The biggest disparity and gap in our education system nowadays is the inability to bridge both STEM education and Islamic studies together to amalgamate the most holistic approach to understanding science. As we all are aware of the illusionary terminology of holistic education, science had always been a part of Islam and Muslim scholars in the past had integrated Islam into the process of acquiring knowledge.
What is STEM education?
According to Live Science, STEM is a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — in an interdisciplinary and applied approach. Rather than teach the four disciplines as separate and discrete subjects, STEM integrates them into a cohesive learning paradigm based on real-world applications.
A Brief History of Segregation between the Two Sciences in Malaysia
The idea of segregation in the educational system stems from the legacy of the British colonial education system which began in the 19th century, according to Prof. Rosnani Hashim, the author of Education Dualism in Malaysia. The educational dualism that has existed in Malaysia, is divided into two, the traditional or religious, and the secular which are all subjects besides Islamic studies.The pretentious, yet ill-intended educational policy continued until the Independence in 1957, during which efforts were taken to reduce the disparity between the two systems. In 1956, the Razak Report recommended the provision of religious instruction in assisted schools, but it was not fully implemented due to financial issues. The Rahman Talib Report in 1960 and the Education Ordinance rectified the issues by delegating the financing authority responsible for Islamic religious instruction in primary and secondary schools. However, the scope of Islamic Knowledge curriculum was narrow and restricted to only teaching methods of rote memorisation, and not internalisation and application of religious knowledge.
The Golden Age of Islam: The Integration of Islam and Science
Since the Golden Era of Islam, prominent figures of the past have unleashed their truest potential in making great discoveries and revolutionary breakthroughs via the bridging of science and Islamic studies. The concept and branches of knowledge back in the days was more complex, yet integrated, bringing a whole new meaning to knowledge acquisition.
According to the Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biology (FASEB), the reason why the Golden Age of Islam impacted the world was based on several factors:
- Muslims following the guidelines of the Prophet ﷺ studied and searched for knowledge
- The Quran is clear: “The scholar’s ink is more sacred than the blood of martyrs”, while the Prophet ﷺ promoted medical research preaching that “For every disease, Allah has given a cure.”
- Communication became easier because the Muslim Empire united extensive geographic areas.
- Scholars travelled to teach or share ideas.
- The Arabic language became a unifying factor.
- Translations from Greek, Latin, and Chinese into Arabic were innumerable, thus removing language barriers for scholars.
- During the same period, Arabs learned from the Chinese how to produce paper and books became more available.
- Libraries were established in Cairo, Aleppo, Baghdad, and urban centers in Iran, central Asia, and Spain, while bookshops with thousands of titles opened in several cities.
- Finally, The House of Wisdom, an academic institution serving as a university, was established in Baghdad in 1004 C.E.
Why is it important to bridge the gap between STEM and Islam?
From the clear evidence of great scientific discoveries founded by our brilliant ancestors in the past, there is not doubt that the integration of science and Islam will evolve into something better for the youth.
With much needed intrinsic motivation and intention for the sake of Allah and His Messenger, Peace and Blessings be upon him; along with proper guidelines of acquiring knowledge based on the Qur’an, Sunnah and works of notable scholars; as well as exploring the beauty of STEM, it will not only evolve our children into little geniuses but also well-rounded Muslims who internalise religious knowledge in all aspects of life.
Our young Muslims need a clear path to tread; knowing the reason why they learn, the importance of learning, and enjoy the process of learning through creative and innovative learning methods. We as parents and teachers are responsible to provide them an interactive learning environment which sparks their curiosity to learn, and Itqan Schools are ready to accept the challenge.
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