Qur’anic vs Western Secular Education (Ref: Goals, Objectives, Resources and Practical implementation)

26 Oct

Quoting a brother’s query:

Education – Goals, Objectives, Resources and Practical implementation.

Dr. Mohammed Abid Ali has worked hard to develop a general guideline for education. Mashallah his work is comprehensive and well researched. He has very eloquently defined the Goals, Methodologies, Objectives, Identifying target recipients of education, Perception development and tied them with core Islamic values.

My concern is how we implement them and develop a detailed roadmap. I do feel that we should not condemn Western education but look at it objectively and take from it that which is effective. The West has been very successful in imbedding Hukuk ul Ibad at a very young age. They show respect when interacting with one another, stick to their word, believe in being on time, are polite, try to honor their commitments. These are Islamic values but the West has been successful in implementing them. We have not been very successful in translating our goals and objectives into practical actions.

We have to separate the four components of education and then try to use parts that are compatible with our goals.

Secular education –  science, math, language, arts, along with critical thinking.

Tarbiyah – Hukuk ul Ibad, Manners, respect for others, essentially human values.

Training – Train in specific areas as needed. Public speaking, trades like tailoring etc.

Value development- Perception of life based on Islamic values including Hukuk ul Ibad.

The West has done a great job in the first three areas and we have a lot to learn from them. My purpose for this letter is to take the work that has already been done by Dr. Abid Ali, a step further and help develop a detailed roadmap. At this time my main concern is children’s early education. We have them for 4 or 5 years and this is enough time to build a successful citizen with strong character, values and leadership qualities.

There are many practical steps we can take to instill our values. Here are some of them.

Children clean the class room every morning with the teacher for 5 minutes.

Assign projects to children to show how they helped their neighbor, friend, sick person.

Children make presentations to the class about projects etc. Build public speaking skills.

Reward them for fulfilling promises, helping parents, being clean etc. Make it important.

Corporate Sponsors to fund: taking children to hospitals, cleanup a park, paint school.

Teachers have to be trained to follow and exhibit these values before children will follow. There are many more steps that can be taken to implement values or strengthen education methods.


My Response

Assalamu Alaikum brother,

Reference to your query quoted above I will like to present following explanation:

In fact my writing which was forwarded to you was meant for our group which has already been attending our education awareness sessions from Creator’s perspective for around last one year. What I have written makes quite a lot of sense to them as their perception is already built to that level.

Brother I will like to ask you a very basic question: for how many hours a day are we Muslims allowed to keep our children under secular education? I know what your answer is? We have to live in Islam every second of the day, is it not? So how can we consider that sciences, mathematics and art are all secular? None of them can be secular as they depict the God created nature only. And nature is the strongest depiction of the wujud (existence) of Allah subhana wa ta’ala. You may be wondering how Mathematics is Islamic? What is mathematics: it is the numerical or Arithmetical depiction or definition of the laws of nature, and as such it is quite Islamic? For a Muslim he sees the powers of his Creator in all these. This is the explanation by Iqbal as well. Kindly refer to Asrar e Khudi and Ramooz e Bikhudi. No Ilm is out of the scope of Islam. The biggest problem of the present times is that we Muslims are extremely in AWE of the western systems and in the process we have quite totally forgotten our own intellectual traditions.

Tarbiyah, as you have mentioned, is one of the basic features of the teaching of our Lord. Do you feel that we should rely upon the western approach to inculcate this in our children when we have the complete and most effective tool in Qur’an to instill this in us and in our children. Are we presently using Qur’an effectively for this purpose? My assessment is that the utility of Allah’s Kalam is around 10 to 15% only in our lives, the rest is dictated by the western concepts of education.

When I was not very aware of the education from Creator’s perspective and was not prepared to look into the weaknesses of western education system I could hardly take the stage to talk on education. But Alhamdulillah I have been delivering lectures and presentations to quite large audiences from every aspect of life. When you have something to say and you are quite sure of its validity you develop the sense of public speaking. I do not feel that public speaking is such an issue.

We can develop whole curriculum through Qur’an as has been demonstrated to the group that is working with me; and as was the procedure during the life time of our prophet and for a few centuries after him. If we look at the world and all its sciences through Qur’an we will be carrying a purely Qur’anic thought dimension or perception. Which perception are we carrying presently? This is because we are being made to pass through secular education developed by the west to achieve their perceived objectives.

Imagine a person prepared through Qur’an, can he lack ‘Hukuk ul Ibad, Manners, respect for others, essentially human values’. What we lack presently is an Islamic perception or Qur’anic perception which inhibits us from developing our own systems as per Islam. Resultantly we have to resort to adopting alien systems. A good citizen may not be a good Muslim but a good Muslim will most naturally be a good and highly responsible citizen.

Can we develop our own education system? Definitely yes we can.

Do we have any leads and alternatives? Yes we have in intellectuals like Dr. Muhammad Rafiuddin and Allama Iqbal and may be many more. Iqbal’s approach to education was a part of my PhD thesis. And I find him quite elaborative.

By Allah’s grace I have been an ardent observer of child learning psychology for the last 25 years and I envision education from different perspectives, which include child psychology, Qur’an and contemporary educational needs. I have embarked upon developing educational procedures for children from zero to ten years of age, which I consider as key age for human development.


Br. Abid


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