Education: Philosophical, Historical, Islamic Insights on Education

what is education

Education encompasses many phases and varieties, such as teachers, students, branches of knowledge, and various methods of teaching the contents of courses, which are sometimes seen as contrary or contradictory to one another. As a result, there are many definitions of education.

Historical Perspectives on Education

One assumption is that “Education means the whole upbringing of a child from infancy to maturity, not simply their school training or career. That means home, school, companies, environments, and natural endowments working through a series of years to produce a child’s character” (Charles: 1903).

Comenius, a Roman Knight of the C4, views education as a projected plan “for every boy and girl to teach all things from the highest truth of religion to the commonest things of daily experience.” Rousseau, the French educationist, emphasizes the development of physical powers and animal development in every child to make them a perfect, noble ideal man.

Philosophical Insights on Education

The great philosopher Plato says, “The purpose of education is to give the body and the soul all the beauty and all the perfection of which they are capable.”

Herbert Spencer regards education “as the preparation for complete living.” However, while all these renowned authors, including others like John Dewey and Stuart Mill, emphasize the breadth of education, they have failed to specify its true worth.

Modern Educational Focus

As a result, schools today seem to focus their attention on acquiring certain forms of knowledge and intellectual training to prepare children for the challenges and luxuries of life on this mortal planet.

Islamic Perspective on Education

In Islamic educational terms, Tarbiyah, Ta’lim, and Tadib, taken together, convey the meaning and scope of education in Islam, both formal and non-formal. The Arabs used the word Ta’dib to mean “refinement and discipline” for what we call education.

An educator was referred to as a muaddib, meaning one who refines, disciplines, or teaches manners. The word Ta’lim means teaching and Tarbiyah (education) is derived from the root word raba, Yarbu, meaning to grow or increase.

Hence, education means the gradual bringing of something to completeness, perfection, and maturity. The distinctive feature of the Islamic conception of education is that it is based on the concept of Tawheed (unity).

Scholarly Views on Islamic Education

Muslim scholars have defined education throughout the ages. Al-Attas (1979), a recent scholar, argues that the purpose of seeking knowledge is to inculcate goodness in man as an individual self.

He suggests that the end of education is to produce a good man (al-insun al-salih). In 1977, Muslim scholars from 40 countries reached a consensus on the aims of education at the First World Conference on Muslim Education held in Makkah. They recommended:

Education should aim at the balanced growth of the total personality of man, through the training of man’s spirit, intellect, the rational self, feelings, and bodily senses. The training imparted to a Muslim must be such that faith is infused into the whole of his personality and creates in him an emotional attachment to Islam.

It should enable him to follow the Qur’an and Sunnah and be governed by the Islamic system of values willingly and joyfully, leading to the realization of his status as Khalifatullah, to whom authority over the universe has been promised.

Education should cater to growth in all these aspects, as envisaged by Islam. This should lead to the realization of complete submission to Allah” (al-Attas 1979: 158-159).

FAQs

What does education encompass?

Education encompasses teachers, students, branches of knowledge, and various methods of teaching the contents of courses. It has many phases and varieties, which can sometimes be seen as contrary or contradictory to each other.

What is the Islamic perspective on the meaning and scope of education?

In Islamic terms, Tarbiyah, Ta’lim, and Tadib together convey the meaning and scope of education. It is both formal and non-formal. The term Ta’dib means “refinement and discipline,” and Tarbiyah (education) signifies the gradual development of something to completeness, perfection, and maturity. It is based on the concept of Tawheed (unity).

How did the philosopher Plato describe the purpose of education?

Plato stated, “The purpose of education is to give the body and the soul all the beauty and all the perfection of which they are capable.”

What was the consensus reached by Muslim scholars in 1977 regarding the aims of education?

In 1977, Muslim scholars agreed that “Education should aim at the balanced growth of the total personality of man. It should infuse faith into the individual’s personality, creating an emotional attachment to Islam. The education should enable one to follow the Qur’an and Sunnah, be governed by Islamic values, and realize their status as Khalifatullah. It should lead to complete submission to Allah.”