ACCORDING to key teachings of some major world religions, humans are considered to be the crown of creation. Man has been bestowed with the potential capacity of knowing his origin, maintaining and developing his status and above all acquiring spirituality. These are the prime goals of all education in Islam.
However, the present-day education system is mainly directed towards his social uplift. This has made today’s man highly competitive but self-centred and busy in the rat race. It is the frantic pace of modern life that leads to more greed in the hearts and minds of people and the ultimate result is a stressful life.
Therefore, the present-day education system needs some revisiting. The basic element of spirituality is required to be incorporated in curricula whereby the present generation may get a sense of all-encompassing divinity. It makes humans grateful to their Lord. This brings satisfaction in life while ungratefulness ruins life. The Holy Quran reprimands such a person who is ungrateful to his Lord and bears witness to this fact.
Gratefulness in all circumstances is the first step in the direction of spiritual education. It can be started as early as when the child is in his or her mother’s lap. The child may be taught in the early years that the mother’s lap is the greatest gift of Allah for an infant. This would impact his whole life and the child would remain submissive to Allah.
Man today is competitive but self-centred.
According to recent research, a child develops more quickly than at any other time in his or her life, from the moment of birth to the age of two, three and four years. This means that a nation needs to create the capacity to look after young children immediately after their birth. It is a commitment to the future of the nation so that children become an asset to society. During the early childhood years, spiritual education can be imparted more easily as the child’s involvement with the outer world is not so much.
Today, we live in a civilised world, but, unfortunately, observe countless uncivilised acts on a daily basis. In many parts of the world, the law of the jungle or deep sea prevails. In the jungle, the lion is known to be king because of its might and violent behaviour. In its presence, all other animals become fearful as it devours them. Similarly, in the deep sea a big fish eats up smaller fish. With the present system of education, this world has come to resemble a jungle or the sea where the system of existence is based on might. If one is mighty, strong and powerful, then one is considered great.
The education system can address such aberrations. There are two types of education, formal and informal. Formal education consists of basic schooling when a child is admitted to a nursery and then moves on to primary and secondary school and then to college, and ultimately ends up with a university degree. One is called educated or literate on the basis of the formal education received. It provides certification and tools to get employment in society. In today’s world, formal education is considered essential while the informal system is mostly ignored, although it is equally important.
No society can envision development unless its citizens are formally and informally educated. Spiritual education can simultaneously be imparted formally as well as informally.
Formal education is time-bound while informal education is continued all through life. Every person learns from his day-to-day experience to remain thankful and submissive to his/her Lord. This creates harmony in life and helps people define who they are, and their role in society.
Many societies around the world, with good education at the formal level, are yet to get rid of negative mindsets. There are individuals who speak of justice and tolerance but behave like tyrants. Their actions belie their words and they display bestial manners. Thus these forces continue to play havoc due to the lack of spirituality in practical life.
In order to shed bad habits, spirituality should be incorporated in school curricula, and parents be made part of curricula. They may be lectured on the need for a spiritual environment in their homes by academia.
Spiritually, we are one and have a single point of origin. The Holy Quran refers to such people who say “…Truly, to Allah we belong and truly to Him, we shall return (2:156)”. The world belongs to all nations and all nations have the right to survive, thrive and uphold the message received from the Lord.
Without spirituality in the education system, the situation resembles a horse without legs or a car without wheels. Therefore, spirituality should be part and parcel of the whole education system.
The writer is an educationist with an interest in religion.
Published in Dawn, November 2nd, 2018