This article presents how Islam is best understood through learning via an integral approach.   This approach, as developed in the Integral Tarbiyah Project (ITP)  allows the teacher to lead the student through the stages from inspiration through to application utilising the synergy of belief and action to strengthen each other. 

Introduction

The One Creator Allah (swt) sent the basic message of Islam to all of humanity, beginning with the first Prophet, Adam (as), and ending with the last Prophet, Muhammad (pbuh).

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The same basic message of Islam came from Allah (swt) via the Archangel Jibrail (as) to his Prophets in different times, in different languages and to different generations.

The human species did not undergo much difference in their physical functions; however many changes took place in their mental, psychological and spiritual faculties, and their development in knowledge, experience and thinking.

With the advent of the last Prophet of Allah (pbuh) came the last stage of Divine Guidance to humans, with the full preservation of the Qur’an, and the elaborate life history of the last Prophet (pbuh).

“Say, (O believers): We believe in (One) Allah (swt) and (in) all that has been sent down to (in the Qur’an); and (in) all that has been sent down to Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and to the (prophets of the) Tribes (of Israel); And in all that was given to Moses and to Jesus; and (in) all that was given to (all) the (other) prophets from their Rabb. We do not differentiate (in faith) between any of them. Thus are we Muslims, in willing submissions to Him (alone). 

“Then if they believe in the same (creed) in which you have believed, then, truly, they are guided  (aright). But if they turn away from (Ad-Deen), then it is they who are (the ones) in schism (with the Deen of Allah (swt). Thus Allah (swt) shall suffice you, (O Prophet), against them. For He is the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.”

(Al-Baqarah;2:136,137)

The words of the Qur’an are a miracle in many senses. One of the most special characteristics of the Qur’an is that through this, the relation between belief and action becomes incredibly binding. There is no belief that can be attested by any sincere person unless they intend to act upon it. Therefore, the student who studies Qur’an for the sake of accepting Islam automatically learns the practice of action for each and every article of belief.

“O you who believe! Why do you say what you do not do? 

It is greatly abhorrent (in the sight of) Allah (swt) that you say what you do not do!” 

(Al-Saff; 61:02-03)

Integral Approach through The Quran and the Prophet’s (pbuh) life.

It is evident that Islam can easily be understood through the technique of Integral Approach applied to the Qur’an. In Islam, beliefs and actions are inseparable, and a believer can never claim a belief if he/she does not demonstrate it in practice.

Archangel, Jibrail (as) taught the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) the full text of the Qur’an and Al-Hikmah, the Wisdom of Prophethood. This Wisdom is the technique of learning the strict adherence or bondage between the belief and action related to that belief.

The Prophet (pbuh) taught his companions the same way as he learnt from the Archangel Jibrail (as).

According to the directive of Allah (swt), the teaching by Jibrail (as) and the learning by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) clearly indicate the special stages for Islamic education as mentioned in Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:129:

Inspiration and wonderment (ãyah, or sense of cosmology). 

Self-purification, preparation and motivation (tazkiyah, or soul axiology). 

Construction and acquisition (Ilm, or moral psychology). 

Proper application and use of knowledge, known as wisdom (hikmah, or hand/body technology/know-how). 

The Integral Tarbiyah Project (ITP) uses this Qur’anic paradigm as the basis for its instructional model.

 

The urgency of teaching vision to Muslim students

Muslims are supposed to claim for themselves the responsibility to serve as caretakers of creation, and to provide inspired leadership to the world. This is the Islamic notion of ‘amanah, or stewardship/vicegeregency.

However, in order to fulfill this responsibility, Muslims need a system of education that is capable of producing young people who can identify, analyse, understand and then work cooperatively to solve the problems that face their community and humanity at large.

According to Islam, a person’s life is to be established on the principles of belief and action together in such a way that beliefs must be translated into action and reflected into his or her conduct.

The Kind Prophet (pbuh) emphasised that our dealings and actions with other people are, in fact, the truest reflection of our deen (way of life).

The prevailing social norm of a practicing Muslim must reflect the teachings of Islam in action, giving great regards to the notion of good conduct, orderliness, appointments, timeliness, equality, due process and other etiquettes of a productive society.

Hence, Islamic teaching cannot simply be an appendage to an otherwise secular and fragmented curriculum. Nor can it be merely a prescriptive or parochial litany of moral do’s and don’ts. Instead, it must be woven skillfully and articulately throughout the curriculum into the daily experience of our children.

All this requires a comprehensive and holistic approach to learning, and a unifying principle of education.

The aims and objectives of the Integral Tarbiyah Program (ITP)

A.This vision of Islamic education makes an important distinction between teaching “about Islam” (information) and learning to “be Muslim” (transformation). The goal of Islamic education is not to fill our children’s minds with as much information about Islam as possible; its goal is to guide and assist them in becoming Muslim, and inspiring them to transform themselves in the process. This paradigm shift from information-driven to transformation-oriented education is essential if we hope to revitalise Muslim society.

B.TheWW vision of Islamic education, advocated by the Tarbiyah Project, is based on a dynamic rather than static view of Islam and Islamic education. This view is rooted in the belief that the mission of Islam is to positively affect and transform the world by first transforming ourselves and, its purpose is to prepare young men and women capable of living out this mission- emotionally, morally, intellectually and collectively, To achieve this high level of education, Muslim educators, parents and other responsible adults must be committed in their purpose, and thoughtful in their approach.

C.The strength of the Tarbiyah Project is in its holistic and integrated vision of education, its broad view of Islamic educational reform and its focus on character development and human relations.

D.The Project approaches educational improvement and reform based on two key principles:

1.Genuine reform will only be achievable to the extent that we transform its key stakeholders, namely, the students, staff and parents.

2.Sustainable improvement will only result through a partnership that empowers the stakeholders themselves, and make them directly accountable for the learning that takes place.

Therefore, the Integral Approach of Teaching and Learning Islam through the Integral Tarbiyah Project aims to deliver a comprehensive Islamic education with a great focus on human development, curriculum development, staff development and community development.  In order to achieve these aims and objectives, it is imperative that all who are involved in administering the project or assisting in its administration, be they teachers, lesson planners, evaluators or parents, to understand its purpose and work seriously and cooperatively to fulfil all aspects of the project to ensure its success.

Courtesy: Comprehensive Integrated Learning – ACSOMOR, Najia Khalil

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