In Western capitalist economies, the state appropriated education from institutions like the church during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. National schooling systems were gradually created and such systems proliferated around the world through colonial policies that dismantled local structures, replacing them with the new systems. These policies continue across the Muslim world despite independence and liberation. The American-Iranian academic Vali Nasr's research on this process documents this process in detail.
Conveyor Belt Education
State policies since this era have always ensured schooling systems will have one of their aims for children to become work ready, reflected in the emphasis on STEM subject (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).
Education is front loaded into the first 20 odd years of children's lives with the rest of their lives spent in the workplace until retirement - ongoing professional development training in many professions and retraining for others where necessary. Retirement is set as an end phase when workers are no longer able to work - spent and drained of energy and vitality.
Education as "training"for workers in the workplace then displaces "education".
Secular liberal elites seek to instil a cultural identity that reflects their ideologies, narratives and values so children not only fit into such societies, but such societies are formed and maintained. Such values are injected into the curriculum via subjects such as art, drama, dance, music and such like, along with the hidden curriculum of expectations, structural settings and organisation in the school.
The author Sir Ken Robinson articulates a number of these points pretty well in his lecture at the RSA:
The aim of education set by Islam is to produce an autonomous critical thinking servant of Allah by the time they are a young adult, clear in their purpose and orientation in the world.
"O you who believe! Save yourselves and your families from a fire whose fuel is man and stones." (Qur'an 66:6)
The Sunnah suggests education (ta'dib), from the root adab (disciplining) requires the complete disciplining of body, mind and soul:
The Messenger (saw) said, 'My Lord educated me, and so made my education most excellent'
Ta'dib comprises two elements, tarbiyyah and ta'leem.
The first element 'tarbiyyah' is derived from the root word 'raba' referring to 'increase and grow', suggesting the importance of nurture and care for the child, referred to in the Qur'anic verse:
"And lower unto them the wing of submission through mercy and say: my Lord! Have mercy on them both as they did nurture me when I was little..." (Qur'an 17: 24)
The second term is 'ta'leem' derives from the root 'allama' meaning 'to know', referring to the imparting of knowledge, mentioned in the Qur'anic verse:
"He who taught you the use of the pen, taught man that which he knew not" (Qur'an 96:4-5).
The Sunnah supports and elaborates the same notions:
The Messenger (saw) said, "The Quest of knowledge is incumbent upon every Muslim man and Muslim woman"
The Messenger (saw) said, "Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave"
The Messenger (saw) said, "Indeed, the people of knowledge are the inheritors of the prophets"
The education process was outlined by the Messenger (saw) whereby a child should be able to serve Allah by puberty:
The Messenger of Allah (saw) said: "Teach your children to pray when they are seven years old, and smack them (lightly) if they do not pray when they are 10 years old, and separate them in their beds." (Abu Dawood (459) and Ahmad (6650))
The Messenger of Allah (saw) said: "Teach your children Swimming, Archery and Horseback riding."
Ali ibn Abi Talib (ra) said:
"Play with them for the first 7 years (of their life); then teach them for the next 7 years; then advise them for the next 7 years (and after that)."
Historically all this was taught through the Islamic and natural sciences, mirroring the Qur'anic pedagogy - philosophical subjects were later added in the ninth century.
Education is a life long endeavour, producing and refining a civilised thoughtful person, through childhood the substrate for later roles in life being developed, that of scholar, activist, father, son, spouse, imam, worker, entrepreneur and so on.
Education is a means or process to develop personality (tarbiyyah) and instil knowledge (ta'leem) to allow one to live and work in society to fulfil their purpose.
In Western societies, that are typically secular, liberal and capitalist in orientation, the schooling system seeks to produce skilled workers for the economy and citizens who are apolitical, secular and liberal in their values and outlook.
Islamic education on the other hand seeks to develop personalities, teach morality and ethics, in order to live a virtuous life as an obedient servant of God.
Great answers start with great insights. Content becomes intriguing when it is voted up or down - ensuring the best answers are always at the top.
Questions are answered by people with a deep interest in the subject. People from around the world review questions, post answers and add comments.
Be part of and influence the most important global discussion that is defining our generation and generations to come