Praise be to Allah who taught man what he did not know and guided His servants through knowledge to the path of piety and obedience to Him. He Himself says in the Holy Book:
Only those of his servants who are endowed with knowledge truly fear Allah.(35:28)
And may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) who taught humanity all good things and guided us towards righteousness and piety.
There can be no doubt that the two most important areas that need development in the life of man are economy and education. We express our gratitude to Allah for having blessed our toil of many years with rich fruit and having granted us valuable experience in both these areas. Our partners in the venture have been some chosen individuals of Allah with faith in the Almighty deeply rooted in their hearts, who are forward-looking in nature and are infused with zeal for development. The outcome of all this is there for anyone to see, especially in the persons of those who have reaped a rich harvest in their dealings with the Islamic banks or of those who have truly understood the ultimate purpose of the Islamic School and sent their children to it.
The impetus to our thinking about effecting changes in the educational system came from the fact that tediously long periods were consumed in the process of learning. The present system makes the pupils spend the most vibrant and potentially productive years of their life in schooling. They only graduate – at the age of 25 generally – when their resolutions have weakened and their zeal and enthusiasm have dwindled.
The fault lies in our system of education. It does not harmonize with the nature on which Allah has created man. Let us look at man’s life. In the beginning, as a newborn, he neither knew nor understood anything. The Qur’an portrays this state in the following terms: Allah had brought you forth from the wombs of your mothers when you knew nothing, and He gave you hearing and sight and understanding that you might give thanks to Allah. (16:78)
The second stage, the period for man’s learning that begins right from birth, ends with the dawn of puberty. During this period the learner passes through various phases of essential education that should reach its culmination at the age of 15-i.e. the age of his maturity. Now, at this stage, he is a man. He can and should work and produce and play his part in easing some of the stresses in the life of his near and dear ones. At this stage, he begins to think in terms of building a new family and attaining self-sufficiency. He is now working and earning. He no longer depends on his father. He is himself a father now. Let him not, therefore, be a burden on the society. He has past the stage of being a mere passive consumer and has become an active, producing member of it. It is in this respect that the traditional educational system comes into conflict with human nature. It hampers the natural process of human progress by extending the duration of education to as many as twenty years.
Another casualty of the traditional system of education is the grandson’s chance to benefit from the experiences of his grandfather. A logical consequence of late termination of educational process is late marriage and late fatherhood. Consequently, a grandson is deprived of the benefits from his grandfather’s knowledge and wisdom, which would complement the knowledge directly received from his father and in school.
Logic and reason, therefore, demanded that we try to find out a way out of this impasse. It could only be through devising a new system of education that would be in accord with human nature and achieve the intended educational goals with the minimum fuss and in the shortest possible time. This would not have been possible unless we deeply analyzed the old system, did away with its negative aspects, benefited from its positive elements and opened up new windows on knowledge and education before the learner. Only thus would he be able to work and produce at an early age. This takes him towards self-realization and self-discovery, making him a help, not a hindrance to his father, his family, his country, his community, and for the world at large. For this is the period of his life when he is filled with youthful energy,. and this is the stage when the time with him is ample, when his mind is unclouded and clear, when his memory is fresh and when the thinking is unadulterated.
After deep, deep pondering we decided to put before every learner the following motto, which sums up the true philosophy of our new educational system: Learn so that you may work and work so that you may learn. Or to phrase it differently: Learning that leads to work which widens the area of knowledge and which in turn multiplies the fields of work.
The above motto or slogan became the starting point of our philosophy on which the Islamic School for education was built. It was the first school founded with the object of reforming the educational system throughout the world. The Dubai Medical College has also been set up with the same purpose and is meant to serve as an elder sister that would support and guide the school in fulfilling the expectations reposed in it and achieving the goals already specified above.
The school was set up keeping in view the clearly visible physiological changes taking place in the life of a person approaching the stage of maturity. This period may well be considered a watershed between childhood and maturity or, to put it differently, between the stage of freedom and irresponsibility on the one hand and obligation and responsibility on the other. A young man reaches the stage of puberty around the age of fifteen. At this juncture he should become a fully responsible person capable of discharging his responsibilities. Foremost of these are the religious duties. Now pilgrimage is a religious obligation fulfilled by him and accepted by Allah. And now the punishment for theft prescribed in the Islamic law is to be enforced upon him should he commit this sin provided that all conditions necessary for the enforcement of the law are satisfied in his case.
As for the Medical College, the initial impulse for it came from my feeling that the women in the present-day world do not get their due right in the society. I do not mean to say that they are being oppressed and denied their rights. On the contrary, I believe that they themselves are oblivious of their true position and has even been a party to this usurpation of their rights. Women have unnecessarily entered into competition with man without realizing that Allah has seated her in a place where she could be an object of envy for her male counterparts. A poet has done women grievous wrong by saying:
Teach your maid to love the Homeland;
For the maid is a partner of young men.
The ultimate goal that the poet is visualizing here for the woman is that there must be complete parity between womankind and man. The fact, however, is that she is better than all men �in her own field; for she is the foundation of the populace, governess of generations and producer of the gentry. The most important role for which she was created and in which no man can rival her is that of motherhood. This important social function particular to her surpasses all occupations specific to men. It is a function no man is equal to discharging in all his physical fitness and mental alertness. Another poet was perhaps to the point than the earlier one when he said:
A mother is a seminary, if you prepare it
You prepare a noble breed of mankind.
She is the organizer of the house and the fastener of the beads of family. She is a wife helping her husband in the struggle of life. She is a mother pushing her children ahead to glory. Later, she is the grandmother transferring the heritage of ancestors to the grand children. She does the work of linking the brilliance of today with the experiences and lessons of the past. How can the woman, then, retrieve her lost rights?
In order to know her rights and realize her worth and value as well as regain her right position, the woman must go back and read her history and perceive her proper role in the family �as a mother and wife – as well as her role in the society – as a doctor or a teacher. She must know the true position Islam has placed her in sufficent if she remembers the following saying of the Prophet Muhammad:
“Anyone given the guardianship of three daughters, if he teaches them good manners and treats them well, these daughters will act as a shield for him from hellfire.”
A woman then stood up and said: “O Allah’s Messenger, if she has two?” The Prophet (pbuh) said: “Even two.”
At this another woman said: “O Allah’s Messenger, If she has one?” “Even one,” answered the Prophet (pbuh).
Another deciding factor in the institution of the College was the fact that I realized that �apart from education- the woman was not getting her due right even in the field of treatment and nursing. The woman does not get female medical help if she falls sick. In all such eventualities she finds herself confronted by male doctors, there being acute paucity of lady doctors. This is a phenomenon, which neither human nature accepts nor Islam allows except under a pressing need. Some of the women would not accept it even under the most pressing circumstances.
It was due to these reasons that I thought of starting a women’s wing in the Islamic School. It was meant to be a place where a woman could acquire knowledge that would elevate her to the position she rightly belongs to. For the same reason I thought of instituting the Dubai Medical College for Girls. It is intended to be a place where a woman will not only graduate as a physician to provide treatment to women patients only but will also learn to play her role as a dutiful wife and a kind mother capable of bringing up her children on the right lines.
I was, however, keen not to follow the traditional time-consuming system of education. I set two goals before me, namely, shortening the duration of courses and making optimum use of the given time.
I, therefore, pondered over a system that would take care of both the above mentioned points. I met many specialized scholars of medical sciences from various countries, and I found a perfect harmony of ideas or identity of views on the point that medical education really needs a new approach or a system based on the maximum utilization of time and shortening the period of study. All of them were waiting for someone who would implement the plan first. The most prominent among those I met were Dr. Zuhaira Abideen and Dr. Mohammad Abd Al-Monem Abu Al-Fadl. Our meeting was fruitful and constructive. They welcomed the idea. So, as a first step, we jointly started building up this imposing educational structure. The second step followed on the heels of the first. Both of them made commendable effort and played a prominent role at each step. Thanks to their kind cooperation, the College saw the light of the day and received its first batch of female students in 1985. These were the young women who were denied continuation of university education either for their inability to bear the rigors of journey or unavailability of a mahram (unmarriageable male near relation) or inability to leave their hearth and home for any reason whatsoever.
While setting up the Medical College on a system different from the one followed in the Islamic School as far as the age factor is concerned, I was convinced that medical profession needed superior skill, better mental capability and physical maturity. These attributes are impossible to come by before the age of fifteen for both male and female students. It was but natural that students be admitted to the College at an age higher than the one fixed for the school. Thus students of the Islamic School would be admitted to it only after their graduation from the school.
I cherish another ambition and I do hope that it will be realized in the Dubai Medical College. The ambition is that, alongside their medical studies, students of the College should also learn some other useful skill or skills related to their profession or household affairs. I strongly hope that the teaching staff of the College will believe in the rightness of this concept and extend their cooperation in realizing these objectives.
Now that a period of more than fifteen years has passed since the establishment of the College, I do not have no words to thank Allah for the many achievements we have registered during this period. Some of them are as follows:
Our policy of shortening the duration of the course has been proven right. Our graduates during this period have made their presence felt not only in hospitals but also in the international academic and educational forums. Some of them have successfully passed the American Equivalence examination. Others have passed the Fellowship examinations of Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in England.
Close on the heels of it the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research UAE accorded recognition to the college under its decision No.55 of 1994. The British Medical Council was kind enough to recognize the Dubai Medical College Degree in 1995, which opened up the doors for our graduates to work and register themselves for postgraduate studies in the UK. And last but not least the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research UAE, vide its Decision No.65 of 1996, also granted the Degree of Medicine and Surgery of the Dubai Medical College for Girls equivalence to the first degree of Medicine and Surgery (i.e. MBBS).
Such remarkable successes, in a so short period, speak volumes of the stupendous efforts made by the teaching staff on the one hand, and of the fruitful cooperation between the academic wing of the College and the Clinical departments of the hospitals on the other. It amply demonstrates the great amount of passion for knowledge and hard work put in by the students of the College who seem to be determined to see that the College not only occupies its due place among its other counterparts but also be in the forefront of them all.
We, however, desire and wish that excellence in morality and religiosity of the students of this College should also match their academic excellence.
By the grace of Allah, it is a common sight in our hospitals now to see the woman patients there meets doctors that faithfully adhere to the tenets of Islam, treat patients kindly, try to alleviate the psychological strains alongside the physical pains of the patients, infuse the surroundings with kindness and motherly care and discharge their duties with a missionary spirit.
I can say it with confidence that the alumnae of the Dubai Medical College could be the models of good Muslim physicians. They would be the role models for those who wish their daughters to acquire knowledge that will provide them with the right faith, good moral conduct and a secure future. It will also ensure them an honorable and independent life in the society that will appreciate their efforts, extend its cooperation and raise its voices of encouragement in chorus.
My joy at the achievements of the College is great. My happiness at its success is beyond measure. It is a plant which has reached its fruition and a sapling that has attained its ripening. It is a sun filling the atmosphere with light and a star brightening the space. For me it is a dream come true. May the College surge further ahead! May its successes endure! May its benefits spread far and wide! May Allah be with it! May Allah protect it, bless it, and right its wrongs! Allah never lets go to waste the recompense of those who do good deeds.
Saeed Bin Ahmed Al Lootah