A Social History of Education in the Muslim World
From the Prophetic Era to Ottoman Times
Author(s): Amjad M. Hussain
Reviewed by: Ruqaiyah Hibell
The subject of “Islamic education” is in its embryonic stages in terms of academic analysis of the profound holistic elements that have throughout history made education in Islam what Abdal Hakim Murad terms a ‘flexible, dynamic and organic’ force. Islamic education has now joined other genre such as Islamic Finance, Islamic law, etc., that have become compartmentalised attributes of Islam. It is only during relatively recent history that such distinctions have been drawn. For a practising Muslim, Islam is education. Education is integral to Islam and does not naturally lend itself to being splintered off into a variety of domains with the attachment of “Islamic”, for all forms of education are intrinsic to the faith. In Islam, the mind, body and spirit are unified and have never been characterised by elements of Cartesian dualism, so prevalent in European thought. This excellent text provides an interesting and insightful introduction to the social history of education in the Muslim world. It arrives at a time when there is a dearth of new scholarship in this field and provides a valuable historical account. The bibliography reveals little contemporary material currently being produced on education in Islam. The author establishes the parameters for discussion in the introduction which narrows down the subject area to the key Sunni Caliphal educational centres of Islamic history from Madinah to Damascus, Bahgdad, Cairo and Istanbul. The author deliberately does not offer more than a transitory explanation of the social history of education in Islam as reflected by practices in Moghul India, Safavid Iran and Muslim Spain (see p. xiv). It could be assumed this may be a subject-matter for later development.