The importance of education is a none disputable matter. Education is the knowledge of putting one’s potentials to maximum use. One can safely say that a human being is not in the proper sense till he/she is educated.
This importance of education is basically for two reasons. The first is that the training of a human mind is not complete without education. Education makes man a right thinker. It tells man how to think and how to make decision.
The second reason for the importance of education is that only through the attainment of education, man is enabled to receive information from the external world; to acquaint himself with past history and receive all necessary information regarding the present. Without education, man is as though in a closed room and with education he finds himself in a room with all its windows open towards the outside world.
This is why Islam attaches great importance to knowledge and education. When the Quran began to be revealed, the first word of its first verse was ‘Iqra’ that is, read. Allaah says, (what means): “Read! In the Name of your Lord Who has created (all that exists). He has created man from a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood). Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous. Who has taught (the writing) by the pen. He has taught man that which he knew not” [Quran, 96: 1-5]
Education is thus the starting point of every human activity. Allaah created man and provided him with the tools for acquiring knowledge, namely hearing, sight and wisdom. Allaah says (what means): “And Allaah has brought you out from the wombs of your mothers while you know nothing. And He gave you hearing, sight, and hearts that you might give thanks (to Allaah)” [Quran, 16:78]
A knowledgeable person is accorded great respect in many prophetic narrations.
Because of the importance of knowledge, Allaah commanded His Messenger sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam to seek more of it. Allaah says (what means): “and say: `My Lord! Increase me in knowledge” [Quran, 20:114]
The Prophet sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam made seeking knowledge an obligation upon every Muslim, and he sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam explained that the superiority of the one who has knowledge over the one who merely worships is like the superiority of the moon over every other heavenly body. He sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, said that the scholars are the heirs of the Prophets and that the Prophets, may Allaah exalt their mention did not leave behind any money, rather their inheritance was knowledge, so whoever acquires it has gained a great share. Furthermore, the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam said that seeking knowledge is a way leading to Paradise. He, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam said: “Whoever follows a path in the pursuit of knowledge, Allaah will make a path to Paradise easy for him.” (Al-Bukhaari)
Islam calls us to learn all kinds of beneficial knowledge. Branches of knowledge vary in status, the highest of which is knowledge of Sharee’ah (Islamic Law), then other fields of knowledge, such as medicine, etc.
Knowledge brings a great reward. The one who points the way to something good is like the one who does it. When the knowledgeable person dies, his reward with Allaah does not cease when he dies, rather it continues to increase so long as people benefit from his knowledge. The Prophet sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam said: “When a man dies, all his deeds come to an end except for three — an ongoing charity, beneficial knowledge or a righteous child who will pray for him.” (Muslim)
On other side, a person without knowledge is like someone walking along a track in complete darkness. Most likely his steps will wander aside and Satan can easily deceive him. This shows that our greatest danger lies in our ignorance of Islamic teachings in the first place and in our unawareness of what the Quran teaches and what guidance has been given by the Prophet sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam.
Knowledge is pursued and practiced with modesty and humility and leads to dignity, freedom and justice.
The main purpose of acquiring knowledge is to bring us closer to our Creator. It is not simply for the gratification of the mind or the senses. It is not knowledge for the sake of knowledge. Knowledge accordingly must be linked with values and goals.
One of the purposes of acquiring knowledge is to gain the good of this world, not to destroy it through wastage, arrogance and in the reckless pursuit of higher standards of material comfort.
Now let us see the real picture of Muslims in the field of education in Nepal.
The educational status of Nepalese Muslims is so pathetic and is considered the most important reason behind the backwardness. The gap between the country’s average literacy rate and Muslim’ literacy rate is so huge and hence their per capita income is also so low.
The country’s average literacy rate 53.7% (Male: 68.5%, Female: 42.49%) while Muslim’s literacy rate is 27.6%, which is half than that of the country’s. Hardly and rarely a PhD degree holder from Muslim community can be found out.
About 70% of total Muslims of Nepal are compelled to live on U.S.$1 daily earning. About 40% Muslims are landless. The per capita income is only Rs.6603 which is much below than the national average (NRs.7673). The other indicators are also indicative of the fact that poverty is the main cause of their development. Life expectancy: 48.7 year). Muslims attend schools only for a duration of 1.4 years whereas the national average for Nepal in 2.3 years.
A number of madrasas are working through out Nepal but they are unable to produce the skilled personnel and professionals that could match the country’s demand. So, the products of such madrasa are unable to get any job in the government sectors and hence they are bound to do jobs in the maktab (small madrasa), Mosque as Imam (one who lead the prayer), Muazzin (one who call the Muslims for the prayer by reciting azan) where they get 2500-3000 salary per month. So, how is it possible to uplift the life style?
Nepal Government has not ever given concentration to bring the Muslims in the main countries stream. They do not support the madrasa financially and morally which is playing a significant role to educate the Muslim people and helping the nation to reach literacy rate 53.7%. More over it has been found that the government authority creating several problems during the registration and certificate issuance.
A central curriculum for the madrasa should be developed and government should help them by imparting technical and professional personnels so that madrasas can produce skilled and professionals
Thus, all the indicators of Human Development indices provided by the World Bank remains to be low for Muslims. In that way, Muslims are poor, deprived and discriminated in order to improve their situation necessary and adequate measures should be taken by the Nepali state. Muslim community is also seeking and asking help from their Muslim brothers from all countries.