Importance of Self-Education in Islam
Civilization gradually developed with time, and many types of social and cultural factors, were responsible for its progress. As already noted education plays a fundamental role in building human conduct and personality. Many parties share responsibility besides parents and family members. Other institutions take up educational process gradually but steadily, covering increased duties, as technological and organizational advancement take new leads. Schools, Society, State and Mass Media are beginning to assume ever-increasing roles in these fields. The following parties actively participate in educational matters:
5. The Individual
Family is the cradle where children see the first light of life. It is acknowledged that the family leaves the deepest and most profound marks on children's personalities, thoughts, behaviour and conduct. Childhood is a crucial period in forming people's personalities because family role is all- embracing during this time. Parents are charged with the proper bringing up of children and Islam has assigned fathers to play a leading role in this process. Allah, the Highest, addresses fathers in the following verse:
“0' you who believe guard yourselves and your families against a fire whose fuel is men and stones...” Holy Qur’an (66:6)
Therefore, fathers have to play an essential role in their children's upbringing, safety and proper supervision. Islamic education is an insurance against deviation and degradation, hence, fathers' negligence for their children's Islamic education is considered a crime in Islam. When children cannot discriminate good from evil, and are not armed to defend themselves against a corrupt environment it surely reflects fathers' faults in spoiling the youth. Therefore, Islamic penal code holds fathers responsible for their underaged1 children's mischief, and they have to the bear the cost of material damage inflicted by children in their custody. On the Day of Resurrection, fathers would be again questioned for such abuse.
The second educational establishment in the life of a Muslim is school. The school has a great responsibility and plays a vital role in the growing teenage personalities. Schools are like factories, producing human generations, training the whole nation and drawing a complete picture of life for them.
Thus it is very important to attend schools with due care, especially with regard to their main elements which besides teachers are the educational syllabus, extra-curricular activities and disciplinary supervision. These elements ought to be molded within an Islamic framework, making out of schools an effective instrument for refining impurities and wrong motives that may be acquired from the family or environment. Moreover, schools are a suitable ground to discover talents and nurture good motives. They develop people in the right fields and strengthen good intents in them, so that they would eventually play constructive roles in society, after being properly equipped with scientific and cultural knowledge and given appropriate training.
In short, schools should be charged for achieving a sound Islamic educational program. These goals have already been reviewed in the previous chapter, Islamic Education Goals'.
The third factor, which shares education responsibility, is society.
People's personalities are greatly influenced by social trends and norms, culture, concepts, way of life, language and religion of the society. Therefore, it is necessary to build the society according to Islamic cultural norms. The social factors and the way of life should be monitored carefully to achieve the upholding Islamic principle of, "commanding people to act upon good deeds and refrain from evil doings.
Friends and companions exercise profound influence on each other during childhood and teenage stages, unconsciously creating lasting effects or characters. Hence, it is important to keep children away from spoiled friends, centers of corruption, especially when Muslims live in a non-Islamic society or environment.
When we are lucky, having the opportunity of living in an Islamic society, then dangers for children being misled would be minimized. Muslim society would play a positive role in the bringing-up process, imparting required influence on people's conduct and way of life.
The state or more properly the type of government has always played an interesting role in society and its educational process. In recent times, this role has become increasingly stronger and larger because of the facilities provided by technological and organizational advancements. Political and Ideological schools of thought have influenced various governments to organize and supervise education process closely in order to secure people's allegiance to their rule. Socialist, Communist, Capitalist and Muslim governments are all concerned to see their education institutions such as schools, colleges, universities, newspapers, radio and television etc.... bring up people within their planned codes and directives.
It may not be out of context to mention at this stage, that education in Muslim countries is overall sadly influenced by non-Islamic codes. Such secular codes bring up Muslim children in a way that will lead to internal struggle within people and society, which ultimately leads to anarchy and social ills, as is the case of non-Muslim societies. Therefore, it is a duty of men of letters, fathers, Muslim scholars, and Islamic callers to be aware of this grave danger. Suitable cultural measures should be taken in order to face this challenge and protect the coming Muslim generations from falling into the abyss of corruption and deviation.
5. The Individual:
When children grow up, are matured physically and mentally, they are able to perform self-education. Thus, people are capable of modifying their stands, thoughts and conduct.
Allah's words testify this fact:
"Guard yourselves and families against a Fire....”Holy Qur’an (66:6)
There is stress on the individual's responsibility for self- education, rescue from suffering and anguish, by the following verse:
"But as for him who fears to stand before his Lord and restrains the soul from lust. Then surely Paradise is the abode.” Holy Qur’an (79: 40-41)
Islam views self-education as having great effect in improving and transforming people. The inner transformation of people would naturally result in the keen observance of laws, on the part of the individual.
The Prophet has praised believers who undergo self-education, and has proclaimed Paradise to be their reward.
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) has narrated from his father's chain of authority to the Prophet:
"When the Day of Resurrection arrives, a caller from Allah will proclaim, Where are the patient? A group of people would rise up, and a team of angels would be ready to welcome them; (other) people would ask: What type of patience you endured?' They would reply: We have endured difficulties in the way of Allah, and refrained from His disobedience.' Then he (the Prophet) said: A caller on behalf of Allah would cry: My servants are truthful, make way for them to Paradise without any questions.’ ”
A narration from Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says that during the time of the Prophet (s.a.w.) a detachment was sent out for a battle. When they returned to Medina, he (Prophet) said:
"Welcome to a people who accomplished the lesser struggle while the big struggle is awaiting them. It was inquired: "O Messenger of Allah, what is the big struggle? He (s.a.w.) replied: "Struggle with yourselves (desires).”
Thus, self-education is based on the above-mentioned directives and guidelines. It strives for arriving at fruitful results in the field of personal conduct and observance of Islamic laws, when conforming to Islamic teachings.