Amanah: Review Islam in schools, introduce ‘maqasidiq’ approach

Dzulkefly-AhmadKUALA LUMPUR: It is time for a critical review of how lslam is taught in schools, Amanah said today.

There was a need to replace the “outmoded” approach of imparting the ritualistic aspect of lslam with a new approach, Amanah strategy director Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said.

He said in a statement that it was not Islam per se but rather the mode and orientation of its teaching that urgently required addressing and redressing.

Dzulkefly was responding to remarks by Abdul Razak Baginda at a forum that the growing prominence of Islam in schools has had a negative impact on the education system.

Razak, the Centre for Global Affairs (ICON) president had said that Islam had crept into “our schools and our educational institutions”. “Religion is now prominent in our schools. There is too much religion in the system, but no politician will dare say it. Someone will accuse them of being anti-Islam. We have imprisoned ourselves in this dilemma.”

Saying Razak’s “outburst” deserved a critical and fair appraisal, Dzulkefly noted that religious bigotry was visible and endemic in society and was tearing apart the nation. He said the current mode of religious education did not help to heal this, but instead, likely inadvertently exacerbated it.

The authorities, he said, should rather consider a “maqasidiq” approach to the teaching of Islam.

He said: “A ‘maqasidiq approach’ to religious education advocates and simultaneously endeavours to reorientate imparting of the ‘higher intents and purposes’ (Maqasid) of religion, namely of lslam and the shariah; of the timeless principles of human dignity, justice, brotherhood of humanity, compassion and mutual respect, as the critical cornerstones of the total development of a student, and hence the building block of nation-rebuilding.”

Dzulkefly said the philosophy and curriculum should be crafted in this “maqasidiq”, or higher intents, approach to empower students to relate across religion, ethnicity and culture.

This approach, he said, would not only educate them on the “higher intents and rationale” of religion, but also endow them with “a moral compass whose true north points to the universal values of human brotherhood, mutual respect, co-existence and love for the nation and humanity”.

“These are timeless principles and values much needed by our very embattled and divided nation! It must be rooted from the early formative stage in schools.”

However, Dzulkefly said, this could only happen if there was a strong and vibrant leadership committed to the reform agenda.

“When leaders are themselves perceived as being steeped in greed and dishonesty, and ever so willing to abuse religion for parochial and narrow partisan interests, we will always be entrapped in an unending crisis, and deepening race and religious antagonism,” he added.