I HEARD from my parent that long time ago in our grandparents’ time, flood inundated our town and water entered homes at the lower plains. Several families had to leave their houses and take shelter in my grandparents’ residence at a higher plain. Such hospitality is the natural way of supporting each other and living together in a town or village. People living on higher ground hold the hands of those on lower ground. Human beings cannot survive without this culture of living together and helping one another.
When the public schooling in Canada became completely corrupted by Liberal and Democrat politicians and their high handedness against the families with traditional and religious values, the threat level of losing spirituality, religion, and finally gender of children got RED. It was the duty of Islamic Centers and Masajid to help the parents and hold the hands of the children of the community. No matter how big or how small their Masjid was, there was always room to accommodate and establish Islamic schools within the Masjid. There is a proverb in Urdu and Persian that means to accommodate someone, you need space in your heart. To establish an Islamic School, you need only 5 students, a principal (school administration; in-charge) and an office and a shelf to keep students’ files safe (legal requirement).
It was not a big deal. All the Masajid/Islamic centers qualify. However, with few exceptions, majority of the Masajid and Islamic centers failed and left the Muslim children to be inundated by the flood of wrong, corrupt, and dirty public education.
At this stage, we must be thankful to those who, despite meagre resources, took the lead and accommodated as many children as they could. One such group/effort is Ummati. Maulana Nooruddin started and implemented this concept.
“Ummati is the name of an effort to bring education back into the Masjid, on a simple pattern, excluding unnecessary spending and formalities, relying on mostly the volunteer services of the Muslims living around that Masjid,” says an Ummati school website.
Despite some differences in my concept of education (balancing wholeness and holiness), I appreciate, admire, and highly respect this effort. I personally know Maulana Muhammad Asif Banna who started one of the UMMATI schools Khairul Ummah from a small Musallah (prayer place) in one of the apartments of the building in Flemington Park, East York, Toronto. Now they bought a school building accommodating more than 300 students. At one time, he was principal, administrative assistant, teacher, and bus driver all together. This is the kind of dedication and commitment needed to establish a school, and space is never to be an excuse. There are now several more like Maulana Asif in Greater Toronto Area, and I congratulate all of them with my sincere heart.
The big Islamic centers that established schools long time ago for only the rich parents failed to respond to the greatest need of the community: education at affordable price to most of the community children.
Allah mandated us to establish Masjid whenever we get power. But He ordered Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) to establish Deen of Allah in Makkan period without power and before migration, starting with education and training (taleem and tarbiyah).
“Those who, if We give them power in the land, establish SALAH (worship) and pay Zakah (the poor-due) and enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong. And to Allah belongs the outcome of [all] matters” (Quran, Surah Al-Hajj 22:41 revealed in Madinah).
“He has prescribed for you the DEEN which He enjoined upon Noah and which We revealed to you (O Muhammad, s. a. w.), and which We enjoined upon Abraham and Moses and Jesus, commanding: “Establish this DEEN and do not split up regarding it” (Quran, Surah Ash-Shura 42:13 part, revealed in Makkah).
That’s why a center for education and training (taleem and tarbiyah) was established in a mountain of Makkah (in a home), Darul Arqam, where the companions of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) learned directly from the Messenger of Allah and also prayed together.
Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) had never tried to build a separate Masjid in Makkah, but he formed a learning center (school).
I suggest that parents donate generously only to those Masjid/Islamic Centers who has Islamic schooling (for all) as their top priority.
“Build Islamic schools/learning centers with the facility of five times and Jumuah prayers.” That should be our priority, our goal, and our accomplishment in North America (following Seerah/Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad, s.a.w.).
Now, the issue is of defining the purpose of education and the Sunnah and Seerah perspective of education.
First of all, we have to define the purpose of education and type of students we would like to produce.
What is education?
When a generation transfers its faith, beliefs, traditions, divine knowledge and wisdom, norms, practices, experiences, history, culture, language, and their heroes’ achievements to the next generation, the process of this transmission is called “education”.
Students graduated from the Islamic school (KG to 8) will go to high school or, if graduated from Islamic high school, will go to university or college (mainstream), they should have the following qualities:
- They should be better in academics of worldly knowledge, math, science, language, and others.
- Their faith in Islam should be based on knowledge of the Deen and not just family- or clan-based.
- They should be best in character compared to other students, morally sound, socially active, physically fit, and helpful to others without any prejudice.
- They should have enough knowledge to practice and convey the message of Islam to their peers, other school students, and staff.
- They should have will, desire, and necessary skill to communicate the message of Islam to all (as a Da’ee of Islam).
Students should be equipped with following strands:
- Spiritual literacy (God-consciousness, Tawheed)
- Moral literacy (noble character, seerah,Tazkyah)
- Intellectual literacy (useful knowledge, Hikmah)
- Physical literacy (healthy living, Istiqamah)
- Interpersonal literacy (human relations, Ihsaan)
- Cultural literacy (daily living, Deen)
- Social literacy (public service, Amanah)
-A Holistic Vision of Islamic Education
(Please check the link)
I strongly suggest implementing the above mentioned Tarbiyah curriculum outline in every school, written and implemented by late Dawud Tauhidi (who was a great educationist and new revert to Islam).
Check my few articles on education written several years ago.
- Establish Masjid Schools Everywhere with Integrated Curriculum
- Qura'nic Concept of Education and Our Education System
- The purpose of Education
- Madrasah: The Intellectual History of Muslim India
The prejudices of maslak or region, or language, (or even religion in gaining worldly knowledge), and accepting only “my type” of scholars are main hindrance in getting most of valuable resources outside the groups. Knowledge seekers should be like honeybees who extract best juice of best of the flowers to make rich, sweet, and delicious honey.
(Jawed Anwar can be reached at email@example.com)
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