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IN DEPTH ANALYSIS / Policy and Research


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Islamic Perspectives on Education

Islam has been advocating education as a social necessity for over 1400 years. The Qur’an and the Hadiths (sayings of the Prophet Mohammed peace be upon him) explicitly emphasise the importance of education; in Islam seeking education is obligatory for every Muslim, male and female. Indeed the acquisition of knowledge and the use of this knowledge for the betterment of humanity is seen as a sacred duty for Muslims.

In 2005 there were 774 million illiterate adults, 64% of whom are women, many of them Muslim; furthermore, 72 million  primary school age children were not enrolled in the same year. This is an indication that more work has to be done to accomplish Islamic and international commitments in the area of education, such as the ‘Education for All’ declaration, and the universal primary education goal as part of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The international commitments indicate that there is widespread recognition of the importance of education as a key tool for development.

In Islam, the right to education is for all, without gender discrimination. Muslims are encouraged to support education for disadvantaged sections of society; this can be observed through some forms of charitable giving to promote education projects for the disadvantaged and the marginalised. Islam has a holistic view of human development, which views education and knowledge as central. Furthermore, the principles of justice and equity are important in Islam; this entitles acquiring knowledge and skills to apply such principles.

This paper focuses on the significance of education in Islam, and will shed some light on Islamic perspectives on education and its implications on the work of  Muslim faith based organisations (MFBO) working in international development.

Islamic Relief