In its boroadest sense education means imparting somebody a body of knowledge and a range of skills. In a looser sense it means things learned by unplanned experience, like in the saying “his life education taught him he shouldn’t trust anybody too much”. In a more technical sense it is teaching and training people, especially the young in a school or classroom setting. It is this and additionally indoctrination of citizens by ideological groups, especially through the media that we shall mean by education.
NATIONAL EDUCATION AT SCHOOLS
First public schools we know of made their appearance in classical
After Aristotle many philosophers founded and taught at their academies which then spread to Greek Italy (e.g
Romans emulated Greeks whom they regarded their teachers. Many Greek words entered Latin while in most cases Greek language remained the medium of instruction and anyhow it was spoken by many as their mother tongue in southern
However education became a big public sector under the Abbasids. Because mosques dotted all the landscape and Islam was based on learning mosques, especially the large urban ones became schools at which not only religious but all academic subjects came to be taught freely to all who wanted. The teaching arm of these mosques came to be known as ‘madrassas’ and these reached both their zenith and universal coverage during the Ottoman times. Then a primary school was functioning for all children of the area where a mosque stood and literacy was therefore highest among the Ottomans from anywhere else in the world.
THE EVOLUTION OF MODERN EDUCATION
The first compulsory primary schools were set up in
Today’s Western public education is divided into primary, secondary, university and post graduate stages and unlike the education late into the 18th century is not Christianity based but secular. Only schools run by churches seriously stress Christian values, the rest are increasingly moving away enen from the most basic requirements of Christian values. Morality is inculcated to the primary and early secondary pupils but that is neither a recognized subject nor Christian but secular and incidental mostly dwelling on honesty, industry and manners.
In fact modern secular education is anxious to ‘liberate’ young people from many of the values and taboos of their Christian past and God is almost never mentioned in or out of the classroom. Sex is openly and graphically taught even to primary children with boys and girls sitting together. The sense of shame is totally exorcised of their souls thereby enabling them to practice varying levels and forms of sexual intimacy only subject to age and place limitations. Clandestine relationships are neither discouraged nor worried about but only precautions (like contraceptives) and consequences are catered for.
The real emphasis is on employability and as a result classical subjects like philosophy and letters and the theoretical aspects and profundities of subjects like history, geography and science are avoided and their practical, dumbed down versions emphasised. Narrative in history and description in geography are, for example, minimimized while the ‘detective work’ in history and and economic aspect of geography stressed. As a result graduates of secondary education have little factual knowledge and insight into human history and more acumen in piecing together archeological evidence. The latter in the past were regarded university stuff and thought to be worthwhile after the basic and chronological aspects of history were mastered in the secondary education. While the old grammar school graduate knew history, geography and science factually and could quote competently from history and knew the world geography like the palm of his or her hand their modern counterparts can hardly name a king or other notable of history and what he achieved and how.
In geography he knows more about his town than the rest of the world put together and most cannot spot on a map even some European countries. The product of the modern public school is then a bunch of practical skills which by futher polish and orientation will fit him or her into a well-defined pigeonhole in the employment market and outside work kill his or her time with sensual indulgences with minimal use of brains and minimal subjections to moral scruples. Hence pubs and dancing halls are filled to capacity throughout weekends and alcohol and drugs help dissipate the spiritual frustration unavoidable when that faculty is denied expression and fulfilment. The result is unstoppable increases in alcohol and drugs consumption, frantic sexual activity and fragmentation of family and other close and meaningful social ties. The new citizen has simply not enough holy beliefs and sacred values and the pleasures of the flesh and soothing of the mind chemically and alternatively by hyperactivity (sports, dance and physical hobbies) become his or her only escape from the gaping emptiness and meaninglessness hurting his soul.
What is more new technologies and techniques, by their ability to conjure up false realities are making loneliness a rewarding experience. From virtual reality varieties obtainable from computers to barren pleasures of pornography and sexual toys more and more people are finding both misguided and dirty solace in solitude which is best enjoyed by setting up home singly. Both marriage or unmarried long-term relationships are slowly but surely going out despite fluctuations, ready and take way meals are becoming more and more the preferred way of feeding oneself and as more and more things are becoming unrepairable and thrown away at the sign of first trouble and replaced by new in all areas of consumer economy waste is becoming the norm. Each needs a home to live on his own, each produce more rubbish because repair and recycling are becoming less and less convenient or possible and each are needing more and more luxuries and evanescent fashionables thereby whipping up consumption as well as polluting waste. Builders grow ever-increasing work backlogs; they cannot build more enough fast enough and as a result house prices soaring. All of which originate from people’s minds and mentalities largely created by the education they have been subjected to. Crime is similarly on the increase and hardly coped with by increasing police numbers and budgets. Beat officers and routine traffic checks by police are almost a thing of the past and the police are equally lost behind their computers or racing to crime scenes in their desperately running cars.
In other words that irreplaceable contribution of religious faith to the formation of a reasonably effective conscience, which is an inner police and censor, is evaporating with the evaporation of the faith and law-abiding is needing more of the more expensive external policing measures.
Also, deterioration in manners is quite noticeable. The difference between manners among schoolchildren in prosperous rural and inner city areas is incredible. People who can afford it are moving to rural areas where they almost revert to traditional lifestyles and values. New churches soon spring up, attendance is far better than city areas, neighbourly relations polished and polite, sense of community enhanced, teachers respected and pupils respectful, well-mannered and academically successful. Crime is rare, fights almost unheard of and peaceful arbitration and amicable reconciliation more popular. Because teachers waste far less time in combatting challenging and disruptive pupils and more time to teach and test academic success soars. But such happy areas contribute to the general population far less a number of new citizens and as a result the number of unruly, rowdy, rude, ill-educated and selfishly and maliciously oriented new citizens are making up the majority in many areas.
What is more interesting as well as depressing is the fact that teachers themselves are the product of the same education and most bear little resemblance to those highly and diversely learned, impeccably dressed, authority and dignity projecting teacher of a few generations ago. Slovenly, too informal, sometimes obviously drugged looking and less learned and sagacious teachers are on the increase. Dumbed down textbooks and curricula are used by equally dumbed down teachers suffering from the same too secular, too hedonistic and quick-fixes seeking traits of their pupils. In some schools discipline and academic performance is so bad that teachers are demoralized, any good pupils sulking and regressing and large numbers of pupils of both sexes living almost miniature gangland lives with frequent playground and even classroom brawls and violence being daily occurrences. All these are preparations for far more serious social and law and order problems among the new citizens only a few years in future.
The blame for almost all derioration in behaviour and degeneration in character of the Western generations can be laid at the door of public education as seconded by arts and the media. The collapse of a once powerful civilization takes several generations to be realized and it appears that the Western civilization may or may not have another century to enjoy its superiority which is now about only three centuries old. The signs are that the Pacific Rim, including the geatest giant of all, China is catching up fast and may well replace the West as world’s chief economic region given the youth, hard work and unusual intelligence and spiritual subtlety of the so-called yellow race.
The chief error may be the deterioration of education paralleling the deterioration of spiritual side of the Western civilization. Although on the positive side the so-called ‘democracy and human rights’ are as strong as ever if not stronger these very same institutions have so much errors and hypocrisies embedded in and eating them from inside that they may be already having a lot of counter productive side effects. The intense and partly irresponsible individualism the West is nurturing is such that a single individual or small but ingenuous lobby group may hold a government as well as the innocent and well-meaning majority ransom to these vaunted values. We see examples of feting and spoling a few at the expense of all the rest in schools themselves. An extremely and exasperatingly rude and disruptive pupil may be suffered for a long time and subjected to batteries of psychological treatments and social gifts all of which proves futile and the delinquent is only more spoilt. When the school managemnt can no longer tolerate the strain and the insult they suspend the pupil only to be ordered to re-admit him or her on appeal by the parents to higher authority who sometimes have educational theories with the most appeasing of philosophies. Teachers every now and then leave the profession in droves and teacher recruitment campaigns have to be launched. Low morale due to poor class discipline are often quoted as the main causes of the escape. What good cam come from children growing into adults without enough inculcation of sense of responsibility, objective and standardized morality, self-discipline, good manners and at least some transcendent spiritual values?
And what if not more corruption of character may ensue from too much stress on individual rights and liberties and the relativity of moral values? The two sides of this relationship of individual versus social good are not balanced well here in the West. People are busier with and happier for fighting their respective corners instead of chivalrously and mutually aplologising, forgiving, forgetting and then loving each other. That is why litigations are increasing and settlements are soaring to astronomical sums. One patient suffers a moderate mishap in a hospital and may claim and get such a fabulous compensation from the National Health Service that many other patients miss out on their treatment because of the drain on the already tight health care budget. Nobody simply resigns even to obvious and unavoidable risks involved in medical treatments but must sue and guarantee a fabulous life for himself by an astronomical compensation at the expense of no other then his or her innocent fellow citizens. A society cutting at its own roots like this can not compete with a more socially-minded rival with humbler demands on their society along with more willing and generous contributions to it. Sure there are cases which deserve both indignation and compensation and without both those responsible for the harms will definite get more complacent and harmful. But this basic fact does not mean that the opposite irresponsibility of suing for every mishap or dubious grievance should be so atrociously preferred and appeased.
All these are matters of education as anything else. Education should support all good time-honoured traditions and create if necessary additional new values in the same spirit. Man is a social animal and must remain social.
EDUCATION IS ABOUT GOOD SOCILAZIZATION
We educate our children so that they can be good and not bad citizens as they grow up. Each society must and often does have common language which enables them to communicate faster and more precisely than when they are divided into different language groups. Languages do not also carry words and syntax but the whole culture of a people including their spiritual values. Value is something which is appreciated, desired and defended by us. Some are material values like money, health and position in society. Others are spiritual values which derive from our beliefs which give meaning and purpose to our lives. Traditional values of each and every society is religious-based even when a religion ceases to be popular. Even totally atheist societies like the Marxist, after some futile experiments, had to admit that most traditional values were ‘good value for money’ and reinstated them after a while.
For example, during the early days of the Bolshevik regime in
So the Bolsheviks made a volte-face and the top Leader remained happlily married to his Krupskaya and marriage again became the norm and adultery and prostitution crimes as in the Christian past. In that respect today’s Western sexual mores are farther to the left of even that totally atheist society.
For the Bolsheviks as much as Christians (and Muslims etc) grasped that socialization must begin from close natural relationships and expand in consecutive rings of looser and looser relationship all of which however are as real and necessary as blood relations. Since love of the off-spring is the greatest of all natural oves and is shared by all animals and is specially strong in men and women, what better starting point to socialization then a married family setting?
From this perspective the relentless and continuing subversion of traditional family by the establishment is not only deplorable but also disgusting and criminal. It is reported that now more children in
All of which means the best society, among all forms of society with everything else in it equal among them, is the society based on married family as the basic and strongest unit of socialization. All the other rings of socialization outer to this core ring have the happy obligation protecting and nurturing this nucleus. Education is one such outer ring; the educational establishment, the policy makers, the schools and even the media on account of their public opinion moulding power should treasure the family institution. The schools must reinforce it, ignore silly alternatives all of which mean evil under a cloak of pleasure even for their practitioners and take the socialization of children and youths from there. Any evils of traditional marriage cannot be the idea of the marriage itself but the imperfect laws on and sub-traditions in the marriage under criticism.
For example the Roman marriage gave fathers almost divine rights and and arbitrary powers on their wives and children. These excessive privileges of the father need be curbed and brought down to more reasonable levels and directed into constructive directions and not the abolition of the marriage institution itself need be contemplated. In Islamic Law father’s rights over his wife is very curbed in comparison to both the Roman and Christian (Church) laws and his rights over his children are more spiritual than legally enforceable. Both the wife’s and children’s property are theirs to keep for example, which is not the case in Roman or Christian laws. They may only give some to the father by way of charity except in the case of maintaining a destitute father which is obligatory for his children- but not for his wife. If a husbands starves to death from poverty his wife has nothing to answer for, except moral blame. In the two other laws all the earnings and properties of family members are claimable in their entirety by the father and he may squander it without any legal responsibility! This internal regulations of the Western traditional family is, at least in part, behind the poor image of the family institution in the eyes of the modern Western thinkers which shouldn’t really bother Muslims.
The socialization of man through education has two aspects to address.
The first is technical training. The young student need be given knowledge and skills to enable him to earn a decent living by contributing to the national economy. The second is the inculcation of all the common spiritual values of the society as additionally wrapped in a package of traditional good manners, i.e., manners commonly recognized as good and proper. For example among Turks there are certain good manners which are very worthy of keeping. One is addressing the elders in honorific titles when informally communicating. Other than ‘uncle’ and ‘aunt’ which most youngsters address with even the strangers who are appreciably older then they, they also are expected to address their older brothers as ‘agabey’ or ‘abi’ and older sisters as ‘abla’ or ‘aba’. This insignificant looking good manners create among the two sides a definite and usually compelling enough mutual care attitude, the younger person not daring to treat the older like a peer and the older not daring to treat the younger less than protectively. Those societies which lack such manners may perhaps guess the salutary effects of such polite and deferential forms of address by thinking about the salutary effects of phrases like ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘sorry’ exchanged between their own communicators.
The schools must to teach or reinforce such lubricating conversational clichés which they do. A lot of traditions each culture has are like its anatomical parts. They cannot be fooled with simply because some laser-beaming narrow-defective thinkers love playing god with things they cannot appreciate in their poverty of mind and shallowness of character. Orthopaedic surgeons for example think ten times before they operate a delicate joint like a knee or ankle, for it is impossible to re-create by surgicial means good enough alternatives to naturally formed originals. Therefore the over- representation of the left ideologies within the educational establishment is deplorable as it is in the media and the literary arts.
Media and arts are jointly responsible for the radical changes in the all-important nature of role models in public view. In Medieval time role models were saints and knights. Saints represented moral excellence and knights chivalrous behaviour and valour. Not that more than enough rogues and demons existed as role models for many. But these were not actively promoted. They vied for public admiration without public support. Today education cannot be said to support rogues, criminals and even hedonists. But it is subverting moral giants by both ignoring them and also the studies in morality. Morality is, like religious faith, is left to the individual conscience which for its turn is a conscience starved of most nutrients it needs. What is more, the relativity of both values and morality is emphasised ad nauseatum betraying an unholy anxiety about keeping the so-called gains of various personal liberties which in fact are no liberties at all but licenses to enjoy by way of abuse the individual bestial self more.
THE ULTIMATE AIM OF EDUCATION
This should be creating happy individuals within a context of a peaceful society which at the same time can defend itself well against any threats. The first thing to remember in this respect is that more than anything else happiness is a state of mind. Which means the first condition of finding and retaining happiness is cultivating the mind suitably. Today’s education from schools and influences from the media and arts are doing just the opposite. They are almost desperately distracting us from focusing on, enjoying and developing our minds in some of its natural spheres. While the analytical, mathematical and verbal skills (all left brain) are promoted the emotional, intuitive and the aesthetic are almost ignored. Being ‘emotional’ is badly looked down; intuitions are ridiculed and dismissed, especially the spiritual kind (which includes religious faith and mystical insights). The real aesthetic is abandoned as outdated. Most art now does not depict the elegant and in good taste but works depicting rotting corpses or a disordered bed strewn with urine and used condoms are winning top prizes and catapulting totally unhappy and unnecessarily rebellious types to fame and sometimes also rich lifestyles. If tomorrow a depiction of freshly passed, steaming faeces (forgive me) in a plate graces the National Gallery as the greatest work of art of the year one must not be surprised.
Now such artists as well as actors and actresses who appear in daring pornographic roles or brutal butchery scenes and celebrities wasting their money on their umpteenth cosmetic operation by transplanting their noses to their left cheek or creating hermaphroditic anatomy just to get more attention added to an already body-obsessed culture as represented by silicon-ballooned female breasts, cellulit-fighting female legs, weight-fighting spindly girs, and baldness-fighting male scalps or conversely excessive muscle building macho men… all these swarming over newspaper pages, billboards, TV screens or advertising from dozens of radio stations of each locality are changing the minds of hundreds of millions of younger people and sometimes the old to the effect that greatest value by virtue of which greatest happiness is attainable by an individual is emulating all these unjustified and unholy celebrities. Moral values and aims never come into the picture; they are boring, outdates concerns and of no use except to spoil our enjoyment of the possibilities of out bodies and the advantages of its external doctored and synthetic image. Around this craze is built a multi multi billion industry of deception and illusion manufacturing and the media are in it to their throats because the income from this collective and comprehensive blasphemy is too lucrative to resist let alone oppose. Worst of all modern school education has no criticism to offer to all this waste and harm but on the contrary designs curricula and implement policies to enable its customers to join the orgy as fully and as effectively possible. That the result will be a cosmic disaster need no convincing for the spiritually awake. The disintegrating modern society, disintegrating first in its family institution will create enough socially irresponsible individuals with enough wanton selfishness to ignite the powderkeg of egos which are the motors of this mad rat race of congested hedonistic traffic.
If the Western world is still a governable and reasonably peaceful and chariytable society is because of the inconquerable nature of the spirit. Whatever the satanic people are doing to them by way of spiritual subversion Allah’s work is too strong to collapse. Always there is enough numbers of sensible and conscionable people around at all levels to allow the evil to succeed entirely. They did succeed in the past temporarily and partially as in the two worst social mishaps of the 20th century, namely the Nazi and the Communist experiments. The Nazi peaked at and collapsed after the Holocaust and the Communist with the Killing Fields of Pol Pot. But as proofs of the dangers as their intrinsic untenability and usustainability these two satanic ideologies may be reincarnated and do mischief under other identities given the relentless hard work on the part of satanic minds churning out ideology after ideology, mass craze after mass craze and war after war.
The real good alternative to the Western education is a fully modernized Islamic one. In this the mind and the heart are to be cultivated together to produce new citizens whose knowledge and skills will enable them to contribute to their modern, competitive economy while on the other hand their moral and spiritual values and social skills proceeding from them will make them and their society seeking and securing happiness in their holistically thinking minds and feeling hearts all on a pedestal feeding from a holy soil moist with a holy water of faith and piety, not opposing a good living but making living really good. They will not obsessed with their bodies so much as to make them as foolish as seeking to relieve unworthy and often misguided anatomic grievances or interminable experiments with their external image in an atmosphere of a mass craze about the meaning of happiness or the sources of joy.
Instead he or she will find most legitimate and enduring happiness in making others who are in legitimate distress legitimately happy and thereby contributing his or her share to the knitting of a grand network of countless mutual charitable ingratiations through the length and the breadth of the society he or she is a member of. In such a spiritualised society all responsibly desired and legitimately obtained material joys remain, for Islam blesses all such joys; yet spiritual joys dominate for only them are enduring as well as truly edifying and saving.
We are not saying that Islam or any other faith or ideology will create the perfect person and the perfect society. Such things don’t exist. What we are saying is that better and better ideas can help to make both man and his society better and every improvement should be welcome. It is like having a good or a bad parent. The bad parent is awful, the good parent wonderful though not perfect.
A real good education is one which enables its graduate to marshall his thoughts well, control his passions without resentment but through enlightenment he is endowed with and create maximum realistic good moods with minimum material causes at his service. He is not the type of man who will kill another or himself because his hair is thinning or the boss or girl friend has recently been sulking. He is the man who through faith and inner light can bear mountains of concerns as if they were small rocks without losing his grip on realities and becoming even more competent in tackling them because he is able to keep calm and resigned to pay the price for his victory or at least his good try without protest or regrets. He is the true muslim, he is the true friend of Allah.