Part 1 The Purpose of Education
In our modern education system we are producing “Literacy” but not “Education”, we are spreading “Information” but not “Knowledge”, we are given certificates, diplomas and degrees but we aren’t taught to be Men of learning and understanding to run and enlighten the Ummah and help carry out the task of guiding mankind as set to us by our creator. The main reason for this is the dualism inherited by the western concept of secularism applied to education. This dualism, or separation between the wordily and the spiritual was unknown to our predecessors. In fact, the word education in Islam is TARBIYA, it comes from the root RABBA which also the same root for the word “Rab” God. Because God created us, He gave us means of education [Tariq Ramadan].
Education has a multidimensional aspect in Islam and isn’t restricted to the physical world surrounding us. It has a higher purpose, a wider scope, a bigger vision than the one set by any education system in any place and at any time in our modern time. Education in Islam must achieve two things: First it must enable man to understand his Lord so that he worships Him in full conviction of His Oneness, observes the rituals and abides by the Sharia and the Divine injections. Secondly, it must enable him to understand “Sunan Al Khalq” the ways of Allah in the universe, explore the earth, and use all that Allah has created to protect faith and reinforce His religion (Jamjoom, 1977). Therefore the primary job of the educator is to guide students to this “direct perception,” so that both the educator & students are counted among “those endued with knowledge.”[Daoud Tawhidi]. In his Tawhidic view of the curriculum, this great Muslim educator has tried to build a new generation of Muslim Educators who draw the student’s conscious and unconscious mind to the “Big Picture”, the “Tawhidic”vision of the world and life, based on the oneness of God and the unity of knowledge, man and creation.
In other words, as Muslim educators and Homeschoolers, we are urged to reflect on the curriculum we use and try to Islamize it as much as we can, even though this task is a no “one Man job” but one of a group of individuals with multiple expertise, the scholar, the curriculum expert, the specialist in all fields studied, the teacher, the educational psychologist, the textbook writer, the parent, and anyone concerned by the rising of the Muslim Ummah. But how can we as Muslim Homeschoolers try to incorporate Islam into every subject so as to pass the understanding that it really is a way of life that affects every aspect of it?
Part 2 Art, an Islamic insight to the Charlotte Mason method
I will try to give in this article an attempt to look at any curriculum and try to Islamize the otherwise secular content it offers. Let’s take the Charlotte Mason (CM) model of education. Charlotte Mason was a highly respected Christian British educator in the late nineteenth century. She offered an alternative method of education to the traditional model common in her time she had the firm belief that the child is a person and we must educate that whole person, not just his mind. CM method is very popular today among Homeschoolers. I Don't use Charlotte Mason strictly as an approach, but I like the classical approach (including CM) as it gives me a lot of freedom in my Homeschooling and the choice of books that I like my kids to read. Alahmdulillah.
Let’s take the example of Art appreciation in CM method through picture study https://simplycharlottemason.com/blog/teaching-art-subject-by-subject-part-6/
In my attempt to study Art Islamically, I would read the story of Ibrahim (pbuh) from his birth and his young age until when he becomes a prophet. The child will learn that his father was an
idol maker making statues for Nimrod (the king of Babylon) and for people to worship. In question time I would ask the child :
Why did Azar (Ibrahim's father ) make idols? (For people to worship, He worked for the king, For money…)
For what purpose did Nimrod use those statues? (to worship, to have control over his people…)
Why do artists sculpt statues today? For what purpose? (For money, Love of Art, a way of expression, to influence other…)
Do you know any modern time artist?
Who is Michel Angelo? Leonardo Da Vinci? Picasso?
I would then show the child work of the artists we want to study, let him observe, but always orient the questions and the conversation.
I would prompt my children to think: Can Muslim make sculpture art? Why or why not? I would then give him or ask him to search (if he is older) the hadith of rasulullah about picture making?
I would ask again: What were the outcomes of picture making in the past? How do pictures affect our life today?
Can we have artistic pictures displayed in a Muslim home? Why or why not?
Does your child know about the hadith on Angels and the pictures?
Does He know the Hadith about drawing animate picture?
So a lesson on Art can be a door for us to learn more about Aqueeda, fiqh issues and the Sunan of Allah (swt) in the creation. It can be a way to teach the child how to read and analyse any book written from a non Muslim perspective and this is one of the goals that you would want to achieve in your Homeschooling journey of the God conscientious child (if not the most important one).
I like many of the Charlotte Mason guidelines and approaches but as a Muslim educator I cannot agree with her on the freedom given to the child to pursue knowledge following his interest! Or reading such a book because it is a great live book! If my child loves Arts and is fascinated by it and wants to read more books on it on Da Vinci or any other artists, then I have to teach him about INTENTIONS and PRIORITIES in knowledge quests. The best LIVE model I want my child to follow is MUHAMMAD (pbuh) and then his companions, and then their followers (May Allah be pleased with the all). These people excelled in all disciplines of life as long as the purpose behind it was to please Allah, to fulfil the role given to them by Allah: the vicegerency on earth. By what means? “Ilm and Amal” (Knowledge and Action). That is: Any knowledge that could benefit the Muslim Ummah at the small level, and the humanity at the more extended level, respecting the priorities of the time and place. So for instance Islamic knowledge has no boundaries of time and place it should take an important part of our life, other disciplines we should discuss with our children on the most important ones, the ones our Ummah need most...ect
The child has also to know the scholars’ subdivisions of the different disciplines of knowledge (beneficial - waist time-Harmful) so ask the child to apply that to any discipline studied and set your priorities as a Muslim parent and teacher for him to have some guidance. What is the purpose of spending 6 months of our precious time studying Leonardo Da Vinci or Michel Angelo? How would that get me closer to Allah (swt) and how could it benefit me on the day of judgment because ultimately that is our final goal and we should not be distracted from it in our homeschooling journey...
Part 3 Astronomy, an Islamic insight.
My son is interested in Astronomy or I should say fascinated! by anything astronomy. He will read all books on Astronomy, build models of spaceship, memorize the names of all famous astronomers, their date of birth, their nationalities, what they like, their social life, their favourite food, the name of their spaceship…ect. If I see that my son’s learning turns into obsession (and this could happen with any subject or famous game or movie trend) then my role as a Muslim mother is to orient his love for astronomy into a Love of Astronomy for a higher purpose, let’s see the difference between the two.
Astronomy is a great discipline of science where earlier Muslims excelled in, modern Muslims could excel in it too. So let’s start with reading! reading! and reading! Providing my son with meaningful reading about astronomy is the best that I can do and then prompt him to think after the reading. Obviously reading ONLY DK learners and Osborne on Astronomy are not enough sources for a Lil Muslim library, if Arabic is not an
option for the Homeschool child, then browse internet and find articles on Islam and Astronomy. You could use these key words for your search: Islam/Astronomy, Astronomy in the Quran, Muslim Astronomers...ect
Following the scholar’s subdivision of knowledge we mentioned earlier, astronomy could be:
- A beneficial science if it starts with the right intention! and for a high goal,
- A waste of time if done merely for fun,
· Harmful if for example used it for a haram purpose, if it helps non Muslims in their theories to prove the nonexistence of God...ect
What I see as waste of time in my son's pursuit of his hobby is the memorizing the date of birth and death of great Astronauts and instead of trying to convince him that this is not beneficial I would try to RE-orient his search, for example do a lapbook together on astronomy AND Islam.
I have done a brief search on the topic and here is what I have found:
Read this story to him from this site and other sites too... The story of Ibrahim and the first use of astronomy (In search for the truth)
Astronomy in the Quran this is a beautiful compilation on verses that talk about astronomy mashallah! http://www.islam-guide.com/bqs/17astronomy.htm
A good article for kids on the different uses of astronomy for the past Muslim scholars http://www.islamweb.net/kidsen/Kids%20Corner%201,2/subjects/eshamat1.html
In these articles we have a starting point of study of many Muslim scientists who excelled in astronomy , I would tell him we studied modern astronauts, let's study now about Muslim astronauts, their names, their discoveries, their birth places...ect
Again, the story of Ibrahim could be a starting point to re-introduce Astronomy, I would ask him after reading from all of the above:
Q: Who do you think The first and the greater astronomer was ?
Q: How did Ibrahim use astronomy?
A: He looked up at the sky and reflected about the cosmic creations.
Q: For what purpose do you think Ibrahim used astronomy?
A: To prove that Allah exists, to learn who deserves best to be worshiped? To better worship Allah, to prove to his people a new theory that didn't exist at their time (stars are not to be worshiped instead of God).
Q: In the article about astronomy in the Quran, why did Allah ask us to reflect about the heavenly bodies?
A: To lead us to recognize His existence, His beauty, the purpose of His creation of the human being!!!
Q: What do you think about using a moto in our classroom for our astronomy investigation?
Q: How about we memorize this verse and display it nicely in our classroom for us as an inspiration source? A: -sura 50, verse 6. "Do they not look at the sky above them, how We have built it and adorned it, and there are no rifts in it."
I will let him decorate this verse by drawing around it a sky and planets, it could be a fun and meaningful project for him (or any other verse that you find more appealing to you or to your kids). After reading the article about Muslim astronomers, ask him:
Q: Now that we have learned about the use of astronomy in the past by Muslims, why did Muslims used astronomy?
A: To learn about prayer time...
Q: (push him further) but why?
A: To better worship Allah Q:What else have they used astronomy for?
A: To know when Ramadhan starts and ends?
Q: (Push him again to reflect on the higher goal) but why again?
A: To better worship Allah
Q: Now we'll go back to all what we have learned about modern astronomy. Why do you think modern man have used astronomy?
A: To discover new planets, to prospect new places to live in, to learn about the universe that govern us, an may be to have power over that universe!!!
Q: (try to teach them to go deeper in their reflection) but why again? here you could teach your child rather than wait for answers from him as at this age I do not think he would have the answers:
A: To be leaders in science, to pay tribute for science as a new dogma!? new religion!? new GOD?!
A: To be a powerful country, to make one's country leading others in the world and have more POWER, MONEY,
Q: Do you think astronomy made modern man more humble or more arrogant?
A: If he doesn't know then ask him again,
Q: Do you think modern western nations are closer to GOD today? Did astronomy lead them to worship him better?
A; At this stage and after this discussion inshallah your child will find for himself the answers.
Q: Now, do you see the difference in the use of science from a Muslim perspective and from a non-Muslim one? Do you see the difference in intentions and where it can lead to???
Now it’s time to teach him about one of the most important Hadiths summarizing Islam; The hadith of Umar (raa) on intentions.
"Actions are according to intentions, and everyone will get what was intended.
Q: Do you think Allah will give more blessings for first intention or for the second one? This is the beneficial astronomy from a Muslim perspective. The same measure could be applied to other disciplines, Art for instance you could search again about Islamic art, art and the Quran, art and Muslims and follow the same method in questioning and you will see how you son's vision and our vision as well will change and will see things from a different angle with new glasses, those of Islam, Quran and this is what we want from these kids ...
Q: What is Islamic art?
Q: In what artistic discipline the Muslims excelled in? and (always) WHY or what was their source of inspiration?
A: Architecture, their source of inspiration was their love for Allah and their love for the house of Allah : Al Masdjid... (show them Masajid built by Muslims and browse the net for documentaries, articles, photos, there are thousands...) A: Other source of inspiration was the Quran and its description of Jannah (show them Muslim palaces: Taj mahal in India, Al Hambra and Cortoba in Spain)
Q: What other artistic discipline did they excel in? and why?
A: Caligraphy, to beautify the word of Allah, to convey beautifully the message of Allah, Al Quran.
Q: What do Muslim astronomers have in common with Muslim artists?
A: Their source of inspiration is similar: ALLAH, his word AL QURAN, Their goal is similar: to please Allah, to demonstrate his existence to others, his beauty, his power...ISLAM. Their objective is similar: to better worship Him! Q: What do non-Muslim astronomers have in common with non-Muslim artists?
A: Their source of inspiration is similar: Worldly creation of Allah, Their own desire (especially in arts...) Their goals are similar: to gain money, power, fame... Their objective is similar, to stay away from the path drawn to them by Allah...KUFR
Why did Muslim excelled in other science disciplines:
- Spherical Trigonometry was developed to find the fastest way to go to Makkah because of the spherical curve of the world!
-Algebra was designed to work out inheritance
- Caligraphy to beautify the word of Allah.
- Architecture had two raison-d'etre: 1- the inspiration of jannah, 2- to beautify the house of Allah (Al Masjid)
- Medicine : a Quranic inspiration . if you kill a life it is as if you killed the whole world.
- Sacred Astronomy. 1- To measure the phases of the moon for fasting . 2- The observation of the order of the Haven.
With these tools you can cover inshallah any topic or discipline but your inspiration is Islam, the word of Allah, al Quran, and your end objective is to please Allah (swt). Applying the Islamic perspective to any curriculum, or modern teaching method or book or subject we come across is a prerequisite if we want to incorporate Islam back to our curriculum, to our life and to our Homeschooling journey. This is a way to bring “Baraka” in our Homeschooling, teach our kids what their real purpose in life is and ultimately Homeschool for a higher purpose; pleasing Allah (swt).
My Allah guide us all to what will bring goodness to our children, to our Ummah, and to Humanity.