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Concept of education in Islam

zaheerThe Holy Quran gives respect to all human beings, but gives superiority to the class of educated people. The Muslims belong to a worldwide family where they can live together in a state of peace and happiness with high moral and ethical values defined by the Sharia. Thus, Islamic education can never be an individual affair.
Education may be used as the means to transmit and preserve a community’s or society’s cultural heritage and traditional values. In Islam, social existence has exactly the same goal as the individual existence: the realization on earth of divinely ordained moral imperatives.
The first words revealed by Allah SWT were ‘Iqraa’ which means read. As we have so many needs and so many weaknesses, Allah could have given to Mankind the infinite number of messages, Allah who know all of man’s secrets, and his most intimate needs, chose learning, gaining knowledge or seeking and providing education as the first message to mankind. It was revealed in the time of ignorance when money or power in the hands of the people would be self-destructive. Hence, Allah did not say in His First Message: “Go out and get rich!” or “Go out and destroy the enemies of Islam!” They could not handle power, or for that matter their own desires.
Islam integrates all aspects of human life like political, social and economic into a single worldview and in doing so eliminates the concept of the separation between religion and state. Compared to a liberal perspective, the notion of free will in Islam is thus an unsophisticated one.
There is a simple choice of whether one accepts Islam or completely rejects it. A ‘pick-and-choose’ concept does not exist where one might decide to accept a certain part of the belief and reject another part due to social changes or any other reason. This is a very important principle for if one rejects a part they have in fact rejected the entirety and have undermined the credibility of it. The Quran addresses this matter in a firm tone.

Seeking knowledge should aim to initiate in the learner a spiritual and moral consciousness which leads to an increase in imaan (faith) that manifests itself as virtuous deeds leading to yaqeen (certainty) which are all constantly emphasised in the Quran

In the Arabic language ‘to know’ ultimately means ‘to be transformed by the very process of knowing’; al-Taftazani presents a quote by a famous Islamic philosopher Al-Ghazali regarding this issue. Be sure that knowledge alone is no support…If a man reads a hundred thousand scientific subjects and learns them but does not act upon them, his knowledge is of no use to him, for its benefit lies only in being used. This applies to wealth where the accumulation of it for its own sake is not permissible unless there is a cause intended in the accumulation. In the same way, knowledge must be acquired to benefit from it and then to pass it on or make good use of it by helping others in acknowledging God.
Teachers of knowledge have a noble role within Muslim society, as they are responsible for the spiritual and moral nurturing of the next generation. Their personal lives are equally important as their profession.
Classical Muslim philosopher Ibn-e-Khaldun recognized that Muslim children learn ‘through imitation of a teacher and personal contact with him.’ It would be fair to say that there is a similar concept in liberal societies where parents would generally prefer their children being taught by a teacher who holds ‘good morals’ and adheres to ‘ethical values’. However, there is generally no fixed definition of what ‘good morals’ and ‘ethical values’ are.
The Quran says: “Are the educated and uneducated equal?” The Holy Quran declares the superiority of Adam in these words: “And He taught Adam, the names of all things; then He placed them before the angels and said: “Tell me the names of these if you are right”.
The first word of the revelation deals with the importance of knowledge. In Sura Al-Alaq it is said: “Read in the name of thy Lord who created”. There is another verse of the Holy Quran asking the Prophet (PBUH) to pray: “Lord increase my knowledge”. The importance of knowledge is manifest at different places in the Quran. The Quran says that we send the Prophets to teach people wisdom. It further says that only the people of knowledge fear God. In Sura Heifer the Quran says: “But the best of provisions is right conduct so fear me, O ye that are wise” (2:197).
The religion is at the centre of all aspects of education, ‘acting as glue which holds together the entire curriculum’. This can also be known as an integrated curriculum.

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