Islamic Pedagogical Tradition 

Ever heard of Islamic Education? Studies of this historically rich pedagogical tradition may give us insight into the reasons for the past glory and current sustainability of the civilization that comprises over 24% of world’s population.
The period of the Islamic Golden Age (ca. 8-14 century) is one of the most fascinating in world history. As the British writer Herbert Wells once noted:
"The Arab intelligence had been flung across the world even more swiftly and dramatically than had the Greeks a thousand years before. The intellectual stimulation of the whole world west of China, the break-up of old ideas and development of new ones, was enormous."  
Was this due to their exclusive educational philosophy and methodology?

Read on for a glimpse of what's in my upcoming book!

Education during Islamic Golden Age

Image: wikimedia
Quran starts with the word “read” and Islam has a long and rich intellectual tradition. The word knowledge ('ilm) is mentioned in Quaran over 800 times.

Due to the fact that science is seen in the Quran as the method to recognize and identify the divine, Islamic educational pedagogies were never historically restricted to “religious” knowledge but was broadened to incorporate secular disciplines.

Another quote of Herbert Wells gives an instight into the spread of education of that period:
"Learning sprang up everywhere in the footsteps of the Arab conquerors. By the eighth century there was an educational organization throughout the whole "Arabized" world. In the ninth learned men in the schools of Cordoba in Spain were corresponding with learned men in Cairo, Bagdad, Bokhara and Samarkand.
The Jewish mind assimilated very readily with the Arab, and for a time the two Semitic races worked together through the use of Arabic. Long after the political break-up and enfeeblement of the Arabs, this intellectual community of the Arab-speaking world endured.
It was still producing very considerable results into the thirteenth century."
"The purpose of seeking knowledge in Islam is to inculcate goodness in man as man and individual self.
The end of education in Islam is to produce a good man, and not—as in the case of Western civilization—to produce a good citizen.
By ‘good’ in the concept of good man is meant precisely the man of "adab" in the sense here explained as encompassing the spiritual and material life of man." 

The oldest existing,
continually operating higher educational institution in the world
- The University of al-Qarawiyyin in Morocco.
It was founded by Fatima al-Fihri in 859 with an associated madrasa, which subsequently became one of the leading spiritual and educational centers of the historic Muslim world.

It was incorporated into Morocco's modern state university system in 1963.

Ijtihad - free independent thinking based on reason
Islamic history is full offree thinkers and for good reason – perhaps the result of a unique method of learning called Ijtihad which stands for free independent thinking based on reason.
The Islamic Golden Age produced a stunning number of polymaths who were of the same caliber as later Renaissance man. They were raised on Ijtihad and believed that it was essential to question everything – from religion to philosophy. Al-Biruni, Ibh Al-Haytam, Ibn Sina, Ibn al-Rawandi, Ibn Rushid, Al-Farabi, Al-Gazali - just to name a few.

One of the reasons for the decline of the Islamic Golden Age is the disappearance of Ijtihad from the learning process of most muslem schools and universities. 

The story is highly interesting: Why and how it happened, you will discover in the
upcoming book.

image: wikimedia