Education of the Heart, The Heart of Education

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Maryam Lemu

Channel: Maryam Lemu

Episode Notes

An Association of Muslim Schools South Africa, Conference

Episode Transcript

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was a bit laggy Ministry of Energy in Bismillahirrahmanirrahim. Assalamu alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh. This is Miriam lemo. I'd like to first of all acknowledge that association of Muslim schools, South Africa, for organizing this amazing conference on the heart of education is the education of the heart. I'll be speaking today on education and living knowledge, the ultimate key. Now the whole purpose of education is it's meant to be applicable. It's meant to be relevant. And sadly, many of our children are victims, and so are we have a system of cram and vomit just to pass exams, however, they are missing some key life skills to help them thrive, and core values to give

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them a moral compass. What is the point of being the best and the brightest if you're morally bankrupt, the best and the brightest liar the best and the brightest crook, thief, racist, bigot, oppressor or anything else. Children are supposed to have values instilled in them from the home, but parents cannot do it alone. And sadly, parents drop the ball. Schools are meant to complement and continue to plant seeds of values and discipline in children as they grow. So just as schools teach children to be lawyers, doctors, engineers and architects etc. We have to remember that they are going to be citizens of the world. They are going to be husbands and wives, employers and

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employees, neighbors, community members, and community leaders. And they are going to need tools to help them navigate the real world and values to ensure that society civil society is run on principles good ethics, justice, equity, equality, law and order etc. Governments consist of people, organizations and institutions consist of people, people make the laws, our children are going to grow up into positions where they get to set the status quo. Something's happening today in societies once upon a time were unheard of, or unacceptable. Over time, values have become eroded and even blurry. Good is slowly becoming uncool, and bad is made to look like the norm. The

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beautiful character of a true Muslim is missing in action in many of us, our youth are turning their backs on Islam, because they are not seeing the application or relevance of the Scriptures and the Hadith in their daily lives, not at home, not in society, and definitely not in schools. This is where Islamic schools have a huge role to play to fill the void. Because secular education alone is incomplete. There is a gap which science alone does not explain, which does not go in line with the truth and morals and values are not being taught as subjects in schools. So we have to make sure that there is a balance between secular education and the Islamic perspective. Now there's a paper

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that was presented by my late mother be Aisha lemo at the International Conference on the contributions of the Islamic world to education in 2011 in Kuwait, she reflected on the many centuries when the lands of Islam give birth to a civilization that spread across the globe, and set the pace in science, technology, medicine, architecture, literature, and the arts while retaining its Islamic ethos and faith. The past is fascinating and instructive, but our involvement is in the present and towards the future. First, let's get a better understanding of an Islamic school. Since the era of the great Muslim scholars times have changed, education has changed and the centers of

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learning have moved to the west. The West learned from the Muslim world and in due course took over the leadership of the world almost in every aspect of science, technology, and in other disciplines. With the passage of time, the Islamic legacy was forgotten or denied in the West as if it never even existed. Many in the modern world today view education from a secular materialistic perspective, and the majority of schools and universities are presented with secular curricula, secular textbooks and secular minded teachers. A survey conducted in the UK, for example, revealed that over 50% of its citizens do not believe in any particular religion. So the long struggle between secular science and

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religion continues. Yet Muslims see no automatic conflict. At the time when Muslims led the way in knowledge, civilization, religion and science, they were considered to be complimentary. Education from an Islamic perspective is therefore different in certain respects from the current secular education, but it is not different in every respect many aspects of modern education including science, acceptable to Muslims, however, there are differences and this gave rise to a series of world conferences on Islamic education in the 70s and 80s. These conferences in due course sponsored a series of books by Muslim scholars, the triple it the International Institute for Islamic thought,

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took up the challenge and the concept of Islamization of knowledge aroused a lot of interest, the Islamic University of Malaysia and other centers

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were active in developing the idea for university students. In due course a number of fascinating and well illustrated books on science and the natural world also arouse a lot of interest the proliferation of private Muslim schools. Over the past 20 years or so we have seen in Nigeria a rapid increase in independent Islamic private schools. The appearance of such schools can be found wherever Muslims have migrated, including the United Kingdom, Europe, United States, Australia, and even South Africa etc. Here in Nigeria, there are hundreds of private Muslim schools. Many are members of the Association of Muslim Islamic schools at the lower level they are poorly funded and

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barely survive. at the upper end of the spectrum. There are so highly respected Muslim schools which can compete favorably with any other school. Some of these top Muslim schools work together in exchanging ideas, and are innovative in breaking new grounds in Islamic education. I would like to present to you a case study of a school that is trying to revive and rethink the Islamic approach to education in the contemporary society. I have been privileged to be part of the team that runs such a school that was established by my parents in 1995. The college was named New Horizons college because of their ambition to always be in the forefront with new ideas, always exploring just what

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is over the horizon waiting to be discovered. The college which belongs to the Islamic education trust was just like any other Muslim school. In the early days, we taught the national curriculum including Islamic Studies, Arabic and added Quranic recitation. Eventually, we built the boarding house with over 400 boys and girls. Little did we know what was coming. It was true that we considered ourselves in Islamic school with Islamic and secular subjects all under one roof. But this had little effect on students in terms of Islamic orientation. When they graduated, most of them turned out to be like any student from any other secular school. With their fair share of bad

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manners, spoiled brats, and loose morals. Some parents expected us to reform their children who are already on drugs and engage in immoral acts. It was Against this backdrop that the Islamic education board was established. Its function was to look at every aspect of a student's daily life and their experiences from early morning until lights out when they go to bed. The question before us was what makes an Islamic school Islamic? It is clearly not the national syllabus for Islamic Studies and Arabic or the examinations based on them. How then can a school instill greater taqwa God consciousness and good morals in adolescence students, it was obvious that we couldn't force it on

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them because this brings out resistance rather than acceptance. Therefore, we have to creatively instill the COA indirectly, based on activities that entice students to find meaning in their lives, and the ability to think and use reason from an Islamic tradition. Firstly, we try to broaden our students knowledge and their experience by going outside the national curriculum. We also try to employ and retain staff who they themselves are role models and counselors, boys and girls study in different classrooms, we find that they excel without any other agenda distraction. They are taught to write and defend their certificates jealously. It is our policy to make sure that both boys and

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girls are given equal opportunities that are in line with Islamic teachings. They learn to catch fish, they learn to cook how to slaughter around and roasted, they learn how to change a tire and do various arts and crafts. In addition, both boys and girls are taught how to swim as recommended by Rasulullah sallallahu wasallam and sports is highly recommended in the school. Students are taught public speaking, debating and acting from this they gain confidence and at the same time they get to have fun, yes, fun. They have children and they should be allowed to have fun. The motto of New Horizons college is work hard and play hard. Through these and other kinds of activities the

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students eventually get to love the school. The school also aims to extend the student's knowledge into important areas that are neglected in the national syllabus, particularly in the areas of world history. This helps fill the gap of ignorance about the history of the world around us. In addition, students are given one year of World Geography using videos by David Attenborough such as the blue planet, planet, Earth, etc. As an introduction to Alan's creation and the world around us. During the April holidays, the students go in groups on a squatted holidays with the staff to historical destinations within an outside Africa such as Egypt, Turkey, Malaysia, Spain, Greece, China, India,

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and so on. such experiences broaden students' understanding of great nations past and present and their cultures. It is in line with the Quranic instructions and teachings that we should travel the earth and broaden our knowledge. They engage in various activities that teach them concern for others and

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community so they engage in various community activities and services, such as filling of potholes in the neighborhood clearing filthy gutters, teaching adult literacy to the junior staff who are unlettered, adopting children from the neighborhood and inviting those children to join them for meals, sports, and they have the orphans also health in sharing food to the underprivileged in the community. The college engage the best teachers they can find many of whom are non Muslims. The policy fosters good mutual relations and mutual respect, and thereby sets a good example to students in a multi religious country, such as Nigeria. other courses for senior students is Islam and

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dialogue for peaceful coexistence. highly qualified and experienced staff conduct this course over two full days in place of the regular timetable. It deals with areas of Islamic knowledge, where people in general are often confused or misled, like relationships with non Muslim Islamic culture issues concerning women. the authenticity of the Scriptures are women oppressed in Islam, the hijab and niqab debate, and now we've gone into countering radicalization and violent extremism, atheism, etc. The cover over 100 topics during this course these important topics do not exist in the Islamic Studies national syllabus. Our students who have been through these courses over the two year period

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find them to be of great use, especially when they graduate and go into university where their faith will be challenged. And they need to know how to give clear responses to correct any misinformation or misunderstandings amongst both Muslims and non Muslims. After this course, there's another course which is what we call our baby the Islamic perspectives. Now this course was created by my mom, I Shalimar for the college and has been developed and has evolved for over the past 19 years. The college recognized that the Islamization of knowledge as proposed by those who have promoted it will be difficult to implement within the current structure and system of education. instead of replacing

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the secular system, the college has introduced a parallel Islamic approach to knowledge. Students therefore learn and fully understand the secular approach to sciences and other fields of studies. But also through the guidance of a separate teacher. They explore subjects from an Islamic perspective, this enriches their understanding of all subjects, and develops a greater appreciation of others creations and his bounties to mankind Islamic perspective covers and Muslims way of thinking. It includes Islamic manners and social conduct steps on the right path with selected topics or moral issues based on the Hadith, wonders of Allah's creation, and debunking the theory of

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evolution, and the book for men of understanding. Islam the natural way teaches how to live and think as a Muslim in relation to family, community, workplace nation and the oma and relationship with people of other faiths. In the course of our students six years in the college, they also get to cover several other shorter courses which include self discovery, adventure, personal development and leadership The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, business and financial literacy, six thinking hats, emotional intelligence, leadership training, spouse selection in Islam and premarital counseling and a whole lot more. These courses equip the students with life skills, self confidence

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and a respect for Islamic guidance on all spheres of life and the path to moral and spiritual development as they proceed to university in the outer world. The subject Islamic perspectives has evolved and adapted in breadth, depth and relevance to the 21st century. For example, students in the senior classes are being introduced to the basics of Islamic jurisprudence, and also low fake in order to understand the criteria for ascertaining the credibility of the fatwa the religious verdict, this course also includes the understanding of the Grand objective and higher intent of Islamic law and its purpose as a means to achieving common good and public benefit. They are also

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presented with Islamic perspectives on a number of issues related to agriculture, environmental ethics, sustainable development and animal rights and Islam. As for New Horizons college, it will inshallah continue to explore what makes an Islamic school more Islamic as it continues to pioneer a holistic education that goes beyond academic excellence beyond reading and writing and passing exams. beyond being just the best and the brightest, to the best and the brightest in broad general knowledge to the best and the brightest. In high Islamic moral ethos. These developments in Islamic education are presently being offered and shared with other interested Islamic schools and

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organizations such as the Association of modern Islamic schools and also internationally. Looking forward as we move further into a more global future. Islamic education will have to teach greater respect for other civilizations. If it is to catch up, contribute and move ahead.

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It will have to be more holistic and respectful of the diversity that Muslims will have to live with more than any other time in the past, ethics and rights are coming to the fore in business, finance, international and domestic policies, environmental concerns and other aspects of life. Therefore, there is a major need for Muslim scholars and educationists to help the next generation to be fully prepared to contribute to the progress of humanity. In conclusion, education in the 21st century has to be dynamic and fluid and has to evolve in order to address all the various challenges that exist today. It has been enjoined an all Muslim parents that the best legacy we can give our children is

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good therapy, good morals and a good education. Now that is what is essential to creating stable and peaceful nations, many society's ills did not happen overnight, and solving them will not happen overnight either. It will take careful, meticulous, innovative and creative thinking for us to properly educate the leaders that will solve the problems. The purpose of discussing the case study of New Horizons college is not to boast or advertise our achievements, but to highlight what we believe is an important contribution to the curricula of Islamic education in the 21st century. What we see is a success story and a work in progress could not have been achieved without the right

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leadership and the right spirit and a sincere commitment and intention. It is my hope and prayer that the little contributions that I have made in this presentation with the help of my mom may Allah have mercy on her, in addition to those made by my co presenters will guide us all towards finding and reaching a new horizons Assalamu alaikum