All Praise is due to Allah, Who created human beings in the most perfect image and gave correct estimate and guidance. Blessings and peace be upon Muhammad (s.a.w.)1 the leader of the heavenly guided and master of callers to the Lord of mankind. Peace be upon the heirs of the Prophet's knowledge, the torch bearers of guidance and reform his infallible descendants, and also peace be upon his rightly guided companions.
Social tendency among people is a natural phenomenon. It attracts mankind towards each other, and instills in them a feeling of cooperation for achieving a better standard of life. There is also a deep intrinsic need within people for social life.
Islam has a well-defined code which aims at achieving humanitarian values and goals by two methods, namely the internal and the external. These methods instill in the individual, family, society and state the qualities of love, equality, reciprocity, justice, freedom and security. Islam endeavors to achieve such sublime values by internal motives. Force is not considered to start with in achieving Islamic goals and internal motives are implanted by concepts and emotions which would be reflected in human behaviour and aesthetic tastes.
Islam's concern for people's internal motives and external behaviour was not left to the preachers' words only. The right bases, required resources and practical measures are provided in order to mould people according to the Islamic set of values. Hence human senses are ably supervised by spiritual motives. There are several shining examples, throughout our history, which provide striking evidence to these facts.
- (.s.a.w) : is the abbreviation at the Arabic phrase Sal-Lallahu' aliehi we aalihi (May the blessing of God be with him and his holy family).
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But plots of neo-Jahiliyya in the shape of Western Arrogance armed with material supremacy managed to gain control of the Muslim World's destiny for a while. During this disastrous period of colonial hegemony they tried to destroy the Muslims' educational code and the results were appalling evil thoughts, ethical setback, anarchy and corruption of the whole system of government.
A glance at the Muslim World reveals the catastrophic damage done by Western Ignorance to families, schools, streets, factories, offices, colleges and institutions. The most salient damage is evident when we look at the mass media, educational and cultural institutions and publishing houses.
Al-Balagh Foundation donates this small gift Features of Islamic Education' to its dear subscribers, and prays to Allah, the most Glorious to awaken our conscience and enable us to liberate Muslim minds, develop our lands, cleanse the earth of evil and spread prayers, virtue, justice and heavenly guidance throughout the world.
Meaning Of Education
Education is a process of grooming and reforming people through proper direction and guidance throughout their lives and fields. This task is especially entrusted to different people at different stages.
Therefore, education in this context means a process of building and guiding human intellect in order to attain maturity and an ideal stage. For this purpose, Heavenly Messages and Laws and successive Messengers and Prophets (peace be upon them) were sent. They came to educate mankind in a balanced systematic way, covering all human aspects such as spiritual, conceptual, behavioral and physical. Their messages urged people to manifest their humanity.
As already mentioned, education is a process of building, reform, guidance and practical training for people and is not sheer transfer of concepts and expanding of people's fields of information. Knowledge and information play the role of an engineering design on which people's personalities are based and constructed. Hence, culture and information at the teacher's hands are similar to a design drawing at an
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engineer's disposal, who is engaged in constructing a house or a project. The building takes shape according to the drawing which has been carefully prepared.
An engineering design reveals the scientific knowledge, experience and aesthetic standard of an engineer. Similarly, educational codes, elements and principles show the expertise of a learned teacher whose challenge is to construct people's personalities according to a set of aspired norms.
Therefore, a learned teacher's job resembles an engineer's in the way of supervising and applying his thoughts, skill and vision.
A learned teacher or theoretician moulds people and society in accordance with design of his education code. In other words, education is considered the first step in building a society and civilization. For this very reason, states, philosophical and social schools and heavenly laws have placed a great emphasis on the bringing up of man according to their respective educational codes, so that people would be prepared in all aspects to live in harmony under the peaceful shades of a perfect social code.
Thence, it is necessary to be fully conscious when studying non-Islamic educational theories and principles. For these articulate, cleverly disguised theories may influence our thinking and infect our society with their deadly poisons and diseases.
It is important to point out that educational philosophy in the Muslim World has lost its position. For this very reason, Muslim students fall an easy prey to these plots, by blindly aping foreign educational systems, schools and philosophies, without ever bothering to think about the catastrophic consequences.
These philosophies have proved their failure in practice and inflicted great disasters and pains upon mankind. They misled a greater part of many generations disfiguring personalities, promoting sick ideas and bringing untold misery. Alas, the materialistic world and society is doomed to destruction due to such absurd philosophies.
Therefore, copying or importing of such harmful theories and philosophies, rife with sick-thoughts, dangerous and destructive trends will lead to damaging people's personalities and their behaviour. It would also induce us to lose our splendid heritage and become meek imitators of foreign perverted cultures, ultimately resulting in terrifying ethical and behavioral damage.
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Thus, it is a duty for our theoreticians, experts and masters of education to be aware of these bitter facts. It is hoped that they would revise and reform the existing educational pattern and policies, which follow the footsteps of Western Ignorance's decaying systems and theories. More so, considering the fact that our Muslim Nation possesses a message, a civilization, a philosophy and an educational code for molding people's personalities and defining clear goals too.
It has a diametrical difference compared to other educational codes and philosophies produced by the materialistic thinking of either the European and American Capitalist societies or the Eastern Communist society.
Materialistic civilization is based upon certain ethical, psychological, educational and social philosophies which derive from it, their general view of life and man. This is in complete contrast to the Islamic viewpoint with respect to general philosophy and thoughts which are the basis of building and guiding a human being.
Accordingly it is necessary to shed light on the facts that educational planning and conforming to Islamic code does not mean mere parrot learning of texts or increasing number of lessons or enhancing syllabus of Islamic subjects. Although such measures may be interesting, but it is incorrect to confine Islamic education to a book.
The concept of viewing Islamic education as a collection of Islamic texts in the fields of ethics, belief, Tradition of Prophet and obligatory rituals (Ebadat), is a misunderstanding of its real meaning. In fact Islamic way of education is concerned with building and guiding people, based on a comprehensive code covering the family, school, and society, and derived from thorough knowledge of Islam.
All types of knowledge, philosophy of sciences, culture, way of life and interrelations in home, school and university are to be based on purely Islamic principles, so that all aspects of life, conduct and principals shine with Islamic spirit.
Islam has a unique and the most comprehensive stand when tackling various subjects like society, history, origin of universe and life, ethics, politics, economics, arts, legislation etc.... It has also its clearly defined sources and firm bases. Hence, all theories, concepts, schools' syllabuses, which cover all stages of education, should be drawn from Islamic philosophy, code and general view. Furthermore, mass media and cultural means in the society should be within the framework of Islam, so that
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civilization, society and people are built on purely Islamic teachings and practices.
In short the Islamic message is an educational and humanitarian message. It aims at building a society at every step and has well defined concepts and laws. It develops all good human potentials and reforms people's conduct and personalities.
Islam's role is to provide a guiding light and pave the road for a practical and unique way of life for mankind. Concepts and knowledge imparted to people are practical guidelines and a code for life in order to furnish a design of a comprehensive human society.
The Master of humanity, the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (s.a.w.) had brought up an outstanding generation, who recognized no borders between theory and practice. He taught and encouraged his companions to learn by heart and practice the glorious verses of the holy Qur'an, and proceeded gradually as the divine scripture was revealed in parts. Uthman Ibn Madh'un and Ibn Massood, two of his companions narrate:
"The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) was teaching us ten verses at a time; we were not permitted to proceed further unless we had mastered fully the previous verses with respect to content and practice. Then, another ten Qur'anic verses would be taught to us by the Prophet of Allah. '
Abu Abdur-Rahmafl as-Salmi narrates:
"We were told by the companions of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) who taught us the Qur' an, that only ten verses at a time were taught to them. They did not proceed to learn another ten verses unless the previous ten were mastered with respect to their meaning and practical implications." 2
The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) was following this procedure in order to build an Islamic society and individuals, in carefully calculated steps and stages.
(1)AbuL Qasim al-Khui, al-Bayan Fi Tafsir al-Qur'an, p.29, Mujaz Uloom alQur'an, p. 123-154 by Dr. Dawod al-Attar. ( 2 ) ibid.
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Muslims consider the Prophet (s.a.w.) the living example for the Islamic Message. He is the perfect model of emulation for practicing Muslims because he was, right from his birth guided by Allah, the most High. Once he said: "My Lord has taught me and indeed it was a good bringing- up".
The noble conduct and manner of the Prophet (s.a.w.) is therefore, considered the most sublime and perfect human model, and the Message a living example. Thus, the Tradition of Prophet is taken as the second source of Islamic jurisprudence after the holy Qur'an. The Creator has given credit to the Prophet in the following Qur'anic verse:
"Surely you are on an exalted morality.
Holy Qur'an (68:4)
Qur'anic verses emphasize the importance of following the footsteps of the Prophet (s.a.w.) in all walks of life. "Certainly you have in Allah's Apostle an excellent examplar for whosoever hopes in Allah and the Last Day, and remembers Allah much. Holy Qur'an ((33:21)
In the light of these directions, the first generation of Muslims molded their life, and the holy descendants of the Prophet (s.a.w.) carried the torch of call and guidance. The sixth Imam of the Prophet's Household Imam Ja'far, as-Sadiq (a.s.)1 says in this regard~
"There is no proper belief without deeds, and belief cannot be firm unless coupled with practice." 2 These are general guidelines on which Muslims should base their lives in all sectors whether concerning an individual, a family, a state or an institution.
(1) (a.s.) is the abbreviation of the Arabic phrase aday-hi/ha'hiٌius-set am (Peace be with him/her/them). (2) al-Hur ai-Amili. Wasa'il al-Shi'ah, Vol. 6, Chapt. 4, p. 127.