Lecture for 1st year medical students at the Kulliyah of Medicine, International Islamic University, Kuantan on 7th October 2000 by Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr.




Reform and revival of the ummat will occur through educational and knowledge reform. The process of reform and revival is usually referred to as tajdid. Tajdid is a recurring phenomenon in the ummat and is a sign of its health and dynamism. It is a basic characteristic of the ummat that periods of reform/revival alternate with periods of decay and return to jahiliyyat. At least one mujaddid appears every 100 years. Review of Muslim history shows that this has held true over the past 14 centuries. At times there were more than one mujaddid. Sometimes in the future the mujaddid will not be an individual but an institution.



Tajdid requires knowledge, ideas and action related by the following mathematical equation: tajdid = idea + action. Action without knowledge and guiding ideas will not lead to true change. Ideas without action are not change at all


Tajdid requires and is preceded by a reform in knowledge to provide ideas and motivation on which to build. The rise of Islam in the Arabian peninsular was the first act of tajdid. Islam ushered in a new revolution in the world that started with a change in both the methodology and content of knowledge. It came as a change in overall view/context, tasawwur. It re-established the principles of causality in both the physical and social arenas; these principles and laws had been forgotten during the times of superstition and worship of idols. It reiterated that causality was based on immutable laws of Allah in creation, sunan Allah fi al kawn. It called upon humans to derive some of their knowledge from empirical observation of both their contemporary universe and the historical experience of communities that came before and were destroyed because of unbelief. Islam emphasized objective and not subjective observation and judgment, hiwa al nafs. It also changed the way knowledge was acquired and was used by requiring that there exist a moral context.



All successful societal reform starts with change in knowledge. Human history started with teaching names of things to Adam.  This is the first recorded human act of acquiring knowledge in a systematic way. The mission of all prophets started as a change in knowledge and understanding. These constituted a revolution in knowledge. Correct knowledge leads to the ideal society. The ideal society can not be created without a knowledge base. That knowledge base must be correct, relevant, and useful. The social reformers must have an intellectual vision of reformed society. The physical picture of the new reformed society must be constructed intellectually before it physically exists.  If the vision is not clear, the reform will fail. It is very difficult to construct the vision as you go along. Successful Islamic reform/tajdid movements in the past 14 centuries started by scholars and involved educating then mobilizing the masses. The following is a partial listing of reform movements in Islamic history. Distinguishing characteristics of the successful ones were that they were led by scholars and involved change and promotion of knowledge and understanding.



Revival movements in the early period (until 10th century H) were more ideological, spiritual, and knowledge reform and led by Omar ibn Abdul al Aziz (d….H), Imaam Muhammad bin Idris al Shafe’I; Hujjat al Islam Abdul Hamid al Ghazzali (d. 505 H), Sheikh al Islam Taqiyu al Din Ahmad ibn Taymiyyah (d. 661 H), and Sheikh Abdul Qadir al Jilani (d. 605 H).



Revival movements in the recent period (11th and 13th centuries H) had a regional focus and were led by: Imaam Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab (d. 1206 AH) in the Arabian peninsula, Imaam Muhammad al Sanussi (d.  H) in  North Africa, Amir Abdulqadir (d.  H) in North-west Africa, Sheikh Othman dan Fodio West Africa (d.  H), Shah Waliullah al Dahlawi (d. 1175 H) in India, and Imaam Ahmad Muhammad al Mahdi (d.  AH) in the Sudan.



Revival movements in modern period (14th and 15th centuries H) were characterized by having a wider geographical impact outside the region in which the leaders worked directly. They were led by: Jamaluddin al Afghani (d. 1314H),  Sheikh Muhammad Abdo (d. 1323H), Rashid Ridha (d. 1353H), Imaam Hasan al Banna (d. 1948CE), Badee Zaman Nursi (d.  ), Shibli Numani (d. 1333H), Muhammad Iqbal (d. 1938 AD), Maulana Abu A’la al Maududi (d. 1399H), and Shaikh Abdul Hamid ibn Badees (d.   H).




Movements that succeeded in creating a permanent impact had the following characteristics. (a) Scholarly leadership. (b) Revival of knowledge and its spread among the masses. (c) Getting the masses to gain a new understanding of their social reality which leads to changes in attitudes and behaviors of the masses (d) Mobilization/organization of the masses (e) Change of social systems, and (f) Establishing new political/social institutions (g) Continuity.



Many reform movements failed. The reasons for failures of these reform movements included: (a) personalizing movement which leads to personality cult (b) dealing with symptoms and not the root problems (c) reactive and not pro-active strategies (d) tarbiyyat and mobilization with no strategy (e) movements based on   tribal, ethnic, or nationalistic considerations alone (f) loss of vision and sense of direction and becoming a sect, or order dedicated to a founder.



The experiences of the past can not be transplanted to today without modification. Attempts to reproduce a historical experience in its details is doomed to failure because they ignore the changed spatio-temporal circumstances. We can however learn the following from them: (a) Reasons for success (b) Reasons for failure (c) Methodology and not tactics.





Today is watershed in the history of the ummat. The ummat is witnessing the dawn of a new era, an era of change from weakness to strength. Muslims have recognized, identified, described, and analyzed the weaknesses of the past. There is a determination to correct past deficiencies. Resources are being mobilized to achieve fixed goals. Aspiration and planning for a better future vision are in high gear. Muslims realize that nothing can be achieved without strength and power. Strength is both spiritual and material. Material strength consists of knowledge, science, technology, organization, and management. Spiritual strength lies in the return to the eternal guidance of the Qur’an. The contemporary spiritual revival is not unique to Islam; other faiths are also experiencing a revival. The secular alternative is losing credibility in many parts of the world. Only the Muslim world has a credible ideological and practical alternative. The ummat is experiencing an all-out effort of total Islamization of society. There is an unstoppable momentum towards Islamization of all aspects of society: thought and knowledge, political systems, legal systems, economic systems, education systems, and social systems.



The Muslim ummat is a potential economic and political bloc whose potential is not yet realized. The Rabat-Jakarta geo-political axis comprises of more than 60 states. There are also influential Muslim minorities in many states along this axis. If this Islamic bloc were to work in unison and co-ordination, it would have a decisive impact. The Rabat-Jakarta demographic and economic axis has a relatively big population because of a high rate of natural increase among Muslims and falling birth rates in non-Muslim societies of the industrialized countries. Muslims are 25% of humanity and are increasing. Allah blessed Muslims with rich natural resources in their lands. There is generally unity of ideology and culture in the Muslim world. This unity is more real among the peoples than governments. It will come to fruition as soon as governments represent the will of the people. Muslims are now experiencing growing self-confidence, and self-assertion. All these augur well for the future.



The contemporary tajdid movement has a lot of strengths but also has basic deficiencies that must be corrected if it is to succeed. Attempts to reform have so far not benefited from deep enough intellectual analysis. The reform movements are more reactive than they are pro-active; pro-activity requires more intellectual preparation. The knowledge and intellectual crises are still a barrier. Reform movements unguided by correct knowledge and understanding will falter and fail or will be deviated from their paths. There is an internal crisis within the ummat that is a remaining obstacle: the educational and knowledge crisis. Real and permanent change must be from the bottom. The bottom is weak. A weak bottom leads to a weak top. A weak top has no inner ability to lead a revival. The bottom can only be mobilized and strengthened through knowledge. The top requires knowledge to create a vision and plan for its realization.



A social change requires change in attitudes, values, convictions and behaviors of a critical mass of the population. Attitudes, values, convictions, and behaviors are determined by the knowledge base. Good knowledge will lead to positive changes. Bad or inadequate knowledge will lead to negative changes. Societal changes without underlying change in knowledge and thought will be temporary and will soon lose sense of direction. In the past knowledge change and transmission could occur in the informal sector. Today knowledge is transmitted by the formal school system. Efforts to change or reform knowledge must translate into efforts at reforming the school system. Knowledge alone is not enough.  Action is needed to put knowledge to good use. Action without knowledge leads to disaster. Those in dynamic action acquire even more knowledge from field experience and are better placed to spear head intellectual growth.




The vision of the knowledge strategy is an upright balanced person who understands the creator, knows his place, his roles, his rights, and his responsibilities in the cosmic order. He participates actively and positively in building society (socially, culturally, and technologically). He understands that development activities must find a just equilibrium between material and spiritual, control of nature and preservation of the environment, technology and humanity.



The mission of the knowledge strategy is conceptual transformation of the education system from kindergarten to post graduate studies to reflect tauhid, positive moral values, objectivity, universality, and serving the larger causes of humanity.



The goals of conceptual transformation of knowledge are (a) to identify and eliminate parochial aspects of the basic paradigms of the disciplines of knowledge and reconstruct paradigms on basis of objectivity and universality (b) define objective research methodology for development of new knowledge (c) guide use of knowledge for the good of humanity and the environment. The goals of practical reform of the education system are to: (a) abolish duality of education systems in the Muslim world (b) develop school curricula (c)  develop, test and publish teaching material (d) expand access of masses to knowledge through formal and informal institutions.



The desired system of knowledge will have the following characteristics. (a) Everybody must have access to knowledge without discrimination based on gender or social class.  (b) Learning must be free/affordable and continuous.  (c) Personal relations must exist between teacher and student so that morals are transmitted at the same time as knowledge.  (d) Privately or community-owned schools are the ideal; government should play only a facilitatory and/or regulatory role (e) quality will come from quantity. The aim is mass education in the start; improvements in quality are achieved with time.



The following are possible opponents of the proposed education system: (a) The European secular system is well entrenched and has vested economic, political, and military interests (b) local or national stakeholders who will lose privileges when society is reformed. (c) Procrastination: It is a mistake to start building institutions before minimum theoretical guidelines are in place. It is also a mistake to wait until all the theory is worked out before action starts. Theory development and practical application must go hand in hand.




The school (kindergarten to 12th year of education) is passing through a moral as well as an academic crisis both locally and internationally. The moral and social behavior of children is worsening. Academic achievement is falling. What is needed is to redefine an Islamic school that should set itself the objective of imparting Islamic education and producing a complete individual, insan kamil, as described by the Qur’an. Islamic education sets itself the goal of guiding a child to an Islamic personality, character, and behavior. The ultimate objective is taqwa. Children are born pure in fitra. The way they are educated and brought up determines whether they will be good or bad. The scope of an Islamic school is wide and includes faith, intellectual, moral, social, and practical skills or attributes. Learning in such a school should be Qur’an-based learning. This means not only teaching the Qur’an but teaching everything else from a Qur’anic perspective including inculcating iman, understanding, and practice of religion. The teaching of the Qur’an should emphasize critical thinking, tafakkur; reasoning;  substantiation; observation of the world, tadabbur, and critical analysis. It should discourage blind following, taqliid, and rote learning.



The school is a socializing agent. It is a laboratory for islamization of the total society. It should exemplify the adab of the teacher which consists of : kindness, sincere advice to the student, humility, being a good example and role model, knowing the characteristics of each student and dealing with him or her as an individual. It should also inculcate the adab of the student: commitment, ikhlas; humility,  tawadhu’u; respect for teacher, and applying what is learned.



Emphasis: The school curriculum must be designed with care. It should emphasize the following. (a) Relation between the pupil and the creator, other people and the environment. (b) iman. (c) complementality (body & soul, individual & society, practical & applied. (d) Knowledge-based social engineering (e) Continuity of education and learning outside the class-room (f) Appropriateness to the growth and development needs of the child (g) Equilibrium and harmony, tawazun-wastiyyah-i’itidaal (h) Preparing the student for ibadat and ‘amal salih. Besides human experience, the sources of Islamic education should be the principal sources of Islamic law: (a) Qur’an (b) sunnat opinions of sahaba (d) Ijma (e) qiyas (f) istihsan (g) istislah (h) istisbab and (i) urf (j) siirat (k) tarikh.


Methodology: The methodology of instruction must have the following characteristics: (a) gradualism (tadarruj) (b) Reality/realism, waqi’iyyat, (c) positive attitude to human nature, fitra (d) balance, tawazun.


Content of the curriculum: All subjects must drive home the basic thrust of Islam. The aim should be to avoid too many periods devoted to teaching Islam. It is best that Islam is taught in an integrated way with the rest of the curricular subjects. Curricular subjects to be included in the school curriculum are: (1) Qur’an (2) Qur’anic language (3) other languages (4) Islamic studies: tauhid/aqida, fiqh, tahadhib and tarbiyyah; moral and social etiquette (adab), seerah )  (5) science (6) mathematics (7) history (8) geography (9) arts and crafts (10) Liberal arts (music, drama, painting) should be islamized. Islamic art forms should also be considered as alternatives: calligraphy, non-representative painting, tajwiid).


Extra-curricular activities should be encouraged such as: essay competitions, art competitions, drama, trips, excursions, camps, songs, sports, practical dawa experiences, amr bi al maruf & nahy ‘an al munkar, 



The objectives of the university should be to produce leaders of Islamization. It should extend the frontiers of knowledge by research. Universities must be active partners in societal development by researching and involvement in science and technology. Universities must have the following attributes in order to fulfill their responsibilities: (a) academic freedom to teach and research without political interference or pressure, (b) an integrate approach to research and knowledge that does not pre-clude deep specialization in the various disciplines, (c) Being part of the society and not an ivory tower, (d) the teachers must be a model of Islamic behavior so that they can impart positive influences on the students.




Essential knowledge is what each individual adult must know about diin in order to live as a Muslim. Fard ‘ain: are those religious obligations that are incumbent upon each individual like salat and zakat. Each Muslim must know enough about them to carry them out correctly. Fard kifayat are obligations that are incumbent upon the whole community. If some members of the community know and carry them out the obligation is fulfilled.



Those who have knowledge are obliged to teach and disseminate it. Useful knowledge must not be hidden from others, kitman al ‘ilm, but must be taught. Harmful knowledge should not be suppressed but should be known only to those able to handle it and not become confused. If it is completely suppressed and in unknown by anyone of the good people it may come into the community secretly and confuse the less educated. Some useful and correct knowledge should not be taught to the less educated who may be confused by it.



Intention: the student must have as intention learning so that he may serve. If the intention is glory or personal gain, there is no blessing in the learning. The story of Musa (AS) and khidhr is very educative about the adab talab al ilm. The student must try to seek to understand first. Unnecessary and sterile argument (jadal) is not part of the Islamic tradition.


ETIQUETTES OF TEACHING, adab al mu’allim

The teacher must transmit both knowledge and character. In the earlier history of the ummat, teachers were models of character. With the secularization of education, morals became separated from knowledge and teaching. It should be the aim of the new education strategy to close this gap.



Knowledge can not grow and develop in an atmosphere that lacks freedom of expression. Assuring freedom of expression for everybody implies among other things that even the ignorant who can mislead others must have their freedom. This risk is worth taking because there is no humanly possible method of knowing in advance what someone will say. If they say something wrong it can be countered with argument and evidence. On balance when both truth and falsehood are given equal chances for expression, the truth in the final analysis predominates. The Qur’anic educational method, tarbiyat qur’aniyyat, is a guidance in this matter. The Qur’an has preserved for eternity the words and opinions of the worst people in human history like Pharaoh, Nimrod, and the polytheists. Their opinions are reported honestly as they were said sometimes in direct speech using their actual words. These bad people had freedom of expression even in the Qur’an. They were countered by Qur;anic arguments and evidence to the ultimate benefit of knowledge growth.



Describe the education system in your community or country

Describe the general education level in your community

Define the meaning of the term illiteracy

What do you understand by the term ‘dichotomy of education systems’

Describe your personal experience of dichotomy as you were growing up

What are the main problems of the Islamic religious education in your community

What do you understand by the term ‘transfer of technology’.  What are its advantages and disadvantages

Describe aspects of the malaise of the ummat as they manifest in your community

What do you understand by the term tajdid

What phenomena in your community or country indicate that the process of tajdid is active

What does the term ‘Islamization of Knowledge’ mean? How does it relate to your professional training and work?

What un-resolved intellectual issues exist in your society today?

What are the main causes of differences and arguments among Muslims in your society?

Describe the strengths and weaknesses of the primary school curriculum in your country

Describe the strengths and weaknesses of the secondary school curriculum in your country

What roles do universities in your country play in social reform

What are the means of mass education available in your society. How effective are they?

Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr. October 2000