Importance of Education & Knowledge in Islam Assignment

Importance of Education & Knowledge in Islam Assignment Words: 10798
[pic] Importance of Education & Knowledge in Islam The Importance of Education To seek knowledge is a sacred duty; it is obligatory on every Muslim, male and female. The first word revealed of the Qur’an was “Iqra” READ! Seek knowledge! Educate yourselves! Be educated. Religious and Secular (not religious) Knowledge There are two kinds of knowledge which are very important for a human being. Secular knowledge (non-religious knowledge) is for day to day problem-solving and religious knowledge is “for a smooth life on earth and hereafter. Religious knowledge included knowledge of the Qur’an and the laws of Islam which was the basis for the Muslim way of life. The Prophet Muhammad said: “Attainment of knowledge is a must for every Muslim. ” Respect for Knowledge The text of the Qur’an is filled with verses inviting man to use his intellect (mind, intelligence), to ponder (think deeply), to think and to know. To Muslims, “the goal of human life is to discover the Truth which is none other than worshiping God in His Oneness. ” The Hadith literature is also full of references to the importance of knowledge. Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave”, and “Verily (truly) the men of knowledge are the inheritors of the prophets”, and “Seek knowledge, even as far as China”. These ideas have echoed throughout the history of Islam and encouraged Muslims to seek knowledge wherever it might be found. During most of its history, Islamic civilization has been witness to a true celebration of knowledge. That is why every traditional Islamic city possessed public and private libraries, and some cities like Cordoba and Baghdad boasted of libraries with over 400,000 books.

Scholars have always been held in the highest esteem (respect) in Islamic society. ” Libraries in Islamic Cities and in European Cities 1. Islamic culture valued literacy. In the ninth century, the library of the monastery of St. Gall was the largest in Europe. It boasted 36 volumes. At the same time, that of Cordoba contained 500,000. 2. It took much more than paper to create an intellectual and scientific culture like that of Islamic Spain. Islam, with its tolerance and encouragement of both secular and religious learning, created the necessary climate for the exchange of ideas.

It has been estimated that today there are 250,000 Arabic manuscripts in Western and Eastern libraries, including private collections. Yet in the 10th century private libraries existed which contained as many as 500,000 books. The importance of education is quite clear. Education is the knowledge of putting one’s potentials to maximum use. One can safely say that a human being is not in the proper sense till he is educated. This importance of education is basically for two reasons. The first is that the training of a human mind is not complete without education. Education makes man a right thinker.

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It tells man how to think and how to make decision. The second reason for the importance of education is that only through the attainment of education, man is enabled to receive information from the external world; to acquaint himself with past history and receive all necessary information regarding the present. Without education, man is as though in a closed room and with education he finds himself in a room with all its windows open towards outside world. This is why Islam attaches such great importance to knowledge and education. When the Qur’an began to be revealed, the first word of its first verse was ‘Iqra’ that is, read.

Education is thus the starting point of every human activity. A scholar (alim) is accorded great respect in the hadith. According to a hadith the ink of the pen of a scholar is more precious than the blood of a martyr. The reason being that a martyr is engaged in defense work while an alim (scholar) builds individuals and nations along positive lines. In this way he bestows a real life to the world. The Qur’an repeatedly asks us to observe the earth and the heavens. This instills in man a desire to learn natural science. All the books of hadith have a chapter on knowledge (ilm).

In Sahih Bukhari there is a chapter entitled “The virtue of one who acquires ilm (learning) and imparts that to others. ” How great importance is attached to learning in Islam can be understood from an event in the life of the Prophet. At the battle of Badr in which the Prophet gained victory over his opponents, seventy people of the enemy rank were taken prisoner. These prisoners of war were literate people. In order to benefit from their education the Prophet declared that if one prisoner teaches ten Medinan children how to read and write, this will serve as his ransom and he will be set free.

This was the first school in the history of Islam established by the Prophet himself with all its teachers being non-Muslims. Furthermore, they were all war prisoners. There was all the risk that after their release they will again create problems for Islam and Muslims. This Sunnah of the Prophet shows that education is to be received whatever the risk involved. On the one hand Islam places great emphasis on learning, on the other, all those factors which are necessary to make progress in learning have provided by God. One of these special factors is the freedom of research.

One example of it is that in Makkah, the birthplace of the Prophet, dates were not grown. Afterwards the Prophet migrated to Medina, the city of dates. One day the Prophet saw that some people were atop the date trees busy in doing something. On being asked what they were engaged in, they replied that they were pollinating. The Prophet suggested them not to do so. The following year date yield was considerably very low. The Prophet enquired them of the reason. They told him that the date crop depended on pollination. Since he suggested them to do otherwise, they had refrained from that. The Prophet then told them to go n doing as they used to, and that, “You know the worldly matters better than me. ” In this way, the Prophet of Islam separated scientific research from religion. This meant that in the world of nature, man must enjoy full opportunity to conduct free research and adopt the conclusions arrived at after the research, Placing such great emphasis on knowledge. This process began in Makkah, then it reached to Medina and Damascus, afterwards it found its center in Baghdad. Ultimately it entered Spain. Spain flourished with extraordinary progress made in various academic and scientific disciplines.

This flood of scientific progress entered Europe and ultimately resulted in producing the modern scientific age. THE CREATION OF NABI ADAM (A. S) When Hazrat Adam (A. S. ) was created, Allah S. W. T. said to the angels to bow down. Everybody bowed down except Iblis. The reason Iblis refused to bow down was because he said that Nabi Adam (A. S. ) was made of clay and he was made from fire. How can fire bow down to clay? The angels looked at it in a different way. They looked at the inside of Nabi Adam (A. S. ) because Allah S. W. T. gave knowledge to Nabi Adam (A.

S. ) In the Holy Qur’an, Allah S. W. T. says in Sura 2, verses 31-34: “And he taught Adam all the names, then presented them to the angels; then He said: Tell me the names of those if you are right. They said: Glory be to thee! We have no knowledge but that which Thou hast taught us; surely Thou art the knowing, the wise. He said: O Adam! Inform them of their names. Then when he had informed them of their names, He said: Did I not say to you that I surely know what is ghaib in the heavens and the earth and (that) I know what you manifest and what you hide?

And when We said to the angels: Make obeisance to Adam they did obeisance but Iblis (did it not). He refused and he was proud and he was one of the unbelievers. ” THE DUTY AND COMPULSION OF ATTAINING OF KNOWLEDGE Knowledge is the most important thing in one’s life. There are two kinds of knowledge: Religious knowledge and Secular knowledge.. These two kinds of knowledge’s are very important for a human being. Secular for this day to day dwelling and religious for his smooth life on earth and hereafter. LEARNED MEN ARE OF MANY KINDS Prophet Muhammad (S. A. W. is quoted to have said: “He who learns for the sake of haughtiness, dies ignorant. He who learns only to talk, rather than to act, dies a hyprocite. He who learns for the mere sake of debating, dies irreligious. He who learns only to accumulate wealth, dies an atheist. And he who learns for the sake of action, dies a mystic. ” Acquiring of Knowledge & Education in Quran The Qur’an puts the highest emphasis on the importance of acquiring knowledge. That knowledge has been at the core of the Islamic world view from the very beginning. Surah 96: Al-`Alaq: 1-5: ”Proclaim! or Read) in the name of thy Lord and Cherisher, who created, created man, out of a (mere) clot of congealed blood. Proclaim! And the Lord is Most Bountiful He who taught (the use of) the pen taught man that which he knew not. ” Surah 39: Az-Zumar: 9 Asking rhetorically if those without knowledge can be equal to those with knowledge Surah 20: Ta-Ha: 114: The Qur’an exhorts believers to pray for advancement in knowledge. The famous prayer of the Prophet Muhammad was “Allah grant me knowledge of the ultimate nature of things” and one of the best known of all traditions (“ahadith”) is “Seek knowledge even though it be in China. Surah 9: At-Tawbah: 122: “With all this, it is not desirable that all of the believers take the field (in time of war). From within every group in their midst some shall refrain from [pic] going to war, and shall devote themselves (instead) to acquiring a deeper knowledge of the Faith, and (thus be able to) teach their home-coming brethren, so that these (too) might guard themselves against evil. ” According to the Qur’anic perspective, knowledge is a prerequisite for the creation of a just world in which authentic peace can prevail.

The Qur’an emphasizes the importance of the pursuit of learning even at the time, and in the midst, of war. The Prophet (pbuh) encouraged his followers to seek knowledge through education. Indeed he made it a duty requiring, like all other religious duties, purity of purpose and dedication. He said: “Seeking knowledge is a binding duty on every Muslim”. All scholars agree that the term ‘Muslim’ includes both men and women. Indeed many scholars quote this hadith as “Seeking knowledge is a binding duty on every Muslim, male and female”.

Needless to say, making education a binding duty ; imposes on every Islamic state an obligation to make education a requirement of all Muslims, boys and girls, men and women. Indeed it is part of maarouf God requires all those to whom he gives power to establish Islamic duties and enjoin what is maarouf (good)” “Those who, if We establish them firmly on earth, will attend to their prayers’, and give zakat, and enjoin the doing of maarouf. ” (Quran 22:41 ) The Prophet (pbuh) said: “People are of two types: those who are learned and those who are seeking to learn, all that IS beyond these IS useless”.

After the Battle of Badr, when the Muslims took many prisoners, the Prophet (pbuh) offered freedom to any prisoner who would teach ten Muslim children to read and write. He defined the sort of knowledge to be pursued in the following supplication: “My Lord, I request You to grant me useful knowledge”, and, “My Lord, I appeal to You against any type of knowledge that is of no use”. He defined the ideal method of gaining knowledge: “Knowledge is acquired through learnings. ” The Prophet (pbuh) instructed his companions in this way: “Teach and make things simple.

Make your message easily acceptable and do not cause people to run away from you”. Sunan Abu Dawood Book 25, Number 3634: If anyone travels on a road in search of knowledge, Allah will cause him to travel on one of the roads of Paradise. The angels will lower their wings in their great pleasure with one who seeks knowledge, the inhabitants of the heavens and the Earth and the fish in the deep waters will ask forgiveness for the learned man. The superiority of the learned man over the devout is like that of the moon, on the night when it is full, over the rest of the stars.

The learned are the heirs of the Prophets, and the Prophets leave neither dinar nor dirham, leaving only knowledge, and he who takes it takes an abundant portion. Surah Al-Zumr, ayah 9 reveals: “Are those equal, those who know and those who do not know? ” Surah Al-Baqarah, ayah 269 reveals: “Allah grants wisdom to whom He pleases and to whom wisdom is granted indeed he receives an overflowing benefit. ” Centuries old monarchy, colonialism and the oppressive rule of their own people have brought about moral and spiritual degeneration of Muslims throughout the world.

To retrieve them from this degeneration, it’s about time that the Muslim Ummah restructures its educational priorities along Islamic lines, fulfilling the existing needs as well. By virtue of such an educational program, the future generations will become the torch-bearers of Islamic values and play an effective role in the present world. The challenges of modern times call for rebuilding the structure of our educational program on such a foundation as to fulfil our spiritual as well as temporary obligations.

Today we need an education system which can produce, what the late Sayyid Abul A’la Mawdudi said, “Muslim philosopher, Muslim scientist, Muslim economist, Muslim jurist, Muslim statesman, in brief, Muslim experts in all fields of knowledge who would reconstruct the social order in accordance with the tenets of Islam. ” The Muslims today are the most humiliated community in the world. And should they persist in following the same educational program as given by their colonial masters, they will not be able to recover themselves from moral and spiritual decadence.

Ibn Mas’ud (Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (S) said: The position of only two persons is enviable; the person whom Allah bestowed wealth empowering him to spend it in the way of righteousness, and the person whom Allah gave wisdom with which he adjudges and which he teaches to others. According to Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah, Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (S) said: A single scholar of religion is more formidable against shaytaan than a thousand devout persons. Islam is our greatest gift. We have to be thankful for this gift.

We have to render to Allah His due. Allah has given us so much by making us a part of the Ummah of the Prophet Muhammad (S) so we must totally commit ourselves as followers of the Prophet (S). We must become true Muslims. Now how can we become Muslims in the true sense of the word? First let’s define what a Muslim is. A Muslim is not a Muslim simply because he’s born one. A Muslim is a Muslim because he is a follower of Islam, a submitter to the Will of Allah. We’re Muslim if we consciously and deliberately accept what has been taught by the Prophet Muhammad (S) and act accordingly.

Otherwise we’re not true Muslims. The first and most crucial obligation on us is to acquire knowledge and secondly to practice and preach this knowledge. No man becomes truly a Muslim without knowing the meaning of Islam, because he becomes a Muslim not through birth but through knowledge. Unless we come to know the basic and necessary teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (S) how can we believe in him, have faith in him, act according to what he taught? It is impossible for us to be a Muslim, and at the same time live in a state of ignorance.

It is essential to understand that the greatest gift of Allah ??? for which we are so over whelmed with gratitude ??? depends primarily on knowledge. Without knowledge one can’t truly receive Allah’s gift of Islam. If our knowledge is little, then we will constantly run the risk of losing that magnificent gift, which we have received unless we remain vigilant in our fight against ignorance. A person without knowledge is like someone walking along a track in complete darkness. Most likely his steps will wander aside and he easily can be deceived by shaytaan.

This shows that our greatest danger lies in our ignorance of Islamic teachings and in our unawareness of what the Qur’an teaches and what guidance has been given by the Prophet (S). But if we are blessed with the light of knowledge we will be able to see plainly the clear path of Islam at every step of our lives. We shall also be able to identify and avoid the dangerous paths of Kufr, Shirk and immorality, which may cross it. And, whenever a false guide meets us on the way, a few words with him will quickly establish that he is not a guide who should be followed.

On this knowledge depends whether our children and we are true Muslims and remain true Muslims. It is therefore not a trivial to be neglected. We do not neglect doing whatever is essential to improve our trades and professions. Because we know that if we do neglect, we will starve to death and so lose the precious gift of life. Why then should we be negligent in acquiring that knowledge on which depends whether we become Muslims and remain Muslims? Does such negligence not entail the danger of losing an even more precious gift ??? our Iman?

Is not Iman more precious than life itself? Most of our time and labor is spent on things, which sustain our physical existence in this life. Why can we not spend even a tenth part of our time and energy on things, which are necessary to protect our Iman, which only can sustain us in the present life and in the life to come? It is not necessary to study extensively to become a Muslim. We should at least spend about one hour out of twenty-four hours of the day and night in acquiring the knowledge of this Deen, the way of life, the Islam.

Every one of us, young or old, man or woman, should at least acquire sufficient knowledge to enable ourselves to understand the essence of the teachings of the Qur’an and the purpose for which it has been sent down. We should also be able to understand clearly the mission, which our beloved Prophet (S) came into this world to fulfil. We should also recognize the corrupt order and system, which he came to destroy. We should acquaint ourselves, too, with the way of life which Allah has ordained for us. No great amount of time is required to acquire this simple knowledge.

If we truly value Iman, it cannot be too difficult to find one hour every day to devote for our Iman. Knowledge is identified in Islam as worship. The acquiring of knowledge is worship, reading the Qur’an and pondering upon it is worship, travelling to gain knowledge is worship. The practice of knowledge is connected with ethics and morality ??? with promoting virtue and combating vice, enjoining right and forbidding wrong. This is called in the Qur’an: amr bil-l ma’ruuf wa nah-y ‘ani-l munkar. Not only should we seek knowledge, but when we learn it, it becomes obligatory on us to practice it.

Though we must remember that correct knowledge should come before correct action. Knowledge without action is useless because a learned person without action will be the worst of creatures on the Day of Resurrection. Also, action should not be based on blind imitation for this is not the quality of a thinking, sensible human being. Knowledge is pursued and practiced with modesty and humility and leads to beauty and dignity, freedom and justice. The main purpose of acquiring knowledge is to bring us closer to God. It is not simply for the gratification of the mind or the senses.

It is not knowledge for the sake of knowledge or science for the value of sake. Knowledge accordingly must be linked with values and goals. One of the purposes of acquiring knowledge is to gain the good of this world, not to destroy it through wastage, arrogance and in the reckless pursuit of higher standards of material comfort. Another purpose of knowledge is to spread freedom and dignity, truth and justice. It is not to gain power and dominance for its own sake. Obviously, what we may call the reservoir of knowledge is deep and profound.

It is a vast and open field that is not limited. It is impossible for anyone to gain anything more than a fraction of what there is to know in the short span of one’s life. We must therefore decide what is most important for us to know and how to go about acquiring this knowledge. The following ahadith shows how important and how rewarding knowledge is. “He who acquires knowledge acquires a vast portion. ” AND “If anyone going on his way in search of knowledge, God will, thereby make easy for him the way to Paradise. ” We, the children, are the future.

The future lies in our hands, but only through knowledge because whoever neglects learning in youth loses the past and is dead for the future. May Allah (SWT) give us strength to behave and act just as He likes us to do and be pleased with us, and that should be the purpose of our lives. Rabbi zidnee ilma (O Lord, increase us in knowledge). Aameen. Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) about Education and Knowledge(Hadith) Education and knowledge are mandatory upon men and women in Islam. Let us look at what Allah Almighty in His Noble Quran and His Messenger Muhammad peace be upon him said: …. Are those equal, those who know and those who do not know? It is those who are endued with understanding that receive admonition. (The Noble Quran, 39:9)” “… Those truly fear God, among His Servants, who have knowledge: for God is Exalted in Might, Oft-Forgiving. (The Noble Quran, 35:28)” Narrated Abu Musa Al-Ashari: “The Prophet said, ‘He who has a slave-girl and teaches her good manners and improves her education and then manumits and marries her, will get a double reward; and any slave who observes Allah’s right and his master’s right will get a double reward. ?? (Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Manumission of Slaves, Volume 3, Book 46, Number 723)” To acquire knowledge is binding upon all Muslims, whether male or female. The ink of the scholar is more holy than the blood of the martyr. He who travels in the search of knowledge, to him God shows the way of Paradise. The Quest for knowledge I cherish, superior to God’s worship. He who indulges in a task without proper knowledge will deteriorate rather than improve the case.

Acquire knowledge, because he who acquires it, in the way of the Lord, performs an act of piety; who speaks of it praises the Lord; who seeks it, adores God, who dispenses instruction in it, bestows alms; and who imparts it to its fitting objects, performs an act of devotion to God. Knowledge enables its possessor to distinguish what is forbidden from what is not; lights the way to Heaven; it is our friend in the desert, our companion in solitude, our companion, when bereft of riends; it guides us to happiness; it sustains us in misery; it is our ornament in the company of friends; it serves as an armor against our enemies.

With knowledge the creatures of Allah rises to the heights of goodness and to noble position, associates with the sovereigns in this world and attains the perfection of happiness in the next. Meditation in God is my Capital. Reason and sound Logic is the rest of my Religion. Love is the Foundationof my existence. Enthusiasm is the Vehicle of my life. Contemplation of God is my companion. Faith is the source of my Power. Sorrow is my friend. Knowledge is my weapon. Patience is my Garb abd Virtue. Submission to the Divine Will, is my Pride. Truth is my Salvation. Worship is my habit.

And in Prayer lies the coolness of my Eye and the Peace of Mind. Acquire knowledge, it enables its professor to distinguish right from wrong; it lights the way to heaven. It is our friend in the desert, our company in solitude and companion when friendless. It guides us to happiness, it sustains us in misery, it is an ornament amongst friends and an armour against enemies. It is better to sit alone than in company with the bad; and it is better still to sit with the good than alone. It is better to speak to a seeker of knowledge than to remain silent; but silence is better than idle words.

When a person dies, all his deeds cease except for these three: Perpetual charity, a beneficial knowledge, and a child who invokes Allah for him. The best things that a man leaves behind after his death are a virtuous child who invokes Allah for him, a perpetual charity, the reward of which reaches him, and a beneficial knowledge which remains useful after him. It is very clear that the merits and virtues of knowledge vary depending on the extent of one’s adherence to it. The greatest and most excellent knowledge is that which pertains to Allaah, His names, and His attributes, and this knowledge is known as ‘aqeedah (belief).

Indeed to Allaah, the Exalted and Supreme, belongs the best example which is the highest description in every aspect of His essence, names, attributes and actions. Following this is that which is related to Allaah’s right over His creation, what He has prescribed upon them. Following this is what supports and bonds it in understanding such as knowledge of the principles of Arabic, Islamic terminology, principles of fiqh, hadeeth methodology and other sciences which are connected to this knowledge, which assist it in both understanding and precision.

The biography of the Prophet (saw), Islamic history, biography of the narrators of hadeeth and of the scholars of Islaam are also part of this knowledge. ‘ Ibid. (pp. 10-11): ‘… So this shows us the great excellence of the students of knowledge. For whoever corrects his intention in seeking knowledge and desires only His Face, he is on a road to salvation (from the Fire) and happiness (in Paradise).

Knowledge should be sought for the right reasons and for its implementation (acting according to the knowledge) not for the sake of ostentation (riyaa’), fame, or for the sake of any other gain from the ephemeral gains of this world; rather, he learns it to be acquainted with his Deen, to have insight into what Allaah has made incumbent upon him, to strive to take the people out of darkness and into the light, so he seeks knowledge and acts upon it and teaches others about the good that a Muslim is ordered to do.

Every path that he takes in search of knowledge is a way to Paradise; this is true for every path, literal or otherwise: his journey from one country to another; going from one circle of knowledge to another; and from one mosque to another for the sole intention of seeking knowledge, likewise memorizing and studying Islamic books of knowledge, perusal and writing are also from the ways of seeking knowledge. A proper student is concerned with all these paths that lead to knowledge. He seeks it, desiring the Face of His Lord, the Mighty and the Majestic.

He wants to seek Allaah’s pleasure and a home in Paradise; he wants to understand and reflect upon His Deen; he wants to know what Allaah has made incumbent upon him and what He has prohibited him from, then acts accordingly; he wants to know his Lord with insight and cognizance; he wants to rescue people (from the Fire of Hell); he wants to be amongst the guided callers striving for the truth; and he wants to guide people to Allaah through knowledge. So wherever he turns he is in great excellence with these correct intentions… ‘ Ibid. (pp. 20-22): ‘…

The student of knowledge should take great care about being lazy about what Allaah has made obligatory and from falling into that which He has forbidden – for others will follow him in it. Likewise he should not be neglectful of the sunnah [Tr. note: … Here Shaykh Ibn Baaz uses the word sunnah to mean the recommended deeds… ] and the makroohaat. If he becomes lazy others will also become lazy. It is important that he takes care in reviving the Sunnah, even though a particular act may not be compulsory, in order to encourage the people to follow it, and to be an example for them.

He (the student of knowledge) must keep away from the makroohaat and doubtful matters so that the people do not imitate him. The student of knowledge has great significance and the people of knowledge are the select amongst the creation. Upon them are obligations and responsibilities over and above everyone else. The Messenger (saw) said, “Everyone is a shepherd, and is responsible for his flock. ” [Bukhaaree] The people of knowledge are shepherds and guides. They should be concerned about society as it is their flock… The Attitude of the Quran and the Prophet toward Knowledge Islam is a religion based upon knowledge for it is ultimately knowledge of the Oneness of God combined with faith and total commitment to Him that saves man. The text of the Quran is replete with verses inviting man to use his intellect, to ponder, to think and to know, for the goal of human life is to discover the Truth which is none other than worshipping God in His Oneness. The Hadith literature is also full of references to the importance of knowledge.

Such sayings of the Prophet as “Seek knowledge even in China”, “Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave”, and “Verily the men of knowledge are the inheritors of the prophets”, have echoed throughout the history of Islam and incited Muslims to seek knowledge wherever it might be found. During most of its history, Islamic civilization has been witness to a veritable celebration of knowledge. That is why every traditional Islamic city possessed public and private libraries and some cities like Cordoba and Baghdad boasted of libraries with over 400,000 books.

Such cities also had bookstores, some of which sold a large number of titles. That is also why the scholar has always been held in the highest esteem in Islamic society. The Integration of the Pre-Islamic Sciences As Islam spread northward into Syria, Egypt, and the Persian empire, it came face to face with the sciences of antiquity whose heritage had been preserved in centers which now became a part of the Islamic world. Alexandria had been a major center of sciences and learning for centuries.

The Greek learning cultivated in Alexandria was opposed by the Byzantine who had burned its library long before the advent of Islam. The tradition of Alexandrian learning did not die, however. It was transferred to Antioch and from there farther east to such cities as Edessa by eastern Christians who stood in sharp opposition to Byzantine and wished to have their own independent centers of learning. Moreover, the Persian king, Shapur I had established Jundishapur in Persia as a second great center of learning matching Antioch.

He even invited Indian physicians and mathematicians to teach in this major seat of learning, in addition to the Christian scholars who taught in Syriac as well as the Persians whose medium of instruction was Pahlavi. Once Muslims established the new Islamic order during the Umayyad period, they turned their attention to these centers of learning which had been preserved and sought to acquaint themselves with the knowledge taught and cultivated in them.

They therefore set about with a concerted effort to translate the philosophical and scientific works which were available to them from not only Greek and Syriac (which was the language of eastern Christian scholars) but also from Pahlavi, the scholarly language of pre-Islamic Persia, and even from Sanskrit. Many of the accomplished translators were Christian Arabs such as Hunayn ibn Ishaq’ who was also an outstanding physician, and others Persians such as Ibn Muqaffa’, who played a major role in the creation of the new Arabic prose style conducive to the expression of philosophical and scientific writings.

The great movement of translation lasted from the beginning of the 8th to the end of the 9th century, reaching its peak with the establishment of the House of Wisdom (Bayt al hiLmah) by the caliph al-Matmun at the beginning of the 9th century. The result of this extensive effort of the Islamic community to confront the challenge of the presence of the various philosophies and sciences of antiquity and to understand and digest them in its own terms and according to its own world view was the translation of a vast corpus of writings into Arabic.

Most of the important philosophical and scientific works of Aristotle and his school, much of Plato and the Pythagorean school, and the major works of Greek astronomy, mathematics and medicine such as the Almagest of Ptolemy, the Elements of Euclid, and the works of Hippocrates and Galen, were all rendered into Arabic. Further more, important works of astronomy, mathematics and medicine were translated from Pahlavi and Sanskrit. As a result, Arabic became the most important scientific language of the world for many centuries and the depository of much of the wisdom and he sciences of antiquity The Muslims did not translate the scientific and philosophical works of other civilizations out of fear of political or economic domination but because the structure of Islam itself is based upon the primacy of knowledge. Nor did they consider these forms of knowing as “un-Islamic” as long as they confirmed the doctrine of God’s Oneness which Islam considers to have been at the heart of every authentic revelation from God. Once these sciences and philosophies confirmed the principle of Oneness, the Muslims considered them as their own.

They made them part of their world view and began to cultivate the Islamic sciences based on what they had translated, analyzed, criticized, and assimilated, rejecting what was not in conformity with the Islamic perspective. The Mathematical Sciences and Physics The Muslim mind has always been attracted to the mathematical sciences in accordance with the “abstract” character of the doctrine of Oneness which lies at the heart of Islam. The mathematical sciences have traditionally included astronomy, mathematics itself and much of what is called physics today.

In astronomy the Muslims integrated the astronomical traditions of the Indians, Persians, the ancient Near East and especially the Greeks into a synthesis which began to chart a new chapter in the history of astronomy from the 8th century onward. The Almagest of Ptolemy, whose very name in English reveals the Arabic origin of its Latin translation, was thoroughly studied and its planetary theory criticized by several astronomers of both the eastern and western lands of Islam leading to the major critique of the theory by Nasir al-Din al-Tusi and his students, especially Qutb al Din al-Shirazi, in the 13th century.

The Muslims also observed the heavens carefully and discovered many new stars. The book on stars of ‘Abdal-Rahman al-Sufi was in fact translated into Spanish by Alfonso X el Sabio and had a deep influence upon stellar toponymy in European languages. Many star names in English such as Aldabaran still recall their Arabic origin. The Muslims carried out many fresh observations which were contained in astronomical tables called zij. One of the acutest of these observers was al-Battani whose work was followed by numerous others.

The zij of al-Ma’mun observed in Baghdad, the Hakimite zij of Cairo, the Toledan Tables of al Zarqali and his associates, the Il-Khanid zij of Nasir al-Din al-Tusi observed in Maraghah, and the zij of Ulugh-Beg from Samarqand are among the most famous Islamic astronomical tables. They wielded a great deal of influence upon Western astronomy up to the time of Tycho Brahe. The Muslims were in fact the first to create an astronomical observatory as a scientific institution, this being the observatory of Maraghah in Persia established by al-Tusi.

This was indirectly the model for the later European observatories. Many astronomical instruments were developed by Muslims to carry out observation, the most famous being the astrolabe. There existed even mechanical astrolabes perfected by Ibn Samh which must be considered as the ancestor of the mechanical clock. Astronomical observations also had practical applications including not only finding the direction of Makkah for prayers, but also devising almanacs (the word itself being of Arabic origin). The Muslims also applied their astronomical knowledge to questions of time keeping and the calendar.

The most exact solar calendar existing to this day is the Jalali calendar devised under the direction of ‘Umar Khayyam in the 12th century and still in use in Persia and Afghanistan. As for mathematics proper, like astronomy, it received its direct impetus from the Quran not only because of the mathematical structure related to the text of the Sacred Book, but also because the laws of inheritance delineated in the Quran require rather complicated mathematical solutions. Here again Muslims began by integrating Greek and Indian mathematics.

The first great Muslim mathematician, al-Khwarazmi, who lived in the 9th century, wrote a treatise on arithmetic whose Latin translation brought what is known as Arabic numerals to the West. To this day guarismo, derived from his name, means figure or digit in Spanish while algorithm is still used in English. Al-Khwarazmi is also the author of the first book on algebra. This science was developed by Muslims on the basis of earlier Greek and Indian works of a rudimentary nature. The very name algebra comes from the first part of the name of the book of al-Khwarazmi, entitled Kitab al-jabr wa’l-muqabalah.

Abu Kamil al-Shuja’ discussed algebraic equations with five unknowns. The science was further developed by such figures as al-Karaji until it reached its peak with Khayyam who classified by kind and class algebraic equations up to the third degree. The Muslims also excelled in geometry as reflected in their art. The brothers Banu Musa who lived in the 9th century may be said to be the first outstanding Muslim geometers while their contemporary Thabit ibn Qurrah used the method of exhaustion, giving a glimpse of what was to become integral calculus.

Many Muslim mathematicians such as Khayyam and al-Tusi also dealt with the fifth postulate of Euclid and the problems which follow if one tries to prove this postulate within the confines of Eucledian geometry. Another branch of mathematics developed by Muslims is trigonometry which was established as a distinct branch of mathematics by al-Biruni. The Muslim mathematicians, especially al-Battani, Abu’l-Wafa’, Ibn Yunus and Ibn al-Haytham, also developed spherical astronomy and applied it to the solution of astronomical problems. The love for the study of magic squares and amicable numbers led Muslims to develop the theory of numbers.

Al-Khujandi discovered a particular case of Fermat’s theorem that “the sum of two cubes cannot be another cube”, while al Karaji analyzed arithmetic and geometric progressions such as: 1**3+2**3+3**3+… +n**3=(1+2+3+… +n)** 2 Al-Biruni also dealt with progressions while Ghiyath al-Din Jamshid al-Kashani brought the study of number theory among Muslims to its peak. In the field of physics the Muslims made contributions in especially three domains. The first was the measurement of specific weights of objects and the study of the balance following upon the work of Archimedes.

In this domain the writings of al-Biruni and al-Khazini stand out. Secondly they criticized the Aristotelian theory of projectile motion and tried to quantify this type of motion. The critique of Ibn Sina, Abu’l-Barakat al-Baghdad), Ibn Bajjah and others led to the development of the idea of impetus and momentum and played an important role in the criticism of Aristotelian physics in the West up to the early writings of Galileo. Thirdly there is the field of optics in which the Islamic sciences produced in Ibn al-Haytham (the Latin Alhazen) who lived in the 11th century, the greatest student of optics between Ptolemy and Witelo.

Ibn al-Haytham’s main work on optics, the Kitab al-manazir, was also well known in the West as Thesaurus opticus. Ibn al-Haytham solved many optical problems, one of which is named after him, studied the property of lenses, discovered the camera obscura, explained correctly the process of vision, studied the structure of the eye, and explained for the first time why the sun and the moon appear larger on the horizon. His interest in optics was carried out two centuries later by Qutb al-Din al Shirazi and Kamal al-Din al-Farisi. It was Qutb al Din who gave the first correct explanation of the formation of the rainbow.

It is important to recall that in physics as in many other fields of science the Muslims observed, measured and carried out experiments. They must be credited with having developed what came to be known later as the experimental method. |Muslim Achievements in Science | |Muslim mathematicians devised and developed algebra | |Al-Khawarazmi used Arabic numerals which came to the west through his work-9th century. |Al-Razi described amd treated smallbox-10th century | |Ibn Sina diagnosed and treated meningities-11th century | |Ibn al-Haytham discovered the camera obscura- 11th century | |Al-Birini described the Ganges Valley as a sedimentary basin-11th century | |Muslims built the first observartory as a scientific institution-13th century | |Qutb al-Din al-Shirazi explained the cause of the rainbow- 13th century | |Ibn al-Nafis described the minor ciculation of the blood- 14th century. | |Al-Kashani invented a computer machine- 15th century | The Medical Sciences The hadiths of the Prophet contain many instructions concerning health including dietary habits; these sayings became the foundation of what came to be known later as “Prophetic medicine” (al-tibb al-nabawi ). Because of the great attention paid in Islam to the need to take care of the body and to hygiene, early in Islamic history Muslims began to cultivate the field of medicine turning once again to all the knowledge that was available to them from Greek, Persian and Indian sources.

At first I the great physicians among Muslims were mostly | Christian but by the 9th century Islamic medicine, I properly speaking, was born with the appearance of the major compendium, The Paradise of Wisdom (Firdaws al-hilmah ) by ‘All ibn Rabban al Tabari, who synthesized the Hippocratic and Galenic traditions of medicine with those of India and Persia. His student, Muhammad ibn Zakariyya’ al-Razi (the Latin Rhazes), was one of the greatest of physicians who emphasized clinical medicine and observation. He was a master of prognosis and psychosomatic medicine and also of anatomy. He was the first to identify and treat smallpox, to use alcohol as an antiseptic and make medical use of mercury as a purgative. His Kitab al-hawi (Continens) is the longest work ever written in Islamic medicine and he was recognized as a medical authority in the West up to the 18th century. The greatest of all Muslim physicians, how ever, was Ibn Sina who was called “the prince of physicians” in the West.

He synthesized Islamic medicine in his major masterpiece, al-Qanun fi’l tibb (The Canon of Medicine), which is the most famous of all medical books in history. It was the final authority in medical matters in Europe for nearly six centuries and is still taught wherever Islamic medicine has survived to this day in such lands as Pakistan and India. Ibn Sina discovered many drugs and identified and treated several ailments such as meningitis but his greatest contribution was in the philosophy of medicine. He created a system of medicine within which medical practice could be carried out and in which physical and psychological factors; drugs and diet are combined. After Ibn Sina, Islamic medicine divided into several branches.

In the Arab world Egypt remained a major center for the study of medicine, especially ophthalmology which reached its peak at the court of al-Hakim. Cairo possessed excellent hospitals which also drew physicians from other lands including Ibn Butlan, author of the famous Calendar of Health, and Ibn Nafis who discovered the lesser or pulmonary circulation of the blood long before Michael Servetus, who is usually credited with the discovery. As for the western lands of Islam including Spain, this area was likewise witness to the appearance of outstanding physicians such as Sa’d al Katib of Cordoba who composed a treatise on gynecology, and the greatest Muslim figure in surgery, the 12th entury Abu’l-Qasim al-Zahrawi (the Latin Albucasis) whose medical masterpiece Kitab al-tasrif was well known in the West as Concessio. One must also mention the Ibn Zuhr family which produced several outstanding physicians and Abu Marwan ‘Abd al-Malik who was the Maghrib’s most outstanding clinical physician. The well known Spanish philosophers, Ibn Tufayl and Ibn Rushd, were also outstanding physicians. Islamic medicine continued in Persia and the other eastern lands of the Islamic world under the influence of Ibn Sina with the appearance of major Persian medical compendia such as the Treasury of Sharaf al-Din al-Jurjani and the commentaries upon the Canon by Fakhr al-Din al-Razi and Qutb al-Din al-Shirazi.

Even after the Mongol invasion, medical studies continued as can be seen in the work of Rashid al-Din Fadlallah, and for the first time there appeared translations of Chinese medicine and interest in acupuncture among Muslims. The Islamic medical tradition was revived in the Safavid period when several diseases such as whooping cough were diagnosed and treated for the first time and much attention was paid to pharmacology. Many Persian doctors such as ‘Ayn al-Murk of Shiraz also traveled to India at this time to usher in the golden age of Islamic medicine in the subcontinent and to plant the seed of the Islamic medical tradition which continues to flourish to this day in the soil of that land.

The Ottoman world was also an arena of great medical activity derived from the heritage of Ibn Sina. The Ottoman Turks were especially known for the creation of major hospitals and medical centers. These included not only units for the care of the physically ill, but also wards for patients with psychological ailments. The Ottomans were also the first to receive the influence of modern European medicine in both medicine and pharmacology. In mentioning Islamic hospitals it is necessary to mention that all major Islamic cities had hospitals; some like those of Baghdad were teaching hospitals while some like the Nasiri hospital of Cairo had thousands of beds for patients with almost any type of illness.

Hygiene in these hospitals was greatly emphasized and al-Razi had even written a treatise on hygiene in hospitals. Some hospitals also specialized in particular diseases including psychological ones. Cairo even had a hospital which specialized in patients having insomnia. Islamic medical authorities were also always concerned with the significance of pharmacology and many important works such as the Canon have whole books devoted to the subject. The Muslims became heir not only to the pharmacological knowledge of the Greeks as contained in the works of Dioscorides, but also the vast herbal pharmacopias of the Persians and Indians. They also studied the Medical effects of many drug, especially herbs, themselves.

The greatest contributions in this field came from Maghribi scientists such as Ibn Juljul, Ibn al-Salt and the most original of Muslim pharmacologists, the 12th century scientist, al Ghafiqi, whose Book of Simple Drugs provides the best descriptions of the medical properties of plants known to Muslims. Islamic medicine combined the use of drugs for medical purposes with dietary considerations and a whole lifestyle derived from the teachings of Islam to create a synthesis which has not died out to this day despite the introduction of modern medicine into most of the Islamic world. Natural History and Geography The vast expanse of the Islamic world enabled the Muslims to develop natural history based not only on the Mediterranean world, as was the case of the Greek natural historians, but also on most of the Eurasian and even African land masses.

Knowledge of minerals, plants and animals was assembled from areas as far away as the Malay world and synthesized for the first time by Ibn Sina in his Kitab al-Shifa'(The Book of Healing). Such major natural historians as al-Mas’udi inter twined natural and human history. Al-Biruni likewise in his study of India turned to the natural history and even geology of the region, describing correctly the sedimentary nature of the Ganges basin. He also wrote the most outstanding Muslim work on mineralogy. As for botany, the most important treatises were composed in the 12th century in Spain with the appearance of the work of al-Ghafiqi. This is also the period when the best known Arabic work on agriculture, the Kitab al-falahah, was written.

The Muslims also showed much interest in zoology especially in horses as witnessed by the classical text of al-Jawaliqi, and in falcons and other hunting birds. The works of al-Jahiz and al Damiri are especially famous in the field of zoology and deal with the literary, moral and even theological dimensions of the study of animals as well as the purely zoological aspects of the subject. This is also true of a whole class of writings on the “wonders of creation” of which the book of Abu Yabya al-Qazwini, the ‘Aja’ib al-makhluqat (The Wonders of Creation) is perhaps the most famous. Likewise in geography, Muslims were able to extend their horizons far beyond the world of Ptolemy.

As a result of travel over land and by sea and the facile exchange of ideas made possible by the unified structure of the Islamic world and the hajj which enables pilgrims from all over the Islamic world to gather and exchange ideas in addition to visiting the House of God, a vast amount of knowledge of areas from the Pacific to the Atlantic was assembled. The Muslim geographers starting with al-Khwarazmi, who laid the foundation of this science among Muslims in the 9th century, began to study the geography of practically the whole globe minus the Americas, dividing the earth into the traditional seven climes each of which they studied carefully from both a geographical and climactic point of view. They also began to draw maps some of which reveal with remarkable accuracy many features such as the origin of the Nile, not discovered in the West until much later.

The foremost among Muslim geographers was Abu ‘Abdallah al-Idrisi, who worked at the court of Roger II in Sicily and who dedicated his famous book, Kitab al-rujari (The Book of Roger) to him. His maps are among the great achievements of Islamic science. It was in fact with the help of Muslim geographers and navigators that Magellan crossed the Cape of Good Hope into the Indian Ocean. Even Columnbus made use of their knowledge in his discovery of America. Chemistry The very name alchemy as well as its derivative chemistry comes from the Arabic al-kimiya’. ‘The Muslims mastered Alexandrian and even certain elements of Chinese alchemy and very early in their history, produced their greatest alchemist, Jabir ibn Hayyan (the Latin Geber) who lived in the 8th century.

Putting the cosmological and symbolic aspects of alchemy aside, one can assert that this art led to much experimentation with various materials and in the hands of Muhammad ibn Zakariyya’ al-Razi was converted into the science of chemistry. To this day certain chemical instruments such as the alembic (al-‘anbiq) still bear the original Arabic names and the mercury-sulphur theory of Islamic alchemy remains as the foundation of the acid-base theory of chemistry. A1-Razi division of materials into animal, vegetable and mineral is still prevalent and a vast body of knowledge of materials accumulated by Islamic alch- mists and chemists has survived over the century’ in both East and West. For example the use of dyes in objects f Islamic art ranging from carpets to miniatures or the making of glass have much to do with this branch of learning which the West learn completely from Islamic sources since alchem was not studied and practiced in the West before the translation of Arabic texts into Latin in the 11th century. Technology Islam inherited the millennial experience in various forms of technology from the peoples who entered the fold of Islam and the nations which became part of Dar al-islam. A wide range of technological knowledge, from the building of water wheels by the Romans to the underground water system by the Persians, became part and parcel of the technology of the newly founded order. Muslims also imported China and whose technology they later transmitted to the West.

They also developed many forms of technology on the basis of earlier existing knowledge such as the certain kinds of technology from the Far East such as paper which they brought from metallurgical art of making the famous Damascene swords, an art which goes back to the making of steel several thousand years before on the Iranian Plateau. Likewise Muslims developed new architectural techniques of vaulting, methods of ventilation, preparations of dyes, techniques of weaving, technologies related to irrigation and numerous other forms of technology, some of which survive to this day. In general Islamic civilization emphasized the harmony between man and nature as seen in the traditional design of Islamic cities.

Maximum use was made of natural elements and forces, and men built in harmony with, not in opposition to nature. Some of the Muslim technological feats such as dams which have survived for over a millenium, domes which can withstand earthquakes, and steel which reveals incredible metallurgical know-how, attest to the exceptional attainment of Muslims in many fields of technology. In fact it was a vastly superior technology that first impressed the Crusaders in their unsuccessful attempt to capture the Holy Land and much of this technology was brought back by the Crusaders to the rest of Europe. Architecture One of the major achievements of Islamic civilization is architecture which combines technology and art.

The great masterpieces of Islamic architecture from the Cordoba Mosque and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem to the Taj Mahal in India display this perfect wedding between the artistic principles of Islam and remarkable technological know-how. Much of the outstanding medieval architecture of the West is in fact indebted to the techniques of Islamic architecture. When one views the Notre Dame in Paris or some other Gothic cathedral, one is reminded of the building techniques which traveled from Muslim Cordoba northward. Gothic arches as well as interior courtyards’ of so many medieval and Renaissance European structures remind the viewer of the Islamic architectural examples from which they originally drew.

In fact the great medieval European architectural tradition is one of the elements of Western civilization most directly linked with the Islamic world, while the presence of Islamic architecture can also be directly experienced in the Moorish style found not only in Spain and Latin America, but in the southwestern United States as well. |[pic] | |[pic] |Left: One of the most important scientific instruments | | | | |developed by Muslims was the astrolab which was also used| | | | |widely in the west until modern time. | | | | | | | | |Right: This Turkish miniature depicts a group of Muslim | | | | |astronomers, who were the first astronomers in history to| | | | |work in group | The Influence of Islamic Science and Learning Upon the West The oldest university in the world which is still functioning is the eleven hundred-year-old Islamic university of Fez, Morocco, known as the Qarawiyyin. This old tradition of Islamic learning influenced the West greatly through Spain.

In this land where Muslims, Christians and Jews lived for the most part peacefully for many centuries, translations began to be made in the 11Ith century mostly in Toledo of Islamic works into Latin often through the intermediary of Jewish scholars most of whom knew Arabic and often wrote in Arabic. As a result of these translations, Islamic thought and through it much of Greek thought became known to the West and Western schools of learning began to flourish. Even the Islamic educational system was emulated in Europe and to this day the term chair in a university reflects the Arabic kursi (literally seat) upon which a teacher would sit to teach his students in the madrasah (school of higher learning).

As European civilization grew and reached the high Middle Ages, there was hardly a field of learning or form of art, whether it was literature or architecture, where there was not some influence of Islam present. Islamic learning became in this way part and parcel of Western civilization even if with the advent of the Renaissance, the West not only turned against its own medieval past but also sought to forget the long relation it had had with the Islamic world, one which was based on intellectual respect despite religious opposition. The role of the Mosque The Quran, re-currently, urges the faithful to, think, ponder, reflect and acquire knowledge that would bring them closer to God and to His creation.

The Quran uses repetition in order to imbed certain key concepts in the consciousness of its listeners. Allah (God) and Rab (the Sustainer) are repeated 2,800 and 950 times respectively in the sacred text; Ilm (knowledge) comes third with 750 mentions. The Prophet (pbuh) commanded knowledge upon all Muslims, and urged them to seek knowledge as far they could reach, and also to seek it at all times. Following these commands and traditions, Muslim rulers insisted that every Muslim child acquired learning, and they themselves gave considerable support to institutions, and learning in general. This contributed largely with the commands of Islam to make elementary education almost universal amongst Muslims. It was this great liberality,’ says Wilds `which they [the Muslims] displayed in educating their people in the schools which was one of the most potent factors in the brilliant and rapid growth of their civilisation. Education was so universally diffused that it was said to be difficult to find a Muslim who could not read or write. ‘ In Muslim Spain, according to Scott, there was not a village where `the blessings of education’ could not be enjoyed by the children of the most indigent peasant, and in Cordoba were eight hundred public schools frequented alike by Muslims, Christians, and Jews, and where instruction was imparted by lectures. The Spanish Muslim received knowledge at the same time and under the same conditions as the literary pilgrims from Asia Minor and Egypt, from Germany, France, and Britain.

And in the great Muslim university of Cordoba, both Jews and Christians attained to acknowledged distinction as professors. So high was the place of learning that both teachers and pupils were greatly respected by the mass of the population; and the large libraries collected by the wealthy landed and merchants showed that learning???as in the Italian Renaissance (six hundred years later)???was one of the marks of a gentleman. `In scarcely any other culture,’ Pedersen holds, has the literary life played such a role as in Islam. Learning (ilm), by which is meant the whole world of the intellect, engaged the interest of Muslims more than anything…. The life that evolved in the mosques spread outward to put its mark upon influential circles everywhere. Every place, from the mosque to the hospital, the observatory, to the madrassa was a place of learning. Scholars also addressed gatherings of people in their own homes. Al-Ghazali, Al-Farabi, and Ibn Sinna, amongst many more, after teaching in public schools, retired to their private libraries and studies, and continued teaching `those fortunate enough to be invited. ‘ This universality, not even equalled today, thirst and impetus for education was proper to those days, when Islam was the banner, and like most achievements only proper to those days, and none others. The role and place taken by knowledge in that era will be considered (God willing) in subsequent works.

Here, focus will be on the organisation of education, its aims and methods, above all the role of the Mosque. That of the madrassa, another lengthy subject, will be covered subsequently. The mosque played a very great part in the spread of education in Islam. For Tibawi, the association of the mosque with education remains one of its main characteristics throughout history. For Scott, the school became an indispensable appendage to the mosque. From the start, the mosque, Wardenburg explains, was the centre of the Islamic community, a place for prayer, meditation, religious instruction, political discussion, and a school. And anywhere Islam took hold, mosques were established, and basic instruction began.

Once established, such mosques could develop into well known places of learning, often with hundreds, sometimes with thousands of students, and frequently contained important libraries. The first school connected with a mosque, was set up at Medina in 653, whilst the first one in Damascus dates from 744, and by 900 nearly every mosque had an elementary school for the education of both boys and girls. Children usually started school at five, one of the first lessons in writing was to learn how to write the ninety-nine most beautiful names of God and simple verses from the Quran. After the rudiments of reading and writing were mastered, the Quran was then studied thoroughly and arithmetic was added.

For those who wanted to study further, the larger mosques, where education was more advanced, offered instruction in Arabic grammar and poetry, logic, algebra, biology, history, law, and theology. Although advanced teaching often took place in madrassas, hospitals, observatories, and the homes of scholars, in Spain, teaching took place mostly in the mosques, starting with the Cordoba mosque in the 8th century. The basic format of mosque education was the study circle, better known in Islam as `Halaqat al-ilm’ or in brief: Halaqa. Halaqa, spelled Halka in the new edition of the Encyclopaedia of Islam, is defined as `a gathering of people seated in a circle,’ or, `gathering of students around a teacher.

Visiting scholars were allowed to sit beside the lecturer as a mark of respect, and in many Halaqat a special section was always reserved for visitors. Al-Bahluli (d. 930) a magistrate from a town in Iraq went down to Baghdad, accompanied by his brother, to make a round of such study circles. The two of them came upon one where a scholar `aflame with intelligence,’ was taking on all comers in various fields of knowledge. Ibn Battuta, recorded that more than five hundred students attended the Halaqat of the Ummayad mosque. The Mosque of Amr near Cairo had more than forty halaqat at some point, and in the chief mosque of Cairo, there were one hundred and twenty halaqat.

The traveller, geographer Al-Muqaddasi, reports that between the two evening prayers, as he and his friends sat talking, he heard a cry `Turn your faces to the class’ and he realised he was sitting between two classes; altogether there were 110. During the halaqats, whilst teachers exercised authority, students were still allowed, in fact, encouraged to discuss and even challenge and correct the teacher, often in heated exchanges. Disputations, unrestricted, in all fields of knowledge were known to take place on Friday in the study circles held around the mosques, and `no holds were barred. ‘ Teaching and learning in most large

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