Quick question: Who discovered America? The almost guaranteed answer: Why, Columbus, of course. The bright student may even know the famous story that Columbus thought he had reached India and therefore called the people he found Indians.
If providing sound knowledge and developing critical thinking capabilities are any goals of an education system, the answer highlights the miserable failure of the education system prevalent in the Muslim world today on both counts. For no one asks the obvious: How can anyone be credited with discovering a land that was already heavily populated? Columbus was the first European to discover America, not the first man. Hundreds of thousands of other men and women had reached there before him and had been living for centuries. The assertion about Columbus reveals a Euro-centric mindset but the bias goes undetected and unquestioned.
This is not the only questionable fact that our schools and colleges, and textbooks and teachers have been dispensing. In every field of study, they have been passing on "facts", ideas, values, assumptions, perspectives, explanations, "truths", and principles that are questionable, secular and anti-Islamic. All while sincerely believing that they are providing a great service by promoting education.
Education is a wonderful thing. But, what are we really teaching?
In science, we are teaching our students to look at the universe from the viewpoint of a person who does not know God. "And how many Signs in the heavens and the earth do they pass by? Yet they turn their faces away from them." [Yusuf, 12:105]. A proper study of science would make one appreciate both the Power, Majesty, and Grandeur of Allah’s creations and the humbleness and limitations of human knowledge and abilities. Today our science education, in its best form, gives exactly the opposite message. It also fails to enable students to separate scientist’s opinions from their facts. Let’s ask: In the wide Muslim world is there any, Islamic school teaching science whose graduates can challenge Darwin’s Theory of Evolution on scientific grounds? As we teach science, are we teaching our children to put science in its proper place, to know its limitations? Can they competently question the "technological imperative"?
A medical doctor would not be considered competent if he did not know the limitations of the medicines and procedures he used. An engineer would be considered unqualified if he did not know the limitations of his tools. Why then our teaching of science does not include a discussion of its limitations? Because for the secular mindset science is the ultimate tool, the supreme arbiter of Truth and Falsehood. Without even realizing it, we have accepted the proposition and our science education reflects that assumption.
The problem is not limited to science and technology. The best of our MBAs have learned that the goal of a business is to maximize profits, the goal of marketing is to create demand, and the proper way of making business decision is through cost-benefit analysis. All of these are as solid in their eyes and as questionable in reality as the assertion about Columbus. The best of our journalism graduates do not have a different model for journalism than the one presented by the West. They do not have their own definition of the news, their purpose for gathering it or their own moral standards that must regulate its dissemination. In economics we have been teaching that human beings are utility-maximizing animals governed by Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. In our teaching of history, we see random events without a moral calculus driving them. We do not see Allah’s laws that govern the rise and fall of nations. In psychology or sociology, medicine or engineering, civics or geography, it is the same story. In fact, our schools and colleges have been the main agency for secularization of Islamic societies. They have been effectively teaching that Islam is irrelevant to understanding this world or to solving its problems. Many of their graduates develop misunderstandings and doubts about their faith. But even when they are strong practicing Muslims, they have not been trained and educated to detect and challenge the secular dogmas that have been integrated into their curriculums.
This great tragedy is of a recent origin and a historical perspective may be helpful. For centuries our societies, culture, and education system were free of the secular/religious dichotomy. Our schools taught all subjects of importance using a naturally unified approach. As long as Muslims were the leaders in all the sciences (until the fifteenth century C.E) subjects like medicine, astronomy, and chemistry had not developed their secular biases.
The dichotomy started in the West during its "Renaissance" as it threw away its religious dogmas--which had become a burden--and found a speedy path to material progress using a-religious or secular approaches. The industrial revolution gave it momentum. Colonialism brought secular ideology and the religion of secular humanism to the Muslim lands.
At this time, Muslims were at a low point on several fronts. They had surrendered intellectual leadership to the West and had failed to keep pace with scientific developments there. They found themselves in a no-win situation. If they accepted and taught the Western sciences, they would also be teaching anti-Islamic dogmas. If they stayed isolated, they would be left behind in science and material progress.
In response, Muslims developed two approaches. Our Darul-ulooms preserved Islamic knowledge and values by hermetically sealing themselves against western influences. It is due to this effort that Islamic knowledge is alive and well today. (Where they were lax in this matter --- as in some Arab countries--- the result was a compromise in their Islamic character without any advantage in the quality of education.) However, they are not equipped to provide leadership in most other areas of the society. This role has gone to the graduates of the Western-style schools and colleges. Unfortunately, these schools and their curriculum nurture secular ways of looking at this world and solving its problems. The tensions created by the two diametrically opposed systems can be seen today in every Muslim country.
This dichotomy must end. We cannot move forward without revamping our education. We cannot fully establish Islam in our societies without producing educated citizens and leaders needed for an Islamic society. The time is now to develop Integrated Islamic curriculums and remove secular biases from all of our education. Merely establishing more schools is not the answer. Developing educational institutions that can teach every subject in the wholesome Islamic context is. It is a monumental task. But without it we’ll continue to spread ignorance in the name of education.
By: Khalid Baig
From the very earliest days of Islam, the issue of education has been at the forefront at the minds of the Muslims. The very first word of the Quran that was revealed to Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was, in fact, “Read”. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ once stated that “Seeking knowledge is mandatory for all Muslims.” With such a direct command to go out and seek knowledge, Muslims have placed huge emphasis on the educational system in order to fulfill this obligation placed on them by the Prophet ﷺ.
Throughout Islamic history, education was a point of pride and a field Muslims have always excelled in. Muslims built great libraries and learning centers in places such as Baghdad, Cordoba, and Cairo. They established the first primary schools for children and universities for continuing education. They advanced sciences by incredible leaps and bounds through such institutions, leading up to today’s modern world.
Today, education of children is not limited to the information and facts they are expected to learn. Rather, educators take into account the emotional, social, and physical well-being of the student in addition to the information they must master. Medieval Islamic education was no different. The 12th century Syrian physician al-Shayzari wrote extensively about the treatment of students. He noted that they should not be treated harshly, nor made to do busy work that doesn’t benefit them at all. The great Islamic scholar al-Ghazali also noted that “prevention of the child from playing games and constant insistence on learning deadens his heart, blunts his sharpness of wit and burdens his life. Thus, he looks for a ruse to escape his studies altogether.” Instead, he believed that educating students should be mixed with fun activities such as puppet theater, sports, and playing with toy animals.
Ibn Khaldun states in his Muqaddimah, “It should be known that instructing children in the Qur’an is a symbol of Islam. Muslims have, and practice, such instruction in all their cities, because it imbues hearts with a firm belief (in Islam) and its articles of faith, which are (derived) from the verses of the Qur’an and certain Prophetic traditions.”
The very first educational institutions of the Islamic world were quite informal. Mosques were used as a meeting place where people can gather around a learned scholar, attend his lectures, read books with him/her, and gain knowledge. Some of the greatest scholars of Islam learned in such a way, and taught their students this way as well. All four founders of the Muslim schools of law – Imams Abu Hanifa, Malik, Shafi’i, and Ibn Hanbal – gained their immense knowledge by sitting in gatherings with other scholars (usually in the mosques) to discuss and learn Islamic law.
Some schools throughout the Muslim world continue this tradition of informal education. At the three holiest sites of Islam – the Haram in Makkah, Masjid al-Nabawi in Madinah, and Masjid al-Aqsa in Jerusalem – scholars regularly sit and give lectures in the mosque that are open to anyone who would like to join and benefit from their knowledge. However, as time went on, Muslims began to build formal institutions dedicated to education.
Dating back to at least the 900s, young students were educated in a primary school called a maktab. Commonly, maktabs were attached to a mosque, where the resident scholars and imams would hold classes for children. These classes would cover topics such as basic Arabic reading and writing, arithmetic, and Islamic laws. Most of the local population was educated by such primary schools throughout their childhood. After completing the curriculum of the maktab, students could go on to their adult life and find an occupation, or move on to higher education in a madrasa, the Arabic world for “school”.
When a student completed their course of study, they would be granted an ijaza, or a license certifying that they have completed that program and are qualified to teach it as well. Ijazas could be given by an individual teacher who can personally attest to his/her student’s knowledge, or by an institution such as a madrasa, in recognition of a student finishing their course of study. Ijazas today can be most closely compared to diplomas granted from higher educational institutions.
Throughout Islamic history, educating women has been a high priority. Women were not seen as incapable of attaining knowledge nor of being able to teach others themselves. The precedent for this was set with Prophet Muhammad’s own wife, Aisha, who was one of the leading scholars of her time and was known as a teacher of many people in Madinah after the Prophet’s ﷺ death.
Later Islamic history also shows the influence of women. Women throughout the Muslim world were able to attend lectures in mosques, attend madrasas, and in many cases were teachers themselves. For example, the 12th century scholar Ibn ‘Asakir (most famous for his book on the history of Damascus, Tarikh Dimashq) traveled extensively in the search for knowledge and studied under 80 different female teachers.
Women also played a major role as supporters of education:
Unlike Europe during the Middle Ages (and even up until the 1800s and 1900s), women played a major role in Islamic education in the past 1400 years. Rather than being seen as second-class citizens, women played an active role in public life, particularly in the field of education.
The tradition of madrasas and other classical forms of Islamic education continues until today, although in a much more diminshed form. The defining factor for this was the encroachment of European powers on Muslim lands throughout the 1800s. In the Ottoman Empire, for example, French secularist advisors to the sultans advocated a complete reform of the educational system to remove religion from the curriculum and only teach secular sciences. Public schools thus began to teach a European curriculum based on European books in place of the traditional fields of knowledge that had been taught for hundreds of years. Although Islamic madrasas continued to exist, without government support they lost much of their relevance in the modern Muslim world.
Today, much of the former Ottoman Empire still runs education along European lines. For example, what you are allowed to major in at the university level depends on how you do on a certain standardized test at the end of your high school career. If you obtain the highest possible grades on the test, you can study sciences such as medicine or engineering. If one scores on the lower end of the spectrum, they are only allowed to study topics such as Islamic sciences and education.
Despite the new systems in place in much of the Muslim world, traditional education still survives. Universities such as al-Azhar, al-Karaouine, and Darul Uloom in Deoband, India continue to offer traditional curricula that bring together Islamic and secular sciences. Such an intellectual tradition rooted in the great institutions of the past that produced some of the greatest scholars of Islamic history and continues to spread the message and knowledge of Islam to the masses.
Ibn Khaldūn. The Muqaddimah, An Introduction To History. Bollingen, 1969. Print.
Lindsay, James E. Daily Life in the Medieval Islamic World. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2005. Print.
Morgan, M. Lost History. Washington D.C. : National Geographic Society, 2007. Print.
May 23 2014 at 11:46am
New Delhi -
School pupils in the Indian capital New Delhi are hiring “holiday homework providers” to do their assignments while they take it easy during the summer break, a report said on Friday.
Teachers may be appalled at the new form of outsourcing, but many such “experts” are in the market to help kids who despise holiday homework, the Hindustan Times daily reported.
“Leave holiday homework worries. Get holiday homework for all classes done by experts,” the report cited an advert on OLX, an advertising portal, as saying.
The providers do projects, write articles or poems, prepare PowerPoint presentations and design working models for competitive prices.
Abhishek Sharma, who says he does “good quality holiday homework”, gets up to 25 orders every summer.
Sharma, a pupil in the final year at school, charges 1 000 rupees ($17) for simple projects and up to 3 000 rupees for complicated ones.
Some homework providers talk about the pressures in the niche business.
”There is too much competition. I am thinking of giving up. Since many students call with their parents not knowing about it, they can't afford the service,” said Deepika Verma, who runs a coaching institute.
Another homework supplier, Leher Raj, blames schools for burdening children with difficult assignments that force them to outsource their work.
“The kind of work schools give for holidays is actually meant for parents to do,” she said.
Schools are trying to keep pace with the crafty students.
“We make students write a journal about the holidays. Any project not made by the student is not assessed at all and the students know this,” said Ameeta Mulla Wattal, the principal of Delhi-based Springdales School. - Sapa-dpa
Association of Muslim Schools - KZN
Speech contest hosted by Nizamia Islamic School
10th May 2014
|1ST||Orient Islamic School||Aaliya Abubakr|
|2ND||Islamic Educational Centre||Sauda Milanzi|
|3RD||Port Shepstone Islamic School||Sabiha Motala|
|1ST||Orient Islamic School||Mohammed Sohail Roussoulle|
|2ND||Al Falaah College||Mohamed Tariq Joosab|
|3RD||Port Shepstone Islamic School||Muhammad Khamissa|
Coordinator : MS Saeed
Mahmood Moosa was born on 9 August 1953 in Ixopo, KZN, Natal, fourth son of the late Ismail and Hawa Bibi Moosa.
He matriculated at Nirvana Secondary School, Lenasia (Johannesburg).
He went on to educate learners for 28 years (25 at secondary and three at senior primary school levels). During his teaching career, he has imparted knowledge and skills in history, mathematics, general science, biology (life science), at both levels, and technology and life orientation to secondary level pupils.
He has had varied experience in community, social, educational and political work, and, to his credit has also, on a number of community projects and issues, “hands-on experience.” And, he is an executive member of numerous community organisations, and in some holds official positions.
Mahmood, known as, “Mems” by family members and friends, has been described as enthusiastic, sincere, dedicated and motivational.
He is married to Naeema, has a daughter, two grandchildren and lives in Lenasia, Johannesburg.
South Africa is producing too few teachers, especially in key subjects such as maths and science. Also, existing teachers spend too little time in the classroom and many teach poorly when they are in the classroom.
With research showing overwhelmingly that good teaching is vital for better student results, the Centre for Development and Enterprise (CDE) asked four experts to conduct in-depth studies of the supply of, demand for, and quality of South Africa's teachers, particularly in respect of maths and science.
Their findings are summarised in a new CDE report - VALUE IN THE CLASSROOM: The quantity and quality of South Africa's teachers.
Alhamdulillah, the AMS spiritual retreat was well received by all the delegates.
Held, in the scenic Drakensberg, the retreat proved to be soul rejuvenating. The theme message was very clear. We, the leaders of our school have to lead by example. Children "listen" with their "eyes."
As leaders, we have to initiate change in our own lives. This will then InshaAllah filter down to our staff and learners.
Visit our downloads section for the audio recordings at the retreat.
Get your educators and learners motivated with the 6 A Campaign!
Every month AMS will launch a theme poster for you to implement at your school.
Implement and share your success stories with us. Be part of the change and reap the rewards in the Akhirah.
Click the graphic to download the Poster Set for:
1. 6 A Overview
2. Feb Poster
3. March Poster