Islamic Education: A New Approach

The Early Years

One of the biggest challenges we face today as Muslims in general, is the challenge of providing Islamic education to the younger generation. Education we receive through the early stages of our lives shapes our way of thinking and is therefore of primary importance. Most education that young Muslims receive today is secular. This is perhaps the main reason for the lack of scholarshipin the Ummah in the recent decades. The minds of our youth today areshaped by the secular education system where religion either plays no part,
or plays a very marginal role. Even the so called Islamic schools of today havebeen unable to provide a proper alternative to the secular education system. When the Muslims coming out of colonial influence or the Muslims living in the West realized the need for Islamic education for their young, their solution was to add on Islamic studies subjects to an otherwise secular curriculum and call it an Islamic school. Most schools today continue to follow the same methodology where Islamic education is taught separately from the secular education. This separation of ‘this-worldly’ and ‘that-worldly’ is the very essence of secularism itself.

In Islam the distinction between the sciences of the world and the sciences of the religion is non-existent. For a Muslim, one’s whole life is an act of worship to Allah. The separation
of Islamic studies from the worldly studies, however, reinforces in the young minds the idea of separation between the matters of the world and the matters of the religion. The Muslim minds in their formative years are getting trained to view religion as a private and separate matter from the affairs of the world.

The Islamic schools of today are no different from the non-Islamic schools except that they hire some individuals to teach Islam while the rest of the curriculum remains the same. Making the matters worse, the methods employed by most schools to impart the Islamic knowledge are either imported from centuries ago or are ineffective imitations of the western education systems. This lackluster imposition of the western, secular education system on the Islamic sciences leads to stagnation of Islamic studies, further alienating the young minds from Islam.

The leaders of the Muslims in general,and S.Africa in specific, need to devise a new strategy and a new curriculum for Islamic schools. It is high time that Islamic knowledge is communicated to the young minds in a comprehensive and creative manner. Unless we are able to do so, we will slowly lose our younger generations to the secular and godless
world. We need to instill in our youth Islamic values and the Islamic way of thinking from a very early age. This cannot be done without a fully thought-out, new and dynamic approach to education. It is not sufficient to hire a few bearded teachers to convey Islam to the young Muslims. What we need are new teachers–teachers able to link their subject matter to Islam. It is not sufficient for someone to be an expert in his or her subject of instruction. We need to have people who are educated in Islam, and believe in it wholeheartedly. As heirs of the Prophets, all teachers should illustrate the ideals of Islamic character in their conduct.

May Allah grant us all the ability to follow his noble example! Ameen.

Source: by: Junaid Mirza (Abridged version)