Dr. Aliyu Umar is Head of Department (HOD) of Islamic Studies, Nasarawa State University, Keffi (NSUK). In this interview with Dominic Akpensuen, he explains a number of similarities between Islamic and Western forms of education and the danger posed by politics tinted with religious bigotry and sundry issues.
What is the place of Islamic education in modern society?
Islam is a complete way of life and a culture. It has its values, therefore, Islamic education is spiritually accomplishing and the directive and objective of Islamic education is to sharpen the life of humanity in general. Indeed, Islamic education does not focus on materialism, but create good relationship with people and ensure peace among them. Islam ensures a conducive environment for the society, irrespective of religion, tribe and race.
Is there any similarity between Islamic and Western education?
Yes of course. As far as Islamic education is concerned, all types of education are very important. Western education is similar to Islamic education because all knowledge comes from the Creator and the Holy Qur’an contains all knowledge. The people in the West revolutionises the knowledge and name it western education. Every subject is found in Islamic books, whether it is Mathematics, biology, Geography, or any subject; all are contained in Islamic education, depending on which angle ones considers. If it is an Islamic concept, is becomes Islamic. We have an organisation called the International Islamic Trust Fund which calls for Islamising of knowledge.
Similarities in moral realm
Knowledge is very important but have those who brought the knowledge added their culture to it? For example, somebody who has the knowledge but behaves immorally does so based on his character. It is the character of an individual that will make such person behave immorally or otherwise.
Islamic politics and sustainable development Looking at the change of government in Nigeria, of course, electioneering had taken place and the new government in Nigeria has come, but there will be petitions at the electoral tribunal. That is why we said let’s talk about the position of Islam in politics.
We must talk about those who are chosen as leaders and how they were elected and their role in the society. Those that lost out in the elections, what are their grievances and what happen to those who participated in the election? We are going to collaborate with INEC to show the importance of electioneering in Islam. It is unfortunate that our conference is coming after the general elections. INEC may find it difficult to play a significant role because their duty is to sensitise people about elections. However, this may not stop us from discussing the role of Islam in politics.
How can you use Islam to promote corruption fight?
Yes, Islam can be used to sweep society clean of corruption, because Islam teaches justice.
Islam is not selective, but compasses every aspect of life and humanity, including oneself. If somebody goes wrong, let such person confess publicly that he or she is wrong, make correction and tender apology to the concerned people, or group. The concept of justice in Islam has never been compromised. Not that somebody may say as far as I am not a Muslim I’ll cheat either at work place or in a relationship.
We talk about using Islam as a tool to create unity. The concept of unity in Islam is general because all human beings are created from a single creator, so the concept of unity of humanity is general. Man was created from Adam and his wife, Eve. Therefore, despite your religion, race and background, Islam sees humanity as one.
How successful was the 3rd Islamic international conference?
In the conference we discussed that situation has changed. We thanked the Creator for not putting humanity in difficulties. We thank God for making us understand issues of life. Recession is not from the Creator, but caused by actions of humanity, so as Muslim, Islam has thought us what to do during recession. We are also obliged to educating the people on what to do during such time.
The materials of the conference are in journals, which can serve as further knowledge, but the confusion is that some people are of the view that Nigeria is out of recession, while some are saying we are still facing recession. Whatever position one takes there are people who are above you as you too are above others. Therefore, it is a matter of adjustment. So, for Islam, there is nothing like recession because if a Muslim has enough, he should share with his neighbour; that is humanity. We are to live within our means.
How can you use Islam to curb political thuggery?
People should understand the true teaching of religion. No religion preaches violence, and no prophet of any religion encourages crisis. If there is religion that is against peace, it is yet to be discovered and make reference to. For now nobody could find such. The major problem is that religion is being used by politicians for their selfish interests. If violence is good why are politicians’ children not found among political thugs? My advice is that Nigerians should tolerate one another as neighbours, because we need one another to live irrespective of our religions.