Scientific Consciousness

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan I Islam and Muslims

The principal reason for Muslims’ backwardness in the field of science can be summed up in one phrase - lack of consciousness.

Just as the Indian landlord class was pushed into the background because of a lack of awareness in the field of business, so were Muslims left behind others because the scientific consciousness which ought to have developed in them had for various reasons been stultified. If they paid scant attention to science, it was partly because their respective attitudes towards religion and scientific education stood so at variance with each other. Aware of the importance or religious education, they made elaborate arrangements for its propagation on a large scale. But, since they did not grasp the importance of scientific education, they did little or nothing to set up an infrastructure for its dissemination. Without this no nation can be adequately educated.

After a long period of intellectual stagnation, our leaders eventually realised the importance of such education and, rousing themselves from the state of inertia into which they had sunk, they set up universities and colleges. What they failed to do, however, was to establish a network of primary and secondary schools which would provide a solid grounding in elementary education and eventually ‘feed’ the institutions of higher learning. Our predecessors had not neglected establishing religious schools at the elementary level, but their successors completely forgot to perform this all important task.

In the past, when great religious institutions were set up, they could hope to draw on a countrywide network of schools for their student population. There is no village or town where there is not one or more such schools. It should be obvious that in the absence of such educational facilities our universities and colleges are bound to remain deserted, but Muslim leaders appear to have lost sight of this very basic requirement. This is all the more surprising since the example of the large-scale efforts of Hindus and Christians was already there for everyone to see.

Muslims, for religious reasons, have always been disinclined to send their children to Hindu, Christian or government schools. In the absence then of Muslim schools of a good standard, these children have, through no fault of their own, been unable to qualify themselves for advanced studies. This shortcoming in the educational structure of the Muslim community - the result of negligence on the part of our leaders - has nipped many a bright young career in the bud, and has been a major factor generally in Muslims lagging behind others in.