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The Meaning of Holistic Education

Majesty and Beauty

As-salamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullah. Praise and Glory be to Allah Most High and peace and blessings upon the Chosen One, Muhammad al-Mustafa, sallalahu alaihi wa sallam, whom God sent as a Mercy to the Worlds. 

It is becoming fashionable in schools to talk about ‘holistic education’. But it is not often clear to parents or to schools what they really mean by this.

How many of us understand the Arabic sermon (khutba) given by the Imam on Fridays? Unicity College boys attending jumuah prayers last Friday found that the usually unintelligible Arabic of the Imam had suddenly taken on meaning. They recognized the hadith the imam recited as part of his sermon, and if you were to ask them, they would be able to elaborate on some its finer points found in traditional commentary. This is inspiring and humbling. The words of our beloved Prophet (sallalahu alaihi wa salaam) are part of Allah’s revelation to us. How different this is from the prevailing winds of ignorance that have shipwrecked many of the young people in the community as they have grown older in secular schools. As our children grow older, their connection to the deen grows stronger and they learn to understand the words of Allah and His Messenger (peace and blessing be upon him).

Deenway Upper Elementary pupils started work on their history journals this week beginning with an exploration of the ‘Glory that was Rome’. So far they’ve learnt that the Roman empire extended throughout the lands around the Mediterranean Sea. That it was one of the biggest empires of its time and that the emperors of Rome were very powerful. At the same time, in seerah, they came across the expedition to Tabuk led by the Prophet (salalahu alaihi wa sallam) when news reached them of a potential Roman invasion, and also of the letter our Prophet (salallahu alaihi wa salaam) wrote to the Roman emperor Heraclius.  

Later in Qur’an Tafseer lessons, or perhaps in their personal readings, they will insha’Allah come across Surah Rum where Allah, Most High, makes mention of the Romans in the Qur’an:

 “Alif. Laam. Meem.

The Roman Empire

Has been defeated—

In a land close by,

But they, (even) after this defeat of theirs,

Will soon be victorious—

 Within a few years.

With Allah is the Decision,

In the Past

And in the future:

On that Day shall

The Believers rejoice—

 With the help of Allah.

He helps whom He will,

And He is Exalted in Might,

Most Merciful.

(It is) the promise of Allah.

Never does Allah depart

From His promise:

But most men understand not.

 They know but the outer (Things) in the life

Of this world: but

Of the End of things

They are heedless.

 Do they not reflect

In their own minds?

Not but for just ends

And for a term appointed,

Did Allah create the heavens

And the earth, and all

Between them: yet are there

Truly many among men

Who deny their meeting

With their Lord

(At the Resurrection)!

 Do they not travel

Through the earth, and see

What was the End

Of those before them?

They were superior to them

In strength: they tilled

The soil and populated it

In greater numbers than these


Have done: there came to them

Their messengers with Clear (Signs).

(Which they rejected, to their

Own destruction): it was not

 Allah who wronged them, but

They wronged their own souls.

(The Holy Quran Surah Rum)

 As they explore various subjects at school holistically, they come to make subtle connections between their own lives, the lives of the people of the past, and all the disciplines of human endeavor that are part of our shared experiences as the Children of Adam living upon the earth.

In time they will, insha’Allah, come to see that the world is a bigger and better place than most people imagine. It is the place of the unfolding of Allah’s Majesty and Beauty. It is the place of the unfolding of His love for His creation. And its most salient sign is the unfolding of the life of His beloved: our liege-lord Muhammad (sallalahu alaihi wa sallam) who was born in this blessed month of Rabi-ul-Awwal and who alone, amongst all creation, was able to convey to us the Speech of Allah.

Wa ma tawfeeqi illa billah

 Wa salaam

Munawar Karim

(this article originally appeared in the school circular on 8th February 2013 during the blessed month of Rabi-ul-Awwal, the month of the birth of the Prophet Muhammad peace and blessings be upon him).

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