- Yoking together science and mysticism
On Sunday Prime Minister Imran Khan laid the foundation stone of Al-Qadir University in Sohawa. It was a good idea to set up a university between Gujrat and Islamabad to allow local graduates, particularly girls, to have access to higher learning nearer home.
In his address the PM underlined the need to inculcate ideology of Pakistan in the student community. The kind of society the Father of the Nation wanted to create in the newly carved out state of Pakistan has been explained by him in the address the Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947. Pakistan has to be a pluralistic Islamic country with parliamentary democracy based on federalism and an economic system characterising a welfare state. The Quaid also made it known soon after the creation of Pakistan that civilian supremacy would be a corner stone of the new state. Hopefully the new university would impart the Quid’s concept of the ideology of Pakistan.
Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani is a well-known mystic revered by many as a saint but the Sheikh never claimed to be a scientist. Mysticism is a matter of passion and other-worldliness. What one needs to become a Sufi is to find the right kind of guide and follow him. All major Sufis from Ibnul Arabi to Bulleh Shah have stressed devotion and berated argumentation and reliance on books. A scientist on the other hand observes dispassionately the causal laws of the material world by means of observation and experimentation.
The best way to pay homage to the Sheikh was to create an Al-Qadir chair in one of the universities of Pakistan or abroad. The Sohawa University should have been devoted to science alone and named after Ibn Khaldun, the philosopher of history, or Ibn Rushd, the Andalusian philosopher, if the idea was to give the new university a historic name. By combining science and mysticism, one would only confuse the students and in the process produce neither good scientists nor trustworthy mystics.
Imran Khan would do well to improve the condition of government schools and the standards of colleges and universities. The government should concentrate on manpower training on a massive scale. Avoiding difficult decisions and taking recourse to shortcuts belittles the stature of a leader.