How do we teach our children to think, analyse and deconstruct information? Islamic Education must mean a set of research and critical thinking tools, which are based upon Islamic epistemology or Islamic Theory of Knowledge.
This is the time of the year for reviewing how well or not so well we have delivered our trust (Amaanah) as Educationists. Teaching children banks of information from curriculum resources – books, dvds, cds, etc – will be of little use if they cannot formulate judgements, problem solve and make decisions that please Allah or in the least subscribe to a criteria of ‘Islamic Rationality.’ To some this may seem oxymoronic, since ‘Rationality’ derives from a positivist approach to knowledge and Islam the antitheses of all forms of knowledge having no basis in ‘Revelation.’ But who says that Islam is not rational or that the act of being rational has to exclude goodness or Godliness?
Consider the following questions and self evaluate whether you have enabled your learners to do the following:-
1- To understand the key Arabic terms which define the Islamic concepts they are studying
2- To reference the Holy Quran for their key canons of faith and practice, making sure they develop the habit of firstly seeking the view of Revelation before embarking upon their analysis
3- To reference the sayings, actions or acknowledgements from the life of Prophet Muhammad for any of the topics under study and to understand the difference between a command and a recommendation
4- To use their Arabic language skills to be able to read and write those verses and hadith traditions in Arabic so they begin to see to the importance of the Arabic language to Islamic Studies
5- To be able to think critically upon a range of scholarly views on a single verse or hadith tradition and the different thinking methods involved in deducing opinions, so rather than teaching them what scholars have said, they analyse the reasons and sources behind their opinions and how they came to their point of views
6- And to develop the skills to evaluate complex issues using the five canons of Islamic legal thinking: Compulsory, Forbidden, Encouraged, Disliked and Optional; and the conditions under which actions or non-actions can be thus classified?
This list can be extended, but the aforementioned are the most basis skills we should focus upon when attempting to impart to our children an “Islamic Research Methodology.” If we missed this opportunity this academic year, there is always next year.