Quarterly: Issue No 88
Shawwal 1439 – June 2018
Islamic society is founded on the
principles of belief and righteous conduct. This connection between values and
practice lies at the very heart of the Islamic way of life. To be a Muslim
requires that one’s faith be reflected in one’s practice and daily moral
conduct with other people. We have the beautiful teachings of the Noble Qur’an
and Prophetic Sunnah, and we have many masaajid,
Islamic schools and organizations. Yet many Muslims today do not live in accord
with the principles and values of their faith.
What is the root of the problem?
The problem lies in that Islamic religious instruction, in recent centuries,
has been taught primarily as a body of information, rather than as a body of
experiences. For many Muslim children today, Islam does not inspire them, and
Islam seems meaningless and irrelevant to their personal lives and experiences.
The “Islamic values” education
curriculum should focus on personality and character development of children,
close attention to the real needs and concerns of students, and preparation of
students with the critical thinking and problem-solving skills needed to
function successfully as Muslims in a multi-cultural society. If we hope to
succeed in our goal to raise our children Islamically, Muslim educators and
parents need to develop a better understanding of how children grow and learn.
We must understand the processes of moral development and the methods of
effective teaching and learning. Our children will not become moral individuals
simply because we want or tell them to do so. They will become moral
individuals by cultivating their minds and hearts, and by having opportunities
to actually see and apply Islamic values in practice. The pervasive influence
of secular materialism and its value system seriously challenges
religious-minded individuals and communities. To a large extent, the future
will depend on how well we educate our children today and to what extent we are
successful in transferring to them the sacred vision of life we have as
Muslims. What is at stake is nothing less than the moral and spiritual survival
of our children and our communities as Muslims. Without a proper understanding
of the Islamic Value System, there is little hope that the true goals (maqaasid) of Islamic education can be achieved. Islamic
schools have a crucial role to play in providing concrete solutions and
programs that will foster this understanding among students and in promoting
the role and responsibility of the family in the process of Islamic upbringing
Fortunately, a sense of
renewal is in the air today and enlightened Muslims are eager to find real
solutions to the problems and challenges facing the Muslim, including
re-examination of both how and what we teach our children about Islam. Muslim
intellectual educators must restructure the Islamic Studies Curriculum - both
with regards to what is taught and how it is taught - if our children are to
develop the spiritual survival skills needed to survive as Muslims in the
twenty-first century and beyond. Let us examine some outlines of a new vision
of Islamic education which will be capable of producing Muslim youth with a
level of understanding, commitment and social responsibility that will both
motivate and enable them to serve Islam and humanity effectively, insha Allah. Islamic education must be able to produce
Muslim youth that are able to identify, understand and then work cooperatively
to solve the problems that face their community and the world in which they
live and for which they are responsible. To us, this should be the most effective
form of Islamic Da’wah.
This vision is not a "new
vision" but rather a "renewed vision" of Islamic education. It
is a call for the return to the classical traditional - though not conventional
- vision of Islamic education. In the lifetime of our beloved Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) Islamic education was both practical and very
relevant. The Prophetic model of Islamic education drew its substance from the
everyday experiences and day-to-day problems of the early Muslim Community.
Although Islamic education will undoubtedly draw much of its content from the
foundational disciplines of Islamic Studies (such as Aqeedah,
Tafseer, Fiqh, etc.), it
must be done in a way that links this content to the natural concerns of
students as well as the larger issues facing the world in which they live. This
is the challenge of modern-day Islamic education.
This vision of Islamic
education makes a fundamental distinction between teaching about
"Islam" and teaching about "being Muslim". As mentioned
earlier, Muslim educators, for the most part, have been content to teach
"facts about Islam," since this is an easier and less demanding
approach. We have not met the challenge of developing a systematic program to
teach our children about "being Muslim" - which requires a more
subtle and profound understanding of both the nature of children and Islam
itself. The goal of Islamic education is not to fill our children’s minds with
information about Islam, but rather to teach them about being Muslims in the
true sense of the word.
Islamic education, first and foremost,
must focus on teaching values and emphasize issues of identity and self-esteem.
It must address the real concerns of students and emphasize and provide for
training in leadership. Also very important in the
achievement of the goals of Islamic education, it is essential to gain the
active involvement of parents. In developing our approach, we should not be shy
to benefit from recent educational research worldwide. This research suggests
that several factors are essential for effective teaching and learning to
occur. These factors are summarized in the statement that teaching and learning
are effective when they are meaningful, integrative, value-based, challenging
and active. These factors should also apply to Islamic education as well; and
Muslim educators must become better aware of the important role these factors
play in effective learning. It is suggested that future programs in Islamic
education should be evaluated in light of these basic factors that are
discussed briefly below.
Effective Islamic teaching and learning
must be meaningful.
Students should feel that the content of their curriculum is worth learning,
because it is meaningful and relevant to their lives. When learning is
meaningful and relevant, students are intrinsically motivated to learn.
Furthermore, students must be led to discover the larger connections between
the knowledge and skills they are learning - rather than memorizing isolated
bits of information. Especially as Muslims, our children must be trained to
keep their eyes always on the whole picture, or a macro-view, whenever they
study. This, in part, is the meaning of tawheed.
Islamic teaching and learning must therefore focus on examining major themes
and important topics, rather than superficial coverage of many different
topics. This approach advocates that the Islamic Studies curriculum be
structured coherently around the concept of powerful ideas.
Effective Islamic teaching and learning
must also be integrated. It must encompass and engage the child
as a whole, i.e. physically, spiritually, emotionally, socially and
intellectually. In addition, Islamic teaching and learning should be
integrative across a broad range of topics and in its treatment of these
topics. It should be integrative across time and place as well as being
integrative across the curriculum. It must integrate knowledge, beliefs and
values with action and application. These integrative aspects of teaching and
learning have the far-reaching potential of enhancing the power of Islamic
Most important of all, effective Islamic
teaching and learning must be value-based. By focusing on values
and by considering the ethical dimensions of topics, Islamic education becomes a
powerful vehicle for character and moral development, thus achieving its real
purpose. Educators must realize that every aspect of the teaching-learning
experience conveys values to students and provides opportunities for them to
learn about values. From the selection of content, materials and activities, to
the arrangement of the classroom, to class rules and management style, students
must be exposed to values and implement these values. Teachers must therefore
develop a better awareness of their own values and how those values influence
their behaviour as role-models; and what students ultimately learn from these
experiences about themselves, about others and about Islam.
Effective Islamic teaching and learning
must also be challenging. Students must be challenged to
thoughtfully examine the topics they are studying, to participate assertively
in group discussions, to work productively in cooperative learning activities,
and to come to grips with controversial issues. Such activities and experiences
will help foster the skills needed to produce competent Muslims who are capable
of presenting and defending their beliefs and principles effectively.
Finally, effective Islamic teaching and
learning must be active. Islamic studies should demand a great
deal from both the teacher and students. The teacher must be actively and
genuinely engaged in the teaching process - making plans, choices and
curriculum adjustments as needed. The effective teacher of Islamic education
must be prepared to continuously update his or her knowledge base, adjust goals
and content to students’ needs, take advantage of unfolding events and
teachable moments, and to develop examples that relate directly to students.
Moreover, learning must be active by emphasizing hands-on and minds-on
activities that call for students to react to what they are learning and to use
it in their lives in some meaningful way.
The above are some key factors for
effective Islamic teaching and learning. This vision of effective Islamic
teaching and learning is based on a dynamic rather than static view of Islam
and Islamic education. This view is rooted in the belief that the mission of
Islam is to positively affect and transform the world, and that the purpose of
Islamic education is to prepare young men and women who are capable of carrying
out this mission—emotionally, morally and intellectually.
May Allah grant us all the realization of the greater aims and
objectives of Islamic education! Ameen!
Allah’s Messenger (peace be
upon him) said: “If any one of you improve (follows strictly) his Islamic
religion then his good deeds will be rewarded ten times to seven hundred times
for each good deed and a bad deed will be recorded as it is.” (Sahih
al-Bukhari, Vol. 1, Book 2, Hadith 35)
O Allah! Your Forgiveness is far greater
than my sins and I have more hope in Your Mercy than in my own deeds.
Requesting your duas!
Abdul Haq Abdul Kadir