Preserving Identity Through Educational Institutions Featured

By Dr. Mohamed Al-Barbari July 06, 2024 114

Islamic identity is the light that guides Muslims through the dark paths of life. Protecting it is a safeguard for the privilege that Allah has bestowed upon us, Muslims: “[It is] the religion of your father, Abraham. Allah named you 'Muslims'” (Al-Hajj 78) Preserving identity is not an intellectual luxury echoed by scholars, lecturers, and educational reformers. It is a vital necessity and a fundamental issue that everyone, from the grassroots to the top, strives for. Our identity is undoubtedly Islam, the lifeline against dissolving into the identities of others, whether they are malicious or insignificant.

 

Lions and Rams

One of the beautiful stories written by the poet of Islam, Muhammad Iqbal, is of a group of rams living a comfortable life in a lush pasture. However, they were afflicted by a group of lions that settled nearby and frequently attacked and devoured many of them. One large ram among them thought of a way to relieve this imminent danger. He believed that the only way was to use cleverness and strategy. So he started befriending the lions until they grew fond of each other. He then began persuading them to stop shedding blood and to live in peace and safety, suggesting they abandon eating meat. He lured them with the idea that abstaining from meat would be pleasing to God. He glorified a life of tranquility and denounced aggression, until the lions began to listen. They slowed down their attacks on the rams and started eating grass like the rams.

The result was that their muscles weakened, their teeth dulled, and their claws became brittle. They were no longer able to run or hunt, effectively turning the lions into sheep because they abandoned their identity and characteristics, thus losing their essence. (1)

People say that dependence is the essence of backwardness because it signifies the dissolution of personality and the loss of identity. It is a form of imitating the worst of humanity. Our noble religion calls on Muslims to take pride in their faith, to be independent in their personality and behavior, to be leaders rather than followers, and to maintain the purity of their identity through educational means such as the mosque and the school.

So, are these means in conflict or in harmony with each other?

 

From Navigating Worship to Everyday Life

Mosques are what cultivate the barren deserts of the soul. They are the heart and the refuge of the pious, and they are the most important educational institution, esteemed in value and profound in impact. A person's development is incomplete without the nurturing of their spirit, the strengthening of their resolve, and the purification of their heart.

The path to cultivating the soul lies only through a unique school with a distinctive character and style that has produced heroic men who have upheld the banner of Islam. This school, which remains the school of Allah the Almighty, is the mosque. Allah says, “[Such niches are] in mosques which Allah has ordered to be raised and that His name be mentioned therein; exalting Him within them in the morning and the evenings. [Are] men whom neither commerce nor sale distracts from the remembrance of Allah and performance of prayer and giving of zakah. They fear a Day in which the hearts and eyes will [fearfully] turn about - That Allah may reward them [according to] the best of what they did and increase them from His bounty. And Allah gives provision to whom He wills without account.” (An-Nur: 36-38)

Undoubtedly, scientific meetings within mosques yield fruitful results through the call to virtues and manners and the activation of the mosque's mission. This allows the young to learn, the youth to be educated, and noble morals to grow and flourish within them through activities like Quran memorization circles and studying the educational methods in the sayings of the Prophet. These efforts help preserve Islamic identity, strengthen upright character, and protect against intellectual and doctrinal deviations and undesirable behaviors. Although some of these activities or parts of them are already present, there is a need for more effort, application, and utilization. The mosque has a crucial role in advancing the cultural level of the Ummah, which is only achievable through two primary means:

Firstly, reflecting on the Quran during out loud recitations in Salah and Friday sermons. The Quran addresses beliefs, acts of worship, ethics, laws, local and international affairs, describes the universe, and narrates history, just as it speaks about Allah, His attributes, and His rights. This was the primary source for the early Salaf.

Secondly, the holding of lessons in mosque courtyards, covering all fields of knowledge. Poetry was even recited in mosques, with the Companions listening to Hassan ibn Thabit's political poems. Major schools of Islamic fiqh were established in mosques, where great imams taught their students. (2)

This testimony comes from an experienced preacher who lived the message of Islam through the mosque with his mind, heart, and tongue. He summarized the mosque's message in beautiful words: The mosque's message is the entirety of Islam. When society becomes mosque-centered and the mosque becomes societal, solving problems under the guidance of the Quran and Sunnah, we will emerge as a pure ocean whose waves cleanse the earth from its filth and impurities. On that day, we will proudly declare: We will heal the sick with our remedies, we will shelter the fearful in our haven, and we will recite to the world the book of our jihad. The ears of the world will turn deaf if they do not listen to us. (3)

 

School and its Educational Role

The educational process has two main pillars: the school and the students. These form the core of the educational process. The school is one of the most essential and primary foundations for nurturing young generations, both boys and girls, preserving their identity from doubts and deviations, and preventing them from imitating others in dress and behavior. It is one of the most important and reliable means for achieving cultural advancement and educational development, especially in the early stages of basic education.

At school, students spend most of their day. It serves as a lung through which they breathe knowledge, inhale its fragrance, and pick its fruits. The school is responsible for laying the initial groundwork for scientific knowledge and building the knowledge framework that influences individuals and unconsciously governs them throughout their lives.

For the school to yield the desired outcomes and benefits, the educational process must be based on a sound foundation and a righteous principle. A comprehensive review of the educational goals and purposes is necessary, along with restructuring and building its framework on the values and regulations of Islam.

Among these regulations and foundations are:

  1. Education should be mandatory for all children, both boys and girls, of school age. All obstacles to education should be removed, and all means to facilitate it should be provided. Fulfilling the responsibilities of religion and life in this era requires a reasonable level of education, even if it is the minimum. What is necessary to fulfill an obligation is itself obligatory.
  2. Implementing a well-thought-out plan for eradicating widespread illiteracy, following the example of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), who began to combat illiteracy and promote writing starting from the second year of Hijra, with the Battle of Badr.
  3. Diversifying education to cover all practical and theoretical fields, both religious and worldly, literary and technological. It should provide opportunities for brilliance and genius to reach the highest levels of study and specialization without any material or moral obstacles.
  4. Incorporating Islam as a fundamental subject in all educational stages, from the primary level to the university, and across all types of education. (4)

We pray to Allah for a swift awakening. Muslims must prepare for what is being planned for them in secrecy. Therefore, caution and readiness are essential.

  

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  1. “Our Identity or the Abyss,” p. 54.
  2. “One Hundred Questions About Islam,” pp. 70-71.
  3. “The Story of My Days,” p. 30.
  4. “The Islamic Solution Is An Obligation And A Necessity,” pp. 44-45.

 

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