the Method of Teaching
The method of
teaching adopted in our religious institutions is the one in which students read
the prescribed texts while the teacher listens. During the course of this
process the teacher makes corrections and guides the students if a problem
arises. At certain occasions the teacher also asks questions from the students
related to the lesson. In this method of teaching, knowledge is restricted to
certain prescribed books and neither the teacher nor the student steps out of
it. This results in the fact that after years and years of study, students only
succeed in achieving knowledge of certain books. It is a known fact that gaining
knowledge of a few books is totally different from gaining access to the
knowledge of the subject itself. For example in the lectures of the discipline
of interpretation, students do get to know books like Jalalain and Baidawi but
they don’t get an exact know-how of the discipline of interpretation. This is
exactly the case of other disciplines also.
doesn’t mean that in our opinion this method of teaching through books is
without its benefits. The truth is that one cannot gain access to different
fields of knowledge just by reading books.
different disciplines, three methods can be adopted:
Lecture based method of teaching;
ii) Discussion based method of teaching;
iii) Practical application.
based method of teaching the teacher lectures the students, and they keep
important points in memory or they note them down. In this way the teacher plays
the central role. He tries to present the essence of his knowledge and
experience regarding the particular discipline in front of the students.
According to a student’s point of view this method is convenient. But to stick
to this method only can prove to be harmful to the reading faculty of the
students. It can result in a distaste for the habit of reading and may even
demotivate them to the extent of abandoning it altogether. It may also
discourage them from working hard.
method of teaching is based on discussions. According to this method the
students read the prescribed books and after solving the problems of Grammar and
Morphology, understand the meaning of words and sentences through the
dictionaries and then come to the class. During the session, instead of reading
books discussion is held on the topic. Students talk about it according to their
respective intellect and present their points of view and essence of the reading
material. The whole discussion goes on in the guidance of the teacher. The
teacher focuses his attention on solving the remaining problems and makes
efforts to improve and sharpen their faculty of understanding. In this way power
of reading evolves and develops in students. They also develop the skill of
interpreting the meanings of a new book. But reliance on this method alone can
waste a lot of time. If this method is adopted without a brief introductory
session of the topic, then it becomes very difficult to keep the discussion
application is another possible method. According to this method, students use
the rules and regulations in order to find solutions to practical problems. This
is also called ‘case study method’. Students are provided with different cases
and they submit their respective solutions to the teacher on the prescribed
date. After this, all the solutions suggested are discussed in the class. Each
student tries to defend his suggested solution. A great advantage of this method
is that students learn practical application of the rules and regulations they
study. So apparently this method seems to be the most useful for the future
practical and academic life of students. But on the other hand the basic defect
of this method is that it can only be used when the students have been briefed
about the rules and regulations. Before this preliminary measure this method
would not be very useful.
We are of the
view that a harmonious blend of all these three methods of teaching should be
used to enhance the abilities of the students to the maximum level.
introduction of a new discipline, lecture based method of teaching should be
used. During these lectures, the key terms and books of the respective
discipline should be introduced to the students. Then in a systematic manner,
important issues of the discipline should also be put forward to the students.
After this ‘discussion based method’ of teaching should be adopted. During the
course of this method students should be assigned some study projects, from
different important books on the subject. Students should be prepared for
discussion and lectures on small topics, and on the due dates students should
present their points of view in front of the class and defend them. If these two
methods of teaching are followed in the right manner then the students will
grasp the basics of a discipline very easily. After this, the case study method
can also be employed for practical application when and where necessary.
Related to Blind Acquisance in Some Thought
At the present
time not even a single religious school is in existence which disseminates
knowledge purely on the basis of Qur’ān and Sunnah. All the religious schools
(madāris) are busy promoting the creed of a certain sect or group. Some are
devoted to Deo-Bandi school of thought, others to the Brailvi school. We have
some schools of Fiqh Jafaria and Ahla-Hadis’ view also.
Ahmad Ghamidi writes about this situation:
flaw is that they are based upon the principle of Taqlīd. Here a student from
the very first day is labelled as an orthodox follower of a particular sect. His
destiny seems to be carved out beforehand as a devout denouncer of every other
sect and an ardent acclaimer of his own. He is made to believe that only his
brand of beliefs is in direct conformity with the Qur’ān and Sunnah. He is
brainwashed with the notion that only his sect has been Divinely blessed with
the true version of Islam. An inference attributed to a highly revered scholar
of his sect stands supreme till the Day of Judgement. That it can be challenged
by explicit reasoning derived from the Qur’ān and Sunnah cannot be thought of.
On the contrary, it becomes a part of his faith that such a scholar cannot
It is this
superhuman veneration that has actually given rise to the menace of religious
sectarianism. Differences in opinion have often developed into severe conflicts.
An atmosphere charged with lightening and resounding with thunder prevails
amongst our religious circles. Every now and then, a new episode of slander
erupts from our mosques, which are unfortunately being used for these malignant
offensives. The intense disregard the various sects have for one another has led
them to violate all norms of decency. Even immoral tactics are employed to
safeguard their own views and interests. Prejudices and bigotry have severely
hampered the long needed compilation of the Islamic law and its subsequent
implementation. Like nations at war, they continue their crusades against each
other -- while, very close to them, the forces of evil mock at them and continue
There are some
among them, who claim to be liberal by not insisting upon the taqlīd of a single
person, yet are adamant that after the fourth century Hijra, the process of
direct deliberation and reflection over the Qur’ān as a means for deduction and
derivation can no more be deemed admissible; a matter that stands closed and no
one should dare open it. To them the explanation of a Qur’ānic verse or a Hadith
contrary to the conventionally understood meaning, outrightly amounts to heresy.
Evident omissions and apparent flaws in inferences made in the past are accepted
vehemently simply because no one has ever disputed them. In their opinion,
scholarship and research only consist of enumerating, as much as possible, the
views of previous scholars in support of their own. As a result, all their
mental pursuits are confined to compilation and collection of references, while
the faculties of reasoning and intellect are impelled into a permanent state of
There is not
doubt about it that this basic fault is the reason for other drawbacks of the
education system of religious schools (madāris). The secondary status given to
Qur’ān is because of this. The attitude about Hadith is a product of this.
Whether it is draw backs in the method of teaching or defects in the method of
teaching languages, this is the root cause of every ailment, and without
eradicating this basic defect no other reform can be achieved.
problem resulting from this situation is that now only preachers of particular
sects and schools of thought can teach in these schools as teachers. Only a
person who considers truth to be confined to a certain sect or school can be
entrusted the responsibility of teaching. That is why scholars of high calibre
spend their lives in oblivion. Neither do they find a place for themselves in
such schools, nor they like to set foot in places like these. In this way the
situation epitomises the decline in the quality and calibre of teachers.
Obviously if the quality of the teaching of faculty keeps on declining then
every passing day brings further trouble for these schools.
our opinion the government should establish universities of higher religious
education to straighten up this state of affairs. In these universities it
should be accepted as a basic rule that on this earth the only source of
religion is the last Prophet of Allah, Prophet Muhammad (sws). It is only his
prerogative that whatever is declared as religion by his words and deeds should
be accepted as religion forever. We have this religion of the last Prophet (sws)
in the form of Qur’ān and Sunnah, complete and preserved. All the jurists,
scholars, intellectuals and sufis are ruled by Qur’ān. Nobody has the privilege
that any of his opinion, research, inspiration etc. should take any precedence
over Qur’ān and Sunnah.
outcome of accepting this as a basic rule would be that only those scholars will
be assigned the duties to teach in these universities who consider Qur’ān and
Sunnah as the only primary sources of religion and try their level best to act
according to that. Moreover, it is also necessary that these teachers should be
given the liberty to form any religious, political and social opinion on the
basis of Qur’ān and Sunnah and they should be free to express their opinions so
that eminent scholars should not avoid teaching in such universities.
Related to the Training of Students
religious schools (madāris) are a victim of the same moral decline from which
our society is suffering. If a common man tells lies, a student or graduate of a
religious school also does that. If a common man deceives others or abuses or
behaves in a selfish manner, so does a student of religious schools (madāris).
So if an ordinary man does not act according to the Sunnah of the Prophet (sws)
so do the people who are apparently related to religion.
Often the lack
of moral training in religious schools (madāris) is criticised in the journals
of Islamic world. In response to this criticism two types of attitudes from
these religious schools (madāris) have emerged. Some people insist that moral
decline is definitely a problem for common man but it is not a problem for
graduates of religious schools (madāris). They are of the view that religious
schools (madāris) provide such high moral training that after completing their
education students become examples of good morality and character for the
society and the common man. Contrary to this view some people though accept that
the morals and character of students graduating from these schools is not up to
the mark, still they are far better than the politicians, leaders, intellectuals
and managers of the society in this regard.
As far as the
first point of view is concerned, its flaw can be judged by the simple fact that
if one criticises the opinion of a graduate or scholar of these schools or takes
part in an intellectual discussion with him, one will be find such an example of
morals and characters which one can neither appreciate nor follow.
contrary the second point of view is based on the illusion that the same level
of character is required from graduates of these schools which is demanded or
expected from the doctors, engineers, lawyers, politicians and intellectuals.
These people forget that these scholars of religion are infact the salt of the
earth, the light of the world and lanterns of guidance in the darkness of
declining morals and characters. How can people who will set the standards for
the world ultimately, test themselves on the worldly standards. How can they
compare themselves with others when they are the ones from whom the world will
seek guidance and light.
condition of society be, whenever a scholar of religion will be tested, it will
be done on a very high standard. A person should think twice before setting foot
on this journey. After choosing this career he is putting himself under
criticism from the society. If at all there can be a standard in this world for
the scholar of religion, it can be of the personality about whom God Almighty
verily you are on an exalted standard of character.
steadfast in the most difficult of times, to smile on others insolence, to
accept differing opinions with open heart, to answer hate with love, to forgive
others, to remain silent on charges of infidelity, to avoid heated debates, to
avoid causing pain and to talk to others in a polite manner, to accept your own
faults, to be there for people in their moments of grief, to stop criticising
others and to set flexible standards for people but difficult for one’s ownself
is indeed very hard. This level of character cannot be achieved unless one has a
strong relationship with God, utmost love with the Prophet (sws), sense of
responsibility, true awareness of the day of Judgement and a burning desire to
save one’s fellow human beings from the fire of hell. Apart from all this, to
remain on a high standard of character in the hardest of times, it is also
necessary that one should not even hesitate to sacrifice one’s life, property
and honour for the cause of Almighty.
It is a fact
that throughout the history of the Ummah people with weak morality and
characters have never been trusted in the matter of religious knowledge. The
great scholars of the past were not just scholars of highest intellectual
calibre, they we also at a very high level of morality and character. The
stories of their determination and courage are like stars of heaven in dark
nights. We have example of Saeed Bin Museeb, when he was tied to the trunk of
the date palm and flogged. He fell unconscious because of pain, hunger and
thirst. His back became red with blood. But when he gained consciousness he was
even more enthusiastic about speaking the truth.
We also have
the example of Imam Malik bin Anas, when he was tied with a rope and was flogged
but he did not bow down before the king. Then he was made to ride the bare back
of a camel and was carried around the town that he might succumb to the
ignominy. But when his tongue moved to speak, this is what it uttered:
He who knoweth
me knoweth me and he who doth not know should know: I am Anas’ son Malik and I
declare that there is nothing as a coerced Divorce.
example we have of Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal, when after all the persecution he only
decided to speak the truth according to Qur’ān and Sunnah, infront of the Caliph
All the above
mentioned people not only are on a high level of morals and character, they also
possess the zeal for the triumph of religion. These are the people who never
surrendered to the rulers of the time, thinking that one day they will be
answerable before the Almighty. They faced all the opposition and persecution
just for the right cause, so that an example should be set in front of people
and so people should not lose interest in religion. People like these have
always provided the light of guidance. Although it is a fact that there
importance was not realised in their own time, and they faced all kinds of
hardships, however it is always these people whose names remained preserved in
the pages of history and could never be forgotten.
It is this
role which elevates a scholar from the position of just being a scholar and
makes him an ideal for the society. But when those who should be ideals of the
society, set the society as their ideal and themselves fall into ignorance
instead of guiding and reforming the nation, then how can any improvement or
reform be expected from them.
situation it is inevitable that very high standards of morals and character
should be presented to the students of religious schools (madāris). In this
regard students should be made to study the characters of the Holy Prophet
(sws), his companions (ra) and other pious people of the Ummah, and in this way
the real respect and position of these elders should be enhanced in their minds.
If this is achieved then the love of these elders will pave the way for the
desire to achieve the same standards in the hearts of these students.
practical training of students it is also necessary that they should be made to
spend some time in the company of pious scholars. They should be encouraged to
specially pay attention to those verses of Qur’ān and Ahadith of the Holy
Prophet (sws) which speak of the building of character and morals. Moreover they
should be made aware of their responsibility of Dawah for the triumph of the
issue in this regard is the meaningless Degree of Masters in Islamiyat. It
should be kept in mind that to achieve Masters degree in a subject means that a
student has intellectually achieved the level of an expert or master in that
subject. The only thing left is Doctorate in subject which is actually a proof
of having a critical eye on the subject. With this existing concept about the
Masters degree it is natural that people doing masters in Islamiyat start
considering themselves masters of religious disciplines. But in reality these
people do not even know the ABC of religious disciplines. They even lack the
basic know-how of Arabic. All they do is memorise a few interpretations, of some
sūrahs, of different schools of thought included in their curriculum. But they
lack the basic knowledge of the rules of interpretation of these schools.
unaware of the rules on which different jurists have based their works although
they gain some knowledge of their opinions. This results in the fact that these
masters of religious disciplines technically know nothing.
presence of so many religious schools (madāris) in the country, there is no
rational justification to continue to have M.A Islamiyat program, except that
some people would not like to send their children to religious schools (madāris)
because of above mentioned drawbacks. So if some of the students decide to opt
for higher religious education they should have an alternative in the form of
Masters in Islamiyat.
the existing system of education, the one suggested by us eliminates this
problem. If the education system uptill the level of F.A. / F.Sc is established
on the principles mentioned then there will not be any need to continue with the
Degree of Masters in Islamiyat. After intermediate every child will decide
according to his / her aptitude. So in our opinion the current system of higher
education in Islamiyat should be eliminated and the degrees from religious
schools / universities should be given the same weightage as is given to the
Degree of M.B.B.S. in the field of medicine.
At the end of
this discussion we present the summary of this programme:
from encouraging the existing religious schools (madāris) to reform their
system, the government should establish universities of higher religious
2. In these
universities the responsibility of teaching should only be handed over to the
scholars who consider Qur’ān and Sunnah as the primary source and try their
level best to act according to the teachings of these sources.
teachers should be allowed to form any political, social, intellectual and
religious opinion in the light of Qur’ān and Sunnah and should be given the
freedom to express their views whenever and wherever they desire, so that
scholars of high calibre should not hesitate to teach in these universities.
other modern disciplines only those students should be admitted to these
universities who have at least gone through intermediate level from ordinary
duration for religious education should be five years and the curriculum should
be arranged in such a way that the Qur’ān should have the central role in it.
Only Qur’ān should be considered the standard of test for every interpretation,
Hadith, philosophy, opinion etc.
6. With this
the main importance in this curriculum should be given to the literature of the
Jahaliya period, Hadith, Jurisprudence, Islamic law and Syntac. Ancient
Philosophy and Logic should only be taught to an extent that students should get
familiar with the terms of these disciplines and should not have a problem in
going through the books of these disciplines. From amongst the modern
disciplines, Philosophy and Psychology, Economics, and Physics and Political
Science should be included in the curriculum in such a way that students while
understanding these disciplines fully, also qualify to present the point of view
of Qur’ān and Sunnah in this regard. A brief selection of world literature
should be included, so that students can have an understanding of the superb
literary style of Qur’ān. A comprehensive book regarding the rules of modern law
should be included. All the important schools of fiqh in Islam should be taught
in a way so that students should consider the whole collection as their own
heritage and should realise that any prejudice is totally unacceptable in the
world of knowledge. So only those opinions should be accepted out of this
collection which are according to the teachings of Qur’ān and Sunnah.
should not be made to read books only, but preparation should be done for their
religious and moral training, and to achieve this purpose, they should spend
some time in the company of pious scholars. They should be encouraged to pay
special attention to the verses of Qur’ān which speak of building of character
and morals. Along with it the spirit for the triumph of religion should be
inculcated in them, informing them of their true responsibility of indhar.
current system of higher education in Islamiyat should be eliminated and
graduation from these universities should be accompanied by the degrees
equivalent to the degree of M.B.B.S. in modern medicine.
presented our suggestions to improve the education system of our country. In our
opinion these are the minimum requirements for the reformation of the education
system, without which no worth while change can be expected.
Amar Ellahi Lone