Nasir Khan, Dec. 20, 2014
A Facebook friend of mine wrote me about the importance of education in fighting against superstitious beliefs and belief-systems. In a sense, education is seen as a vehicle of change against indoctrination. My brief reply is as follows:
Yes, I agree. Apparently education is the way to enlighten people and negate the superstitious beliefs held by people. But in many Afro-Asian countries, education is part of indoctrination process in religious dogmas. Once such beliefs are instilled in impressionable minds of children, they become part of their whole life. It is not easy to shake off these because for most of us what we internalised as truth in our younger days stays with us. Only a very limited number of people manage to break out of that mould.
The recent massacre of school children and teachers in Pakistan was a savage act of the Taliban. But this tragedy has also some other relevant issues we need to take into consideration and let not the inhuman callousness of the killers make us oblivious of the broader picture when we are traumatised by the enormity of the crime.
The Taliban have shown hostility to girls’ education all along. In North Waziristan Pakistan army has indiscriminately targeted many civilian villages as well as the militant hideouts causing much suffering and enormous dislocation amongst the civilian population. The Taliban have resorted to revenge killings as a response to the military operations. They kill and target wherever they can including the school children in schools. For the Taliban their mission is to further the cause of Islam as their leaders and mentors have set for them. (Who created the Taliban and what for is a question, I wouldn’t discuss here and now.)
Due to the pervasive indoctrination and resultant ignorance caused by mullahs, Islamist teachers and preachers, the Taliban feel they are the soldiers of Islam. They have no remorse for what they do. Instead they are proud of what they do and they justify their actions as in the service of a higher cause – the cause of creating a pure Islamic state with the Sharia laws (regarded as ‘God’s laws’) that will be the foundation of the new political and social system. So many ordinary, non-militant millions of Pakistani Muslims have been brainwashed to the extent that they support anyone who wants to work for an Islamic state based on the Sharia laws.
Consequently, tens of millions of such people are clamouring for a total Islamic system. Islamic zealots and fanatics can count on the support of millions of ‘educated’ people such as teachers, lawyers, academics, journalists, etc., who stand for a religious state and the enforcement of the Sharia laws. They want to use their religion, their Sunni version only, as the ultimate standard that is to take precedence over all other minority religions, other Islamic sects and secular views to force obedience to God, His Holy Book, His Holy Sharia Laws, and His Holy Prophet. At present they support the existing blasphemy laws that are easy to use against anyone who says a single word that is seen as derogatory of God, Islam or the Prophet or accuse falsely anyone for having done that bears fatal consequences for the accused ones.
So ‘education’ can mean many different things depending on the society and the people we talk about. In brief, education and indoctrination are two different things and we need to emphasize their different approaches, methods and goals.