Demolishing Dichotomy on Concept and Implementation of Education in the Islamic Society: Indonesian Case


In the past, since Fajrul Islam (7th century) till 11th century, there was not any dichotomy between Islamic sciences and non-Islamic sciences in Islamic education. Triggered by al-Ghazali with the publication of his book “Tahafut al-Falasifah” (Incoherence of the Philosophers), which later on, was strongly encountered by Ibn-Rushd through his book “Tahafut al-tahafut” (Incoherence of Incoherence), Islamic society was at once, began to be imposed by the idea of dichotomy. Al-Ghazali, for instance, classified sciences in their respect to superiority among them, Fardh al-kifayah and fardh al-‘ain. The dispute between them could be illustrated as attempts to underline the primacy of ‘dhikr’ above ‘fikr’ or vise versa. The polemic since then contributed a lot in striking feature of Muslim education since Middle Ages until now; dichotomy between two sets of sciences: the ‘religious’ and the ‘foreign’ with subordination of the latter after the first.  

 Referring to the history of science and civilization, renaissance in Europe was prepared its embryo by massive translation and research projects on Islamic intellectual heritages, with emphasis on grasping ‘Rushdian Spirit’. After the 16th century, historians recorded that the growth of ‘foreign’ sciences has had its home in ‘Western Renaissance’. After since, western constellation ranging from politics to education has been established and flourished on the basis of this mainstream paradigm. Conclusively, what happened then is the process of secularization in all level of human life, in the west or in Islamic world, which simply, we may view them as ‘right’ and ‘left’ secularization.  

Both west and Islam, with each of their respective strength, has run their education system based on this secularization. Started from developing philosophical basis, they generated it into theories and practices (structure, institution, management, strategy, learning methodology, learning media and system of evaluation) aiming on certain characteristic of human, culture and civilization as its outcomes. The end of product of education of both is ‘split personality’. However, derived from a core teaching of Sacred text, Islam has its own concept of personified goal of education, namely ‘Insan Kamil’, who regarded collectively as ‘Ummatan Washatan’, and ‘Rahmah al-‘alamin’. Yet, this precise concept has not been properly transformed into defined theories of education nor its implementation.  

Education, as the main force of civilization, has a strategic power to bring the two elements together; the domain of dhikr and fikr, sacred and profane, west and east, religion and science, etc. Therefore, formulating philosophy and theory of education based on ‘Tawhidic Paradigm’ becomes a great demand.  

Indonesia, similar to other Muslim countries, has faced some main problems towards dichotomy in its education system, specifically on how to modernize Islamic education system. There are two kinds of education in Indonesia, Public schools and Islamic schools (pesantren and madrasa). Education policy distinguishes each management and supervision under two separate ministries, the ministry of National Education for public school and the ministry of Religious Affairs for Islamic schools. The separation between two sorts of education system and institution has begun since the colonization era. The Dutch did not affirm pesantrens as genuine education institutions in Indonesia and attempted to establish modern system of education through western school system. Muslim society in Indonesia, promoted and supported by the Islamic social organizations, like Nahdathul Ulama and Muhammadiyyah, has shown resistance against this separation. NU attempted to modernize pesantrens and developed new system of madrasa, whereas, muhammadiyyah, established modern ‘Dutchlike’ schools with injecting some subjects on religion (Mohammadism Values) covering ‘aqidah, sharia, Qur’an/Prophetic tradition and Islamic culture.   

In the later development on Islamic education, Muslim community in Indonesia has raised awareness to reform Islamic educational system not only its structure of curriculum but also its institution. Variety subjects with different percentage differ from a sort of school from others, which at the same time a model is distinguished from others in the form of operation and management. Modern pesantren, madrasa, integrated Islamic school, Islamic boarding school, International Islamic Boarding School, pesantren of agriculture, are some models of formal schools, besides there are also some non-formal models of education such as Raudhatul Athfal, Qur’anic Kindergarten, Bustanul Atfal, Salafiyah pesantren and millions of majlis ta’lim. In higher education, it is mandated by the State that Islamic Institutes open non-religious programs besides their existing ones whereas at the same time State Universities are recommended to open religious programs. 

Moreover, successive efforts have been shown in regard to the Islamicity in education, focusing on the text books. First is ‘Ayatisasi’ (confirming theories of sciences with Qur’anic verses) for some textbooks such as Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Sociology, Civic Education and Geography and scientification of Religious textbooks. Second is introducing ‘The History of Islamic Civilization and History of Philosophy of Science’ as one of compulsory subject in Universities (implemented in Paramadina University). Third is developing textbooks for three main subjects (Math, Biology and Physics) for Islamic Junior and Senior High Schools (Madrasa). The ministry of Religious Affairs cooperated with CIPSI (Center for Islamic Philosophical Studies and Information) have developed those three textbooks. Fourth is examining curriculum belong to Islamic Universities and later on developing precise curriculum based on Islamic epistemology, which is now initiated by CIE (Center of Islamic Epistemology) UIN Sharif Hidayatullah, Jakarta. Those activities above are piloting projects as initiatives for demolishing dichotomy of concept and implementation in Islamic Education.  

However, it is a big challenge to construct a strategic agenda for developing Islamic Education based on “Tawhidic Paradigm’, as the main criterion of Islamicity of Education. The agenda, which is only obvious and possible for those who believe that there is still a door of miracle to change the world: Education, for accelerating the Awakening Century of Islam. 

Zubaidah Yusuf Ahmad Suryadi

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