In Surah Al-‘Alaq, Allah says to recite in the name of our Lord, Who created us and taught us what we did not know. These were the first verses that were revealed to the Prophet (PBUH) as he sat in the Cave of Hira. The angel Jibrael (a.s.) urged Muhammad (PBUH) to read/recite. For the Prophet (PBUH), this began a process of learning and teaching, and Islamic education, which continued till the end of his life.
In Surah Al-Mujadila, Allah states that he will raise the believers and the people of knowledge by degrees. Seeking knowledge has always been a matter of great importance in Islam.
One of the most common duas that young Muslims are taught in childhood is “Rabbee zidnee ‘ilmaa” (asking Allah to expand one’s knowledge). Hence, education and learning have always been at the forefront of the Islamic community.
With Islamic education, the focal point of gaining knowledge has always been the Quran. Quran and authentic Hadith are the sources for all Islamic knowledge. Often, the first thing a young child learns is how to read and recite the Quran.
Online Quran academies are some of the most easily accessible and popular ways of learning the Quran nowadays. With these institutions, children can study one-on-one with a Quran teacher. Studying Quran online provides a student with a lot of options and convenience.
The general aims of education
Education is a standard procedure in all communities and societies all around the world. This process helps to develop people into upright citizens who can contribute positively to society. The process of educating people usually begins at a young age.
Education helps people to understand how to respect the law, customs, and traditions. It also enables a person to know about their duties and rights. Individuals pursue degrees in different fields that will allow them to support themselves and eventually grow a family.
Education also helps with people’s development as human beings. They learn morals and how to behave in a community. They learn the difference between right and wrong and how to interact with other humans appropriately.
Basic Islamic education
The primary role of Islamic education is for a Muslim to learn about the five pillars of Islam. The Prophet (PBUH) said, as reported in Sahih Muslim, that Islam is based on five pillars: The testimony of faith, Salah, Zakat, fasting in Ramadan, and Hajj.
The first pillar of Islam (Shahadah) is relatively simple – testify to the Oneness of Allah and accept the Prophet (PBUH) as His Messenger.
The second pillar of Islam is the five daily prayers (salah). Muslims must know when and how to offer prayers. They must know the different invocations required for prayers. Salah becomes obligatory on a person when he or she passes the stage of puberty.
The third pillar of Islam is the payment of Zakat. This is a form of compulsory charity that has to be paid annually. There are several regulations and details regarding the payment of Zakat.
The fourth pillar of Islam is sawm, i.e., fasting during the month of Ramadan. Like Salah, this becomes obligatory once a person passes the stage of puberty. Fasting is essential for a person’s spiritual and mental development.
The fifth pillar of Islam is Hajj. This is the pilgrimage to the Kaaba in Makkah. Muslims should do this at least once during their lifetimes, as long as they are financially and physically capable. Muslims need to observe several rituals during Hajj.
Learning about the Quran
This process generally starts at a very young age. It is highly recommended to introduce children to the Quran in their early years. This is an important stage of Islamic education. Often, parents desire that their kids memorize the Quran when they are young. That is also very praiseworthy, but it is not obligatory. However, children should learn about the Quran.
In Sahih Al-Bukhari, we are informed that the best believers are those who learn and teach the Quran. Learning and teaching the Quran is amongst the most virtuous acts. Muslims first learn how to read Arabic, after which they need to know Tajweed. After that, they can recite the Quran.
However, just reciting the Quran is not enough. As children get older, we must encourage them to learn the meanings of the Quran. After that, they must implement what they learn, as that is the ultimate aim once the Quran learning process has begun. We must strive to obey the instructions given by Allah in His Holy Book.
Enabling a Muslim to live a balanced life
Worshipping and glorifying Allah is the first and foremost thing for any Muslim to do, as Allah tells us in Surah Adh-Dhariyat. However, getting educated about how exactly that should be done is a must. No Muslim can simply spend their whole life sitting in a mosque and offering Salah.
Islamic education teaches Muslims about the different ways of being obedient to Allah. Good deeds also count as worship and are a must for a Muslim. The Prophet (PBUH) said, in Sahih Al-Bukhari, that one is rewarded for whatever he spends for Allah’s sake, even if it’s a bit of food he places in his wife’s mouth.
Allah has given instructions to Muslims regarding how they should interact with other people. Islam has covered all types of different matters in the Quran and Sunnah. Social interactions and their benefits have been mentioned as well.
A Muslim must live a balanced life while carrying out worship of Allah. The Prophet (PBUH) married, had children, took care of himself, earned, cleaned, cooked, etc. The life of this world is a reality, and Islam is a practical religion that teaches believers how they can live this life while abiding by Allah’s commands.
In Sahih Muslim, the Prophet (PBUH) said that enjoining good, forbidding evil, and having intercourse with one’s wife counts as charity. Hence, any action that we carry out in a halal manner is a means of gaining a reward. So, Islam also teaches Muslims to live the life of this world.
Muslims should live in a spirit of brotherhood
In Sahih Al-Bukhari, the Prophet (PBUH) said that in order to have faith, one should want for his fellow Muslim what he desires for himself. One of the critical points of Islamic education is that it should inculcate the sense of brotherhood amongst the Muslims.
The early Muslims lived life entirely in this manner. When the Muslims of Makkah gave up all their belongings and went to Medina empty-handed, the Medinans welcomed them with open arms and shared everything with them.
Hence, Muslims need to remain united as one large entity. Regardless of geographical restrictions, different ethnicities, and cultures, what unites believers is faith in Allah.
Education in this aspect is especially significant today. With ignorance on the rise and people taking more pride in their national identities, the element of the Ummah is being minimized in Muslim countries.
The ultimate objective of Islamic education
In Surah Fatir, Allah states that only the God-fearing believers possess knowledge. This is a powerful verse of the Quran that outlines why having knowledge is so essential. To attain eternal salvation, a Muslim has to have an excellent understanding of Islam.
Islamic education also helps believers in several other aspects of life, as Islam is a complete religion. It helps with a Muslim’s character development, enabling them to become good citizens. It cleanses the heart and allows a Muslim to know the importance of worship of Allah.
Another important aspect is the moral development of young Muslims. They learn to differentiate between what is right and wrong – if there is any shortcoming in this aspect, any child will struggle when he/she grows up.
Another crucial feature that Islamic education teaches is enhancing and developing youngsters to understand the importance of earning a livelihood. As mentioned previously, this is an essential part of Islam, without which society cannot function. Thus, a Muslim must acquire a skill or gain knowledge that he can pass on to others.
Last but not least is the aim of boosting societal development. Muslims must know how to interact with others and how to behave in society. There are certain etiquettes that have to be followed and adhered to if you’re a Muslim.
At the end of the day, Islamic education aims to keep improving a person’s stature in the sight of Allah, via gaining knowledge, while simultaneously making the person a useful, contributing member of society.