Letter on Islamic education

Dear fellow Maldivian brothers and sisters,

Assalaamu alaikum Wrh. Wbr.

Let me express my concern over our school system. I invite all to comment on this, be it negative or positive, I would be pleased to hear your comments.

Maldivians believe their schools must develop a Muslim generation capable of analytical and critical thinking, who become Muslims by conviction and who will strive to fulfill their role as Allah’s vicegerents on Earth.

Maldivians believe their schools must develop strong and highly-educated Muslim persons for whom Islam is a complete way of life. This can only be achieved by developing a balanced and wholesome Islamic personality whereby one’s behavior and attitude are guided through training of the spirit, intellect and emotion as well as developing a sound and healthy body.

Maldivians believe their schools must develop educated Muslims who are capable of making good judgments that enable them to lead a life of ‘happiness’ through fulfilling their roles as the servants and vicegerents of Allah SWT.

Our schools must be Islamic schools because we are a 100 percent Muslim society. An Islamic school must emphasise an integrated and balanced human development – intellectual, physical, spiritual, moral, emotional and social – based on the Islamic World View anchored on Tawhid (the unity of Allah).

This means spiritual and character education is regarded as equally important as intellectual education.

Our schools must arouse curiosity and wonder in our students, inculcate important values such as sincerity, honesty, trustworthiness, self-reliance, excellence and responsibility.

Our schools must enhance our students’ spirituality through wonders of the natural phenomena, congregational prayers, Qur’an recitation and memorisation, Qur’an studies, halaqah (study circle), and observe Islamic adhab.

If you like to know about such a school, you can visit www.iis.edu.my

This school being international, English is the medium of instruction and the school adopts the University of Cambridge International Examinations Curriculum. Being Islamic, means Arabic Language and the Qur’an are equally or even more important.

International recognition and achievements of the above school: Top 5th Cambridge Centre in Malaysia 2004, ISO certification since 2003.

In a public gathering at Hulhumale’, Dr Hassan Saeed expressed that the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) was ready to setup an International Islamic School in the Maldives but the problem was they could not get land to build the school. Since the school I am talking about is also a subsidiary of IIUM, why not the Education Ministry try to obtain such assistance from the IIUM?

Wassalaamu alaikum Wrh. Wbr.


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31 thoughts on “Letter on Islamic education”

  1. believe that a person's education is incomplete unless he has some awareness and understanding of the religious -dimension of human experience. Therefore considers that general religious education should be available to all children in government schools and presented in a way that supports the multi cultural nature of modern world.

    It is understandable that the purpose of general religious education to be the development in students of the capacity to understand and assess religion as a major and continuing influence in human society, as a unique dimension of experience and meaning, and as a source of values in their own quest for a philosophy of life, and in support of the ability to understand that others have complete and intact world views even though their traditions are not the same as their own.

    In consideration, the religious education should complement the nurture provided in the homes, churches, mosques and other religious and community groups to which children belong, without promoting any particular religious faith or ideology. Our schools must stand for certain general values-usually described as those of a liberal democratic society where all citizens have equality under the law.

    Therefore the Minister of Education needs to locate all “special religious instruction” in an extra curricular position that treats all creeds, including humanism, identically and grants privilege to none.

  2. umm i have a problem with you using Maldivians believe.
    You good Sir, cannot speak for all Maldivians, i certainly haven't given you that right.
    So how about toning it down to some Maldivians.

  3. why must maldive schools produce a muslim generation capable of thinking about islam? what;s there to think about in religion. it's belief. saeed has written a load of bollocks.

  4. Ibrahim,

    Why don't you direct your question to Citizen's Majlis (the country's legislature) because it's Majlis who told us that a Maldivian cannot be a non-Muslim...this reason alone is enough Maldive schools must produce a muslim generation capable of thinking about Islam, Abarham

    Abraham, then lalalaaaa eothee qaanoonu faaskoffa, tha dhen vashoviyas there is no room for u to announce ur not a Muslim, get lost into the thin air & give me all your money Abraham

  5. Hi Aicha,

    i think the author feels all Maldivians believe so and so is because, a Maldivian cannot be a non-Muslim by law. Maldivian Constitution does not give any room for people like Aicha. If u really feel it should be some Maldivians, i think u better look at the Constitution or talk to a lawyer so that yr frustration could be a bit calm...i agree with u there are guys who feel why Maldives to be a 100 percent Muslim country but you can just think about the issue....Is the Constitution done by the Maldivians or it was just on behalf of some Maldivians???? u can clarify this from a lawyer my friend....don't worry be happy and do what u like to do but u can never violate a law legally.

  6. The constitutional requirement for Maldivians to be muslim is not democratic. Speaking to "a lawyer" (any lawyer) will not clarify this issue because human rights is not streamlined into legal training in law courses taught in our country.

    Demanding a populace to bow down to the will of the majority is NOT democracy. It is the rule of consensus and a sign of dictatorship. No matter how xenophobic we are and how afraid and mistrustful we tend to be of things novel and alien, we cannot, in good conscience, defend the prescription of excluding the strange "others" we face in our day to day lives from their right to citizenship and/or living in our communities.

    However, if we are to assess the reality of the situation, political awakening is mostly yet unique to the growing middle class in Male' society. Therefore, rural populations and the greater section of the Maldivian populace cannot yet grasp high concepts such as liberal democratic values, humanism etc. We must have patience, if we wish to nurture the seedling of democracy planted in our country.

    However, if religious tensions come to a head, our legislators and policymakers must look towards coming up with a solution to protect minority groups instead of the usual response of ignoring a problem till it dies down only to worsen and emerge again.

  7. Salaam Saeed,

    You said, "This can only be achieved by developing a balanced and wholesome Islamic personality whereby one’s behavior and attitude are guided through training of the spirit, intellect and emotion as well as developing a sound and healthy body..."

    Thankyou SO MUCH for that. Yes, charactaer cultivation is what is needed, not rote learning without instilling a sense of love, justice, respect for humanity... The essence of religion has to be conveyed not just the external movements and rote learned Arabic.

    For example, Saeed, where did yu develop your own character?

    It is very impressive that you continue to bring up genuine social issues without ever attacking individuals. It is easy for social concern to turn very quickly into personal animosity as the blame game begins. Hatred of individuals overwhelms care for the original issue.

    In terms of education Saeed, well, please tell me, tell us, about where you feel you learned to be persistently concerned enough about issues to write alot about them, because, that caring you have is what is needed.

    Religious education is good if it teaches one to care, if it installs humanitarian values. If the values of the Rahman and Rahim for all humanity, are installed, if the attributes of Allah are aspired towards, then it is great.

    Character cultivation is the aim of religious knowledge, so if religious knowledge does not achieve its aim, it is a waste.

    So I agree with what you have said Saeed, religious education has to be more about the emotion, the heart... If this school you speak of does this, then GREAT!

  8. ben..
    allah (swt) doesnt have only two attributes or names brother .
    aicha ,ibrahim
    ul see whats in relogion and whats not soon...

  9. Mr. Saeed,

    I have to correct you in two points:

    1) Our schools must be Islamic schools because we are a 100 percent Muslim society.

    We are not a 100percent Muslim society, we just appeared to be so for a long time.

    2) An Islamic school must emphasise an integrated and balanced human development – intellectual, physical, spiritual, moral, emotional and social – based on the Islamic World View anchored on Tawhid (the unity of Allah).

    You forgot mentioning training students in science. On purpose?

  10. I have one question. If I sent my child to your Islamic school, what would it learn about the evolution of species? I mean... would you teach that God made everything? How do your students compete in natural sciences like Biology, Physics, Chemistry?

  11. Dear Saleem,

    I am sure you are reading this - so do you have an answer to my question?

    How do your students compete internationally with other science students. Do you teach science at all? Do you alternate/censor some parts of school books?
    Are you trying to give them a true broad knowledge of the world, or are you going to produce nerds?

    Sorry for my words, but it really sounds like this when I read through your letter. No offence!

  12. Marina, if you have a look at the website Mr.Saeed has given, you can see under 'Academics' that even the primary grade subjects include Science, English Language, Maths, Art, Penmanship, Social Studies, Physical Education, Computer Studies etc. apart from Islamic Studies, Arabic language and Al-Qur’an Recitation & Tahfiz.

  13. @warned: I have a big poster with 99 names of Allah written in Arabic with English translation as well as Arabic pronounciation, it is on my wall so I know this but thankyou, all attributes of Allah are worth aspiring towards...that is what I meant

  14. Dear Marina,

    I think you perhaps missed an important component in the author's writing....he has mentioned that the school he is talking about offers the students the University of Cambridge International Examinations Curriculum plus the school has achieved ISO certification since 2003. I am sure this school students shall compete in natural sciences like Bio, Physics, Chemistry and so on far better than the Maldivian schools

  15. Thank you for the hint, "truth" - but I am interested whether schoolbooks get edited... or do they provide separate ones... I mean what happens when it comes to the topic evolution and Charles Darwin - are students allowed to learn about it? How do they pass their Cambridge exams, if not. How do they compete with international students in science?

  16. Dear Marina,

    Thank u so much for the comments.

    The school I am talking about has achieved top 5th Cambridge Centre in Malaysia 2004 plus ISO certification since 2003.

    I have no doubt this school would not produce nerds even if our school produces nerds

  17. The school Mr.Saeed has given as an example (www.iis.edu.my) also has a swimming classes (they have a swimming pool), football (they have a big filed), table tennis and various other other sports, a huge gym, a well equipped science lab etc. See their gallery!

  18. mr Saeed, what do you mean when you say "this school would not produce nerds even if our schools produce nerds"?
    i actually think we could use a couplel of nerds in this country. nerds built the world you live it. nerds provide you with internet to express your opinions. nerds gave you computers, washingmachines, electricity, bridges, vehicles, roads and your toothpicks. So don't you demean those who study science and invent. you call them nerds, i call them saviors of human species.

    on a different note:

    Maldivians believe? I might share your thoughts, but you can not say Maldivians believe, because the opinions expressed in your letter is your own, not all maldivians. Don't give me the 100% muslim token or tell me about constitution, because it has nothing to do with one person or a group's opinion on how the education system should be run. Constitution does not and can not define the detials of education system oro how islamic nation should be, so its always going to be one group's version or interpretation and i do not think in a democracy you can do that.

  19. Kids are taught that life can evolve given enough time. This is a false statement without any scientific support.

    There is no need to indoctrinate our children.The educational system teaches children not to think. Any student who uses logic and solid scientific evidence to question the Theory of Evolution is ridiculed and insulted into submission. The students who submit become non thinking robots who dare not question the dogma presented.

    we need kids to use logic and imagination while studying natural sciences or any God forsaken flip-flop theories you come up with.

  20. gman,

    Father of Medicine Ibnu Sina or Avicennais a nerd?

    Father of Algebra Al-Khwarizmi is a nerd?

    Dr Abdul Kalam, aeronautical engineer and scientist who is known as the Missile Man of India a nerd?

    Professor Abdulla Saeed and Professor Ugail are nerds?

    Professor Abdus Salam a famous scientist and physicist is a nerd?

    My question is, are u living in the world that v live? Or u r living in another world where nerds built?

    Or the above mentioned learned men are nerds to u? If so, i think u r a nerd but not those who built the world.

  21. @Zanjabeel
    what? i don't understand you!
    you said what i said. all those people are not nerds. i don't like to use the word nerd. i have a problem with you people using words like nerd to demean and put down those who excel at school and those who dedicate their life to science and progress.

    for most people its not cool to study, its cool to have a motor bike and a cell phone and drive around and smoke. or be in a gang or identify with popular cultures including entertainment and fashion industry.

    i have no idea why you pose the qusetions you have posed to me! why? did i say all great muslim scientists are "nerds"? i don't even get that word nerd!

  22. Dear Saeed, I'm a Maldivian and a Muslim and you don't speak for me. I think we should teach all the main religions in schools so that we can change from a society of born-Muslims to a a society where people follow Islam because they believe in it.

  23. Saeed,
    Interesting and thought provoking artiacle. i am very pleased with the comments too.
    Based on your views, i feel, all the schools in Maldives are already Islamic Schools. They need to do very little to earn the title of Islamic School, your definition. I feel the sylabus needs to be much more child friendly and the delivery more innovative. I agree with the comments amout Science.

  24. actually Aicha has a good point. "what maldivians believe" is not clear. ofcourse the constitution says we are all muslims. but are we all wahhabis? it looks like that but i know there are many people who wouldnt want to indoctrinate their children with wahhabism. not just in matters of fiqh and shariah...but even in creed the wahhabis are very different from what we maldivians were before Qayoom and much after qayoom.

    even now many maldivians believe that Allah is everywhere. but the wahhabis go for anthropomorphism of Allah. for the wahhabis Allah has hands legs and sit on a chair resting his legs on a foot stool. so you see, all maldivians dont have the same creed or beliefs after all.

    we should teach children values and morals through the education system. spirituality and a general understanding of islam would be enough if it is necessary. they can pick up and continue from there. parents can guide their children.

  25. I fully agree with Saeed. I have seen lots of school around the world where kids only study science , Geo, maths,history, computer,English,French. Those schools have lots of extra curriculum. But the kids behavior are not good. But then on the other hand kids who studies in Islamic schools are better behave and are highly academic. So I believe that Islamic education helps kids to achieve better than those kids who does not.


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