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Article appeared Friday, December 5th, 2014 in The News Today, Bangladesh

The Revelation (356)

yousuf mahbubul Islam, PhD

As students, were we motivated by the subjects that we studied? That is, were we interested to
know more about the subjects or did we study just for the marks? Given such attitudes towards
education, psychologists {1} have labeled two types of basic motivation, intrinsic and extrinsic.
Educational psychology has identified two basic types of motivation - intrinsic and
extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation arises from ones desire to learn a topic due to its inherent
interests, for self-fulfillment, enjoyment and to achieve a mastery of the subject. On the
other hand, extrinsic motivation is a motivation to perform and succeed for the sake of
accomplishing a specific result or outcome. Students who are very grade-oriented are
extrinsically motivated, whereas students who seem to truly embrace their work and take
a genuine interest in it are intrinsically motivated. {1}
Therefore, students who want to study a subject only to do well in the exams and get good
grades are extrinsically motivated; their major concern being the number of marks allocated and
finally the grade awarded they are not moved by what the subject means, how it affects them,
or what use the subject could be in real life. Their happiness is in the marks they obtain. On the
other hand, intrinsically motivated students are interested in how the subject affects them and
what benefit the subject could accrue in their day-to-day life. They want to learn the subject and
derive pleasure from what they find therein. In the website, How Motivation Affects Learning and
Behavior, Ormrod {2} gives an example of an intrinsically motivated student:
When it comes to art, Anya is highly motivated. We can reasonably draw this
conclusion based on her close attention in class, her eagerness to draw whenever she
can, and her career goal. Motivation is something that energizes, directs, and sustains
behavior; it gets students moving, points them in a particular direction, and keeps them
going. We often see students motivation reflected in their personal investment and in
cognitive, emotional, and behavioral engagement in their school activities.{2}
Anyas interest in art may ultimately extend to all areas of her life. She may find art or beauty
reflected in all things she may come to the conclusion that there is beauty in everything, learn
to appreciate such beauty and become grateful for the opportunity to enjoy all things in her life.
Now compare Anyas achievement with an extrinsically motivated student who simply takes art
class for the grade and only does the work assigned by the art teacher to score the desired
marks. What benefit would this student derive from taking art?
Equally, can we extend the psychology of motivation to attitudes towards religion? Can we run
away from the fact that people are motivated by religion also in two basic ways? There are
people who simply wish to score points, e.g., they go through all the religious rituals and feel
their duty is done can this be called extrinsic motivation? Such people also instruct or
prescribe other people to physically follow the rituals and culture of the religion.
On the other hand, there may be people who in addition to the rituals may be interested in the
purpose of religion, e.g., he/she may wonder what the Creator had in mind when He created
human beings. In doing so, the person may begin to appreciate the opportunities given by the
Creator to enjoy life and feel the beauty in created things. He/she may start wondering how
much more beautiful the Creator Himself must be to have created so much beauty in everything.
This in turn may lead to a deep feeling of gratitude and love towards the Creator. Can such an
attitude be the result of intrinsic motivation? It is important that we examine our personal attitude
towards religion as in the Quran, Allah asks the Prophet (pbuh) to proclaim,

10.104 Say, "O men! If you are in doubt as to my religion (behold!) I worship not
what you worship other than Allah but I worship Allah Who will take your souls (at
death): I am commanded to be (in the ranks) of the Believers.

So, is it important to understand why Allah repeatedly points to the fact that human beings
worship other things in addition? For example, while standing in prayer, do we think of what the
Creator has done for us and be awe struck? Do we feel that we are standing in the presence of
the Being who will take our souls at death? Prayer is an opportunity to seek audience of the
Creator, appreciate and thank Him for all the things that He has done since the last prayer.

10.105 "And further (thus): `Set your face towards Religion with true piety and
never in anywise be of the Unbelievers;
What is true piety? Consider the thoughts and feelings by individuals in the following quotes.
When no one is looking,
I swallow deserts and clouds
And chew on mountains
Knowing they are sweet bones!
When no one is looking
And I want to kiss God,
I just lift my own hand to my mouth. [Hafiz] {3}
One day I said to God
I'm going to search
For the meaning to my existence
I'm going to find the talent within me
Then develop it to the best of my ability
And I'm going to make the most of this Life
That I have been given
And I'm going to do this
Without infringing upon anyone else's
Opportunity to do the same [Javan] {3}
We are warned from being unjust and unfaithful to the Creator:

10.106 Nor call on any other than Allah such will neither profit you nor hurt you:
if you do, then behold! You shall certainly be of those who do wrong.
As you will realize that,

10.107 If Allah touches you with hurt there is none can remove it but He: if He
designs some benefit for you there is none can keep back His favor: He causes it
to reach whomsoever of His servants He Pleases. And He is the Oft-Forgiving
Most Merciful.
Remember that the job of the Prophet is only to convey the message of the truth that he has
received through inspiration; it is up to each individual whether or not to believe and prove
his/her gratitude towards the opportunity of a beautiful life given by the Creator.

10.108 Say: "O men! Now Truth has reached you from your Lord! Those who
receive guidance do so for the good of their own souls; those who stray do so to
their own loss: and I am not (set) over you to arrange your affairs."
10.109 Follow the inspiration sent to you and be patient and constant till Allah
decides: for He is the Best to decide.
-----{Notes}:
{1} http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/affective/motivation.html
{2} http://www.education.com/reference/article/motivation-affects-learning-behavior/
{3} http://www.inspirationpeak.com/cgi-bin/search.cgi?search=God&page=4