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ISLAMISING TEACHING METHODS

http://homepages.tig.com.au/~umm_pub/EducationChildren.html#IsMethods

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Islamising Teaching Methods

What does it mean to 'Islamise' something and how do we approach such a task? Sister Aishah Ho explains.

The idea of Islamising children's education is not about creating Islamic numbers, Islamic English, Islamic math or even Islamic sciences. Such an idea is not only absurd but unfeasible. Rather, it is about Islamising the technique of teaching children.  But how do we go about Islamising? The answer is to take a look around us and put it all into an Islamic context: Who created it? Who cause it to look like that, behave like that and move like that? Who gave us knowledge of such things? It is Allah. Always emphasise that Allah, the Great, is behind everything that we see, hear, smell, touch and feel. Even when examples or analogies are needed, use Islamic teaching of morals and values such as situations involving salah (prayer), zakaah (poor-due), sawm (fasting), hajj (pilgrimage), sadaqah (charity), brother/sisterhood, kindness to parents, people, animals the possibilities are endless. Do not just use "She was given this..." instead say, "Why was she given it? Because she was a good daughter, kind to people, shared her lunch," and so forth.

Take the case of teaching young children how to count numbers. Instead of saying one apple, two oranges, three bananas and so on, why not reinforce Islamic concepts into it? For instance, there is a book called "Counting with Ehsan" which incorporates the concept of going to and being at the mosque. This book takes the young learners on a trip to the mosque with Ehsan and see what he sees while teaching them numbers. That is, Ehsan accompanied by his father, upon entering the mosque, saw one Imam. Before, they could begin any of their prayers, they need to perform wudu and upon entering the washing room Ehsan saw two Muslims taking wudu, and so forth.

For slightly older children, when one teaches them to add and subtract, as an alternative to saying "one plus one is two," or "Fatimah has one apple and her mother gave her another apple. How many apples does she have now?" One can say, "Fatimah was given an apple to eat but before she bites the apple, she remembers to say "Bismillah". Her mother heard that and gives her another apple to eat for remembering to say "Bismillah". How many apples does she have to eat now?"

Similarly, the concept of teaching children to write works in the same way. There are books which aims to teach the little ones to read, write and count with emphasis on Islamic principles such as praying, sadaqah and a love for Islam. For example, one exercise teaches thelittle learners to draw lines through the use of a maze whereby he or she  helps Ruqayyah find the poor hungry girl to give her some money. Hence, instead of just buying the non-Muslim's learning to write books, why not also buy the Islamic version?

When teaching young children about nature, one should reinforce the concept of Allah being the Creator who created all things. For instance, rather than saying, "The sun is hot, the wind is blowing, the birds are singing", try and say, "Allah created the sun and made it hot to give us warmth. Allah created the wind and tells it to blow so that it keeps us cool on a hot day. Allah created the birds and inspired them to sing. When the birds are singing, they are actually saying Subhanallah and Allahu Akbar."

Similarly, when one teaches about inanimate objects such as the table, chair, car, telephone and so forth. One can say, "Allah created the trees and taught us to cut the trees and build tables out of it," or "Allah created metals and gave us the knowledge to find it, dig it out, shape it and build it into cars."

This same idea of emphasising the consciousness of Allah can also be applied to older children when they study science. Though the explanations need to be in greater details. For instance, when teaching about how rain is formed. Instead of the usual, "the sun heats the land causing evaporation of water vapours. When these vapours cool they condense and form clouds. When the clouds become heavy, they precipitate and becomes rain.."

As you can see, this explanation is bare and plain, devoid of any emotional inspirations. Therefore, how do we go about making the process of rain formation awe-inspiring? We give credit to its Creator. We say, "When Allah, the Almighty, wants to give us rain, He lets the sun heats the earth. In so doing, the water vapours evaporates. When these vapours cool Allah lets them condense and form into clouds. When Allah wills it to rain, the clouds become heavy with water droplets and precipitates; that is, it rains." Furthermore, wherever possible, we should always incorporate the relevant Qur'anic verses into our explanations. For instance, the following ayah (verse) should be used in conjunction with the above explanation of rain.

(Allah) sends down rain from the sky water in due measure; We revived there with a land that was dead; even so shall you be brought forth. (Qur'an, 43:11)

All in all, teaching children knowledge need not be abstract nor devoid of Islamic teachings. The emphasis of Islamic teaching reinforces the consciousness of Allah and Islamic values in every aspect of their life.