يا أيها الذين آمنوا قوا أنفسكم وأهليكم نارا وقودها الناس والحجارة
O you who believe! Save yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is men and stones.
كما أرسلنا فيكم رسولا منكم يتلوا عليكم آياتنا ويزكيهم ويعلمكم الكتاب والحكمة ويعلمكم ما لم تكونوا تعلمون
…As We have sent among you a Messenger of your own, reciting to you Our Ayat, purifying you, and teaching you the Book, and Wisdom, and teaching you that which you did not know.
قال النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم: من خرج في طلب العلم فهو في سبيل الله حتى يرجع
The Prophet (s.a.w.) said: Whoever goes out in the pursuit of knowledge is in the Path of Allah until he returns.
Once, the Prophet (s.a.w.) entered the Masjid and found two groups of people. One group was worshipping Allah and the other was acquiring knowledge. The Prophet (s.a.w.) said that the latter group was superior to the former.
He said (s.a.w.):
طلب العلم فريضة على كل مسلم ومسلمة
The pursuit of knowledge is an obligation upon every male and female Muslim.
The first revelation of the Qur’an was:
اقرأ باسم ربك الذي خلق خلق الإنسان من علق اقرأ وربك الأكرم الذي علم بالقلم علم الإنسان ما لم يعلم
Read! In the Name of your Lord, Who created: He created man from a clinging object. Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous, Who taught by means of the pen. He taught mankind that which he knew not.
This Ayah clarifies the vital importance of knowledge and education in Islam.
It is Islam, in every age since the time of Adam (a.s.), which has been the root cause of all true knowledge, education and character building. Every Muslim is enjoined to seek, acquire, and convey knowledge not for its own sake but primarily for earning the Pleasure of Allah, which will lead to better living in this world and a higher level in the Hereafter.
As the pursuit of useful knowledge is obligatory on the Muslims, one of the first things that the Prophet (s.a.w.) did upon settling in Al-Madinah was to establish a centre of learning. A portion of the Masjid called the Suffah was designated for this purpose. Approximately eighty people at a time could be found there acquiring the knowledge of the Deen. Notable individuals who taught the sciences of the Deen at the Suffah included Abu Hurayrah, Abdullah ibn Mas‘ud, Zayd ibn Thabit and Ubayy ibn Ka‘b (r.a.a.).
It was the practice of the Prophet (s.a.w.) to send teachers to the towns and villages of the Muslims to instruct them in matters of Deen and to teach them to read and write. He (s.a.w.) sent 70 teachers to Bi’r Ma‘unah, 60 to Najran, and 75 to Yemen. After Fath Makkah, he (s.a.w.) ordered Mu‘adh ibn Jabal to stay in Makkah and establish a centre of learning there.
The practice of sending teachers was not confined to the urban areas. He (s.a.w.) also sent teachers to the remote and isolated rural areas as well.
Among the duties of a Hakim (governor) are the organisation and maintenance of the educational institutions in the region. When Amr ibn Hazm was appointed the governor of Yemen, he was given a written document enlisting his duties. This document has been preserved and it gives us a clear idea of the duties of a Muslim governor. He was ordered to instruct the Muslims in Islamic sciences. According to some historians, there is also an indication of the existence of secular sciences in the educational system.
To ensure the proper functioning of these centres, the Prophet (s.a.w.) appointed inspecting officers. According to the historian At-Tabari, Mu‘adh ibn Jabal was one of those appointed for this purpose. He was effectively the Inspector-General of Education.
The Prophet (s.a.w.) took great personal interest in the education of the Muslims. As a result, within a very short period the entire situation of the Arabs changed. In a land where previously the number of literate people could perhaps be counted on one’s fingers, a multitude of educated and literate people emerged in great numbers.
The generations of the Tabi‘een and their successors followed in the footsteps of the Prophet (s.a.w.) and the Sahabah (r.a.a.), and very quickly became the teachers and the Imams of the world. It was because of the advanced culture and civilisation of the Muslims that the Europeans emerged from the “Dark Ages” in which they lived for centuries.
The catalogue of books written by the Muslim scholars of Andalus in the official libraries of Spain runs into an approximate total of 24,000 volumes.
In contrast to the enlightened and advanced concept of Islamic education, the western secular educational system assumes that man is but a physical entity, a rational animal. Consequently, it rejects and denies the existence of the vital spiritual need of the human being.
إن الله لا يغير ما بقوم حتى يغيروا ما بأنفسهم
Verily, Allah will never change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.
All Muslims desire that the Ummah should once again be worthy of the title given to it by Allah: the Best Ummah, raised up for the guidance of mankind. And this will not be achieved by sending our children to state schools which will de-Islamise them. This will not be achieved by the parents allowing their children to grow up ignorant of Islam. Young Muslims who are exposed to this society without their parents ensuring the correct Tarbiyah tend to take many important aspects of Islam less seriously than they ought to. Moreover, the Muslims lack the proper public and community facilities for this Tarbiyah.
We must make use of every opportunity to organise and co-ordinate effective Religious Instruction programs in the specially allocated religious classes at the state schools to reach the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of children who may be slowly drifting away from Islam.
May Allah give us all the understanding of the importance of this matter, and the Tawfiq to effectively act upon it.