Eminent writers, academics and intellectuals at a select gathering on Friday stressed the need for teaching philosophy and independent history in schools to counter the rising obscurantism and Jihadi mindset.
“The study of philosophy had always been discouraged in Muslim societies that led to the present sorry state of affairs in the Muslim world,” said eminent historian and intellectual Dr Mubarak Ali while speaking at the launching ceremony of Ashfaq Salim Mirza’s book “Philosophy of History, Colonialism and Democracy” at the National Language Authority.
Historian Ali said it was heartening to see a book on serious subjects such as philosophy which had always been discouraged among Muslims.
“Muslims were asked not to study philosophy both by Ghazali and Dr Iqbal as it provokes one to question. Therefore, the door of studying philosophy effectively closed on Muslims after Ghazali,” he said.
Another reason, he said, why Mirza’s book was a welcome addition was that since the pro-establishment historians after partition had distorted the true history.
The Establishment dictated historians who wilfully perverted facts to justify a fabricated ideology based on the so-called two-nation theory, he said. Dr Ali added that no authentic history has yet been written about Pakistan; whatever has been written is distorted facts. He blamed dictators for this and called for straightening the facts to bring out the society from this quagmire.
Unless we remove the distortions and confusions from curriculum, there is no hope of establishing a true democratic enlightened and progressive society, he emphasised.
The author while responding to the criticism on his book said “It is a sort of re-evaluation”. He read out the preface of his book for the audience and thanked his friends for their appreciation.
“If such books manage to get into the syllabus of our educational institutions, one can hope a light at the end of the tunnel,” said eminent poet Fehmida Riaz reviewing the book.
True to his Marxist spirit, Mirza has dissected the democracy and the role of the progressive movement. He also touches upon events that unfolded during colonial era in the South Asian Subcontinent and their aftermath in the post-partition scenario.
He goes on to present a historical analysis of different stages in the development of democracy in the West and draws comparison with the local scenario. He also discusses different trends in nationalism in his book.
“The historical perspective in his book is clear in its approach. The analysis is mostly objective and without generalisations except in a couple of instances I believe,” said Dr Jaffar Ahmed.
Poet and writer Harris Khalique, analyst and writer Dr Ayesha Siddiqa, Masood Mufti and Anwar Ali also spoke about the book. Among those who were present in the audience included Amjad Islam Amjad, Mansha Yad, Kishwar Naheed.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 17th, 2011.