The effect of colonialism and neocolonialism on the education system in Muslim lands has become clear to the Muslim Ummah. The 21st Century has seen the continued interference in the education curricula of the Muslim countries by the West, through influencing think tanks and government policy. This article will look at the concept of citizenship in the new Single National Curriculum (SNC) of Social Studies for Grade 4 and 5 in Pakistan. The Western concept of citizenship is already present in the O-Level syllabus that is taught in Pakistan, as the O Levels are according to the secular standards of the United Kingdom.
It has a dangerous agenda to promote the concept of citizenship according to the agenda of the UN to universalize concepts of the Western ideology. The Western ideology of capitalism has spread itself around the entire globe through many tools. The UN is one of the effective tools that it has to spread its ideas through the education systems in Muslim lands. The adoption of Western-based education systems has redefined the thoughts of generations of Muslims by exposing them to a foreign culture presented as superior in thoughts, culture and civilization. Subjects such as English, Science, History and Social Studies facilitate this objective. This strategy has resulted in certain concepts, such as democracy and nation state becoming normalized and universalized.
It is natural for any ideology to present its belief, ideas and systems to the world. The Islamic ideology also seeks to dominate the world by presenting its belief, ideas and systems. However, the methods, means and styles to achieve these objectives differ vastly. The West seeks to impose its world order for the benefit of the capitalists, whereas Islam establishes a world order on the basis of justice. The West spent the first half of the 20th century promoting the concept of nation states. The UN was designed to facilitate this restructuring of the world order. The Uthmani Khilafah was thus dismembered and the diverse peoples, who had lived under the rule of Islam for many centuries, were forced to migrate to other lands in the name of self-determination, nationalism and nation states. Sovereignty to the nation state became embedded in the new world order. The idea of any state expanding its borders through conquest was made illegal through ‘international law’. This was a direct attack on the foreign policy of the Islamic ideology. Thus, the normalization of nation states was completed. Further, the concept of democracy as a system of ruling was propagated as being the best and most progressive system. However, the contradiction of this weak concept was apparent. The West created agent rulers in the guise of monarchs and dictators, and established relations with them to further their objectives. So in reality, the concept of democracy has always been nothing more than a benchmark set by the West to judge the progressiveness of any nation.
Post-World War 2 and with the creation of the UN, citizenship was defined to be based on nationality and not belief. The concept of Ummah was eradicated and Muslims became loyal to the flag presented to them by their colonial masters under the illusion of Independence. In the late 20th century, the Western ideology propagated heavily the phenomenon of Globalization. The true agenda of this concept is hidden by the mirage of a harmonious and unified world. Globalization has many definitions: “Globalization constitutes integration of national economies into the International economy through trade, direct foreign investment (by corporations and multinationals), short-term capital flows, international flows of workers and humanity generally, and flows of technology” (Bhagwati, 2006) and “Globalization is the growing integration of economies and societies around the world” (Collier and Dollar, 2001).
It is alleged that the term ‘globalization’ does not stipulate any particular type of society and is said to be a process of worldwide spatial expansion and integration. However, on closer examination, it is the Western ideology that has expanded from the North to the South; there has been no transfer of ideas, values or systems from the South to the North. Globalization has been the process by which the Western ideology has promoted its belief of secularism, its ideas of freedom, its values of human rights and its system of democracy around the globe. The universalized popular culture is a testament of this fact. This is the Western ideology that seeks to promote the concept of the global citizen that embodies its values. Anyone who doesn’t conform to this is an extremist or intolerant. Thus, the Western ideology has created a narrative about what is a good citizen based on the adoption of its values.
The new Social Studies curriculum starts with the theme of citizenship with the focus on the ‘Global citizen’ and defines the following key concepts: Citizens; global and digital citizens; rights and responsibilities; diversity; tolerance; peace and conflict management; common etiquettes (page 25). These words seem harmless, yet they all have ideological connotations which facilitate the domination of the Western ideology. These connotations are discussed below.
Theme 1 – Citizenship: Standard 1 – Identify civic rights and responsibilities and reason why might they change over time.
In any society the concepts of citizenship should be defined from the beliefs of that society. In a democratic society, the citizens’ rights and responsibilities are defined by legislation made by Parliament or Congress. These have evolved over many centuries, because that is the nature of manmade laws. In the 1960’s, citizens in the UK were not permitted to engage in homosexuality. Within 50 years, not only has the law been changed to accommodate this activity, but it has been redefined as a fundamental right. Further legislation allowed marriage and adoption rights to homosexuals. Thus, the evolving nature of Western laws is evident. The SNC promotes the system of democracy and the historical development of democracy will be contained in textbooks. It is glorified as an evolving system that brings improvement to society. The SNC defines a good citizen as one who follows and promotes democracy as the best form of government and believes in the values of secularism, freedom and democracy which are all pillars of the Western ideology.
The SNC does not mention about the system of governance of Muslims, the Khilafah, in which sovereignty is to Allah (swt) and the rules do not change with time and place. The basis of ruling is Quran and Sunnah, with Ijtihad permitted on new matters on the basis of Usoul. These rules do not change with time and place. The concept of citizen according to Islam is the one who lives under the authority of the Islamic Khilafah (Caliphate). Citizens within the Khilafah can be Muslim or non-Muslim. They can be on any ethnicity. The non-Muslim citizens are known as Ahle-Dhimma, the People of the Contract. They pledge to obey the rules of the state and in return the state safeguards their life, property, belief, mind and honour. Islamic history is full of examples proving that the Khilafah was the only true state that protected the rights of its citizens. No other ideology has been able to do that. The success of the Islamic ideology is due to the concept of Taqwa held by the Muslim rulers, who understand their responsibility to protect the Ahle-Dhimmah. The conduct comes from the divinely revealed Sunnah of RasulAllah ﷺ.
It is a duty upon us to give the people of the Dhimmah the protection given to the Muslims, due to words of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, «أَلا مَنْ قَتَلَ نَفْسًا مُعَاهِدًا لَهُ ذِمَّةُ اللَّهِ وَذِمَّةُ رَسُولِهِ فَقَدْ أَخْفَرَ بِذِمَّةِ اللَّهِ، فَلا يُرَحْ رَائِحَةَ الْجَنَّةِ، وَإِنَّ رِيحَهَا لَيُوجَدُ مِنْ مَسِيرَةِ سَبْعِينَ خَرِيفًا» “Indeed, whoever kills a person who is granted the pledge of protection (Mu’ahid) that has a covenant from Allah and a covenant from His Messenger ﷺ, then he has violated the covenant with Allah and the covenant of His Messenger, so he shall not smell the fragrance of Paradise; even though its fragrance can be sensed from the distance of seventy autumns”, transmitted by Al-Tirmidhi. And Al-Bukhari transmitted it with the words,«مَنْ قَتَلَ مُعَاهَدًا لَمْ يَرِحْ رَائِحَةَ الْجَنَّةِ وَإِنَّ رِيحَهَا تُوجَدُ مِنْ مَسِيرَةِ أَرْبَعِينَ عَامًا»» “Whoever killed a Mu’ahid (a person who is granted the pledge of protection by the Muslims) shall not smell the fragrance of Paradise though its fragrance can be smelt at a distance of forty years (of traveling).”
The people of Dhimmah enjoy the same rights as those enjoyed by Muslims in terms of managing their affairs and securing their living. It is narrated on the authority of Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: «أَطْعِمُوا الْجَائِعَ، وَعُودُوا الْمَرِيضَ، وَفُكُّوا الْعَانِيَ» “Give food to the hungry, pay a visit to the sick and release (set free) the one in captivity (by paying his ransom),” transmitted by Al-Bukhari through Abu Musa. And from the narration as transmitted by Abu Dawud in his Sunan, «عَلَى أَنْ لاَ تُهْدَمَ لَهُمْ بَيْعَةٌ، وَلاَ يُخْرَجَ لَهُمْ قَسٌّ، وَلاَ يُفْتَنُوا عَنْ دِينِهِمْ مَا لَمْ يُحْدِثُوا حَدَثًا أَوْ يَأْكُلُوا الرِّبَا» “No church of theirs will be demolished and no clergyman of theirs will be turned out. There will be no interruption in their religion (coerced away from their faith) until they introduce something in our matter that does not belong to it or take Riba.”
The Prophet ﷺ used to visit their sick, as recorded by Al-Bukhari from Narrated Anas (ra), «كَانَ غُلاَمٌ يَهُودِيٌّ يَخْدُمُ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَمَرِضَ، فَأَتَاهُ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَعُودُهُ، فَقَعَدَ عِنْدَ رَأْسِهِ فَقَالَ لَهُ أَسْلِمْ . فَنَظَرَ إِلَى أَبِيهِ وَهْوَ عِنْدَهُ فَقَالَ لَهُ أَطِعْ أَبَا الْقَاسِمِ صلى الله عليه وسلم. فَأَسْلَمَ، فَخَرَجَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَهْوَ يَقُولُ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي أَنْقَذَهُ مِنَ النَّارِ» “A young Jewish boy used to serve the Prophet ﷺ and he became sick. So the Prophet ﷺ went to visit him. He sat near his head and asked him to embrace Islam. The boy looked at his father, who was sitting there; the latter told him to obey Abul-Qasim and the boy embraced Islam. The Prophet ﷺ came out saying “Praises be to Allah Who saved the boy from the Hell-fire.” This indicates that it is permitted to visit them, be courteous and sociable with them.
Al-Bukhari transmitted from Amru Bin Maymun from Umar Bin Al-Khattab (ra) who counseled at the time of his death “And I enjoin the Khalifah after me with this and this, and enjoin him that by the covenant of Allah and His Messenger ﷺ, he should fulfil their covenant, fight behind them and not force them to work beyond their capacity.”
The classical scholars of Islam thus detailed the rights of the Muslims towards the dhimmi. The famous Maliki jurist, Shihab al-Din al-Qarafi states: The covenant of protection imposes upon us certain obligations toward the ahl al-dhimmah. They are our neighbours, under our shelter and protection upon the guarantee of Allah, His Messenger ﷺ, and the religion of Islam. Whoever violates these obligations against any one of them by so much as an abusive word, by slandering his reputation, or by doing him some injury or assisting in it, has breached the guarantee of Allah, His Messenger ﷺ, and the religion of Islam.
Theme 1 – Citizenship: Standard 1- Human Rights- Identify the fundamental human rights as stated by UN.
This standard is clearly in line of the UN agendas as can be seen from Article 18 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR) which states: Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
The human rights discussed in the UNDHR cannot be a criterion for Muslims. Islam has defined rights according to its own belief. Once a Muslim has established an intellectual belief, his/her thoughts, values and emotions become defined by the criteria of Islam, and thus becomes a distinguished Islamic personality. Islam doesn’t allow the questioning of its fundamental thoughts, and debate or difference of opinion is confined to matters under the category of Mubah, i.e. permissibility. Islam protects the rights of its citizens in practicing their belief and also compels the Khalifah to protect all rights given by Shariah.
Theme 1 – Citizenship: Standard 1 – Diversity and Tolerance – Understand that all individuals have equal rights, irrespective of religious and ethnic differences, and learn to respect individual differences in opinion.
Diversity and tolerance are considered the basis of democratic societies. Tolerance and the right to pursue any ideology or religion assume great importance. The Western countries consider themselves as role models for democracy and freedom. However, the contradiction of these manmade flimsy ideas has become exposed with the intolerance of Islamic symbols in Europe. The ban on burqa, face veil and minarets in European countries are examples of intolerance for non-Western religions and cultures. The Western media is full of hate speech against Muslims and Islam and is creating an atmosphere of intolerance due to which there is a rise in violent crime against Muslims. Prominent Western leaders and politicians do not hold back their hatred for Islam; rather, they take any opportunity to malign the Islamic ideology, thus causing hatred and intolerance. The ban on Islamic clothing seeks to amalgamate Muslims into the Western ideal and thus the concept of diversity is another lie that the West promotes, but does not implement.
Islam recognizes that the beliefs of people cannot be changed by force. Islam provided security to all its citizens regardless of belief or ethnicity. Islam allows its non-Muslim citizens to practice their beliefs within their own homes; however, their belief cannot be propagated in society. Before Islam, empires that would conquer nations would oppress the people and force them to adhere to their way of life. The Western ideology is also famous for ethnic cleansing of the Native American population of America and the aborigines of Australia. It is the Western ideology that did not tolerate diversity. Christian missionaries were sent to Africa, Asia, Latin America and South America to force the people to convert to Christianity. The narrative of the West that it produces a diverse and tolerant society is a lie that has been unmasked in the recent Black Lives Matter movement in the US. After 300 years of democracy the US does not give equal rights to its citizens.
The hidden danger for the Muslim Ummah in the terms of ‘diversity and tolerance’ is designed to attack the Aqeedah of Islam. RasulAllah ﷺ warned that people would deviate from the true Aqeedah of Islam. During the Abbasid Khilafah, when the Mutazila deviated in core beliefs, scholars rose to challenge them and prevented them from misguiding Muslims. Those that fabricated Hadith were dealt with by the era of the Muhaditheen who protected Islam through the development of Ulum ul Hadith. During the 1300 years of Islamic rule, the Aqeedah and systems of Islam were protected by the Ummah, the scholars and the rulers. The Shariah protects the Islamic belief by preventing a Muslim from apostatizing. Apostates are dealt with harshly and the hudud punishment of death is applied unless they repent. Thus the supremacy of the Islamic Aqeedah is maintained. Islam allows difference of opinion in the branches of Fiqh in text which is dhanni dalalah and dahnni thuboot only. Islam doesn’t allow anyone to change the belief of Islam. Islam also forbids Muslims from changing their Deen and abandoning qatii ahkam.
Theme 1 – Citizenship: Standard 1 – Explain the importance of freedom of speech.
Freedom of speech is another lie that has been exposed particularly since 9/11. Anyone questioning the war on terror is maligned as a supporter of extremism. Hundreds of people in the West have been arrested and detained for their freedom of speech and opinion which goes against the narrative of Western governments. Speaking against the holocaust, and questioning its facts as well as the discussion of the Jewish entity is labeled as anti-Semitic and lands the advocates of this view in jail. This proves that no society can allow its citizens free speech without restrictions. Freedom of speech is also a benchmark that the West uses to judge progress. Islam restricts the speech and actions of Muslims and confines them to what Allah (swt) deems acceptable. The SNC will open the door for secular minded individuals to start to challenge the basic tenets of Islam and thus confuse the next generation about the Islamic concepts. This is already evident in schools and universities, where a division between secularists and Islam loving students has become apparent.
Theme 1 – Citizenship: Standard 1 – Peace and conflict Management – Understand the importance of discussion and negotiation as tools for resolving conflicts at home and school.
In Pakistan the Mock United Nations (MUN) is a popular feature of the school calendar particularly in private schools. Students are encouraged to debate on controversial issues in the style of the UN. The guidelines for debating has 2 rules – one is that religious edicts cannot be part of the argument and the second is that you must advocate for a concept even if you don’t believe in it. The underlying concepts promote that there is no fundamental right and wrong – everyone can believe what they like and thus can say what they want. Thus, freedom of opinion and speech is seen as a universal value without restriction. However, as we know that contradictions within the Western ideology means that they will always find exceptions to their own rules. For example, talking about Jihad being the foreign policy of the Islamic state can lead to arrest in the West. Thus, the SNC seeks to propagate that the West has the best tools to promote peace and will attempt to universalize this concept. Dialogue and peace processes have become a feature of the Western foreign policy and seen as the best way to bring peace. Normalization with the Jewish occupation and the Afghanistan reconciliation with the US are some examples to show how its is important to reject this concept of conflict management as it is a tool of Western foreign policy. Islam has its own guidelines about peace, but it doesn’t allow the Muslims to be oppressed in the process. Allah (swt) commanded, وَاقْتُلُوهُمْ حَيْثُ ثَقِفْتُمُوهُمْ وَأَخْرِجُوهُمْ مِنْ حَيْثُ أَخْرَجُوكُمْ “And slay them Wherever you catch them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out” [Surah al-Baqarah 2:191]. Thus peace and conflict management in Islam will be defined by Islam and not the false ideas of the UN.
Theme 1 – Citizenship: Standard 1 – Common etiquettes – Recognize and practice common etiquettes in the civilized world of today.
The West prides itself in being civilized. The question should be raised, how is it civilized with vulgarity and indecency a norm? How is it civilized when its own citizens are hungry and unprotected? How is it civilized when it uses banned weapons in wars? How is it civilized when it breaks its own laws and attacks other nations resulting in years of war and complete destruction of cities, towns and nature? The SNC seeks to place Western civilization as a standard to be achieved. It seeks to universalize Western beliefs and thoughts.
This brief analysis of parts of the Social Studies curriculum shows that the children of Pakistan are being given a new identity. This is the identity of the Global Citizen. This identity is established on the weak and flimsy Western concepts as discussed above and will result in Muslims who propagate the false Western ideas and thus deviate the Ummah from referring to the Islamic ideology. The education curriculum in Muslim lands should reflect the belief and values of Islam. Students should be immersed in its values and be proud of their heritage, and students should be taught the concepts of citizenship from the Islamic perspective. Islam defines the Muslim citizen of the Islamic state as the one who has a firm conviction in the Islamic Aqeedah, exhibits the Islamic personality and seeks to protect the Islamic ideology. The Muslim citizen accounts the rulers, safeguards Islamic values in society through enjoying the good and forbidding the evil. This Muslims citizen understands that he must protect the Ahle-Dhimma as a worship to Allah (swt). The Muslim citizen understands that he must support the expansion of the Islamic state to take the correct ideology to the world and to lift humankind from darkness of the Western ideology. It is important to reject the SNC and demand the establishment of the Khilafah State (Caliphate), which will ensure an education curriculum based on the Islamic Aqeedah.
Maryam Ansari – Pakistan