Educational Ideas of Allama Shibli and Their Relevance to Modern Period

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By Zafarul Islam


This is quite well- known that Allama Shibli Nomani (1857-1914) was one of those eminent thinkers and scholars who left great impact on the Muslims of the sub-continent in their academic and socio- cultural life. Muslim education was one of the important issues in which he showed keen interest and devoted himself to build up the people’s mind for realizing the value of education and that of correlating it with the collective needs of the Ummah and demands of the time. In fact, his educational ideas were based on the assessment of the situation of the Muslims and deep analysis of the problems faced by the Ummah in those days. Besides, he had personal experience of the actual working of modern and traditional systems of education due to his close association with M.A.O. College (Aligarh), Nadwatul Ulama (Lucknow) and Madrasatul Islah (Sarai Mir, Azamgarh).So his educational ideas were of much significance not only for the Muslims of his period ,but they have also relevance to the present scenario of Muslim society, particularly to understand the type of education which may be more useful for the development of individual personality of the Muslims as well as for meeting the requirements of their religious and socio- economic life.

In view of Allama Shibli, education is not only an individual need of every Muslim, it is also very closely connected with the betterment and development of their collective life. Therefore, neither traditional education is enough for them, nor merely modern education can solve the problems of their religious and socio-cultural life. What is actually required for them, in his opinion, is establishment of a comprehensive system of education which may help integration of traditional and modern education. He was also of the view that the products of the Madrasahs and modern institutions should work at their own level for the benefit of the Muslim community and that the gap between them must be narrowed down through the regular interaction and cooperation with each other in the works of common welfare.

With regard to the Madrasah education Allama Shibli thought that with main emphasis on the fundamental sciences of Islam, there must be provision of teaching of English language and some other contemporary subjects (at least of social sciences) to make this education responsive to the demands of the time and more beneficial for the products of the Madrasahs as well as for the Ummah at large. On the other hand, he stressed that the rising activities of the non- Muslim missionaries and other opponents of Islam demanded that the Muslim Ummah must have able, sincere and self-less preachers and interpreters of Islam to cope with the challenges of these missionaries and critics of Islam. He was of the opinion that the madrasahs were the most suitable place for producing and training such preachers who were designated by him as Khuddam al- Din. In this connection, Allama Shibli made earnest plea that the Madrasah education should be reoriented and necessary changes should be effected in the syllabi of these institutions to achieve this purpose.

In brief, Allama’s views about objectives of Muslim education, integration of traditional and modern education, cooperation among the products of both the streams of education and making the Madrasah education more useful for the Dawah and other works of Muslims’ welfare in the changed circumstances are quite relevant to present In brief, Allama Shibli’s views about objectives of Muslim education, situation of Muslim society and so his views deserve serious consideration by Muslims in general and ulama and scholars in particular.