Contents of Education

An Islamic Perspective towards Philosophy of Education

Introduction

Philosophy is the study of realities, pursuit of wisdom, and commentary on general principles of life. It is concerned with a search of eternal truth, both conceptual as well as practical. It has five areas of search – Epistemology, Metaphysics, Aesthetics, Ethics and History. The instrument used by philosophy to unearth realities or to discover truth is logic, both inductive as well 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.

Philosophy of education is based on general principles of psychology, sociology, politics, economics, history, science, and religion. Education is dualistic phenomenon; it is static as well as dynamic. The major portion is dynamic or provisional and adjusts with the change and growth in knowledge, social structure, and civilization, while the minor but vital portion is static or eternal. We proposed that the contents of education are eternal while the application and explanation of these contents, a major portion, is dynamic. We assumed multi-disciplinary approach towards contents of education. The analysis accommodates the needs of individuals, society, and time and encompasses the cultural, social, and vocational aims of education.

Education may be formal as well as informal. The formal education is given in schools or colleges or universities, on the other hand informal education is obtained and absorbed from society and 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 are going to analyze the philosophy (aims & objectives) of formal education. Moreover, education has three levels – primary, secondary, and higher. Primary education deals with infants of 3 to 11 years old, secondary education covers teenagers of 12 to 18 years, and higher education shapes young learners of above 18 years. A distinctive approach is required for each level of education.

The contents of education vary from community to community. A secular society would have a different approach towards contents as compare to some ideological society. Moreover, the explanation or implementation of contents would be different in different societies. Our analysis is ideological and dominantly based on Islamic view towards education.

Terminology

The term “education” has been derived from the Latin words Educare, Educatum, or Educere. Educatum and educare mean to train and to nourish, while educere mean to lead out. The former implies that education is something external; to be imposed or put in from outside, it means the external environment plays a decisive role in learning process. The latter indicate growth from within; it means internal potentialities of an individual are decisive in learning process, the external environment has secondary role in educational process. Naturalists / Psychologists gave more importance to internal dispositions of learning process while the social philosophers put major stress on external demands of educational process. We assumed a mixed and balanced approach towards role and importance of internal-external environment of learning process.

Definition

Aristotle defined education as process necessary for the creation of a sound mind in a sound body, according to him, the aim & objective of education is to create good and virtuous citizens. Ibne Khaldun, in fourteenth century, expresses the view that education consists off intellectual, social, and moral training through which hidden potentialities are developed, traits of character are built and culture of the people is conveyed to the coming generations. Dewey, in twentieth century, defined education in these words: “Education is a process of living through a continuous reconstruction of experiences. It is 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, Education is the mean whereby adults pass on and inculcates to children their knowledge, thought-pattern, and behavior pattern and develop their genetic potential to manage existing and future challenges.

Aims & Objectives – Islamic View

Islam is Divine religion. It is based on revealed book, Quran, and prophetic commentary, Hadith. The foremost responsibility and ultimate purpose of prophets and Revealed Books are to educate the mankind for better, happy, and purposeful life. They specify the purpose of life, outline the procedure to actualize it, and present a practical example of purposeful life. Thus, the aims and objectives of education or contents of education can be understood from the last Revealed Book, Al-Quran. We quote a verse of 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 aims and objectives of education. These are:

 

  • Faith Plantation
  • Knowledge Advancement
  • Wisdom Enhancement
  • Manner Development

 

A. FAITH

The word faith has various meanings and uses, however, the central meaning 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 having superior powers. Faith is founded on certain beliefs; beliefs’ indispensability to faith is just 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 sufficient condition is practical fruits for believers / mankind. A living faith gives stability to the believer, 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 basic elements of Islamic Faith.

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 and 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, and they also have faith in the August Day of Judgment. They are the ones who are rightly guided, and verily it is they who are successful in both the worlds.” (Al-Quran)

The first thing that the Quran does it removes the element of doubt, which is the foremost requisite of modern philosophy by introducing the faith as a fundamental factor behind reality. Doubt is a negative factor that hinders the exact understanding of reality; curiosity is far better alternate to doubt for knowledge development or to unearth realities. The faith concomitantly presupposes some obligatory beliefs – Unity of God, Unseen System (Angels, Heaven, Hell, etc.), Revealed Books, Institution of Prophets, Day of Judgment, Fate, and Life after Death. In addition, it imposes some obligations on believers – Kalimah (a confession of faith), prayer, fasting, alms giving, and pilgrimage. It is noteworthy that the idea of Unity of God must create the belief of mankind’s unity.