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the beginning of a
historical movement, which was also a
climactic end in the history of prophetic
missions. The verses of the Qurn (meaning
recitation) were revealed in layers upon
layers of meaning. Every layer when
removed reveals new depths and profundities
of content. The Qurn and Islam can best be
compared to Nature itself; like nature, the
more it is studied, newer dimensions are
revealed, and fresher secrets are discovered.
This comparison guides me to understand the
philosophy of the Qurn and Islam, which
comprise of a wealth of knowledge. Reading
and understanding the Qurn can take
people back to the 7th Century; bring them to

the present, and may help them look towards

the future. The Qurn is very resourceful; its
content is inexhaustible and will forever
remain as fresh and novel. Everyday, the

Qurn conveys a new

message to humanity
and, the world, not
only to the Muslim
Ever since the
growth of Islam as a
religious and political movement, Muslim
thinkers and teachers have started to use
philosophical concepts to better understand
the theoretical aspects of their faith. Each
religion, some of which get more attention
than others, has it is own philosophy.
Unfortunately, Islam has only recently begun
to receive the attention it deserves in the nonIslamicWesternworld. Islam decrees
education for all humanmen and women.
In addition, like some religions, Islam always
improvement of the societal structures.

Arabs, Muslims, and Education

MUSLIMS contributed to the development of physics

and chemistry, and they were responsible for the
creation of Algebra. Muslims first taught these sciences to
others and later made expansions in these fields. We should
learn from others, complying with the words of Prophet
Muhammad, Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave.
Seek knowledge even if it is to be found in a place as distant
as China.
In the early days, Arab poetry was called qasda, which was
best introduced by example (Brown, 2004, p. 11). Through
poetry, the Arabs left a legacy of haunting beauty that takes
its place among the great works of world literature. The

earliest texts in Classical

Arabic are the qasdas of
the pre-Islamic poets and
the Qurn. These were the
classics, which 9th and 10th
century philologists and
grammarians relied upon
to formulate the standards
of usage for Classical
Arabic (Brown, 2004, p.
18). I believe that the
dominance of Classical

Arabic shaped Islam throughout its history. Even in present

time, when Muslims look to their roots, they look to Arabia; it
is an orientation reaffirmed at least five times a day, every
time a Muslim faces towards Mecca in worship. At the
beginning of the 8th century, the Arabs wrote the story of the
origins of Islam, and they wrote in Arabic on Arab terms.
Therefore, Islam in its earliest form functioned as an Arab
imperial ideology. It was a religion started in Arabia and later

expended throughout the

world. Furthermore, The
centered on the Qurn and

Prophet Muhammad (peace upon him)

Do you not see that Allah sends down from the clouds water, then brings forth
with it fruits of different kinds or colors. And in the mountains there are streaks,
white and red, of different colors, and some intensely black. And of people and
animals and cattle there are different colors likewise. Only those of His servants
fear Allah who possesses knowledge. (Holy Qurn 35:27-28)

was born in Mecca
the desert of Arabiaon
April 20, 571 C.E. The
name Muhammad means
highly praised. He is to
me the greatest mind
among all the sons of
Arabia. God sent him as a
mercy for the world. He
means so much more than
all the poets and kings that
preceded him in that
impenetrable desert of redsand. Prophet Muhammad

revelationsThe Holy Qurnover a period of 23 years in

the 7th Century of the Christian era. Muslims believe that he is
the last Messenger sent by God for the guidance of
humankind until the Day of Judgment.
When I set down to write about the Islamic
philosophy and it is association with education, I
could not help not think about Prophet
Mohammad. First, I was a little hesitant because it
can be overwhelming when there is a deep conviction that our
past, present and future all hang by the soft, delicate, silk, cord.
Therefore, for me to write about a religion is a delicate matter.
The beauty was, the more I read the book A New Introduction
to Islam by Daniel Brown (2004) the harder things became for
me; but after more reading, thinking and writing, I enjoyed the


Teaching of Islam:


the first surah (chapter) of the Qurn, and was one of the earliest
portions of the Qurn revealed to prophet Mohammed by the angel Gabriel. The entire
Qurn was revealed in the years from 610 to 632 A.D.

1. In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

2. Praise be to God, the Cherisher and
Sustainer of the world;
3. Most Gracious, Most Merciful;
4. Master of the Day of Judgment.
5. Thee do we worship, and Thine aid we seek.
6. Show us the straight way,
7. The way of those on whom Thou hast
bestowed Thy Grace, those whose (portion)
is not wrath, and who go not astray.
- Translated by Abdullah Yusuf Ali

Prophet Muhammads companions preserved the revelations that came to him by

memorizing. The first official edition of the Qurn was ordered by the caliph Othman,
who ruled from 644 to 656, to be sent to the chief masjid (mosque) in each of the capital
cities of the Muslim provinces. Muslims consider the Qurn to be the words of God
Himself, spoken by an angel to Prophet Muhammad. The Qurn teaches the absolute
unity and power of God, the creator of the whole universe; it also preaches ethics, morals,
virtue and justice. In addition, it teaches that life on earth is a period of testing and
preparation for the life to come.
Prophet Muhammads message and mission is universal and timeless to the end of this
world. Believing in Islam means the following:
1. Belief in One God.
2. Belief in all of God's messengers.
3. Belief in all the books sent down to prophets of God. These books include Torah
and Gospel. Only the Holy Qurn exists in its original form.
4. Belief in the existence of angels.
5. Belief in the Day of Judgment, Life after Death, Heaven and Hell.
6. Belief in the Divine Decree or Predestination, its good and its bad.


Islamic Philosophy of Education

Have you fully realized what Islam is? It is indeed a religion founded on
truth. It is such a fountain-head of learning that several streams of wisdom
and knowledge flow from it. It is such a lamp that several lamps will be
lighted from it. It is a lofty beacon of light illuminating the path of Allah
(God). Such a set of principles and beliefs will fully satisfy every seeker of
truth and reality. Know you all that Allah has made Islam the most
sublime path for the attainment of His supreme pleasure and the highest
standard of His worship and obedience. He has favored it with noble
precepts, exalted principles, undoubted arguments, unchallengeable
supremacy and undeniable wisdom. It is up to you to maintain the
eminence and dignity granted to it by the Lord, to follow it sincerely, to do
justice to its Articles of Faith and Belief, to obey implicitly its tenets and
orders and to give it the proper place in your lives. Imam Ali (A.S)
In the system of the Islamic Republic, no
act should be without an aim. There
should be a purpose in every act.
Moreover, the aims and purposes should
be definite. Most people may say that the
purpose of learning is to
make headway in life.
The learner, who is a
human, is made up of
two components nature
of spirit and body. The
known as the ruh (soul),
(emotion), or nafs (self). Aql elevates
above the rest of creation. The soul1
could be elevated to the noblest and it
could be debased to the lowest. The
body2 consists of several faculties
corresponding to the physical senses.
Truth and Reality are common themes
in the Muslim religion. Therefore, Islam

believes in the possibility of obtaining

knowledge of Truth and Reality. In
Islam, there has not been much debate on
this matter, unlike in the Western
philosophical tradition where there has
been constant debate
since Greek philosophy,
as demonstrated by
Human is equipped with
a soul and physical
senses and prepared by
knowledge. According
to Al-Attas, 'ilm (knowledge) is the
arrival of the ma'ana (meaning) of an
object in the soul or the arrival of the soul
at the meaning of an object of
knowledge. Thus, the soul is active and

The Qur'an (95:4).

The Qur'an (89:25; 95:5).

S. M. Naquib Al-Attas, The Concept of

Education in Islam (Kuala Lumpur: ISTAC,


Brown (2004),
theology is sought to maintain and
protect the products of revelation, where
philosophers like to start from scratch.
Some believe that, Islamic philosophers
saw themselves as simply building on the
work of Plato, Aristotle, and Plotinus
(Brown, 2004, p. 149). The Arabic word
falsafah is a direct borrowing form the
Greeks phil sophia; during Islamic
history, the term was used for Islamic
philosophy as well as for the debates
between the philosophers and the
theologians from one period to another.
Falsafah continued to be used and gained
new meaning and usage in later centuries
of Islamic history. This understanding
comprehended by the term philosophia.
In addition, many of the Greek
philosophical definitions found their way
into Arabic philosophy sometimes with
only slight modifications. Furthermore,
What falsafah added to the accumulating
pieces of the Greek sciences was an
epistemological claim. It brought before
the Muslim an alternative theory of
wisdom that simultaneously exalted itself
and set down in an inferior position the
channel of revelation opened by the
Prophet of Islam4. (Peters, 1973)


Some of the most common Greek

philosophers are as follows :
Philosophy (falsafah) is the
knowledge of all existing things
qua existents.
Philosophy is knowledge of
divine and human matters.
Philosophy is taking refuge in
death, that is, love of death.
Philosophy is becoming God-like
to the extent of human ability.
Philosophy is the art (sind'ah) of
arts and the science (ilm) of
Philosophy is predilection for
The Islamic philosophers meditated upon
these definitions of falsafah, which they
identified with the Qurnic term hikmah
believing the origin of hikmah to be
The works on politics written by the
especially on Plato, with influence also
from Aristotles Ethics. The Greek NeoPlatonists had tried to combine the
philosophies of Plato and Aristotle; they
held that these philosophies were
fundamentally in harmony. This view
was passed on to the Islamic
philosophers, who expounded a more or
less Platonized Aristotelianism.

Peters, F. E., Allah's Commonwealth, New

York; Simon and Schuster, 1973.

Christel Hein, Definition and Einleitung der

Philosophie - Von der spdtantiken
Einleitungsliteratur zur arabischen Enzyklopddie
(Bern and New York, 1985): 86.


Personal Reflection of the Book

In order for someone to learn about Islam, one must read
many different books written by different authors. This
way the readers will gain broader perspectives of the
Islamic religion from Muslim, Arabic and Western
writers. The book A New
Introduction to Islam by Daniel
Brown is written in an engaging
style and it introduces the
fascinating practice, history, and
beliefs of Islamic tradition. In
addition, the book is very engaging
because it introduces the readers to
the development of Islamic study as
a discipline. Whether the reader is
knowledgeable or not, he or she can
learn about the detailed chronologies, tables summaries,
useful maps, and diagrams. The book is informative and
clear on all the major issues and historical events
pertaining to Islam. While I was reading the book, I felt
puzzled and at times uncomfortable because there were
so many things that were missing, which I am aware of

because of my former
finished the book I felt it
was good to read different
points of views, as well as
to know the importance of
the whole story. The
Author Daniel Brown has
lived in Egypt and in
Pakistan where he was
born and spent his first
eighteen years. He taught
Islamic Studies at Mount
Holyoke, Amherst and
Smith Colleges and he is
the author of Rethinking
Tradition in Modern
Islamic Thought.

I would like to end this

paper with a quote from
the Holly

I could have made you one

people...but I created you into
different nations so that you
would come to know each other.

Mouwafac Sidaoui
Spring 2004
Father Collins
704-700 Philosophical Foundations of Education