My name is Shazad Khan and I’m passionate about learning and teaching. I founded U-Knowit to provide myself with an online platform to reach people that I couldn’t have reached otherwise. I’ve been teaching a range of subjects for nearly two decades now which include, Critical Thinking, English for Academic Purposes, Interactive Learning & Communication Skills, Arabic and Islamic Studies. I’ve also been blogging at micropaedia.org since 2010. U-Knowit is basically an accumulation of my struggles, passions, reading, learning and meanderings; all systematically organised into modules for intellectual consumption.
But enough about me… I have a question for you – what type of person are you?
Are you passionate about empowering yourself?
Do you want to learn new skills and knowledge?
Do you struggle with the ability to write academically?
Do you struggle with being a Muslim in a Western context?
Do you find yourself in a pickle over pronouns and prepositions?
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Sitting in a cafe last night with an old friend and student – Dr Khalid Hussain – we had a very insightful and lengthy conversation about education and its purpose. The conversation was interspersed with sweet cardamom tea and added more flavour to the discussion. It propelled me to write today’s blog.
One of the deeply rooted superstitions of our age is the notion that the sole purpose of education is to benefit those who receive it. What we teach, how we teach, what subjects we encourage, are all utilised for one underlying purpose – “what do the kids get out of it?” And this ignites another more detrimental question – “is it relevant?” – and by relevant they mean “relevant to the interest of the kids.” From these superstitions have arisen a multitude of other problems such as the abhorrence of rote learning. Continue reading →
John Godfrey Saxe’s (1816-1887) version of Blind Men and the Elephant:
It was six men of Indostan,
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.
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Shah Rafi’ Uddin, the son of Shah Waliullah, has developed a systematic approach in dealing with differences of opinion in his Risala fi Tatbiq al-Araa‘. He deals with differences of opinion per se – regardless of whether they are theological, educational, or practical – his method is philosophical and it attempts at understanding all differences. This is not to be confused with synthesism nor for that matter a triumphalist attempt at rebutting all opposing opinions but rather he defines it as: Continue reading →
At Shah Waliullah’s grave
Shah Waliullah’s project in his magnum opus, Hujjatullah al-Baligha, represents not only an intellectual synthesis of morality, law, theology, mysticism and philosophy but also an anthropological foray into capturing the intellectual, socio-communal, and psychological forces that shape Islam’s paradigm. Continue reading →
Tradition is here defined as an intellectual tendency or social perspective of continuing the preservation of values, statements, norms and the like from one generation to the next. In contrast, modernity is the social outlook on life which is inclined to break with tradition. It is driven by the force to repudiate traditional values, customs and beliefs in favour of more radical ideas. A delineating feature of modernity is constant change whilst tradition is identified by continuation. Where do we stand regarding these two polarities as religious people?
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I wish to show the theoretical underpinnings of Habermas’ ‘Religion in the Public Sphere’. Namely, I want to highlight that Habermas’ work is underpinned with a binary position of religion versus the secular; of metaphysical claims against non-metaphysical ones. I want to show that the constraints of defining religion in secular terms presumes religious values to be speculative and therefore as less real than the materiality of other concepts. I want to show that Habermas implicitly suggests that religious reasoning and viewpoints are intrinsically and diametrically opposed to secular reasoning and it is only with the condition of institutional translation proviso that they are relevant in the legislative domain. This is based on a certain definition of religion and is neither based on a sociologically unified political formation nor on a singular religious logic (Mahmood 2009). This dichotomy of characterising religion as such is based on an a priori epistemological assumption of the nature of religion. Continue reading →
The German sociologist, Ulrich Beck, has made key contributions to ideas of how to understand the global in recent times.
His understanding of cosmopolitanism is rooted in how current academic discourse is concerned with theorising about the organisation and reconstruction of social and cultural life within a global framework. Technological advances through cyber communication, economic interdependency, global media coverage, political cooperation and the rise of multiculturalism draw attention to an underlying feature of contemporary times eloquently summed up by Asad as the ‘conquest of space’ (Asad 1982: 13); highlighting the interconnectedness between societies, where the local becomes global and the global local (Beck 2002). Coupled with the post 9/11 perceived ‘threat’ of terrorist attacks and the environmental risk factors (Beck 2010) this ‘conquest of space’ calls for a communal (understood globally) and cooperative response. Cosmopolitanism is thus a rethinking of how society, and, by extension, individuals are understood to enable an exploration of the effects these changes bring and to facilitate a well-informed and well-deliberated response. Continue reading →