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ISLAMIC MEDICAL EDUCATION RESOURCES-04

0606-EDUCATION REFORM THROUGH ISLAMIZATION OF KNOWLEDGE

Paper presented at a workshop on the Islamic Input Curriculum at the Kulliyah of Medicine International Islamic University Kuantan Malaysia by Prof Omar Hasan Kasule.

ABSTRACT

The most important manifestation of the knowledge crisis is dichotomy in the education system: traditional Islamic vs. imported European. Integration of the 2 systems has failed. Secularization of education eliminated the moral dimension and violated the aim of Islamic education to produce an integrated and perfect individual, insan kaamil. Dichotomy in knowledge is the main cause of the weakness and malaise of the ummah today. The ummah needs to reform its education system and adopt a new knowledge strategy. Educational and knowledge reform are a pre requisite for tajdid because tajdiid = idea + action. 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. The mission of the knowledge strategy is Islamization which 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.

 

1.0 CHARACTERIZING THE EDUCATIONAL CRISIS IN THE UMMAH

1.1 Manifestations of the crisis

There is pervasive ignorance of uluum al diin and uluum al dunia. There is little respect for scholarship. Wealth and power are considered more important than scholarship. There is neglect of the empirical sciences. There is a dichotomy in the education system: traditional Islamic vs. imported European, ulum al diin vs ulum al dunia. Integration of the 2 systems has failed or has been difficult because it has been mechanical and not conceptual. The process of secularization in education has removed the moral dimension from the education and violated the aim of Islamic education to produce an integrated and perfect individual, insan kaamil. The brain drain from Muslim countries has compounded the educational crisis.

 

1.2 Ummatic malaise due to the knowledge crises

Knowledge deficiency and intellectual weakness are the most significant manifestation of ummat’s decadence. The intellectual crisis of the ummat is worsened by copying and using poorly digested alien ideas and concepts. The prophet warned the ummat about the lizard-hole phenomenon in which the ummat in later times would follow its enemies unquestionably like the lizard running into its hole. Among the manifestations of the ummatic malaise 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.

 

1.3 Historical background

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. Seeds of the current crisis appeared towards the end of the khilafat rashidat... New social and political forces overthrew the khilafat rashidat and the ideals it represented were distorted or abolished. Then the authentic ‘ulama and opinion leaders who remained faithful to the ideals of Islam were marginalized and persecuted. Intellectual stagnation then ensued. The process of secularization of the Muslim state progressed. Widespread ignorance and illiteracy became common. 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 intellectual crisis even worse.

 

1.4 Knowledge, a pre requisite for tajdid

Reform and revival of the ummat will occur through educational and knowledge reform. 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. 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. All successful societal reform starts with change in knowledge. The ideal society cannot be created without a knowledge base. That knowledge base must be correct, relevant, and useful. Successful revival movements throughout Muslim history have always been led by scholars.

 

1.5 Knowledge: strategy, obligations, and etiquette

The Muslim ummat is a potential economic and political bloc whose potential is not yet realized. The contemporary tajdid movement has a lot of strengths but also has basic deficiencies that must be corrected. 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. Social change requires change in attitudes, values, convictions and behavior of a critical mass of the population. Attitudes, values, convictions, and behaviors are determined by the knowledge base. 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. 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.

 

2.0 ISLAMIZATION AS THE SOLUTION TO THE EDUCATIONAL CRISIS

2.1 The concept of Islamization:

Islamization is a process of recasting the corpus of human knowledge to conform with the basic tenets of aqidat al tauhid. The process of Islamization does not call for re-invention of the wheel of knowledge but calls for reform, correction, and re-orientation. It is evolutionary and not revolutionary. It is corrective and reformative. It is the first step in the islamization and reform of the education system as a prelude to islamization and reform of society.

 

2.2 History of Islamization

The 2-3rd centuries H witnessed a failed effort at Islamization of knowledge. Greek scientific knowledge was transferred to Muslims together with Greek philosophy and ideas that caused confusions in aqiidat. Greek science depended more on philosophical deduction than experimentally-based induction. It discouraged the scientific tarbiyat of the Qur’an which emphasized observation of nature as a basis for conclusions. The recent Islamisation movement towards the close of the 14th century H aimed at de-europeanizing education systems and building an education system based on tauhid.

 

2.3 Reform of disciplines:

Islamization has to start with reforming the epistemology, methodology, and corpus of knowledge of each discipline. It must be pro-active, academic, methodological, objective, and practical. Its vision is objective, universal, and beneficial knowledge in the context of a harmonious interaction of humans with their physical, social, and spiritual environment. Its practical mission is transformation of the paradigms, methodologies, and uses of disciplines of knowledge to conform to tauhid. Its immediate goals are: (a) de-Europeanizing paradigms of existing disciplines to change them from parochiality to universal objectivity, (b) reconstruction of the paradigms using Islamic universal guidelines, (c) re-classifying disciplines to reflect universal tauhidi values, (d) reforming research methodology to become objective, purposeful, and comprehensive (e) growth of knowledge by research, and (f) inculcating morally correct application of knowledge. The Qur’an gives general principles that establish objectivity and protect against biased research methodology. It creates a world-view that encourages research to extend the frontiers of knowledge and its use for the benefit of the whole universe. Scientists are encouraged to work within these Qur’anic parameters to expand the frontiers of knowledge through research, basic and applied.

 

2.4 Misunderstanding the reform process

Islamization has been misunderstood as rejection of the corpus of existing human knowledge and disciplines. It has been misunderstood as creation of knowledge exclusive to Muslims. It has been misconstrued as rewriting existing text-books to reflect Islamic themes without deep thought about the paradigms and methodology. It has also been confined to spiritual reform of the student, scholar, or researcher. The following superficial approaches to civilization have been tried and failed: ‘Insertion’ of Qur’anic verses and hadiths in an otherwise European piece of writing, searching for scientific facts in the Qur’an, searching for Qur’anic proof of scientific facts, establishing Qur’anic scientific miracles, searching for parallels between Islamic and European concepts, using Islamic in place of European terminologies, and adding supplementary ideas to the European corpus of knowledge.

 

2.5 Practical steps / tasks of the reform process:

The first step is a good grounding in Islamic methodological sciences of of usul al fiqh,  ulum al Qur’an, ulum al hadith, and 'uluum al llughat. This is followed by reading the Qur’an and sunnat with understanding of the changing time-space dimensions. This is followed by clarification of basic epistemological issues and relations: wahy and aql, ghaib and shahada, ‘ilm and iman. This is followed by an Islamic critique of basic paradigms, basic assumptions, and basic concepts of various disciplines using criteria of Islamic methodology and Islamic epistemology. Islamic reviews of existing text-books and teaching materials are then undertaken to identify deviations from the tauhidi episteme and the Islamic methodology. The initial output of the islamization process will be Islamic introductions to disciplines, muqaddimat al ‘uluum, establishing basic Islamic principles and paradigms that determine and regulate the methodology, content, and teaching of disciplines. This parallels Ibn Khaldun’s Introduction to History, muqaddimat presented generalizing and methodological concepts on historical events. Publication and testing of new text-books and other teaching materials is a necessary step towards reform by putting into the hands of teachers and students refomed material. Developing applied knowledge in science and technology from basic knowledge will be the last stage of the reform process. This is because in the end it is science and technology that actually lead to changes in society.

Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr. June 2006