Education and Human Resource Development : A Comprehensive  Approach from Islamic Perspective

                                                                                                   --Professor Abdun Noor,
                                                                                     Department of Public Administration,
                                                                                                     University of Chittagong

 “O my Lord: Bestow wisdom on me, and join me with the righteous”

-Al-Qur’an (26:83)


The disenchantment with the development experience which emphasized purely physical model of capital during the last century, led the development scholars to  shift emphasis to human resources as the basis for the study of development. The World Bank expert Mahbubul Haq observed: “ After many decades of development, we are rediscovering the simple truth that human beings are both the means and end of econ omnic development”.1 This has brought into focus the fact that human element is both an input and objective of development. While the outcome of development is seen as the betterment of human lives, it is also human ability that provides that input for developmental growth. It reminds one to the writings of Adam Smith, who before the Industrial Revolution, argued that efficient use of labour would lead to high production, growth, and a rising standard of living. More than two hundred years later, a nation’s most important resource—its people — is still the key to economic opportunity and social improvement. Human resource development in this sense, is the process of developing human skill or competence in producing goods and services in the society.2 For example, Mr. X is a human being. When he learns the techniques of producing iron from iron ore, he becomes a human resource or input for further production. Similarly, scientists, engineers, agronomists, doctors, judges, administrators, teachers and journalists etc., who are engaged in producing goods and services in the society in one way or other, are all human resources. These critical inputs of a nation, ultimately determine the character and pace of its economic and social development.3

The mechanism through which the transformation of skill in human being is carried out, is called education. Education, therefore, forms the basis for the prosperity of a nation.4 In various empirical studies, education has been regarded as the vehicle for social transformation,5 as essential for nation ­building, for modernization,7 for political development,8 for economic growth,9 and for institutionalization of political freedom.10 The word education has been derived from a Latin word educare, which means to develop form within. According to an UNDP expert, education has got two important purposes : i) development of physical skill and intellectual competence of men; and ii) pursuance of humanity and the cultivation of character in every person.11 Islam, the religion of God which invites mankind to believe and obey only the God and follow His guidelines revealed through the last Prophet(Prophet Muhammed SM), has put maximum emphasis on education for fuller development of man as human being in order to effectively play the role of God’s vicegerent on earth. This paper attempts to present a comprehensive approach to human resource development from Islamic perspective.

Theoretical Framework of the Analysis

Men need various Goods and Services like food, shelter, clothing and medicine etc., for their survival in the society. These goods and services are produced through human efforts which necessitates physical and intellectual skills. Thus physical skill and intellectual competence of individuals are essential for producing goods and services that are necessary for our survival. On the other hand, the pursuance of human qualities such as honesty, integrity, love and compassion for others etc., are necessary in order to distribute those goods and services with justice and human considerations. Therefore, to have a just and welfare society, human beings need to be both productive and humane. Similar views have also been expressed by the Greek philosopher Plato about two thousand and five hundred years ago. His great disciple Aristotle, in a striking passage said : “Men when perfected (through education) is the best of animals; but if he be isolated from Nomos and Dike, he is the worst of all”.12 Nomos and Dike are Greek words for human qualities like honesty and integrity respectively.

From the above discussion, it becomes clear that education is not only goal oriented, but also a value laden process. Education in any society should, therefore, be guided by certain values or philosophy upheld by it. In the backdrop of unprecedented economic growth, side by side with unequal distribution of resources and acute poverty in the contemporary world, the International Commission (Willy Brandt Commission) for the survival of mankind on this planet observes :

“... the new generation of the world need not only economic solution;  they need ideas to inspire them ... They need a belief in man, in human dignity, in basic human rights; a belief in the values of justice, freedom, peace, mutual respect, in love and generosity, in reason rather than force”.13

Thus the process of human resource development through education, is an integrated process containing three componets : i) development of physical skill and mental capability of the individuals; ii) development of human qualities like honesty and integrity, love and compassion etc.; and iii) ideas or values of justice and welfare of mankind as the guiding principles or ideological motivation behind the system of education. Within the framework of the above theoretical perspective, the following analysis is devoted to present Islamic views regarding education and human resource development.

Islam and Education

Islam is the combination of a belief in Almighty Allah (STA), as the Creator and Sustainer of the universe; and a code of behaviour based on the total submission to His authority and the guidance of Prophet Muhammad (SM). Thus the massage of Allah as contained in the Holy Qur’an, together with the Prophetic Sunnah [Words and deeds of Prophet Muhammad (SM)], formed the basic codes or guidelines for the whole of mankind in their drive towards a just and welfare society. According to the description of the Holy Qur’an, man has been created from matter (which includes mud, water, fire and wind) (6:2), but has also been infused with a part of the Divine Spirit (15:28-29). The matter and the spirit together constitute the invisible human self which has been sent to fulfil his obligation as the Khalifa or Vicegerent of Almighty Allah (STA) on earth (Al-Qur’an, 2:30; 35:39). Islam, therefore, advocates a system of education for the harmonious development of matter and spirit in order to prepare man for fulfilling his sacred mission on this planet.

It was Islam that gave the common man not only the right to learn, but made it obligatory for everyone to acquire knowledge. In the very first verse of the Holy Qur’an revealed to mankind, the importance of reading and writing as the only means or custodian for  acquiring of knowledge has been expounded in a very clear and decisive manner for the development of inner qualities of man: “Read with the name of thy Lord, who createth, createth man from a clot. Read and thy Lord is the Most Bounteous, Who teacheth by the pen: Teacheth man that which he know not” (96:1-5). What a beautiful prayer is the one which the Qur’an teaches man: “...and say: my Lord! increase me in knowledge”(20:114).It  further says:

“Are those who learned equal to those who are ignorant” (39:9)?

“Those truly fear Allah amongst His servants who have knowledge” (35:28); and

“God will exact those who believe, and those who are given knowledge” (58:11).

The Prophet (SM) proclaimed that seeking of knowledge should be  the duty of every Muslim man and woman (Ibn Majah); he or she must  continue to acquire knowledge from cradle to grave (Iman Ghazzali); and follow it wherever they can acquire it.14  Therefore, development and search for knowledge is enjoined in Islam as a sacred religious obligation. Prophet Mohammed(SM) was the first teacher of the school of Ahl-Al-Suffa, started by him adjacent to Masjid-i-Nababi at Madina after the Hijra( Migration  from Mecca to Madina).

Stages of Human Development and the Corresponding Role of  Education  in Islam

Social and behavioural scientists have classified the thought and behaviour process of men into physiological, psychological  and actualization planes, depending on the hierarchy of their needs.15 According to the Holy Qur’an, human life process has got three stages of growth and development. The first stage is called the nafsul ammara (12:53), wherein one remains attached to the animal propensity and natural desires (i.e., level of physiological needs like food, clothing, shelter, sex instinct, etc.). The second stage is the nafsul lawwama (75:2), wherein one falls into a conflict situation between the moral judgement of should or should not, good or bad, etc. This internal conflict between mind and conscience, the former arising from the animate (matter) and latter arising from the soul(spirit), is the microscopic conflict base of human life.16 The highest stage of human life is called nafsul mutmainna (89:27), wherein a man chooses the good and gets over the side of the conscience and thus  endeavours to achieve the highest satisfaction.17

Corresponding to the three stages of human development as depicted in the Holy Qur’an, education in Islam has got the following three perspectives:

1.   Development of physical and mental competence of the individual in order to exploit the bounties of Allah (STA) for the benefit of mankind ;

2.   Understanding of his creator through the study of natural phenomena and the development of love and obedience to Him; and

3.      Development of spiritual qualities or virtues in order to play the role of vicegerent of Allah (STA) in establishing justice and doing welfare to mankind.

The succeeding section of the article gives educational dimension of Islam to the three stages of human development

1.  Education : As the Means of Developing  Physical and Mental Competence  of the Individuals

In the first stage of human development called, nafsul ammara(Impelling stage), men are needed various goods and services for their survival, or in other words, essentials for their physical growth and development. In the Holy Qur’an, Allah (STA) says: “He it is who has created for you everything on earth” (2:29). Islam, therefore, provides all sorts of motivation to explore, develop and use those bounties of nature for human welfare. The Qur’an further says:

     “And We have given you(mankind) authority on earth, and appointed for you   

       therein a livelihood...”(7:10;15:20-21);

“And the earth We have spread out (Like a carpet); set thereon firm  mountains, made to grow all kinds of things in due balance. And We have provided therein means of sustenance to you ...” (15:19-20);

“And it was He who has made the sea subservient that you  may eat fish that is fresh from it Ó (16:14);  and

“He has made subservient to you whatever in the Heavens and the Earth and granted you His bounties manifest and hidden” (31:20 ; also see 4:32-33; 16: 12-14; 22:65 and 45:12).

On one hand, Islam reminds us of our duty of worshipping the one who has created us and provided the bounties of nature to meet our various needs, and on the other hand, it tells us of the need for effort in this world of cause and effect. The above verses of the Holy Qur’an make clear that :1) all natural resources are provided by Allah (STA); 2) the object of providing natural resources, is to benefit all mankind ; and 3) men have been encouraged to explore and develop those natural resources by every available means and to use them for their benefit. These verses also imply that the development of necessary knowledge and technology, or in other words, development of physical and mental capabilities of men, is necessary in order to explore, mobilize and utilize the natural resources provided by Allah (STA). For example, in one place of the Holy Qur’an, Allah (STA) has mentioned the name of iron which has got many beneficial use for mankind (57:25). But for producing iron from iron ore, one has to use one’s skill which comes through IIm (learning). He is to apply appropriate Hikma (technology) in order to make the production process efficient. That is why, Allah (STA) says : “wamai yutiya al-Hikmah faqad utia Khairan Kasi’ra” (Al-Qur’an, 2: 269), that is to say, those who have been granted the knowledge of science and technology, are indeed, granted abundant good. The incentive to exploit and use natural resources, is also connected to the following instruction from Allah (STA):

“And man hath only that for which he maketh effort”(53:39);and

“When the prayer is finished, then may ye disperse through the land, and seek of the bounty of God” (Al-Qur’an, 62:10).

Islam is, therefore, regarded as distinct from all other religious systems because it embraces life into its totality. Both the material and spiritual aspects of life is insisted upon as the natural basis of life. The Holy Qur’an says to mankind: “Seek the abode of the Hereafter in which Allah hath given and neglect not thy portion of the world and be thou kind even as God hath been kind to thee...”(28:77). It further teaches to pray“Our Lord! give us the good in this world and the good in the hereafter”(Sura Bakara, 2: 201). Thus unlike Chatholicism, material prosperity or full appreciation of this world and its goods is fully desirable in Islam, though not as a goal in itself. Islam also leads man towards a consciousness of moral responsibility in everything he does.

We may recall that the first act of the Prophet of Islam after settling down in Madina, was the construction of a mosque with a portion reserved for the purpose of a school(the celebrated Suffah) which served the day as a lecture hall, and during the night as a dormitory for students. There is a mistaken belief among a section of the present day Muslims that education in Islam includes only the religious education.  But the first practical example provided by Prophet (SM) was that the war prisoners from the battle of Badre, were asked to teach the Muslim children the art of reading and writing as ransom for their release. The Prophet(SM) further asked his followers to go if necessary, to China for acquiring knowledge. This shows how much importance Islam attaches on skill development at the initial stage of human development. This skill is imperative for acquiring knowledge and information. But Knowledge in Islam, is not an end in itself, but only a means to an end. It has to be beneficially applied. The Qur’an proclaims that a man who has not used his knowledge properly and wisely, is like an ass carrying books (62:5). When knowledge is correctly and judiciously applied, it is called wisdom.18 The Prophet (SM) is reported to have said : “The believer is always searching after wisdom”. If we look at the contemporary world, it proves beyond any shadow of doubt that the most important factor that led to the rapid development of the industrialized West, is their scientifically and technically qualified human resources. On the other hand, the chronic backwardness of the Muslim world can be mainly attributed to its lack of sufficient number of scientifically and technically qualified personnel. In a survey conducted more than a decade ago, it has been found that the Muslim ratio of scientists per one million population is 46 percent lower than that for the third world as a whole; only 45,136 scientists are engaged in research and development in all the Muslim countries combined compared with 34,800 in the tiny state of Isreal alone or over four hundred thousand in Japan; and less than one percent of the all scientific papers published annually in this world, are by the Muslims!19. Despite the repeated call by the Qur’an to educate and pursue scientific studies, the shameful state of affairs of the contemporary Muslim world in education vis-a-vis other nations, is presented in the following tables (Tables 1& 2).


       Muslim Rate of Literacy Compared with Other Categories of Nations

Mean rate of literacy (%)

% aged 3-19 in school

% aged 25+ (no school)

All nations




Industrial nations




Third World nations




Muslim nations




                  Source: Ghulam M.Haniff, “Muslim Development at Risk:The Crisis of Human            

         Resources”, The American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences,Vol.9,No.4,Winter 1992.


Comparative Date On Advanced Education And Muslim Ratio of Scientists And Engineers vis-a-vis Other Nations

% aged 20-24 in higher education

Scientist-Engineer ratio (Per million)

All nations



Industrial nations



Third World nations



Muslim nations



                Source: Ghulam M. Haniff, ibid.

The data presented in the above tables are of more than one and a half decade’s earlier. But it seems that no remarkable improvement could be made in the landscape of the Muslim world from the above scenario although they possess sixty per cent of the world’s resources. In order to salvage the muslim Ummah from the present malaise, Ahmed Zewail, an Egyptian-American noble laureate, the only one among the 1.3 billion Muslims with that honour, has felt the need for an “education jihad”—a campaign among all the Muslim countries to strive for excellence in literacy and education in modern science.20

2.  Education : As the Means of Understanding the Creator as the Absolute Truth

After fulfilling his physiological needs, an individual is raised to the second stage of human development called, nafsul ammara(Conscious stage), which may be compared to conscience. At this stage, his desire is based on the sense of love or belongingness. The basic questions that arise in one’s mind at this stage are: Who is my Creator? What is the mystery behind the creation of this universe? Who is behind all these that are happening around? No child is needed to be introduced to his mother. Through the sucking of mother’s breast, he/she can easily understand his/her mother. Similarly, through the consumption of innumerable bounties of God scattered throughout the world, man’s conscience is raised about his Creator.

The most important pillar of the Islamic faith, is the belief that man has been created by Allah (STA), who is also the sustainer and sovereign Lord of the universe. He is the absolute truth and absolute reality. To understand this basic principle, the Qur’an provides ideological motivation for the study of natural phenomena and pursuit of empirical study in order to discover the laws of relationship among the phenomena. About 750 verses or one-eight of the Qur’an, is devoted to encouraging men to observe, think and use their intelligence in finding out the facts and laws of nature as indicated by the repeated use of the words: Tandhur (Observation), Tabassur (Understanding) and Ta’aqqul (Rationalization). The Qur’an says that there are signs for believers in the earth. All scientific knowledge have come through the study of natural phenomena and lead us to conquer the forces of nature. This knowledge is obtained through observation, reflection and experimentation. The powerful impetus given by the Holy Qur’an to the study of nature and surrounding realities, and to reflection and reasoning for discovering the signs of the absolute truth (i.e. Allah), can be discernible from the following verses :

“Assuredly in the creation of the Heavens and the Earth; and in the alteration of the night and day; and the sailing of the ships through the ocean; and in the rain which Allah sends down from the skies, giving life to the earth that is dead; and in the beasts of all kinds that He scatters throughout the earth; and in the change of winds; and in the clouds that are made to do service between the sky and the earth; (Here) indeed are signs for a people that are wise” (2: 164; also see 3: 190-191) ;

“We (Allah) will show our signs to them in the horizons of the external world and within themselves (i.e. men) until it becomes clear to them that it’s the truth” (41:53);

“Travel on earth and see how He originated Creation” (29:20) ;

“And (further), you see the earth barren and lifeless, but when we pour down rain on it, it is stirred (to life), it swells, and it puts forth every kind of beautiful growth (in pairs). This is so, because Allah is the reality, it is He who gives life to the dead, and it is He who has power over all things” (22:5-6);

“And Allah has bought you forth from mother’s wombs knowing nothing- but He has endowed you with hearing and sight and minds so that you might have cause to be grateful (to Him)” (16:78);

“O mankind ! if you have a doubt about the resurrection, (consider) that  We created you out of dust, then out of sperm, then out of leech-like clot, then out of a morsel of flesh, partly formed and partly unformed, in order that We cause whom We will to rest in the wombs for an appointed term, then do We bring you out as babies, then (foster you) that may reach  your age of full strength, and some of you are called to die, and some are sent back to the feeblest old age” (22:5) ;

“A sign for them is the earth that is dead: We do give it life, and produce grain therefrom, of which you do eat” (36:33) ; and

“Men who celebrate the praises of God, standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and contemplate the (wonders of) creation in the Heavens and the Earth (with the thought): ‘Our Lord! not for naught has thou created (all) this” (3: 191).

The above verses of the Holy Qur’an indicate the signs of Allah and His greatness revealed in the  widest diversity of nature. Their perusal and understanding necessitates man to study and  understand the different branches of science like geography, astrology, physics, chemistry, botany, zoology and meteorology, etc. That is why, Ibne Rushed (Known in the West as Averroes), a 12th century Muslim scholar, said that the correct understanding of the Qur’anic verses about the universe  and creation, could only be possible through a good knowledge of science and philosophy.21 This view has again got reflection in Maurice Bucaille’s observation that: “Modern scientific knowledge, therefore, allows us to understand certain verses of the Qur’an which until now, it has been impossible to interpret’’22 

That is why,Islam from the very beginning, Islam directed people to cultivate science. It is now well recognized that Muslim scientists were the pioneers of modern scientific method which later on, revolutionized the scientific and technological knowledge in the world.23  They received guidance and inspiration from the Holy Qur’an for developing scientific method, the basis of which was observation, reflection and experiment in studying the natural phenomena. Muhammed Hamidullah in chapter “Contributions of the  Muslims to the Sciences and Art” of his book, Introduction to Islam(1981) has given detail explanation as to how the revelation of different Qur’anic verses immediately prompted the Muslim scholars to scientific investigation for understanding their meaning properly. For example, the Qur’anic verses of Sura Nisa regarding the Muslim law of inheritance led the Muslim scholars to acquire the knowledge of accounting and mathematics. Similarly, the verses regarding the stars and moon(2:169 and 3:1910-191) led to the development of Astronomical knowledge; the verses 22:5-6 to Agronomy;  verses regarding human creation out of a drop of sperm in verses 22:5 and 16:78 to Embryology; and verse regarding travel and earth formation in 41:53 to Geography and Geology etc.. Hamidullah observes:” If(Islamic) belief demands the cultivation of the theological sciences, the other requires a study of the mundane sciences. For the service of worship, one faces towards Mecca, the service must be celebrated on occurrence of certain determined natural phenomena. This requires knowledge of the elements of geography and astrology. Fasting also requires the understanding of natural phenomena, such as the appearance of the dawn, the setting of the sun, etc. The pilgrimage necessitates knowledge of the routes and the means of transport in order to proceed to Mecca. Payment of the Zakat requires knowledge of mathematics, which knowledge is also necessary to calculations for the distribution of the heritage of the deceased. Similarly there is the fundamental need of the understanding of the Qur’an in the light of historical facts and allusions and references to the sciences contained therein. In fact, the study of the Qur’an requires first of all a knowledge of the language in which it is compiled(the linguistic sciences) and its references to various peoples demand a knowledge of history and geography, and so on so forth.”  In the glorious period of Islamic civilization, the leading Muslim scientists like Jabir-ibn-Hayyan, Al-Razi, Ibn-Sina, Ibnal Haitham, Al-Biruni, Al Khawarizmi, Al-Jazari, Al-Farabi and many others adopted an approach of ‘controlled experimentation’ which is the essence of modern scientific investigation and discovery. They believed that the quest for knowledge and systematic study of physical universe, were essential for gaining access to the effulgence and closeness of Allah (STA). It is to be remembered that this enlightenment among the Muslims took place at a time when scientific investigation was discouraged and put under strict control of the Christian Church in Europe.

3.   Education: As The Mean of Developing Spiritual / Human Qualities for Playing The Role of Vicegerent on Earth

Once man understands his Creator and develops love and obedience to Him, he becomes earnestly desirous to know his role on this planet. This is the final stage of human development called, nafsul mutmainna(Spiritual stage), where he seeks to get highest bliss through righteous deeds. It has been described in the Holy Qur’an that man has been created in order to fulfil his obligation as the Khalifatullah or Vicegerent of Allah (STA) on earth (2:30). As His Vicegerents, what role have men have been asked to perform? This has been specified in the following verses of the Holy Qur’an:

“Say! O, Children of Adam! ....My Lord hath commanded justice’’ (7:29) ;

“O David! We did indeed make thou a vicegerent on earth : so judge thou between men in truth (and justice): nor follow thou the lusts (of the heart), for they will mislead thee from the path of God’’ (28:26) ;

“O you who have attained to faith! Obey Allah, and pay heed unto the Apostle and unto those from among you who have been entrusted with authority; and if you are at variance over any matter, refer it unto God and the Apostle if you(truly) believe in God and the Last Day. This is the best(for you), and best in the end”(,4:59);

“Good commands justice, the doing of good and liberality to kith and kin, and He forbids all shameful deeds, and injustice and rebellion: He instructs you that ye may receive admonition” (16:90) ;

“You are the best of peoples, evolved for (the welfare of) mankind; enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah” (3: 110) ;

“Those who have faith (in God) and do righteous deeds, they are the best of creatures; their reward is with God : Gardens of Eternity, beneath which rivers flow; they will dwell therein for ever” (98:7-8; also see 22: 14 ; 4:57 ; 122,124 ; 96: 6 and 30:14-15).

The above verses of the Holy Qur’an present a definite world view of man and his duty on this planet. The point seems to be that as the vicegerent of Allah (STA),  man’s main responsibility would be to worship Allah  in the form of establishing justice in society and the  promotion of human welfare. It is further stated that Allah (STA) has from time to time, sent His Messengers with Scriptures (The criterion of right and wrong) in order to guide mankind in performing the above duties (Al-Qur’an, 57:25).

To establish a just and welfare society, Islam urges mankind to nurture the Godly attributes of honesty and integrity, love and compassion, sympathy and affection, etc. among themselves. In the Holy Qur’an, Allah (STA) says: “We have indeed created man in the best of moulds” (95:4). So it is man’s duty to preserve the pattern on which Allah (STA) has made him. That is why, Prophet (SM) has urged his followers: Takhallaku-bi-akhlaqila, which means, ‘colour yourself in the attributes of Allah’ (STA). However, the most widely quoted attributes of Allah (STA) is Rahman-ur-Rahim, which means kindness and compassion (Al-Qur’an, 1:1).

Islam further believes that mere knowledge of right and wrong would not automatically motivate men to promote right and control wrong. There should be a spiritual framework and altruistic urge to do righteous deeds. That is why, we have been reminded that we will have to provide an account to the Almighty Lord in the Day of Judgment for all of our actions during the lifetime on earth (Al-Qur’an, 2:281). Islam also teaches that this worldly life is not an end in itself. There is also a long and endless life after death, the good of which depends on our performance in the worldly life. This is the ideological motivation behind education and desired social behaviour propagated by Islam. The Islamic perspective of education and human resource development corresponding to the three stages of human development is been depicted in the following Tables (Table-III & IV).\



                                 Role of Education in Different Stages of human Development

Stages of Human Development

Hierarchy of human Needs (Abraham H. Maslow)

Educational Objectives and Islamic

Approaches in Different Stages


Qur'anic Names



Directives in the holy Qur'an

Final Stage

Nafsul Mutmainna (Spiritual Stage)

Self-actualization needs

Development of spiritual or human virtues


2:30, 281;

3: 110; 7:29; 16:90; 57:25; 98:7-8

Second or Middle Stage

Nafsul lawwama (Conscience Stage)

Psychological Needs

Realization of Ultimate truth and development of love and obedience to it


2:164; 3:190, 191; 16:78; 22:5-5; 29:20

Primary Stage

Nafsul Ammuara (Impelling Stage)

Physiological Needs

Development of physical skill & mental competence


2:29,269, 4:32-33; 15:19-20; 16:12-14; 22:65; 31:20:45:12-13; 53:39; 62:10

Source: The above Table has been prepares by the author based on the structure provided by Abraham H.Maslow and the Holy Qur’an. For details,see  Abraham.H.Maslow, Motivation and Personality, Second Edition(New York:Harper and Row,1954); The holy Qur’an, text, translation and commentary by A.Yousuf Ali(Bintwood Maryland:Ammana Corp.,1983).


In the foregoing analysis, an attempt has been made to present Islamic world view of man and his consequent role in the society. According to the description of the Holy Qur’an, man has been created from matter and later infused with a part of the Divine Spirit. Islam, therefore, advocates a system of education for the harmonious development of matter and  spirit in order to prepare man for fulfilling his sacred mission as the vicegerent of Allah on earth. The educational philosophy of Islam is based on Tawhid(God consciousness), which provides a broad framework to guide man’s relations with nature as well as fellow human beings.

According to the Holy Qur’an, human life process has got three stages of growth and development : nafsul ammara (Impelling stage), nafsul lawama (Conscience stage) and nafsul mutmainna (Spiritual stage). Corresponding to these three stages of human development, education in Islam has got the following perspective: 1) development of physical and intellectual competence of men in order to exploit the natural bounties for the benefit of mankind; 2) understanding the Creator through the study of natural phenomena and the development of love and obedience to Him ; and 3) development of spiritual virtues in order to play the role of vicegerent of Allah. As the vicegerent of Allah on this earth, man’s mission includes the establishment of Adle (justice) in mutual exchange relationships of society, promotion of Ihsan(human welfare), “Ta’muruna bil ma’rufe”(doing and asking others to do what is right )and “Watanhawna onil munkare”(avoiding  and  forbidding others from doing what is wrong). He is to fulfil his mission within the frame of reference of the divine guidance (i.e. the Holy Qur’an and the Prophetic Sunnah).

Man has further been cautioned that the  life process doesn’t end with this physical world. It  continues further and that mankind will have to account to their Creator in the Day of Judgement for all of their deeds, on the basis of which, they will be rewarded or punished.24 This  in short, is the ideological motivation behind education and human resource development in Islam,

Education in Islam is, therefore, a value laden process – it is the means to an end and not an end in  itself. The Prophet of Islam prayed to Allah Almighty: “O Lord! we seek refuse from that knowledge which carries no utility.25 Therefore, Islam recognizes only that knowledge which is useful and beneficial to mankind and which helps man to acquire Taqwa (God consciousness), and ultimately become Mohsenun, the highest level of human development (Al-Qur’an 2: 177, 189; 3: 114;, 23: 1-11; and 6: 162). Taqwa is a moral principle which indicates that proportionately man has to avoid bad and vicious deeds and has to be inclined towards good and virtuous deeds. Allah (STA) wants man to be moral. And man can only maintain its moral standard by means of Imam-bil-Allah (Faith in Allah) and Amal-al-Salih (Virtuous deeds).

The above discussion may be summarized by quoting a beautiful Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (SM), where it has been said that man can understand the beauties of Iman (Faith) when the following three knowledge/ behaviour patterns have been integrated in him: 1) love for Allah (STA) above all and love for His Prophet (SM) ; 2) love for mankind for the sake of Allah (STA) ; and 3) feeling of hatred towards evil deeds as he fears the fire of hell.26


1.   For details, see Khadija Haq and Uner Kirdar (eds.), Managing Human Development (Islamabad: North-South Roundtable, 1988), p. ix. Also see UNDP, Human Development Report, 1990 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990).

2.   UNDP, Budapest Statement on Human Resource Development in a Changing World(New York, 1987), pp. 10-25. For further details about human resource development, see Frederick H. Harbison, “Human Resources Development:Planning in Modernising Economics,” in International Labour Review, Vol. 85, No. 5, May 1962 ;  and Khadija Haq and Uner Kirdar (eds.),Human Development:The Neglected Dimension (Islamabad : North-South Roundtable, 1986),

3.  Michel P. Todaro, Economic Development in the Third World, Second Edition (New York:  Longman , 1973), p. 330.

4.   Frederick H. Harbison, Human Resources as the Wealth of Nations (New York:Oxford University Press, 1973), p. 3.

5.   Daniel Lerner, The Passing of Traditional Society (Glencoe, IL: Free Press, 1958).

6.   Richard Bendix, Nation-Building and Citizenship (New York: Doubleday & Co.,1969).

7.   Cyril E. Black, The Dynamics of Modernization (New York: Herper and Row, 1966).

8.   David E. Apter, The Politics of Modernization (Chicago : University of Chicago Press,  1967).

9.   W.W. Rostow, The Stages of Economic Growth (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,  1963).

10. William McCord, The Springtime of Freedom (New York: Oxford University Press, 1963).

11. Ryokichi Hirono, “Human Resources Development and Mobilization in the Asia-Pacific Region,” Technology and Development, No. 2, 1989, p. 5. Professor R. Hirono of the Seiki University was the Director of the Bureau for Programme, Policy and Evaluation of the United Nations Development Programme.

12. The Politics of Aristotle, translated by Ernest Barker (London: Oxford University Press, 1961), pp. 120-121.

13. North-South: A Programme for Survival, the Report of the Independent Commission on International Development Issues under the Chairmanship of Willy Brandt (London: Pan Books, 1980),  p. 12.

14.  Quoted by M.A. Kazi, “The Pursuit of Scientific knowledge in Islam,” Islamic Thought and Scientific Creativity, Vol. 1, No.1, January-March, 1990.

15.  According to motivation theorists, the needs, wants and desires which exist within an individual make up his internal motivation. These forces influence him by determining his thoughts which in turn, lead to his behaviour in a particular situation. Once a need is fairly satisfied, man is then motivated by the next higher level of unsatisfied need. For details, see Abraham H. Maslow, Motivation and Personality (New York: Harper and Row, 1954). Maslow arranged man’s needs in a hierarchy of importance ranging from lowest physiological needs to psychogenic safety, love (social), esteem (ego) needs and finally, self-actualization.

16. See Moinuddin Ahmed Khan, Political Crisis of the Present Age: Capitalism, Communism and What Next? (Chittagong: Baitush Sharaf Islamic Research Centre, 1990), p. 47. 

17. For further details, see The Holy Qur’an, text, translation and commentary by A.Yusuf Ali (Brentwood Maryland: Amana Corp., 1983), pp. 1969, 1735. Imam Ghazzali (RA) has also classified man’s propensity into three : 1) Animate; 2) Satanic ; and 3) Angelic. He advised the mankind to strive for overcoming the animate and satanic propensities in order to be fortunate in understanding the beauties of Allah (STA). For details, see Huzzatul Islam Hazrat Imam Ghazzali (RA), Kimia-e-Sa’adat, vol. 1, translated into Bengali by Moulana Nurur Rahman (Dhaka: Emdadia Library, 1976), p. 34-35

18. It also helps to distinguish between truth and reality, error and falsehood, see M. A. Kazi, op. cit., p. 14.

19. For details, see Ghulam M. Haniff, “Muslim Development at Risk : The Crisis of Human Resources,” in The American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences, Vol. 9, No. 4, Winter, 1992.

20.Ahmed Zewail, born and raised in Egypt is now a naturalized American citizen who holds the Linus Pauling Professorship at the California institute of Technology. He was awarded the 1999 Nobel prize in chemistry for developing the femtoscope, which photographs the actual moment of molecular binding of chemicals. For details of his interview with the NPQ editor Nathan Gardels see  “Road Map to a Muslim Renaissance”, accessed through internet on February 20,2008.

21. See Averroes, On the Harmony of Religion and Philosophy, translated by G. F. Hourani  (London, Luzae, 1976).

22. Maurice Bucaille, The Bible. The Qur’an and Science, translated from French into English by Alastair D. Pannell and the Author (Indianapolis: American Trust Publication, 1979), p. 251.

23. W. M. Watt concludes that without Muslim (he uses ‘Arab’) contributions, European Science and Philosophy would not have developed when they did, see his, The Influence of Islam on Medieval Europe (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1972), p. 43.

24.       Allah (STA) says: “And fear the Day when ye shall be brought back to Allah. Then shall every soul be paid what it earned, and none shall be dealt with unjustly” (Al-Qur’an, 2:281 ; 55: 31 ; 64:7 ; 82:4-6 ; and 99:7-8).

25. Al-Hadith, Ibn Majah (Sunan, Under No. 250).

26. Sahih Bukhari, qouted by Serajul Haque, Imam Ibn Taimiyah And His Projects of Reform, translated into Bengali by Muhammad Mujibur Rahman (Dhaka: The Islamic Foundation Bangladesh, 1987), p. 167. 

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8/21/2012 07:16:55 pm

Excellent! I admire all the helpful data you've shared in your articles. I'm looking forward for more helpful articles from you. :)

Joseph Aidan


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