not have believed it any more than I believe the word of Muhammad Peace be Upon Him”. And this is the unshakable belief we all should pray and long for.


Circumstances in which this great work was written isn’t less intriguing either. Imam Al Busiri RA had a gift that landed him the in the courts of great warlords, emperors, and judges. His fame had made him not only wealthy but a convenient court jester whose buttering words can be bought for a price.

His life was being spent in luxury and glitter of gold. It is said when famous Sufi Ibrahim bin Adham RA said farewell to his princely status and set on the path of Sufism, the whole kingdom of Balkh couldn’t believe that spoiled Ibrahim can last long with the mystics.

Yet he went down into the annals of history as one of the greatest reformer worlds has seen. Imam Al Busiri RA needed to go through a misery big enough to realize that Allah’s mercy on his creation is not reserved for the rich and everyone needs it regardless of their wealth and opulence.

The eye-opener came in the form of a severe attack of Paralysis that left half of his body dysfunctional. False friends soon deserted him and reality of his fame became manifest to him. In his despair, his life flashed back in front of him and his embarrassment haunted him.

He decided to write his masterpiece, a eulogy of Prophet SA, through which he would pray for the atonement of his sins and ask for health again. He began writing the poem. Through the silver beads falling down his cheeks and heart aching from pain, words came out line after line, couplet after couplet.

He started reciting the poem again and again with unwavering faith in Allah. It is said that no sin is big enough for Allah’s mercy. He slid into slumber and saw a dream. Prophet SA was sitting close to him and passed his hand over the diseased body and threw a scarf at him. His disease went away.

As he woke up to find he could move his body. He got up and stepped out of his house. He ran into a beggar who asked him to recite his poem that he wrote for Prophet SA’s intercession. He didn’t tell about the poem to anyone, how could the beggar know? He started reciting the poem and beggar jumped and said, I’ve seen this recited in front of Prophet SA and narrated the same dream Imam Al Busiri RA had seen and mentioned the Scarf!

Word got out and it has become the most cherished recitation for people who are sick and helpless. It has cured people around the world and continues to do it. He wrote two other poems also but this one brought him the fame that never sets. The aching pain and pleading in the words and Prophet SA’s endorsement are there for everyone till the eternity.

Poem of the Scarf reminds us of the non-medicinal effects of prayers, mercy and intangible. Medicine is from Allah and so is his mercy. One is nothing without the other. Lost in our materialism we’ve long forgotten the spiritual aspect of healing. As for the believers, the gold mine is still out there.

Excerpt from Sheikh Faizullah’s Translation.

What is the matter with thy two eyes, that the more I tell them to desist from tears, the more they flow; and what is the matter with thy heart, that the more I ask it to come to its senses, the more it is distracted by love?

And even now that thy ardent love has stamped on thy two cheeks the two lines of tears and emaciation like Buphthalmos (mountain) and Carob tree fruit.
How often does it make a man approve of a deadly pleasure; since he does not know that there is poison in the fat?

And fear the secret machinations both of hunger and satiety’ for, sometimes hunger is more mischievous than indigestion.
And the palace of Kisra was affected with rents in its walls’1, just as his army was scattered up not to unite again’

The flames of his fire subsided from regret for him’ while the river had a sleepless eye from excessive grief.

The wonders of the Koran cannot be computed and comprehended completely; nor are they given up in disgust, notwithstanding repetition of reading.
They are confirmed and perspicuous’ leaving no room for ambiguities to the advantage of any adversary, nor do they require any judge to decide their significance

O my Lord, save my hopes from thee from being frustrated’ and make my account of deeds free from faults’
Be kind to thy servant in both the worlds; for, his patience is apt to run away from dangers, whenever they call it forth.

Full poem can be read here!

Prophetic Medicine

While spiritual knowledge cures the intangible diseases of the soul e.g. envy, greed, rage, vendetta and avarice, doctors aim to keep the human body functional. Each one has effects on the other. Imam Al-Ghazali refers to this in magnus opus “Ihya Uloom Din”, The Revival of the Religious sciences as the horse and the rider problem.

The body is the horse that the soul rides. The difference between animals and human beings is its superior cognition and logical reasoning. The corporal bodies are made up of a very similar matter. When a Darwinian refers to human similarity with apes, what he is alluding to is this physical similarity between mankind and other animals.

Among all other shortcomings of this idea, the most important is complete ignorance/denial of human spirituality. The soul is the rider of the horse that is the body. The journey is only possible when both of them are strong and functional. If the body feels sick, the rider can go no further and if the rider is sick, the horse doesn’t have a purpose.

Prophet PBUH has bestowed this Ummah with immense wisdom that suffices everything we’ll ever need. Subsequent scholars and physicians have worked their whole lives to decipher the wisdom behind his words and have come up with gems that have been enclosed in the tomes that we benefit from today. One book of this treasure is Ibn Qayyam RA’s ‘Tib-e-Nabvi’, Prophetic Medicine. He breaks up prophetic medicine into three parts:

  • Preventative Medicine and Practices
  • Curing the diseases
  • Excretion of waste materials from the body.

He goes on to list ten things that basically cause all disruptions in normal body functions. If these functions are suppressed or unleashed abnormally, they cause damage to other parts and functions of the body and result in sickness. The majority of these functions involve suppression of sneeze, urination, excretion, vomiting and extreme starvation. The human body is believed to have been made of four earthly elements. Earth, Fire, Water and Wind. Its composition requires that its cure comprises of same elements to offset the imbalance. There are four states of human body:

  • Hot
  • Cold
  • Wet
  • Dry

A combination of them makes four more categories which are Hot and Dry, Cold and Wet, Cold and Dry and Hot and Wet. All these temperaments affect human mood. In Sufi tradition, these are called “The moods” and a huge cause of them is the food one uses and how its processed and obtained. Human character and health depend on three things. Food, Company, and Education. The combination of these makes up a personality.

Ibn Qayyam RA was a great Sufi in his own right and understood not only the apparent effects of the medicine and its toll on the soul. He describes in the very beginning of the book that relying on medicine is a weakness of soul. All things in the world are Allah’s creation and can only provide benefits when it’s His will to do so.

A depiction of this is Prophet SA’s saying to a doctor when he said I am a Tabib (Doctor). Prophet SA said “Allah is the doctor. You are only a fellow”. Truth is that medicines have been proven to cause both good and bad effects. It’s only when Allah wishes health for a man that He lets the right amount of medicine, at the right time cure the patient.

Trust should be placed in Allah and prayers should be made to him. Medicine is just a worldly device and it should not be relied more than on a car that can break down. Most of the diseases start from the stomach. “No human ever filled a vessel worse than the stomach. Sufficient for any son of Adam are some morsels to keep his back straight. But if it must be, then one-third for his food, one-third for his drink and one-third for his breath.” [Ahmad, At-Tirmidhee, An-Nasaa’ee, Ibn Maajah — Hadith Saheeh.] Now the inability of stomach to digest the food that we give it clogs it and disrupts the normal function that has severe effects on performance.

Another Hadith states that ‘For every disease, there is a cure”. The reason we call something incurable is the lack of knowledge Allah has bestowed upon his mankind about the disease. Many diseases in the past that we thought had no cure are curable today. It is only when Allah wishes He bestows the man access to his great wisdom and secrets. Physicians have agreed for a long time that a patient should never use the medicine if the body has the energy to fight the disease naturally. The great wisdom of it is to prepare your body to develop a strong immune system to fight diseases without external help. Centuries later science agrees with it in strong words.

Tribulations and disease are also a source of expiation for sins and transgressions of people over others. The unconscious aggressions towards the poor, the sick and the needy. A Hadith states that when a believer is pricked by a thorn, his sins are atoned. Another way of looking at is the state of helplessness people go into when they are sick. Despite all the wealth and wisdom, they can’t get out of it without Allah’s mercy. This condition is very similar to Ramadan when people starve voluntarily, partly to feel the hunger and not being able to eat.

Medicine is curing a disease is only one part. Treating people with verses is another cure. In tradition, at many occasions companion of Prophet SA cure diseases with verses from the Quran. For the skeptics, the power of the words seem far-fetched ideas but same people get worked up when they are sworn at. Abuse is after all nothing but words. If one can be moved by it, why should verses from the one who created it should be of any less effect?

Book mentions a lot of things that are both curative and preventative which Prophet SA used and urged others to use regularly. Some of them are Honey, Dates, Milk, Black Seeds, Olive Oil, Cheese, Pomegranate, Grapes, Figs, Barley, Meat among others. Regular use of these ensures not only good health but ensures a fuller and happier mood.

GMO foods, pesticides, fertilizers, junk food and bad habits have ruined human health in all parts of the worlds as well as their spiritual states. While there is a cure for everything, prevention is the best cure. It includes not only healthy eating habits also positive outlook towards life. Psychosomatic effects have been documented and proven to be authentic.

Don’t eat unless you are hungry, walk for a while after your dinner, don’t eat hot and cold food simultaneously, don’t shower right after eating, fast each month to detox your stomach, pray regularly, give alms on regular basis, avoid a sedentary lifestyle, keep good company and finally be thankful. Whining does not solve problems. There is always something to be thankful of, you just have to look harder and in the case of Allah, you don’t have to break a sweat to find it.

The Lost Faith in Eldorado

The question after world war 1 became more severe when the intermingling between the Christian world and Muslim world happened under a very different power relationship that Muslims were used to for centuries. This means their subjugated colonized reality would have very little against its encroaching and aggressive invader. This was inevitable and Islam had to move out of Arabian peninsula. It was religion for eternity and it had to pick up the gauntlet.

Luckily, Islamic tradition and its philosophical superiority had proven itself in academic spheres and triumphed in earlier encounters with the christian world when great feats like defeating Greek philosophy were pulled by Imam Al-Ghazali RA along with many others. This left us a great tradition of Kalam and logical reasoning that western world claimed itself to have mastered.

They have upped their game a notch since then. Now the western world has reconstructed not only its despicable religious history with another abominable theory called Secularism, they want it enforced. This time around its not an academic debate. It’s more of a hostile takeover with ideas shoved down the throat if they aren’t palatable in their raw form.

The corollary isn’t very different from what scholars had anticipated. The weaker and conniving took the bait and along came a generation that was quick to sell their souls for their masters’ leftovers. This ensured their smooth career progression in the courts of the English. Lepel Griffin wrote a fantastic book called Chiefs of Punjab where he lists all the influential court jesters that fought with their kinsmen for scraps of gold, water wells, a hand of villages and an annuity.

Not surprisingly the ‘false’ Prophet Mirza Ghulam Ahmed Qadiani came from a family with a long history of betraying the freedom fighters in colonial India. No wonder the masters shout about their ‘rights’ the most. Ironically they are more true to their salt then the turncoats.

Given the situation, a consensus was reached. People who are influenced easily by the foreign intrusion and give up their customs must stay in Muslim countries. They are safer at home. The ones who neither change nor influence others to convert can be allowed to migrate. Lastly, people with great influence and academic abilities must go to non-believing communities and convey the message of Prophet SA.

Gold diggers have their own reasons and they live in an aura they build for themselves. This catch 22 situation where glitter and faith presented a mutually exclusive choice, they chose the darkness. All kinds of irrelevant, cherry-picked verses were furnished from Quran to justify their avarice. Only half a century later this is where we are. In 2011, Muslims for Progressive Values appointed Imam Daayiee Abdullah as its Director for their “LGBTQ Outreach Program.”

The third generation of these sellouts has become a fearless and brazen version of their own opportunist selves. They have Islamic names, Asian tones, inspired accents and distorted identities. In order to appease their antagonist host cultures, they can go to great lengths and betray their own religion, history, parents and countries with remorse.

List only starts here. There is a British Muslims for Secular Democracy,Imaan, a group of LGBT Londoners, The Inner Circle, that claims to have first gay imam and all kind of sects one can think of. A generation raised by its enemies who eventually went off like a ticking bombing on the same people who incubated them. Swerving between embarrassment and shame some exasperated parents erupt into a desperate honor killing episode others abandon them into seclusion.

The legend of Zipa of the Muisca people in Colombia still lives today. Many Spanish conquistadors have searched for the lost city and have lost their lives in the quest. The word has it that the King arranged a huge initiation ceremony where he was to be crowned. This was once in a lifetime event, so he came up with an idea to make it an everlasting saga.

He covered himself with golden dust as an ostentatious display of his immense wealth while his attendants threw trinkets made of gold, emeralds, and precious stones into the lake and he submerged in the Lake Guatavita, a fabulous lake amidst the Andes, 50 km from Bogota. People eventually found out and rallied towards this magnetic and exotic land filled with gold and women.

Conquistadors centuries later, eventually did find silver in South America and it has ever since become one of the poorest regions in the world filled with disease, penury, violence and woe. For some reason, Muslims in the west don’t appear to be very different than the Muisca King.

While they were dazzling their ‘backward simpleton’ relatives back home with gifts and stories from their new home, indulged in vulgar display of begged velvet, their offspring took off the garb of piety, faith and sincerity that they inherited from their forefathers and put on the lowly borne tags their masters had prepared for them in schools.