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ISLAMIC MEDICAL EDUCATION RESOURCES 04

0006-FACTORS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE RISE AND FALL OF THE UMMAH and HOW TO OVERCOME THEM

Paper presented at the Leadership Training Programme, Islamic College of South Africa 19-22 June 2000 by Prof Dr Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr.

OUTLINES

1.0 UMMATIC MALAISE, A RESULT OF THE KNOWLEDGE CRISES

2.0 HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

3.0 KNOWLEDGE, A PRE REQUISITE FOR TAJDID

4.0 KNOWLEDGE: STRATEGY, OBLIGATIONS, AND ETIQUETTE

 

1.0 UMMATIC MALAISE, A RESULT OF THE KNOWLEDGE CRISES

Knowledge and intellectual weakness is the most significant manifestation of ummat’s decadence. Human history started with knowledge when Allah taught Adam names of things. The Islamic civilisation started with the instruction to the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to read ‘iqra’ and was essentially a revolution in knowledge and ideas. Knowledge enables understanding and resolution of existing problems. Knowledge enables anticipation and solution of future problems.

 

The intellect must be able to analyse and solve problems. It must have a correct knowledge base if it is to produce useful ideas and thoughts. Intellectual failure either results into new problems in society or renders the society incapable of solving its existing problems

 

The knowledge and thought crises interact in a synergistic way to lead to ummatic malaise. Thought failure is a direct result of the crisis in knowledge. The starting point is knowledge. Knowledge (ilm) is the basis for research,  ijtihad, thought, and the rest of intellectual operations. Knowledge leads to thoughts. Thoughts lead to action. If the knowledge is wrong or deficient, the actions will be defective. Knowledge deficiency leads to intellectual failure. Intellectual crisis leads to ummatic failure.

 

The crisis in thought worsens the crisis in knowledge. Clear thought of leaders leads to successful research that generates correct knowledge. Confused thought leads to wrong or misleading knowledge. Lack of clarity of ideas leads to failure in using available knowledge correctly.

 

The intellectual crisis of the ummat is worsened by copying and using poorly digested alien ideas and concepts as well as use of analytic tools that are not relevant or suitable to the Islamic intellectual heritage or contemporary social realities. 

 

Thought failure in the ummah could manifest in the following ways: (a) intellectual stagnation: suppression of the freedom of thought, closure of ijtihad, blind following (taqlid), and fanaticism for madh’hab Syncretism (talfiq)   which is juxtaposition of ideas that are incompatible without attempting to analyse and either arrive at a synthesis or favour one of them (tarjiih) (d) lack of a guiding vision for the present and the future (e) superficiality (satahiyyat) and concern with minor inconsequential issues (f) outward manifestations of religious rituals with dead core (g) esoteric sects (al firaq al batiniyyat) that claim to have secret agendas or knowledge exposed to a select few (h) sterile arguments (jadal) that lead to no purpose or goal of practical utility (i) intellectual analysis using un-islamic terminology and concepts that compounds the intellectual confusion.

 

Thought failure is responsible for the following issues that started in the past and are not yet resolved up to today. These issues are still causes of controversy when they should not be: (a) the role of human free will versus that of pre-determination (al jabriyah) in human actions (b) acceptance of repentance (taubah) or faith (iman) for persons who commit major sins (c) understanding the nature (dhaat) and attributes (sifaat) of Allah (d) understanding the scope of knowledge through reason (‘aql)  and that of transmitted knowledge (naql) as well as the relation between the two.(e) pre-determination (qadar) and causality (sababiyyat) and how they interact in human actions.

 

Thought failure is also responsible for the following major contemporary intellectual issues still unresolved: (a) The woman (nature, role, rights, and responsibilities) (b) plurality of opinion and practice (c) leadership/imamat (qualifications, selection, roles, and scope of responsibility) (d) shura and practical application (e) application of Islamic teachings to today’s realities (economy, education, politics, and  international relations).

 

Among practical manifestations of the ummatic malaise in the 15th century are: deficient ibadat, action deficiency, political weakness, economic dependency, military weakness, dependence in science and technology, and erosion of the Islamic identity in life-style.

 

Deficient ibadah: Acts of ibadat are carried as outward rituals with a dead core. There is little understanding of wahy in all its comprehensive ramifications. Deviations and excesses lead to quarrels and divisions. Superstitions and  bid’a take over where there is little knowledge or understanding.

 

Action deficiency: There is lack of dynamism and activity. There is lack of resolve and a sense of direction. Thinkers abandon practical work. Knowledge and intellect do not automatically lead to action. There must be an inner drive to change society in a practical way.  Many public and private institutions are weak. Administration is ineffective and inefficient. Poor planning, execution, and follow up are common. There is leadership and managerial anarchy.

 

Political weakness: There is political disunity. The ummat is divided into more than 50 unstable and artificial nation states. Each so-called nation state is divided along ethnic, tribal and sectarian lines. Even small remote communities do not escape the malaise of disunity on basis of sectarian (ta’ifiyat), schools of fiqh (madh’hab), ethnic or linguistic differences. Muslims lack a united credible and forceful voice at international forum. Political institutions are immature. Political suppression and human rights abuse are common.

 

Economic dependency: There is dependency and weakness in the ummat despite immense natural resources. Muslims have relatively little control over resources in their land. They sell raw materials cheaply and buy expensive finished goods. A consumer society that does not produce its basic necessities has developed.  There is no security of basic necessities: food, water, and energy. Many Muslim societies lack a future economic vision. Many current economic policies are not a reflection of the teachings of Islam. There is little intra-Muslim co-operation and economic exchange. Many of the national economies are weak being characterised by underemployment, unemployment, high inflation, social injustice, inefficient production and distribution.

 

Military weakness: Muslims have little control over military technology. Technology is used but is not produced. Access to the more advanced forms is in the hands of enemies of the ummat; they guard its secrets closely. Colossal sums of money have been spent on ineffective weaponry that has not increased military effectiveness. Planning and organisation are underdeveloped. There is no overall strategy and no sense of mission. Military resources are wasted in unnecessary internal conflicts planned or abetted by enemies

 

Dependency in science and technology: There are few practical minds that work effectively and efficiently in research and development. The few who exist do not find sufficient encouragement. The situation is worsened by brain drain to Europe and America due to lack of local encouragement and support. Muslims have become users and not producers of technology. There is low understanding and appreciation of technology among the masses. There is no adequate infra structure for future development of S&T.

 

Erosion of Islamic identity in lifestyle: Many youths today are losing contact with the origins of Islamic culture and civilisation. This has been achieved by secularisation of education systems, changing alphabets from Arabic to Roman or Cyrillic, physically destroying ancient written material to deny access to the heritage left by the ancestors. The Islamic identity is being threatened by European culture being imposed and maintained by force. This culture is not a common heritage of all humanity. Media, arts, and literature in the Muslim world reflect more Euro-centric than Islamic values. The political and economic environment imposed on the Muslim world discourages growth of an Islamic social identity. People are left in suspension: they have lost the Islamic roots yet they did not fully pick up the western culture.

 

2.0 HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

The causes of the contemporary malaise have a historical origin. Some solutions will have to be sought in history.

 

The generation of the Prophet (pbuh) was the best generation. The best teacher met the best students and excellent results were obtained. Companions had excellent knowledge and understanding. The momentum of the first generation continued in the era of the khulafah al rashidin and the next 2 centuries. Intellectual progress up to the third century was due to this early momentum. The so-called golden era of Muslim learning coexisted with the seeds of decay. Those seeds eventually became the phenomena of intellectual and knowledge failure that have been described.

 

There is a lag time between reasons for decay and the actual collapse of a civilisation. The seeds of decay that appeared after the khilafat rashidat took a couple of centuries before leading to the actual physical collapse of the Islamic state. On the other hand the ummat today is apparently weak but the seeds of a revival are evident. They will take time to bring about visible renaissance.

 

Seeds of the current crisis appeared towards the end of the khilafat rashidat due to the rapid geographical and demographic expansion of the ummat (12-40 AH) that occurred without sufficient time to teach, train and educate the leaders and the masses. As a consequence there was a decrease in the proportion of knowledgeable people who had a deep understanding and appreciation of Islam and its culture. The newly Islamized groups retained many of the old ideas and concepts from the previous societies. New citizens with little knowledge or understanding changed the basic character of the state.

 

Major problems started in era of Othman and led to what is known by historians as al fitnat al kubrat. Othman’s words were prophesy: ‘If they kill me, they will never unite and will not be able to fight an enemy together’. The Islamic state did not know sustained peace or stability after him. The Jewish convert Abdullah bin Saba played a leading role. He exaggerated in Ali until he declared that Allah entered into Ali and that Ali was the rightful khalifat. He spread his fitnah in Basra, Kufa, Syria, and Egypt. Fighting over leadership started and continued. For the first time Muslims fought Muslims. What started as political differences later became sectarian or ideological differences. Texts of the Qur’an and seerah were used in disputes by  ta’awil to support partisan points of view. The old asabiyyat al jahiliyyat returned.

 

New social and political forces overthrew the khilafat rashidat and the ideals it represented were distorted or abolished. Opposition by scholars and thinkers to the new political and social order was defeated by force of arms. Then the authentic ‘ulama and opinion leaders who remained faithful to the ideals of Islam were marginalised and persecuted. Abu Hanifa (d. 150AH) died in prison. Al Shafei (d. 204 AH) was brought to Baghdad in shackles from Yaman and then fled to Cairo with his life. Malik ibn Anas (d. 175 AH) was beaten until his hand was paralyzed. Ahmad ibn Hanbal (d. 241 AH) was beaten until his shoes overflowed with blood). Sterile arguments (Jadal) in the basics of religion appeared. New groups were formed: mu’tazilah, shia, khawarij, jabriyyah, marjiyah, asharites, falasifat, and sufis.

 

Schism and isolation between the intellectual leadership on one hand and the political and social leadership on the other hand appeared. The political and social leadership could not benefit from the intellectual guidance of the scholars. The scholars had no contact with the decision-making machinery that controlled society and were thus denied the opportunity to study and analyse societal problems from that angle. Military regimes that followed started the process of secularisation of the Muslim state. The soldier-rulers held political power in the office of the sultan while the khalifat was left to be a powerless figure-head and a source of religious legitimacy for the regime. Corrupt scholars, ulamau al sultan, who supported the new political order appeared. A lot of intellectual corruption ensued

 

Ulama  were isolated from centers of influence in society with no political or social roles. They worked on the fringes to preserve ulum al Qur’an, ulum al aqida, ulum al lugha and ulum al sharia. These disciplines were deemed necessary for the preservation of the central essential dogmas of the diin. Other ulama developed natural sciences like medicine, physics, chemistry by translating Greek knowledge and adding on it. These disciplined were not seen by the new political order as a threat. They were on the other hand encouraged and patronised by the governments. Socially dynamic and politically sensitive fields like politics, sociology, and economics were neglected. This was due to the ulama not being involved in the field or for fear of persecution by the political leadership.

 

As part of the intellectual stagnation, the fuqaha concentrated on ayat al ahkam and neglected ayat al kawn. This delayed scientific development in the ummat.

 

Intellectual stagnation (starting 3rd century AH): The period of intellectual confusion was characterised by jadal. The companions and tabi’un had hated jadal in religion. With the opening of the door to jadal, several groups such as mutakalimun, falasifa, sufis and others emerged. Closure of the door of ijtihad became necessary to preserve the basics of religion from onslaught of hellenic and other philosophies. Intellectual failure and stagnation started. Widespread ignorance and illiteracy became common.

 

The decline of the ummat had both internal and external causes. It is an unrealistic mistake to blame all the ummat’s ills on its external enemies. Internal factors are more important and prepare the ground for external factors to operate. Ignoring internal factors is shirking responsibility and hence failure to admit mistakes as a first step to correcting them. Many non-Islamic ideas and facts without valid proof have found their way into the intellectual and religious heritage of the ummat making the existing crisis even worse. The paragraphs below explain some of those external influences.

 

Abassid rulers depended on the Persians in building their state especially the organisation of the bureaucracy. Persian ideas therefore spread. Persians had used Greek logic in their religion and this reinforced Greek influence on the ummat. Indian religion and philosophy had their impact. There was continuous exchange by means of trade between Arabia and India.

 

The hellenic influence was most felt during the Abassid era. Abassid rulers wanted knowledge of any kind and any origin. Weakness of attachment to Islam helped acceptance of Greek ideas. Greek learning was adopted for the following reasons: (a) The need to defend Islam using Greek logic. (b) Greek logic was very precise and attractive. There were attempts to reconcile Islam and philosophy. Al-Farabi tried to reconcile philosophy and religion by resorting to ta’awil. Ibn Sina and Farabi tried to explain religion in the form of philosophy. These attempts to reconcile irreconcilables continue even in our times with, sometimes, disastrous intellectual consequences.

 

Byzantine Christian Influences had impact on the following: (a) providing folkloric details on tafsir of Qur’anic stories (b) encouragement of fabrication of hadith (c) introducing the idea that God can manifest in a person.

 

Jewish influences are discernible in the following: (a) tafsir of Quranic stories using details from jewish folk-lore (Israiliyat), (b) fabrication of hadith, (c) Attempting to identify resemblances (tashbiih) between Allah and humans (d) confusion about jabr and ikhtiar.  

 

The Tatar started the secularization of the Muslim society by institutionalizing the separation between the political and religious leaderships. The separation arose initially as a practical necessity since the new powerful military ruling class had little Islamic knowledge or legitimacy; they therefore found it convenient to rule under a figure-head ‘religious leader’ with the title khalifat. With the passage of time the separation became institutionalised and the pretense was thrown off.

 

Medieval Europe had its influence through the crusaders in the period 489-690 AH. Contact with crusaders resulted in a 2-way flow of ideas. Europeans who came for the crusades faced a more developed Muslim world. They were civilised by contact with Muslims. Europe learned the letter and not the spirit of Muslim knowledge. Some European ideas entered the ummat as a result of this interaction that lasted a couple of centuries.

 

Europe in the colonial era had a decisive impact on the ummat. Comprehensive military, political, economic, and cultural invasion started with Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt at the end of the 18th century CE. He came with an army and a culture. Europeans in the colonial era faced a backward Muslim world. They imposed a new education system and a European epistemology that inculcated the following negative concepts: (a) refusal of the unseen (ghaib) (b) exclusive use of empiricism even in matters beyond its scope (c) doubt of religion (d) refusal of morality (e) secularism.

 

Secularism is the most powerful tool of Europeanisation imposed on the Muslim word by colonial rulers. Some Muslims mistakenly thought that being Europeanised and adopting secularism will be a tool to be used in getting rid of colonial rule. The experience of the past 50-70 years in several Muslim countries has proved them wrong. The Muslim world has become even weaker vis-a-vis Europe and America.

 

Europe in the post-colonial era continued to have an impact on the ummat. This was achieved by installation of puppet rulers as agents of europeanisation. Ideas of secularism and nationalism were spread and imposed sometimes by force. European powers have not been reluctant to intervene even militarily whenever there were signs of a return to the Islamic origins.

 

3.0 KNOWLEDGE, A PRE REQUISITE FOR TAJDID

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 penisular 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 mobilising 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) were more ideological, spiritual, and knowledge reform and led by Omar ibn Abdul al Aziz (d….AH), Hujjat al Islam Abdul Hamid al Ghazzali (d. 505 Ah), Sheikh al Islam Taqiyu al Din Ahmad ibn Taymiyyah (d. 661 Ah), and Sheikh Abdul Qadir al Jilani (d. 605 AH).

 

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

 

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

 

Movements that succeeded in creating a permanent impact had the following characteristics. (a) Scholarly leadership. (b) Revival of knowledge and its spread of knowledge among the masses. (c) Getting the masses to gain a new understanding of their social reality which leads to changes in attitudes and behaviours of the masses (d) Mobilisation/organisation 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) personalising movement which leads to personality cult (b) dealing with symptoms and not the root problems reactive and not pro-active strategies (d) tarbiyyat and mobilisation 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.

 

4.0 KNOWLEDGE: STRATEGY, OBLIGATIONS, AND ETIQUETTE

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 recognised, identified, described, and analysed the weaknesses of the past. There is a determination to correct past deficiencies. Resources are being mobilised to achieve fixed goals. Aspiration and planning for a better future vision are in high gear.

 

Muslims realise that nothing can be achieved without strength and power. Strength is both spiritual and material. Material strength consists of knowledge, science, technology, organisation, 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 Islamisation of society. There is an unstoppable momentum towards Islamisation 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 realised. 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 had 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 industrialised 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 mobilised and strengthened through knowledge. The top requires knowledge to create a vision and plan for its realisation.

 

A social change requires change in attitudes, values, convictions and behaviours of a critical mass of the population. Attitudes, values, convictions, and behaviours 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.

 

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 behaviour 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 emphasise tadabbur, reasoning, substantiation, observation of the world, and critical analysis.

 

The school is a socialising agent. It is a laboratory for islamisation of the total society. It should exemplify the adab of the teacher: 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, respect for teacher, and applying what is learned.

 

The school curriculum must be designed with care. It should emphasise 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.

 

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

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.

 

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.

 

Learning is an obligation.  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.

 

Etiquettes of searching for knowledge (adab talab al ‘ilm): 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 secularisation 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.

Professor Omar Hasan Kasule June 2000