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Need of education from the Islamic perspective

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The importance of education has been repeatedly emphasized in the Qur’an, which is the ultimate source of guidance for the Muslims. Quranic verse “IQRA BISMI RABBIKAL LAZI KHALQ” (Read! In the name of your Lord who created all that exists) started with the word “IQR’A” which means to Read, to seek knowledge, educate yourselves, be educated and implies the concept of ‘learning’, ‘exploring’ and ‘seeking enlightenment’. According to Surah Al’Alaq 96:1 “TALAB UL ILMU FARIZATUN ALA KULLI MUSLIM”, it is also obligatory on every Muslim, male and female to seek knowledge as a sacred duty.

Knowledge can be broadly divided into two types, one is religious which includes knowledge of religion, Tawheed (believing in one God), offering Salah (the act of prayer), reading Holy books, fasting etc., and second is the knowledge highly required by the community which includes modern and job oriented education. It is the prime duty of parents to educate their children with the proper knowledge of both the types. The Qur’an treats knowledge as a means to reach Iman (Faith) for all Muslims, males and females, besides becoming true believers. Verse 20:114 says, “My Lord! Increase me in knowledge” which indicates that whatever one knows is limited as one needs to keep asking Allah to increase his knowledge. Therefore, every Muslim should have an urge to enhance his knowledge for the betterment of his family as well as society.

Another issue of importance is that of family planning. Contrary to the prevailing perception that family planning is a red flag in Islam and Muslims in general welcome children as a gift from Allah, in reality many Muslims, especially the educated ones prefer to plan their families through use of contraception, which is not prohibited in Islam. Family planning is taking root in many Muslim countries such as Egypt, Turkey, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, which are serious in providing their people the quality life, help them get rid of the financial difficulties, emotional or psychological hardship of having many children and even preservation of health of their women.

So far as the Holy Qur’an is concerned, it does not specifically refer to family planning, but in verses forbidding infanticide, the Qur’an warns the Muslims, “Do not kill your children for fear of want”. “We provide substance for them and for you” (6:151, 17:31). Some Muslims, especially the conservative ones interpret this as a prohibition against contraception, which is not a widely accepted view. Because some early forms of birth control were practiced during the lifetime of Prophet Mohammed and he didn’t object to them, as these form of birth control benefited the family and the mothers’ health.

Several nations in the Islamic world have achieved remarkable success in birth control and the main reason behind this is the broad-based development of these countries. However, in India, poverty, illiteracy, insecurity and inaccessibility to birth control programmes have remained stumbling block for the rampart population growth in the Muslim community. The religious scholars and the clerics of the community have the obligation to carry out a robust propaganda like their counterparts of the other progressive Islamic countries for widening the scope of family planning initiative amongst the Muslim masses in India.

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