Stands >2005 Stands >The Stand of Rajab 11 1426H /August 16, 2005 A.D.

Education in Islam

Sayyed Fadlullah: We should not allow the partition discourse to sneak into our agenda since we are all responsible on the religious and political levels to safeguard the unity of the nation, and encourage them to unite behind the effort to get the occupier out of our land and minds.

Asked in his weekly seminar the following question: What is the Islamic view of the principles of education? And who is responsible for the deterioration in our education?

The Religious Authority, Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah, said:

The divine goal of sending messengers was to build man spiritually and intellectually in order to establish a just international society in which no one wrongs or aggresses the other and in which no community aggresses the other. That is why the Prophet said: ďI was sent to perfect the most honourable moralsĒ. To achieve this, Islam has devised a set of means including the Islamic religious duties, which essentially aim at educating man and instilling a sense of morality in him and curbing his aggressive instincts and habits.

Worshiping is not merely a case of carrying out empty rites. Nor does it aim to fill man with fear or concern, or isolate him from society. On the contrary, it aims at making him intellectually and spiritually open up to the whole universe and toward others through his nearness to God. In this way, he will feel merciful to those around him, as a result of his awareness of Godís all-encompassing Mercy.

Therefore, as we have rejected or refused (and we still do) the educational methods of some of the Islamic movements which are preoccupied with the spiritual and supernatural aspects at the expense of other elements. We have also rejected (and we still do) the Western materialistic approach to education and their neglect of the other educational aspects. We believe that this materialistic education is largely responsible for all the political and social catastrophes that are hitting the world these days. It is also responsible for all the brutality in the world that is represented by unmerciful killing with nothing to deter it.

This wrong education is rather dangerous. It starts within our homes by trying to freeze manís intellectual progress through internal oppression whereby the husband prevents his wife and kids from thinking and giving their view even regarding their own private affairs and even when they have intellectual qualifications that would put them in a position to give carefully considered answers. In this way, we are educated to submit to the strong in our homes and within our local environment.

Moreover, our political parties also impose internal procedures that sanctify certain symbols that are in reality not sacred ,although they should be respected because of some of their actions and certain aspects of their character. Thus when a party member is not allowed to criticise the centre of power in his party for fear of expulsion or persecution then the party will become stuck in a rut with no intellectual diversity that might enrich its social and political agenda.

The same thing is true about the religious authorities, which could become so sure of themselves that no one could criticise their opinions or actions although they could be wrong. Although everybody knows that religious commitment does not prevent the believer from criticising fallible religious leaders, whereas this is what could prevent these same leaders from sticking to ideas or to a course of action that could have negative effects on the lives of people in general.

This does not mean that international arrogance is not responsible for the devastating state of education in the Arab and Islamic world, whether by supporting the regimes that have subjected its people through intelligence agencies or by putting indirect pressure to prevent the political life of our country from evolving and producing political forces that are viable and effective. Thus hampering us in our attempts to establish a society of tolerance and political and scientific openness. That is why many spheres in the West cannot say that they have not sponsored or supported those who reject others out of hand and refuse to engage in dialogue. The West cannot deny either that the political environment in which the dictatorships it installed and supported in this region is the one that instituted the schools of violence that reject the other whether politically or religiously.

Due to the effect of this educational and political environment, we are going to see bigger political and security flare-ups. This is truer, if we take the American game that is trying to prohibit the emergence of a third alternative between its hegemony on the region and destroying it by igniting civil strife and wars, into account, especially after they have allowed all that talk of division and left things to develop into de-facto division.

We warn those who are active in the political and popular fields to be aware of the coming catastrophes and tragedies of this plan and the dangers of certain ill-considered positions that add fuel to the fire, whether they are aware of it or not. They should not allow the partition discourse to sneak into their agenda since we are all responsible on the religious and political levels to safeguard the unity of the nation and encourage them to unite behind the effort to get the occupier out of our land and minds. We should expel them and prevent them from breaking through our social, national and religious fabric.

I would like to emphasise the role of Islamic education in inspiring people to reflect on all things from the early stages of life. We also have to concentrate on all the political and religious ideas that are currently being raised without sanctifying the non-sacred, since no one is above criticism. This is what prevents the pre-dominance of any one ideology that is favoured or promoted by those who hold high positions in society. It also helps to correct wrong ideas or ways of thinking, especially those promoting bloody violence that have justified killing people just because their religion is different, whether the victim is a Muslim or not, and considering killing on this basis to be a sacred Jihad.