“Ilm (knowledge) is at the heart of the Qur’an. It is the second most used word in the Qur’an. The ideal Muslim spends his life in the pursuit of ‘ilm, and indeed, pursuit of the fundamental Islamic knowledge is obligatory for every Muslim, whether male or female. The Prophet (s.a.w.) said:
طلب العلم فريضة على كل مسلم ومسلمة
The pursuit of knowledge is an obligatory duty upon every Muslim and Muslimah.
Knowledge is an ever-increasing bounty from Allah (s.w.t.), given by Him Alone. He says:
وقل رب زدني علما
And say: O my Lord! Increase me in knowledge.
Whatever one’s goal is, knowledge is necessary. The Prophet (s.a.w.) said:
من أراد الدنيا فعليه بالعلم، ومن أراد الآخرة فعليه بالعلم، ومن أرادهما فعليه بالعلم.
”Whoever desires the Dunya, then he must acquire knowledge; and whoever desires the Akhirah, then he must acquire knowledge; and whoever desires them both, then he must acquire knowledge”.
And ‘Ali (r.a.) said: “The learned are alive, even though they may be in their graves; and the ignorant are dead, even though they may be walking around on the earth.”
Islam desires that the Muslim Ummah be honourable, free, and independent.
Islam desires that the Muslim Ummah have individual and collective economic and social freedom.
Islam desires that the Muslims not stretch their hands out to others.
Islam desires that the Muslim Ummah be ahead of all other nations and communities in all material and spiritual aspects of life.
To achieve these goals, the Muslim Ummah needs understanding scholars well-versed in the various branches of science and arts. Distinguished specialists and experts should perform their duties in their respective fields for the good of the Muslim Ummah rather than for the benefit of the enemies of Islam.
It is obligatory upon every parent to play his or her part for the encouragement and maintenance of proper Ta‘leem and Tarbiyah for the children. And it is also obligatory upon our Muslim leaders to work hard for these things.
The Prophet (s.a.w.) said:
كلكم راع وكلكم مسئول عن رعايته
“Every one of you is responsible, and every one of you will be questioned regarding his responsibility”.
The king’s responsibility is his subjects, about whom he will be questioned. The man’s responsibility is his family, about whom he will be questioned. The woman’s responsibility is her house, about which she will be questioned.
Definition of Islamic Education
Islamic education may be defined as the study of literature derived from the Qur’an, Hadith, and from the works of the Muslim ‘Ulama’. This is for the purpose of guiding the people to the correct observance of their duties and responsibilities, so that they may obtain success in this world as well as in the Hereafter.
Knowledge in Islam may be classified into two main categories: (1) Revealed knowledge, and (2) acquired knowledge.
Revealed knowledge constitutes that knowledge that is imperative for the actualisation of the Fitrah, or pure human nature, so that we may understand ourselves and our relationship with Allah and the universe.
Acquired knowledge is knowledge of the various sciences and arts, and this is acquired through observation and research. It is discursive in nature and of pragmatic value.
Revealed knowledge precedes acquired knowledge because the latter depends on the former for its proper Islamic direction.
On the question of what to learn, Islam contains two levels of knowledge: (1) Fard ‘Ayn, and (2) Fard Kifayah.
Fard ‘Ayn is a duty that is obligatory upon every Muslim. This includes acts of worship, trade, transactions with people etc. It is Fard ‘Ayn for every Muslim to have the correct ‘Aqeedah, how to do Wudu’, Salah, Sawm, Zakah, Hajj, how to eat, drink, dress and behave correctly, the correct Islamic ethics and Adab, the procedures relating to marriage, family life and divorce, inheritance, issues of Halal/Haram, buying, selling, and borrowing etc. This knowledge is obligatory, as it will go a long way in protecting a Muslim from falling into the major sins.
Fard Kifayah is a duty that is obligatory on the collective community. If enough individuals in the community carry out this obligation, then the responsibility is lifted from the rest of the community. If not enough people or no people at all fulfill this obligation, then the whole community will be answerable to Allah for neglecting it. Examples of Fard Kifayah obligations include having a number of people in each community possessing depth of knowledge in Usul ud-Din, Shari‘ah, and Fiqh, as well as other areas such as engineering, medicine etc.
وما كان المؤمنون لينفروا كافة فلو لا نفر من كل فرقة منهم طائفة ليفقهوا في الدين ولينذروا قومهم إذا رجعوا إليهم لعلهم يحذرون
And let not the Believers all go out together (for Jihad) but let a party from each group stay behind to gain understanding of the Deen, in order that they may warn their people when they return, that they may guard themselves (against evil).
In Islam, that which is necessary to carry out a particular obligation becomes itself an obligation. Therefore, since having specialised scholars and qualified Imams in the community is an obligation, it is also an obligation to provide the necessary facilities for training such people, such as schools and libraries. Thus, the establishment of these things becomes a Fard Kifayah upon the community.
We have briefly covered the question of what to learn. As for the question of how to learn, the traditional methods of teaching and learning, Halaqat al-‘Ilm, Maktabahs, Madrasahs, Darul Ulooms etc. can be augmented and enriched today by the new media which are available like videos, tapes, computers and so on. The obligation of gaining knowledge in this time can be fulfilled with the help of these media as well as the traditional methodology. It is up to us to use every suitable and effective method to carry out these very important obligations. Ignorance is not a valid excuse in front of Allah because the obligation is to remove ignorance. It is up to us to either fulfill our obligations or be answerable to Allah on the Day of Resurrection for our neglect of them.
The parents and community leaders must work very hard towards this end. They must learn everything that they can and practice it. And they must also convey that knowledge to others, through all effective media available.
Islam has given the parents the most importance after Allah and the Messenger (s.a.w.). But the parent’s responsibility is that he or she must make effort in the bringing up the children according to the proper Islamic guidelines. Those parents who allow their children to grow up like wild and untrimmed plants should not only be ready to face the consequences in this life but in the Hereafter as well. Allah says:
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.
To start from the very beginning, the following steps should be taken:
• ‘Aqiqah and name giving ceremony seven days after birth.
• The first word that the child should be taught to say is “Allah”, and the meaning of it explained to him as he grows up.
• Do not feed your children with Haram food, whether Haram or Haram through its acquisition. This will result in misery and a rebellious attitude in one’s children.
• Parents should take their children into confidence earlier on and interpret Islam in the common language, pointing out its advantages with the best logic and reason.
• At the age of four, the child must be sent to the Madrasah, and coaching work must also be done at home.
• The children must be encouraged to pray by the time they reach seven years of age, and if by the age of ten they neglect the prayer, they must be punished.
• Our homes must not become a battlefield between two different cultures. The child notices what goes on around him in the house, and then the child adapt gradually into that environment.
• The importance of modesty must be stressed on the children from the beginning, particularly for our daughters. They must be taught the proper manners and way of dressing. And most importantly, the parents must follow the Islamic code of dress and behaviour so that the children will more readily accept and follow them too.
• Matters concerning adolescence and sex information are very important. If the parents do not guide their children in these matters, the children’s friends and peer groups will mislead them. It is the parents’ duty to prepare their children to face their sexual development with dignity. Sex is a blessing of Allah if it is practiced according to His Will.
• The children must be taught the regulations of Taharah, particularly those concerning menstruation, Janabah and Ghusl.
• The regulations of marriage and divorce must be explained to the children as well as related issues such as why they cannot marry non-Muslims etc.
• The parents must show full interest in their children’s activities both inside and outside the home. The children should never feel that they are being neglected or ignored, or that their parents will not know of their engagements in or outside school.
• The parents must never miss an opportunity for the collective training of themselves and their children, such as visiting the Masjid and Madrasah together for Salah in Jama‘ah, Ta‘leem and other gatherings.
• We must adopt the way of gentleness and kindness when advising and instructing our children, and we must never cause any disgrace to them. We must not punish them repeatedly or frequently, because they will become accustomed to it and eventually immune to it.
May Allah guide us and our children to the Right Path and make us good examples for the future generations.