Essay: Islamization of Knowledge

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Islamization of Knowledge

This work seeks to examine the question of 'what is curriculum' in terms of the historical background and curriculum process and to identify effective strategies for transforming curriculum and affecting change. This work seeks to answer the questions of: (1) Does Islam encourage its followers to believe only in metaphysics and reject the empirical sciences? If not, what is supposed to be done to help reform the education system in the Muslim world?; and (2) What elements should be integrated into a secular-based curriculum in order to Islamize knowledge?

In order to understand the framework upon which Islamic curriculum rests and the reason that there is a push for reform in the curriculum of Islamic educational institutions examined must be the source of educational content for the education of the Muslim individual. The curriculum in Islamic schools is derived from two primary sources which are the core curriculum programs that are standard in public schools and from the Islamic religion itself. An apparent contradiction exists between empirical science and Islamic beliefs that are derived from religious or spiritual beliefs of the Muslim society. These beliefs are in direct contradiction to what is referred to as the naturalist paradigm in science or that which can be seen, touched and empirically proven the 'truth'.

I. WHAT IS CURRICULUM METAPHYSICS vs. EMPIRICAL SCIENCE

The first work examined in this study is the work of Smedley (2008) entitled: "Islamic Thought and Modern Science: Conceptualizing the Debate" states the fact that "the coexistence of science and religious thought...in Islam...has a vigorous and sustained tradition" has had a strong influence on the science of Christian medieval and Renaissance Europe." (2008) in fact, it is held that Copernicus "knew of and drew upon the work of the Islamic scientific tradition." (Smedley, 2008) the argument stated by Smedley is that "modern science...is not only incompatible with Islamic, but in most of its expressions, is antithetical to it." (2008) Modern science has a seemingly built in notion that scientific naturalism which holds that theism is a falsehood "and the spatio-temporal universe of entities as studied by the physical sciences is all there is." (Smedley, 2008)

Smedley states: "More robustly, scientific naturalism includes:

1) a naturalist epistemic attitude on the nature and limits of knowledge, including the rejection of a 'first-philosophy';

2) an etiological account of how all entities have come to be in terms of a grand causal story described in natural scientific terms; and 3) a general ontology in which the only entities allowed are those that bear a relevant similarity to those which characterize a completed form of physics." (2008)

Daniel Jou, in the work entitled: "Islam and Philosophy of Science: Empiricism vs. Antirealism" states that historically and most specifically in modern times "there has been a vast and complex discourse on the relationship between empirical observation and revelation." (2008) This discussion, according to Jou "has developed urgency due to the pressures on Islam and Muslims to adapt and conform to so-called modern 'realities'. The prevailing intellectual paradigm within which Muslims have found themselves is predominantly materialistic, naturalist" in nature and one where the determination of truth and reality is through "empirical investigation and inductive analysis." This - "is the scientific method." (Jou, 2008) the ethos of the Qur'an and Islam are not 'at their face in consonance with this intellectual paradigm." (Jou, 2008) This is held to be due to the fact that both the "unseen" and therefore determinedly the 'unempirical" are both "very much determinants and constituents of truth in the Islamic worldview." (Jou, 2008)

Within this framework characterized by assimilation of a hermeneutic nature revelations of "formally or practically unseen entities, such as jinn, angels, the Night Journey and Ascension, the creation of Adam and prophetic miracles are, to varying degree, considered metaphors as opposed to plain descriptions of reality." (Jou, 2008) While this is precisely true in the Christian and other religions of the world, what stands out in Islamic education is that there has been no effective separation of the religion and state in the educational aspect in Muslim schools as there has been in member states of the European Union and in United States schools and school curriculum. The argument stated by Jou is that "taking what are considered scientific truths at any point in history as a standard by which to evaluate and interpret revelation is a problematic approach for several methodological reasons." (Jou, 2008) Specifically, Jou examines antirealism within the framework of the philosophy of science that holds there is no connection to reality by theoretical entities. Motivating antirealism is several philosophical and historical concerns, the most salient being the many paradigm-shift that occur within the development of science thought." (Jou, 2008)

The work of Mashhad Al-Alaf entitled: "The Unity of Truth in Islam: A Philosophical Sketch to the Islamic Theory of Science" states that while modern discourse does not reflect it, in fact "Islam offers a holistic conception of trust that stands as the very foundation of what" is termed by Al-Alaf as "the Islamic Theory of Science." (2008) Stated as the foundational principle in this theory is "the Unity of Truth" stated to be a principle that "presupposes a logical axiomatic premise: it is impossible for the truths from different fields of knowledge to be contradictory." (2008) This is only possible states Al-Alf in a "dynamic holistic Qur'anic universe, in which all parts are well designed to serve specific goals." (2008) in the event that a contradiction of an apparent nature occurs, it then becomes the "task of scientists and scholars of these fields to unveil the hidden secrets of such an apparent contradiction." (Al-Alaf, 2008)

Al-Alaf states that truth seeking is "aimed at reaching certainty" in which the data that has been collected and the resulting truths require careful examination. Al-Alaf states that this has been achieved by Muslim scientists through application of a method which is referred to as the "scientific doubt" which Al-Alaf described by stating: "For example, for two scientific hypotheses; either both are false or one of them is false while the other is true, or both of them are true, the question that arises here is how could they both be true at the same time?" (2008) Doubt, according to Al-Alaf has been used by Muslim philosophers as "a methodological apparatus as a precaution of searching for the truth and reaching certainty. This methodological doubt was applied by relying upon certain, clear, and self-evident ideas; starting from sense-data, moving to reason, then to revelation." (2008) Within the framework of Islamic thought, the truth that is derived from science and "acquired by experience and logical reasoning, 'aql', can be successfully incorporated with the knowledge that that comes from religion and revelation (naql). Thus reason and revelation do not contradict each other." (Al-Alaf, 2008)

II. REFORM of the EDUCATION SYSTEM in MUSLIM WORLD

The work of Barazangi (1992) entitled: "Religious Education" published in the 'Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World' states the fact that "internal political and social movements of the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries neglected Islamic education within the Muslim world and allowed external secular and missionary ideals to turn it into 'religious' education." Barazangi states as well that there are various perspectives within the "historical accounts of Islamic/Muslim education...on its nature and the function of its traditional institutions." (1992) it is related that the restrains which "ended Islamic education as a functional system aimed at understanding and appropriating Quar'anic pedagogical principles and limited it to 'religious' knowledge confined to selected males" were restraints of a cultural and political nature. The reason for the differentiation in curriculum and instruction between both class and gender is stated to be "...the primacy of formalized and juridical education over the informal development of Islamic character..." (Barazangi, 1992) Barazangi terms this to have resulted in "a separation of Islamic and 'non-Islamic' knowledge, and a dichotomy between ideal and practice in Muslim education." (1992) Barazangi writes that Islamic Education is "the process of shaping character within the Islamic worldview..." (1992)

The work of Douglass and Shaikh entitled: "Defining Islamic Education: Differentiation and Applications" states that the "generic term, Islamic education, can mean many things. Therefore, it is necessary to differentiate among the diverse institutions that engage in education related to Islam, particularly in the United States." (2004) Islamic education "in its most literal sense...can refer to efforts by the Muslim community to educate its own, to pass along the heritage of Islamic knowledge, first and foremost through its primary sources, the Qur'an and the Sunnah." (Douglass and Shaikh, 2004) Douglass and Shaikh relate in order to make an evaluation of what education means to Muslims "it is necessary to understand the curriculum in such schools." (2004) Insofar as the core academic subjects the precise same textbooks are utilized in Muslim classrooms as are used in public schools however, added to the standard programs are instruction in Qur'anic recitation and memorization, basic Islamic beliefs and practices and Arabic language. There is no standardization in… [END OF PREVIEW]

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