Islamic Philosophy of Education
By the end of this topic, you should be able to:
1. Explain the elements and the meanings of Islamic philosophy;
2. Identify the basic principles of Islamic education;
3. Discuss the aims of Islamic education; and
4. State an opinion regarding the Islamisation of contemporary knowledge.
Islamic philosophy represents one of the most important philosophical
traditions in the world, it has only
In this topic, we will begin by understanding of what we called an Islamic philosophy. Next, we examine the ways in which this Islamic philosophy principles has been manifested in education and practice, the aims of Islamic education and on Islamisation of contemporary knowledge.
Explore and explain the educational philosophy of Islam. Can you identify any patterns of the philosophy similar with regards to your educational philosophical position?
philosophy as the name implies refers to philosophical activity within the
Islamic milieu (Learman, 1998). As stated by Learman(1998)
the main sources of classical or early Islamic philosophy are the religion of
Islam itself – especially ideas derived and interpreted from the Quran, Greek philosophy which the early Muslims inherited
as a result of conquests when
of the early philosophical debates centered around reconciling religion and reason, the latter
exemplified by Greek philosophy. One aspect which stands out in Islamic
philosophy is that, the philosophy in Islam travels wide but comes back to
conform it with the Quran
and Sunna. Theoretical questions were raised right
from the beginning of Islam, questions which could to a certain extent be
answered by reference to Islamic texts such as the Quran,
the practices of the
Al-Attas (1978) had provided a framework of important concepts of Islamic philosophy that can be explained as follows:
From the perspective of Islam, a worldview is not merely the minds view of the
physical world and of mans historical, social, political and cultural
involvement in it as reflected. The worldview of Islam is not based upon
philosophical speculation formulated mainly from observation of the data of
sensible experience, of what is visible to the eye; which is the world of
(b) Islam does not admit to the dichotomy of the sacred and the profane; the worldview of Islam encompasses both al-dunya and al-akhirah, in which the dunya - aspect must be related in a profound and inseparable way to the akhirah - aspect, and in which the akhirah - aspect has ultimate and final significance. The dunya - aspect is seen as a preparation for the akhirah - aspect. Everything in Islam is ultimately focused on the akhirah - aspect without thereby implying any attitude of neglect or being unmindful of the dunya - aspect.
(c) The Islamic vision of reality and truth, which is a metaphysical survey of the visible as well as the invisible worlds including the perspective of life as a whole, is not a worldview that is formed merely by the gathering together of various cultural objects, values and phenomena into artificial coherence.
(d) The representatives of Islamic thought of theologians, philosophers, metaphysicians have all and individually applied various methods in their investigations without reconsidering on any one particular method. They combined in their investigations and at the same time in their persons, the empirical and the rational, the deductive and the inductive methods and affirmed no dichotomy between the subjective and the objective.
(e) Islam is not a form of culture, and its system of thought projecting its vision of reality and truth and the system of value derived from it are not merely derived from cultural and philosophical elements aided by science, but one whose original source is Revelatio confirmed by religion, affirmed by intellectual and intuitive principles.
(f) the worldview of Islam is characterized by an authenticity and a finality that points to what is ultimate, and it projects a view of reality and truth that encompasses existence and life altogether in total perspective whose fundamental elements are permanently established. These are, to mention the most salient ones, the nature of God; of Revelation (that is the Quran); of His creation; of man and the psychology of the human soul; of knowledge; of religion; of freedom; of values and virtues; of happiness where all of which, together with the key terms and concepts that they unfold, have profound bearing upon our ideas about change, development, and progress.
The nature of God as revealed in Islam is derived from Revelation. We do not
mean by Revelation the sudden visions of great poets and artists claim for
themselves; nor the apostolic inspiration of the writers of sacred scripture;
nor the illuminative intuition of the sages and people of discernment. We mean
by it the speech of God concerning Himself, His creation, the relation between
them, and the way to salvation communicated to His chosen Prophet and
Messenger, not by sound or letter, yet comprising all that He has represented
in words, then conveyed by the Prophet to mankind in a linguistic form new in
nature yet comprehensible, without confusion with the Prophets own subjectivity
and cognitive imagination. This Revelation is final, and it not only confirms
the truth of preceding revelations in their original forms, but includes their
The nature of God understood in Islam is not the same as the conceptions of God
understood in the various religious traditions of the world; nor is it the same
as the conceptions of God understood in Greek and Hellenistic philosophical
tradition; nor as the conceptions of God understood in Western philosophical or
scientific tradition; nor in that of Occidental and
(i) The essential message of the revelation was always the same: to recognize and acknowledge and worship the One True and Real God (ilah) alone, without associating Him with any partner, rival, or equal, nor attributing a likeness to Him; and to confirm the truth preached by the earlier Prophets as well as to confirm the final truth brought by the last Prophet Muhammad as it was confirmed by all the Prophets sent before him.
(j) Religion consists not only of affirmation of the Unity of God (al-tawhid), but also of the manner and form in which we verify that affirmation as shown by His last Prophet Muhammad, who confirmed, perfected and consolidated the manner and form of affirmation and verification of Prophets before him. This manner and form of verification is the manner and form of submission to God. The test of true affirmation of the Unity of God, then, is the form of submission to that God.
The conception of the nature of God in Islam is the consummation of what was
revealed to the Prophets according to the Quran. He
is one God; living, self-subsistent, eternal and abiding. Existence is His very
essence. He is one in essence; no division in His essence, whether in the imagination,
in actuality, or in supposition is possible. He is not a locus of qualities,
nor is a
He is unlike the Aristotelian First Mover (that the first cause of motion
initiated all the motion in the universe), for He is always in act as a free
agent engaged in perpetual creative activity not involving change in Him or
transformation and becoming. He is far too exalted for the Platonic and
Aristotelian dualism of form and matter to be applied
to His creative activity; nor can His creating and His creation be described in
terms of the Plutonian metaphysics of emanation. His creating is the bringing
forth of ideal realities that pre-exist in His knowledge into external
existence by His power and His will; and these realities are entities that he
causes to become
Change is not in the phenomenal things, as that would imply the persistence of
existence in the things making them substrata for change to take place, but at
the ontological level of their realities which contain within themselves all
their future states. Change is then the successive
Islam affirms the possibility of knowledge; that knowledge of the realities of
things and their ultimate nature can be established with certainty by means of
our external and internal senses and faculties, reason and intuition, and true
reports of scientific or religious nature, transmitted by
another describe aspects of the secularizing process which have contributed to the birth of modernism and post-modernism.
(o) Happiness (Sarah) as known in the experience and consciousness of those who are truly submissive to God and follow His guidance is not an end in itself because the highest good in this life is love of God. Enduring happiness in life refers not to the physical entity in man, not to the animal soul and body of man; nor is it a state of mind, or feeling that undergoes terminal states, nor pleasure nor amusement. It has to do with certainty (yaqin) of the ultimate Truth and fulfilment of action in conformity with that certainty. And certainty is a permanent state of consciousness natural to what is permanent in man and perceived by his spiritual organ of cognition which is the heart (qalb).
according to Al-Attas (1985), for a long time Islamic
philosophy was under a cloud of doubt and uncertainty. Some people denied its
existence while others affirmed it. This uncertainty continued all through the
nineteenth century. Those who denied the very existence of an Islamic
philosophy affected ignorance and maintained that the teachings of Islam opposed
all free discussion and investigation, and therefore Islam has never risen to
the aid of philosophy and
(a) The Quran emphasises the Unity of God. Explore and explain .
(b) What is the nature of God's existence in Islam?
BASIC PRINCIPLES OF ISLAMIC EDUCATION
education is exclusively different from other types of educational theory and
practice largely because of the all-inclusive influence of the Quran. The Quran provides as a
complete blueprint for both the individual and society and as the primary
source of knowledge. The arrival of the Quran in the
seventh century was quite revolutionary for the predominantly illiterate
Arabian society; where the society had enjoyed a rich oral tradition, but then
the Quran was
Islamic society is founded on the principles of belief and righteous conduct. This connection between values and practice lies at the very heart of the Islamic way of life. To be a Muslim requires that one’s faith be reflected in one’s practice and daily moral conduct with other people.
So, what is Islamic education? Mudawi (1989) mentioned that the truth of the matter is that there are in fact two types of education which are simultaneously offered in the Muslim countries:
(a) secular education - recent and modern, founded by most Western colonisers, not really bound to the ideology of Islam; and
(b) Islamic education - the type of education which is based on the ideology of Islam and is the sum total of the educational and guidance policies, formal or informal, are directly related to the ideal of Islamizing society and training the individuals and groups in the right fields with a view to facilitating development both material and immaterial.
On the whole, Islamic education is an independent education system which has its distinct basic aspects, objectives and methods, and inspired by fundamental philosophic principles of Islam (Yalqin, 1986).
Realizing the need to understand better Islamic education, Al-Nadawi (1969) presented six ideologies that can be used to provide a framework of the principles of Islamic education. The principles of Islamic education are:
(a) Closely related to the content of the texts of the Holy Quran and the Traditions of Prophet Muhammad and the intellectual research based on them;
(b) That it is an active interaction between two parties: teacher and learner, where the teacher influence and guide the student;
(c) That it is in most cases a goal-oriented activity, though it can sometimes take place without full intention;
(d) That is comprehensive - covering the individual’s growth in various sides: spiritual, biological, intellectual, psychological, and social;
(e) That it is continuous or life-long, covering the individual’s life-span from birth to death; and
(f) That it is directed to the aim of enabling the individual to carry on the various activities which are conducive to the building of Islamic society and Islamic civilization.
As a consequence from the principles of Islamic education, effective Islamic teaching and learning must then be meaningful. Students should feel that the content of the curriculum is worth learning, because of its meaningful and relevant to their lives. When learning is meaningful and relevant, students are intrinsically motivated to learn. Furthermore, students must be led to discover the larger connections between the knowledge and skills they are learning - rather than memorizing isolated bits of information. The Muslim children must be trained to always to keep their eye on the whole picture, or macro-view, whenever studying. This, partially, is the meaning of tauhid. Islamic teaching and learning must therefore focus on examining major themes and important topics, rather than superficial coverage of many different topics. This approach advocates that the Islamic Studies curriculum be structured coherently around the concept of powerful ideas.
Most important of all, effective Islamic teaching and learning must be value-based. By focusing on values and considering the ethical dimensions of topics, Islamic education becomes a powerful vehicle for character and moral development, hence achieving its real purpose. Educators have to realize that every aspect of the teaching-learning experience conveys values to students and provide opportunities for them to learn about values. From the selection of content, materials and activities, up to the arrangement of the classroom, class rules and management style, students
are exposed to and learn values. Therefore, teachers should develop a better awareness of their own values and how those values influence their behavior as role models and what students in the end learn from these experiences about themselves, others and Islam.
Effective Islamic teaching and learning should also be challenging where students have to be challenged to thoughtfully examine the topics that they are studying, participate assertively in group discussions, work productively in cooperative learning activities, and to come to grasps with controversial issues. Such activities and experiences will help to foster skills needed to produce competent Muslims who are capable of presenting and defending their beliefs and principles successfully.
As a final point, effective Islamic teaching and learning ought to be active. The teacher must be actively and genuinely engaged in the teaching process – making lesson plans, choices, and curriculum adjustments as needed and required. An effective teacher of Islamic education must be prepared to continuously update his or her knowledge base, adjust goals and content to meet students' needs, take advantage of unfolding events and teachable moments, and to develop examples that relate directly to students. Moreover, learning should also be active by emphasizing hands - on and minds - on activities that organize students to react to what they are learning and to use it in their everyday lives in some meaningful way.
In Islam, education is viewed as dynamic, not static. This view is rooted in the belief that the mission of Islam is to positively affect and transform the world, and the fact that the purpose of Islamic education is to prepare young men and women who are capable of carrying out this mission - emotionally, morally, and intellectually.
AIMS OF ISLAMIC EDUCATION
in the context of Islam is regarded as a process that involves the complete
person, including the rational, spiritual, and social dimensions. As noted by
Al-Attas (1979), the comprehensive and integrated
approach to education in Islam is directed toward the balanced growth of the
total personality⁄through training Man's
spirit, intellect, rational self, feelings and
According to Islam, to ascertain truth by reason alone is restrictive because spiritual and temporal realities are two sides of the same sphere. In short, education in Islam is two fold: acquiring intellectual knowledge through the application of reason and logic and developing spiritual knowledge that derived from divine revelation and spiritual experience.
Islamic philosophy of education has three distinct kind of educational aims. Broadly, the general aims of Islamic education are divided into (Abdullah, 1982):
(a) Physical aims (ahdaf jismiyyah);
(b) Spiritual aims (ahdaf ruhiyyah); and
(c) Mental aims (ahdaf Âaqliyyah).
Again, according to Abdullah (1982), fundamentally these aims are taken together are very much concerned with ensuring that education results not merely in Platonic goal of a sound mind in a sound body but rather in a thoroughly integrated personality grounded in the Quran and in Quranic morality, because a person who truly accepts the message of Islam should accept all the ideals embodied in the Quran
For that reason, as stated by Reagan (2005) the aims of Islamic education:
(i) Should be concerned with developing the unique characteristic of the individual human beings in such a way as to allow them to adapt to the standards of their society which would share the ideals of Islam;
(ii) Should be both realistic and idealistic. In other words, Islamic education must take into account biological needs, while at the same time not accepting the individual's yielding to temptation;
(iii) Since the Quran and its ideals are timeless and unchangeable, so too much educational ideas grounded in the Quran be seen as timeless and unchanging. The aims of Islamic philosophy of education are thus universal in nature;
(iv) Should be concerned both with preparation for this life and with the preparation for the Hereafter; and
(v) Should be translated into observable behaviors.
In brief, the aims of education in Islam is to develop a person intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally that brings he or she closer to his or her Creator and advances he or she into a responsible social being. Drawing inspirations from the aims of Islamic education mentioned above and from the richness of Islamic traditions, the curriculum are suppose to produce Muslims who are:
• Moral individuals, responsible towards their Creator and to all His creations;
• Imbibed or absorb with taqwa, self-monitored (muraqabah) and conscientious;
• Active and responsible partners in human endeavors participating in community and nation building, and as global citizens;
• Able to explain and communicate with others the teachings of Islam in an informed and logical manner; and
• Practicing Muslims, committed to the betterment of human life.
(a) Is Islamic education against modern education? State and explain your opinion.
(b) Which is more important : education of Islam or education of science? Decide and discuss.
ISLAMISATION OF CONTEMPORARY KNOWLEDGE
our real challenge is the problem of the corruption of knowledge. This has come
about due to our own state of confusion as well as influences coming from the
philosophy, science, and ideology of modern Western culture and civilization. Intellectual confusion emerged as a result of
changes and restriction in the meaning of key terms that project the Islamic
The phrase Islamisation of knowledge was first used and proposed by a Malaysian Muslim scholar, Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas in his book titled Islam and Secularism in 1978. For example, Torah Umadda is a philosophy concerning the interrelationship of secular knowledge and Jewish knowledge. Dr. Usman Muhamad Bugaje in his writings, Contemporary Response to the Challenge of Knowledge, expressed that in any case, knowledge, whether of religion or of nature is nothing more than the data we perceive as we interact with the texts of religion and the text of nature. The Islamisation of knowledge can, therefore, create the impression that all Muslims really need to do is to Islamise knowledge that others produce and not produce it themselves, as if the world of knowledge was going to wait for them.
of knowledge is a term which describes a variety of attempts and approaches to
synthesize the ethics of Islam within various fields of modern thought. Its end
product would be a new
among Muslims on an appropriate
and a scientific method that did not violate the Islamic ethical norms.
However, some Muslims both liberal and traditional are sceptical
of this approach, viewing that the construction of fields such as Islamic
The notion of Islamisation of knowledge was also proposed by a Palestinian philosopher but live in United States of America, Ismail Al-Faruqi, in 1982, in response to what he identified the malaise of the ummah - faithful. Al-Faruqi (1982) argued that by using tools, categories, concepts, and modes of analysis that originated wholly in the secular - Western, like Marxism, there was a disconnect between the ecological and social reality of Muslim nations, and
a total inability to respect or even notice violations of ethics of Islam
itself. In his view, disputes or disagreements between traditionalist
Muslim scholars trained in Islam and Islamic law and reformers seeking to
revive Muslim society with modern science and professional categories, were
inevitable without the strong ethical constraints that applied to methods of
early Muslim philosophy. Al-Faruqi proposed,
therefore, to revive those methods,
As a result, a body of modern knowledge that had been Islamised would not offend the traditionalists, since it would place ethics before knowledge or curiosity or power, and provide for limitation of scientific or professional activities that offended those ethics. Al-Faruqi died in 1986, but his thoughts has had a profound effect, especially on Islamic economics, which operates under traditional zero-interest, participatory labour - capital structures, and supports stronger community control of land - as in the traditional practices of haram and hima - the equivalent of the modern watershed protection and wilderness reserve laws. Moreover, in the world of finance today, Islamic banks is one of the major forces in the world’s business system.
we are living in a world where knowledge is the greatest capital, Burgaje urged the Muslims to look back and try to
understand the challenge of knowledge that they are trying to respond to.
Today, more than ever before, the battle for survival and control is the battle
of the brain and as Muslims ought to know; in a battle of the brain nothing
will do but the brain. So, this is a
‘not as against ignorance;
but knowledge as conceived anddisseminated throughout
the world by Western civilisation; knowledge whose nature
has become problematic because it has lost its true purpose due to being
unjustly conceived, and it has brought about chaos in man’s life instead
of Nature; the animal, vegetal and mineral ‘(p.36).
Al-Attas (1978) pointed out that the heart of the concept of Islamisation is the concept of an Islamic metaphysical worldview; a worldview that gives meaning and purpose in our actions; it gives the answers to questions dealing with why and how we exist and defines what ethical or moral values that we should partake in, and what type of behavior or actions we should consider as right or wrong. Linking to Islamisation, the Islamic metaphysical worldview is found in our aqidah (theology and cosmology), tasawwuf (psychology) and syariah (jurisprudence) that derived from the teachings of the Quran and the Sunnah. As such, Al-Attas (1978) calls for the reformation of the educational philosophy and institutes of the Muslims based on the metaphysical worldview of Islam: the reformation of the philosophy of education and sincerity in the pursuit of knowledge as well as the recognition of the proper authorities of knowledge.
salient feature of the Al-Attas (1978) concept of Islamisation is his careful analysis and usage of language,
since language is an exposition of one’s worldview. In other words, language
being the vehicle or medium which expresses the meaning of things is ultimately
tied to the worldview from which it is developed from. Hence, he insists on for
careful definition of terms, and as such defines specific terms using Quranic terminology as understood by the classical
scholars. Science according to the Islamic worldview is not the same as that
which is understood by the Secular West. The same way goes for other terms like
justice which is somewhat equated to equality in the West but is not understood
the same way from an Islamic perspective. The Muslim world’s understanding of
democracy is different from the West, because the existence of
again, in the process of Islamisation of contemporary
knowledge Al-Attas (1978) identify the need for the
recognition of the proper authorities of knowledge. This means that since the
West are at the forefront of science and technology as
well the current authorities in the field, Muslims are urged to learn from the
West. The only thing that the Muslim should possess is the
worldview necessary to filter out those theories that are not in line with our
For instance, the Muslim should display particular sensitivity towards modern
psychology that denies the existence of spirit. This does not mean that modern
psychology should be rejected in totality, rather this
would mean that the Muslim should acquire some form of
Conclusively, Islamisation is done at a deep philosophical and epistemological level (Al-Attas, 1995). It is preposterous to consider Islamisation as a physical, superficial process, performed by incorporating certain Islamic features to make it appear Islamic; Islamisation deals with the mind and the heart’s attitude towards knowledge, truth and reality (Hasnul Arifin, 2009). Islamisation starts from within, by disciplining the heart, mind, and soul with the correct philosophy, values and actions, and with the careful usage and treatment of language. Islamisation deals with the unity of knowledge and all knowledge should always relate to its metaphysical foundation and to its ultimate spiritual goal (Al-Attas, 1995). For this reason, there exists no dualism or no dichotomy between religion and science. Text has been adapted from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamization_of_knowledge
• Islamic philosophy is a branch of Islamic studies, and is a long standing attempt to create harmony between philosophy - reason and the religious teachings of Islam - faith.
• The main sources of classical or early Islamic philosophy are the religion of Islam itself - especially ideas derived and interpreted from the Quran.
• From the perspective of Islam, a worldview is not merely the minds view of the physical world and of mans historical, social, political and cultural involvement in it as reflected.
• Islam does not admit to the dichotomy of the sacred and the profane; the worldview of Islam encompasses both al-dunya and al-akhirah, in which the dunya - aspect must be related in a profound and inseparable way to the akhirah - aspect, and in which the akhirah - aspect has ultimate and final significance.
• The Islamic vision of reality and truth, which is a metaphysical survey of the visible as well as the invisible worlds including the perspective of life as a whole.
• Islam is not a form of culture, and its system of thought projecting its vision of reality and truth and the system of value derived from it are not merely derived from cultural and philosophical elements aided by science, but one whose original source is Revelation, confirmed by religion, affirmed by intellectual and intuitive principles.
• The worldview of Islam is characterized by an authenticity and a finality that points to what is ultimate, and it projects a view of reality and truth that encompasses existence and life altogether in total perspective whose fundamental elements are permanently established.
• The nature of God as revealed in Islam is derived from Revelation.
• The nature of God understood in Islam is not the same as the conceptions of God understood in the various religious traditions of the world.
• The essential message of the revelation was always the same: to recognize and acknowledge and worship the One True and Real God (ilea) alone, without associating Him with any partner, rival, or equal, nor attributing a likeness to Him.
• Religion consists not only of affirmation of the Unity of God (al-tawhid), but also of the manner and form in which we verify that affirmation as shown by His last Prophet Muhammad, who confirmed, perfected and consolidated the manner and form of affirmation and verification of Prophets before him.
• The conception of the nature of God in Islam is the consummation of what was revealed to the Prophets according to the Quran.
• There are two types of education which are simultaneously offered in the Muslim countries: secular education and Islamic education.
principles of Islamic education is: closely related to the content of the texts
of the Holy Quran and the Traditions of Prophet
Muhammad and the intellectual research based on them; that it is an active
interaction between two parties: teacher and learner; that it is in most cases
a goal-oriented activity; that it is comprehensive; that it is continuous or
life-long, and that it
• The aims of Islamic education: should be concerned with developing the unique characteristic of the individual human beings in such a way as to allow them to adapt to the standards of their society which would share the ideals of Islam; should be both realistic and idealistic, since the Quran and its ideals are timeless and unchangeable, so too much educational ideas grounded in the Quran be seen as timeless and unchanging, should be concerned both with preparation for this life and with the preparation for the Hereafter; and should be translated into observable behaviours.
• Islamisation of knowledge is a term which describes a variety of attempts and approaches to synthesize the ethics of Islam within various fields of modern thought.
• Islamisation is done at a deep philosophical and epistemological level.
• Islamisation deals with the mind and the heart’s attitude towards knowledge, truth and reality.
• Islamisation starts from within, by disciplining the heart, mind, and soul with the correct philosophy, values and actions, and with the careful usage and treatment of language.
• Islamisation deals with the unity of knowledge and all knowledge should always relate to its metaphysical foundation and to its ultimate spiritual goal.
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Created on Nov 12, 2010 and edited last 14 November, 2010by Pengendali@2006