States pay great attention to their education policy and its styles, and they devise it with full awareness due to the significant impact on the building of individual personalities all the while emphasizing the state’s reputation and displaying its position among other nations. A successful education policy will result in providing knowledge for the student and work for the society, where schools and universities are centers for ideas and the production of creative scholars in various fields. Moreover, the educational curricula and teaching methods and styles play a vital role in determining the quality of education and the creation of creative thinking among students.
Taking a closer look at the education policy in Muslim countries shows it is a futile policy. It is a policy that spreads ignorance not education; a policy that builds the principle of imitation and following in the souls and not the principle of leadership and creativity which is apparent in the teaching methods they follow. They are failed methods that hinder the thinking process and destroy student creativity because they are based on rote memorization and teaching of theories, and focus on memorizing abstract information without linking it to reality or analyzing and understanding the information. As a result, the concept remains as mere information not perceived in the minds of the students that they repeat and purge during examination forgetting the material afterwards and tearing up books and papers after completing the exam. Education to them is achieving marks and certificates and not gaining knowledge for life to elevate the Ummah.
This failed method in teaching is adopted in the teaching of experimental sciences and non-experimental ones alike. The non-experimental subjects such as History, Language, Islamic knowledge of Jurisprudence, Tafseer, Hadith, and others are packed with information and full of repetition, and are built on memorization rather than understanding, explanation, comparison and criticism. Most of the exam questions of these subjects still come to the students even in universities and colleges in the form: mention… number…. and show… Not to mention the boring methods of teaching. If we take the Arabic language as an example of these subjects, we see that it is taught with rigidity without vitality, taught in a manner not to develop students’ abilities in writing, composition, or public speaking. Even composition writing, which is supposed to develop the students’ abilities to write and express themselves and be able to discover the authors in them, is changed in many cases to asking students to summarize a lesson or story they studied instead of writing about a particular subject. Moreover, if asked to write, students are provided with templates and stereotypical descriptions of things that they must not depart from, or are hampered from being creative in finding new descriptions and metaphors.
As for the experimental sciences like Chemistry, Physics and the like are taught in an abstract manner. That is, by memorization not by way of sensation using the senses through experimentation and practice to reinforce the information in the minds of students, so that it would be difficult to forget, and to be able to prove the validity of the information given to them or to reject it. Even if the textbooks contained research topics or contained scientific experiments for students, they would face the problem of the lack in the infrastructure needed to study science, such as the lack of laboratories, equipment, and references. Schools and universities equipped with these facilities are few while some facilities can be found in private schools and non-government backed universities, yet they are provided with these equipment through foreign aid and donations, which are subject to the dictates of certain conditions, that do not include, of course, what helps them to think and conduct analysis and association of the correct revival and progress.
It is not only the governments in Muslim countries that do not pay attention to education and students, but also education officials in Muslim countries are demanding the reduction of teaching scientific subjects and the teaching of dance and music instead to spread corruption and ignorance in the place of science and innovation. The Tunisian Minister of Education, Naji Jalul, stated in a program in “AI-Hiwar” Channel: “There needs to be less Math and less Physics and we need more time for dancing and music!”
This process of teaching leads to a superficial and theoretical acquisition of information by the students, making lessons boring and lacking vitality and activity. It does not create a type of motivation for students to learn and love the school. Some research and studies indicate that the boring methods and teaching styles are the cause for dropping out of school in addition to not helping to develop decision-making abilities and skills on how to deal with real life situations. In a nutshell, it is a way to make students mere parrots repeating what they memorized.
Thus, we see the gap, rather the large vacuum, that our students face when they go to study in Western universities. It is the biggest proof of the futility of these methods.So what is the correct way of teaching that produces scholars and innovators for us? It is the way that makes the mind a tool for education and learning, and it relies on the intellectual address of the teacher and intellectual reception by the learner as the teaching method, with the change in the methods and means to communicate thoughts to the students quickly and successfully, and methods are varied like: dialogue, discussion, stories, simulations, problem solving and conducting experiments and direct and practical training, and even through imagination. If the teacher wanted to convey thought to the learner, he would use one or more means of expression, especially the language. If this is linked with thought to the students by a sensed reality to something they had already felt or they felt something similar to it. Therefore, it is conveyed to them as thoughts as if they were the ones who had reached that result themselves. So the teacher must bring the meanings of thoughts closer to the student’s mind by linking it to a sensed reality to them or a close reality that they feel so that they receive the thoughts and not just information by the means and diverse teaching methods as mentioned.
But we must be aware that the methods and means are not permanent, and that the teacher must innovate in finding effective styles and means to explain the thoughts in the curriculum to the students, taking into account the circumstances of individual differences among them. For example, the intellectual teaching and reception was using a pen and paper, oral mode, copying, and writing, but today it is by using printed pictures, animation, audio tapes, and laboratory testing.
If we wanted to, for example, to teach students a lesson about the materials that conduct heat and electricity and about insulators, the proper way for this is that the students carry out an experiment in the laboratory that is equipped for this purpose. Therefore, the student can see with his own eyes how copper, for example, is a conductor of electricity, while the plastic is not, and he touches with his hands how it is a conductor of heat, while plastic is not, instead of teaching them this information only on paper.
When teaching subjects related to conquests and battles carried out by Muslim leaders in the history lesson, we can use videos, maps, and other means to bring the picture closer to the minds of students. And we also must not limit ourselves to using abstract information to teach the Islamic creed, but we must impact students; the student must sense the importance of Jihad for the sake of Allah and know that it is the way to carry the call to nations and peoples, and encouraging Muslims for Jihad, and its obligation on them, and the reward they get, and the virtue of martyrdom to Allah, and the meanings of giving, sacrifice, pride, and learning lessons when defeated in some battles, and the reasons for victory and other than that to consolidate these concepts.
When teaching the Arabic language and its sciences of grammar, morphology, eloquence and others, they must not be taught by using abstract information and must be linked to the Islamic creed because it is the language of the Qur’an by which the Qur’an and the Sunnah are understood and the Shariah law is extracted and the miracles of the Quran are understood. With the use of various technological methods to communicate the information with the need to involve students in the discussion, research and analysis of texts by using what they have learned from the Arabic sciences, and to allow them to write and be creative.
When we talk about the failed education policy and the futile method of teaching, this does not mean that the Islamic Ummah is short of innovators, scientists and inventors in various fields. On the contrary, it has immeasurable potentials and countless persons, Alhamdulilah. But they are not given the proper respect and attention, and are not supported financially and their talents and creativity are not recognized by the regimes in Muslim countries. How many inventors and innovators were forced to migrate from their countries because they did not have opportunities and appropriate conditions in their country, and afterwards we hear of their inventions and discoveries in the country that they have migrated to, and of these is the Tunisian engineer, Ashraf ibn Thabit, who emigrated to Germany and during his work he invented the first k4 camera in the world that is used for medical purposes.
While the paradox is that we see regimes in Muslim countries sponsoring those who have a “talent’ in dancing, singing and sports, which are useless, and they organize for them programs and competitions and spend billions on them because basically they are regimes that implement the dictates and sponsor corruption and ignorance, with the support and aid of Western countries and international organizations, which deliberately seek to spread ignorance in our children through the curriculum and it kills creativity and deprives the student of practical experience, and the critical thinking and use of the mind through the evaluation of operations focused on the memorization of abstract information without linking it to reality or analyzing or understanding it.
In conclusion, such educational policies cannot constitute in any way a fertile soil for the production of creativity, and such puppet regimes cannot be supportive of innovators, finding creativity. Sponsoring it can only be through the state that pays attention to education and considers it as one of the most important channels through which the nation’s leaders are produced to assume the burdens of its Ummah and the world, devises an educational policy to achieve this goal, creates the necessary infrastructure of libraries and laboratories and other means of knowledge in schools and universities, and have state of the art facilities to enable researchers and students to continue their research, and elevate the science and scientists, and embraces them and encourages them to compete in science. Like what Al Ma‘moon did, when he made any translated book from a language other than Arabic to the Arabic language holds the weight of gold in reward to the scholar who translated it, and some accounts say he rewarded that also for those who authored books. As Haroon Ar Rasheed did, whose time was described by Abdullah bin AI-Mubarak: “I never saw as many scholars, or readers of the Qur‘an, and those who rush in good deeds, and those guarding the sanctities in the days that follow the days of the Messenger of Allah and those of the Caliphs and Companions, like those at his time. I have seen eight year old children learn the entire Qur’an, and children who deeply study jurisprudence and science, and narrate Hadith, and write books of poetry, and boys aged eleven who debate with the teachers.” This was only possible because he spent greatly on them, and because of his interest in knowledge and scholars and students from a young age!!
The application of a leading education system will only exist in the second righteous Khilafah state (Caliphate) on the method of Prophethood, which will bring back the Islamic Ummah as it was, the first in all areas, which produced from its schools the scientists politicians and leaders in various fields and laid the foundation of Islamic society that was an example. It produced statesmen, army commanders and men of jurisprudence and knowledge, and it brought the world from darkness to the light of Islam, and we ask Allah Almighty to bring its establishment soon.
Written for the Central Media Office of Hizb ut Tahrir by