Islamization of Knowledge This Work Essay

  • Length: 20 pages
  • Sources: 20
  • Subject: Mythology - Religion
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #30455111

Excerpt from Essay :

Not only is a challenge present for Muslim teachers in attempting to standardize this curriculum but as well "this is compounded by the fact that curriculum materials related to teaching about Islam produced overseas - even for Arabic language studies - are viewed as irrelevant or unsuited to young students' lives and culture in the U.S. And Europe." (Douglass and Shaikh, 2004)

Guidelines have been provided in recent years concerning teaching religion in public schools in the U.S. And it is stated by Douglass and Shaikh that "general adherence to the guidelines and their implementation in textbook development has done more than anything else to improve the accuracy of textbook depictions of the basic beliefs and practices, origin stories and subsequent cultural and institutional history of various religions." (Douglass and Shaikh, 2004) Stated as primary among the changes is "the consistent use of attributive phrases, combined with greater factual accuracy." (Douglass and Shaikh, 2004) Douglass and Shaikh further note that teaching about Islam which is "inauthentic or not, in fact, education about Islam at all." (2004) Islamic education is confused due to media explanation and commentary and assumptions made that Islamic education "...might be shorthand for teaching hatred of the 'West' or the United States" however, it is important according to Douglass and Shaikh to understand that the concept of Islamic education "cannot be reduced to such stereotypes, nor is it limited to rigid transmittal of 1400-year-old lifeways from ancient Arabia." (2004)

In fact, education is stated by Douglass and Shaikh to be "the first duty of a Muslim, male or female..." As knowledge of God " is equated with the process of learning and teaching." (Douglass and Shaikh, 2004) the truth is that much in the way of scientific knowledge was derived from the knowledge of Arabs in the areas of "seafaring, navigation and astronomy, trade, animal husbandry and agriculture." (Douglass and Shaikh, 2004) Douglass and Shaikh relate that the funding for the development of Islamic law came from Caliphal patronage which provided the necessary motivation "for scholars to set high standards for time-keeping and calendars, accurate orientation of the direction of worship toward the Ka'bah and calculation of inheritance, weights and measures."(2004) in addition, the technology for making paper arrived from China was "timely...[and] provided [the] additional impetus to this dynamism." (Douglass and Shaikh, 2004) Douglass and Shaikh conclude by stating that it is evident after much study that "both the obligation to be educated, and the moral, intellectual and cultural concepts of education in the Muslim tradition are not far removed from similar goals and concepts associated with Western traditions and aspects of education." (2004)

The work of Andrew Coulson (2004) entitled: "Education and the Indoctrination in the Muslim World: Is there a Problem? What Can We Do About it?" relates that in many countries including Pakistan and Indonesia, "militant Islamist schools are inculcating scores of thousands of students with in an ideology of intolerance, violence and hate. In the past, the United States abetted such schools as part of its strategy to containing Soviet expansionism. After a gradual about-face in the years leading up to September 11, 2001, the American government is now funding and cajoling the governments of several majority-Muslim nations to rein in their more militant schools." (Coulson, 2004)

The Muslim Education Foundation (MEF) is a not-for-profit organization which states that it is "committed to nurturing a model par excellence for every Muslim..." (2008) Transformative learning is held to be a "process that leads to self-transformation" and is "unlike theoretical learning that imparts information, even knowledge in a mundane sense, without actually affecting the inner core of the learner..." (Muslim Education Foundation, 2008) Transformative learning is stated to be a process that "transforms each and every learner in the very process of learning; this transformation takes place through 'ma'rifah, gnosis, gained during the process - an understanding that the learner is a created human being, possessing a specific innate nature, fitrah, and capable of living a life fully conscious of the purpose for which he or she has been created in harmony with his of her fitrah." (Muslim Education Foundation, 2008) Transformative learning is also held to be "...a lifelong process toward a definitive goal: success as defined by the Quran." (Muslim Education Foundation, 2008) the Muslim Education Foundation states that four interrelated programs are currently at focus:

1) development of education resources;

2) human resource development;

3) Nasr Network of Schools and Educators; and 4) Education @ Home. (Muslim Education Foundation, 2008)

According to Quick in the work entitled: "Making Islamic Education Relevant for Today" a problem that many Muslim communities face in education is the student's "lack of interest in the material or curriculum." (Muslim Education Foundation, 2008) According to Quick "the reality is that many of our children are bored at weekend and full-time Islamic schools and this prevents them from properly absorbing and understanding the knowledge being conveyed." (2008) According to Quick, the school curriculum must be made more practical and relevant." (2008)

Jeremy Henzell-Thomas writes in the work entitled: "Excellence in Islamic Education: Key Issues for the Present Time" that that which is being witnessed in Britain's education system, as well as in other stated education systems throughout the Western world "is the progressive destruction of the concept and practice of a holistic system of education - that is, a broad and balanced system of education based on an understanding of the full potential of the human being and a system of pedagogy designed to awaken and develop that potential." (Henzell-Thomas, 2003) Henzell-Thomas writes that there has been a "process of attrition, constriction and ultimate strangulation..." which has been gradual and which is and includes."..standardized, bureaucratic system" which has effectively stifled student creation and served to demoralize both students and teachers.

What has been witnessed according to Henzell-Thomas is the "triumph of quantification, league tables, and the proliferation of an oppressive and soulless target-drive regime derived from alien corporate models and control-obsessed managerialism." (2003) According to Henzell-Thomas "the best Islamic education must encompass the two traditional categories of knowledge, and the hierarchical relationship between them:

1) revealed knowledge - attained through the religious science; and 2) acquired knowledge - attained through the rational, intellectual and philosophical sciences. (2003)

According to Henzell-Thomas in the "worldview of tawhid (Divine Unity) knowledge is holistic and there is no compartmentalization of knowledge into religious and secular spheres. Both types of knowledge contribute to the strengthening of faith, the former through a careful study of the revealed Word of God and the latter through a meticulous, systematic study of the world of man and nature." (2003)

Henzell-Thomas (2003) states that the curriculum which is "impoverished" and one that has an "associated regime of perpetual testing" results in it be less than "surprising...that growing numbers of young teachers are quitting the profession because they think schools are becoming results factories, where heads insist targets are met regardless of the human costs." (2003) Henzell-Thomas further relates that in a poll conducted by MORI the primary reasons cited by parents for their support of faith schools in the United Kingdom are:

desire for their children to be educated in the same values and beliefs as their families - 35%

Good Discipline - 28%

Religious ethos - 27%

Good exam results - 10% (2003)

Henzell-Thomas (2003) additionally states that a survey conducted by the Incorporated Association of Preparatory Schools in the United Kingdom (IAPS) stated that the foremost reasons for enrollment in faith schools cited by parents in the United Kingdom were:

small classes and a broad and balanced curriculum;

the survival of those humanities subjects under threat in the state system;

resources and facilities for sports;

wide choice of extra-curricular activities; and opportunities for cultural development including music and art. (2003)

Henzell-Thomas relates that "the perfection of the Islamic revelation embraces all the diverse aspects of the life of man and roots all of them in the Unity and Comprehensiveness of God." (2003) Henzell-Thomas relates the belief of Seyyed Hossein Nasr who states that Islamic education " is not concerned only with the instruction and training of the mind and the transmission of knowledge (ta'lim) but also with the education of the whole being of men and women (tarbiyah)." (2003) Henzell-Thomas relates that it is the claim of Al-Attas that "ta'dib is a superordinate concept encompassing not only 'instruction' (ta'lim) and the idea of 'nurturing', 'rearing', 'nourishing' or 'fostering' (tarbiyah)...but also 'knowledge'." (2003)

The semantic filed of tarbiyah is stated to be inclusive of:

1) minerals;

2) plants; and 3) animals. (Henzell-Thomas, 2003)

However, education as held within the Islamic understanding can be applicable to man only who is stated to be "...endowed with 'aql." (Henzell-Thomas, 2003)

The curriculum that is holistic in nature is one that "aims to reconcile conventional and stereotyped oppositions such as art and science; creativity and rigour; analytic and synthetic styles of learning; logic and intuition; memorization and comprehension; collaboration and competition; goal-directed…

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