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The teaching of Natural Sciences to children

26 Nov

In the name of Allah the most Beneficent the most Merciful.

“(O Lord) you alone we worship and you alone we ask for guidance”

-for there is no guidance except for Allah’s guidance, and for sure Allah will guide those who sincerely look for it:

 وَالَّذِينَ جَاهَدُوا فِينَا لَنَهْدِيَنَّهُمْ سُبُلَنَا وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لَمَعَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ

And those who strive in Our (cause),- We will certainly guide them to our Paths: For verily Allah is with those who do right. (Al-Ankaboot:69)

May Allah make us among the Muhsineen (Ameen)

I seek refuge with Allah from Shaitan the accursed for his misguiding us in any way in our endeavors to design an education system for the Ummah. For our efforts may provide some important outlines for this.

The few concepts that I feel are necessary to understand on the issue of teaching science to the children, or even for us to learn about science are:

  • The status of the Creator and Created;
  • The status of knowledge in our domain of life;
  • The status of science in Islam;
  • The use of sciences in this creator’s realm;

THE STATUS OF CREATOR AND THE CREATED

There is only one Creator and all other is created by Him alone. Nothing exists parallel to the Creator. This is one of the basics precepts of Tawheed (status of Creator). The Creator is a proactive Creator and is involved fully in all the affairs of the world. Every single thing is in, and under His control. Any concept developed on secular prepositions or assumptions is absolutely erroneous and extremely harmful for us to believe in, this realization seems still lacking in our implicit beliefs.

Another important aspect is that before we embark to understand any aspect of education we have to be very clear about the whole purpose of life. This will govern all our future concepts, plans and actions. This is where Islam mainly differs from all other religions. In addition, we should also be very clear of the main purpose and function of the process of education.

We should ask ourselves one question: is education for preparing one for acquiring a profession, or is it for preparing a person for helping him achieve the objective/s of life itself. When we take the second case the professional ability/skills come within its scope, and over and above a person is developed with a very high EQ and intrinsic motivation to perform in all required aspects of life. The highest motivation being the feel of the Creator at each moment of her/his existence with love and fear. S/he is not prepared for the very narrow objective of a good citizen, or a good professional, but rather to act as the best of creation and the responsible khalifa of the Creator Himself. This is implicit in an Islamic education system. This is quite basic difference between an Islamic and a secular education system. Taking this as a premise or foundational precept we shall insha’Allah develop our case on for teaching of natural sciences.

THE STATUS OF KNOWLEDGE IN OUR DOMAIN OF LIFE

We firmly believe that, there is only one Creator who is proactively involved in each aspect of our life and that He has not created us and all without a purpose:

إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأرْضِ وَاخْتِلافِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ لآيَاتٍ لأولِي الألْبَابِ

الَّذِينَ يَذْكُرُونَ اللَّهَ قِيَامًا وَقُعُودًا وَعَلَى جُنُوبِهِمْ وَيَتَفَكَّرُونَ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأرْضِ رَبَّنَا مَا خَلَقْتَ هَذَا بَاطِلا سُبْحَانَكَ فَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّار

Behold! in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day,- there are indeed Signs for men of understanding,- Men who celebrate the praises of Allah, standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and contemplate the (wonders of) creation in the heavens and the earth, (With the thought): “Our Lord! not for naught Hast Thou created (all) this! Glory to Thee! Give us salvation from the penalty of the Fire. (Aal-E-Imran:191)

In fact, the studying of nature or physical laws, or sciences are springboard for human intellect to reach the Creator, and not seeking science as an end in itself. This also solves the puzzle for some that during the Golden era of Muslim development in natural and social sciences we see Islam and Qur’an as the main motivators for scientific research. This also clarifies the status of Knowledge in our domain of life.

THE STATUS OF SCIENCE IN ISLAM

This world is totally and completely Allah’s domain and we have been asked to totally enter into Islam and submit to our Creator:

وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَنْ يَشْرِي نَفْسَهُ ابْتِغَاءَ مَرْضَاةِ اللَّهِ وَاللَّهُ رَءُوفٌ بِالْعِبَادِ

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا ادْخُلُوا فِي السِّلْمِ كَافَّةً وَلا تَتَّبِعُوا خُطُوَاتِ الشَّيْطَانِ إِنَّهُ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ مُبِينٌ

And of the people is he who sells himself, seeking means to the approval of Allah . And Allah is kind to [His] servants.

O you who have believed, enter into Islam completely [and perfectly] and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Indeed, he is to you a clear enemy. (al Baqarah:207-208)

One important question to ask from ourselves is should our any affair be outside subordination to the Allah Almighty. This will imply that all the activities are to be directed towards Allah’s commands. If He has asked us to abstain from anything, we have to abstain, and on the other hand if He has asked us to enjoy in numerous aspects, we should, why should we not? This world is wonderful and has many lawful enjoyments that are much better and enduring than the ones Shetan (satan) incites us for. I am trying to explain all this because many among us think that this worldly life is like a jail and all restrictions for us; whereas this is not the case. Qur’an says that both this life as well as A’akhira is for the mu’mineen. We often pray to Allah for hasanah (good) in this Dunya (life) as well as a’akhira (next life).

I am also trying to explain that no sa’ee or exertion of a Muslim is outside Islam. Every single aspect of ours in this life is within the scope of deen alone. Can we claim that for 23 hours of the day we will be in deen and one hour out of it? No, not a single moment has to be lived outside the deen (code of life). Do you all agree with me? The same way we cannot say that in a school for this much time my child will be in deen and for so many hours he will be in secular mode, studying some secular subject. That does not make sense, does it? The logical deduction is all that we are supposed to do in a day has to be done while being in deen (code of life). Probably this is one of the most distinctive features of our Islam; and this is because Islam is a complete and all-inclusive way of life (deen).

The undeniable fact is natural sciences are all natural laws; the fantastic and fascinating laws of the Creator and created by Him alone. Study of natural sciences will naturally develop the awe of the creator. If it is not, then we are placed in the wrong dimension, from where we cannot see the Creator through His creation. (This goes for the education as well. If our education is not developing awe of the Creator, it is highly at fault). Recall the first Ayah of the Qur’an:

الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

‘The praise is for Allah alone the Lord (Creator, Sustainer, Programmer) of the A’alams.’

Conversely, all approaches and facets of knowledge, which are based on secular assumptions, are baseless and injurious for us and our children. These may benefit us superficially but they swerve us from the Prime Fact/Haq.

THE USE OF SCIENCES IN CREATOR’S REALM

The discussion on the above three facets should create the dimension from where we should look at the notion of science and its status in the Creator’s realm. Keeping the above in focus we define the use of science:

Developing Taqwa (God consciousness): Again referring to the ayahs (verses) of surah Aal e Imran quoted above, we can deduce that one of the most important functions of natural sciences is to develop the consciousness of the Creator and the status of created. As such, the concept of science cannot, and should not be used as parallel to the concept of Creator or Islam. It is the integral part of Islam and the stress that Qur’an lays to the observation of natural phenomena is indicative of physical sciences’ importance in understanding the Creator, His powers and the purpose of creation.

سَنُرِيهِمْ آيَاتِنَا فِي الآفَاقِ وَفِي أَنْفُسِهِمْ حَتَّى يَتَبَيَّنَ لَهُمْ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ أَوَلَمْ يَكْفِ بِرَبِّكَ أَنَّهُ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ شَهِيدٌ

Soon will We show them our Signs in the (furthest) regions (of the earth), and in their own souls, until it becomes manifest to them that this is the Truth. Is it not enough that thy Lord doth witness all things? (Fussilat:053)

Whereas the secular approach is to show science, or nature as a force other than God and a parallel concept.

Preservation and facilitation of life on earth:

An important aspect of science is to facilitate life on earth and to preserve it. This function is the derivative of the role of human as Khalifa (vicegerent) of the created; to run the affairs of this world most effectively and efficiently.

إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأرْضِ وَاخْتِلافِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ وَالْفُلْكِ الَّتِي تَجْرِي فِي الْبَحْرِ بِمَا يَنْفَعُ النَّاسَ وَمَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مِنْ مَاءٍ فَأَحْيَا بِهِ الأرْضَ بَعْدَ مَوْتِهَا وَبَثَّ فِيهَا مِنْ كُلِّ دَابَّةٍ وَتَصْرِيفِ الرِّيَاحِ وَالسَّحَابِ الْمُسَخَّرِ بَيْنَ السَّمَاءِ وَالأرْضِ لآيَاتٍ لِقَوْمٍ يَعْقِلُونَ

Behold! in the creation of the heavens and the earth; in the alternation of the night and the day; in the sailing of the ships through the ocean for the profit of mankind; in the rain which Allah Sends down from the skies, and the life which He gives therewith to an earth that is dead; in the beasts of all kinds that He scatters through the earth; in the change of the winds, and the clouds which they Trail like their slaves between the sky and the earth;- (Here) indeed are Signs for a people that are wise. (al-Baqarah:164)

وَلَقَدْ آتَيْنَا دَاوُدَ مِنَّا فَضْلا يَا جِبَالُ أَوِّبِي مَعَهُ وَالطَّيْرَ وَأَلَنَّا لَهُ الْحَدِيدَ

أَنِ اعْمَلْ سَابِغَاتٍ وَقَدِّرْ فِي السَّرْدِ وَاعْمَلُوا صَالِحًا إِنِّي بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ

We bestowed Grace aforetime on David from ourselves: “O ye Mountains! Sing ye back the Praises of Allah with him! and ye birds (also)! And We made the iron soft for him;

(Commanding), “Make thou coast of mail, balancing well the rings of chain armour, and work ye righteousness; for be sure I see (clearly) all that ye do.” (Saba: 10-11)

لَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا رُسُلَنَا بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ وَأَنْزَلْنَا مَعَهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْمِيزَانَ لِيَقُومَ النَّاسُ بِالْقِسْطِ وَأَنْزَلْنَا الْحَدِيدَ فِيهِ بَأْسٌ شَدِيدٌ وَمَنَافِعُ لِلنَّاسِ وَلِيَعْلَمَ اللَّهُ مَنْ يَنْصُرُهُ وَرُسُلَهُ بِالْغَيْبِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ قَوِيٌّ عَزِيزٌ

We sent aforetime our messengers with Clear Signs and sent down with them the Book and the Balance (of Right and Wrong), that men may stand forth in justice; and We sent down Iron, in which is (material for) mighty war, as well as many benefits for mankind, that Allah may test who it is that will help, Unseen, Him and His messengers: For Allah is Full of Strength, Exalted in Might (and able to enforce His Will). (al-Hadeed:25)
 

To seek the bounty of Allah subhana wa ta’ala:

For the purpose of making earning and sustenance. As we observe the industry itself is a big source of employment and facilitation. We are also allowed to adorn ourselves with good apparels and ornaments ‘Creator is beautiful and loves beauty’:

وَهُوَ الَّذِي سَخَّرَ الْبَحْرَ لِتَأْكُلُوا مِنْهُ لَحْمًا طَرِيًّا وَتَسْتَخْرِجُوا مِنْهُ حِلْيَةً تَلْبَسُونَهَا وَتَرَى الْفُلْكَ مَوَاخِرَ فِيهِ وَلِتَبْتَغُوا مِنْ فَضْلِهِ وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ

It is He Who has made the sea subject, that ye may eat thereof flesh that is fresh and tender, and that ye may extract there from ornaments to wear; and thou seest the ships therein that plough the waves, that ye may seek (thus) of the bounty of Allah and that ye may be grateful. (an-Nahal:014)

يَا بَنِي آدَمَ خُذُوا زِينَتَكُمْ عِنْدَ كُلِّ مَسْجِدٍ وَكُلُوا وَاشْرَبُوا وَلا تُسْرِفُوا إِنَّهُ لا يُحِبُّ الْمُسْرِفِينَ

O Children of Adam! wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer: eat and drink: But waste not by excess, for Allah loveth not the wasters

Dominance of Allah’s deen (world order) and establishment of vicegerancy:

The job of the Khalifa of the Creator is to work for the establishment of His world order in this domain of life. As such the Creator equipped us with all the faculties required for this job:

وَإِذْ قَالَ رَبُّكَ لِلْمَلائِكَةِ إِنِّي جَاعِلٌ فِي الأرْضِ خَلِيفَةً قَالُوا أَتَجْعَلُ فِيهَا مَنْ يُفْسِدُ فِيهَا وَيَسْفِكُ الدِّمَاءَ وَنَحْنُ نُسَبِّحُ بِحَمْدِكَ وَنُقَدِّسُ لَكَ قَالَ إِنِّي أَعْلَمُ مَا لا تَعْلَمُونَ

وَعَلَّمَ آدَمَ الأسْمَاءَ كُلَّهَا ثُمَّ عَرَضَهُمْ عَلَى الْمَلائِكَةِ فَقَالَ أَنْبِئُونِي بِأَسْمَاءِ هَؤُلاءِ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ صَادِقِينَ

Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: “I will create a vicegerent on earth.” They said: “Wilt Thou place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood?- whilst we do celebrate Thy praises and glorify Thy holy (name)?” He said: “I know what ye know not.” 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 ye are right.” (al-Baqarah:30-31)

We were destined and designed to represent the Creator on earth and were inherently programmed for knowing the names of all things to facilitate probing and investigating into the natural phenomena to understand the Creator and the creation for this assignment. This skill was a prerequisite for acting as Allah subhana wa ta’ala’s representative as stated in the above ayah (verse). As such the science has to be related to the Creator and used to establish His world order and our vicegerancy in this domain of life. Another important aspect was to defend this world order using the most effective weaponry:

وَأَعِدُّوا لَهُمْ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُمْ مِنْ قُوَّةٍ وَمِنْ رِبَاطِ الْخَيْلِ تُرْهِبُونَ بِهِ عَدُوَّ اللَّهِ وَعَدُوَّكُمْ وَآخَرِينَ مِنْ دُونِهِمْ لا تَعْلَمُونَهُمُ اللَّهُ يَعْلَمُهُمْ وَمَا تُنْفِقُوا مِنْ شَيْءٍ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ يُوَفَّ إِلَيْكُمْ وَأَنْتُمْ لا تُظْلَمُونَ

Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies, of Allah and your enemies, and others besides, whom ye may not know, but whom Allah doth know. Whatever ye shall spend in the cause of Allah, shall be repaid unto you, and ye shall not be treated unjustly. (al-Anfal:60)

There may be other objectives of study of Natural Sciences, once such aspect in Iqbal’s views is rejuvenation and satisfaction of human Ego and spirit. Iqbal relates this to the need as creator’s Khalifa on earth.

We can deduce from all the above mentioned ayahs (verses) that in each and every case the use of science is Creator related and directed only, and comes within the scope of deen (world order). For a Muslim there is nothing out of deen; please refer to:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا ادْخُلُوا فِي السِّلْمِ كَافَّة………..

‘O you who have believed, enter into Islam completely [and perfectly].….’ (al-Baqarah:208)

HOW TO TEACH NATURAL SCIENCES TO CHILDREN

Every person that comes to this world is pre-ingrained with the concept of the Rab (the creator, the designer, the sustainer, the inheritor of all):

وَإِذْ أَخَذَ رَبُّكَ مِنْ بَنِي آدَمَ مِنْ ظُهُورِهِمْ ذُرِّيَّتَهُمْ وَأَشْهَدَهُمْ عَلَى أَنْفُسِهِمْ أَلَسْتُ بِرَبِّكُمْ قَالُوا بَلَى شَهِدْنَا أَنْ تَقُولُوا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ إِنَّا كُنَّا عَنْ هَذَا غَافِلِينَ

When thy Lord drew forth from the Children of Adam – from their loins – their descendants, and made them testify concerning themselves, (saying): “Am I not your Lord (who cherishes and sustains you)?”- They said: “Yea! We do testify!”(This), lest ye should say on the Day of Judgment: “Of this we were never mindful”: (al-Araf:172)

This we can realize by observing how the people reverted to religion upon the breaking of a religiously extremely subversive Communist state. This is quite apparent in the nature of the children. As such, it is easy for you to train them to look at everything from the perspective of the Creator.

We see among our predecessors Muslim scientists deep into philosophy of religion as well. This is an indicator of their correct approach to the study of sciences. Science was being used as a tool to understand the Creator and develop His awe and not otherwise as it is being used today. The sciences can never be secular. It is like taking ‘My creation and using the same against Me’.

When a child sees you locating all within deen and when you present scientific facts praising the Creator with awe, automatically the child will develop the same disposition towards science. It will become her/his implied and implicit nature. The concept and awe of Creator will involuntarily be evoked in her/his mind whenever s/he observes or studies nature/science. The science will be taken as a part of her/his deen and used as such. Each time the child recites (All praises are for Allah the Rab of all creations; الْحَمْدُ للّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ) this concept and approach will be reinforced. Mind that it is not programming, it is just an exposition of a fact.

Quoting Iqbal:
Whoever conquers the world of matter
Can build a world out of a spec of dust!
The hills and the deserts, the rivers, the plains—
They are all means of education for those with a vision!
You, who have been put to sleep under opium’s narcotic;
Regard this world of cause and effect as contemptible!
Its real purpose the expansion of the Muslim’s personality
And a testing of his hidden possibilities!
Conquer it or it may conquer you
And hold you as the flagon holds the wine!
So that through the control of all the forces
Your manifold capacities may attain perfection!
So that man becomes the vicegerent of God,
Laying down the law for all the elements!
(Asrar e khudi)
Muhammad Abid Ali,
captainmabidali@yahoo.com
Blog: tarbiyahforum.wrodpress.com

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