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Journal of Moral Education Vol. 36, No. 3, September 2007, pp. 283–296


Vol. 36, No. 3, September 2007, pp. 283–296 EDITORIAL Islamic values: a distinctive framework for moral

Islamic values: a distinctive framework for moral education?

J. Mark Halstead *

University of Huddersfield, UK

The first half of this Editorial examines the implications of the close link between morality and religion in Islamic thinking. There is no separate discipline of ethics in Islam, and the comparative importance of reason and revelation in determining moral values is open to debate. For most Muslims, what is considered hala¯l (permitted) and hara¯m (forbidden) in Islam is understood in terms of what God defines as right and good. There are three main kinds of values: (a) akhla¯q, which refers to the duties and responsibilities set out in the shari‘ah and in Islamic teaching generally; (b) adab, which refers to the manners associated with good breeding; and (c) the qualities of character possessed by a good Muslim, following the example of the Prophet Muhammad. Among the main differences between Islamic and western morality are the emphasis on timeless religious principles, the role of the law in enforcing morality, the different understanding of rights, the rejection of moral autonomy as a goal of moral education and the stress on reward in the Hereafter as a motivator of moral behaviour. The remainder of the Editorial is concerned with the two main aspects of moral education in Islam: disseminating knowledge of what people should and should not do, and motivating them to act in accordance with that knowledge. Ultimately, moral education is about inner change, which is a spiritual matter and comes about through the internalisation of universal Islamic values.

Religious and moral values in Islam

The inextricable link that exists in Islam between religion and morality is reflected in the many passages in the Qur’an that refer in the same breath to ‘those who believe’ and ‘those who do good deeds’ (for example, Sura 2, v. 25, Sura 95, v. 6, Sura 103, v. 2). The implications seem to be that for Muslims faith and moral behaviour are two sides of the same coin, that moral behaviour presupposes faith and that faith is genuine only if it results in moral behaviour (Ashraf 1988, p. 76; Khan, 1987, p. 28).

*Department of Community and International Education, School of Education and Professional Development, University of Huddersfield, Queensgate, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, HD1 3DH, UK. Email: j.m.halstead@hud.ac.uk

ISSN 0305-7240 (print)/ISSN 1465-3877 (online)/07/030283-14 # 2007 Journal of Moral Education Ltd DOI: 10.1080/03057240701643056



It is not surprising therefore that in the minds of many Muslims little attempt is made to distinguish between the concept of moral duty and the concept of religious duty. In fact, the latter is a broad category that encompasses both one’s duty to God and one’s duty to one’s fellow human beings. Questions like ‘What should I do?’ or ‘How should I behave?’ may receive both moral and religious answers, but the moral answers are themselves couched in religious language because they are equally considered to be part of the eternal truth revealed by God through his messengers. Muslims believe that God has disclosed what is hala¯l (permitted) and hara¯m (forbidden) and it is up to individuals ultimately to choose whether to follow the clear guidance that God has provided or to allow themselves to be led astray. Those who stick to the ‘right path’ (Qur’an, Sura 1, v. 6) are by definition committed to a moral way of life. Although in practice the development of moral values in any society may be a complex matter linked to custom, family tradition, community leadership, literature and individual judgment, many Muslims find it difficult to talk about morality outside the context of religion. In fact, morality in Islam is generally understood as a list of rules, duties and responsibilities whose authority derives directly from the Qur’an and the hadı¯th (sayings and traditions of the Prophet Muhammad and his companions). As Fazlur Rahman points out, ethical conduct in Islam ‘is not expressed in terms of propositions, but rather in terms of divine dictates and actions’ (1985, p. 18) and the Qur’an is ‘a work of moral admonition through and through’ (ibid., p. 8). He also puts forward two main reasons why all Muslims should accept the Qur’an as the basis of their ethics: first, they believe it is the word of God, and second, they believe that it ‘contains, actually or potentially, the answers to all the questions of everyday life’ (ibid., p 14). Among the virtues taught in the Qur’an are justice, benevolence, piety, honesty, integrity, gratitude and chastity. All individuals are required to conform to the ritual duties and the legal and moral obligations set out in the Qur’an (except in specified cases of hardship). The Prophet Muhammad is considered the perfect moral exemplar, as the Qur’an itself makes clear: ‘You have indeed in the Apostle of God a beautiful pattern of conduct’ (Sura 33, v. 21). Muhammad saw it as his mission ‘to perfect good character’ (Ibn Anas, 1989, p. 382) by practising and exemplifying all the Islamic ethical values himself. Thus the record of his words and actions that is contained in the hadı¯th has become an important supplement to the Qur’anic injunctions in providing moral guidance and regulation. Walzer and Gibb go so far as to claim that ‘the whole corpus of hadı¯th constitutes a handbook of Islamic ethics’ (1960, p. 326).

Islamic ethics

Ethics has no place as a separate academic discipline within Islam, at least not in the sense of a discipline drawing exclusively on human reason or human experience (Siddiqui, 1997, p. 423). No body of work exists that is comparable to that of Bentham, Mill, Kant or Rawls in the West in the sense of seeking to provide a framework for moral decision-making without any necessary link to religion. There



is no tradition of subjecting the religious basis of ethics to close critical scrutiny, nor does moral education in Islam have as its goal the development of personal and moral autonomy (Halstead, 1986, Ch. 4). What does exist in Islam is a pair of concepts that correspond roughly to the English term ‘morality’. The first of these is akhla¯q, which is normally translated as ‘ethics’ or ‘moral values’. Akhla¯q has been defined by Ibn Sadr al-Din al-Shirwani (d. 1036 AH, 1626/ 7 CE) as ‘the science of virtues and the way to acquire them, of vices and the way to guard against them. Its subject is the innate dispositions, the acquired virtues and the rational soul as far as it is affected by them’ (quoted in Walzer, 1960, p. 327). Yusuf al-Qardawi classifies akhla¯q into six categories, demonstrating the range of moral values expected in the life of the Muslim: akhla¯q relating to self, akhla¯q relating to family, akhla¯q relating to society, akhla¯q relating to the animal world, akhla¯q relating to the physical environment and akhla¯q relating to the Creator (1981, pp. 106–9). Akhla¯q is a plural word, but sometimes it is used in its singular form (khuluq) to mean character, innate disposition, or ‘a state of the soul which causes it to perform its actions without thought or deliberation’ (Miskawih, 1968, p. 30; cf. Omar, 1994, p. 103). Many famous Muslim scholars, including al-Kindi, al-Farabi, Ibn Sina, Ibn Miskawayh, Nizam al-Mulk, al-Ghazali, al-Razi and al-Tusi, have studied akhla¯q and written about it. ‘Ilm al-akhla¯q (knowledge of moral values) is a major component of Islamic Studies at all levels of education in Islam, alongside other components such as ‘ilm al-fiqh (knowledge of law). The second term for morality is adab, which combines two different but related ways of understanding good behaviour – on the one hand, politeness, courtesy, etiquette, good upbringing, culture, refinement, good breeding and good manners, and on the other, morality and values. Adab al-isla¯m means ‘the good manners adopted by Islam derived from its teachings and instructions’ (al-Kaysi, 2003, p. 13). But the pre-Islamic origins of this word suggest that some of the customs and norms of conduct among the early Arab tribes may have been incorporated into the moral thinking of Arab Muslims. Adab comes from the same root as one of the main Arabic words for education, ta’dı¯b, which refers primarily to the process of learning a sound basis for social behaviour within the community and society at large (Halstead, 2004, p. 522ff). If the Islamic perspective on moral values that has been presented so far (as captured in the terms akhla¯q and adab) seems over-prescriptive to the western reader and too dependent on religion, it should not be thought that this represents the only way of thinking about morality in Islam, or that there is no place for rationality in Islamic ethics. On the contrary, the superstructure is very rational. This is seen especially in the use of qiya¯s (analogy) in the development of sharı¯‘ah (Islamic law). For example, wine is the only alcoholic beverage mentioned in the Qur’an, but since its consumption is banned, traditional jurists have by analogy extended the prohibition to all alcoholic drinks. A similar procedure is used by contemporary scholars seeking to resolve current debates in medical ethics in line with Islamic ethical principles. For example, since it is considered a religious duty in Islam to have children, and since it is commendable to use one’s intellect to pursue scientific



knowledge that has positive outcomes, recent medical techniques such as artificial insemination and in vitro fertilisation are considered ethically acceptable (so long as the sperm is the husband’s – otherwise the process would be tantamount to adultery) (Bennett, 1994, pp. 102, 115–6). An early example of alternative Muslim thinking about ethics can be seen when Muslim scholars began to pay serious attention to ancient Greek philosophy. As Umarrudin points out, ‘though the fundamental principles of [ethics] were present in the Qur’an, ethics as a science did not take shape till the influence of Greek thought asserted itself on the Muslim mind’ (1962, p. 45). In the golden age (ie the first 500 years) of Islam, Muslim scholars began to engage with questions like ‘Is an action good because it is commanded by God, or is it commanded by God because it is good?’ and questions about issues relating to the origin of human knowledge of morality. With regard to the latter, Hourani (1985, pp. 2ff) distinguishes three Muslim traditions, all active in the 9 th to 11 th centuries CE. The Mu‘tazilite theologians argued that values have an objective existence and can be known either through revelation or through independent reason. The Ash‘arite theologians argued that values are effectively whatever God commands and are learned primarily through revelation. The third group, the Muslim philosophers such as al-Kindı¯, al-Fa¯ra¯bı¯ and Ibn Sina¯, viewed values as objective and capable of being understood through reason alone, though they recognised that a prophet might be able to present the values in a more appealing way than they could themselves to ordinary people. The academic debate between these three groups was considerable, though in the end (as Hamid Reza Alavi shows in his article in this Special Issue) al-Ghazali, writing from a broadly Ash‘arite perspective, decisively overcame the objectivism of the other two parties and set Islamic morality on a path of ethical voluntarism or subjectivism that it followed consistently for the next 900 years. Linked to his argument that morality should be defined in terms of what God commands and forbids, al-Ghazali presented weighty arguments in support of the self-interestedness of all moral action. Our behaviour, he says, is motivated by the desire for praise, or the avoidance of harmful consequences, or the desire for a reward in the Hereafter, and our knowledge of both the promised reward and the means to that end derives from divine revelation. Although the ethical thinking of the Muslim philosophers and the Mu‘tazilites had little direct impact on mainstream Islamic ethics, it may have enriched the understanding and awareness of Muslim scholars over the centuries, and perhaps made it easier for a new wave of alternative Muslim thinking about ethics to emerge in contemporary times. One example of such thinking involves the claim that the eternal truth of the Qur’an is not to be found in the particular laws and punishments which it prescribes, but in the underlying principles (cf Anees, Abedin & Sardar, 1992). On this view, specific expectations and judgments rightly change over time, as circumstances change, but principles such as ‘adl (justice), sala¯m (peace), ima¯n (faith), ‘iba¯da (worship), khila¯fa (human trusteeship), tauhı¯d (unity), jiha¯d (struggle against injustice and oppression), amal al-sa¯lih (virtuous behaviour) and istisla¯h (public interest) have a timeless quality and are believed to apply equally across the whole of humanity, regardless of colour, wealth, status, ethnicity, power and nationality. This remains a



minority view, however, and for many Muslims the thought of adjusting any of the detailed moral and religious obligations set out in the sharı¯‘ah (Islamic law) to bring them into line with modern thinking would be heretical (cf. Doi, 1984, p. 39).

Three dimensions of morality in Islam

Abstract concepts rarely carry identical meanings in different cultures. For example, the understanding of democracy or equality in one culture can be expected to overlap in broad terms with the way they are understood in other cultures, but not in every detail. This certainly applies to the way morality is understood in Islam and in the West. Islamic morality can conveniently be divided into three categories: (a) the obligations, duties and responsibilities set out in the sharı¯‘ah; (b) the values and manners associated with good upbringing; and (c) the personal qualities of character that a Muslim is expected to demonstrate in everyday life. Each category is broadly comprehensible to those brought up in a framework of western values, but some values are included which may not be considered moral values in the West, the values may be defined and classified differently and they may be prioritised in different ways. With regard to the obligations set out in the sharı¯‘ah, for example, legal, moral and religious duties are included without necessarily any clear distinction between them. The familiar western binary oppositions of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, ‘good’ and ‘bad’ do not fully capture the moral distinctions that are fundamental to Islam. In Islam there is an initial distinction between fard (behaviour that is obligatory), hala¯l (behaviour that is permitted) and hara¯m (behaviour that is forbidden). The middle category is sub-divided into mandu¯b (strongly recommended), muba¯h (neutral) and makru¯h (merely tolerated). Examples of obligatory duties include saying the five daily prayers, fasting during Ramadan and making the annual zaka¯t (charitable tax) payments. These are normally considered religious duties, but Allama Syed Sulaiman Nadwi points out that they have moral dimensions as well: prayer helps to guard against evil, fasting develops piety, and alms-giving encourages empathy and compassion (1999, pp. 27–8). Other obligatory duties include getting married, having children and providing for the needs of one’s family (including one’s parents). Working hard, pursuing knowledge and giving to charity are strongly recommended, while divorce is normally considered the worst of the permitted things. Prohibited activities include theft, murder, highway robbery, all sexual activity outside marriage (including homosexuality), dishonesty, eating pork, drinking alcohol and charging interest. According to Moustafa, ‘the negative prescriptions are preventive and precautionary measures to safeguard and maintain the original quality of the human value system and protect it from degeneration, devaluation, perversion, indecency and temptation’ (1990, p. 120). As Bennett points out, every action, ‘whether a commercial transaction, eating or reading a book, has a moral significance in Islam’ (1994, p. 104). This is because any act that is in accordance with the sharı¯‘ah is an act of worship, so long as it is performed with nı¯yyah (good intent). All good acts will be rewarded in the Hereafter, just as all bad acts will be punished. For some prohibited activities (such as murder) a punishment



is prescribed in the Qur’an, but in other cases punishment is at the discretion of the state. Goodness is not merely a matter of individual choice, though the Qur’an makes clear that everyone is responsible for his or her own actions (Sura 3, v. 115–6; Sura 35, v. 18; Sura 53, v. 38–9). Society has a right to publicly uphold moral and religious duties, though there is a widespread tradition that the state does not intervene in what goes on in the privacy of a family’s home. Nevertheless, the true believer is conscious that God sees actions that may be hidden from the community, and God is always a party to moral behaviour. Manners and etiquette, the second dimension of moral behaviour, clearly extend the concept of morality beyond what is normally included in western understandings of the term. Because of the reverence in which the Prophet Muhammad is held in Islam, every small detail of his personal lifestyle and behaviour becomes a model for Muslims, including how he ate food and drank, how he prepared for bed, what side he slept on, how he washed, how he relieved himself, how he dyed his hair, how he responded to sneezing and yawning, how he acted in the presence of his wives. This is the main reason why the collections of hadı¯th are so important, because by providing a record of what the Prophet did and said, they simultaneously provide a guide to Muslims about how to behave. It is therefore rare to find any debate about family values or sexual values in Islam, because these matters are resolved by reference to the words and actions of the Prophet. The third dimension of morality, the Islamic virtues, is also linked to the Prophet’s example (cf. Abu Laylah, 1990). Many of the 99 names of God represent virtues to which human beings should aspire (for example, the Merciful, the Compassionate). As Ashraf points out, these virtues ‘are the unchangeable absolutes to be realised in our contingent circumstances’ (1988, p. 16). Since the Prophet expressed these qualities in his own life, he becomes the perfect model of righteousness for his followers. There are many lists of Islamic virtues based on the life of the Prophet. Haneef, for example, lists the following: sincerity, responsibility, integrity, honesty, truthfulness, keeping of commitments, fair dealing, discipline, self-control, humility, patience, endurance, courage, thankfulness, dignity, honour, self-respect, purity, modesty, chastity, kindness, helpfulness, co-operation, charitableness, generosity, hospitality, considera- tion, good manners, brotherliness, warmth, lovingness, striving, hard work and love of knowledge (1996, pp. 90–97). This personal morality for Muslims is rooted in ima¯n (faith in God or consciousness of God in everything), isla¯m (surrender to the divine will), taqwa (fear of God and vigilance against going astray) and ihsa¯n (acting out of love for God and a spiritual awareness of his presence) (Siddiqui, 1997, pp. 424–5).

Comparing Islamic and western moral values

How far is this understanding of morality compatible with western liberal perspectives? Certainly there is significant overlap both in terms of the concept of human virtue (as outlined in the previous paragraph) and in terms of fundamental values (since the Qur’an makes frequent reference to values like freedom, equality and justice), though it has already been pointed out that there may be differences in



detail in the way the values and virtues are understood. What distinguishes the Islamic perspective, as Khuram Hussain mentions in his article in this Special Issue,

is its recognition of timeless religious principles. Moral development, he argues, is

therefore a personal journey of the spiritual self towards the discovery of these principles, rather than a commitment to a moral universe derived dialectically between individual and society. The concept of rights presents a special case. Many Muslim books have been written about rights, implying that they are central to Islamic ethics (Husain, 1990;

Mawdudi, 1976; Nadvi, 1992; Sheriff, 1989), but this remains controversial. On the one hand, as we have seen, Islamic morality consists largely in carrying out the obligations, duties and responsibilities that are set out in the sharı¯‘ah. It is clear that


I have a responsibility to perform action x for the benefit of person P, then person


has the right to expect me to perform action x. Nadwi (1999, p. 26) uses the term

‘rights’ in this sense when he writes of huqu¯q Allah (the rights due to God, such as the right to be worshipped) and huqu¯q al-‘ibad (the rights due to other human beings, such as the rights of children to be clothed, cared for and nurtured in the faith). He clearly has our obligations in mind (cf. Shad, 1987). Rights in the sense of a legitimate expectation based on the moral duties of others seem to be in harmony with Islamic teaching, and indeed the term is used in this sense in the Qur’an and the hadı¯th. On the other hand, Islam is first and foremost the religion of submission (the literal meaning of isla¯m is ‘submission’), and the slave-master relationship is an important symbol of the believer’s relationship with God. Rights in the sense of self- assertion (‘I’ve got a right to do x’) or in the sense of pressing a claim against God (or against a fellow human being) thus seem to run counter to the spirit of Islam. Saida Affouneh draws attention in her article in this Special Issue to the inadequacy of western concepts of human rights (in the sense of self-assertion or pressing a claim) as a basis for moral education in Palestine. Western conceptions of rights, peace and forgiveness, she argues, fail to take adequate account of the contingent realities of Palestinian suffering, and fail to provide the necessary spiritual strength to sustain hope, to nurture the next generation and to continue to fight injustice. Only values that are grounded in religion, she claims, can achieve that.

From an Islamic perspective, personal and moral autonomy (whether based on

theories of rights or on Kantian individualism) is a kind of nonsense, for two reasons:

first, it involves usurping God’s own position as the judge of good and evil; and second, it cuts the individual off from the community of faith. Goodness is not just an individual matter in Islam, as we have already seen, and society has a duty to publicly uphold moral behaviour and religious practice. Therefore teaching morality

is itself a moral duty.

Teaching moral values in Islam

The first thing that strikes one about moral education in Islam is that there is a remarkable consistency of approach across the Muslim world and across the centuries. Two of the articles in this Special Issue describe key thinkers in the field.



Hamid Reza Alavi has written about the 11 th century Iranian theologian al-Ghazali, and Enver Uysal has written about the 16 th century Turkish moralist Kınalızade. The former is a famous and highly influential scholar who lived during the Arab Empire and who was at the very forefront of the intense academic debates of the time. The latter lived at the height of the Ottoman Empire and served as a teacher and judge, but made a much more modest contribution to intellectual thinking. In spite of these differences in background, however, there is a high level of commonality in their views of moral education. Both scholars emphasise the role of parents in the moral upbringing of their own children, both consider the child to be a tabula rasa on which good habits can be imprinted, both discuss the tendency of young children to imitate others and hence stress the importance of encouraging good friendships and setting them a good example. Both discuss the importance of learning discipline, self-sufficiency and restraint, as well as generosity, politeness and humility. Both agree that teachers should genuinely care about their pupils, avoid excessive harshness, and encourage games as a way of relaxing and unwinding (as well as a way of familiarising them with the concept of rules). In the context of Islamic teaching and practice, being a moral educator involves two tasks: (a) giving children and young people the knowledge of what they should and should not do (understanding the reasons for the behaviour is in a sense considered less important than knowing what is right, and may come later); and (b) giving them the motivation or the will to behave morally. With regard to the transmission of moral knowledge, the knowledge itself (‘ilm al-akhla¯q and ‘ilm al- adab) is unlikely to vary much from country to country since it is based on the main Islamic sources of the Qur’an and the hadı¯th, as discussed in the earlier sections of this editorial. More likely to vary are the structure, the approach and the methods. There have been many different types of educational institutions in the Muslim world in the past, including the maktab (writing school), the halgha (circle school), the masjid (mosque school) and the madrasah (school of public instruction), as well as the palace schools, the bookshops and the literary salons, and each had its own structure for teaching and learning moral values along with many other topics (Shamsavary et al., 1993, p. 147–8). With the inclusion (or imposition) of western models of schooling in some Muslim countries, there is even more diversity of educational provision in the present day. In traditional Muslim schools, the main distinction in the teaching of moral education is between the full integration of the subject into Islamic Studies and the planning of moral education as a separate component. Teaching methods vary in terms of learning styles, use of punishment, dependence on memorisation, use of visual aids, computers and other resources, the inclusion of discussion of contemporary moral issues, and so on. Two articles in this Special Issue concentrate on the teaching of moral education. Ab Halim Tamuri focuses on the teaching of akhla¯q in secondary schools in Malaysia, where it is an important discreet component of Islamic Education. The subject has strong support from the government, whose official statement of the national philosophy of education links ‘social responsibility’ and ‘high moral standards’ to a ‘firm belief in and a devotion to God’. The main purpose of his article



is to examine the perceptions of Islamic Education teachers concerning the teaching of akhla¯q in their schools, but the article also provides valuable insights into the central place occupied by moral education in the government’s education policy, and into the way moral education relies heavily on activities outside the classroom to demonstrate its relevance to students. Finally, the article highlights some of the main obstacles to successful moral education, including the negative influence of peers, the mass media and entertainment centres. The article by Imran Mogra, on the other hand, provides a critical review of curriculum materials used to promote both akhla¯q and adab in the supplementary Muslim schools attended by Muslim children living in the West. Such schools seek to compensate for the absence of Islamic teaching in mainstream non-religious schools by offering an immersion pro- gramme in Islamic beliefs and values in the evenings or at weekends. The textbooks address basic ethical precepts and provide practical moral guidance for children and young people between the ages of six and fifteen years. The aims and rationale of the series of books are expressed in very conservative, authoritarian terms, talking of the need for humility, uprightness of character and moral behaviour, but the teachers are expected to find creative ways (such as stories and real life situations) to engage learners and encourage their commitment to the Islamic values and way of life. A third article about the teaching of moral education pays more attention to the diversity of traditions that can be found in a single country. Huda al-Khaizaran examines moral education in Iraq as the country emerges from Ottoman rule and comes under a variety of pressures from different sources, including pressure to ‘modernise’ by conforming to western attitudes and institutions. She identifies three main strands to moral education in Iraq: state education, which combined nationalism and sometimes militarism with Sunni Islamic beliefs; the Arab tribal diwa¯n (literally, a sheikh’s guest room where future tribal leaders received their training) with its emphasis on tribal virtues, dignity and refinement, negotiating skills and making alliances that promote peace; and the Shi’a religious hawza education. Perhaps it is the fragmentation of Iraqi society illustrated by these divisions, combined with a general breakdown of moral education, that is a major factor in the current instability in that country. The article by Saida Affouneh focuses on the breakdown of moral values in Palestine as a result of continuing violence and oppression. School-based moral education is proving a practical impossibility in the Palestinian territories because of the closure of many schools and the difficulties experienced by teachers and students in getting to school because of the large numbers of checkpoints and road closures. But behind the practical difficulties are the more theoretical difficulties of finding an appropriate basis for moral education in the current situation. International aid agencies sometimes insist on the inclusion of human rights education or peace education in the curriculum before funds are released, but western conceptions of rights and peace do not sit easily with Islamic values. Many Muslims believe that only religious education can provide the framework of values that can sustain hope and contribute to the rebuilding of lives once a just peace is achieved.



Moral motivation in Islam

The issue of moral motivation, which has exercised a number of western philosophers writing on moral education (e.g. Straughan, 1999; Haydon, 1999), is not perceived to be such a problem for Muslim educators. As already noted, the latter put equal stress on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation includes encouraging children to act out of a desire to please God and to love the Prophet Muhammad so much that they always want to imitate his behaviour. Having a good relationship with parents and teachers is also very important, because children will then want to follow their example, out of love and respect for them. Extrinsic motivation covers a wide range of points, from the reward stickers mentioned by Mogra that are given out to young children in mosques for good work in Islamic studies, to the belief that economic, social and emotional benefits in this life will accrue to those who live good lives. But belief in the Hereafter is also a key factor in providing morality with a strong basis and purpose (Maududi, 1966, p. 36). The Qur’an makes it clear that everyone is responsible for their own actions (Sura 53, vv. 38–9; Sura 41, v. 46) and that all humans will receive rewards and punishments from God in the Hereafter based on their actions in this world. These approaches to motivation would be unlikely to be judged satisfactory by many western experts. Wilson, for example, totally dismisses the idea that moral education can encourage young people to act on ‘right answers’ because a certain kind of moral behaviour ‘pays off’ (Wilson and Cowell, 1987, p. 34). He argues that moral motivation is a matter of encouraging students to take seriously the entire form of life or thought that we call morality, to appreciate it for its own sake and to want to become a part of it (ibid., p. 35). This and other disagreements between western and Islamic approaches to moral education come to the fore when Muslim children are brought up and educated in western countries, because they may receive one kind of moral education in state schools, based on a framework of western liberal democratic values, and a very different kind of moral education in mosque schools in the evenings or at weekends, based on the Islamic values outlined above. Exposing children to different kinds of moral education and guidance at an early age before they have internalised a consistent framework of moral values of their own can lead to moral confusion, to uncertain identity and to other undesirable outcomes. The article in this Special Issue by Marta Bolagnani draws attention to the high levels of criminality among the Pakistani Muslims of Bradford in the north of England, which some of the respondents in her research explain as resulting from socialisation into non-Islamic values. But the main thrust of her article concerns community views about the best way to respond to these high levels of crime. Interestingly, she reports that it simply does not enter into the thinking of the Muslim community that it is the role of the state school to reinforce moral values. Some Muslim parents are shocked by the example set by teachers (for example, openly admitting to taking drugs), and think of state schools as places where Muslim students are likely to be led astray. More trust is placed in parents, madrasahs and mosques to provide guidance and direct teaching of moral values,



though the shortcomings of each of these is acknowledged. Prison and the probation service are seen as having a definite role to play, perhaps because they are predicated on a clear sense of what is permitted and what is forbidden in terms of behaviour. Above all, however, the community stresses the benefit of teaching universal Islamic moral values because these encourage inner change in individuals.

Aims of the Special Issue

As the Journal of Moral Education becomes more self-consciously international in its coverage (Li et al., 2004; Morgan, 2005), it seems appropriate that a Special Issue should be devoted to Islamic values and moral education in the Muslim world, especially since there are over 50 countries whose population is predominantly Muslim. The aim of the Special Issue is threefold. The first aim is to raise awareness in the West of Islamic values and of the impact of these values on the very concept of education in Islam. The use of the word ‘Islamic’ here is intentional, in preference to ‘Muslim’, because the former implies that the values relate to the religion itself, whereas the latter refers to the civilisation that grew up around the religion. Thus Bolognani’s article talks of criminality among Bradford’s Muslims, but some of her respondents at least see their redemption in terms of the adoption of Islamic moral values. The second aim is to explore the theory and practice of moral education in the Muslim world; the articles covering this aim will be of interest equally to Muslim and non-Muslim scholars. The third aim is to use this better understanding of the link between Islamic values and moral education in the Muslim world to facilitate more productive dialogue between western and Islamic specialists in moral education. The topic is both innovative and challenging, particularly because of the tendency for moral education to be subsumed under religious education in most Muslim countries, as noted above. Consequently there is a shortage of research and scholarship relating to moral education, except in a few Muslim countries (for example, a Center for Values Education was established in Istanbul in 2003 to promote research and publishing activities in spiritual and moral education throughout Turkey (see www.degerleregitimi.org), and in recent years there has been a strong tradition of teaching and researching moral education throughout the schools of Malaysia). It is true that current globalising trends mean that a growing number of Muslim academics are aware of western approaches to moral education and are interested in finding out more. However, dialogue is often hampered by the fact that ideas and practices may not be conceptualised in the same way by different cultures. This means that a choice has to be made in a publication like the present one between allowing contributors an authentic voice, even if this sounds awkward, exotic or obscure to western ears, and re-expressing the concepts in a way that is more accessible to western readers but may lose the rich connotations (and, in this case, the religious significance) of the original. All the contributors to this collection are conscious of the predominantly western readership of the journal, but they differ



in terms of the concessions and adaptations they make in response to the cultural assumptions of that readership. Language in the context of Islam may also often be controversial. For example, the word ‘martyr’ may be used for someone who dies defending their country or fighting in the cause of the faith, or for someone who dies as a result of oppression and injustice – though such usage may sometimes be considered inappropriate by non-Muslims. In this Issue, the choice of terminology has been left to the individual author and should not be taken to imply endorsement by the Journal of Moral Education of any opinions expressed or implied. Inevitably, the Special Issue has only been able to take the first steps in describing Islamic values and encouraging dialogue between western and Muslim experts in moral education. A number of key issues that have only lightly been touched on here merit fuller exploration, including the link between the sharı¯‘ah Islamic law) and moral education; the role of Muslim parents in moral education; the contribution of Muslim poetry to moral education; the concepts of moral guidance and the moral virtues in Islam; the concept of adab (refinement, discipline, culture) as part of moral education; and civic and moral education in specific Muslim countries, such as Egypt and Indonesia. No doubt, these will form topics for future articles appearing in this journal. Also meriting more detailed investigation in the future are the main differences between western and Islamic approaches to moral education, particularly the emphasis in Islam on timeless religious principles, the role of the law in enforcing morality, the different understanding of rights, the rejection of moral autonomy as a goal of moral education and the stress on reward in the Hereafter as a motivator of moral behaviour. Nevertheless, it is hoped that the Special Issue will make a signi- ficant contribution to awareness of Islamic moral values in the West and will provide a basis for increasing cross-cultural dialogue on moral education in the future.

Note on language in the Special Issue

Eight different mother tongues are represented among the nine contributors to this Special Issue. One outcome has been the impossibility of achieving complete consistency in the transliteration of foreign words. For example, the word which is transliterated as akhla¯q in this editorial is in common usage in at least five different languages in Muslim countries (Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Urdu and Malaysian), but numerous different spellings are found, as well as different rules for transliteration. It would seem inappropriate to insist, for the sake of internal consistency, on using a particular spelling that is unfamiliar to the author himself or herself. The rule of thumb (even if this offends the purist) has been to encourage readability for the Muslim and non-Muslim reader alike. For this reason, the diacritical marks of Arabic, Persian and Urdu have been omitted, Anglicised versions of words have been retained where they are in common usage (such as Mecca, caliph), and hybrid words have been used (such as hadı¯th to refer to collections of aha¯dı¯th, and madrasahs as an Anglicised plural form) where these are recognisable and are used in common speech in spite of their ungrammatical form.




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