Book Review -Islamic philosophy of education: An appraisal

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The book is thoroughly grounded on Islamic history and based on extensive research. It is considerably an expanded and upgraded research with comprehensive analysis of the socio-political, religious and economic problems confronting Islamic Philosophy of Education. It is simple in style, direct and unpretentious.

The author in the introductory part illustrates that Islamic Philosophy is produced within the frame work of Islamic culture. This description does not suggest that Islamic philosophy is necessarily concerned with religious issues or that it is exclusively produced by Muslims. Islamic philosophy according to the author is not about Mosques and Prophet Mohammed and the call to prayer five times a day, rather it is a tradition of learning developed by Muslim thinkers who were engaged in the rational clarification and defense of the principles of the Islamic religion (Mutakalliman), and in the pursuit of the ancient sciences. Besides, Islamic Philosophy is claimed to be a way of life, the totality of Islamic politics, religion and cultural matters, that is, it is the philosophical activity within the Islamic milieu.

In chapter one of the book, the author carefully examines educational nature of Islamic philosophy. Notably the author opines in this chapter that Islamic philosophy began its development in the 8th century A.D. through the influence of foreign ideas, particularly that of Greco- Christian ideas. He alleged that the moral issues discussed with the Islamic community were anchored on the problem of the freedom of human will; God’s omnipotence and justice, as well as God’s relation to the world. However the development of Islamic philosophy was the beginning of the philosophy of education that ventilated Islamic religion and involves the Mutazila and Ahl al-Sunnah Wal- Jamaah which were more of theological schools of thought than that of philosophical schools of thought. It also involves great Islamic philosophers like Ghaylan of Damscus, John Safwan, Al Farabi, Avicenna, Averroes, Maimonides and what have you. This is why the author views it necessary that one should be acquainted about Islamic philosophy; hence, it is a school of thought in education promoted by Islamic educators.

Chapter two deals with metaphysical perspective and educational resource of Islamic philosophy. The author states that discipline and order, as well as learning and culture in the society disappeared as a result of the fall of the Roman Empire. Therefore there was need for a “Transformation”. However, the European civilization was transformed and saved through the church and Islamic education. Arabic education supremely contributed to leading Europe out of Medievalism, thus, paving way for Renaissance. On this note, the author states that the relevance of Islamic philosophy in the world of academia and scholarship is therefore incontestable. According to the author, Islamic Philosophy concerns itself with such methods as the problem of unity and multiplicity; the relationship between God and the world, both of which had been subjects of heated controversies and discussions among the philosophers and theologians for a long time. It also reconciles revelation with reason, knowledge with faith, and religion with philosophy.

In chapter three the author focuses his intellectual lens on the educational texture of Islamic philosophers from the Arab-East, precisely Al Farabi (873-950 AD) and Avicenna (980- 1037 AD). He carefully and intelligently brings to limelight the philosophical thoughts of these Arab-East philosophers and buttresses the bases of their philosophical pot of thesis.  He alleged that Al Farabi and Avicenna provided a base from which they evaluated reflectively the past experience of the Arabs, historical events and vantage points from where they surveyed reality perceived both physically and mentally. He suggests that through critical and reflective thinking one can arrive at a solution to one’s problem.

The author’s preoccupation in Chapter four is the educational nuances of Islamic philosophers from the Arab-West: Averroes (1126-1198 AD) and Moses Maimonides (1135-1204 AD. He explores their philosophical thoughts and in harmonizing their thoughts states that Averoes and Maimonides adopted the Logic of Strict Neutrality, which lacks a clearly defined view of religion and after life. They argued that neither the soul nor the body can exists separately. This implies that there is no immortality of the soul. To this end, the author suggestes that that there is need for a careful examination and validation of principles in the educative process, to determine whether or not the theory accord with the true nature of the individual, with life, and with life’s ultimate purpose.

Chapter five is devoted to discussing the impact of Islamic civilization in the world of learning and politics: a panorama, the synthesis of Islamic philosophy of education, women and economic equality in Islamic practice, Islamic philosophy of racialism: quality, equality, and religious tolerance. Islamic civilization according to the author consolidated all the learning and records of the past centuries and past civilization. It helped to intellectualize the world during the medieval period, promoted techniques and procedures of academic research, encouragement of free trade, open borders between states, fashion, etiquette, plastic surgery, discovery and development of medicine, establishment of hospitals, setting out rubrics and the practice of diplomacy. He further asserts that Islamic philosophy is not an intellectual rebel that broke away from Platonic and Aristotle ideas rather it is a panacea that is qualified in the educational curriculum, as an important philosophic framework from the fact it is scientific, philosophic, educational, religious and political content and significance.

Chapter six deals with Islamic Quar’anic learning from  African perspective. In this chapter the author accounts for the practice and growth of Islam in the North and West African countries, including some of the East and Central Africa countries. Today, of about forty-five countries in Africa, over thirty-five have considerable Islamic influence which most probably was successful as a result of using education in transmitting the Islamic way of life.

It is here again! A master pieces which undoubtedly is most needed in a society like ours where desire for peace, tolerance and healthy society is invoked. The book in my own assessment is an eye-opener and mind opener for all who have not explored the world of Islamic philosophy of Education and have not realized its relevance to learning and civilization, precisely inculcating in individuals a healthy mind who in turn will help build a healthy society.  The book I am rest assured will help all who read it and help them appreciate the good moral educational principles embedded in Islamic Philosophy of Education.







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