Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Ibn-e-Khuldoon, the Great Muslim Philosopher and Educationist

IBN-E- KHALDUN (1332 – 1406)
One of the great thinkers that the world has had is Ibn-e- Khaldun who was a very talented Muslim philosopher a practicing politician and history expert; in a nut shell a person with a great intelligence. He  was the most outstanding historian of his era (Ahmad, 1984).
Let us reflect on the life of Ibn-e- Khaldun and his contributions in the field of education.
Early Life:
It was the mid of the fourteenth century when Muslims in Spain were facing persecution . Muslims were expelled from the country or forced to forsake the religion of their ancestors at the point of the sword. The Muslim families were leaving Spain and heading towards Africa. Ibn-e- Khaldun belonged to one of these noble Andalusian families who had migrated from Seville to Tunis (Khalid, 2012 & Shahid, 2000).   He was born on Ramadan 1, 732 A.H. (27th May’ 1332 A.C.) in Tunis, Africa (Enan, 1986). Ibn-e- Khaldun was an intelligent man. He was brought up to be a man of great knowledge and industry as well as of huge wisdom in the subjects of history and politics. He is the very first scientist who has left a permanent mark on the sciences of historiography and sociology (Shahid, 2000). His name was Waliuddin Abu Zaid Abdul Rahman son of Abdul Rahman Ibn-e- Khaldun. Ibn-e- Khaldun attributes his origin to the Yemenite Arabs of Hadramaut and is a scion of one of the oldest Arab Yemenite tribes (Enan, 1986).
Khaldun was brought up in a very prominent and learned family where he inherited the cradle of legacy, guided by its fortunes and traditions. He was raised by his father who was his first teacher and learnt the Holy Quran by heart, studied different modes of recitation and interpretation, as well as the Hadith and jurisprudence. He was also taught Arabic grammar, language and rhetoric by the most famous and well – known teachers of Tunis. Tunis at the time was a centre of learning in Africa and Ibn-e- Khaldun took full advantage of the scholastic opportunities available there (Enan, 1986 & Khalid, 2012). Khaldun himself was an eminent orator (Khalid, 2012).  His writings proved his brilliance to a certain extent in Hadith and Maliki Jurisprudence, philosophy and poetry (Enan, 1986).
Ibn-e-Khaldun was a promising young man and an assiduous learner. It was due to his great qualities that the ruler of Tunis Abu Ishaq II offered him services when he was only twenty years old. Ibn-e-Khaldun was a very adventurous man, therefore when North Africa spilt into different principalities he moved to the principality of Morocco named Fez where he was appointed as the Secretary of the state by Sultan Abu Inan of Fez. He further moved to the Straits of Gibraltar and became the Fief – holder of the Sultan of Granada and later headed a political mission to Pedro, the cruel King of Castile. Granada did not seem to be exciting of Khaldun because of his conflict with one of the wazirs. He moved on to the court of Prince of Jejaya, near Constantine and left Spain. He went back to Granada in 1374 but again got expelled back to Africa where he got retired and compiled his famous Prolegomena – Muqaddmah in a fort of Qilah-Ibne-Salamah. The Prolegomena is said to be his fined thesis and study in the subject of history. It presents his contributions to political and social philosophy. He went to Cairo and spent rest of his there. During his stay at Cairo he also went to perform Hajj at Makkah. In Cairo he held the post of Chief Justice and also lectured huge audiences with ease and success. He compiled his history of the Universe mainly of Arabs and Berbers in 1382. Khaldun left the world in 1406 and died in peace (Khalid, 2012 & Shahid, 2000).
View of Education:
Ibn-e-Khaldun conveys that the education consists of the moral as well as the intellectual training and teaching of humans which brings out the potential within a man that helps develop the character and builds up the personality (Khalid, 2012). According to Khaldun, the knowledge can be divided into two parts of streams, one of the subjects pertaining to philosophy depending upon one’s mental potentialities and thinking faculties, the other dealing with the religious subject. In the view of Ibn-e-Khaldun both types of knowledge are crucial for mankind as both play a role in the development and progress of any nation (Shahid, 2000).
According to Khaldun, the educational system of any society should be formulated in accordance with the ideology of the society. E.g. it is important for every Muslim man and woman to gain the knowledge the Holy Quran and Sunnah and follow the guidance of Allah taught by the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). He provides the following advantages of education to man:
·         Education should develop social and economic efficiency in man to be usefully absorbed in the society.
·         Education should be a means to bring happiness in life of people.
·         Important aim of education is to develop the power of thinking and reasoning.
To him travelling is also a mean to gain knowledge and in receiving education (Khalid, 2012).
Methods of Teaching:
Ibn-e-Khaldun discouraged the method of teaching which did not provide any opportunity to the students to interpret lessons and solve problems on their own. Also consequently reducing their inventiveness, originality and power to create, invent and develop. He said that the traditional method of teaching was just emphasizing on the memorization of notes and interpretations which were made by others. This lead to less opportunity to struggle and did not develop the habit of putting effort to think and interpret which was highly required for the learning and teaching of Islam (Khalid, 2012). In his opinion the students had become just the passive listeners and that the methods of teaching did not motivate their learning and discouraged their participation in discussions. As a result of it is that the students stayed silent in the class and focused on rote learning killing their power and ability of thinking and reasoning (Shahid, 2000). Ibn-e-Khaldun was very sad about the teachers who ignored the methods of teaching and did not focus on the actual method of teaching the students. They started the lesson from complex to simple and mixed up the advance knowledge with elementary. Khaldun complained that the students were being targeted to hate the subject they were taught as it was made so difficult for them to understand. He also said “Let the teachers proceed from simple to complex, from known to the unknown and from concrete to abstract.” (Khalid, 2012 & Shahid, 2000).
Ibn-e-Khaldun opined that the best and easiest way of gaining the ability to effective learning is to participate in discussions over problems and also finding their solution. He degraded the lecture methods of teaching and favoured the discussions and debating methods which will provide an opportunity for the students to bring out their views and interpretations (Khalid, 2012 & Shahid, 2000). He also said that the subject should be taught according to the level of students’ ability and capacity. This way they will learn rapidly and understands properly and easily. Ibn-e-Khaldun criticized the teaching methods of his time and brought his own suggestions in this regard. In his opinion the process of teaching should comprise of the following three stages:
·         Stage 1 (Introduction)
A brief introduction of the topic should be given to the students followed by explanations and concrete examples to support the teaching topic.
·         Stage 2 (Development)
The topic should now be explained in great detail for the better understanding of the students. The points briefly discussed in the first stage should now be discussed thoroughly and critically.
·         Stage 3 (Recap)
In the end of the lesson the topic must be revised again in order to know if the students have really understood the topic and has their learning enhanced (Khalid, 2012 & Shahid, 2000).
Ibne-Khaldun says that the relationship of a teacher and student should be based upon love and understanding. The teacher should act as a parent towards the student and avoid harsh and cruel punishments (Khalid, 2012). In his opinion, torture, whether by parents or teachers injure the mental faculties of the child which leads to the destruction of child’s personality development (Shahid, 2000).   

Ibn-e-Khaldun criticized the books of that time which were referred to as the text-books and reference-books. The students had to study these books and their explanations and commentaries in order to attain the graduation diploma.  In the view of Khaldun, too much explanation is very harmful and difficult for the students as every scholar has their own view and perception of presenting. Ibn-e-Khaldun says that there is nothing new expect for the repetition of contents with some variations of words and phrases, then why should students be compelled to memorize and learn books (Shahid, 2000).
Regarding the content of education Ibn-e-Khaldun says that religion instruction should be the corner stone of the curriculum as it helps in formation of the good character and habits. According to him logic is very important for students as it enables one to think and also analyze critically. Khaldun emphasizes on the learning of language as it helps to study different subjects and also mathematics as it sharpens the mental power and increases the power of reasoning. He felt a need of professional and vocational subjects along with academic subjects (Khalid, 2012).
Contribution in the field of History:
  Ibn-e-Khaldun has achieved an eternal place among the great historical philosophers and is considered to be the best of all as he was the first one to treat history as a science and not merely as a narrative. Before him the history was just a record of events in a disorganized manner. Khaldun gave a new approach to history by providing new methods of explaining and reasoning also developing it as a social philosophy. Being the originator of sociology, philosophical history and political economy, his works possess originality and the truth. His book Kitab-al-Ibar including the Al-Taarif (autobiography) is his everlasting work in history which contains Prolegomena and biography. The book deals with the society, its origin, sovereignty, sciences. The best part of the book is which describes the creativeness, reviewing the diverse subjects like political economy, sociology and history with striking originality and intensity (Ahmad, 1984).

Contribution in Education:
Ibn-e-Khaldun was a famous historian, a great philosopher, and also an incredible educationist. His views on education and the deep psychological insight in the educational process and development of human mind and body tagged him as a great educator too. His contribution in education is considered to be worthwhile and valuable across the world in the field of education because he emphasized on the social efficiency as an aim of education and also promoted professional and vocational subjects along with academic subjects in education. The modern education literally advocates the methods provided by Khaldun in teaching (Khalid, 2012).

The mastermind of Ibn-e-Khaldun was assorted and adaptable: he was an accomplished philosopher, a seasoned politician, a reputed historian, and a learned geographer. He was th founder of philosophy of History, a originator of the “Philosophy of Sociology” and a pioneer of Demography.  Khaldun had great command over imaginative and creative teaching potentials. He was not only a teacher but an educator who could lay hands on any subject and lecture over it with reference to his academic skills. He is the original thinker and philosopher whose range and depth of wisdom in the field of education is just exclusive (Shahid,2000).  


Yusuf Mayat said...

thank you for your very informative article
could you please provide the full references for the works cited

Muhammad Shakoor said...

V informative.