Islam is founded on the principles of belief and righteous conduct. This connection between values and practice lies at the very heart of the Islamic way of life. Nevertheless, a crisis in values and character development exists throughout the Muslim ummah today that is working to undermine the fabric of the Islamic spiritual, moral and social system.

Lacking a clear moral compass, Muslims today find themselves marginalized socially, disoriented spiritually, and generally in a quandary about their role and responsibility in modern society. Without a proper understanding of the Islamic value system, there is little hope that the true goals, or maqasid, of Islam can be achieved.

Furthermore, the system of education in Muslim society has played a major role in the lack of strong character development among today’s Muslim youth. This includes the system of Islamic religious education as well. Many Muslim educators and practitioners would acknowledge that Islamic education, as it is taught today, has been ineffective in teaching and inspiring Muslim children to adopt and adhere to Islam as a way of life and a system of personal and social values.

The crisis of modern-day Islamic education is rooted, in large part, in the way we teach our children about Islam. This approach, which focuses primarily on conveying “information” about Islam, has failed to capture the hearts and minds of our youth. A renewed approach is therefore needed—one that addresses the real needs and concerns of students themselves. The field of Islamic values education—with its focus on beliefs, values, manners, feelings, attitudes, and moral literacy skills—should be the focus of contemporary Islamic education, as it was in the time of the Noble Prophet (r).

Fortunately, a sense of renewal is in the air today and enlightened Muslims are eager to find real solutions to the problems and challenges facing the Muslim community and, if necessary, to re-examine traditional paradigms within Muslim society—including how and what we teach our children about Islam. To achieve this goal, a unified and concerted effort is needed.

Muslim educators, practitioners and families must increase and unify their efforts to find creative solutions that will effectively bridge the gap between values and practice in the upcoming generation of Muslim youth. We hope you will join us on this noble journey in our quest for better educational experiences for our Ummah.

 

Extracted from : Towards a Renewed Vision of Islamic Education, The Tarbiyah Project, Dawud Tauhidi, 2001

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