The following is a synopsis of a recent talk given by Shaykh Amin.
Shaykh Mohammed Amin Kholwadia posits the idea that every successful institution dedicated to learning, evaluating, researching, developing and engaging is inherently based on a philosophy. Hence, Muslims who are enthusiastic about establishing such institutions must have a philosophy first and foremost; and at the same time a sincere intention, and the resources and capabilities to execute this philosophy prior to constructing any physical structure or building.
Do we have in our rich tradition, a coherent and choice philosophy that can serve as our paradigm? The Shaykh directs us to a statement attributed to the founder of our Deen, the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ: “…as the City of Knowledge!” The Shaykh reminds us this city is fully functional and operational and inside its four walls are the blue-prints for every successful Islamic school, college/seminary and/or university.
Using the “city of knowledge” as our inspiration, Shaykh Amin shares his core philosophy of what it means to teach and learn, reflecting upon the paradigm of Darul Qasim, which is based on the foundation of ‘presenting/representing’ and re-presenting, both for the cultured teacher and the keen student being taught.
Shaykh Amin expounds on what ought to be the cornerstone of every Muslim school that caters to Muslim and non-Muslim students, alike: he uses the terms tarbiyah’ and taʿlīm.
Tarbiyah’ he likens to schooling which engenders good moral character and ethical behavior and taʿlīm refers to education of the physical & health sciences, mathematics, economics, engineering etc via reading/writing, analyzing and exploring.
He sets forth multiple arguments for incorporating both schooling and education, for the universal benefit of our present and future generations.
The Shaykh stresses the fact that if students are emphasized (both at home and school) to concentrate solely on one aspect of learning then we are guilty of a grave injustice; either producing ignorance or illiteracy, respectively. But if one incorporates both aspects of schooling and education as two faces of the same coin, only then will we be able to raise, noble, warm-hearted and intellectual individuals who are able to reflect the Islamic spirit in their homes and outside of their homes.
Since delineating certain key role players is paramount to a successful schooling system, the Shaykh outlines the roles of educators, organizers and facilitators and their overall importance in the schooling and educative process:
Educators are the life line and coaches of the education tree and the active participants on a daily basis. Even though both teachers and parents share this role (albeit in different settings), each should be mindful and respectful of the other’s space and autonomy.
Correspondingly, the school board is trusted to provide the infrastructure and organizational man power to collect and manage funding required to operate the institution from a macro perspective; however, with the necessary caveat that the board primarily entrusts the well-being of the students to the teachers without micro managing day to day affairs.
Shaykh Amin also sheds light on the theory of education or pedagogy that takes to formulate a sound curriculum, which builds on previous learned material and reinforces the need to refresh basic level of understanding, in a step-wise fashion to facilitate comprehension, consolidation and retention, which is critical in climbing up the proverbial intellectual and academic ladder.
Fittingly, the Shaykh also includes facilitators or as he likes to call them ‘the villagers’, borrowing from the old African adage, “…takes a village to raise a child,” as the final pieces of a comprehensive model. The villagers are members of the local community (who are wholeheartedly invested in not only their own children but the welfare and education of the youth in general), who not only provide support and assistance to an overall rich and wholesome schooling experience but cater to a nurturing environment in general.