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ISLAMIC EDUCATION AS A PROCESS TOWARDS PEACEFUL COEXISTENCE

Introduction
        Islamic education as a process of development towards peaceful coexistence is a phenomenon that must be understood deeply from Islamic perspective using the Quran (words of Allah), the Sunnah (tradition of the Holy Prophet Muhammad), other available sources  and the existing realities as the framework of analysis.
        This phenomenon, further, has been considered among the topics of discussion by concerned people, including the ulama (learned Muslims) and Muslim intellectuals. Thus, educational seminars, conferences and similar activities have been organized and undertaken. 
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       This paper, therefore, is designed to show and discuss specifically the nature of Islamic education, and its process of development towards peaceful coexistence.

               
Its Nature and Process

        In order to realize the peaceful coexistence, Islamic education is a process of learning in both the revealed and acquired knowledge. The former is the one directly learned from the Qur’an as explained by the Holy Prophet Muhammad in his Ahadith (sayings) and Sunnah (tradition) and the latter is the one learned from the different creatures, created for the utilization of mankind.   Its main objective is to teach and develop the value of Taqwa or God fearing which is  an inner strongest faith of the Muslims.  This is noticeable when they  actually perform all the commandments of Allah as enshrined in the Qur’an and in the Sunnah of the Prophet.

        The God fearing people (muttaqiin)  who  should serve as vicegerent of Allah  responsible to the goal which is to implement the rule of Allah on earth.  In order to come up with these objective and goal,  a teacher is not only a ‘whisperer (mu’alim) of
knowledge’ but also a trainer (murabbi) of souls and personalities’.   

        Islamic education as a process is basically enshrined in the Qur’an where Allah says:

                       Read! In the Name of your Lord who has created (all that exists).
                       He has created man from a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood).
                       Read! And your Lord is the Most  Generous. Who has taught
                       (the writing) by the pen.  He has taught man that which he knew
                       not. (96:1-5).
    
       The verse implies that Muslims should primary know Allah, the Creator, and to comprehend and appreciate His attributes. To appreciate His attributes, the Muslims are following and observing the teaching of Allah.

        The used of “pen” also implies the process of human struggle in search for the knowledge, both revealed and acquired knowledge.  It is only those learned among His slaves that fear Allah (35:28). 

        The Qur’an identifies three processes of Islamic Education. In the Qur’an, Allah says: 
   Our Lord! Send amongst them a messenger of their own   whom
   Shall recite unto them your verses and instruct them in the Book
   (This Qur’an) and Al-Hikmah  (full knowledge of the Islamic laws
   and jurisprudence), and purify them.  Verily, you are the All-Mighty,
   the All-wise. (2:129)

        Firstly, the said verse stresses Telawah which means recitation,  reading or rehearsing. This is the work of the students or learners.

        Secondly, it speaks Ta’aleem which implies teaching.  Prophet Muhammad  s.a.w.  said that: the best among you are those who either learn or teach the Qur’an. To the best of our ability, we should believe, read, understand, apply, learn and teach it.  This process of Ta’aleem should go beyond the standard Sharia sciences.  We need to study all branches of industrial, medical, experimental and civil sciences in order to meet the demand of Fard Kefaya to enable the Muslim ummah to recover from weakness, dependence and cultural regression that is pushing Muslims to the end of the line.  It makes sense therefore that Muslims as an ummah should encourage all scientific activities which will take the ummah forward to regain its dignity among nations. This is the job of the ustadj or teacher,

        Thirdly, Tazkeyah is the process of self-purification. This is the job of the Prophets and their followers. Allah says:

  By the soul and the way of molding it and its polar nature of
  Wickedness and righteousness. Truly succeeds who purifies it
  And truly he fails who corrupts it. (Qur’an, 91:7)

        After passing through such processes, a persons will become Muttaqin who can live peacefully in any place and time. This is in line with Quranic Ayah, where Allah says:

                   O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a
                   female and made you into nations and tribes that ye may know
                   each other.   Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah
                   is the  most righteous of  you.  (Qur’an,  49:13)

        The verse implies for the Muslims to know each other regardless of nationality and tribe. They should not only confine their vision for the people who belong to their society. This verse has relevance to individual, familial, tribal and international relations for peaceful coexistence.

       This happened during the life time of Prophet Muhammad in Madinah. Aside from his duty to strengthen the sense of Muslim brotherhood, he was able to unite and had realized peaceful coexistence of the diverse people. As model to mankind, he started to display the best qualities of a Muslim. He used to get friendship among the Jews and non-Muslims to let them see, observe and believe that Islam is not only a religion but a way of life revealed in order to achieve a peaceful and prosperous society.

        This is in line with the Quranic ayah, where Allah says:   
    
                 “And it is then that We appointed you to be the community of the
                   middle way (ummatan wasatan) so that you might be witness to all  
                   mankind and the messenger might be a witness to you.” (Qur’an,
                   2:143)

        Applying this Ayah, we are purposive to live moderately.  It is in this way that Muslims, the followers of Islam,  may have to live peacefully with people from diverse cultures, tribes and religions.

Conclusion and Recommendation

       In view of the above, this article concludes that Islamic education as a process of development towards peaceful coexistence can take place in any time and place. In the process, it influences unity and development among people.


        In order to fully realize peaceful coexistence through education,  it is imperative to have series of seminars and conferences on “Wasatiyyah” (Islamic moderation) and peaceful coexistence for ulama, Muslim youths and professionals

(Prof. Dr. Ali B. Panda is  professor at Mindanao State University, Marawi City, Philippines)
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