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Eid al-Fitr: The rich influence of Islam on education in Nigeria

Education has always been a significant aspect of the Islamic culture, and this has been reflected in the impact of Islam on education in Nigeria. 
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Al-Alaq (The Clot), the 96th chapter of Qur’an, the Islamic holy book, is traditionally believed to have been Prophet Muhammad’s (Peace be upon him) first revelation. While on retreat in the Cave of Hira, located at a mountain near Mecca, Angel Jubril appears before the Prophet and commands him to “Read!”.

As a result, illiteracy has no place in Islam. Education has always been a significant aspect of the Islamic culture, and this has been reflected in the impact of Islam on education in Nigeria. 

Since its introduction to Nigeria in the 11th century, Islam has made a significant contribution to the development of education in the country. The historical, cultural and social aspects of Islamic influence and its contribution to the educational system of the country have been felt with great regard. 

For example, early Nigerian writers like Muhammadu Bello Kagara and Abubakar Imam or statesmen such as Ahmadu Bello, were products of Islamic education. They used their knowledge of Arabic and Islamic studies to write books in Hausa, the most widely spoken language in Northern Nigeria.

The establishment of Islamic schools or Madrasas is one of the most significant contributions of Islam to education in Nigeria. These schools were created to teach the Qur’an and other Islamic studies to Muslim children. The Great Mosque of Kano, and by extension the first Madrasa in Nigeria was established in Kano in the 15th century, and the system has since grown to become an essential part of the educational landscape in Nigeria. Today, Islamic schools have expanded their curricula to include technical subjects including the sciences of Hadith, Sharia and Fiqh which make up the Islamic jurisprudence, Islamic literature, philosophy, economics, banking and calligraphy, among others.

For context, Islamic philosophy comprises logic, mathematics and physics which emerge from the Islamic tradition. Early Islamic philosophy began with Al-Kindi in the 2nd century of the Islamic calendar (early 9th century CE) and ended with Ibn-Rushd (Averroes) in the 6th century AH (late 12th century CE), broadly coinciding with the period known as the Golden Age of Islam. The death of Averroes effectively marked the end of a particular discipline of Islamic philosophy usually called the Peripatetic Islamic school, and philosophical activity declined significantly in Western Islamic countries such as Islamic Iberia and North Africa.

However, Islamic philosophy persisted for much longer in Muslim Eastern countries, in particular Safavid Persia, Ottoman, and Mughal Empires, where several schools of philosophy like Avicennism and Averroism, among others, continued to flourish. Islamic philosophy had a major impact in Christian Europe, where translation of Arabic philosophical texts into Latin “led to the transformation of almost all philosophical disciplines in the medieval Latin world“, with a particularly strong influence of Muslim philosophers being felt in natural philosophy, psychology and metaphysics.

Interest in Islamic philosophy revived during the Nahda (“Awakening”) movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and continues to the present day.

Islamic education in Nigeria has also played a vital role in preserving the Arabic language, which is the language of the Qur’an. Arabic is taught in Islamic schools as part of the curriculum, and it is also used as the language of instruction for Islamic studies. This has helped to maintain the relevance of the Arabic language in Nigeria, even though it is not a widely spoken language in the country.

As earlier established, Islamic education in Nigeria has facilitated the promotion of literacy. The Qur’an emphasises the importance of reading and writing, and this has influenced the teaching of literacy skills in Islamic schools. Islamic education has also contributed to the development of literature and poetry in Nigeria

Islam has been instrumental in promoting moral values and good conduct in Nigerian society and particularly, the education sector. The Qur’an teaches the importance of honesty, compassion and respect for others. Islamic schools in Nigeria teach these values to their students and encourage them to apply them in their daily lives. This in turn will help to produce generations of morally upright citizens who contribute positively to the development of Nigerian society.

The rich influence of Islam to education in Nigeria is immense and cannot be overstated. The establishment of Madrasas, the promotion of Arabic language and literacy, the development of literature, and the promotion of moral values are some of the significant ways in which Islam has impacted education in Nigeria.

Despite the challenges facing the education sector in Nigeria, Islamic influence remains a critical component of the educational system in the country. With continued investment and support, Islamic education has the potential to play an even greater role in the development of Nigeria’s educational landscape.

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1 year ago

Ma sha Allah.. insightful

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