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Education In Islam Unequivocally Derived Its Origins From A Symbiotic Relationship With Religious Instruction

By Zin Eddine Dadach

27th October 2020

“They said. ‘Glory to You! We have no knowledge except what You taught us. You, only You, are All-Knowing, All-Wise’” (Quran, 2:32).



The relationship between knowledge and our daily actions is a key topic in psychology and, according to Joachim Funke, it is not possible to act without knowledge [1].  However, every new-born baby has the instinct to latch on and suck milk rhythmically from the breast of their mother and that instinctive action needs knowledge, so Who gave them this knowledge in order to be able to live?

The other example that shows that Allah (SWT) is the One who teaches us everything is in the Quranic verse is: “And among you there is he who is brought back to the miserable age, so he knows nothing after having known” (Quran; 22:5). This state of forgetting even the names and faces of family members is known as Alzheimer’s disease, which usually affects people over sixty-five years of age. In this perspective, by His beautiful Names “The All-Knowing One” and “The Prime Light”,  Allah (SWT) is therefore the Absolute Teacher and the Absolute Guide of humanity as mentioned in the Quranic verse “And Allah taught Adam all the names” (Quran; 2:31).

“Indeed, Allah conferred a great favour on the believers when He sent among them a Messenger from among themselves, reciting to them His verses (the Quran) and purifying them and instructing them the Book (Quran) and wisdom (Sunnah), while before that they had been in manifest error” (Quran; 3:164) [1]. 

The advent of the Noble Quran in the seventh century was quite revolutionary for the predominantly illiterate Arabian society. Since the Noble Quran is the book of Allah (SWT) and needed to be organically interacted with by means of reading and reciting its words, reading and writing for the purpose of accessing the full blessings of the Noble Quran was an aspiration for most Muslims. Thus, education in Islam unequivocally derived its origins from a symbiotic relationship with religious instruction.

Moreover, Islam has, from its inception, placed a high premium on education and has enjoyed a long and rich intellectual tradition. In fact, Islamic education is uniquely different from other types of educational theory and practice largely because of the all-encompassing influence of the Noble Quran. For example, the importance of education is repeatedly emphasized in the Noble Quran with frequent injunctions, such as “God will exalt those of you who believe and those who have knowledge to high degrees” (Quran58:11), “O my Lord! Increase me in knowledge” (Quran 20:114), and “As God has taught him, so let him write” (Quran 2:282).

Such Quranic verses provide a forceful stimulus for the Islamic community to strive for education and learning. The most important is that the conception of knowledge (Al-Ilm) in Islam is the Guiding Light (Huda) separating right from wrong (Al furqan). Therefore, in the same way, the sun brings light to our eyes to see the world around us, Al-Ilm is the source of guidance to see the Truth. 

The sacred position of knowledge in Islam is also proven by the fact that the word “science” and its derivations appear 779 times (averaging 7 times a chapter) in the Noble Quran. This is the second position after the word “Allah” [2]. Finally, the importance of seeking knowledge in Islam is also shown by the fact that the first Quranic verse sent to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) by Allah (SWT) through Angel Gabriel started with “Read! In the Name of your Lord Who has created all that exists” (Quran; 96:1).

“And you are certainly on the most exalted standard of moral excellence” (Quran 68:4).

Regarding the utilization of the teaching methods of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in an Islam-based educational system, the Prophet (PBUH) adopted a distinctive approach to teach his followers and companions the basics and concepts of Islam, which comes from divine revelation. His teachings covered all aspects of life, work, living and human dealings, which are suitable everywhere and anytime.

First, in order to deal properly with different types of people, the Prophet (PBUH) said Allah (SWT) created Adam from the grip of taking possession from all over the globe, came to the sons of Adam on earth came to them as much as the white, red and black, and between it, malignant, good, sadness and in between. This means that humans are different as they belong to their father who created from clay made of earth sands. Hence each individual (or groups) may need specific dealing treatments [3].

Secondly, regarding the openness to other communities, the Prophet (PBUH) encouraged his followers to be open to other communities in order to know their customs, morals, and behaviours. For example, the Prophet (PBUH) asked one of his followers to learn Hebrew to be the prophet translator who could understand the Jews tribes’ messages and reply to them in Hebrew [3].

“Surely there was a good example for you in the Messenger of Allah, for all those who look forward to Allah and the Last Day and remember Allah much” (Quran 33:21).

Thirdly, in order to be able to fully transmit his divine message to educate people around him, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) addressed first the hearts to become the beloved one in order to inspire his followers to listen to his message [4]. Fourthly, in order to maximize the effects of his message that could permanently transform the behaviour of people, he used a type of speech that made his followers think during his educational methods, mainly based on active learning and analogies [5-6]. The objective of using analogies was to enhance the imagination and curiosity of the listeners.

Fifthly, the Prophet (PBUH) utilized wondering and interrogative while teaching his followers – this style is one of the important and influential methods in the field of education that creates a positive interaction between student and teacher. The objective to utilize the interrogative question as an educational style with his followers is to stimulate their minds for thinking and understanding.

These are some examples of his teaching strategies: (1) the Prophet (PBUH) asked his companions, “What would be the situation of someone who has a river at his door and every day, five times a day, he comes out and he takes a bath in that river? At the end of the day would he have any dirt on himself?” They responded, “There would be no dirt on him, O RasulAllah.” Then the Prophet said, “Similarly there are the five prayers cleansing the person in this way; (2) As the Prophet (PBUH) used this analogy to explain a topic verbally, he also used illustration to make a point graphically.

In this context, the Prophet drew a straight line through the sand and then drew lines to the right and lines to the left of the first line. Then while the people were looking attentively at the drawing, he recited the Quranic verse “And verily, this (Allah’ commandments) is My Straight Path, so follow it, and follow not (other) paths, for they will separate you away from His Path” (Quran; 6:153) [3]. On other occasions, he illustrated his point using his hand as once he said, “I and the one who takes care of the orphans are in paradise, like this (as he was speaking, he interlaced his fingers) [4].

His teaching was also based on living experiences as an opportunity to instruct. For example, the Prophet (PBUH) once was with some companions to prepare food when he asked them to slaughter a sheep. One companion said he would do that, another said he would skin it, and a third said he would cook it. Then the Messenger of Allah (SWT) replied, “I will collect wood for the fire.” They said, “No, we will do that work for you.” The Prophet (PBUH) answered, “I know that you can do it for me, but Allah (SWT) hates to see a servant of his privileged above others.” And the Prophet went and collected firewood [5].

The Prophet at times would also readdress a question to a subject that is more significant and instructive. Once a Bedouin asked the Prophet (PBUH): “When is the hour?” [The Day of Judgment]. The Prophet (PBUH) said, “What have you prepared for that final hour?” The Bedouin said, “I haven’t prepared a lot of Salah (good deeds) and I haven’t prepared a lot of Zakah (charity) but I am preparing one thing which is my love for Allah (SWT) and His messenger.” The Prophet (PBUH) replied: “You will be with who you love” [5].

Since education is the key to solve social and technical problems the world is facing today, this article proposes an Islam-based educational model that includes the teaching methods of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). First, in order to teach natural and social sciences under the umbrella of the Divine Science, Quranic verses and the Prophet (PBUH)’s sayings could be integrated into the corresponding chapters of textbooks and teaching material. Therefore, teachers should not only have the expertise in their field of science but also a good knowledge of the Noble Quran and the Prophet (PBUH)’s sayings.

Lastly, the final goal of this Islam-based educational model is that the objectives of educational systems and scientific research will not be dictated by rich individuals and companies who are continuously looking for personal profits but to serve all humanity in order to solve local and global problems. Moreover, new scientific knowledge will be developed as a means to search for the Truth that brings us closer to Allah (SWT). Finally, graduate students will be more prepared and willing to please Allah (SWT) by fulfilling their divine duties in their future workplaces and add the daily activities as good deeds in the Eternal Path of charity.

In order to apply this Islam based educational model in Muslim countries, as the Prophet (PBUH) considered the individual differences while dealing with people, the most suitable educational system is the one that focuses on the students in order to give them the opportunity to learn what aligns with their own innate abilities the best. For instance, based on creativity, originality, and responsibility during the learning experience, the key advantage of “student-centred” learning (SCL) is that the teacher gives to the students an opportunity to learn and apply concepts on their own with minimal teacher intervention and supervision.

The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) used teaching techniques that make his followers think when they are listening to him. So what teaching strategies can engage students in thinking and to be deeply involved in learning? [1] As the Prophet (PBUH) taught us, a positive mindset is vital to make students be open to thinking: Indeed literature has shown that effective teachers have succeeded in making students feel happy about learning and make them more interested by increasing their intrinsic motivation [7].

As the Prophet (PBUH) used living experiences as an opportunity to instruct, it was also found that students in an actively taught class get more engaged in learning and develop more skills because they have more autonomy to learn and they get more involved in thinking during the practical activities [7]. Finally, as used by the Prophet (PBUH), analogies are a very powerful tool to visualize the theory. Indeed the use of an analog concept could help students develop images in their minds in order to visualize the physical phenomena behind each theoretical formula. The use of analogies could therefore help students have more knowledge and skills because of their higher order of thinking [8].


Joachim Funke (2017), How Much Knowledge Is Necessary for Action? In Knowledge and Action pp 99-111 , Springer.

Dr. Ragheb Elsergany (2011), Contributions of Muslims to the world in Islam story

Ali, S. I. (2002). Sunnah of the Prophet: Educational Vision: Dar Alfikr Al-Arabi).

Vahap Gultekin (2012), The Educational Methods of Our Prophet (PBUH) in The Pen Magazine

Kamal Shaarawy (2014), The Teaching Methods of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH); The Message International Magazine

Mihyar Hesson and Kaneez Fatima Shad (2007), A Student-Centered Learning Model, American Journal of Applied Sciences 4(9):628-6367.


Zin Eddine Dadach, 2013; Quantifying the effects of an active learning strategy on the motivation of students. International Journal of Engineering Education, Vol. 29, No. 4, pp. 904–913, 2013.

Zin Eddine Dadach, 2016, “An introductory chemical engineering course based on analogies and research-based learning”, International Journal of Engineering Education Vol. 32, No. 5(B), pp. 2194–2203, 2016.

Original Headline:  A Look at an Islam-Based Educational Model

Source: The Muslim Vibe


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