Students at the COMSATS University Islamabad (CUI) were infuriated by an “objectionable” and “immoral” quiz in the exam that left them no choice but to write down an unnatural relation between siblings. The paper went viral like wildfire in Pakistan and abroad, with people urging authorities to take strict action against the varsity management for allowing such obscene content.
Defending such an act is equally shameful and goes against the ethos that our society upholds. It is our collective responsibility to condemn such actions and hold the individuals and institutions involved accountable for their actions.
The promotion of immoral content in educational institutions has serious consequences on the mental health of individuals. It can lead to psychological diseases such as depression, anxiety, and addiction. Psychology emphasises the importance of promoting healthy behavior and education, not normalizing immoral behavior.
Education is not meant to promote vulgarity or to encourage immoral behavior. The primary objective of education is to produce good human beings who are equipped with knowledge and skills to contribute positively to society. Including questions about harmful behavior in exam papers not only fails to achieve this objective but also undermines it. It can harm the mental and moral development of students and can lead to negative attitudes towards human relationships and values.
CUI’s top management should also be blamed for allowing illicit content to be made part of exam papers. Sacking just one faculty member involved won’t cover up the matter. It won’t contribute to the face-saving of the institution. Rather, the entire faculty of the relevant department including the dean and HODs must be held accountable for showing tolerance on the issue and HR to not properly screening the individual.
The conscience of the university administration would never have awakened if this paper had not gone viral on social media. They had lost their identity as believers when this paper was included in the examination in December of last year. I believe that everyone has an equal responsibility for this. Both paper developers and their approvers. They are all thus criminals of their conscience as well as the nation. One has sunk the lifeboat of a reputable educational organisation. Want medals and applause from the unbelievers? Go ahead, but remember, Allah, on the Day of Resurrection, Allah will do justice.
Asking questions related to unnatural relations in an exam paper is not only inappropriate but also cannot be tolerated at all. It is against the teachings of Islam, societal norms, and country laws. Pakistan Penal Code and the constitution have strict provisions for the promotion of such content. Section 292 of the PPC states that it is a punishable offence to publish, sell, or distribute obscene material. The Constitution of Pakistan also prohibits any act that goes against Islamic principles, morality, and decency.
The Quran and Ahadith both emphasize the importance of modesty and shame, and prohibit violence in any form. These principles are essential to maintaining a healthy and ethical society. The Quran states in Surah An-Nur, verse 30: “Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and be modest. That is purer for them. Surely, Allah is All-Aware of what they do.” This verse emphasizes the need for men to lower their gaze and be modest to avoid temptation and misconduct. Modesty is a virtue that is valued in Islamic teachings and is seen as a means of promoting decency and respect for oneself and others.
Similarly, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said in a hadith recorded in Sahih Al-Bukhari: “Every religion has a distinctive virtue, and the distinctive virtue of Islam is modesty.” This hadith emphasizes the importance of modesty in Islam and highlights it as a defining characteristic of the religion.
The role of academia in shaping the future of individuals and society at large is undeniable. The education sector has always been considered the guardian of morality, with a primary function of producing responsible and ethical citizens. Thus, it is imperative for the academic world to maintain and promote values of professionalism and morality. One aspect of this is avoiding the promotion of vulgarity, especially such content, among students. Such immoral content, especially that which is gratuitous or explicit, has no place in the academic sphere. It can lead to the objectification of individuals and the normalisation of harassment and assault. Moreover, it can promote unhealthy attitudes towards sex, relationships, and gender roles, which can adversely affect the moral fabric of society.
The incident of the COMSATS exam paper is a wake-up call for the academic world to reassess its values and priorities. Academia has a fundamental responsibility to promote ethical values and professionalism and to avoid promoting vulgarity and immorality. Students must be provided with a safe and nurturing environment that fosters respect, discipline, and healthy attitudes towards sex, relationships, and gender roles. The inclusion of questions about incestuous behavior in academic materials not only fails to achieve these objectives but also undermines them. We must strive to promote the values of modesty, shame, and the prohibition of sexual violence and immorality, which are essential to creating a harmonious and ethical society.
We must all play a role in promoting ethical values and professionalism in academia. As students, we must demand and support a safe and respectful learning environment that promotes healthy attitudes towards sex and relationships. As faculty and staff, we must model ethical and professional behavior and provide training and support to prevent and address any inappropriate conduct. As policymakers and leaders, we must provide clear guidelines and standards for academic materials and ensure that they reflect the values and needs of the community.
We can use this incident to reflect on our values and priorities and to take concrete steps to promote ethical values and professionalism in academia. We can work together to create a learning environment that is safe, respectful, and conducive to the moral and mental development of students. And we can do so with the knowledge that we are contributing to a healthier, more harmonious, and more ethical society.