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Ethics

Education Or Training, Which One Should Precede?

As we have already seen, man is born at birth with a tabula rasa i.e. a blank tablet or a mind not influenced by outside experiences. Our overt senses are canals through which we come in contact with nature and acquire our knowledge. Regarding this, Aristotle has said:

    "مَن فَقَدَ حِسَّاً فَقَدَ عِلماً"

“He who is deprived of one of the faculties of sense will suffer the deprivation of the related knowledge.”

In this way, we notice that those born deaf are deprived of speech. This is because they have not received the speech signals from others to be able to use them. Concerning this Mawlawi has said,

“One born deaf is definitely dumb.

A speaker is the one who heard the words from his mother.”

Elsewhere Mawlawi says, "Man is made more capable through his ears". This is why those born blind can not perceive colors.

Thus, the first things which relate a man to his environment are his senses, or in the terminology employed in the Qur’an, they are the ears, eyes and hearts.37 Then comes the growth of our capabilities and the purification of our self (soul).

But the thing to remember is that science is a means for the control of nature and for the unveiling of the secrets of the creation; whereas purification is a means for the control of our vicious, unyielding self (soul) and for shaping our personalities.

No doubt, if our souls are not controlled, then science will be used for the destruction of the world.

It would be better to leave a drunkard with a sword than let an ill-intentioned person have science at his disposal. There is a maxim which says:

    "اِذا فَسَدَ العالِمُ فَسَدَ العالَم"

"When a scholar becomes corrupt, the whole world becomes corrupt."

As we saw in the three verses of the Holy Qur’an which dealt with purification and education, purification was stated prior to the term "education".

Only in one verse is the term "education" used prior to the word purification and that is because of the natural priority which the mechanism of education has for us.

Notes:

37.Qur’an 16:78, And Allah has brought you forth from the wombs of your mothers – you did not know anything – and He gave you hearing and sight and hearts that you may give thanks.

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