Education from an Islamic perspective

September 14th, 2011 @   -  No Comments

The word “education” in Arabic is tarbiya which comes from the Arabic root words raba and rabba. Raba means to increase the physical size of things. Allah says “… and (further), thou seest the earth barren and lifeless, but when We pour down rain on it, it is stirred (to life), it swells and it puts forth every kind of beautiful growth (in pairs).” (Quran 22:5). In this verse Allah used the word rabat to mean to grow and multiply.

The word rabba, on the other hand, refers to humans and animals to mean to bring up or to honour the soul and raise it to greater positions. Allah says “…and say: “My Lord! bestow on them (parents) thy Mercy even as they cherished me (rabbayani) in childhood.” (Quran 17-24).

Therefore education, or tarbiya in Arabic, means to improve someone gradually to attain perfection. In the Islamic culture, education covers all aspects of one’s life including:

  • Upbringing
  • Learning
  • Ethical behavior
  • Spiritual elevation
  • Discipline
  • Cleansing
  • Leadership
  •  Advice
  •  Guidance
  • Reform

Organizations that seek continuous growth and success need to include education as part of their development strategy.

How do we apply the principles of Islamic education listed above in our organization?

Here are some suggestions:


Although this part of our education is mainly carried out by our parents, the immediate family, the neighborhood and school, it still continues in a different form in our adult life through coaching and mentoring. A formal coaching and mentoring program can have a big impact on the growth and development of your employees or members.


Humans never stop learning. Most of the youth today consider learning, development and personal growth as essential to their personal fulfillment. Organizations that provide a learning environment will attract and retain the best talent. Learning does not necessarily have to happen through formal means. The best learning happens daily on the job and through coaching and mentoring.

Ethical behavior

The Prophet PBUH told us “Indeed I have been sent to complete the best of character (akhlaq)”. The essence of Islam is the way we deal with other people around us. A strong organization always maintains the highest level of ethical behavior in all its dealings. It also insists that its members exhibit the best ethical behavior at work and at home.

Spiritual elevations

Spiritual elevation is referred to in Arabic as tazkiyatu An-nafs. It means to elevate the soul to make it see beyond worldly desires and to take into account its eventual encounter with Allah on the Day of Judgment. Is your organization engaged in a higher level mission? Do you remind your employees and members to live for this higher mission?


Successful organizations expect their members to exhibit a high level of discipline by living according to the organization’s code of conduct. This code of conduct is generally developed around the core values of the organization. Does your organization have a set of clear core values that everyone adheres to? What actions do you take when your people fail to live up to these values?


It is the nature of things that they get corrupted over time. The reason Allah kept sending prophets to mankind is that the earlier messages got corrupted over time. Organizations can also get corrupted or out of touch if they are not, from time to time, cleansed and purified from bad practices. Part of the education process of your members should include frequent reminders to live for the mission of the organization according to the core values.


An educator is first and foremost a leader who inspires people by his or her actions and deeds. Your senior people must be role models for the rest of the organization. If they are saying one thing and doing another, they lose the respect of the others. Allah warns us: “O ye who believe! Why say ye that which ye do not? Grievously odious is it in the sight of God that ye say that which ye do not.” (Quran 61:2,3).


On the Authority of Abu Ruqayya ibn Aus Ad-Daree (RAA) that the Prophet (PBUH) said “The Deen (religion) is naseehah (advice/sincerity).” We said “to whom?” He said “to Allah, His Book, His Messenger, and to the leaders of Muslims and their common folk” (related by Muslim).

Sincere advice is a necessary part of any educational system of any organisation. Do you have a formal process through which you encourage your members to provide advice to their colleagues?


The spirit of Islam is the guidance of people to the straight path of Allah. All activities in our organisation should be guided by the teachings of Islam. Only through this can we achieve the highest success and reward in this life and the hereafter. Our educational process should therefore include guidance to the most beautiful way.


Reform means changing, correcting, adjusting and overhauling something to make it better. Organizations need to review their structures, systems and processes to see if they are still efficient for today’s complex work environment. The internet and social media are changing the way organizations connect with their stakeholders. Are you constantly reforming your organization to keep up with the changes around you?


Education from an Islamic perspective focuses on raising the self to the full potential for which it was created according to teachings of the Quran and the Sunnah of the prophet. Is your organization helping its members reach their full potential in the right way?

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