“Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies” (Aristotle). We may all not have heard this quote from the famous Greek philosopher of the 4th century BC, but most of us may have learnt a few of his quotes as part of our school curriculum while we were growing up. For many education systems around the world, the sayings of Aristotle, Socrates and Pythagoras many centuries before the birth of Prophet Essa (Alaihimu Salam) are still worth studying.
However, many Muslim societies’ way of teaching Islamic knowledge to our young does not necessarily reflect such an approach. While everything in life stand to change someday, there is a big constant is in the way we teach Islam to our children.
The reason for this is quite simple. Whereas western thinkers go back over 25 centuries to tap into the sayings of old, Islamic education has mostly been confined to memorizing verses of the Quran and Hadith of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Salalahu Alaihi Wasalam). Even here, the approach we use in teaching such sacred knowledge leaves much to be desired.
We teach our children Islam the very way we were taught by our parents who taught us the very way they were taught by their parents and so on. Undoubtedly, no matter how long humanity continues to exist on the face of the earth, the Divine text of the Quran and the Prophetic sayings of our Master Muhammad (Salalahu Alaihi Wasalam) will never change. We are not championing for a change to the text, no matter what. What we are advocating is the revitalization of the teaching methods so our young can be more inspired to learn the deen.
To further this argument, a quote from one of the thinkers of our Ummah, Ali Ibn Abu Talib (Radiyalahu Anhu) will help us understand the issue better. It was Ali (RA) who said “Train your children with training different from your training, because they have been created for a period different from yours.”
Look at the wisdom of Imam Ali! Why can’t we learn from his sayings and the sayings of other thinkers like Imam Ghazali? Why can’t we approach the teaching of Islamic studies differently for once so our young can be captivated by our rich heritage?
Islamic education transcends memorizing what to read during the five daily prayers. It is surely not limited to what Halal is and what is Haram. Islamic education should reflect the purpose for which the deen was revealed. It should underscore the fact that Islamic is not a mechanical religion but a complete code of conduct.
We must therefore approach the teaching of Islamic studies differently. In a world where Hollywood actors and media personalities are seen as role models, we must teach our children about the heroism of various Muslim personalities of both the old and new generations. Lessons on the life of Salahudin and other great Muslim personalities will be a good start.
So let us revitalize our Islamic centers in our neighborhoods. Let us make the Islamic centers the magnets of society that they are supposed to be. Let us organize family activities there as well as events that promote the Islamic way of life. This way, we will truly be able to impart Islamic knowledge to our young. Let us remember that one day, Allaah will ask us about our guardianship over our families. Le’s prepare for that meeting, NOW!