Umm Salma (the Prophet's wife) asked a teacher to send her some school boys to assist her in wool-carding. On another occasion, Abu Huraira and Abu Usaid passed by a teacher and attracted the attention of the students. Elementary education was established properly during the Ummayad period (the first Muslim rulers after the 4 caliphs).
- It is shown that the poet Kumait and Commander Hajaj Ibn Yusuf were both headmasters. It was only later that Ibn Yusuf chose a political career.
- Zubair bin Hayya taught in a school at Taif before being appointed the
administrator of Isfahan in Iraq.
- In 105 AH (723 AD) Dahhaq bin Muzahim kept an elementary school in Kufa, offering education for free.
- The Bedawi of the tribe of Rujah settled as teachers in Basra in the 2nd century AH, they ran an elementary school, which had fees.
There is evidence that the younger generation were encouraged by the
prospect of public recognition, to give themselves heart and soul to the
task of acquiring the elements of learning. The best elementary students
were rewarded by being carried through the streets on camels, or having
almonds thrown to them. (Almonds were a luxury product, to recieve whole
almonds was a great luxury, and to recieve an almond paste or almond sweet was one of the best luxuries).
There is evidence to show that there were also institues of higher education(majlis al-adab). And at the same time in Egypt academies (dar al-hikma)were being established where the writings of the Greeks and the Persians would be studied.
Later in the 5th cetury AH (11 century AD) , Nizal al-Mulk became famous for establishing many higher educational theologican schools. This was soo followed by the tendancy adopted by the majority of schools to teach, as well as theological works, astronomy and the medical sciences.
There is o direct curriculum which was recorded, however various sayings on this matter were:
- Caliph Umar advised parents, "Teach your children to swim and throw darts; teach them so that they may be able to mount a horse securely and make them recite appropriate verses"
- Caliph AbdulMalik advised his son's tutor, "Teach them to swim, and
accustom them to sleep little"
- Hajaj ibn Yusuf advised his son's teacher, "Instruct them in swimming
before you teach them writing, for they ca at any time easily fid one who will write for them but no one will swim for them"
- Ibn al-Taum commandig writing, arithematic and swimming for childre.
Between writing and arithmetic, the latter (in his opinion) was preferred.
- A Iraqi proverb reads, "Learn to write, to make the calamus and to swim in the river"
Laith bin Mujahid said, that on the day of judgement Allah will subject the school teacher to a special iterrogation as to whether he maintained strict impartiality between pupil and pupil, and that if he is found guilty in this respect, he will be set alongside the workers of inequality.
It was also not permitted to employee a student in the private service of the teacher without the express permission of the parents.
It was reccomended that teachers be married and that they teach in public places, not at their homes. Not even the private halls of the mosques were used for teaching elementary education, rather public buildings.
The schools would close on Thursday and Fridays, and for a 3 day period over each Eid.
Regarding religious education, the student would be on 'holiday' if he
completed his part of learing the Quran early. Until they commenced they
next section. The class would move together at a modest pace (at elementary level). When the Quran was memorised, this would be celebrated with a feast called Iqlaba or Takhrifa.
This was widely used even by the teachers who taught the children of the
rulers. The scholar Ibn Sina refers to using the hand as punishment. However the exception was that ONLY children over 10 could be punished and ONLY for commiting a crime which breached the teachings of Islam. The rules stated that puishment would be of 3 to 10 LIGHT strokes (of the cane); and the chief of the police was given the authority to protect children from any child which was punished by a hot-tempered teacher.
STRUCTURE OF INSTITUTIONS
The schools were divided into two Maktabs (elementary schools) and Madrassas (higher level schools). Aspects of these schools icluded:
1. There was no annual or semi-annual examination for the children. Rather they would be contiually assessed by their teachers who taught the subjects.
2. At the higher grades the students were invited to self-assessment
3. Every student was given flexibility such that once he/she completed a
section they could move onto the next class. If one student leared faster than another he/she would not be held back. The smarter students were not held back by a fixed curriculum, and the slower students did not 'drop out' or be held back a year.
4. Remedial teaching was ecouraged such that smarter pupils were invited to assist the teachers to help the students with difficult to learn.
5. There was o discrimination based on caste, creed, status, language etc. Pupils learned in classes, and people of differing cultures/societies would sit together. Only when a student completed their section of study did the student move to the next level.
6. At the higher levels if a student completed a certain section, he/she
would recieve a Ifazah (license) which would allow them to teach other
children. To teach, a person did not require a governmet license rather they required the ability to know and understand the subject, to pass in the subject, and after attaining a license, to teach it - if need be.
7. The foundation years would focus on teaching the Quran and hadith as well as other sports and activities. Once these were mastered, at higher grades students were invited to study for medicine, maths, engineering and other sciences.
SOME HADITHS ON LEARNING
'Out of all the gifts/presents given to a child, the best gift is a good
'That a ma gives a liberal education to his child is better for him, than he gives a large measure of corn in alms (charity)'
'Whoever walks in the path to seek knowledge, Allah will make the path to paradise easy for him'
'Whoever seeks knowledge, it will be an atonemet for his past sins'
'Whoever seeks knowledge and attains it will have a double reward, and if he seeks it but does not attain it, he will have a single reward'
'The Proiphet passed by two gatherings in his mosque and said, "Both of them are working for God but one is suprior to the other. As for the one who call upon Allah (i.e. praying) may Him give them what they seek; and regarding the other, they learn wisdom and knowledge and teach it to the ignorant; so they are superior; and I am only raised up as a teacher'
'Verily Allah, His Angels, and those who inhabit the heavens, even the ants in their holes and the fish in the seas, pray for the good teachers of mankind'
'To acquire knowledge is binding upon all Muslims, men and women. And
placing kowledge with the undeserving is like hanging jewels and pearls and gold around the necks of swine'
'The likeness of knowledge form which there is o benefit is like a treasure from which nothing is spent in the way of Allah'
'The calamity of knowledge is forgetfulness, and wasting it is to speak of it to him who is not fit for it'
'The man who is questioned about knowledge and hides it knowingly shall be bridled with a bridle of fire on the day of resurrection'
'O Allah, I beg Thee of useful kowledge, lawful sustenance and a good
'O Allah, let me profit from what Thou hast taught me and teach me what
would profit me and give me increase in knowledge. Praise be to Allah i all conditions of life!'
'Faith is naked, it's dress is piety, its adornmet is modesty and its fruit is knowledge'
'On the day of judgement the ink of the learned will be weighed with the
blood of the martyr'
'Allah revealed to Abraham that He is Omniscient ad loves every learned one'
'The preference of the learned person over a devotee is as the full moon is over all the stars'
'There is a difference of 100 degress i the learned one and the devotee. The distance of one degree is such that a swift horse can cover it in seventy years'
'Angels spread their wigs beig happy with the work of the student'
'It is better to learn any chapter of knowledge than to pray 100 rakaahs of prayer'
'Knowledge is a treasure, its keys are questions. Continue to ask about
knowledge because by asking one question four persons are rewarded - the
petitioner, the learned, the listener and those who love them'
'Attendance in the assembly of the leared is better the praying a thousand rakats, visiting a thousand patients and participating in a thousand funeral processions. The companions of the Prophet asked the Prophet if it was better than recitation of the Quran. He replied, 'Was the Quran beeficial without knowledge'?'
[Abridged: Islamic Education, Khan, p 1-39]
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