Drawing on literature and empirical findings from field work, this paper examines the role scholasticism and traditional education play in Muslim societies and the lessons current higher educational structures could learn from this traditional model. Scholars have laid the foundational ground in studying the structures of higher learning. The value of some of these institutions with their methods of teaching and learning too are well recognised. However, very few studies have combined library research with empirical work to do justice to higher learning among Muslims and to see whether there are lessons to be learned from these structures of learning. Moreover, rarely does scholarship go beyond the exploration of the conventional educational establishments, especially the madrasahs, to consider intellectual pursuits that happened outside the boundaries of formal institutions of higher learning. In this paper I endeavour to provide new insights into the notion of Islamic scholasticism and explore the concept in relation to its understanding in a European context. Based on analysis of solid research as well as findings from my field work, this paper demonstrates that a narrow approach and understanding of scholasticism will diminish the rich and diverse traditions of higher learning practiced among Muslims.I will contend that neither the origin of scholasticism nor its methods were limited to certain institutions but were practiced widely among individual learners through private education, apprenticeship, and informal education. Secondly, the findings from this study illustrate that Islamic scholasticism, defined broadly, is still alive among Muslims to a large degree, thanks to diverse modes of knowledge transmission. Despite being marginalised in modern times, the traditional models of higher learning not only survived but have been in communication with modern models of higher education and, what is more, they have influenced the latter models substantially. I have typologised these influences in this paper. Finally, for modern models of higher education there are lessons to be learnt from the medieval institutions of higher learning, especially in terms of holistic development of a person, human relations, and teaching approaches.
|Keywords:||Theme: Religious Foundations or Religious Commonalities and Differences, Religion, Values, Science|
Lecturer, Department of Graduate Studies, Institute of Ismaili Studies, London, UK