Ibn-e-Khuldoon's Philosophy of Education

    The great thinker IbnKhaldunwas born in Tunis, 1332 AD and died in Cairo, 1406 AD. His ideas have reflected their importance on the history of universal thought as much as within the Islamic realm. His thoughts are all self-created. He has been affected by savants before him but he is not a continuation of them. He created genuine and innovative ideas. It is due to this fact that although he lived during the 14th century his thoughts still manages to shed light among events of current times. His ideas have not lost their relevance as time has passed. Recognized as the founder of sociological sciences, IbnKhaldunhas been accepted and commented upon by historians, jurists, theologians, politicians, economists, teachers, educators and environmentalists alike. IbnKhaldun’sgreat work of art, The Muqaddimahhas been translated into the world’s most common languages.

   Life of IbnKhaldoun
IbnKhaldun's public life is documented in his autobiography, which has come down to us as the last volume of Kitabu al Ibar. Nonetheless, there are different accounts of his imprisonment at various times, and of the circumstances under which he wrote the Kitabu al-Ibar and other circumstances in his life.
IbnKhaldoun was born to an upper class family that had migrated from Seville in Muslim Spain. He traced his ancestry to Yemenite Arabs from the Hadramuth who settled in Spain at the very beginning of Muslim rule in the eighth century, and migrated to Tunisia after Muslim Seville fell.

IbnKhaldoun's parents were able to give him a good classical Muslim education. He  began what seemed to be a promising political career at the Chancellery of the Tunisian ruler IbnTafrakin with the position of Kātib al-'Alāmah, a scribe who wrote introductions to official documents.  The Marinid invasion (748-50/1347-9) resulted in the arrival in Tunis,of a large number of theological and literary scholars, and he gained instruction in Muslim philosophy and the main problems of Muslim thought. However, the Marinid occupation ended in chaos and bloodshed. Additionally, the Black Plague which ravaged the world in the middle of the century, claimed many victims in the area, including Ibnkhaldun's parents. These events are reflected in his writings.

Tunis became a backwater owing to the disturbances, and IbnKhaldoun eventually left for Fez.  IbnKhaldun followed his teacher Abili to Fez. There, the Marinid sultan Abu Inan Fares I appointed him to write royal proclamations. Nonetheless, IbnKhaldoun   schemed against the sultan and was imprisoned for 22 months. He was freed on the death of the sultan and reinstated him in his rank and offices, and promptly began scheming against sultan Abu Salem Ibrahim III to bring to power the sultan Abu Salem. When Abu Salem came to power, he rewarded IbnKhaldun with a ministerial position.  But Abu Salem was soon out of power. IbnKhaldun therefore decided to move to Granada, where he had an ally in the  Sultan of Granada, Muhammad V, whom he had helped regain power.

In Granada, IbnKhaldoun earned the envy and ire of Muhammad's vizier, Ibn al-Khatib. IbnKhaldun tried to influence young Muhammad to act according to his concept of a wise ruler, which Ibn al-Khatib thought foolish and naive. IbnKhaldun was eventually sent back to North Africa. The the sultan of Bougie, an old friend from prison, welcomed him and made him his prime minister. After the death of Abu Abdallāh in 1366, IbnKhaldun allied himself with the ruler of Tlemcen, Abul-Abbas. Abbas was defeated by Abdul Aziz however, and IbnKhaldoun was taken prisoner and entered a monastic order. In 1370 he was freed and thereafter resided in Fez. In 1375 IbnKhaldun was either imprisoned or  sought refuge with the AwladArif tribe in the town of QalatIbnSalama. There he lived for nearly four years, and there he wrote the Muqaddimah "Prolegomena", the introduction to his planned history of the world. According to some accounts he was imprisoned and wrote the entire Kitab al-Ibar there.

By 1378, IbnKhaldoun's patron and friend  Abul-Abbas had conquered Tunis. IbnKhaldoun returned there and completed his history. However, Abul Abbas questioned his loyalty, especially since the completed work omitted the obligatory panegyric. IbnKhadoun claimed he was going on a Hajj pilgrimage and escaped to  Alexandria.

IbnKhaldoun was impressed by Egypt, which had been largely untouched by the strife afflicting other Muslim lands. In 1384 the Egyptian Mamluk Sultan, al-Malik udh-DhahirBarquq, made him Professor of the Qamhiyyah Madrasah, and grand Qadi of the Maliki school of fiqh (religious law). However, IbnKhaldoun into political trouble and had to resign his judgeship. He also experienced personal tragedy as a ship carrying his wife and children sank off the coast of Alexandria. He decided to complete the pilgrimage to Mecca.

After his return from the Hajj in May 1388, IbnKhaldun was again involved in in a political scrap that put him out of favor, and was later reinstated nonetheless as Maliki qadi. This repeated itself a number of times. The Mongols had now invaded the Middle East however.  In 1401, under Sultan Faraj, IbnKhaldun took part in the siege of Damascus against Timurlane. Though the Egyptian army was abandoned by Faraj, IbnKhaldun remained there seven weeks. He negotiated with Timurlane, who extracted information about North Africa from him. IbnKhaldoun was also gathering information. On his return to Egypt, he composed an  extensive report on the history of the Mongol Tartars, and a character study of Timur. He sent these to the Merinid rulers in Fez.

IbnKhaldun spent last five years in Cairo completing his writings, teaching and acting as judge, when he was not being imprisoned for seditious activities.  He died on 17 March 1406, one month after his sixth selection for the office of the Maliki qadi.

IbnKhaldun's Work
IbnKhaldun's chief contribution lies in developing a method of explaining the dynamics of historical changing and analyzing society as expounded in the Muqaddimah. The Muqaddimah was originally conceived, apparently, as a brief introduction, to be tacked on to a history of the Arabs and Berbers. The full title of the entire Kittabu al Ibar means ""Book of Evidence, Record of Beginnings and Events from the Days of the Arabs, Persians and Berbers and their Powerful Contemporaries."

The work grew into a universal history, and the Muqaddimah grew into an elaborate theory of history and society. In some respects, he revived the traditions and method of Polybius and Thucydides. In others, he anticipated 19th and twentieth century writers like Hegel, Marx, Spengler and Toynbee, who sought to find "covering laws" in history.  He identified psychological, economic, environmental and social factors that influenced the course  history. He devised a kind of dialectic in which group (national or tribal) feelings, al-'Asabiyya, motivate the ascent of a new civilization and political power and subsequently, its diffusion into a wider civilization invites the advent of yet another al 'Asabiyya. He identified rhythmic repetitions in the rise and fall of dynasties and tried to explain them.

Unlike most earlier writers who limited their analyses to political issues, ibnKhaldoun emphasized environmental, sociological, psychological and economic factors governing events.

In the introductory preface to the Muqaddimah, one is immediately struck by a  tone that belongs in the 19th century and not the fourteenth, complete with admonitions about the need for scientific method, and exposition of a method for scientific criticism of historical sources, including the bible. Western civilization would not produce this sort of work for many centuries.

The most striking idea in IbnKhaldoun's work is that great civilizations decay and invite invasion by comparative barbarians on the periphery - the dialectic of the desert and the city that is familiar to Middle East historians. The barbarians however, assimilate the refined new culture, become somewhat degenerate and lax in their turn and are vulnerable to conquest by other ruffians, who repeat the process. Both the decline of Rome and the rise and fall of various Arab and Muslim empires can be conceptualized in this way. IbnKhaldoun also described the economy in terms that Karl Marx would use nearly six centuries later, postulating that all value is created by labor, and distinguishing between economic surplus and the minimum required for sustenance.

In some other respects, IbnKhaldoun was very much a product of the Middle Ages however. He discredited alchemy on various grounds, but he accepted supernatural explanations as well. This aspect is often overlooked by those seeking to read modern ideas back into his work. He quoted a treatise on alchemy by one IbnBishrun, and wrote: 

The truth with regard to alchemy, which is to be believed and which is supported by actual fact, is that alchemy is one of the ways in which the spiritual souls exercise an influence and are active in the world of nature. (It may) belong among the (miraculous) acts of divine grace, if the souls are good. Or it may be a kind of sorcery, if the souls are bad and wicked.

It is obvious that (alchemy may materialize) as a (miraculous) act of divine grace. It may be sorcery, because the sorcerer, as has been established in the proper place, may change the identity of matter by means of his magic power. People think that a (sorcerer) must use some substance (in order) for his magical activity to take place. Thus, certain animals may be created from the substance of earth, of hair, or of plants, or, in general, from substances other than their own. That, for example, happened to the sorcerers of Pharaoh with their ropes and sticks. It also is reported, for instance, of the Negro and Indian sorcerers in the far south and of the Turks in the far north, that by sorcery they force the air to produce rain, and other things.

Thus, like Herodotus, who was the father of History, IbnKhaldoun offered a mixture of insight and ignorance. 

The remaining volumes of the Kitab al-I'bar deal with the history of Arabs, contemporary Muslim rulers, contemporary European rulers, ancient history of Arabs, Jews, Greeks, Romans, Persians, etc., Islamic History, Egyptian history and North-African history. The last volume deals largely with contemporary events and the events of his own life and is known as Al-Tasrif.

 Here, we shall try to enumerate his education-teaching views which shed light on current educational systems and consequently provide a text from which we may take benefit.
Imparting Information to Students at their Level of Comprehension
    Information should be given to students gradually in stages, lower to higher, which they may understand. If teaching methods are gradually applied to students, the education will prove more effective for them. Initially, the main principles of information and sciences should be taught, and taking into consideration the learning capacity of the students these matters should be explained briefly. The subjects to be taught should be provided with this method until completion. Such a method will result in the students showing more aptitude to the given information. However, the students’ aptitude will remain weak and insufficient. The students during this period will have learnt to absorb the given information. Pursuant to this, the teacher should revise the subjects with a little more elaboration and continue to provide the information in a wider aspect until completion. Then the students’ knowledge and adjustments shall be enhanced accordingly. The teacher shall then revise the subject three times over from the beginning. During this period, the teacher shall be able to explain more difficult and deeper aspects of the subject. This will result in the students reaching their utmost aptitude. The subject needs revision three times over and then students become well familiar with the subject. This is the correct method of teaching according to Ibn Khaldun.1 
Students should not be Forced to Memorize 
    Teachers usually explain the difficult and deeper aspects of subjects which students are learning for the first time, therefore, forcing the students to memorize the subject. They accept this as the correct form of teaching. However, the students’ brains are not capable of understanding this. It’s difficult enough for them to learn a lesson. This results in the students becoming lazy, their mind rejects the information and the period of learning is prolonged. This is subsequently a result of poor teaching methods. The teacher should not impose upon the students whether they are new or accustomed to the subject. He should not overload the students with lessons beyond their capabilities and capacities, or should not intrude beyond the textbook under study or begin a new textbook before the current one is completed. Otherwise, the issues will be scrambled and subjects will become complex. When teaching, one must provide thought and revision. Memorization should be avoided.
Subjects should not be taught in a Broken Sequence 
    To teach subjects in a broken sequence is to prolong the term of study for knowledge or the sciences. For breaking up lessons or pausing results in a further period to learn that subject. The connection of issues within a subject will lose its significance. If issues within the subjects of information are applied in an organized manner until completion, these subjects will become more profound and their impression more permanent and students will therefore gain more. The information shall be connected with relative subjects and concretely formed within the brain and the mind. 
Two Subjects should not be Taught Together
    Two subjects should not be taught at one and the same time or be mixed with another subject. One should not pass on to another subject while the first remains incomplete. For this separates the heart from the mind. Concentration on learning both subjects at the same time unfortunately leads to an incomplete knowledge of both the subjects; the student absorbs neither information correctly. 
Appropriate Length of Subjects Taught 
    According to IbnKhaldun, an over-summarized text on certain information as well as an over-extended text will create difficulty in learning the actual information. Furthermore, he separates the sciences into two categories of science-means and science-purposes. He explains the drawbacks of over-emphasizing on science-means. He believes that the wise men of recent times and their emphasis on science-means have led to negative results in the learning of these subjects.
It is Harmful to be very Strict on the Student
    During education and teaching, it is harmful to be very strict on the student especially if the student is of young age. This sort of aggressiveness negatively influences the child. It may affect the psychology of the child and create unhappiness as well as corrupt his desire to work and study. This will drive the child to misbehaviour and to lie out of fear. He will learn to display actions contrary to those really within his heart. In time, this will become his nature and part of his character. It will corrupt the enhancements of social activities, modernization and the whole meaning of humanity consisting of self-esteem and family values. Therefore, teachers, mothers and fathers should not be aggressive towards children in order to teach them obedience and manners.
Travelling and Conferencing with Scholars is Useful for Education
    People sometimes learn knowledge, ethics, occupation, views and virtues from teachers and also from persons who are masters of their fields or simply others whom they accept as role models. Practical experience usually influences more concrete ideas on certain subjects. The more knowledgeable the teacher from whom information is gained, the more solid the knowledge is acquired by the student. Terminology of subjects usually complicates the learning process. Due to this, some assume that these terminologies are just part of the subject. This incorrect attitude may only be rectified by various means and teaching performed accordingly. Hearing the information from various masters shall strengthen his knowledge and assist him to differentiate between terminologies. 
Education should be Practical
    IbnKhaldunalso emphasizes the teaching of arts and crafts. He states the importance of practical application such as to observe, to feel and to apply the knowledge gained as much as possible. He places emphasis on the fact that these sort of subjects cannot specially be taught only in theory. He states that theoretical study must be accompanied by practical study.

Learning Science requires Skill
    IbnKhaldunbelieves that learning science requires skill. Tradition is important in teaching. Tradition must be upheld for the progress of science. Otherwise, science and education will recede. Tradition of science and education only prevails in places which have progressed in prosperity.
    IbnKhaldunhas emphasized the importance of science, education and teaching. He foresees science and education as an inseparable part of prosperity. According to him, the real difference between mankind and other beings is the power of thought. Science and art are born from open-minded thought and the intricate learning of the principles of all issues. Ideas emerge from those who have the curiosity and desire to investigate what is unknown. From this situation, the issues of education and teaching arise.
    He advises teachers to teach in a comprehensive manner and to gradually teach subjects in stages, moving from easier to the more difficult. Memorization should be avoided. He emphasizes that teaching methods should be simple and not complicated. He states that the teaching of subjects should not be in broken sequences or else the subject will become scattered and forgotten. Also, aggressive behaviour towards children will turn them off from lessons, create laziness, making them unwilling learners as well as negatively affecting their behaviour.
    Education should consist of theory and practice. Education should be revised and repeated until a good level is attained. He also declares that learning and teaching the sciences require skill and that the teachers of these sciences should be knowledgeable in their fields. These clearly defined issues of IbnKhaldunare still relevant for educational issues of contemporary times.
 Sociology is such a broad discipline.  It can be difficult to define, even for professional sociologists.  One useful way to describe the discipline is as a cluster of subfields that examine different dimensions of society.  For example, social stratification studies inequality and class structure demography studies changes in a population size or type; criminology examines criminal behavior and deviance; political sociology studies government and laws; and the sociology of race and sociology of gender examine society’s racial and gender cleavage.
Sociology By definition, Sociology is the study of society and human social action.  It generally concerns itself with the social rules and processes that bind and separate people not only as individuals, but also as members of associations, groups, institutions and includes the examination of the organization and development of human social life.  The sociological field of interest ranges from the analysis of short contacts between anonymous individuals on the street to the study of global social processes.

Imam Ghazali
Muhammad Abu Hamid Ghazali was born at Ghazzalah near Tus in 450 (A.H.1058 A.D.) more than hundred years after Firdausi’s and about forty years after Nizamu’l- Mulk. He was educated at Tus proper in the beginning, moving to Jurjan later on migrating finally to Nishapur to learn from the most learned man of his time Abu’l- Ma’ali Muhammad al- JuwamiImamu’l–Haramain. He died on 19-12-111 after Hijrah. (Shahid, 2006).
Ghazali has sometimes been referred to by historians as the single most influential Muslim after the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Ghazali was given the unique title of Hujjat Al-Islam, meaning 'The Proof of Islam',Furthermore, he is known by some as being, "literally the man who saved Islam."
During his short span of life he wrote as many  as one hundred books out of which almost 78 works are still extant and most of them are running on a variety of subjects, the main being the religious and philosophical ones. Al-Ghazali wrote more than 70 books on the sciences, Islamic philosophy and Sufism. He focusedon spiritual and also emphasized on materialistic development of man. According to Ghazali worldly business is important for the peace of mind and for a pleasant life. He advised the people to get the basic necessities of life and forbid them to indulge in luxurious life. He believed that man should work and labor because God has made this world for this purpose.(Khan, 1976).

Curriculum and Ghazali philosophy
According to his philosophy more time was devoted to religious education and he pointed that equal attention needed to pay both to religious and secular education and suggested to incorporate useful subjects in the curriculum. He considered logic essential for intellectual development and thinking. He also emphasized on religious and moral education of learners. He regarded religious instructions important for the goodness of character.Education should enable a child to distinguish between false, he good and the bad, the right conduct and the evil doings.Hence he suggestedthat religionshould be included in the curriculum. Imam Ghazali first time identified compulsory and optional subjects for the curriculum and insisted the learners to learn the compulsory subjects. He further added basic principles of religion, such as commands and tenets, Quran and Sunnah should be taught but the controversial topics should be left out so that there should not be any confusion in the mind of learner. (Khalid, 2005).
He was a speaker, teacher, philosopher, debater, reformer and a mystic par excellence. Being an intellectual giant he left his immortal imprints and influence on the head and heart of the millions of the thinking people in the world. His philosophy of knowledge and learning has been judiciously and sagaciously projected into his very many books. In order to elucidate his philosophy of knowledge we should trace the political, cultural, religious and educational background of his age which helps to mould his views and visions may perfectly be comprehended. To him all knowledge and learning meant to illumine, enlarge and enrich that concept of life and then to realize it practically. For Ghazali the purpose of life is to realize firstly the self and then God. Knowledge is a mean and effort and instrument for the realization of these sublime ends.(Khan, 1976).
Al-Ghazali had an important influence on both Muslim philosophers and Christian medieval philosophers. Al-Ghazali also played a very major role in integrating Sufism with Shariah. He combined the concepts of Sufism very well with the Shariah laws. He was also the first to present a formal description of Sufism in his works. (Emile 1995)
Educational Philosophy of Ghazali: Farz-e-Ain and Farz-e-Kifaya
Ghazali also included these ideas of purification of heart and following of Shariah in his educational thought. However, even then his educational philosophy, despite its metaphysical commitments, remains thoroughly practical and realistic. Ghazali divided his curriculum in two parts; Farz-e-Ain and Farz-e-Kifaya.
Farz-e-Ainare those arts and sciences which are compulsory for everyone, or the early or elementary educational curriculum. It comprises of Tenets of Islam, Hygiene, Logic and, reading of the Quran.  On the other hand, Farz-e-Kifaya included all optional subjects including architect, tafseer, fiqh(Law and Jurisprudence) etc. Farz-e-Ain is the early socialization part of education. Farz-e-ain is meant to teach young people how to live their lives in the Islamic society, and how to socialize themselves properly. Farz-e-Kifaya on the other hand is the economic and practical part of education; through acquiring the knowledge of the subjects related to Farz-e-Kifaya, people could earn their living.
Ghazali was very much concerned with the moral development of the society , therefore he has paid much emphasis to this subject, and like Aristotle, Ghazali has also written extensively on the subject of morality in his magnum opus, Kemiya-e-Saadat,The  Alchemy of Grace. Imam Ghazali has given the details of each and everything thing that a man does in his life from the offering of eating, clothing to marriage and friendship.
Ghazali was not in favor of enforcing education on the children and like Plato he was also of the view that education should be given only through motivation. First of all he says that the lesson should be conducted in a very interesting way with the help of audio-visual aids and by conducting them in a very friendly environment. The teacher should proceed from simple to the complex according to the developmental level of the child. And the students should make notes or jot down the points from discussion. There should be a close and warm relationship between the teacher and the taught. He opposed any act from the teacher that could result in creating ill dispositions towards learning in the children as it shaken the confidence of the students and develops resistance in them against the teacher. Although Ghazali was against corporeal punishment and any sort of coercion in education, his views are considered by some traditionalist educators as licensed for giving thrashings to their students. This attitude was never attested or recommended by Ghazali, he had never liked any kind of misbehavior with children. He appeared as modern as the thoughts of the educators of today as he advocated several years ago which is now being implemented and practiced in the most advance countries of the world. (Khalid, 2005 & Shahid, 2006).

Ilm-al-Yaqeen, Ain-al-Yaqeen and Haqq-ul-Yaqeen:Ghazali's Views on Knowledge
Ghazali does not deny the possibility of spiritual knowledge and the vision of God. However he, in accordance with the Holy Quran, says that knowledge comes to us in three different stages. The initial stage is the stage of faith. He calls this stage ilm-al yaqeen. By ilm-al-yaqeen, he means that if an authentic person tells something to a person, and he believes in the veracity of that news, without confirming it either by senses or by reason. So, when the prophet gathered the people of Mecca and said to them that if he says that there is an army behind the mountain would they believe it? The people replied, yes, because the Prophet was famed as Amin (Trustworthy) and Sadiq(The truthful), and people did not accept anything less than truth from him. So such a belief is called ilm-al-yaqeen, a blind faith in the veracity of the prophet, and the book.

The second stage is to see through one’s inner eyes or reason, or with one’s senses the truth of what was reported to him. This stage is called Aina-al-yaqeen. Ain-al-Yaqeen means that if somebody has told a person that there is a fire behind the wall, the person after believing him without seeing the fact, finally himself come across the fact and attests through his knowing faculties, the truth of what was reported to him.
The third stage is called the stage of Haqq-ul-Yaqeen. This is the highest stage of knowledge, and this means not only to see the fire, but also to feel it. Haqq-ul-yaqeen is the stage of experience; it is the knowledge through experience.

Imam Ghazali and methods of teaching
His method of education appears modern than the educationists’ of contemporary society. He is in favour of conducting lessons in an interesting way. He made teaching aids part of a routine lesson so that the students will be able to participate in the lesson. The teacher should develop the lesson according to the learning level of the students. The teacher should proceed from simple to complex and from concrete to abstract. He favoured lecture, participation of students in the teaching and learning process, discussion and tutorials.Imam Ghazali forwarded very important views about discipline. He is not in favour of maintaining discipline on the basis of fear and intimidation. Discipline should be maintained on the basis of love and understanding. He is in favour of developing a good relationship between the students and the teachers. The teacher should not scold the students and treat them with kindness and sympathy. The teacher should act as a role model for the students. He is deadly against of using punishment in educational institutions, because it did not bring any positive result in the learners. It does not encourage students to be creative and flourish their minds.(Khalid, 2005).

Imam Ghazali was a great Muslim educationist and presented many fruitful theories, aims, methods and curriculum of education. He suggested a utilitarian type of education to enable the learner to carry a successful vocation and profession. He emphasized on personal experiences and teacher- pupils’ relationship. Islamic (particularly Sunnite) educational thought followed the course mapped out by al-Ghazali and this influence has remained valid even after the influx of western civilization and the emergence of a modern contemporary Arab civilization. (Shahid, 2006).

Griffel, F. (2009).Al-Ghazali’s philosophical theology. New Delhi: Oxford University.
Hozein, M. (2008), A STUDY OR HISTORY, Royal Institute of International Affairs :Oxford University Press.
Khalid, T. (2005).Education:An introduction to educational philosophy and history. Islamabad:National Book Foundation.
Khan.S.A, (1976).Ghazali’s philosophy of education. Hyderabad: Markez-I-Shaoor-o-Adab.
Shahid, S. M. (2006). History and philosophy of education. Lahore: Majeed.
Savage-Smith, Emilie (1995), "Attitudes toward dissection in medieval Islam", Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 50 (1): 67–110


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