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Ethics

The Role Of Education

The term (Ta'leem), which is derived from ‘ilm (knowledge) means to teach, and the term "tarbiyah" is derived from "rabw" meaning nurture.

Animals, when born, know their duties and plans of life through their instincts. They would need no instructors.

The young fish, after being hatched, know how to swim, breathe, feed, protect themselves against enemies, and how to reproduce. They do not need to be taught.

‍The Anopheles mosquito is vegetarian but because the new-born insects should feed on worms, the mother hunts a special worm, stings it so that it is paralysed. In this way, the mother provides its new-born with fresh meat. The mother does it through her instinct; not through training.

The bee sucks the sweet nectar, turns it into honey, makes symmetrical shelters and divides the affairs of the hive among individual bees all because of divine inspiration and natural instincts.

    "واَوحَى رَبُّكَ الى النَحلِ اَنْ اتَّخِذِي مِنَ الجِبَالِ بُيُوتاً ومِنَ الشَجَرِ ومِمَّا يَعْرِشُونَ"

“And your Lord revealed to the bee saying: Make hives in the mountains and in the trees and in what they build.”24

This is the fact which is brought about by Prophet Moses (as) and his brother when they introduced their God to Pharaoh:

    "قالَ فَمَن ربُّكما يا موسى قال ربُّنا الذي اعطى كلَّ شئ خَلقَه ثُمَّ هَدى"

“Pharaoh said: And who is your Lord, O Musa? He said: Our Lord is He Who gave to everything its creation, then guided it (to its goal).25

The Giver who provided the flower with nectar and the clay with soul;

Gave each one what He deemed necessary.

But man, in carrying out his daily duties and arriving at perfection needs more than instincts and innate inspiration: besides being equipped with wisdom, he needs instructors.

He would perhaps walk like animals if he were not helped. He would most probably be dumb if words were not put in his mouth. Mawlawi says:

A deaf person cannot speak; the speaker is the one who has heard from the mother.

Thus, in order to recognize facts of the world and to appreciate the secrets of creation, man needs a teacher. Without an instructor, man is unable to grasp such secrets.

Man needs an instructor to nourish his physical and spiritual capabilities and to arrive at his ideals and to prune the wicked parts of his character, If God's Messengers had not risen to correct man, he would, no doubt, have had a much worse life than the Middle Ages. In this regard the Holy Qur’an says:

    "لقد مَنَّ اللهُ على المؤمنين اِذ بَعَثَ فِيهِم رَسُولاً مِنَ اَنْفُسِهِم يَتْلُوا علَيهِم آياتِهِ ويُزَكِيهم ويُعَلِّمَهُمُ الكِتابَ والحِكْمَةَ واِن كانوا مِن قَبلُ لَفِي ضَلالٍ مُبين"

“Certainly Allah conferred a benefit upon the believers when He raised among them an Apostle from among themselves, reciting to them His communications and purifying them, and teaching them the Book and the wisdom, although before that they were surely in manifest error.”26

As you will observe the appointment of a Messenger among the corrupted people to guide them was one of God's blessings.

Still in another verse, God considers the Messengers’ teachings as true life, those not receiving it are considered as dead:

    "يا ايُّها الَّذِينَ آمَنوا اِستجيبوا للهِ وللرسولِ اِذا دَعاكُم لما يُحييكُم"

“O you who believe! Answer the call of Allah and His Apostle when he calls you to that which gives you life”.27

Notes:

24. Qur’an 16: 68.

25. Qur’an 20:49-50.

26. Qur’an, 3: 164.

27. Qur’an 8:24.

 

Adapted from: "Imam 'Ali's First Treatise on The Islamic Ethics and Education" by: "Zainol Aabideen Qorbani Lahiji"