ISNA Education Forum / March 29-31, 2013
SUPPLEMENTARY READINGS FOR SCIENCE IN ISLAMIC SCHOOLS
Iqbal J. Unus
1. SCIENCE AND SCIENCE TEACHING
1.1 The Purpose of an Islamic School
The aim of education is to develop a person and shape a personality that can function within the cultural context of that person. It is well known and well understood that each nation-state today designs its systems of education with the specific purpose of producing citizens that can function in the best interest of that nation-state and its governing ideology. It should, therefore, be not difficult to appreciate that a system of education that subscribes to a set of beliefs should prepare its students to relate all it teaches to its governing beliefs. A belief-based school system that exists within a nation-state must ensure that students do not suffer from dichotomy, but are able to understand the religious foundations of concepts and facts they learn and grasp their place within the knowledge base that serves the needs of the society at large. Students who are unable to appreciate these religious foundations will fall prey to thought processes that chip away at the integrity of their belief.
In an essay on the purpose of an Islamic school and the role of an Islamic school teacher, Fawzia Gilani-Williams refers to the views of Maulana Mawdudi on education as quoted by S.A. Rauf[i]:
If you teach history, geography, physics, chemistry, biology, zoology, astronomy, economics, political science and other social sciences without any reference to Allah … a student will be unable to synthesize the conflicting ideologies into a unifying whole. Because of this intellectual polarization, his religious faith gradually weakens. Under the circumstances, he cannot remain totally committed to religion, however strong his faith may be.
1.2 Definition of Science
In its simplest terms, science is a human endeavor to understand the world around us, by naming, numbering, measuring, and relating the tiniest to the mightiest of God’s creation. When scientists cannot do any of these things, they hypothesize and theorize, and produce models of what might be the reality. Then they try to validate what might be true, by experimentation and observation. In the process, they uncover what could be possible, from steam power to nuclear fission to genetic mutation. Each possibility they uncover challenges them to convert their knowledge into practical processes and machines human being can use. That’s where choice and judgment in innovation and application comes into play. That is where Guidance from beyond human faculty, with faith in a Wiser Intellect, warrants the highest place in shaping human endeavor. A British author of a physics textbook for secondary education addresses the link between science and faith in this way[ii]:
Science helps us to see what can be done. Our faith (religious or otherwise) tells us what should be done.
Michael Polyani, a successful physical chemist, considers what qualifies as a scientifically interesting problem to be defined by the judgment of practicing scientists. According to him, science is a social construction of scientists.[iii]
Allah swt has commanded humans to explore and understand the world them and see His signs in His creation. Science is about seeking knowledge, which Allah urges us to seek. Francis S. Collins, who has headed the Human Genome Project, says:[iv]
When something new is revealed about the human genome, I experience a feeling of awe at the realization that humanity now knows something only God knew before. It is a deeply moving sensation that helps me appreciate the spiritual side of life, and also makes the practice of science more rewarding. A lot of scientists really don’t know what they are missing by not exploring their spiritual feelings.
1.3 Science and Values
A paramount fallacy of the teaching and practice of science is that science is value-neutral and that science policy is value-free. Neither of these suppositions is true. What happens in science depends on large part on what a scientist or a group of scientists consider to be worth pursuing, and this may depend largely on their own perception of what is significant to the society and culture they are part of. It may also include the influence of funding agencies, and political, social and ethical constraints. A good example, from among many others, of this fact is preferences shown in medical and pharmaceutical research. Today we know that even research in issues related to women’s health has had much less attention than those related to men’s health. Science policy, too, in terms of government funding and patronage, depends on national interests, and security interests above all. That is why we can send a man to the moon but cannot house the homeless on our streets. Neither individual scientists nor the scientific establishment functions outside the norms of their faith, their culture, their life-goals, their self-interest and their morality, despite a pretension of value-neutrality.
As early as 1989, the National Academy of Sciences’ Committee on the Conduct of Science contested the value-neutrality of science, stating that:
Scientists have a large body of knowledge that they can use in making decisions. Yet much of this knowledge is not the product of scientific investigation, but instead involves value-laden judgments, personal desires, and even a researcher’s personality and style.[v]
Maurizio Iaccarino, then Secretary General of the UNESCO–ICSU World Conference on Science, argued in the European Molecular biology Organization report published at the turn of this century:
We live in a world in which scientific knowledge and new technologies continuously challenge our values. We all have to live our daily lives and make decisions based on the fundamental values of human dignity embedded in our civilisation. Scientists are no exception. Rather, I am convinced that they have an obligation to make a special effort to contribute to this discussion, because they often have more information and more basic knowledge about the very issues that generate these ethical dilemmas.[vi]
1.4 Science and Language
Why do we teach science, and how? The obvious answer seems to be that we teach science so that our students may become scientists and learn to do what scientists do. As a matter of fact, only a very small percentage of students aspire to be scientists or do become scientists. Yet science does and must remain a core subject to be taught for reasons other than preparing for a vocation. Understanding science and its impact on the quality of life is a greater need inasmuch as teachers teach to prepare students to function responsibly in their adult roles. According to Wolff-Michael Roth:[vii]
Most of us do not use science in much of our everyday life, even if we have been educated as scientists. We marvel at a rainbow and articulate its colors rather than explaining it as the effect of refraction and internal reflection. We enjoy a sunrise pointing to our spouses rather than talking about the revolution of the earth that makes the sun appear above the horizon. We ask a co-worker to close the door to keep the heat in rather than talk about convection currents that take the heated air outside in exchange for the cold air from the outside. If we want science to be for all, we may have to rethink what we want students to be able to do—participating in conversations allowing us to deal with the contentious science related issues of the day or expressing ourselves as scientist do in their conferences and journals.
1.5 Issues in Science
One of the weaknesses of an education system is the compartmentalization of subject that teachers teach, when no issue in life is similarly compartmentalized. Knowledge about and understanding of science impacts decision-making and interaction with respect to myriad other aspects of how individuals and groups function in society. This blending of knowledge should be reflected in the teaching of science within an integrated curriculum, especially a curriculum that aims at nurturing Islamic character and Islamic behavior in the student’s personality.
In real life, complex issues need reference to a wide knowledge base and inter-related skills. Science must be taught to respond to such complexities of real life. In this context, Roger Lock writes:[viii]
There may be some teachers who consider teaching about controversial issues to be the preserve of English or religious education teachers. In my opinion this is a mistaken view. It is vital that such issues are covered in cross-curricular contexts, as in this way the distinctive contribution that science and scientists make become evident. The way that science interacts with daily life is made explicit, and applied issues such as those relating to food production and food labeling can be drawn to the attention of future citizens in an objective and unsentimental manner.
1.6 Science and Society
Writing in Research Matters – to the Science Teacher, a publication of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Dr. Glen S. Aikenhead of the College of Education, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Canada, under the title Authentic Science: What Do Students Believe?, refers to a Canadian study with a stratified sample of 10,800 graduating high school students across Canada.[ix] In this study each student was asked to respond to a statement concerning the nature of the scientific enterprise dealing with (a) the interactions among science, technology, and society, (b) the characteristics of scientific knowledge, and (c) the characteristics of scientists. The relevant result for our purpose was that students viewed science to be closely interrelated with society in a number of ways:
- Scientists are, and should be, concerned with the harmful and beneficial effects of their work.
- Social interactions (e.g. tennis, parties and conferences) affect what scientific knowledge is discovered.
- The political climate of a country will affect scientists especially through government funding.
J. Myron Atkins and Paul Black refer to the need for understanding a scientific phenomenon and relating it to real life issues.
We are both inclined towards a curriculum that establishes connections between science and the world outside the classroom relatively early in a student’s studies. It is true that many primary school children are happily absorbed in learning science for its own sake. But most students, particularly as they approach adolescence, seem to crave explicit connections between life in school and the reality of the adult world. …. Therefore, a desirable goal would be a curriculum that moves back and forth between engendering deep understanding of scientific phenomenon and introducing some of the challenges and complexities of relating scientific knowledge to real-world issues.[x]
Writing about bio-medical ethics, IIIT Chair of Global Islamic Studies at George Mason University Abdulaziz Sachedina refers to the need for guidance that is specific to a culture:
Whereas I am a believer in universal moral values that have application across cultures, human condition in specific social and political cultures demands searching for principles and rules that provide culture-specific guidance in Muslim societies to resolve practical quandaries.[xi]
If one has any doubt about how an entire society’s mindset can be transformed through teaching of science in grade schools, one need not look any further than the use of specific, purpose driven teaching of math to Afghan children in the 80s and 90s.[xii]
1.7 Nature vs. Creator
Islamic schools have access to fairly decent materials – textbooks as well as supplementary readings – as far as teaching Islam and Arabic is concerned. In teaching science, most Islamic schools have to fall back on using textbooks and supplementary readings recommended by education boards or those used in public or secular private schools.
An unquestioned use of such teaching material denies Islamic schools the opportunity to develop among their students a deep understanding of God as the deliberate Creator of all that exists, superficially attributed in the secular school to ‘nature’. As the Qur’an states:
Allah is He Who raised the heavens without any pillars that ye can see; is firmly established on the throne (of authority); He has subjected the sun and the moon (to his Law)! Each one runs (its course) for a term appointed. He doth regulate all affairs, explaining the signs in detail, that ye may believe with certainty in the meeting with your Lord. And it is He who spread out the earth, and set thereon mountains standing firm and (flowing) rivers: and fruit of every kind He made in pairs, two and two: He draweth the night as a veil o’er the Day. Behold, verily in these things there are signs for those who consider! (13:2-3)[xiii]
State approved secular science textbooks are constantly under pressure to avoid a reference to a Creator or the fact all we can see, touch, smell, measure, and manipulate is a creation of the Creator. To them it is nature that we study, natural phenomena that we analyze, and natural laws that we are governed by. To a young Muslim mind, this attitude sows the seeds of a dichotomy that may last a lifetime. This dichotomy leads to a weakness in the conviction that Islam requires of us – that our Creator is the be-all and the end-all of everything, that nothing happens which He does not permit or desire, and that He has subjugated the universe to Man to explore and benefit from, not to exploit and plunder.
This absence of the Creator from secular science textbooks must be redressed by science teachers – as many of them indeed do – by impressing upon young children of an impressionable age that nature itself is simply a manifestation of the Creator, and yes there is a Creator that makes the laws that scientists discover for us to study in classrooms. Islamic schooling is based on an unshakable belief in the existence and the uniqueness of an omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent Creator. Most, not necessarily all, science teachers in any faith-based school will agree that to compromise this belief in teaching science will be unconscionable. Those who are hesitant need to reflect upon their reasons for hesitation.
A viable solution to overcome this deficiency in textbooks and other mainstream teaching material is to add supplementary material that can project a faith-based perspective and frame it within an Islamic worldview. Science teachers can produce such supplementary material, as some indeed do, or can use material written by independent authors, if it were available.
Scientific facts may not change (even though our knowledge of them does) because the Creator has destined them to be so, but human interaction with the creation and how it functions – the understanding of which is the aim of science – does depend on the worldview that the school and the student bring to bear on it.
1.8 Science and Ethics
According to a researched story in the Washington Post newspaper[xiv], over 73% of U.S.-based scientists engage in questionable research practices. They include over 44% of all scientists who either change a study under pressure from a funding source, drop data from analysis based on a gut feeling, overlook others’ use of flawed or questionably interpreted data, or withhold details of methodology or results. Less than 27% U.S.-based scientists reported none of the twelve questionable research practices included and reported in this survey. Thankfully, only 1.7% reported unethical conduct that qualifies for persecution under rules.
Ethical conduct springs from a person’s and a society’s values and principles, which in turn are rooted in a belief system and a worldview. Ethical conduct is also influenced by an awareness of the possible results of unethical actions, which may also be governed by religious dictum. A Muslim scientist has the duty not only to name, number, measure, weigh, hypothesize, gather, analyze and conclude, but do all this within an ethical paradigm, being truthful, and being aware that all discovered knowledge must benefit and not harm life and the environment that sustains it.
Neglecting the fact that almost 3 out of 4 scientist practice science tainted by unethical conduct compromises our ability to prepare young minds for science and the profession of science in a way that is in line with the vision and mission of a school committed to an Islamic worldview. Nor does it help to argue that the Islamic school does teach ethical behavior in Islamic studies classes and accentuates it through a code of conduct exemplified by teachers and administrators. For, unless science, as taught, is clearly situated within an Islamic worldview and the practice of science is clearly associated with ethical behavior, the young mind remains mired in a dichotomy. In this dichotomous world, a child grows up disassociating science from any religious influence, even if religious influence guide him or her in other spheres of life.
Limiting teaching resources to school textbooks denies the students the opportunity to learn that values and attitudes that scientists bring to the practice of their profession shape the core of scientific inventiveness. Children must learn to associate Islamic ethics and Islamic values with their interpretation of, and engagement with, science-based public policy deliberations.
When textbooks cannot deliver a nuanced understanding of science beyond the sanitized tasks of naming, numbering, measuring, weighing, hypothesizing, gathering, analyzing and concluding, science teachers must step in – as many do – with supplementary teaching resources.
From another perspective, a report by the World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST) published in 2010 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization offers “a concrete example” to illustrate that the practice of science must be ethically motivated.[xv]
Are polar scientists studying the formation, structure, movement, breaking up and melting of Arctic ice responsive to the knowledge needs of indigenous peoples living in the Arctic who experience in their daily lives that the ice on which they depend is disappearing from beneath their feet and sense that they may not only lose their traditional livelihoods, but the very place in which they and their ancestors have lived for centuries? Are these polar scientists open and responsive to the contributions that these indigenous peoples can make to their scientific research, and are they geared to engage with indigenous people with a view both to learning from them and to sharing their scientific knowledge with them in a mutually beneficial way?
Similarly, Isabel Schatzschneider of Ethics Research Center for Islamic Legislation and Ethics points out the imperative of dealing with the environment with a sense of moral responsibility[xvi], because “God created the world with a purpose and in perfect order,” as He tell us in the Qur’an:
Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and earth, and the alternation of the night and the day, and the [great] ships which sail through the sea with that which benefits people, and what Allah has sent down from the heavens of rain, giving life thereby to the earth after its lifelessness and dispersing therein every [kind of] moving creature, and [His] directing of the winds and the clouds controlled between the heaven and the earth are signs for a people who use reason. (2:164)
1.9 Educational strategy
Educational strategies that relate to the teaching of science are long on scientific facts and short on the nature of those facts. They often fail to prepare young minds to situate scientific findings within their lived experience, or relate scientific discoveries to their cultural context, or even identify scientific exploration as an ongoing venture with only intermediate guideposts to nudge us along the journey. In the proceedings of an educational forum organized by the the Council for Cultural Cooperation in Europe in 1999, titled The Challenges of Science Education, contributing authors spoke of the limitations of science education that need to be overcome.
Reflecting on the need to prepare future citizens for making decisions on issues related to science, Andrew Hunt writes:
Most school science textbooks are very misleading because they include only the established certainties which young people have to learn. … School science does not prepare future citizens for debates about controversial issues in fields where the experts disagree and scientists are still struggling to establish the truth.[xvii]
Andrew Hunt elaborates on the education that young minds need to play their role in a democratic society. He points out that students need science education more to help them make the right choices in public policy rather than to become scientists. Andrew Hunt explains this argument.
A minority of people become scientists. Only for about one in ten employed people does science play a critical part in what they do or enhance their work in some way. We have to face the awkward fact that the science we insist on teaching to many is practiced only be the few. …. Now, with the controversies over issues such as genetically modified organisms, global warming and the disposal of nuclear waste – politicians, industrialists and others realize that it is as important to have a public which understands science and can debate the issues intelligently. In other words, we need to develop a fresh approach to science education which can a make a significant contribution to education for democratic citizenship. [xviii]
Andre Giordan and Francine Pellaud recognize the relationship between knowledge and values, and state:
We must also look critically at the knowledge we handle. An analysis of science and the links between scientific knowledge, culture and society, or between knowledge and values, is just as important as the knowledge itself.[xix]
Danielle Lietaer stresses the need to incorporate values in science teaching since science has become an integral part of our lives. Lietaer writes:
Finally, science teaching must incorporate values. The days are now over when we could practice science without raising ethical questions because science is now so closely wound-up with the lives of individuals and groups.[xx]
Francine Pellaud speaks of the need to educate children to be able to learn as they grow. Pointing out that knowledge is not everlasting, Pellaud writes:
One of the messages that schools must convey, particularly in science teaching is that today’s knowledge may be obsolete tomorrow and that only a mind that is inquisitive and responsive to its environment in the broad sense will be able to keep up with the changing world around it.[xxi]
The argument that runs through these observations is that science is not simply the outcome of a sequence of activities, but in a nuanced form, science is a way of comprehending the world around us from within our own worldview. In an Islamic school, it is the Islamic worldview that prevails and should influence what and how we teach. While what we teach in science is constrained, as well as aided, by state mandated standards, how we teach is shaped by our appreciation for the need to prepare young minds to understand science as a window into the creation of the Almighty Creator and practice it in accord with His guidance.
2. SURVEY RESULTS
To gather data for this paper, a survey was undertaken in December 2012 to gauge how responsive Islamic school science teachers might be to readings that may supplement the material they currently use to teach science at the elementary and/or secondary levels. Survey questions were designed to seek information about whether science teachers used standard science textbook alone or supplemented them with some form of teaching material. If they do so, did they use material they produced? If supplementary readings in the form of short science books written from within an Islamic worldview were available, would science teachers use them? The survey was sent out to the list serve IECN, operated by the Islamic Schools League of America. Twenty-six Islamic schools science teachers responded to the survey.
2.1 Teaching Science from within an Islamic Worldview
It is striking that only half (13/26) of all responding science teachers “strongly” believed that teaching science in Islamic schools should be grounded in an Islamic worldview? If the purpose of the Islamic school is to help inculcate an Islamic worldview through Islamic education, why would any part of education be excluded from that assisting in accomplishing that goal? If teaching science in Islamic schools is not to be grounded in an Islamic worldview, which worldview will it be based on? Will teaching science in Islamic schools from a worldview other than Islamic not compromise the mission of the Islamic school?
However, only a few respondents (3/26) expressed “some reservations”. The remaining almost 40% did consider its “useful” that teaching science in Islamic schools be grounded in an Islamic worldview.
A possible explanation for half of the respondents being ambivalent about this proposition may lie in the thinking that science is value-neutral and does not influence the learner’s value system nor is it is influenced by the it.
A grade 5-6 teacher who believes in this strongly “know[s] and feel[s] that there are many parallels between mainstream science and Islamic teachings. I do not believe that Science and religion exist in isolation, rather I feel that they often compliment one another. Scientific findings and Religious beliefs are not mutually exclusive; one can believe in and trust both.” This teacher uses state textbook as well as other material including self-produced material, but will use Islamic world-view based supplementary readings only occasionally, subject to “their relevance to topics covered in-class and their usefulness as a teaching and learning resource.”
A grade 5-8 teacher who believes in this strongly suggests that “[t]he purpose of an Islamic school is to provide Islamic education. When I teach evolution I teach the students what mainstream science says as well as the Islamic perspective.” This teacher does not use any textbooks and uses mostly self-produced material . The teacher would use Islam-based science books occasionally “when the Islamic worldview coincides with the material I am required to teach.”
Another grade 5-8 teacher who considers science books based on an Islamic worldview useful thinks that the decision to use them “should not be based on these ground completely. But I strongly believe that science should be connected with Quran so that we can thank Allah better than before and to inculcate the urge of learning science and doing research and progress in the field of science among the Islamic world.” This teachers uses standard textbooks as well material produced from a variety of sources including the Internet, mainstream books, self-produced material, Islam-based science books and science magazines. However, the teacher would use Islam-based science books only occasionally when they “[f]ollow State curriculum and at the same time connect it with Quran.”
However, more of those who taught science at the 5-6 grade level seemed to be affirmative in their belief that science in an Islamic school should be grounded in an Islamic worldview. Fewer of those teaching at the 7-8 level were affirmative, while even fewer among those teaching at the 3-4 level were affirmative. If we were to combine a strong belief and a consideration of usefulness, more of those teaching at the 5-6 grade level still seemed affirmative whereas fewer among those teaching at the 7-8 grade level seemed to be affirmative. On the other hand, more science teachers at the 7-8 grade levels expressed reservation about the belief that science in an Islamic school should be grounded in an Islamic worldview.
This limited date base seem to indicate that teachers see the need for children in Islamic school to learn that science within an Islamic paradigm important in early years but not so important in later years.
Generally speaking, children start learning the scientific method in the fifth grade. They start exploring and doing experiments to understand the physical world. They also start learning how to present results of their experiments with data and conclusions. Perhaps that is the ripe age at which they need to see the link and relationship between what they observe and examine and the paradigms of their belief system.
2.2 Supplementary Teaching Material
Respondents to the survey indicated that teachers used a variety of material to supplement assigned textbooks. The most popular among these materials were the Internet (Wikipedia, websites, search engines, etc.) closely followed by materials that teachers produced themselves. Only 5 out of 26 respondents indicated that they used books on science based on an Islamic worldview. A slightly higher number of teachers used mainstream science books (not including textbooks) and a slightly lower number used mainstream magazines and newspapers. Obviously several teachers used multiple resources. Furthermore, teachers who indicated they use material they produce themselves may also be using the Internet to do so. Thus the Internet and online sources figure very prominently as resources that teachers use to supplement textbooks.
When we examine the use of the supplementary teaching material among teachers at various grade levels, we find that teachers teaching grades 3-4 exclusively depend on the Internet and the material they produce themselves, which may partially depend on the Internet also. Teachers at the grades 5-6 level indicate the highest use of the Internet and self-produced material. As for books on science based on an Islamic worldview, survey respondents indicate no use at the grade 3-4 level, some use at grade 5-6 level and a little more use at the grade 7-8 level, with the highest use being indicated by only 4 out of 26 respondents. Is it because such material is not available or because teachers do not consider such material to be of value?
2.3 Supplementary Material Preferences
The survey asked a subset of teachers a specific question about use of supplementary material. This subset consisted only of those teachers who indicated that they believed science in an Islamic school should be grounded in an Islamic worldview. The choices they were offered were the same: the Internet, self-produced material, mainstream material, and science books based on an Islamic worldview. Overwhelmingly, teachers chose the last option, indicating preference for science books based on an Islamic worldview, second only to material they would produce themselves.
2.4 Using Islam-based Science Books
Teachers who believed that science in an Islamic school should be grounded in an Islamic worldview also indicated that most of them will use such books regularly, 17 out of 26. Only 5 said they will use them occasionally. Only 1 of the respondents would use them rarely.
Their responses can be grouped into at least three categories.
The first category of responses is clearly focused on the idea that an Islamic school aims at inculcating an Islamic worldview in children’s education, that knowledge about Allah, His creation, and what He has revealed through the Qur’an forms the foundation of children’s education. Examples of such responses are:
[Ours] is an Islamic school. The school’s mission statement clearly states our goal is to fully integrate the teachings of the Quran and sunnah into the daily lives of our students and to develop and expand each student’s knowledge of Allah, man, society, and the universe. Therefore I’m assuming a textbook based on Islamic Worldview will promote this ideology / philosophy.
It is imperative that students make the connection between the Creator and his creations. This link is very clear when teaching science. I make available and read aloud to my students book that are connected to the science unit we are learning. If Islamic based science books were made available, I would use them as a reference and integrate Islamic thought into our lessons.
Students should understand all life forms are created by Allah, and all organisms and EVERYTHING is the creation of Allah. I would supplement our lesson plans with these materials as much as possible. We have Science lessons twice a week so at least once a week Islamic Viewpoint should be integrated across all subjects. The purpose of the Islamic School is to teach all subjects from an Islamic worldview.
It would be a part of every lesson. I try to discuss any Islamic content that I can find or already know. It seems like it always connects the students to the subject matter more when they know its importance has been discussed in the Quran or Sunnah. If it was able to become a consistent part of my class, there is no limit to how I could use the information. It could be used as part of the original science content or it could become a unit all on its own.
Islam is a way of life, not just a religion. Students need to see that learning about Islam should not be a conscious decision of having Islamic Studies, but an inner desire to see the beauty that Allah has created.
As Muslims we live our life inclusive of our deen. Making connections between the everyday science we teach to students and Islam is crucial. Having a book that helps to accomplish this task will be very helpful.
Everything we do deals with Islam. Why not attach it to our religion? On top of that, we are still teaching the science behind the topic as well.
Because our kids need to not only love the religion but be empowered with the knowledge of the Quran and Islam’s teachings and be able to communicate that to non-Muslims.
I would use them in conjunction with the standard science books. I think it is important for children to understand both the religious view as well as other beliefs or points of view, but it would be made clear that as Muslims, that is what they believe.
By using the book as a main text and supplementing with appropriate labs/projects.
Why: Our students need to know and understand the sciences from the Islamic aspect since science and Islam go hand in hand. How: Integrating ideas from Muslim scientists into the lesson plan.
The second category of responses points out the need for such resources – science books based on an Islamic worldview – to be aligned with the curriculum for science teachers to be able to use them effectively. Examples of such responses are:
I would hope that if such books were available, that they would be in line with the curriculum standards, thereby making them easy to put hand in hand with the regular textbooks. This is especially true for the evolution and biodiversity units. But even for the regular curriculum, when you have appropriate hadiths and Quran ayahs that go along with what is being taught (in any branch of science), it would be significantly easier to align them regularly with the other books.
The use of such materials would be entirely dependent on their relevance to topics covered in-class and their usefulness as a teaching and learning resource.
It would depend on what is in the books, if there is content relevant to what I teach at an appropriate level for my students, I would use it more, less if not.
If I find the material applicable to the curriculum, then I would use it.
Follow State curriculum and at the same time connect it with Quran
As long as the textbook aligned with state standards it would become the main textbook of the classroom.
The textbook we are using is good, but I would appreciate other resources.
I’ll find out topic with which I can relate to Islamic values. For example Solar eclipses and lunar eclipses compare and contrast scientifically and Islamically.
When the Islamic worldview coincides with the material I am required to teach.
Teachers need some guidance in how science can be taught from a Quranic worldview and resources as described above can offer talking points and connections with the Islamic tradition and with the signs of Allah in nature. I would use a resource like that either as a reference book or as a lesson-by-lesson guide if it suits my needs and curriculum.
Part of the last response (“Teachers need some guidance in how science can be taught from a Quranic worldview”) leads us into the third category of responses, which hint at the help that science teachers need in this respect.
I would teach what my superiors wanted me to.
Sometimes for my level of Islamic knowledge, it’s difficult to integrate topics appropriately.
To evolve an Islamic identity, youngsters need to develop a sense for Islamic concepts as universal and tangible through authentic literature and stories from the prophet’s life and his companions. Those stories should be empowering through a portrayal of rich human experiences in moral and spiritual struggles. It is crucial that children constantly make meaningful connections between the content of the story and their personal lives and take pride in their Muslim heritage when represented with historical narratives. Also it is equally important to recognize that they not only belong to a community of Muslims but also to a community which embraces all of humanity. Those stories should motivate children to think critically as they acquire the necessary self-knowledge to reach their potential both as human beings and believers.
3. SCIENCE AND THE ISLAMIC PARADIGM
The Islamic School – an institution that reflects the maturity of the Muslim community as well as its hope for a better future – is here to stay. Muslims in North America have gone from the stage of seeking their identity by building impressive mosques to establishing their roots by founding vibrant schools. Much effort is being made to develop an Islamically inspired curriculum. Enrichment literature, as well as textbooks, has been produced in Islamic studies and Islamic history to impart knowledge and build character and give Islamic schools a distinctive character.
When taught as a subject, Islamic studies contribute significantly to the building of an Islamic personality among children, which is the focal objective of Islamic education. At the same time, the use of secular instructional material in other subjects undercuts the gains made through the teaching of Islamic studies. The juxtaposition of an opposing world-view with the world-view to which an Islamic school is committed, presents the most intense challenge in the teaching and learning of science. Through language, syntax, context, examples, and other aspects of instruction, textbooks and supporting material in science create and reinforce a dichotomy in the growing child’s mind. Not only does the child NOT learn to associate scientific truths and the scientific method with knowledge revealed through Divine Guidance, the child may actually learn to disassociate science from Islam and Islamic studies.
The absence of teaching resources crafted from an Islamic standpoint also denies the teacher and the students the opportunity to be inspired by the legacy of pioneering Muslims in the civilizational enterprise that has made a foundational contribution to human progress of modern times.
So, how can we make learning holistic? By using instructional material written from an Islamic perspective in all subjects, from Islamic studies to science, we can reinforce one world-view, one value system, and one fountainhead of knowledge. This necessitates that science teachers complement the use of appropriate textbooks with supplementary readings as teaching resources. Such supplementary readings must cover the three essentials in understanding science – awareness of the Creator of all that exists, ethics of scientific practice, and scientific legacy of Islamic civilization – which should form the framework within which science is taught and learned in Islamic schools.
A science reader based on an Islamic worldview, written for enrichment and supplementary reading in Islamic schools, is a very essential, albeit very small, stepping stone to science text books that are in harmony with the character of Islamic Islamic schooling.
This task is vital to the success of the Islamic education enterprise.
[i] Rauf, S.M.A. (1988), Mawdudi on Education, Karachi: Islamic Research Academy, p. 64.
[ii] Woolnough, B. E., 1991 Faith in Science, in History, Philosophy and Science Teaching, Toronto, ON, The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, p. 223
[iv] Easterbrook, Gregg “Science and God: A Warming Trend?” Science 277, no. 5328 (15 August 1997): p. 892
[v] Committee on the Conduct of Science of the National Academy of Sciences, On Being a Scientist (Washington: National Academy Press, 1989), p. 1
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