Philosophy of Islamic Education: Classical Visions and Perspectives of Fethullah Gülen

Philosophy of Islamic Education: Classical Visions and Perspectives of Fethullah Gülen

Philosophy of Islamic Education: Classical Visions and Perspectives of Fethullah Gülen
Philosophy of Islamic Education

Islam is often characterized as "the religion of the Book," the Book in question being no other than the Quran, the revealed central script of Islam. The first word that the angel Gavriil was supposed to say in 610 AD, who initiated the series of divine revelations to the Prophet Muhammad was Iqra '! ("Recite" or "read"). The whole verse (96: 1) gives the command: "Read in the name of your Lord, He who created all things." The act of reading or reciting, in relation to the holy book of Islam and in general, has thus acquired an exceptional sacrosanct quality within Islamic tradition and practice, as well as the accumulation of as much religious knowledge as possible by extension. "Will they be treated the same as those who know and who do not know?" Asks the Qur'an (39: 9). The Qur'an catalogs knowledge as a wonderful gift from God given to His Prophets and their followers over time. (2: 151-52, 4: 113, 5: 110, 12: 22, 28:14, etc.)

Believers have taken the advice of the Prophet as a law: "Seek knowledge even in China," which has sacrificed the journey, often dangerous, to supplement or complete one's education, an act of courage known in Arabic as the righteous expression of the -'ilm ("the quest for knowledge"). The "quest for knowledge" (talib al-'ilm) remains today the expression that denominates the pupil / student, usually using the abbreviated form (talib [masc.] / Taliba [fem.]) For all levels education. Another well-known statement of the Prophet is that "the quest for knowledge springs to all Muslims, men and women," suggesting that it is necessary for every human being, regardless of gender, a minimal amount of knowledge so that everyone knows what its individual duties. "Disciples are the heirs of prophets" is another important hadith invoked as a basic text to emphasize the extraordinary importance of learning and its dissemination in shaping a community life and as a basic, integral part of individual religious growth. Penalized both by the word of God and by the words of His Prophet (the latter being inscribed in what is called in the Arabic hadith, the "discourse"), the search for knowledge (Ar. 'Ilm) is regarded as a religious obligation , along with prayers, mercy, etc. It is common for you to find these sacred texts that glorify the search for knowledge ('ilm) assembled and recorded in many treatises on learning and education, both in the pre-modern and modern times, in order to cause the believer to descend on the road Noble of Knowledge
In this article, I will first provide a small summary of classical Islamic education and its institutions, both formal and informal, and I will also identify the principles and underlying rationale behind it. Then I will discuss some of the key features of Gülen's perspectives on what constitutes an ideal Islamic education. In the last part, I will indicate the strong link between classical visions and Gülen's perspectives, thus establishing a continuity and an innovative commitment of the latter to the classical legacy.

Classical centers of education

The first location of the education centers was the mosque, the place of formal adoration in Islam. During the Prophet Muhammad, his mosque in Medina served both as a private and public adoration, as well as as an informal instruction of believers in religious law and related topics. The Mosque continued to play these multiple roles throughout the first three centuries of Islam (from the 7th century to the 19th century, d.Hr or so on). Ordinarily, religious or legal science instruction was offered by a religious disciple to students who (or rarely) attended each day in the learning circles (Arthur halqa, majlis) either inside or outside the mosque, in his yard. In the nineteenth century, a novelty has emerged: homes (khan) have begun to be built near the "mosques of learning" in Iraq and the eastern provinces of the Islamic world, allowing pupils and teachers in remote areas to live near these training sites. The emergence of the mosque-khan complex during this period is a consequence of intensifying and lengthening the period of study required for the qualification of religious disciples. At that time, the teaching of religion had expanded, and the study of the religious law (Ar. Al-Shari'a) had become more detailed and sophisticated, fact reflected in the establishment of four Sunni schools of law (Ar. Madhahib, Singh Madhhab) 10th century.

In the X and XI centuries BC another important institution has developed, becoming known as the madrasa, translated literally from Arabic meaning "a place of study".

Madrasa is a logical development of the mosque-khan complex, being both a teaching and living institution. Besides the significant contribution to the fabulous systematization of knowledge, the development of this institution has led to a re-establishment of the Muslim identity sunk in the dawn of the collapse of various Shi'i dynasties that have led much of the Islamic world in the 10th and 11th centuries. In the tenth century, a Shi'i dynasty, called Buwayhid (or Buyid), established control of Iraq and Abbaside Iran, preserving the abbessid caliph as the ruler and absolute ruler. Those in the Buwayhid dynasty retained control until the eleventh century, when they were chased away by the Sunni Selguts, a Turk-speaking people from Central Asia. In 969, another Shi'i dynasty in North Africa, whose members were later named Fatimids, gained power in Cairo, Egypt, and led the Sunni population until 1171 when they were defeated by the Turks Seljuk. One of the fatimical intellectual heritage that was preserved was the establishment of the oldest university in the world with an uninterrupted activity, namely, the mosque-madrasa al-Azhar complex in Cairo - in 972 BC, for the propagation of the Fatimid-Shi'i doctrine and for learning. With the fall of the Fatimids, there was a sunny effort to eliminate the Shi'i influence of the last two decades. Madrasa has in many ways become the locus classicus to fuel this campaign of religious and intellectual reclamation. This is reflected dramatically in the transformation of al-Azhar into the most important center of sunrise in the 12th century, a position that it enjoys today.

Perhaps the most prominent name associated with the spread of madras, especially in Iraq, is Nizam al-Mulk (d. 1092), the inferior vizir selgiucid (Wazir means "minister"). His name is associated with the famous Nazamiyya academy in Baghdad, which enjoyed the presence of important scholars such as Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (1111).Since then, madrasa has become the primary vehicle and vehicle for transmitting religious education to the major urban centers of the Islamic world, such as Baghdad, Damascus, Cairo and Jerusalem. It was a higher education institution comparable to a modern college, whose precursor has been, as we will be discussing below.

Other education centers

Apart from mosque, mosque-khan and madras, other institutions have developed over time that have played important roles in the dissemination of learning. One of the most significant institutions of this kind was the library, an institution that began to budge since the 9th century. The largest mosques usually had attached bilobots, containing books on various religious subjects. The other semi-public libraries also had books of logic, philosophy, music, astronomy, geometry, medicine, and alchemy. The first Islamic academy, known as bayt al-hikma, was built by the caliph abbasid al-Ma'mun (813-33), having an attached astronomical library and astronomical observatory. In this academy, many Christian Arab disciples, under their abbasish Muslim patrons, translated many classical Greek works, first into Syrian and then Arabic. The works of Euclid, Galen, Plato, etc. have thus become accessible to the following generations of Arab-speaking disciples, influencing the development of a humanist tradition. Sometimes people like to create libraries in their own homes, such as' Ali b. Yahya (888). The library called khizanat al-hikma (the "Treasure of Wisdom") allowed students to study all branches without paying any fees; the most famous section was astronomy. Other specialized learning institutions were al-qur'an ("the Koran House"), which specialized in the study of the Qur'an and related sciences; but al-hadith (translated "The Prophet's House"), which focused on the study of the Sunnah, the words and customs of the Prophet Muhammad; but al-'ilm ("The House of Reasonable Science") dealing with philosophical and natural sciences and al-tibb ("medicine schools") that were dedicated to medical sciences. There were three more terms - ribat, khanqa and zawiya. These concerned the lodges and prayer houses where traditional science was practiced. The medical instruction was mainly in hospitals (maristan / bimaristan), which served as medicine schools, but also in mosques and madras. Nevertheless, informal and formal private instruction was offered by men and women in their own homes or in the private homes of rich disciple and people. In most of the medieval Islamic world, such practices of private education were more common than formal, collective meditations.2

Organization and curriculum of madras: the parameters of religious education
Religious education was based on the so-called al-'ulum al-naqliyya (the "transmitted sciences"), which are nothing more than the Qur'anic sciences, the hadith-based sciences, and the jurisprudence (fiqh). Along with "transmitted" or religious sciences, al-'ulum al-'aqliyya (rational sciences) included logics, philosophy, mathematics, and natural sciences. Rational sciences were also called "foreign sciences" or "ancestral sciences", thus showing their main Greek origin.

In the pre-abbasid period, madrassas, like pre-masters, were mainly devoted to the religious study based on the research of the transmitted sciences (study of the Koran, hadiths and religious law) supplemented by the auxiliary sciences of grammar and literature. George Makidisi, a pioneer of Islamic education, has demonstrated the influence of madras on the development of the system of European medieval colleges and has provided us with a comprehensive vision of the medieval curriculum and the organization of education.3 As far as traditional or religious sciences are concerned, Students were the following: Quran, Hadiths, Qur'anic sciences that included exegesis, varied reading of the text, and hadith-related sciences that involved studying the biographies of hadith transmitters. After their research, the student was to study two "basic" sciences: the al-usa, which refers to the principles or sources of religion and al-fiqh, the sources, principles and methodology of jurisprudence. The student could also study the madhhad law (school law) in which he was found4, the points of difference (Khilaf) between the same madhhab and other four schools of law and dialectics (Jadal), also called disputes (ar. Munazara) .5 After the dialectic, he followed the study of adab or literature, including poetry, prose and grammar. These subjects were basically the curriculum, which involved a sequential study, as I pointed out here - and as preferred by theoreticians of education. In reality, however, the method and course of study tended towards informality and lack of structuring, and were often dependent on the inclinations of the teachers and, sometimes, of the students. Thus, a typical day of instruction of the famous lawyer Mohammad b. Idris al-Shafi'i (d. 820) involved teaching a course in the Qur'an before any other activity, then discussing a hadith and debates followed by a course at the end morning, classical, grammar, prose and poetry until noon

In his famous Prolegomena, written in the fourteenth century, Ibn Khaldun lists a similar curriculum for religious sciences, paying particular attention to the Qur'an and his sciences, their hadiths and their sciences, including the Hadithology-specific terminology, the fiqh, the law (al-kalam), Sufism (Islamic mysticism, termed al-tasawwuf in Arabic), and science of the interpretation of dreams and visions (ta'bir al-ruya) .7

Madrasa was usually established by a waqf, charitable foundation or organization, a form of institutional organization borrowed by the West from the Islamic world at the end of the eleventh century.8 Waqf maintained the property of a person in safety, o for confiscation of the state by its categorization as public property, but which could be left inheritance to the descendants of the founders. In this way, many men and many women appeared as benefactors of the madras, who were sometimes named after them or their families, both in pious interest and pragmatic reasons. Many of them had a genuine and sincere interest in the development of public education, and women played a prominent role in this special charity activity. For example, a famous madrasa was built in the fourteenth century by Barakat, the mother of Mamluk Sultan al-Ashraf Shaban, who became known as the madras of al-Ashraf Shaban's mother9. Another woman called Alif, a member of the distinguished Bulqini family, also during the nursing period, founded certain establishments to support the reciters of the Qur'an in her grandmother's madras.

Methodology of training and learning

The methods used for teaching were reading and dictation. For legal studies, the Munzara or the debate were the most used. The student had to memorize, first of all, the Quran and as many possible hadiths as possible. The teacher, usually called shaykh, had to repeat the hadith three times so as to determine and allow the students to memorize them. In the case of hadiths, dictation (imla ') was particularly important because the text had to be fixed very well. Problems related to jursiprudenta were also dictated as they represented linguistic and literary issues. In relation to the Hadiths and the Qur'an, learning from the outside (talqin) was the main method of acquiring knowledge. Thus, a retentive memory was obviously highly rewarded. But at the same time, the importance of understanding was highlighted, and students were asked to reflect on what they were learning. The adage "learning is a city, one of whose gates consists of memory and understanding" captures this dual approach to good teaching. The Arab term used for "comprehension" is diraya and is distinct, although bound, by the memory activity and the transmission of certain hadiths, a process known in Arabic under the term riway. Diraya was decisively the high gate of teaching, since it concerned the individual ability to understand the contents of the hadiths, and did not merely refer to passive memorization and their transmission, but went much further until they were used for the interpretation of the law religious. The term homologue for jurisprudence, fiqh, denotes understanding, as well as reflecting the importance attached to active comprehension and involvement in the educational system.

In the study of the law, the scholastic method of the debate (munazara) prevailed, being a pedagogical method that appeared early in the Islamic environment. It is well known that Harun al-Rashid, the abbasid caliph, encouraged the organization of debates at his court. The famous lawyer Malik b. Anas used to challenge his student, 'Uthman b.' Isa b. Kinana (d. 797), to get involved in the labor camp with another well-known lawyer, Abu Yusuf. . Al-Husayn b. Isma'il (942), a hadith disciple and jurist (mufti), the judge of the Iraqi city of Kufa for six years, had regular debating sessions at his home while he served as a judge, sessions attended by many prominent jurists. There are many other examples of debate sessions we can find in the legal literature. These sessions were extremely popular and often attracted broad audiences, ranging from sunset to midnight.12

The method of debate called for the participants to have a) a comprehensive understanding of khilaf, which referred to the legal divergent views of the jurisconsult; b) in-depth knowledge of the jadal or dialect concerned; and gain skills through practice for c) munassara. Law students had to memorize a full list of laws to be debated and prepare answers for any questions. Students obtained their license or certificate (known in Arabic under the title ijaza) according to their skills in the art of debate so they would be allowed to surrender the right or to issue opinions on laws.13

"Rational" or "ancient" sciences

The so-called "rational sciences" (al-'ulum al-'aqliyya) or 'ancient sciences' (al-aulum al-awa'il) were normally composed of seven components: 1) mantiq), which was but the foundation of the others; 2) (al-'ulum al-awa'il), arithmetic, including accounting (hisab); 3) al-handasa, geometry; 4) al-hay'a, astronomy, 5) al-musiki, music, dealing with the theory of tones and their definition by numbers, etc .; 6) al-tabi'yyyat, "natural sciences", which focused on the theory of the resting and moving bodies - humans, plants, minerals and celestial bodies, whose important subdivisions were medicine (al-tibb) and agriculture -falaha); and, finally, 7) al-ilahiyyat metaphysics.14


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