TOPIC: EDUCATION: TOOL FOR SUSTAINABLE GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT FOR HUMANITY
‘Audhu billah minash shaytanir rajeem BismillahirRahmanir Raheem. Alhamdu lil laahi Rabbil aalameen. Was salatu was salamu ala rasulihee al kareem.
The first experience of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) with revelation was that which is related to education as we have the mentioning of key educational terms like reciting, use of pen, knowledge and teaching. The growth and development experienced by Islam and Muslims through centuries was achieved and sustained through the high importance attached to education. The episode of the release of the prisoners of the BadrBattle is also an indicator of how high Islam rates education of the individual. We were told in the Musnad of Ahmad b. Hanbal, Vol. I, p. 247 that there were some prisoners who were unable to pay any ransom. But as they were literate they were allowed to earn their freedom by teaching the art of reading to the children of Ansaar, with ten children each for every prisoner available.
Islam achieved a lot but because of the fact that Muslims relented and did not take education as a priority in latter centuries the gains that were seen during the early centuries were not sustained. Going down memory lane, one will see the many contributions of Muslims to the modern world. Some are mentioned here:
1) University In 859 a young princess named Fatima al-Firhi founded the first degree-granting university in Fez, Morocco. Her sister Miriam founded an adjacent mosque and together the complex became the al-Qarawiyyin Mosque and University. Still operating almost 1,200 years later, it is hoped that the center will remind people that learning is at the core of the Islamic tradition and that the story of the al-Firhi sisters will inspire young Muslim women around the world today.
2) Algebra. The word algebra comes from the title of a Persian mathematician’s famous 9th century treatise “Kitab al-Jabr Wa l-Mugabala” which translates roughly as “The Book of Reasoning and Balancing.” Built on the roots of Greek and Hindu systems, the new algebraic order was a unifying system for rational numbers, irrational numbers and geometrical magnitudes. The same mathematician, Al-Khwarizmi, was also the first to introduce the concept of raising a number to a power.
3) Optics “Many of the most important advances in the study of optics come from the Muslim world,” says Hassani. Around the year 1000 Ibn al-Haitham proved that humans see objects by light reflecting off of them and entering the eye, dismissing Euclid and Ptolemy’s theories that light was emitted from the eye itself. This great Muslim physicist also discovered the camera obscuraphenomenon, which explains how the eye sees images upright due to the connection between the optic nerve and the brain.
4) Toothbrush. According to Hassani, the Prophet Mohammed popularized the use of the first toothbrush in around 600. Using a twig from the Meswak tree, he cleaned his teeth and freshened his breath. Substances similar to Meswak are used in modern toothpaste.
5) The crank Many of the basics of modern automatics were first put to use in the Muslim world, including the revolutionary crank-connecting rod system. By converting rotary motion to linear motion, the crank enables the lifting of heavy objects with relative ease. This technology, discovered by Al-Jazari in the 12th century, exploded across the globe, leading to everything from the bicycle to the internal combustion engine.
6) Hospitals. “Hospitals as we know them today, with wards and teaching centers, come from 9th century Egypt,” explained Hassani. The first such medical center was the Ahmad ibn Tulun Hospital, founded in 872 in Cairo. Tulun hospital provided free care for anyone who needed it — a policy based on the Muslim tradition of caring for all who are sick. From Cairo, such hospitals spread around the Muslim world.
This was the golden age of Islam when Europe was in the dark ages. Muslims have conveniently occupied the rear position in the scheme of things today and if not comfortably. The only way forward is for Muslims to go back to such Quran verses that spurred the Muslims of that era into action. These verses which are still there in the Qur’an and remain unchanged include those found in 10:24; 13:3; 16:11; 16:69 and 30:16-27.
We pray that Allah (swt) give us the will to do the needful.