Educated Muslims

Without any statistical data, some Muslim writers claim that higher education leads to Muslims losing their faith (i.e. via apostasy or by becoming liberal Muslims). I think this viewpoint is dangerous and counter productive. Perhaps this view appeals to young people who resent their parents pressuring them to achieve academically and become responsible adults. It may also appeal to those who have to struggle through school. I’ve talked to a number of young Muslims who were discouraged by their peers from pursuing a college education because it was just dunyah. Many of these Muslims have sought alternative lifestyles by becoming “students of knowledge” or seeking a dead in career in hip hop. In reality, on college campuses many young Muslims developed a strong Muslim identity and a sense of service. In fact, that is where I discovered Islam and became Muslim. We were young and impressionable and slowly evolved out of that movement mentality that continues to be espoused by some Muslim bloggers. Over time, my peers began to see that living decent lives and providing a better future for their children was the best example they could set as Muslims. The American Muslims I knew on campus were charismatic and often gave dawah and attracted a number of quality converts to the religion. In the South Bay, I have seen a whole generation of young Middle class children of immigrants and the few American Muslim families grow up, go to college, graduate, get married, and begin their own Muslim families. They contribute to building institutions, give charity, and have much more to offer than those who had little foresight to think about building a better future. This perception that only working poor Muslims maintain their faith, while middle class and educated Muslims are losing their faith by assimilating, is not only false, but irresponsible. We should be all working for the betterment of our children by encouraging them to excel in school and in their professions. So much damage has been done after religious leaders in the 90s discouraged independent thought and encouraged a utopian escapism. Meanwhile, those who overlooked honest ways of making a living constantly look for hand outs by those bougie Muslims they resent so much. I am not saying that everyone is meant to be a scholar or an academic. I am an advocate of Muslims gaining various skills, The path to improving our condition can be through community college, university education, vocation schools, job training programs, and apprenticeships. In order to have functional communities, we need to think about a diversity of skills such as carpentry, plumbing, electricians, mechanics, architects, contractors, lawyers, journalists, entreprenuers, academics, etc. I’m not looking down on working class Muslims. I come from a working class background. But I’m really tired of those who try to glorify their limited perspective at the expense of other hard working Muslims who are also struggling to find their way.