‘Reconstructing’ World History and Historical Thinking Subject

historical thinking

Credit Photo: http://pdce.educ.ubc.ca/

Assalamualaikum wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatuh.

I am working on integrating History subject in our school, KMSS, with Islamic World View. Currently, we are following IGCSE module for History but we found several major concerns:

  1. Students are not familiar with the topics which are not in our national mandated curriculum. (American Civil War, Modern History of Europe etc).
  2. Concentrating on content does not efficiently help us to shape the students mind with historical thinking which is more important than the content itself.
  3. Many mainstream idea in history are not aligned with Islam. Starting with the relation between God, Man, Space and Time, freewill vs determinism, the creation of Adam vs primitiveness of early men, conflict between Muslim History and euro-centric timeline (classical, medieval and modern era), and many more.

Therefore World History and Historical Thinking need to be reconstruct based on Islamic World View, and I choose the theme Challenge and Response (as described by Arnold Toynbee inspired by Ibn Khaldun), for the subject which is renamed as “HISTORY & HISTORICAL THINKING: The Khalifah Method Way [Y1-Y3]”.

challenge and response

We want to concentrate on developing the historical thinking, while students are given the option to choose a wide range of topics in world, local and regional as well as Muslim history. They can choose which part of history they want to investigate, the subject will guide them with the ‘process of historical thinking’. So, they wont have to learn about American Civil War with no interest. They can choose to investigate the historical background of Minang Community in Negeri Sembilan if they are interested in it. The teacher’s role is to guide them with source, continuity and change, cause and effect, perspectives, empathy and significance. With a good possession of historical thinking, we believe that students will become lifelong learners of history.

The structure and key themes for this module benefited the AC History Units developed by the History Teachers’ Association of Australia.

Hasrizal
education.saifulislam.com

Teaching World Religions in the Khalifah Method Way

ITEP-Susan-Doughlas

Susan Doughlas

Assalamualaikum WBT.

Alhamdulillah. Solātan wa salāman ‘alā Rasulillāh. Ammā ba’d.

The lecture given by Sister Susan Doughlas introduced me to a very important civic framework which is timely and critically needed. Taking religion as real, important and nevertheless relevant in this public square modern life, she has summarized many important guidelines for teaching of comparative religions. Making use of what is stated in the Constitution, the framework also includes two materials suggested; Finding Common Ground. A Guide to Religious Liberty in Public Schools and Taking Religion Seriously Across Curriculum, both by Charles Haynes and co-authors.

Some of them are as follow:

  1. It is academic, not devotional.
  2. School promotes students’ awareness, not the students’ acceptance.
  3. School sponsors the study about other religions, not the practice of other religions.
  4. School exposes students to the diversity of religious view, and may not impose any particular view.
  5. School educates students about religions but do not promote or integrate them.
  6. School informs students about various religious believes but not confirming any of them.

Teaching other faiths in public education, is a huge gap in our country; be it the public schools, or private and Islamic schools. Even though Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and members of some other minor faiths are living together,  we do not know each other and tension between faiths is easily occurred. I like what Len Traubman said in the Youtube video “How to communicate in times of conflict”. He said, “We can do what the government can’t. Governments write treatise and enforce treatise. But we as the member of the community are building human relationship.” Therefore, to make use of the education is our beacon of hope. I believe many want to do it, but without a proper framework, the efforts in many ways trapped in conflicts and distanced from the objectives.

KMSS Core Subjects

In our school, we have World Religions as an elective subject to be offered under the Islamic History and Civilization’s Unit. But we have not made the subject available and one of our main concerns is to find an appropriate civic framework to teach. Many questions are raised regarding it, one of them is “can other faiths being taught without bias” and “how to make sure our students’ faith is protected when learning about other faiths”.

To me, I have a strong feeling that by learning about other faiths, it will definitely strengthen our own faith and on top of that, we will also communicate with members of other faiths with the highest degree of confidence. But my argument is too abstract. I argued that Umar ibn al-Khattab r.a. said, “if a believer knows Islam but does not know jahiliyyah, his Islam will detach from him one by one” Another argument is based on historical perspective because I admire Abū Rayḥān al-Bīrūnī (973 – 1048) . He spent a very long period in India, lived with Hindus, remained Muslim faithfully and observed the Hindu culture, faith, philosophy and recorded them objectively without being judgmental. He laid the foundation of a strong anthropological social studies and even considered as the founder of Indology.

But to formulate a proper framework, I thank ITEP for exposing us to such a resourceful and relevant materials. Both books by Charles Haynes are now in my hand and I will continue to study them Insha-Allah. This gives us confident to launch the World Religions subject next semester and  probably, it will be the first attempt in our country, a school (and even an Islamic school) teaches its students about other faiths. We want to produce leaders and to lead our country, students must admit that our country is a multi racial and multi faith society. It is dangerous to let the students continuously live in a monotonous Islamic bubble, ignoring the reality.

The only thing is, we need to clearly balance and harmonize topics which are taught in Usul al-Din class, and topics which are taught in World Religions. I believe that Deen has two dimensions, one is habl min Allah and another one is habl min al-Nas. Habl min Allah deals with the connection between man and his Creator. It is theology and here, each religion is unique and exclusive. Habl min al-Nas deals with the connection between man and his surrounding. Here, all religions are promoting similar almost similar values. Golden rules, be kind with one another, respect human lives, family, neighborhood, caring for the environment etc.

Therefore, we should not mix between the two. The theological part contains many differences which make a faith is different from the others. Here, the process of learning must commit to instilling the Aqeedah, having the Yaqeen, and feeling gratitude to be blessed with the true guidance from Allah. Other believes will be touched and the error must be made clear. With akhlaq, being on the side of al-Haqq, we feel blessed and not towards grandiosity.

The social aspect of religion is where, interfaith dialogue can be made possible. Every member of different faith will explore what their and other’s faith say about certain topics. Here, similarities are promoted for better understanding, feeling safe and secure living next to ‘the others’.

Offering World Religions subject in our school is planned with the inclusion of visiting Churches, Hindu and Buddist Temple and to let the representatives of the faiths explain themselves about their belief and practice. What we need to do is to prepare our students to have the heart of learners and ears of Ulul Albaab:

39_18

Q39:18

Who listen to speech and follow the best of it. Those are the ones Allah has guided, and those are people of understanding.[Q39:18]

At the subject level, we hope to achieve the learning outcomes using our Khalifah Method. At the school level, we hope to achieve the objective of Khalifah Method (“Shaping Excellent Character”) using the subject, like other subjects too.

“LI TA’ĀRAFŪ: GETTING TO KNOW THE WORLD RELIGIONS IN THE KHALIFAH METHOD WAY”

We will continue to explore the materials ITEP provided and hopefully in the near future, World Religions subject will no longer be a taboo. Insha-Allah.

HASRIZAL

Islamic School Policies in Correcting Misbehavior

schoolpunish1
credit photo: sg.theasianparent.com

“Ali, would you answer my question. What do you understand… the differences between Prophet and Messenger?” ask the teacher.

Wait.

Before Ali answers the teacher’s question, what do you think about Ali’s feeling? Does he like the teacher more or less when the teacher asked him like that? Putting him at risk of failure in public. What other students in the classroom feel about the teacher? By choosing Ali to answer the question, does that make the rest of the class like the teacher more or less?

Well, a very simple action we do in a classroom, is actually reflecting our value, and nevertheless, our world view. How important to ensure our students feel secured being in our classroom? How important the students’ dignity, the mutual respect among each other, and the level of cooperation? All these are not random acts. They are the interpretation of our belief as educators, teacher, and even as the members of our faith.

Then, we should carefully examine what our iman says about pedagogy, curriculum and dealing with Tarbiyyah.

Recently our school dealt with serious misbehavior among our students. At first, we tried to deal with them at micro level. The teachers talked with the students and try to understand their motives and perhaps help them to understand our concerns. Some of them successfully worked out but some did not. The cases were quite serious which I think in some schools, these students might be sacked and terminated.

When the frequency is increasing, it became quite alarming.

We were forced to deeply question ourselves, what is our belief? As Muslims, as the practitioners of the Khalifah Method, how to deal with this test? These are no longer isolated cases. We must act before the wrongdoings became a norm.

We remind ourselves, as khalifah we have three responsibilities:

  1. Make ourselves good
  2. Help others to become good
  3. Keep the physical surrounding clean and beautiful, pleasing to Allah.

Will terminating the students make them better? In fact, will sacking them make us better persons? How do we balance between the rights of individuals to be corrected and deserve second chance, and the rights of many to live at school in peace? So many questions came out and we concluded that Allah wants us to learn something that cannot be taught in any classrooms.

PUBLIC SHAMING

We do not subscribe ourselves to public shaming. It is against our principles in educating the students to improve and betterment. ‘Gentle but firm’ (we call it LEGAS (lembut + tegas) at school) is not a cliche, and not as simple as it sounds. We believe that evil doing must be repelled with something better. Evil is not capable to erase another evil.

This is what Allah says:

41_34

And not equal are the good deed and the bad. Repel (evil) by that (deed) which is better; and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend. [Fussilat 41:34]

It Allah who promises us that an enemy can be turned into devoted friend if we return evil with goodness. Public shaming, punishment with nothing to learn, will only thicken the ego and stubbornness, increase hatred, grudge and all forms of negativity.

Would it be easy?

If public shaming is common, this ‘soft’ action would be assumed as easy.

But Allah reminds:

41_35

But none is granted it except those who are patient, and none is granted it except one having a great portion (of good). [Fussilat 41: 35]

The ‘soft’ approach cannot be taken except by those who possess a high quality of patience (sabr). It requires patience, wisdom and good self control. For those who have the patience, they are indeed have a great portion of goodness.

CONFLICT MANAGEMENT

It is our time to practice chapter 159 from surah Āl ‘Imrān:

3_159

So by mercy from Allah , (O Muhammad), you were gentle with them. And if you had been hard (in speech) and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah . Indeed, Allah loves those who rely (upon Him). 

In this chapter, Allah gave us five steps of problem solving than can be developed into a school policy:

  1. Pardon them (‘afw)
  2. Ask forgiveness for them (istighfar)
  3. Consult them in the matter (syura)
  4. Make a decision (azam)
  5. Rely upon Allah (tawakkal)

PARDON THEM

Pardon the wrongdoers does not mean we let go everything. It means that we accept the thing had happened. We remove our anger from clouding our motive. We bring down ourselves a little bit to sit and face the wrongdoers at the same level, willing to engage and reconnect.

Looking at the wrongdoers with full of anger and  hatred can never bring education into function.

Syaitan is there, wanting the children of Adam to fail the test.

ASK FORGIVENESS

We are not in the position to forgive the students 100%. Their mistake related to our rights, the school rights and other students’ rights are only a portion of it. The other portion involves Allah’s right. How can we forgive them on behalf of Allah? That is why, after pardoning them, we should ask forgiveness from Allah so that He forgives them.

We do not ask forgiveness openly, but we will say it in our prayer. This will bring the sincerity into perfection, Insha-Allah.

How many of us, remember to ask forgiveness from Allah for our students? Maybe we can start asking Allah’s forgiveness for ourselves due to our forgetfulness in this important matter.

SYURA

Then only we should start the process of consulting them in matter. The first two steps should not be skipped because they differentiate the positive Islamic education from others. Both steps create a positive and potential surrounding for a syura to take place.

In this part, the word Syura is used in a form of shā-wara (شاور) which benefits the meaning of ‘two ways’. It means, we need both party to listen to each other in order to get a complete picture between the wrongdoers’ perspective and our expectation. We cannot make syura into success if the meeting offers only our interpretation and verdict.

Listen to the students’ point of view. They might still be at the guilty side but perhaps we can discover the real problem behind the presented problem. We are dealing with stealing, but maybe it is not the real problem. Stealing can be a symptom of a more serious psychiatric illness. It can also indicates some other social disorder in their personal life.

DECISION

The process must have a clear outcome. We cannot discuss half way and leave the trial session with inconclusive decisions. Otherwise, we are only halfway gentle but not firm. In order to achieve decisiom, it could take an hour or two, or dragged into longer hours. But here, teachers and students will experience the learning Allah wants them to learn.

They should understand at what point their actions are considered wrong.

They should understand that a sincere taubah is more valuable than punishment. There is a tendency in our society to belittle taubah and do not work enough to help a person to reach the taubah. Allah makes taubah strong enough to erase the biggest sin in amount and quality we can ever imagine.

The misbehaved students must be ensured that Allah is not just the Ghafūr to forgive when we seek forgiveness, He is also the Rahīm, who also subsequently love and bless the one He forgives!

Students should also choose some good deeds to be done, since Islam teaches us that goodness erases badness. Community service, inside and outside school is a good option. And at this stage, students are expected to do it voluntarily.

TRUST

After both parties agree upon the decision, we must reestablish the trust. Do not spy on them. Make sure they leave the session with the highest trust in Allah. They trust Allah to guide them and we trust Allah to guide them. With that trust, Insha-Allah He will guide both of us towards betterment.

Are these easy?

No!

Allah says:

“So by MERCY from Allah , (O Muhammad), you were gentle with them.”

It is the mercy of Allah.

Ask for His mercy.

Do things to gain the mercy.

deprived-rifq

Jarir radhiyallāhu ‘anhu narrated, the Prophet sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: He who is deprived of gentleness, is deprived of goodness [Muslim]

Alhamdulillah.

Alhamdulillah.

Thank you Allah.

HASRIZAL