Education in any civilization represents a key tool in educating ones people with the thoughts the civilization is established upon. Over the centuries many nations have codified the manner of educating their youth and developed curriculums to achieve this. History shows us whenever a nation was in the process of being conquered the education system or curriculum was uprooted and replaced to ensure the conquered were also intellectually conquered. Even today the Muslim world is being forced by America to change her education curriculum so as to comply with her ideological views. Hence the Arab states such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan and Egypt have reviewed their curriculums under the pretext of development and compliance with the age. Saudi Arabia even went as far as changing one of the most important religious subjects in its school books, the subject of allegiance and dissociation (al-walaa’ and al-baraa’). Similarly Jordan, Egypt and Kuwait have changed subjects related to jihad.
Education is the method to preserve the Ummah’s culture in the hearts of its children, whether it is prescribed or non-prescribed education. The education curriculum means education regulated by State, with the State responsible for implementing it this would mean setting the starting age, subjects of study and education method. Whereas non-prescribed education is left to Muslims to teach in homes, mosques, via media, periodical publications etc without being subjected to the state. In both cases, however, the State is responsible to ensure that the thoughts and knowledge (being taught) either emanate from the Islamic intellectual doctrine or are built upon it.
The culture taught would be central to the correct development of the ummah’s youth and ensure the correct personalities are nurtured. The culture of any nation is the backbone of its existence and survival. Based on this culture, the Ummah’s civilization is founded; her goals and objective in life are defined. The Ummah is molded by this culture in one melting pot such that the Ummah becomes distinguished from other civilizations.
The Islamic culture is the knowledge built upon the Islamic aqeedah. This would include the science of tawheed, jurisprudence (fiqh), exegesis (tafseer) of the Qur’an and the Prophetic traditions (hadith). The culture would also include all the rules related to understanding such fields such as the knowledge of ijtihaad (scholarly exertion) the Arabic language, classification of the Prophetic traditions (mustalah al-hadith) and science of the foundations of jurisprudence (Usul). All of this is the Islamic culture as all of them in origin come from the Islamic aqeedah. Similarly the history of the Islamic Ummah is a part of this culture due to what it contains of events and incidents about its civilization (hadhara), celebrities (rijal), leaders and scholars. Pre-Islamic Arab poetry is also part of the Islamic culture as this field contains evidences that help us understand the words and syntax of the Arabic language, and consequently help in the making of ijtihaad, tafseer of the Qur’an and understanding hadith.
The Ummah’s culture creates the character of its individuals. It moulds the individual’s intellect and his method of judging things, statements and actions just as it moulds his inclinations, thereby influencing his mentality, disposition (nafsiyya) and behaviour (sulook). Thus the preservation and spread of the Ummah’s culture in society is among the chief responsibilities of the Islamic State. The Soviet Union historically fostered its youth upon Communist culture and attempted to prevent any infiltration of Capitalist or Islamic thought into its culture. The entire West nurtured its children upon its Capitalist culture that is built upon separation of religion from life. It organised and founded its life based upon that basis, and waged wars—as it continues to do so today—to prevent the Islamic culture from penetrating its doctrine and culture. The Islamic State endeavoured to implant the Islamic culture into its children and prevented anyone who calls for any thought not built upon the Islamic aqeedah. The Islamic state would carry its culture to other States and nations via da’wah. This will continue until Allah inherits the earth and whoever resides on it (i.e. until the Day of Judgement).
Among the most important guarantees of preservation of the Ummah’s culture is that its culture be memorised in hearts of its children and preserved in books, together with the Ummah having a State ruling over it and taking care of its affairs according to the rules and articles emanating from the intellectual doctrine of this culture.
Below is a brief overview of how Islam and a future Khilafah state would deal with the education of its people.
• The Islamic aqeedah constitutes the basis upon which the education policy is built. The curriculum and methods of teaching are designed to prevent a departure from this basis. Thus, the education system Islam is composed of the totality of Shari’ah rules related to the education curriculum. The Shari’ah rules related to education emanate from the Islamic aqeedah and they have Shari’ah evidences, such as the subjects of study and separating between male and female students. The methods of teaching are in reality permitted means and styles which Islam considers beneficial in implementing the system and achieving its goals. They are worldly matters susceptible to evolution and change according to what appears most suitable to implement the Shari’ah rules related to education and the Ummah’s basic needs. They can be adopted from experiments, experts, research or other nations.
• The purpose of education in Islam is to form the Islamic personality in thought and behaviour. Therefore all subjects in the curriculum must be chosen on this basis.
• The goal of education is to produce the Islamic personality and to provide people with the knowledge related to life’s affairs. Teaching methods are established to achieve this goal; any method that leads to other than this goal is prevented.
• A distinction is drawn in Islam between the empirical sciences such as mathematics and the cultural sciences such as psychology, sociology and law. The empirical sciences and all that is related to them are taught according to needs of the ummah and are not restricted to any stage of education. The cultural sciences are taught at both primary and secondary levels according to a specific policy that does not contradict Islam. In higher education, these cultural sciences are studied like other sciences provided they do not lead to a departure from the stated policy and goal of education. This is because psychology answers questions such as the composition of humans and peoples behavior, sociology answers questions on why society behave in certain ways and law provides solutions to human problems from sources which would differ depending on the belief system of the nation in question.
• The Islamic culture would be taught at all levels of education. In higher education, departments should be assigned to the various disciplines such as medicine, engineering, physics etc.
• Certain fields require distinctions to be made as they can be linked to foreign culture, hence arts and crafts could be related to science, such as commerce, navigation and agriculture. In such cases, they are studied without restriction or conditions. However, arts and crafts can be connected to a foreign culture and influenced by a particular viewpoint of life, such as painting and sculpting. If this viewpoint of life contradicts the Islamic viewpoint of life, such arts and crafts are not adopted.
• The Islamic State would adopt a curriculum and no curriculum other than that of the State is allowed to be taught. Private schools provided they are not foreign, are allowed as long as they adopt the State’s curriculum and establish themselves on the State’s educational policy and accomplish the goal of education set by the State. Teaching in such schools should not be mixed between males and females, whether for students or teachers; and they should not be specific for a certain deen, madhab, race or color.
• It is an obligation upon the Islamic State to teach every individual, male or female, those things that are necessary for the mainstream of life. This is due to the abundance of evidences which make seeking knowledge obligatory. This should be made obligatory on all youth and provided freely in the primary and secondary levels of education. The State should, to the best of its ability, provide the opportunity for everyone to continue higher education free of charge.
• The Islamic State ought to provide the means of developing knowledge, such as libraries and laboratories, in addition to schools and universities, to enable those who want to continue their research in the various fields of knowledge, like fiqh, Hadith and tafseer of Qur’an, thought, medicine, engineering and chemistry, inventions and discoveries etc. This is done to create an abundance of mujtahideen, outstanding scientists and inventors.
• As Islam has no copyrights and patents once a book has been printed and published, nobody including the author has the right to reserve the publishing and printing rights. However, if the book has not been printed and published, and thus is still an idea, the owner has the right to take payment for transferring these ideas to the public in the same way he can take payment for teaching them. Thus anyone can set up a newspaper, journal or periodical. This will ensure thought develops.