8.1 History of Education: How was Islamic Education taught and organized in Africa?

CHAPTER 8

ISLAM AND EDUCATION IN AFRICA

8a i). Examine the context of Islamic Education in Africa

1    Introduction

In the last lesson, we looked at Hebraic and Christian education, noted their religious moral orientation and their legacy for modern education. In this lesson, we shall look at Islamic education in Africa; the aims and curriculum, major features and contribution to human civilization.

2.  Objectives:

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Identify the historical roots of Islamic education in Africa
  • List the objectives of Islamic education
  • Identify the features/pillars of Islamic education
  • Name at least five ways in which Islamic education has contributed to educational and scientific development in modern

3. Content

Islamic Education in Africa

Arabic language and records have helped a lot in the understanding of early African history and civilizations. Much of the knowledge about ancient Kingdoms of Kush, Timbuktu, Sokoto, Mali, etc. was derived from Arab travelers and historians.

The process of Islamization occurred through the activities of individual Muslim scholars and teachers who ventured to large towns and cities to establish Islamic centers of learning. This process was slow and it took generations for their influence and convertees to grow among the pre-literate societies they worked in.

In West Africa, Islam was first established towards the end of the eleventh century A.D. when Muslim dynasty began to rule the Kingdom of Bornu in 1085. In other parts of West Africa, it was not until the end of the 15th Century that Islam was firmly established, in Hausaland. The nineteenth century saw a series of Jihads, Islamic holy wars, the consequence of which was the establishment of Islamic institutions in many African societies, with Islam becoming virtually the dominant culture. A typical example is Northern Nigeria where over 70% of the population is Muslim. In the Sudan, Arab immigrants between the tenth and fifteenth centuries introduced Islam to the Northern Nilotic population.

In East Africa, Islam slowly filtered down across the Sahara from Persia and Arabia first being established along the Coast, from where it gradually penetrated to the interior. Although the Muslim groups along the East African coast have tended to maintain a social and cultural identity in contrast to their indigenous non-Muslim coastal neighbors, intermarriage between them resulted in the Waswahili who have their own district language and culture with Islamic roots.

Note:  Contrary to common beliefs, Jihads, are not the dominant means of spreading Islam. Indeed the early Muslim scholars and traders were content to practice Islam within their own small groups, with little effort to convert the non-Muslim populations around them.

Question:   In what ways has Islam been established in Africa?

Activity:    Name at least five countries or religions in Africa in which Islam is the dominant religion.

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