Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Dr. Umar on Career Choices

"A blog should probably be more than just quotes," you may say. Yes, I agree (I'm try to work on that...) But I also feel that there's just these brilliant pieces of work out there that I know have been so insightful for me and I would like to share because a lot of times they may not be that well-known, so I feel that if I can connect those thoughts and writings with more people, that itself would be a service, no?

That being said, this is one of my favorite quotes. I think it sort of defines or is an inspiration for what I hope to do now - study the social sciences and humanities and tie that with a foundation in the Islamic sciences..

This is from Dr. Umar F. Abd-Allah in his most recent Nawawi paper called "Living Islam with Purpose:"

(and yes, I'm crazy and I actually typed this up from the pdf file :)

All professions and fields of learning that serve the community's material and cultural needs fall under societal obligations. There can be no place in the community for elitism; any honest profession is a good profession. Whether a person is driving a taxi or working in a hospital emergency room, each livelihood helps serve a vital societal function. Too often, however, our community's attitudes toward career choices and professions have everything to do with money and social status and little to do with our overall societal needs as a developing Muslim community in America.

Medicine, engineering, and a number of other well-paying fields are well represented, if not over represented in the American Muslim community. They have indisputable value, but the community's tendency to socially compartmentalize desirable careers within this limited range stultifies our future. Social sciences like psychology, sociology, and anthropology are often mistakenly regarded as less worthy because they are not as lucrative and do not afford elite status in our community. In reality, the social sciences play a critical role in modern society and constitute key priorities for American Muslims. They serve the community's essential interests in areas such as mental health, social welfare, and cultural development. Our ability to function effectively as Muslims in modern society requires a nuanced understanding of modernity. Such an understanding falls squarely within the competence of the social sciences. It is a primary societal obligation for American Muslims to develop sufficient cadres of well-trained social scientists whose research is not only of use to the Muslim community but is valuable to the greater society at large.

Specializations in the humanities like history, modern thought, philosophy, and literature are widely considered in our community as marginal, but they too are necessary and meet essential societal obligations similar to those of the social sciences. They impart a wider view of the world; how its past relates to its present and future; and the seminal ideas of our times. They give direct access to effective cross-cultural understanding and intellectual development and enable the community to take interpretive control of itself and its religion in a contemporary context."
[Originally posted on April 28, 2009]

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