Islamic concept of education

Intisaab - Book Hikmat-e-Iqbal by Dr Rafi ud din

[Dedication of book Hikmat-e-Iqbal (Wisdom of Iqbal) by Dr. M. Rafi-ud-Din]

[Roughly translated as: To the lovers of beauty of the being (God), who in future will find the inevitable universal state based on the Islamic proposition of the philosophy of khuddi (human self-consciousness)]

Just read this article written by Dr. Muhammad Rafi-ud-Din. He outlines in it the philosophical rhetoric about the motives of education and has critically examined theories put forward by McDougal, and Percy Nunn. He is of the opinion that the purpose of education is not merely to build a “character” or to prepare an individual to “spend” his life rather, its purpose is to impart in an individual a complete code of ideology. The “ideology” he states has deepest implications on an individual’s life and the life of community which he is a part of.

He then probes into the matter of different ideologies (Capitalism, Socialism) that are the result of particular forms of education. He argues that these ideologies are the result of educational system of the particular peoples of these places. There is a right ideology and there is a wrong one and there is a need to be aware of the two. According to Dr. Rafi-ud-Din there is no way for an individual to know whether he is right or wrong as long as he is a part of that particular system. As there is no way to judge when there is prejudice. The solution he suggests is to rediscover the purpose of education, as every ideology strives on its educational system. He discusses the biggest problem faced by the western thinkers of education and states that they are concerned about matter only and resultantly they have attributed human development to be a mere extension of instinctive abilities of animals. Therefore, they are deluded in the present state of affairs where they don’t find appropriate to “impose” any “ideology” on the individual. This is the flaw of western educational theories as we as Muslims already have an ideology.

He then moves on to assert the Islamic ideology of education that it is based on the belief that reality of humans is through khuddi (human self-consciousness). He suggests to the philosophers of his time that if they accept this world view all their problems related to human sociology can be resolved. He then stipulates the things needed to have a healthy khuddi which should be the goal of Islamic education. Like healthy nutritious diet is needed to protect the body against physical illness, so does mental protection of khuddi is needed to protect the body from psychological illness. The diet for khuddi is love for a concept of beauty. The more beautiful one’s ideology is, more flourished there khuddi will be. Beauty is the nourishment of khuddi. He is of the opinion that different nations have different ideologies that they deem beautiful and are in love with them. Although there is partial beauty in those ideologies but the completion of this beauty cannot be achieved without God. God is the supreme beauty, he concludes, and the purpose of all knowledge is to discover the wholeness of His beauty.

It is inevitable for the people, who believe in an ideology, to form a communion and live their lives according to that specific ideology. If people who are in love with God’s beauty come together, the result will be the formation and following of universal principles of ethics, desire for knowledge and art. He then sees the decadent state that Muslims are currently in and he sees education as a decision of life and death for Muslims. In final pages he has iterated the example of dialectical materialism of Soviet Union. He has stated how their ideology forms the basis of their educational system and how it is flawed. He is of the opinion that Islamic ideology is a belief just like any other ideology and Muslims have the right to follow it just like other nations are following their ideologies.

It is an interesting read and you will be amazed by the thoughts of Dr. Rafi-ud-Din on education. He has written extensively on this subject in his book, “First Principles of Education”.

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