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What is the Islamic approach to education? Are Muslim schools private?
The first verses of Quran (Islam’s Holy book) revealed to Prophet Muhammad PBUH began with the word “Read.”
At the time of the first revelation, the Prophet PBUH (Peace Be Upon Him) said to Angel Gabriel:
Surah 96: 1-5
he said to the angel: “I am not a reader.” The angel took hold of him and squeezed him as much as he could bear, and then said again: “Read!” The Prophet said: “I am not a reader.” The Angel again seized the Prophet and squeezed him and said: “Read! In the Name of your Lord, Who has created (all that exists), has created man from something that clings. Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous, Who has taught (the writing) by the pen, has taught man that which he knew not.”
So education and the power to read has an esteem place in Islam, and Islam promotes education and drive to seek knowledge. There are various Hadith (the sayings of the Prophet) about the importance of education. Islam does not differentiate between gender when it comes to education and encourages you to go far off places to learn. Islam also encourages that there is no age limit when it comes to education and learning.
In the history of Islam, there are many famous Muslim scholars and scientists. if Islam discouraged education, then they would have not accomplished so much in their field of studies. Some of the famous Muslim scientists, researchers and scholars are Hassan Ibn Al-Haitham, Mathematician, Ibn-Sina, Medical researcher, Jabir Ibn-Hayyan, Alchemist and Ibn Battuta Scholar.
Not all Muslim children go to Islamic schools in Muslim states. There are private and government schools in Muslim states however, some countries enforce policy to read and understand Quran as a core school subject. All schools, private or state run, have Islamic Studies as a compulsory subject for all classes. Minorities are exempted to take this course.
While in Muslim states, Madrassas are also considered a way to gain education, which is more focused on Islamic religious education and knowledge of Quran and Hadiths. Children’s curriculum is based on Islamic instructions. Though it’s slowly changing in some states, where governments are encouraging and enforcing secular education to teach children mathematics, sciences and English along with religious education. Mostly Madrassas are for poor and orphan children who gain religious education and reside in Madrassas as they are similar to boarding schools. Although it was not the case in Islamic history, the madrassas were the places where Muslim scholars, researches and scientists rooted out of. Some of the renown Madrassas were The Nizameyyah, Al Mustansereyya and the house of wisdom.
In western countries, Muslims do have private Islamic schools that are registered with states. The Islamic centers also are a source of Islamic education.
For example in Kansas City Kansas and Missouri, the Islamic private school is linked to the Islamic center and is called Islamic school of greater Kansas City.
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