An Islamic Perspective Towards Philosophy of Education
Philosophy is the study of realities, the pursuit of Wisdom, and commentary on general life principles. It is concerned with a search for eternal truth, both conceptual as well as practical. It has five areas of inquiry – Epistemology, Metaphysics, Aesthetics, Ethics, and History. The instrument used by a philosophy to unearth realities or discover the truth is logic, both inductive and deductive. Educational philosophy is a branch of general philosophy; it gains strength from epistemology. It formulates the aims and objectives or contents of Education that, in turn, influence the whole learning environment, society, and future generations.
The philosophy of Education is based on psychology, sociology, politics, economics, history, science, and religion. Education is a dualistic phenomenon; it is static as well as dynamic. The major portion is active or provisional and adjusts with the change and growth in knowledge, social structure, and civilization, while the minor but vital piece is static or eternal. We proposed that education contents are unlimited while the application and explanation of these contents, a major portion, is dynamic. We assumed a multidisciplinary approach toward the contents of Education. The analysis accommodates the needs of individuals, society, and time and encompasses Education’s cultural, social, and vocational aims.
Education may be formal as well as informal. Traditional Education is given in schools, colleges, or universities; conversely, informal Education is obtained and absorbed by society and the environment. Education, formal & informal, is developed and internalized in one’s personality through reflection and experience. It means all of us are learners during our lifetime. However, we will analyze formal education’s philosophy (aims & objectives).
Moreover, education has three Educationprimary, secondary, and higher. Primary education deals with education of 3 to 11 years old; secondary education covers education 12 to 18 years, and higher education shapes youEducationrs above 18 years. A distinctive approach is required for each level of education.
The conteEducationucation vary from Education to community. A secular society would have a different approach toward content than some ideological clubs. Moreover, the explanation or implementation of contents would be further in other cultures. Our analysis is ideological and dominantly based on the Islamic view towards education.
TerminoloEducationrm “education” derives from the Latin words Educare, Educated, or Educere. Education and Educare mean to train and to nourish, while educere mean to lead out. The former implies that education is somethiEducational; to be imposed or put in from outside means the external environment plays a decisive role in learning to process. The latter indicates growth from within; it means an individual’s internal potentialities are strong in the learning process. The external environment has a secondary role in the educational process. Naturalists / Psychologists gave more importance to interior dispositions of the learning process, while social philosophers stressed the educational process’s external demands. We assumed a mixed and balanced approach toward the role and importance of learning to process the internal-external environment.
Aristotle defined education as a proceEducationary for creating a sound mind in a sound body; according to him, the aim & objective of education is to makeEducation virtuous citizens. In the fourteenth century, Ibn Khaldun expressed the view that education consists oEducationctual, social, and moral training through which hidden potentialities are developed, traits of character are built, and the culture of the people is conveyed to the coming generations. In the twentieth century, Dewey defined education: “EducatioEducationoceEducationing through a continuous reconstruction of experiences. It is the development of all those capacities in the individual that will enable him to control his environment and fulfill his possibilities.” We may define education as educatiEducation meaEducation pass on and teach children their knowledge, thought-pattern, and behavior patterns and develop their genetic potential to manage existing and future challenges.
Aims & Objectives – Islamic View
Islam is Divine religion. It is based on the revealed book, Quran, and prophetic commentary, Hadith. The foremost responsibility and ultimate purpose of prophets and Revealed Books are to educate humanity for a better, happy, and purposeful life. They specify the purpose of life, outline the procedure to actualize it, and present a practical example of a purposeful life. Thus, the aims and objectives or the contents of education can be undEducationrom the last Revealed Book, Al-Quran. We quote a verse from the Al-Quran,
“Undoubtedly Allah did confer a great favor on the Muslims when He raised an Apostle from among themselves, who recites to them the Revelations of Allah, and causeth them to grow, and teacheth them the Scripture and Wisdom whereas they were in manifest error before.” (Al-Quran)
The verse identifies the aims and objectives of education. These areEducationlantation
The word faith has various meanings and uses; however, the central purpose is similar to “conviction,” “belief,” “trust,” or “confidence,” but unlike these terms, “faith” tends to imply a submissive and transpersonal relationship with God or with someone has superior powers. Faith is founded on certain beliefs; beliefs’ indispensability to faith is like seeds’ inevitability to plants. A belief system has certain perceptual ingredients with practical implications. A living faith must fulfill two conditions, the necessary condition is logical reasoning, and the sufficient condition is useful fruits for believers/humanity. A living faith gives the believer stability, creates dynamism in one’s personality, brings fruits in one’s life, promotes cohesiveness among the believers, and assigns a specific shape to a group with peculiar traits.
We mention a few verses of the Holy Quran to outline and explain the Islamic Faith’s basic elements.
“A Glorious Book this! Which has nothing of doubt in it; it is guidance for the God-conscious who fear Allah. Those who believe in the Unseen establish prayer and spend in Our way out of what We have provided them. And those who believe in that which has been sent down to you (O My Apostle) and in that which was sent down before you also have faith in the August Day of Judgment. They are the ones who are rightly guided, and certainly, it is they who are successful in both worlds.” (Al-Quran)
The Quran first removes doubt, which is the foremost requisite of modern philosophy, by introducing faith as a fundamental factor behind reality. Doubt is a negative factor that hinders understanding reality; curiosity is a far better alternative to doubt for knowledge development or unearthing realities. The faith concomitantly presupposes some obligatory beliefs – Unity of God, the Unseen System (Angels, Heaven, Hell, etc.), Revealed Books, the Institution of Prophets, the Day of Judgment, Fate, and Life after Death. Also, it imposes some obligations on believers – Kalimah (a confession of faith), prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and pilgrimage. Notably, the Unity of God’s idea must create the belief in humanity’s unity.
The Islamic approach towards faith is revealed, explained, and planted through reverent personalities, i.e., prophets; a religion based on personal reasoning is unacceptable in Islam. The finality of prophets’ wording about faith elements is also essential. A loving and trustful posture towards prophets is fundamental for complete faith; religion is incomplete or objectionable without it. Thus, faith’s very foundation is love and submission to a reverent personality or a prophet. , religion can be defined as accepting something true, which has been told by someone believed to be trustworthy/praiseworthy.
The object behind faith development is to make stable and balance the psycho-spiritual formation of human personality. The prophets are sent as practical role models; revealed books are accompanied as a permanent working manual for guidelines. The ultimate aim of developing faith elements is to equip the individual with the necessary working tools to manage and tackle life’s conceptual or practical issues, big or small, simple or complex, independent or interlinked, a few or many, with fortitude and firmness. Thus, determination is a necessary outcome of faith; no determination, then no faith.
Islam vehemently put forward two aspects of faith – human and transcendental. The human elements propose the unity of humanity, while the intangible elements propose the Unity of God’s Unity. Faith is incomplete if one part is ignored or not forcefully defined. Also, ignorance of one feature makes the human personality lopsided and unstable. The repercussions of wrong beliefs about the unity of humanity and the Unity of God are manifold and penetrate every aspect of human society. It can lead the nations into continuous strife and belligerent attitudes toward each other. Moreover, the effects of wrong beliefs go beyond the present generation’s outlook and disturb future generations’ peace and tranquility.
Understanding the factual/declarative, procedural, and conceptual aspects of something a person acquires through education, observatiEducationxperience is understood. Acquisition of knowledge is the basic demand of human nature. It plays a vital role in a person’s or nation’s growth and development.
1. Bases of Human Knowledge: -Let us quote some verses of the Quran on the subject:
And recall when your Lord said to the angels: “I am going to appoint a vice-regent in the earth.” They said: “Will You set in the earth such as will make mischief and cause bloodshed, whereas we celebrate Your praise and glorify You.” Allah said:” Surely I know that which you know not.” And Allah taught Adam the names of all things. Then He set them before the angels saying: “Tell Me the names of these if you are truthful (in your opinion)” They said: “Glory to You! We do not know what You have taught us. In truth, You alone are the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.”
Allah said:’ O Adam! Tell them the names of these things.” Then Adam had told the angels the terms of those things, and Allah said: “Did I not tell you that I know full well all the hidden mysteries of the heavens and the earth, and I know whatever you disclose and whatever you have been concealing?
The verses manifest that human nature has been made inherently fit and capable of receptivity and absorption of Divine Knowledge. Moreover, Adam’s knowledge can conceptualize things in the heart. Thirdly, man can develop language because Adam assigned names to items without formal training. These verses also show that the first man of the earth came down fully abreast of scientific knowledge, in full monopoly to develop it for natural conquest. According to the Quran, the human activity program should proceed hand in hand with divine cooperation and blessing before the plan is carried on unilaterally, in which God has no vice-regent. The verses also indicate that a man can choose the right or wrong path. There is no external compulsion on his free choice. The poems also suggest that humanity strongly tends to injustice and strife. However, it can be managed through human knowledge and restrained by God’s Will.
2. Types of knowledge: -Knowledge can be classified into the following groups:
Natural Sciences: -Natural sciences deal with inanimate objects of the universe. The major branches are physics, chemistry, and astronomy.
Biological Sciences: -Biological Sciences deals with animate objects of the universe. The major branches are zoology, botany, and psychology.
Social Sciences: -Social Sciences deals with collective life and the relationship between individuals and society. The major branches are sociology, political science, and economics.
Professional Sciences: -Professional Sciences deal with individuals’ professions necessary for human survival/quality of life. The major branches are medicine, engineering, and commerce.
Islam accepts the scientific classification of knowledge. However, it proposed a broader taxonomy of knowledge for humanity:-
First, Absolute versus Dubious Knowledge. Absolute knowledge is based on scientific facts or given through some reverent personality (i.e., prophets) in the Revealed Book’s shape (e.g., Quran). The dubious knowledge is based on subjective analysis (e.g., the theory of psychoanalysis proposed by Freud.). Second, Fruitful versus Fruitless Knowledge. Fruitful knowledge benefits humanity (e.g., natural sciences, biological sciences, social sciences, and professional sciences.), while fruitless knowledge is useless to society (e.g., occult sciences).
3. Aspects of Knowledge: -A piece of knowledge can be broken into three categories or has three aspects – Declarative, Procedural & Conceptual.
Declarative Knowledge: -It is knowledge about something, e.g., the structure of the body, the form of a computer, the format of the earth, and parts of speech. It deals with WHAT type of questions.
Procedural Knowledge: -It is knowledge about the procedures and sequences. It narrates and explains practices & arrangements of any compiled information or data. That is, it deals with HOW & WHEN types of questions. For example, HOW the computer is manufactured or used WHEN the laptop is ready to use or sale.
Conceptual Knowledge: -It is knowledge of concepts working behind the declarative and procedural knowledge. It is an abstract aspect of learning. In conceptual understanding, the relationship among ideas is also discussed. It deals with WHY type of questions. For example, the mathematical concepts and their relationship with each other provide a basis for working computer hardware or software.
Knowledge enables us to understand the realities of things (i.e., Divine Scheme of Creation, Natural System of Growth, natural forces, and history), and Wisdom equips us with the ability to utilize the realities for the benefit of self and others. According to Islam, Wisdom is a higher-level attribute; it comes after knowledge. Wisdom is bestowed when the Will of God replaces man’s will, and human understanding is fully exploited. Thus, Wisdom is based on knowledge and intellect. Let us quote a verse to make it clear:
“He bestows wisdom upon whom He will, and whosoever is granted wisdom, he is indeed granted abundant good, and none accepts admonition except men of understanding.”
Islam proposed two diagonally opposite aspects of Wisdom – Divine Wisdom and devil wisdom. Divine Wisdom is based on right faith and fruitful knowledge and produces good results for self and humanity, materially and spiritually. In contrast, the devil’s Wisdom is based on wrong faith and fruitless knowledge. It leads society towards only worldly or material benefits, completely ignoring others’ gifts and spiritual benefits. The devil’s wisdom guides for self benefits at others’ cost; however, the devil / worldly wisdom is short-lived and weak, ultimately failing to materialize her lopsided designs.