Question: Western and eastern scholars have written many books and detailed studies on education, and Islamic scholars have also written much on this subject. Would you please give us a summary of the Islamic opinion in this concern?
The answer: In spite of what has been said about education by scholars, whether concurring or conflicting, I think that what the Prophet (S) and his progeny (a.s.) have said is the most correct because they are connected, in their sayings, with the Aware Creator, the Lord of the Worlds, Who has sent to us His prophets to purify and teach us. It is the Islamic education that is derived from the Holy Qur’an and the sayings and actions of the Prophet (S) and his progeny.
Allah says, (Even as We have sent among you a Messenger from among you who recites to you Our communications and purifies you and teaches you the Book and the wisdom and teaches you that which you did not know).
Imam Ali (a.s.), the master of the eloquent, the leader of the intellect, and the pioneer of the pious, showed the goal of the prophets’ missions by saying, ‘And sent to them His prophets, one after the other, to take from them the covenant of His nature, remind them of His forgotten blessings, argue against them with delivering the missions, and move the hidden secrets of minds…’.
Allah has created man for an exalted goal and He knows what He has created. He knows what benefits His creatures and makes them happy and what harms them and makes them wretched. Allah has created man from a spirit, then clothed him with the body, placed in him the will, and granted him the blessing of freedom to choose on his own one of two things: either good or evil.
Allah the Almighty says, (Have We not given him two eyes, and a tongue and two lips, and pointed out to him the two conspicuous ways?)
Allah also says, (Surely We have shown him the way: he may be thankful or unthankful).
The task of the prophets, imams, sincere clergymen, and all the followers of this straight path comes to form the conduct of man and guide him to the path of goodness. However, if man, after that, wants evil for himself, he himself is to be blamed. Allah says, (Say: Every one acts according to his manner; but your Lord best knows who is best guided in the path).
This care clearly shows that Allah loves man, has dignified him, and prefers him to most of His creatures. But, has man been sincere to this honor and preference?
Proofs and evidences show that man, as Allah has described him, is unjust and ignorant, except those who believe in Allah and have been granted knowledge. Allah has elevated such people to confirm that He rewards man for what he chooses for himself; if he follows the path of guidance, he will live happily in this world and be rewarded with the bliss of Paradise in the afterlife, but if he goes astray, he will live wretchedly in this life and be rewarded with the Fire of Hell. There will be degrees and differences among the people of Paradise and the people of Hell according to their level of guidance or deviation.
Allah says, (And the soul and Him Who made it perfect. Then He inspired it to understand what is right and wrong for it. He will indeed be successful who purifies it, and he will indeed fail who corrupts it).
And this is from the theophanies of the wisdom, justice, and power of Allah in man’s life before he is created, in the womb, and after birth.
If parents and educationists care greatly for children, the children will grow positively and their hidden powers will take their courses in the right paths.
Imam Zaynol Aabidin (a.s.) says in his supplication, ‘O Allah, support me in bringing them up, educating them, being dutiful to them….’
Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.) said, ‘Everyone is born on the Divine Nature, but his parents make him either a Jew, Christian, or a magus.’
Parents should know that their child, when born, is pure and innocent in nature, such is (the nature made by Allah in which He has made men). Let the parents be careful in how they deal with this pure nature!
In other words, a child is like gold and silver. A skillful goldsmith is able to mold any of these metals in the best way.
Please ponder on the questions and answers in this chapter about educating the children who will be, after a few years, masters of their own families and of society, and then see what kind of masters you want!