Madrassah: Islamic institution of education — 12

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Dr M Athar Khan

AS it is implied in the meanings and explanations of
the Qur’anic verses 2:30, 95:4, 2:31-32, and 3:3m
the term teaching denotes inculcating Ilm (knowledge + practice) in the student (in a broad sense the student means people in general). More specifically inculcation of Ilm in the student means that all acts of teaching must be guided and regulated by the laws and principles that have been prescribed in the Qur’an. Qur’anic view of teaching also means one’s responsibility to teaching others, and right of others to be taught by those who possess Ilm of what one needs. In the act of teaching is therefore implicit the spirit of religiosity, which gives teaching a special significance. Modern concepts of teaching are based upon theories of learning, developed as result of laboratory research on animals (Stimulus-Response or SR theory, Operant Conditioning and Classical Conditioning theories of learning), or speculative theorizing of views about learning. In either case views about principles and methods of teaching have been subject to changing needs, thoughts and experiences, which limit their applications to people, time and place. On the contrary, the Qur’anic psychology of teaching is derived from and based upon revelationary (stated in the verses of the Qur’an) truths and principles that are universal and absolute for all peoples regardless of their ethnicity, culture, race, sex, place and time.
Throughout the known history of mankind, the man in his own way and belief had associated himself with the Supreme Being, and viewed himself physically, mentally, morally and spiritually exalted among all the other earthly creations. A challenge to this belief, however, came during the era of scientific thinking around the turn of the 19th century. Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution was phenomenal of this challenge. The theory was opposed so much so that at a time its teaching in American schools was banned under state laws. However, despite strong opposition the Darwinism did not cease to impact the educational thoughts and practices in the modern times. Influences of Darwinism are easily traceable in the methods and principles of the modern educational institutions, especially at pre-school and early age schooling. Darwinist theory found its way, and made its impact on education, through the so-called behaviourist approaches to learning, to which B. F. Skinner is credited most. On the basis of his experiments conducted on animals, Skinner formulated laws and methods of learning which made tremendous effect on all aspects and means of human learning, particularly at early school levels. Although, the learning theories of Skinner, aroused strong criticism and reaction to which several schools of thought emerged in America and some Western countries. Nevertheless, Skinner’s theories still dominate educational practices of schools of today. Emergence of new philosophies and theories of education and learning are evidence of strong reaction to the influences of the spirit of Darwinism in educational practices of today. The modern thinkers on education tend to laying greater emphasis on human element in education. However, they mainly focus psycho-intellectual and naturalistic aspects of human learning, which still present a narrower view of human aspects of learning.
The foregoing discussion provides sufficient background for explaining and understanding the Qur’anic view of man and its significance for human education and learning. Qur’an, unlike the modern psychology—particularly the psychology of learning—does not go into details of the mechanisms of learning. It rather emphasizes ‘nature of human nature’ which is describable in terms of inherent strengths and weaknesses of mankind. The Qur’anic psychology of teaching is based upon the truths about human nature that are absolute and universal and which are equally applicable to all humans regardless of their race, ethnicity, sex, time, place and environment. It is concerned with the ‘nature of human nature’, as determinant of human teaching and learning behaviour independent of environmental factors. As it relates to the strengths of man, he is inherently Aalim (tendency and capability to acquire and posses Ilm); Qadir: (power of doing and becoming what he wants); Mutakallim: (ability and power to use language); Samee and Baseer (abilities of seeing and hearing which are sources of Ilm and intelligence); Mudabbar (ability to keep eyes on effects or end results of all things and matters); and Hakeem (the highest function of human intellect).
In the same context the inherent weaknesses of mankind include ungratefulness (inability to realize and appreciate the value and make proper use of what he has had from someone else); Fakh’r (inactivity and lack of diligence); Injustice (tendency to negatively destroy balance in his thoughts, behaviour, dealing with other people and the like); Al‘ajalah (desire to hasten—pick fruit before it is ripe); Fatara (weakening, slowing down or decreasing intensity of activity, briskness, liveliness etc); Qanit (despondency—feeling downcast, disheartened, hopeless etc., caused by hardships and failures); Zaalim (darkness, ignorance, injustice, wrongdoing, transgression, not placing or using a thing at its proper place and time) Jaahil (mental and emotional state as it affects one’s own self and behaviour); Al’jidaal (dispute, argument, controversy, discussion prove ones’ superiority over the other) and Dho’f (all kinds of physical, mental and spiritual weaknesses). Note: From the Qur’anic concepts of teaching described earlier and in view of the nature of the human nature stated in terms of strengths and weaknesses of man it may be inferred that teaching should aim at further development and use of human strength to augment his capabilities to fulfil the responsibilities that have been placed upon him by his Creator (SWT) and the society of which he is a member. In the same context teaching also aims at training and transforming human weaknesses into his strengths.
—The writer is Prof & Advisor to the VC, Sarhad University, Peshawar.

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