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The Islamic world has been covering great geographical areas in the mid 8th century which was one of the key reasons for the emergence of the Islamic Golden Age. This was a time in history and especially in the Arab world that has seen great advancements in sciences and development of thought. There is some argumentation if the Golden Age really did exist and what the main causes were, but the clear evidence of the major value of Islamic education and knowledge is undeniable (Sonn 40).
One of the most significant pushes towards the emergence of heightened education in the Islamic world was the previous knowledge collected over centuries. Also, the teaching of Mohammad that religion and the search for truth led down the same path was the start of Muslims greatly wanting and needing to pursue an education in order to attain spiritual enlightenment. Islam bases its religion on following God’s guidelines very strictly. It is interesting to note that the Muslim religion or Quran does not exclude other religions from wisdom based on education. It is defined as the search for truth which is inseparable from religion and belief in the Prophets and God (Bennison 22).
Early childhood education became very multifaceted and dimensional. Maktab relates to the elementary schools where children would sometimes be taught in a mosque, but the general guideline was the individual approach to each child. A scholar named al-Ghazali wrote that: “prevention of the child from playing games and constant insistence on learning deadens his heart, blunts his sharpness of wit and burdens his life. Thus, he looks for a ruse to escape his studies altogether” (“Education in Islamic History”, par. 3).
Al-Azhar University located in Egypt is the oldest university that would provide a degree to its students. Education in logic, calculations in relation to celestial bodies, and Islamic law were some of the central courses. But religion was still largely present in the curriculum. Mosques were also often used for group teachings which were part of the religious experience. One-to-one mentoring and individual studies through printed text were also rather common. Fatima al-Fahri was one of the most famous women in Islam, as she had contributed the inherited fortune to the building of the Al Qarawiyyin mosque which later became a central university in the Muslim world and globally (Lula 71). Another contribution of Muslim education to the other nations was the advances in making paper, which was used extensively in the writing system, allowed for knowledge to be spread over vast areas. At the time, the Islamic world had the largest depository of books in the world. This was the merging of world education with the Arab world (Meri 222).
Islam was existent in almost all parts of the civilized world. Greek, Egyptian, Indian and Chinese knowledge was a large part of the information used in the educational system. A specific area called Andalusia, located in Spain, was Muslim which meant that the religious and educational values were the same compared to the rest of the Muslim religion. Christians and Jews were living in peace, learning arts, tolerance, and sciences. Due to the fact that countries affected by the Islamic world kept their educational, administrative, and law systems intact, many works were being translated into the Arabic language. Together with the new printing techniques, education became central to Muslim society. The collections of books and writings were enormous, which allowed for an easier education alongside religious beliefs and traditions (Saliba 8).
Education was based on Islamic law and knowledge which has been acquired from numerous nations. This enabled Muslim scholars to greatly evolve chemistry, biology and medicine, philosophy, algebra, geometry, and physics. At the same time, there was some opposition to the education of philosophers which contradicted Islamic religious beliefs. For example, some philosophers from the west would deny the existence of God or make arguments that God was not all-knowing. This was largely opposed by the Muslim world, and even though in existence, it did not shake the strong belief and drive towards education and knowledge (“Islamic philosophy”, par. 4).
The field of medicine was one of the greatest focuses of the Muslim culture, which flowed out from the knowledge in alchemy and biosciences. Translated works of world-renowned medical scientists, including Hippocrates, became the basis of medical education. The organization of specific information into encyclopedias and summaries allowed for a widespread education in medicine. The unification of facts and methods led to breakthroughs in understanding diseases, bacteria, and antiseptics. Highest education in medicine became a requirement for the first hospitals. This shows how much education became a part of the society which in the end, resulted in an explosion of knowledge and understanding (“Educational Institutions in Golden Age of Islam”, par. 24).
In conclusion, it is possible to say that even though education and knowledge were not based in any particular location within Islam, the unification and further advancement of sciences became the greatest contribution to the modern world. Knowledge and education cannot be attributed to any specific culture or nation in the world, but certain societies have changed the course of scientific development forever. Intellectual and spiritual contributions to global knowledge and education by the Muslim world have made Islam undoubtedly significant to the evolution of intellect and the divinity through Nature. The Golden Age in Islam and its educational methods are still dominant today which is proof of its validity and value.
Bennison, Amira. The Great Caliphs: The Golden Age of the ‘Abbasid Empire. New York: I.B.Tauris, 2009. Print.
Education in Islamic History. 2013. Web.
Educational Institutions in Golden Age of Islam. 2010. Web.
Islamic philosophy. 1998. Web.
Lulat. A History of African Higher Education from Antiquity to the Present. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2005. Print.
Meri, Josef. Medieval Islamic Civilization. New York: Psychology Press, 2004. Print.
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Saliba, George. Islamic Science and the Making of the European Renaissance. Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2007. Print.
Sonn, Tamara. Islam: A Brief History. Malden: John Wiley & Sons, 201. Print.