Rethinking education

The Spirit Of Islam

Khalid Baig

ALTHOUGH the Muslim world is facing many crises today, probably none has more far reaching consequences than the crisis of education. If in every area we find that our affairs are not being run properly, the problem ultimately lies with the system that produced the people responsible for running those affairs. For same reason its solution offers greatest promise for the future.
The problem has become intractable because not only our system of education has been corrupted; our very ideas about education have also been corrupted. That is why despite the presence of educational institutions of every type everywhere, the problem defies solution. We are producing literacy but not education. We are disseminating information but not knowledge. We are producing certificates, diplomas, and degrees of every conceivable type but we are not producing men of learning and understanding needed to run the affairs of the Ummah and help it carryout its task of being a guide for the humanity. The Muslim world throughout is plagued with the presence of two parallel education systems. Schools, colleges and universities on the one hand and madaris on the other. They are parallel in a textbook definition of parallel lines; two lines that never meet. Together they are tearing the fabric of the Muslim community by pulling it in opposite directions.
The solution that has lately become popular among concerned educators and parents is the hybrid system, combining religious and secular education in one institution. These schools provide Qur’anic education, hifz training, Islamic studies, and Arabic in addition to math, science, social studies and English language and literature taught in normal secular schools. May be we finally have a solution that would produce Muslim doctors, engineers, scientists, managers, and leaders for all walks of life— people who would combine first rate worldly education with a solid Islamic education. Unfortunately while these schools are better than what we had before as contemporary schools, they are hardly a solution to our educational crisis. The real solution requires decolonisation of our minds. It is not an easy task to dismantle the frame of mind that has been created, nurtured and reinforced for over two centuries. But there is no other option. Let us imagine that we were there when European nations started to advance in some areas of knowledge but, unlike what really happened, we were independent and free. What would we do? Simply we would do what we had done throughout history; take the useful components of their new knowledge and incorporate it into our system— aligning it with our worldview, vision, and values. We had always accepted worldly knowledge from other nations — Hindus, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Jews, Christians — but it was assimilated into our system. It was an organic growth within our own society not a forced, foreign, disruptive implant.
What will be produced using the same honourable and sensible approach will be an integrated curriculum. Every subject will then be infused with the vision of Islam. Our entire education will then be stamped with the signature of Islam. —

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