By Dr. Ali B. Panda
The Filipino citizens have to observe the Philippine laws and guidelines on education which are “secular and highly centralized in nature.” The former implies that Philippines as a state proclaims the separation of religion and the state. The latter means that educational guidelines have been organized at the national level.
The Philippine government has granted the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, (ARMM) for the Muslim Filipinos with some degree of Islamic education. The large aspects are likely to be taught in its schools and universities in the region. But, they are being taught in the Islamic educational institutions in other Muslim countries.
Muslim individuals and society should be benefited from the value of Islamic education. This has been considered among the topics of discussion by concerned ulama (learned Muslims) and Muslim professionals. Thus, educational seminars, conferences and fura and similar activities have been organized and undertaken for this purpose. It is very unfortunate that poor education and its undesirable effects continue to persist in Muslim Mindanao.
In 1991, the average literacy rate of ARMM at 74.22 and the National Capital Region at 93.5 by comparison shows how grave the problem is the two (2) systems of education operate in the area at deviating direction: the government secular-western schools and the madrasah school system..( Sovenier Book, Markazosshabab, 30th Anniversary, 2009)
Thus, this paper is designed to show the Islamic Education in the Philippines. Specifically, it briefly discusses the: meaning and nature of Islamic education, the Philippines as a secular state and the problems and development of Islamic education in the country.
II. Meaning and Nature of Islamic Education
As shown in figure 1 that Islamic education is the process of learning both the revealed and acquired knowledge. The former is the one directly learned from the Qur’an as explained by the Prophet Muhammad in his ahadith (sayings) and Sunnah (tradition) The latter is the one learned from the different creatures of Allah on earth which are indeed the expression of His supremacy and omnipotent. Its main objective is to teach and develop a God fearing (Taqwa) which is an inner strongest faith of the Muslim believers. This is noticeable when they actually perform all the commandments of Allah as enshrined in the Qur’an and in the Hadith and Sunnah of the Prophet.
The God fearing people (muttaqiin) who should serve as khalifah (vicegerent of Allah) responsible to the goal which is to implement the rule of Allah on earth. In order to come up with these objective and goal, a teacher is not only a‘whisperer (mu’alim) of knowledge’ but also a trainer (murabbi) of souls and personalities’.
Islamic education is indeed a process which is basically enshrined in the Qur’an where Allah says: “read! in the Name of your Lord who has Created (all that exist). He has created man from a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood). Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous. Who has taught (the writing) by the pen. He has taught man that which he knew not.”( Al-Qur’an, 96:1-5).
The verse implies that Muslims should primary know Allah, the Creator, and to comprehend and appreciate His attributes. The used of “pen” also implies the process of human struggle in search for the revealed and acquired knowledge. It is only those learned among His slaves that fear Allah (35:28). The importance of this was mentioned by Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. on many occasions. Some of his sayings are; 1) ‘The acquisition of knowledge is a duty incumbent upon every Muslim, male and female”, 2) “Seek knowledge even unto China”, and 3) “Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave.”
The Philippine Constitution provides:
1) “Separation of the Church and State is inviolable.”( Constitution, Art 2, Sec. 6)
It appears that this division was designed merely to determine the boundaries between the two institutions. The State prohibits from interfering directly or indirectly in purely religious matters whereas the church is barred from meddling or taking part in purely temporal affairs of the state. (Cruz, 1991:169-170). This religious attitude does not imply the defiance of the importance of religion in the national life.
It appears further that the spirit and soul belong to church and his body or physical being
So, while it is allowed to teach various principles and beliefs for academic purposes, it is against the Philippine law and Islam to impose a particular religion to any citizen or to compel or force a person to go away from his religion against his will. Islam teaches “no compulsion of religion.”
The DECS-ARMM therefore follows the dictates of the DECS national in pursuit of education.
IV. Problems of Islamic Education
As shown in figure 3 that the problem is obviously seen by the interaction between the development of Islamic education and the government western oriented education. If we look at the teaching of education in madrasah, it is more confined on religious knowledge and in public or private government school, it is secular in nature. But of course they have similarities in the teaching of history, geography, mathematics, molding of the youth, good moral character,
The differences between the Muslim Filipino culture and the government school system are observable. It is seen that there are other general reasons why government school continue to receive some degree of negative attitude from the Muslims, to wit:
1. Lack of typical Islamic cultural elements in the curriculum. As a substitute, the curriculum shows the presence of Christian elements.
These unacceptable elements in Muslim education that offend Muslim awareness can be removed by revising the curriculum of schools, incorporating Islamic elements.
Other factors affecting the development of Islamic education in the country are the:
1) Limited financial support from the community and charitable institutions,
On the other hand, the government highly centralized educational system is explained by the fact that the Department of Education, Culture and Sports and the Commission on Higher Education of ARMM are in charge of the two levels of education: primary, elementary and secondary education and Higher Education, respectively. They are autonomous in word from the Central Government but its policies and functions are limited by the laws allowed by the Philippine secular constitution.
In effect, the following are hereby observed:
1) Madrasah quality and kind of education is inadequate leaving much to be desired.. (Mapupuno, 1991:26)
At 94 percent by comparison shows how grave the problem is the two (2) systems of education operate in the area.(Sovenir Book, 2009)
V. Development of Islamic Education
This part discusses the development of Islamic education in the country. Figure 4 shows that Islamization is the background factor influencing: 1) The institution of madrasah; 2) The government responses to the Moro struggle (i.e., teaching of Arabic language, accreditation of madrasah into the Philippine educational system, teaching of Islam as subject and degree program); and 3) The grant of ARMM. The latter also influences the formers.
A. Institution of Madrasah.
Islamization process has been done since the start of the 13th century, by way of Sumatra and possibly Borneo. (Siddique, 1975:143) The proximity of Mindanao to mainland Asia and Sumatra helped much in the early spread of Islam in the country. Records show that the first Arab Muslim to arrive in Sulu was Tuan Mash’aik. (Rodriguez, 1993)
It was the coming of Makhdum Karim, the Arab missionary, that signaled the beginning of Islamization in the country. Makhdum who built the first mosque in Tubig Indangan, Simunul,
Tawi-tawi in the year 1380 and with it, the first madrasah was founded. ( Saleeby 1908 and Sarangani 1974)
The Madrasah Islamiyyah Kamilol Islam under the management of Kamilol Islam Society was organized in 1938 in Lanao. It was headed by Sheikh Mohammad Saddiq, also known as Guro sa Marawi.( Kadil, 1998:69). From that, madrasah has been established in different parts of the country.
In 1948, Congressman Manalao Mindalano performed pilgrimage in Mecca and visited Cairo. He requested Al-Azhar University to send missionaries (ulama) to teach in the country.
The request was granted by Sheikh ul-Azhar. (Kadil, 1998:68).
In 1950, two (2) Al-Azhar missionaries arrived namely: Abdulgani Sindag, an Indonesian,and Mohammad Taha Omar. They started their own madrasah, first in Malabang, Lanao . In 1954, the Kamilol Islam Society was revitalized and set the task of reopening a madrasah that was incorporated into the Kamilol Islam Institute. The following year, a government-recognized school with Arabic and English departments thought out by Atty Domocao Alonto was inaugurated with Imam Iljas Ismael, an Indonesian, as its first Director. (Kadil, 1948: 99)
The visit of an Indian alim Maulana Abdul Aleem Siddique Al Qadri strengthened the kamilol group. His visit stimulated the Muslim Association of the Philippines and the establishment of madaris in the provinces. (Kadil). The said Association held Muslim conventions indifferent areas attended by foreign Muslim dignitaries. This contributed much to the understanding of Islam which led among Muslim Filipinos to study with scholarship grants in different Islamic educational centers in the Middles East. After finishing their studies, some become teachers in various schools and madaris in the country.
B. Government Responses
1) Letter of Instruction 71-A was issued by former President Ferdinand E. Marcos on April 28,1973 allowing the use of Arabic as medium of instruction and its teaching in areas predominantly populated by Muslims.
In view of the government educational responses, seminars and conferences have been conducted in order to make education in the area more responsive to the educational aspiration of the Muslim Filipinos.
On May 24-26, 1982, the First Policy Conference on Madrasah was held in Zamboanga City, Philippines. It was recommended that the madrasah should be a component of the Philippine educational system.
On January 19-25, 1991, an international conference-workshop was organized by the ARMM in cooperation with the Muslim World League in Cotabato City. This was for the Islamization of Syllabi of madaris in the country. (Tamano, 1991:14)
Many madaris have been established in other parts of the country. Government recognized schools and universities both public and private have been established and operated with Arabic and Islamic subjects and others have been offering Islamic studies degree programs.
Talks and conferences among madaris operators were held in an attempt to strengthen their curricular offerings. Resolutions asking government authority to include more Arabic and Islamic values in government recognized public and private school curricula were discussed and recommended at various fora.
In the country today, three (3) modes of Islamic teachings: 1) Teaching of Islam in madrasah, 2) Teaching of Islam as a subjects in some government recognized private and public schools, and 3) Teaching of Islam as a degree program in higher educational institutions (i..e., University of the Philippines, Mindanao State University, University of Southern Mindanao, Jamiatu Muslim Mindanao, Jamiatul Philippine Al-Islamia, Lake Lanao College, etc.).
VI. Conclusion and Recommendation
In view of the above, this paper concludes that the:
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