Islamic Education

ITEP Week #2: Aims of Education

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In his writing, Gutek summarized the sub-divisions of philosophy as the following:


In Sadker and Sadker, the authors looked at teacher and student centered theories:


In Islamic Schools, these ideas, albeit quite theoretical, have a direct connection to the classroom every day. Consider these four case studies and then use the guiding questions below to post your response on the discussion board.

Assalamualaikum wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatuh.

Teachers and friends,

I choose Case Study 3 for analysis:

In a Grade 8 science class, Khalid, a bright student, begins asking questions about evolution and what Islam’s position is on the matter. His conclusions are that evolution is an indisputable fact due to the amount of evidence. The teacher, Sis. Salwa, decides to create student projects on the matter where students will choose to be either for creationism or for evolution and then research and represent their findings in a manner of their choice to present to their peers.


Similar question regarding the evolution can arise in other classes such as History and Tafseer. But in Khalid’s case, he raised the question in the Grade 8 science class and it falls under the metaphysics as well as the epistemological aspect of knowledge. The question emerged perhaps either from what Khalid read and heard, or what he observed from the reality. His reading told him something about the flora and fauna, but mainly the man and his nature, his origin and events occurred in history as the consequences of those ‘reality’. His observation triggered him to understand why some animals in supposedly remote island like platypus in Tasmania have unique characters that create its own categories, why cabbage grows in cities is relatively smaller than those grow in rural farm.

His ears and eyes gave him some ideas that evolution does exist, but is it real? And what that makes him, a good person or not, to believe such thing? Some ethical issues involved and perhaps it led him to ask Islam’s stand on evolution.

He concluded after examining the scientific evidence to support evolution that it’s real and indisputable. He analyze the evidence using some logical process, which could be deductive if based on his readings, and inductive if based on his observation. Perhaps he did not do the same process to establish his understanding on the Islamic aspect of evolution, believing that Islam established facts and realities based on the holiness of the scripture and cannot be evaluate empirically (which is not true, but the empirical aspect to establish the Quran as a Word of God is commonly ignored)

All these will question the students as well as the teachers’ world view and how Islam became the source and foundation of our epistemology in dealing with metaphysics, axiology, ethics and aesthetics. In order to do so, al-Quran and Islam itself consistently urge human to think, and embrace the procedures of correct thinking (the Logic).


Teacher Salwa demonstrated how a student-centered approach tackles this challenge. She did not impose her stand as an essentialist or as a perennialist by directing her students to limited classical references. She created a progressive classroom, facilitate the students to discuss among themselves and even let the students decide how they want their finding to be presented. By specifying the angle of creationists and evolutionists, Teacher Salwa might also offer some aspects of social reconstructionism, examining the existing arguments between both parties which led to many debates among the society, but mainly outside the sphere of Muslim community. Perhaps by not introducing the limited boundary of creationism and evolutionism, students will not easily trapped in the mainstream approach to resolve the ethical questions around evolution.


I believe that both Gutek and Sadker & Sadker’s materials are ethnocentrism as Sadker & Sadker mentioned on page 347. The development of ideas are chronologically related to specific experiences recorded by history, mainly in Europe and America. Both teacher-centered and student-centered approaches have their own extreme sides. The teacher-centered education might lead to dogmatic approach believing that all questions are already answered in the past and they can be obtained from the established and known ‘great books’. This phenomena occurred beyond the boundary of race and religion. The same pattern exists in Christian World as well as the Muslim. On the other hand, the student-centered approach also have the constructivists who set an environment where there is no ‘absolute truth’ for us to refer and hold. With the incompetent teachers and harsh flow of information today, children might end up have nothing solid to hold as their source of belief.

I think, it is important for Muslim educationits to understand the historical background of the ideas which always related to specific contexts in history. We might see Muslim scholars like al-Tabari (839–923) and Ibn Miskawayh (932–1030) discussed about some early ideas about evolution to establish the writings on World History they might not belong to neither creationists nor evolutionists as understood today. I will take Khalid’s question about evolution theory as a way for me to integrate history, science and Usul al-Din in my Progressive Classroom.