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Islamic Education: Traditional VS University

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  • Islamic Education: Traditional VS University


    Islamic Education: Traditional VS University

    In 1962 Bayard Dodge said, “The Muslim education of the Middle ages is rapidly being superseded by schools and universities, which are both modern and secular. This widespread movement is so recent that it is impossible to tell how it will affect the cultural and social life of Islam. It is clear, however that in this age of chaotic change, when members of the rising generations are confused by bewildering doubts, the reformers must not neglect the basic principles of medieval education which were a search of spiritual truth and faith in the reality of Allah.”

    My Thoughts:

    Traditional studies is where you sit in front a shaykh and study and Islamic text from cover to cover - and in general you study furu (the branches) before Usul (principles) in every science Fiqh, Hadith, Aqidah, Quran, Tasawwuf etc etc.

    From one perspective, the student specializes. Let’s take for example, Fiqh, the student learns only one madhab in the beginning. They may not know what the other madhabs may say about this or that, but they are a master of the madhab they follow.

    University studies is in a classroom setting, and you study bits and pieces of books. More than likely you will never complete a traditional book on fiqh, Aqida from cover to cover. University educations tends to focuses on usul (principles), only teaches outward forms of religions, Quran, Hadith, Fiqh, Aqida, usul….

    From one perspective, the student is a generalist. Let’s take for example fiqh. In the beginning, they learn what all the madhabs may say about a position, and they may learn the prophetic proof those positions. A jack of all trades and a master of known.

    I would argue Salafis are by and large University educated. In my opinion this is why Salafism dominated the West, in particular, America, because they were able to mass produce shaykhs. An example Maghrib Institute created by Salafis who were by and large university educated. This is not to say Salafis aren’t traditionally educated, because I think Ibn Uthaymeen and Bin Baz were probably traditionally educated. But I don’t think Al Albani was traditionally educated.

    Ashari/Maturidi/Athari are predominately traditionally educated. So while the salafis dominated the west in the beginning, traditionally educated shuyukh eventually were able to take root later. The process to become a shaykh traditionally is much longer than to become a shaykh by way of University. An example is seekers created by Asharis who were by and large traditionally educated. There are Asharis and Maturudis who are University educated as well and I have met some.

    Pros and Cons

    Pro: Traditionally educated shuyukh are more knowledgeable than University educated shuyukh. To a novice, University educated shuyukh seem more knowledgeable because they tend to teach you with Quran and Hadiths and are knowledgeable about the differences of opinion and why this or that position is stronger. Where, a traditional shaykh teaches you from a book of fiqh or Aqida, they may not teach you the differing opinions and they don't necessarily mention the Quranic ayat or Hadith the position it is based on.

    Con: University education model is based on the modern secular paradigm.

    This includes even Ashari institutes such as Zaytuna in California and Al Azhar, so this is not intended to be an attack on Salafi Unviersity such as Madinah or Riyad.

    Con: Universities are by and large void of the spiritual component or inner aspects of the religion, known traditional as tasawwuf and prophetically known as Ihsan – which cover adab (manners) , tazkiyatul naf (purification of the soul), akhlaq (noble characteristics), muraqabah (vigilance), and mushahada (witnessing Allah or experiencing Allah), firasa (spiritual insight), Ilham (inspiration) etc.

    Share your thoughts....
    My Blog ---> Reflections of the Traveler

  • #2
    This could be a good discussion but I'm closing the thread due to OPs agenda to cause sectarian fitnah.