Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Profane And The Sacred

7 Ramadhan 1436


Spent most of yesterday afternoon and evening with Hamzah, listening to a presentation his company were doing for a school in Kuala Selangor concerning, amongst other things, ideas for incorporating IT into the curriculum. Actually, it went beyond just random ideas into a full-blown concept of delivering the curriculum through the new technology. Normally I'm more than a little sceptical about the relation of IT to the wacky world of education, but Hamzah's concept has genuine legs in terms of its practicality - assuming a school buys into the package and understands what it's getting itself into.

The obstacle to success, I suspect, is going to be getting enough folk at the higher levels of educational administration in the area to genuinely buy-in and drive the concept forward over the kind of time it needs to develop, even if it's just in one school. It'll be a pity if not much comes of all this since the package as a whole is very usable at a simple level. Back home in the evening, discussing the ideas, I found myself eagerly citing what I saw as quite down-to-earth ways of incorporating techniques we'd looked at into routine sort of lessons. It's when you can do that that you get beyond just pointlessly attaching bells and whistles to what's being done in the classroom.

Also back at the ranch we did terawih prayers together after breaking the fast in delicious style. There's something fascinatingly hypnotic about putting a fairly long sequence of prayers together. It's easy to lose oneself in the sequence and just surrender to the flow. One of the things I found so initially attractive about the practice of Islam as I encountered it in these parts was the way in which the ordinary stuff of life was so easily interwoven with an awareness of something spiritually heightened behind it all. I am privileged to observe and be part of that regularly now, but last night was a reminder of the odd, casual magic of the connections involved.


When Muslims, indeed those of any and all faiths, talk dismissively of the 'secular' world I think what they have in mind is a world without a sense of the sacred. The dismissiveness comes, I suspect, from an awareness of a lack so radical as to be destabilising. I suppose it sounds a bit over the top these days, but I don't think people are built to cope with a world in which the sacred has gone missing. It's fundamental to our neediness and even the massive availability of consumer goods cannot fill the empty spaces though, goodness knows, people try.

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