The Emphasis on Education in Islam

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Mohammad, in the Hadith, says that the ink of the scholar is more precious to God than the blood of the martyr. One of the religious scholars said that a single scholar of religion is more formidable against Shaytaan than a thousand devout persons.

Islam is very clear about the importance of education

Let me show you the most important factor in demonstrating that Islam and education go together. Islam teaches that the difference between a believer and a non-believer is what they know. The believer knows the Qur’an, he has searched it diligently. The believer has tested its precepts and submitted them to its logic. Islam is a rational religion and demands obedience, submission, and understanding. That means that one learns to be a Muslim. Christianity depends on faith entirely. Judaism relies on obedience. Hinduism and Buddhism rely on mysticism. But Islam depends on intellect. It demands intellectual acceptance of core teaching.

Now, a person is not born a Muslim, it is an act of will, an act of submission to the divine will, in fact. What this means is that Islam is, above all, a religion that requires the brain to lead the heart, and the heart to lead the will. Think about this verse from the Qur’an and what it means about the need for education. “And they shall say had we but listened or used reason, we would not be among the inmates of the burning fire.”(67:10) It is the duty of the Muslim to become educated. Consider, “Every Muslim man’s and every Muslim woman’s prayer should be: “My Lord! Enrich me with knowledge..” (20:114)

The huge disconnect in the Muslim world today

The madrasa Islamia of many nations in the Middle-East is adopting a kind of medievalism in attitude and curriculum. In addition, the universities of some closed Muslim-dominated nations are producing students who have the right political indoctrination, but nothing of a 21st century understanding of physics and the natural sciences. In the arts and in literature, especially with the ridiculous fatwahs being published by disreputable scholars, the divergence between intellect and faith gets even worse.

At one time, Islamic nations were at the forefront of physics, mathematics, optics, jurisprudence, civic engineering, philosophy, literature, textiles, glass-blowing, metalwork, architecture, metallurgy, astronomy and the disciplines of everything from the martial arts to music. Today, the Western world barely acknowledges the efforts of the Middle-East, outside of homages to Israel, and to decry some excess in a repressive regime. The Taliban blow-up priceless Buddhist artifacts. The Afghani judicial system threatens to execute a man for converting to Christianity. Egyptians call for the wholesale slaughter of a non-Muslim teacher for a meaningless slight. And let’s not forget the hysterical reaction to the publication of unflattering cartoons.

This kind of ignorant reactionary impulse at the heart of Islam today does no Muslim any good. In fact, it leads the rest of the world into thinking that Muslims are ignorant, and it forces Muslims to try valiantly to defend actions that are patently indefensible. Instead of engaging in productive and provocative discourse on spiritual matters that really matter, and instead of explaining and defending Islam in the world of religion, these are amounting to disastrous distractions that harm the faith.

 

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