Madrassah: Islamic institution of education — 19

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Dr M Athar Khan

AS it emanates from the concepts of Iq’ra, Ilm, Ibaadah and Kasab, the Goal of Madrassah curriculum, which is core to all aspects of the Madrassah education, is to inculcate in students Ilm, i.e., knowledge that is ‘good’ and ’practical’ (action oriented). The third element of Al-Manahij Al-Darasiyah (the Madrassah curriculum), is based upon the concept of Ilm in its totality, which connotes both—knowledge and man’s capability of acquisition, retention and application of knowledge for all purposes in life. Whereas, the word knowledge in this context has a broader connotation and for all purposes it is to be used as synonymous with science. Factors that contribute to man’s capability for acquisition of Ilm are inherent in his attributive qualities, which have already been discussed earlier under artile-11 as strengths and weaknesses of man.
Together with the concept of Ilm, the third element of Al-Manahij Al-Darasiyah emphasizes use of sources, means, tools and facilities of Ilm: and principles and methods of teaching and learning for achievement of goals and objectives of curriculum. Sources of Ilm include the following: Reading: Reading for purposes of updating and increasing knowledge includes studying and translating visual symbols into meaningful concepts and ideas. These symbols exist in forms of written characters as in books, and as they are observed in forms of signs and symbols in nature. Practicality of reading implies ability to read with maximum speed and comprehension. Observation: Observation means noticing things as they exist, or as they happen in nature or (as they are made to happen) in artificial and manipulated situations (laboratories). Observations are means of learning lessons, explaining and interpreting things and situations, making inferences, judgments and generalizations that are useable in understanding, predicting and controlling things in similar or other situations. Cerebration: It is the faculty and function of human mind which refers to acts of thinking, reasoning, processing information, determining relationships between things and events, making discoveries etc.
Intuition: The word intuition denotes the act or faculty of knowing or sensing without the use of rational processes. In effect intuition is the higher level of thinking which begins where the ordinary human thinking ends. It is a function of the unconscious and manifests in acts and situations like the one exemplified in the eurekatale of Archimedes. Regardless of whether the story is a fact or fiction it is the basis of an important principle of science—the Eureka Principle. Intuitional poetical thoughts, especially those of the mystic poets of East provide good and ample examples of intuition. Heavenly revelations: In the present context ‘Heavenly Revelations’ have specific reference to the knowledge contained in the Qur’an—the Holy Book of Islam. Madrassah Curriculum equally emphasizes as basic to teaching and learning the means of Ilm, which include all of the physical and nonphysical sources of Ilm. Physical sources of Ilm include the following: Teacher: Teacher as source of Ilm provides students knowledge and experiences that he acquires, collects, creates and transfers to the student, which equip him with the knowledge and skills that guide him through life in the world. The term ‘Life in the world’ has its own significance for the curriculum of Madrassah as it is defined in particular references to man’s place and position as (Khalifah), purpose of his creation (Ibaadah), Ferziyat of Ilm (for all Muslim men and women) and the divine ordinance “Iq’ra”—the very first word of revelation of Qur’an, which is followed by all the knowledge and code that are essential and provide guidance for life in the world.
Book: Book symbolizes collection and compilation of material related to a discipline or a field of knowledge. As it relates to curriculum the book means textbook prescribed for student. A textbook usually contains material on a subject prescribed for teaching at a school grade or class, or at college levels. However, despite the fact that the textbooks facilitate both teaching and learning of a subject, they are known to have their own limitations which include the following: 1) The textbook is only a tool of teaching and one of the means to achieve the objectives of curriculum. Among several other tools of teaching its role is of little significance, teaching of a subject can be performed even without a textbook. 2) Use of a textbook and dependence on it for teaching and learning negatively affects the teacher’s ingenuity and transfer of extra book knowledge and information to the student. It is particularly so, in instances of textbook based public examination systems. 3) Exclusive use of textbook as the only prescribed source of knowledge and information about a subject encourages rote learning on the part of the student, and cause to stagnate the knowledge of the teacher of the subject he or she teaches. Qur’anic Model Of Textbook: As a textbook, the Holy Qur’an not only provides the perfect model of a textbook, but it also sets standards for a textbook in general.
Following features, which are characteristic of the Qur’anic model of textbook, provide guidelines for textbook writing. 1) Authorship: Single authorship and the author’s in-depth knowledge of the subject. 2) Clear and Complete Knowledge: The textbook contains clearly expressed knowledge material suited to the class and category of readers (students and teachers). 3) Organization and sequencing of content: The content of the textbook to be organized and sequenced so as to establish associative linkages between subject points. 4) Explanation and elaboration of important points: Use of emphatic statements, similies, analogies and metaphors for explanation and elaboration of important points. 5) Self-learning: The textbook writing to follow principles and methods of self learning. 6) Human element focus: In the context of education, human element can best be understood in contrast to use of machine. In Islamic education it is development of human elements (physical, mental and spiritual) that matters most. Despite the importance of the textbook, the presence and role of teacher is therefore, still of paramount importance in the process of teaching and learning. It is just the same as of a prophet in religion. 7) Knowledge beyond textbook: Selection and organization of the content of the textbook so as to exhort students to know more about things.
—The writer is Prof & Advisor to the VC, Sarhad University, Peshawar.

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