The Effects of Basic Islamic Education in Preserving the Muslim in the Most Challenging Times Ahead

Effects of Islamic Education- GSalam.Net

Outline

Introduction

Alhamdulillah; all perfect thanks and praises are due to the Almighty Allah. I send perfect peace and blessings upon the best of teachers of Islamic education, Sayyidinā Muḥammad, his household, his companions and all those who follow his guided path till end of time.

Many of the phenomena we see today confirm with several indications that we are at the verge of end of time. It is given that every Muslim believes there’s some time called end of time. It will lead to the day of resurrection. After which every soul shall be rewarded per his or her choices in this life. End of time comes with a set of signs which come in forms of challenges, which the Muslim should withstand. The closer we approach it the more challenging our challenges emerge to be. Therefore, it is wise to prepare ourselves and our children to withstand these challenges.

One of the ways to develop immunity against these challenges it to equip ourselves and our loved ones with sufficient Islamic education, that will stand to shield us against the greatest evil ahead. This article discusses the importance of Islamic education in preserving the Muslim in such times. It further provides some suggestions for staying protected, inshā Allah.

To start, let’s highlight the most challenging of time, followed by some of the signs of end of time that are mentioned by the Prophet ṣallā Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam.

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The Most Challenging Times

The most challenging of times are those the Prophet ṣallā Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam had always sought refuge in Allah against. The appearance of the Dajjal or the false Messiah is one of the major signs of the end of time. His appearance will be very tricky, but those with proper religious and spiritual readiness attained from a proper basic Islamic education will be saved.

Challenges of end of time will be tricky, such that a man will wake up in the morning as Muslim and denounce Islam by evening time. Another will be Muslim during evening time, and will wake up, the next morning, as non-Muslim.

Prior to this and prior to the appearance of Dajjal, there will be many other signs which collectively serve as warning about of end of time.

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Some Signs of End of Time

Imām al-Bukhārī and Muslim report from the narration of Sayyidinā Anas ibn Mālik raḍiya Allāhu ‘anhu, that the Prophet ṣallā Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam says:

إِنَّ مِنْ أَشْرَاطِ السَّاعَةِ أَنْ يُرْفَعَ الْعِلْمُ، وَيَثْبُتَ الْجَهْلُ، وَيُشْرَبَ الْخَمْرُ، وَيَظْهَرَ الزِّنَا

“From among the signs of the Hour are that religious knowledge will be taken away, ignorance will prevail, alcoholic drinks will be consumed, and there will be prevalence of zinā (fornication and adultery).”

This ḥadīth is one of several, which further confirm the prophecy of the Prophet Muhammad ṣallā Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam.

Undeniably, we can see how zinā prevails today. But, perhaps, we fail to realize how it reached to that level. Wherever there’s spread of zinā, alcohol is consumed heavily. This happens when ignorance about the religion is normalized. Unfortunately, ignorance is normalized when knowledge is, somewhere somehow, being compromised.

Reflection from the Hadīth

Clearly, we are already living what the ḥadīth above implies. Knowledge has been taken away gradually, and gradually, people of ignorance become in control. When that happens, everyone will claim knowledge while in reality, only a few will possess the true and genuine knowledge.

No doubt, there will be people of knowledge, but their distribution to the world’s population will be insignificant. For example, recent financial reports indicate that the eight richest people of our time have more wealth than half of humanity, combined, have. Similarly, a day will come when, perhaps, the knowledge possessed by the eight most knowledgeable people will not suffice half of humanity.

How will Knowledge be Taken Away?

People will not be made to forget their knowledge. Instead the knowledgeable will not be replaced by people of their weight in knowledge. Simply because a few or none will be interested in Islamic education. The global system will be structured in a way that idles and ridicules Islamic education. Its bearers will therefore be marginalized and, in many cases, humiliated.

To avoid be marginalized or humiliated, it will be perceived safer to avoid studying or specializing in Islamic education altogether.

When that happens, it will take lots of courage for anyone to embark on Islamic education, whether to preserve the heritage and tradition or to explore employment opportunities. This explains why in the past, laymen sent their children to specialize in Islamic education. However, today, Islamic scholars are those who prefer sending their children for secular specializations.

Perhaps, this also explains why we now rely on electronic devices in preserving our knowledge, whereby Allah describes the hearts of the knowledgeable as storage for the Qur’an:

بَلْ هُوَ ءَايَـٰتٌۢ بَيِّنَـٰتٌ فِى صُدُورِ ٱلَّذِينَ أُوتُوا۟ ٱلْعِلْم

“Rather, the Qur’an is distinct verses [preserved] within the breasts of those who have been given knowledge” (Sūrah al-‘Ankabūt, 29:49).

This verse tells us that the knowledgeable are those whose heart are filled with the Qur’an. And the Qur’an becomes basis and foundation for all useful and beneficial knowledge.

Imām Muslim reports from the narration of Sayyidinā Abdillāh ibn ‘Amr, raḍiya Allāhu ‘anhumā, that the Prophet ṣallā Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam makes mention of how knowledge will be taken away:

إِنَّ اللَّهَ لاَ يَقْبِضُ الْعِلْمَ انْتِزَاعًا يَنْتَزِعُهُ مِنَ النَّاسِ وَلَكِنْ يَقْبِضُ الْعِلْمَ بِقَبْضِ الْعُلَمَاءِ حَتَّى إِذَا لَمْ يَتْرُكْ عَالِمًا اتَّخَذَ النَّاسُ رُءُوسًا جُهَّالاً فَسُئِلُوا فَأَفْتَوْا بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ فَضَلُّوا وَأَضَلُّوا

“Verily, Allah does not take away knowledge by snatching it from the people but He takes away knowledge by taking away the scholars, so that when He leaves no learned person, people turn to the ignorant as their leaders; then they are asked to deliver religious verdicts and they deliver them without knowledge, they go astray, and lead others astray.”

In other words, we must safeguard ourselves and our loved ones from going ignorant pertaining to the knowledge that keeps us closer to Allah our Creator. And this is where we should decide the first source of religious knowledge for our children. To do that, we must first define ‘knowledge’ as per the Prophetic saying.

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Definition of Knowledge as Per the Hadith

The knowledge that will safeguard the Muslim from the challenges of end of time is the knowledge that was brought by all the Messengers and Prophets of Allah. To that effect, they left behind not money (dirham or dīnār), but knowledge. Their lives reflect that knowledge. Therefore, emulating them gives access to the knowledge they brought forth. Imām Abū Dāwūd reports from the narration of Sayyidunā Abū al-Dardā’ raḍiya Allāhu ‘anhu, that the Prophet ṣallā Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:

مَنْ سَلَكَ طَرِيقًا يَطْلُبُ فِيهِ عِلْمًا سَلَكَ اللَّهُ بِهِ طَرِيقًا مِنْ طُرُقِ الْجَنَّةِ وَإِنَّ الْمَلاَئِكَةَ لَتَضَعُ أَجْنِحَتَهَا رِضًا لِطَالِبِ الْعِلْمِ وَإِنَّ الْعَالِمَ لَيَسْتَغْفِرُ لَهُ مَنْ فِي السَّمَوَاتِ وَمَنْ فِي الأَرْضِ وَالْحِيتَانُ فِي جَوْفِ الْمَاءِ وَإِنَّ فَضْلَ الْعَالِمِ عَلَى الْعَابِدِ كَفَضْلِ الْقَمَرِ لَيْلَةَ الْبَدْرِ عَلَى سَائِرِ الْكَوَاكِبِ وَإِنَّ الْعُلَمَاءَ وَرَثَةُ الأَنْبِيَاءِ وَإِنَّ الأَنْبِيَاءَ لَمْ يُوَرِّثُوا دِينَارًا وَلاَ دِرْهَمًا وَرَّثُوا الْعِلْمَ فَمَنْ أَخَذَهُ أَخَذَ بِحَظٍّ وَافِرٍ

“If anyone travels on a road in search of knowledge, Allah will cause him to travel on one of the roads of Paradise. The angels will lower their wings in their great pleasure with one who seeks knowledge, the inhabitants of the heavens and the Earth and the fish in the deep waters ask forgiveness for the learned man. The superiority of the learned man over the devout is like that of the moon, on the night when it is full, over the rest of the stars. The learned are the heirs of the Prophets, and the Prophets leave neither dinar nor dirham, leaving only knowledge, and he who takes it takes an abundant portion.”

This tells us that every Muslim needs some portion from the knowledge brought forth by the Messengers and Prophets to survive as Muslims, and to protect their faith and the faith of their children. The more of it you have, the better you know Allah, and the more you know Allah, the more you fall in love for Him, and subsequently have a proper fear for Him.

إِنَّمَا يَخْشَى ٱللَّـهَ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ ٱلْعُلَمَـٰٓؤُا

“Only those of His servants, who possess knowledge, fear Allah” (Sūrah Fāṭir, 35:28).

Thus, sciences, that relate directly to the Qur’an and to the Sunnah of the Prophet ṣallā Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam are the best of sciences the Muslim should acquire. In fact, they should be the first the Muslim acquires before he embarks on life. In a ḥadīth reported by Imām al-Bukhārī from the narration of Sayyidinā ‘Uthmān ibn ‘Affān raḍiya Allāhu ‘anhu:

خَيْرُكُمْ مَنْ تَعَلَّمَ الْقُرْآنَ وَعَلَّمَهُ

“The best among you (Muslims) are those who learn the Qur’an and teach it.”

In another ḥadīth reported by Imām al-Bukhārī, Sayyidunā ‘Abdullāh ibn ‘Abbās raḍiya Allāhu ‘anhumā says:

أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم دَخَلَ الْخَلاَءَ، فَوَضَعْتُ لَهُ وَضُوءًا قَالَ ” مَنْ وَضَعَ هَذَا “. فَأُخْبِرَ فَقَالَ ” اللَّهُمَّ فَقِّهْهُ فِي الدِّينِ

“Once the Prophet ṣallā Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam entered a lavatory and I placed water for his ablution. He asked, “Who placed it?” He was informed accordingly and so he said, “O Allah! Make him (Ibn `Abbas) a learned scholar in religion (Islam).”

The Prophet ṣallā Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam asked for the best for Ibn ‘Abbās. That is understood from the ḥadīth of Imām al-Bukhārī from the narration of Sayyidinā Mu‘āwiyah raḍiya Allāhu ‘anhu:

مَنْ يُرِدِ اللَّهُ بِهِ خَيْرًا يُفَقِّهْهُ فِي الدِّينِ

“If Allah wants to do good to a person, He makes him comprehend the religion.”

Unfortunately, as we approach end of time, man becomes more materialistic. And that interprets why all our endeavours are purely materialistic. To that effect, towards the end of time, the words of wisdom from the wisest among men is all going to be about worldly affairs. Pick any contemporary wise man of your choice, and compare his words of wisdom to those of Luqmān al-Ḥakīm or ibn ‘Aṭā’ullāh al-Sakandarī. The predecessors talk about the unseen (ākhirah), while the successors likely focus on the material (dunyā).

Even non-Muslim wise men of the past talked about spirituality, morality and nobility. But today, wise men are those who can only think and talk about money and worldly possessions. Therefore, the more you talk about the material, you’re perceived civilized, progressive and possibly successful. The more you talk about the unseen, the likely you’re perceived as backward.

With the technological advancement we see today, it’s worth indicating, that man has never made discoveries and been informed as much as he’s discovered and been informed today. At the same time, he has never been as ignorant as much as he is today. He has advanced in material but regressed in spirituality. This is what happens when the revealed knowledge is abandoned, in the chase of worldly acquired knowledge. This is also what happens when our wise men are no longer inspired with wisdom of the unseen, but rather about the material.

Our understanding of Islamic knowledge, and for that matter Islamic education, must be derived from the correct worldview of Islam itself. If you see Islam as an ideology, then you probably see Islamic education as an ideology. If you see it as a theory that can just be taught, reproduced and that’s it, then Islamic education should mean theories to you.

The truth is, Islam is not a theory or ideology as much as it is a practice. It’s such because it is a divine revelation that guides and nurtures humanity. And every Muslim is required to practice Islam to his best capacity. If Islam is meant to be practised, then Islamic education needs to be that which instils awareness that calls to action as and when applicable, rather than concepts and opinions memorized and reproduced. Islam is unlike philosophical thoughts that raise issues and sometimes discuss them, but fail to present practical solutions to them. Any ideology or theory that is attached to Islam should enhance the Muslim’s practice of Islam, and not distance him from the religion.

In many instances the Prophet ṣallā Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam would commend his companions based on the knowledge they possess, and most of them were related to the knowledge of Qur’an and Sunnah (Islamic education). Imām ibn Mājah reports that Sayyidunā Abdullāh ibn Mas‘ūd raḍiya Allāhu ‘anhu says:

أَنَّ أَبَا بَكْرٍ، وَعُمَرَ، بَشَّرَاهُ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ قَالَ  ” مَنْ أَحَبَّ أَنْ يَقْرَأَ الْقُرْآنَ غَضًّا كَمَا أُنْزِلَ فَلْيَقْرَأْهُ عَلَى قِرَاءَةِ ابْنِ أُمِّ عَبْدٍ

Abū Bakr and ‘Umar gave him (ibn Mas‘ūd) the glad tidings that Rasūlullāh had said: “Whoever would like to recite the Qur’an as fresh as when it was revealed, let him recite it like Ibn Umm ‘Abd.'”

Imām al-Tirmidhī reports from the narration of Sayyidinā Anas ibn Mālik, that the Prophet ṣallā Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam says:

أَرْحَمُ أُمَّتِي بِأُمَّتِي أَبُو بَكْرٍ وَأَشَدُّهُمْ فِي أَمْرِ اللَّهِ عُمَرُ وَأَصْدَقُهُمْ حَيَاءً عُثْمَانُ وَأَقْرَؤُهُمْ لِكِتَابِ اللَّهِ أُبَىُّ بْنُ كَعْبٍ وَأَفْرَضُهُمْ زَيْدُ بْنُ ثَابِتٍ وَأَعْلَمُهُمْ بِالْحَلاَلِ وَالْحَرَامِ مُعَاذُ بْنُ جَبَلٍ أَلاَ وَإِنَّ لِكُلِّ أُمَّةٍ أَمِينًا وَإِنَّ أَمِينَ هَذِهِ الأُمَّةِ أَبُو عُبَيْدَةَ بْنُ الْجَرَّاحِ

“The most merciful of my Ummah to my Ummah is Abū Bakr, and the most severe of them concerning the order of Allah is ‘Umar, and the most truly modest of them is ‘Uthmān bin ‘Affān. The best reciter (of the Qur’an) among them is Ubayy ibn Ka‘b, the most knowledgeable of them concerning (the laws of) inheritance is Zaid bin Thābit, the most knowledgeable of them concerning the lawful and the unlawful (ḥalāl and ḥarām) is Mu‘ādh ibn Jabal. Truly, every Ummah has a trustworthy one, and the trustworthy one of this Ummah is Abu ‘Ubaydah bin Al-Jarrāḥ.”

We understand from the various ḥadīth above that the need for specialists in different areas were important during the Prophet’s time just like they are today. But he emphasized in most of the ḥadīth on specializations that relate to the revealed knowledge.

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The Prophet and Basic Education

After the Battle of Badr and after Muslims were granted victory over Quraysh, some fighters from the Quraysh camp were captured. The ransom for those who couldn’t afford to pay was that each captive had to teach 10 Muslim children the art of reading. Many lessons can be derived from this incident. But the most relevant of them to our topic is how education was given priority, even at times of war.

Moreover, we see how the Prophet ṣallā Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam taught to instil certainty about Allah (yaqīn) in ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbās, when he said to him, in a ḥadīth reported by Imām al-Tirmidhī from the narration of ibn ‘Abbās himself:

يَا غُلاَمُ إِنِّي أُعَلِّمُكَ كَلِمَاتٍ احْفَظِ اللَّهَ يَحْفَظْكَ احْفَظِ اللَّهَ تَجِدْهُ تُجَاهَكَ إِذَا سَأَلْتَ فَاسْأَلِ اللَّهَ وَإِذَا اسْتَعَنْتَ فَاسْتَعِنْ بِاللَّهِ وَاعْلَمْ أَنَّ الأُمَّةَ لَوِ اجْتَمَعَتْ عَلَى أَنْ يَنْفَعُوكَ بِشَيْءٍ لَمْ يَنْفَعُوكَ إِلاَّ بِشَيْءٍ قَدْ كَتَبَهُ اللَّهُ لَكَ وَلَوِ اجْتَمَعُوا عَلَى أَنْ يَضُرُّوكَ بِشَيْءٍ لَمْ يَضُرُّوكَ إِلاَّ بِشَيْءٍ قَدْ كَتَبَهُ اللَّهُ عَلَيْكَ رُفِعَتِ الأَقْلاَمُ وَجَفَّتِ الصُّحُفُ

“O boy! I will teach you a statement: Be mindful of Allah and He will protect you. Be mindful of Allah and you will find Him before you. When you ask, ask Allah, and when you seek aid, seek Allah’s aid. Know that if the entire creation were to gather together to do something to benefit you- you would never get any benefit except that Allah had written for you. And if they were to gather to do something to harm you- you would never be harmed except that Allah had written for you. The pens are lifted and the pages are dried.”

At that time, ibn ‘Abbās raḍiya Allāhu ‘anhumā was barely eight years old. Yet, the Prophet ṣallā Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam taught him one of the most important lessons every Muslim child need. In fact, it’s a lesson which even some 40-year-olds, today, find it difficult to digest.

The point here is, the Prophet ṣallā Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam ensured that children were given basic Islamic education at the very early age. And our children shouldn’t be exceptions.

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The Significance of Basic Islamic Education for the Muslim

Unfortunately, we live in a very materialistic time. And as the saying goes, “if you go to Rome, you do what Romans do.” Since the proverb is usually taken literally and wholly, you should be materialistic to survive. Failure to do that means you must decide to sacrifice the material gains for a more meaningful and purposeful purpose. Challenging times, indeed!

It’s needless to say, that some parents see the importance of Islamic education as necessary to preserve a cultural or societal identity. The truth is that the Muslim doesn’t have to live and grow up in a Muslim community to learn to pray and be a practicing Muslim. No doubt, environment has its influence in one’s growth from various angles. But the home setting and culture are the primary factors that determine and shape the Muslim child’s attitude towards teachings and commands of his faith and religion.

It can be argued that the environment plays a crucial role in shaping the character of a child. But the basic indoctrination, which the child develops from home, and his or her circle of relatives is important in sharpening his religious awareness, and hence, his worldview as a Muslim.

It doesn’t help when all we talk about is soccer, latest recipes, dramas and politics in our family and social gatherings. Ironically, this is when the ultimate wish of the Muslim is to die with lā ilāha illā Allah. Let’s assume that some of these topics are important. Discussing them, perhaps, broadens our horizons and keeps us relatively civilized. But hey… discussing and instilling religious awareness is more important. The more we appreciate the importance of discussing politics, soccer, fashion and entertainment, the greater the importance of discussing religion becomes. With a grounded religious knowledge, your discussion about politics, and your involvement in, and your way of handling entertainment will be guided accordingly. And the other way around is not correct. This means, politics doesn’t make a better Muslim, neither do entertainment or soccer.

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Starting Point for Islamic Education

If character begins at home, so supposed Islamic education. Islamic education begins with the first words we pass on to our children. It begins with the attitudes we pass to our children. It begins with the consciousness we create for prayers in our children. It continues with on mindfulness of the source of our consumption. It involves the sense of consideration and care we instil in our children.

In other words, the Muslim parent doesn’t have to be a scholar to know how to impart Islamic values (which is one aspect of Islamic education) in his children. All he needs is to be a good Muslim. A good Muslim with his child’s spiritual wellbeing in mind, equally as he cares for the child’s physical and financial wellbeing. That way, even commonly uttered dhikr reflects in our encounters.

The Example of SubḥaAllāh…Alḥamdulillāh… Allāhu Akbar

SubḥānAllāh… Alḥamdulillāh… Allāhu Akbar… are the words we repeat 33x, five times a day. That is if you narrow it to only those we say after prayers.

Let’s consider the number of times we repeat Allāhu Akbar a day.  Every day, you repeat Allāhu Akbar 94 times during prayers alone. That’s 11x during Fajr, 22x during Ẓuhr, ‘Aṣr and ‘Ishā’ accordingly, and 17x during Maghrib. If you regularly say SubḥānAllāh… Alḥamdulillāh… Allāhu Akbar… 33x after each obligatory prayer, that means you repeat Allāhu Akbar 165x accumulated from the 33x of repetition from five times prayers of a day. With that, the ordinary consistent Muslim repeats Allāhu Akbar 259 times a day.

In everyday life, a person who repeats Allāhu Akbar 259 times a day, with a present (not a wandering) heart, is the least likely to swear or curse when he’s overexcited, or caught by a surprise. Allāhu Akbar pushes itself out of your mouth automatically.

Similarly, it’s unlikely that you’ll repeat SubḥānAllāh 33 times, five times a day, and fail to say SubḥānAllāh when something inspires you. It’s also unlikely that you’ll repeat Alḥamdulillāh 33 times, five times a day, and fail to say Alḥamdulillāh when a blessing is bestowed upon you.

SubḥānAllāh… Alḥamdulillāh… Allāhu Akbar are that significant and powerful phrases (dhikr), and influence our conscious and subconscious selves that much. But, then again, it’s effectiveness is observed when we do it with conscious hearts. If lived at home, this example will not only stabilize our tempers as parents, it guides our children too. So, the next time you find yourself swearing, it probably means you’re not conscious when you pray and when you do dhikr.

It’s important to emphasize here, that schools only disseminate and impart knowledge. Schools don’t necessary educate our children unless they incorporate practical knowledge in their curriculum. The platform for practice is the home and it extends to the street.

It’s worth mentioning, that a child listens to his teachers and appreciates their knowledge more than his parents’. However, the home’s role in imparting Islamic education may be more effective than the school simply because, the child spends more time at home, and at places that are like home. In the end, the maximum number of hours a child spends at school does not exceed eight hours a day. After all they don’t spend their whole life in schools.

Therefore, parents’ attention and intervention are crucial. For instance, our children don’t know the pillars of Īmān and Islam! They don’t digest the concept of Iḥsān. Knowledge about the pillars of Īmān, Islam and Iḥsān is supposed to be engrossed in the hearts of our children at a very early age, as far as the existence of the Muslim is concerned.

Jibrīl ‘alayhi al-salām used to reveal Allah’s commands to the Prophet ṣallā Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam in private without those around knowing what was revealed until the Prophet reveals it to them. But when it came to the fundamentals of Īmān, Islam, Iḥsān and signs of end of time, the revelation was done openly in public. This is understood from the ḥadith of Imām Muslim in which Sayyidunā ‘Umar raḍiya Allāhu ‘anhu says:

بَيْنَمَا نَحْنُ جُلُوسٌ عِنْدَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ذَاتَ يَوْمٍ، إذْ طَلَعَ عَلَيْنَا رَجُلٌ شَدِيدُ بَيَاضِ الثِّيَابِ، شَدِيدُ سَوَادِ الشَّعْرِ، لَا يُرَى عَلَيْهِ أَثَرُ السَّفَرِ، وَلَا يَعْرِفُهُ مِنَّا أَحَدٌ. حَتَّى جَلَسَ إلَى النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم. فَأَسْنَدَ رُكْبَتَيْهِ إلَى رُكْبَتَيْهِ، وَوَضَعَ كَفَّيْهِ عَلَى فَخِذَيْهِ، وَقَالَ: يَا مُحَمَّدُ أَخْبِرْنِي عَنْ الْإِسْلَامِ. فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم الْإِسْلَامُ أَنْ تَشْهَدَ أَنْ لَا إلَهَ إلَّا اللَّهُ وَأَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ، وَتُقِيمَ الصَّلَاةَ، وَتُؤْتِيَ الزَّكَاةَ، وَتَصُومَ رَمَضَانَ، وَتَحُجَّ الْبَيْتَ إنْ اسْتَطَعْت إلَيْهِ سَبِيلًا. قَالَ: صَدَقْت. فَعَجِبْنَا لَهُ يَسْأَلُهُ وَيُصَدِّقُهُ! قَالَ: فَأَخْبِرْنِي عَنْ الْإِيمَانِ. قَالَ: أَنْ تُؤْمِنَ بِاَللَّهِ وَمَلَائِكَتِهِ وَكُتُبِهِ وَرُسُلِهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ، وَتُؤْمِنَ بِالْقَدَرِ خَيْرِهِ وَشَرِّهِ. قَالَ: صَدَقْت. قَالَ: فَأَخْبِرْنِي عَنْ الْإِحْسَانِ. قَالَ: أَنْ تَعْبُدَ اللَّهَ كَأَنَّك تَرَاهُ، فَإِنْ لَمْ تَكُنْ تَرَاهُ فَإِنَّهُ يَرَاك. قَالَ: فَأَخْبِرْنِي عَنْ السَّاعَةِ. قَالَ: مَا الْمَسْئُولُ عَنْهَا بِأَعْلَمَ مِنْ السَّائِلِ. قَالَ: فَأَخْبِرْنِي عَنْ أَمَارَاتِهَا؟ قَالَ: أَنْ تَلِدَ الْأَمَةُ رَبَّتَهَا، وَأَنْ تَرَى الْحُفَاةَ الْعُرَاةَ الْعَالَةَ رِعَاءَ الشَّاءِ يَتَطَاوَلُونَ فِي الْبُنْيَانِ. ثُمَّ انْطَلَقَ، فَلَبِثْتُ مَلِيًّا، ثُمَّ قَالَ: يَا عُمَرُ أَتَدْرِي مَنْ السَّائِلُ؟ قُلْتُ: اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ أَعْلَمُ. قَالَ: فَإِنَّهُ جِبْرِيلُ أَتَاكُمْ يُعَلِّمُكُمْ دِينَكُمْ

While we were one day sitting with the Messenger of Allah ṣallā Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam there appeared before us a man dressed in extremely white clothes and with very black hair. No traces of journeying were visible on him, and none of us knew him. He sat down close by the Prophet rested his knees against the knees of the Prophet and placed his palms over his thighs, and said: “O Muhammad! Inform me about Islam.” The Messenger of Allah ṣallā Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam replied: “Islam is that you should testify that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger, that you should perform ṣalāh, pay the zakāh, fast during Ramaḍān, and perform Ḥajj to the House, if you can find a way to it.” He said: “You have spoken the truth.” We were astonished at his thus questioning him and then telling him that he was right, but he went on to say, “Inform me about Iman.” He (the Prophet) answered, “It is that you believe in Allah and His angels and His Books and His Messengers and in the Last Day, and in fate (qadar), both in its good and in its evil aspects.” He said, “You have spoken the truth.” Then he (the man) said, “Inform me about Iḥsān.” He (the Prophet) answered, “It is that you should serve Allah as though you could see Him, for though you cannot see Him yet He sees you.” He said, “Inform me about the Hour.” He (the Prophet) said, “About that the one questioned knows no more than the questioner.” So he said, “Well, inform me about its signs.” He said, “They are that the slave-girl will give birth to her mistress and that you will see the barefooted ones, the naked, the destitute, the herdsmen of the sheep (competing with each other) in raising lofty buildings.” Thereupon the man went off. I waited a while, and then he (the Prophet) said, “O `Umar, do you know who that questioner was?” I replied, “Allah and His Messenger know better.” He said, “That was Jibrīl. He came to teach you your religion.”

These are the fundamentals that gives anyone the honour to call himself a Muslim. They must be engrossed in our minds, hearts and reflected in our actions. If this is not concrete, it results to the Muslim being confused; failing to realize his worldly objectives and his purpose of existence. Lack of knowledge and improper development of it in their hearts affect how they establish purification (ṭahārah), ablution (wuḍū’) and subsequently prayer (ṣalāh).

Most of our kids know everything about hip-hop. They know all the K-Pops and J-Pops God has ever created. The follow closely updates about Hollywood and Bollywood stars. They have caught all the Pokémons that exist so far. But I wonder if they know much about Īmān, Islam and Iḥsān. What about their knowledge about Abdullāh ibn ‘Abbās and Ibn Mas‘ūd and the other companions of the Prophet ṣallā Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam?!

It’s not about sending the child to a religious school (Madrasah) or secular school. A Madrasah-going child may go through the system and acquire the knowledge for the sake of profession and career, and end up forgetting it all together. A secular school-going child may also acquire them from home for the sake of mastering and application, and present them in his interactions. At the end of the day, home culture is very important.

A parent who can teach his child Mathematics and Science himself does so. When he can’t, he sends the child to a tutor to coach him. This is important for the child to excel or catch up with his peers in Mathematics and Science. This is commendable. But the same should be applicable to the child’s need to learn and master Tawḥīd, Qur’an, Ḥadīth, Fiqh, Sīrah and Islamic worldview.

Furthermore, if your child attends a religious school, as a parent, you must verify what he learns. You should also seek to see what he learns reflect in his actions. Not only with you, but most importantly when he’s away from you. At school, teachers are the parents of their students. At home, parents are the teachers of their children.

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Education and Freedom of Choice as Muslim Parents

Education in Islam is beyond teaching literacy and numeracy. It involves the faith, values and intellectuality of the child. All these form the personality of the child.

It starts with the name you choose for your child. Your child’s name is one of the most precious gifts he has ever received from you. Next is his faith. Let it be the best and the most valuable noninherited thing he inherits from you. Even though every child is born per the nature of purity, parents have the right to decide what religion they bring up their children upon.

To that effect, the Prophet ṣallā Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam says in a ḥadīth reported by Imām Muslim from the narration of Sayyidina Abū Hurayrah raḍiya Allāhu ‘anhu:

مَا مِنْ مَوْلُودٍ إِلاَّ يُولَدُ عَلَى الْفِطْرَةِ فَأَبَوَاهُ يُهَوِّدَانِهِ وَيُنَصِّرَانِهِ وَيُمَجِّسَانِهِ كَمَا تُنْتَجُ الْبَهِيمَةُ بَهِيمَةً جَمْعَاءَ هَلْ تُحِسُّونَ فِيهَا مِنْ جَدْعَاءَ

“There is none born but is created to his true nature (Islam). It is his parents who make him a Jew or a Christian or a Magian quite as beasts produce their young with their limbs perfect. Do you see anything deficient in them?”

As far as parenting is concerned, parents’ attitudes towards their kids’ religious knowledge play a crucial role in the future of the children’s effectiveness in the society. There are some things that parents must decide for their children. There are some others that parents can be flexible about, and thus, consider the inclinations of their children as they grow.

If we fail to do this for our children at young age, the child grows up in a confused personality finding it difficult to stay with a correct faith. Maybe we should know that finding it difficult to be certain about one’s faith affects his values, character and eventually his worldview as a Muslim. This has resulted into many denouncing Islam. Some choose to attack Islam instead. and some go to the extent of declaring themselves as atheists.

In addition to language, Mathematics and Science are the core subjects in any secular primary education. Neither parents nor their children can choose otherwise. And as the children grow, they are given additional subjects as an expansion of these core subjects. Likewise, there are core subjects for basic Islamic education. Qur’an, Ḥadīth and Tawḥīd are the ones. All other subjects are expansions to, or helping subjects to these.

Mathematics and Science are important. But Qur’an and Ḥadīth carry more importance. Qur’an and Ḥadīth guide you in life and reward you in the Hereafter. Maths and Science guides in this life, and can only aid you in the next life if you associate it with Qur’an and Sunnah. add

This is to say, there must be some core subjects that the Muslim child must study, whether at home or at school. This should include any subject that directly affects his faith, Qur’an literacy and appreciation of the Prophet, ṣallā Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam. It won’t matter what you call it. What matters is what you teach your child.

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Islamic Education as an Investment

This whole life on this tiny earth is nothing but an investment. You work hard to explore, choose, trade, save, so to secure profits for tomorrow. Thus, people trade with different commodities. A successful business is the one that sustains. A successful investment is the one made in a successful business. Therefore, it’s up to you to decide where and how you want to invest.

And the best investment is the one that lasts longest possible. In fact, the best investment on this earth is that which its benefits extend to the next life. This explains the ḥadīth reported by Imām Muslim from the narration of Sayyidinā Abī Hurayrah raḍiya Allāhu ‘anhu where the Prophet ṣallā Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam says:

إِذَا مَاتَ ابْنُ آدَمَ انْقَطَعَ عَمَلُهُ إِلا مِنْ ثلاثٍ: صَدَقَةٍ جَارِيَةٍ ،أَوْ عِلْمٍ يُنْتَفَعُ بِهِ، أَوْ وَلَدٍ صَالِحٍ يَدْعُو لَهُ

“When a man dies, his deeds come to an end except for three things: ceaseless charity; a knowledge which is beneficial, or a virtuous descendant who prays for him (for the deceased).”

Education is an investment, and every wise parent understands this. But the best educational investment is the one that ensures your child a protection and immunity in the most challenging times. A child who remembers you after your passing even though in the most challenging times will lead a noble life, inshā Allah. And that keeps your progeny to live longer if not forever.

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Conclusion

Muslim are not required to be Islamic scholars altogether. But it’s high time that we remind ourselves that basic Islamic education is not for the elites. Acquisition of basic Islamic education is an obligation upon every Muslim, regardless of their age, gender, social ranking, financial status or intellectual capacity. It’s not something that we should regard as secondary in priority or importance.

Our children fail to take pride in Islamic education because we fail to take pride in it as parents. In the best case, we impart those Islamic values to them in the form of theory, rather than values meant to better the life of the Muslim as an individual in practical form.

If you are reading this, you are already facing some challenges among the challenges of end of times. However, no matter how the challenges you have faced so far, your children are bound to face tougher than that. You may pass your challenge. But is that enough? If you pass your challenge, what have you done, to your best, to assist your child to pass his test?

May Allah safeguard us from the challenges and trials of end of times. May He grant us beneficial knowledge that will enlighten us about Him in a better way and get us closer to Him. May He take us to Him as Muslims. Amin!

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Allah knows best.
Allahu Hafiz 🙂

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