Brain Drain and Islam’s Formula for Retention

Brain drain has remained the talk of the town for several years now, in particular, relation to Pakistan while being generally applicable to the entire Muslim world. The weak economic conditions, health and security issues, internal and external conflicts, and limited opportunities are usually considered to be responsible for this flight of human capital, mainly to the western world. All these reasons are true to some extent, and correspondingly, multiple different formulas are being proposed and implemented to alleviate this many-way-necessary evil. These formulas somewhat depend upon the culture and the historical values of each different community being targeted. Thus being Muslims, we must try to take leads from Islam by which it attracts non-believers and retain its believers as faithful units of the religion and society. 

Everything in Islam starts with the Praise and Love of Allah, i.e.,

In the name of Allah; the most beneficent, the most merciful.

Allah has sent His last prophet with His most accomplished teachings and proclaimed in the form of this verse:

We have sent you forth as nothing but mercy to people of the whole world.

The Holy Qur’an (21: 107)

At another place in the Quran, Allah has shown his love for the believers in this form:

Tell them, (O Prophet): “My servants who have committed excesses against themselves, Do not despair of Allah’s mercy; surely, Allah forgives all sins. He is the most Forgiving, the most Merciful.

The Holy Qur’an (39: 53)

These verses and many more of those, all create a relation of love and kindness not only between the Creator and Its most beautiful creation but also between the members of the created entities. Therefore, the first impression arises out of this general guidance is that the act of LOVE and KINDNESS should be the top priority in retaining the human beings tied to a certain belief or a community or a country.

Appropriately, rather overwhelmingly rewarding the believers is another key aspect of Islam in its teaching. A comprehensive verse in this regard states:

Whoever does righteousness, whether male or female, while he is a believer – We will surely cause him to live a good life, and We will surely give them their reward [in the Hereafter] according to the best of what they used to do.

The Holy Qur’an (16: 97)

Moreover, the human beings which remain committed to the assigned tasks and the righteous acts have been promised with huge rewards in this way:

Indeed, the righteous will be within gardens and springs. [Having been told], ‘Enter it in peace, safe [and secure].’ And We will remove whatever is in their chests of resentment, [so they will be] brothers, on thrones facing each other. No fatigue will touch them therein, nor from it will they [ever] be removed.

The Holy Qur’an (15: 45-48)

Even in this case, the resentment has been promised to be removed and the love will be the one thing that will remain. In addition to those, many other appealing awards have been promised in Jannah such as abundant food, and drink, and fruits, and meats, and whatever is desired. The wine of paradise will be ‘crystal-white, delicious to those who drink, and free from intoxication’. The people of Jannah will wear bracelets of gold and pearl and green garments of fine silk and brocade. They will recline on adorned couches and raised thrones in all-time mild weathers. All this depicts the second pillar of Islamic retention, which is an elegant meritorious reward system.


Now consider Pakistan, its brain drain problems, and what we do to those who go flown away in the stream of this drain. It is an arguable fact what we provide our highly qualified workforce and what we can because of our always constrained economic situation. Another arguable question is who is responsible for those economic constraints, whether it is the public or the rulers. However, if Islam as the only TRUTH has to adopt this formula of retention with so much emphasis on love and reward in the Holy Quran, there must be no alternatives available.

Unless we can create a facilitating and rewarding environment for our workforce, this evil will continue. We must provide them the opportunities that are only available to our elite classes. We should give them respect and pride in whatever they are doing and this will serve as a reward for them in the absence of monetary benefits. For instance, the higher-ups must leave the space at an appropriate stage of the work-lifecycle so that the younger crop can move over regularly. We must let them feel safe, secure, and constantly moving rather than making their lives stagnant for years in the job hierarchy.

Even more importantly, we should start treating our people with love, care, and kindness, or otherwise, stop dreaming of circumventing this brain drain. It is the world created by Allah and whether you are a believer or non-believer, the rules and regulations defined by Allah only dictate its existence and flow.

Author: Dr. Abdul Rehman
The writer is a Professor of Chemistry and can be reached at: abrehman(at)umich(dot)edu.

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