SYED JAWED ANWAR
THE Muslims’ system of Taleem wa Tarbiyah (education and training) has been continuously working since the advent of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.). In the beginning, as the people of Makkah started accepting and embracing Islam, they were admitted themselves in the Dar-e Arqam. (Dar: a house, a place, a school). Muhammad (s.a.w.) as the teacher and Messenger of God, the beacon of light of knowledge and wisdom, had been teaching and training them by himself. After migration from Makkah to Yethrab (Madinah), he established Madrasah Suffa with the establishment of Masjid Nabvi, the masjid of Madinah. (‘Madrasah’ means a place of teaching lessons, and it is the Arabic word of ‘school.’ I may use ‘Madrasah’ as synonymous of school, as both gives same meaning.) He also established Madrasah Quba along with Masjid Quba. People from all parts of the world started migrating to Madinah, the city of divine lights, to learn the lessons in presence of the most enlightened, the most educated person (taught directly from the Lord) of the time. Anyone of any religion, nation, and ethnicity could get citizenship of Madinah if he or she had the desire to live in Madinah (the only criterion of citizenship of Madinah). People learned from the Messenger of Allah and developed a faith, wisdom, and vision unparallel in human history. (‘Ashaab’ is what we call the companions of the Messenger of Allah.) The combination of Masjid-Madrasah had been working well in the beginning of few centuries after Muhammad (s.a.w.). However, due to the wide-spread, mass education and training, the scholars and rulers separated the Masjid and Madrasah (school). Later, the system of education and training also separated into Marasah and Khanqah. Madrasah took the prime responsibility of education, and Khanqah took the responsibility of training (tarbiyah and tazkiyah).
The Muslim rulers in general made this education and training system independent from politics and economy. The prime responsibility of education and training was on the shoulder of Ulema (scholars), and it was independent from government. Therefore, you will not find any comparison of Muslims’ expansion of education, both qualitative and quantitative, particularly in Muslim Baghdad and Muslim India. Due to their intellectual depth, no one can rule over them. Tatar has destroyed Baghdad, Central Asia, and the Muslim world; however, they didn’t bring the educational system with them. Their children went to the same Muslim educational system that was dominant, and their third generations were converted into Muslims; and, in this way, the history of Islam and Muslims khilafah of Baghdad continued.
The educational system of Muslim India was deeply rooted. Political turmoil and changes could not disturb them. The reason: it was free from the government control. At the time when Sikh rulers established their government in Punjab and Pakhtoon Provinces, the educational system of Muslims was firm and intact. The children of Sikhs have no other option than to send their children to Madrasahs established by Muslim educationists. The social and moral foundations of Muslim India were unbroken despite the political changes.
British East India Company failed to control the mind and soul of Muslim India in one century due to Muslims’ educational and intellectual depth. At last, the British education philosophers advised the government to complete destruction of Muslim educational system. According to them, it is impossible to establish a new political system and enslave India in the presence of Muslims education system. Lord McCauley, a western educational philosopher, brought new educational system to control the hearts and minds of India. They destroyed Muslim educational system completely by nationalising and capturing their trusts and tax-exempted properties. An Urdu poet of the time, Akbar Allahbadi, said that the “heart will change with the change of education.” The purpose of the new education system for Muslim India was nothing but to live as an animal life, “work as a clerk, eat bread and be happy” (Akbar Allahbadi).
The new educational system brought a new era of political and economic slavery that has been continued up to now. The so-called “independent” Muslim states didn’t bring the changes in their educational system and curriculum. The enslaved mind of Muslim rulers was incapable even to think that there might be an alternate educational system of the western materialistic model of education system. The fact is that that there is no “knowledge” in the West (historically, knowledge always came from the East). The West has skills, not the real knowledge. And there is a big difference between “knowledge” and “skill.” If they had knowledge, they might not use their “skill” and “scientific development” for the genocide of their own race, the human beings. The knowledge addresses human and spiritual aspects of life; the skill addresses the animal and materialistic aspects of life. A human being needs both knowledge and skill. However, the requirement of acquiring knowledge is fundamental, and acquiring skill is secondary and must be used under the guidance of the knowledge.
The first 8 to 10 years (KG to grade 8 in current system) for a child should be assigned for acquiring “the knowledge.” This is the speciality of Islamic education system. In the history of Islam, the beauty of the Islamic educational system was that it was uniform, meaning that it was not divided into worldly and religious education and that it was not divided for rich and poor or elite and workers. Islamic educational system covers both the systems of knowledge --divine and worldly (physical). Both the knowledge belongs to “al-Aalim” (the knowledgeable Almighty Allah), and both are the source of knowledge and wisdom from Allah. The whole universe is the creation of al-Musawwir (the Artist). The top scientist of the world sent by God was Abraham (a.s.). He recognized and identified his Lord, the creator of men and universe by learning universe (science) by himself before the revelation of the Scripture from Allah. All the knowledge and skills are the branches of the knowledge of things that was given to Adam in the beginning. “Then Allah taught Adam the names of all things”(Al-Quran, Surah Al-Baqra 2:31). The knowledge of the things, world, universe that has been given in the beginning to the first person Adam is expanding daily and will expand till the last day of the world.
Muslim educationists and administrators still possess the imperial legacy of separating the knowledge of deen and dunya. They even strongly established it by saying proudly that “we teach ‘deen’ along with ‘secular education’ in our school or Madrasahs.” That means they accept that the knowledge may be secular (delinked from the Creator, God). However, the truth is that all the knowledge of elements, physics, and universe is the “regular” knowledge and directly coming from Allah, originally given to the first person Adam, and it is expanding every day according to needs and requirements.
Second wrong thing they did is that they made their financial planning solely depending on the fees from students, and the tuition fees skyrocketed and went beyond the capacity of an average family.
The dominance of Satan in all sphere of life is because of the prevailing “educational system. ”The purpose of the public education system is to make a person materialist in order only to fit into the struggle of economic survival. In current economy, this only purpose is also non-achievable. They will never have a time and ability to think about the purpose of life for which human beings’ exist. When the material that was just a means of life became the purpose of life, then human beings adopted the path of Satan, whose ultimate destiny is hell.
On the other side, the Creator and Sustainer wish to see His noble creation (human beings) obey Him in the same fashion as all His other creations are programmed to obey Him.
“All living creatures and all angels in the heavens and on the earth are in prostration before Allah; and never do they behave in arrogant defiance. They hold their Lord, Who is above them, in fear, and do as they are bidden”(16: 49-50).
The current education system leads to revolt against Allah (s.t.). It is a diversion from the straight path (Al-Jannah) and leads to the path astray.
We have to change the educational system, the man-making machine, if we want to lead our generation to the straight path.
1. Every Masjid/Islamic Center should take the responsibility to educate all the children in its neighbourhood, at least from KG to 8, by starting a Masjid-School.
2. This Masjid School should open for the children of all parents, Muslims and non-Muslims.
3. The requirement to open an Elementary School is to register in your District School Board of Ontario: If you have one room for office, and one room for classroom, and two registered students of six years and above, you can get licence to start an Elementary School, KG-8.
4. Every Masjid can qualify for this licence. The prayer area can be used from 8 am to Zuhar prayer as classrooms divided into cubicles. If necessary, students of two grades can join together to make a class, as public schools used to do.
5. Large Islamic Centers should also start girls’ high schools.
That means the product of Masjid School should be excellent in academic, excellent in Islamic knowledge and wisdom, and best in character. These students should be able to influence other students, teachers when they go to high school. They will be beacons of light for their neighbours, fellow citizens and will be the best people of the civic society. They will be daee of the future. The peace, justice, and unity will prevail in the society in the presence of these high character people.
It is easy to develop a curriculum if the purpose of education is defined. Every teacher should know the purpose of education and always keep it in mind and revisit it.
1. Learning English language should be emphasised as it opens the window of worldly knowledge, and it makes it easier to communicate with the Canadian/American nation. For a missionary ummah (community like Muslims), it is mandatory to master the local language so that communication and outreach to the people would be easy.
2. Learning Arabic language should be in priority as it opens the window of the knowledge of Deen, the divine knowledge.
3. Math should also be emphasized as it opens the knots of the mind.
4. Science should be taught in a way to recognize the signs of Allah, as another open book of Allah, the universe.
4. An optional Urdu or Farsi language should be taught as it has a voluminous amount of Islamic literature. South Asian Muslims have a serious attachment to the Urdu language that produced best Islamic literature in twentieth century. Similarly, Afghani and Iranian parents would like their children to be taught Farsi language which produced best Islamic literature in eighteenth and nineteenth century.
5. There should not be prejudicial approach in developing and implementing curriculum. The educationist’s and teacher’s role in this respect should be like bee that gets the extract of every flower.
6. Every child and teacher should offer two rikah salah after entering Masjid School.
7. Assembly: Surah Fatiha (prayer for the straight path), Surah Ikhlas (declaration of oneness and unity of Allah), Darood e Ibrahimi (praising the Messengers of Allah), and the prayer Rabbana Aatina Fid-duniya hasnah and Rabbana aatina fil Aakhirah (prayer for betterment in this world and hereafter), with English translations of all, should be recited loudly in the assembly. A poem like Allama Iqbal’s Urdu poem Lab Pe Aati Hai Dua Ban ke tamanna meri may be sung.
May longing come to my lips as supplication of mine O Allah!
May like the candle be the life of mine O Allah!
May the world’s darkness disappear through the life of mine!
May every place light up with the sparkling light of mine!
May my homeland through me attain elegance
As the garden through flowers attains elegance.
May my life like that of the moth be, O Allah!
May I love the lamp of knowledge, O Allah!
May supportive of the poor my life’s way be.
May loving the old, the suffering my way be.
O Allah! Protect me from the evil ways.
Show me the path leading to the good ways.
May longing come to my lips as supplication of mine, O Allah!
May like the candle be the life of mine, O Allah!
8. Introduce a new subject “Wisdom of Islam” that should cover all the spiritual, social, cultural, civilization, issues related to peace, unity, justice, rights, and responsibilities, educational, social, political, and economic aspects of Islam. The comprehensive curriculum according to age groups and grade should be developed.
9. The curriculum should cover spiritual literacy (God-consciousness), moral literacy (noble character), intellectual literacy (useful knowledge), physical literacy (healthy living), interpersonal literacy (human relations), cultural literacy (faith in action) and social literacy (public service). [Tarbiyah Project presented by Late Dawud Tauhid].
9. A comprehensive tarbiyah (in life training) program should be developed in a way that students can acquire a good level of taqwa (Allah consciousness), morals, positive approach, creativity, good etiquettes, learning to respect parents, elders, neighbours and fellow citizens (Maamlat). They should also be trained in oratory, writing, leadership, organizational, administrative, and in collective wisdom through various activities.
10. Frequent educational field trips for all class students, teachers and parents.
11. Grade 1 to 4 classes for girls and boys should be together and from 5 to 8 it should be separate. It is preferable to have separate teachers for girls (female teachers) and boys (male teachers) in grade 5 to 8.
12. The process of educating and learning is an Ibadah, a state of worship. Teachers and students should maintain taharah (cleanliness) and wudu (ablution) and keep remembering Allah (s.t.) during the class hours.
13. A weekly one and half-hour on “teaching and parenting” for parents and teachers should be organized. In this program different aspects of the life of Al-Muallim [the teacher, Muhammad (s.a.w.)] should be discussed.
Muslims in the golden period of Islamic history never differentiated between or discriminated against people in lower or higher or rich and poor; therefore, there was never mandatory fees of the education. In addition to free education, students were provided food, cloth, shelter, and books. The acquiring of knowledge is mandatory for Muslims in Islam; therefore, there was never mandatory fees for the education as currently Muslims are not paying mandatory donations for using the services of salaried Imams, preachers, directors, cleaning staffs, water, heating, cooling, papers and other things. Attendees donate according to their financial capabilities and resources. Several Islamic Centers and Masajid easily generate donations in several millions to cover the expenses of the facilities. If they can treat education in the same way as they took the responsibility of five times salat, Friday, Eid and taraveeh prayers, it will be easier to manage.
Abdullah Bin Umar stated that “the Messenger of Allah said that to whom Allah wants to bestow good, He grants him understanding of Deen.”
“Our Lord! Grant us mercy from Yourself and provide for us rectitude in our affairs” (Al-Kahaf: 18: 10). “Lord! Increase me in knowledge” (Taha: 20: 114).
(Syed Jawed Anwar can be reached at email@example.com)
Mashallah. May Allah swt bless the brother, his family & everyone who have put their words in it Inshallah. This is a very good message & I believe this message should reach to each & every muslim. May Allah give us hidayah to think about it & apply it accordingly, aamin.