Friday, August 21, 2009

NOTES FOR THE ROUND-TABLE FORUM
ON THE TEACHING OF PHILOSOPHY IN UUM
ON 29TH JULY, 2009



1. I want to thank the UUM sponsors of this Round-Table Forum, particularly the Vice-Chancellor, Tan Sri Dr. Noordin Kardi, for inviting me to take part in this discussion.

2. I am pleased that UUM has at last taken this step to teach this extremely important subject, hikmah or wisdom, as it is called in the Quran, in our institutions of learning.

3. Since the famous criticism by the great Muslim theologian, al-Ghazzali, of Greek philosophy and its Muslim admirers and followers (al-Kindi, al-Farabi, Ibn Sina, Ibn Rush, etc) and the reply by Ibn Rush, philosophy as a subject of learning has been more or less banned from being taught in the institutions of higher learning in the Muslim world. In the famous University of al-Azhar, set up even before Oxford and Cambridge, no secular subjects like science, mathematics, history and philosophy were taught. It is only recently that such subjects, less philosophy, have been taught. Al-Azhar concentrated on teaching so-called religious subjects such as Hadith, Quranic Tafsir (exegeses), Theology, and Islamic Law or Shariah.

4. Of course, a minority of Muslim scholars and philosophers (Shah Waliyllah, Suhrawardi, Mulla Sudra and Muhammad Iqbal, to name a few.) wrote works on philosophy. In Indonesia we have Hamka. In Malaysia we have our revered Pak Zaaba (Zainal Abidin Ahmad).

5. The importance of philosophy lies in its rational understanding and exposition of what we called Reality, i.e. God and His manifestation of the Universe, and its meaning to human life. A Pakistani philosopher once said, the Quran was revealed to the world to end the prophetic series and begin the rational scientific world that is at the same time moral and spiritual. The very first revelation to Prophet Muhammad: “Read in the name of your Lord Who created… He teaches by means of the pen. He teaches man what he never knew.” proves the rational scientific nature of the Quran.

6. Muslims must examine our downfall when Baghdad was sacked by the Mogul barbarians in 1258. We must cease to be bound by blind authority and re-open the door of ijtihad, i.e. of creative and critical thinking. As the Quran wisely advises, “Listen to all views and follow the best.”

7. The teaching of hikmah, that is, wisdom or philosophy, is the beginning of our regeneration. But we must be guided by the Quran, the final Divine Scripture “that confirms and supersedes” all other scriptures. The Quran is a deep ocean of knowledge and wisdom. Our current understanding of it, in spite of its being with us for more than 1400, is still minimal. This is due to our own fault. We have subjected ourselves to the blind authority of our forefathers, great scholars whom we wrongly idolized. We must break this blind authority and reopen the door of ijtihad.

8. We are a nation of 26 million. If one in a million were to be taught philosophy, we should have 26 qualified people who could teach philosophy and write philosophical books for our nation and the world. That would be excellent.

9) I am prepared to offer my services teaching a few subjects free of charge, beginning from June, 2010 for three months. I only need food and lodging as well as an office with a secretary.

10) That is what I want to say. Thank you.



Kassim Ahmad
29th July, 2009.

9 comments:

kerikil jalanan said...

Do we really need wisdom in our lives?... Fortunately God himself provides the answer for such question; and he to whom wisdom is granted receiveth indeed a benefit overflowing; but none will grasp the Message but men of understanding. (2:269)

It is not surprising, at all, to know that Malays have always been blessed with great thinkers and philosophers. Syed Syeikh Al-Hadi, Pendita Za'aba, and Dr. Kassim Ahmad are the best examples.

The thing is that we, the Malays, always seem to ignore and ban our ulul-albabs, to borrow quranic term. And this results in the non-progressive evolution of our rational and scientific thinking.

To have one ordinary philosopher per million is excellent. But we only need a few true philosophers of the highest ranks to whom the ability to interprete mutasyabihat verses is granted. And this would be par-excellent.

Hopefully our society will no longer keep banning wisdom.

Wassalam.

aslam said...

Amatlah tepat keputusan Nordin Kardi menjemput Pak Kassim dalam perbincangan tersebut. Hanya jauhari mengenal manikam.

Juang said...

Semoga usaha Pak Kassim ini membuka jalan kepada melahirkan ramai pemikir dan penfalsafah Islam terkemuka.

sufi mustika said...

we are welcoming you PROF..

呉 和豪 said...

Salam Saudara Kassim Ahmad

Falsafah satu matapelajaran yang susah dipelajari, kerana tak seperti ilmul hisab , dalam falsah tidak ada sesuatu absolute reality mengikut Hegel , akan tetapi adalah pentingnya bagi golongan pelajar untuk mempelajari Falsafah supaya mereka boleh fikir rasional.

Saudara memang seorang yang berani .membuat kritikan dan cadangan untuk kebaikan rakyat dan Negara

Asy said...

Salam Pak Kassim, boleh saya nak tanya sedikit? Di mana saya boleh dapatkan Al-Quran terjemahan Rashad Khalifa atau Progressive Muslim dekat Malaysia ni? Saya dah cuba cari beberapa kedai buku utama tapi tak jumpa.

Anonymous said...

Kpd Asy,

Terjemahan Quran dan pengajaran/fahaman Rashad Kahlifa boleh didapati di: http://www.submission.ws/

Sdra perlu berhati2 dengan fahaman orang ini.

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Anonymous said...

i love philosophy and til now, i have been taught briefly english philosophy since it's related to my field. however i found that it's more interesting to have learn philosophy from our great Muslim philosophers as it also increase my awareness to the need of improving ourselves of the trully existence of one God and fear Him and none others. here what i dare not dwelve deeper, to challenge what already stated in Quran what is good, what is bad and what is prohibiting. to interpret the Quran one must have the knowledge needed such as the nasikh n mansukh, proficiency in Arabic language etc.