إني وجهت وجهي للذي فطر السموات والأرض حنيفا وما أنا من المشركين. إن صلاتي ونسكي ومحياي ومماتي لله رب العالمين وبذلك أمرت وأنا أول المسلمين.
I have truly set my face towards He Who originated the heavens and the earth, entirely devoted to Him, and I am not one of those who associate partners with Allah. Truly, my prayer and my sacrifice and my life and my death are for Allah, the Lord of the worlds. And this I am commanded: and I am the first of those who submit to Allah.
The Muslim is he who surrenders himself entirely to Allah’s Will. His actions, great and small, open, and hidden, should be guided by the highest and noblest of motives: seeking the good pleasure of Allah. That should be the constant theme of the Muslim’s life.
The journey which we have undertaken to reach this goal is full of thorns and difficulties, including temptations, superstitions, innovations, and wrong beliefs. Education, therefore, is absolutely necessary and essential. Education without this aim of seeking Allah’s good pleasure is fruitless.
In Ihya’ ‘Ulum-id-Din, Imam Al-Ghazzali says that obtaining the knowledge of a thing becomes obligatory when that thing becomes necessary for us.
As far as secular education is concerned, we can divide the forms of knowledge into three categories:
Commendable: Medicine, astronomy, engineering etc.
Prohibited: Astrology, sorcery, dancing, philosophy etc.
Permissible: Arts, poetry etc.
Useful knowledge that benefits future generations is one of the ways in which a person’s reward with Allah can continue to increase even after his death. This is the knowledge which helps us to fulfil the duties and purpose of our very existence, and which is pursued for the sake of the good pleasure of Allah. But if people do not get any benefit, instructions, or inspiration from knowledge, then that knowledge and the person bearing it is like a donkey loaded down with books, as Allah says:
مثل الذين حملوا التوراة ثم لم يحملوها كمثل الحمار يحمل أسفارا
The example of those who were given the responsibility of carrying the Tawrah and then did not observe that duty properly is like the example of the donkey loaded down with books.
That which is necessary to carry out a particular obligation itself becomes an obligation. Since having useful knowledge to benefit the Ummah is an obligation, to create such an environment in which knowledge could be nurtured and acquired is obligatory. Schools must be built, teachers must be provided, and libraries must be established and so on.
The Prophet (s.a.w.) said that for whoever has three children and works hard for their education, he (the Prophet) will stand between him and the Hellfire.
إن شر الدواب عند الله الصم البكم الذين لا يعقلون
Truly, the most evil of creatures in Allah’s sight are the deaf and dumb who do not understand.
The Prophet (s.a.w.) said: “Be either a teacher, or a student, or a helper; and do not be a fourth…”
He also said (s.a.w.): “Every child is born upon the Fitrah, but his parents make him into a Jew or a Christian or a Majusi.”
Although we have been enjoined repeatedly by the Words of Allah and the words of the Messenger (s.a.w.), generally we unfortunately care less than we ought to about our children’s proper upbringing, character building, orientation, and the gradual initiation to their religion and culture.
It is an undeniable fact that our children in this country are not being educated properly in the sense that they are not being given education in the manner that Islam prescribes it. Undue emphasis is laid on secular education at the expense of the children’s spiritual upbringing.
We do not seem to feel our responsibility of providing useful knowledge. In this country, our children are victimised and sandwiched between two cultures, two ideologies. To expect our children who are being educated in state schools to be unaffected by the environment at these schools is like throwing a person into a river and expecting him not to get wet. Spending one or two hours in poorly equipped, half-baked excuses for Madrasahs in the local Masjids cannot produce a lasting impression upon our children. It is like the example of a drop of Zamzam in a gallon of polluted water.
What we need, what our children need, is a harmonious blend of the two: Madrasah and school. It may appear to be difficult or even impossible to achieve, but it is not impossible if we make serious, concerted efforts. We have not achieved such a goal because we lack the will and courage to tackle the problem and find a solution. Our primary need now is not to build Masjids. It is to create an environment where useful knowledge can be acquired. It is to establish a competent school board comprised of good, pious, and practicing Muslims, free from corruption and family or ethnic politics. A board which will accept and adequately fulfil the responsibility of establishing a good Islamic school. Then and only then will it be possible to regain our children’s hearts and provide a bright future for Islam in this country. Let us act now, as we have lost many thousands of our children and youth, and we are losing more every day.
It is the first and foremost duty of Islamic institutions, societies, associations, and councils to explore the available means and to tackle the existing problems.
It is the duty and the responsibility of our leaders to strive hard, sincerely, and generously, for this very noble cause.
It is the duty and responsibility of the general Muslim public to talk about it, discuss it and contribute effectively to this cause.
May Allah give us the Tawfiq to make some conscious efforts and work hard genuinely in this direction.
سبحان الله وبحمده
أشهد أن لا إله إلا أنت
أستغفرك وأتوب إليك