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DEVELOPMENT OF EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES

     Development of truly Islamic educational resources is one of the most important tasks for Muslim communities around the world. Each community needs to accomplish this task in a manner that fulfills local requirements, but certain “foundational texts” based upon the Qur'anic view of the cosmos, history and the human condition must come into existence before specific textbooks fulfilling local requirements can be produced. Muslim Education Foundation is currently focusing on the production of these foundational texts which can be used as source material for the production of specific textbooks for Islamic schools in various parts of the world with the hope that this approach will simultaneously provide a global and a local solution to the problem of Islamic curricula. This effort is informed by guidelines gleaned from the principle of transformative learning.
     The process of transformative learning is built upon the recognition that the inner resources given to each learner by the Creator are the greatest asset in the process of learning. It is through the creative utilization of `aql (intellect), qalb (heart), and the senses which process received data that the learners develop a real understanding of the nature of things as they really are. “O Allah, grant me the knowledge of things as they really are” was an oft-repeated supplication of the Prophet of Islam—may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him—and it is to this end that the process of transformative learning is directed: to instill in the hearts and minds of learners a vision of life and the cosmos that transforms them in the very process of learning.
     This approach to learning recognizes and honors the knowledge already possessed by each child at the time of his or her birth. This innate knowledge, which is sadly and often quickly veiled by the environment in which the child is raised, is God-given knowledge built into the fitrah (the innate nature) of every human being. This knowledge not only informs and guides numerous initial actions of the newly-born, such as locomotion and suckling; it is one of the inner resources through which humankind has been honored by the Creator.

                          

Recognizing this innate knowledge as the most important initial resource possessed by every child, MEF is developing curricula using an approach based on Hikmah (Wisdom) which places a very high emphasis on using the God-given faculty of `aql (intellect) to link curriculum with innate knowledge. Human intellect, essentially a spiritual substance quite distinct from reason, is guided by knowledge given to human beings through wahy (revelation) which comes by way of risalah (Prophethood); this guidance leads to an active recognition of tawhid (the Unicity of Allah), operative throughout the cosmos and in the human nafs. This recognition clarifies primary concepts, assigns to all things their proper place within the order of nature, and utilizes the child’s natural curiosity to train and guide his or her faculties.
     MEF curriculum is thus informed by three primary concepts: Unicity of God (tawhid), which runs through the whole curricula like a vertical axis; Prophecy (risalah), that serves as a link between humanity and the Creator; and an awareness of the Return (ma`ad), that all that has come into existence belongs to the Creator unto Whom it will return. These three primary concepts are not merely theoretical considerations; these are foundational principles upon which the Qur'anic message is based and which have informed the Islamic tradition of learning throughout the last fourteen hundred years.

                                                   

     In practical terms, the curriculum informed by these three guiding principles eliminates duality of knowledge as well as its compartmentalization. These principles inform the material dealing with languages and arts as much as it infuses a spiritual element in the teaching of primary concepts in mathematics and chemistry. This means that the curriculum should have an inner unity, allowing children to build successively and progressively as they move from Kindergarten to Grade 12.