The age-old dream of the human caravan is not to send astronauts in their orbit in outer space.. it is to send its individuals - every single individual in his orbit of self-realization. It is high time that this dream be thus reinterpreted. It is also the sacred duty of every man and woman to help intelligently reorientate human endeavour towards the culmination of this pilgrimage.

Mahmoud Muhammad Taha - Answers to the questions of Mr. John Voll - 17.7.1963

menu search

EDUCATION: A Letter Addressed to Mr. Osman Mahjoub
Dean Of The Institute Of Bakht AL-Ruda

Ustadh Mahmoud Muhammad Taha

This letter is written in December 24, 1958 and is translated into English by Dr. Mustafa Eljaili

Moral education:

To begin with, our juveniles should learn about manners, without naming, and talking much about, the manners, for the education has to be through actual ideals. Religion, whatever it is, and especially Islam, is a main method of teaching morality. With regard to education, this is true on condition that the teaching should not be conducted apart from behavior in daily activity (i.e., in the professional education, in games, or otherwise). Morals should manifest unprompted, and as naturally embodied in all sorts of behavior. Religion may be expressed through reviewing biographies of righteous men, even if they are non-Muslims. Presenting values of humanitarian behavior lived by Muslim and non-Muslim great people assert in the students’ minds the glorious models of humanity.

Teachers must exemplify lively ethics. The worst act to be feared in this regard is to separate, in curricula and teaching, religion from other subjects, for it implies awaiting righteousness only from people of religion. At a thoughtful look, morals may be defined as the wise handling of individual freedom, and as such it is a responsibility for every individual, not only the men of religion. Because ethics are essential to the benefit of both the individuals and the society, we have to help and support each other to attain high standards of ethics.

On the other hand, because religion in general, and Islam in particular (given its principles, advises in Koran, intensive worships, and the biography of its prophet and his companions) is the most widely practiced method to obtain good manners, we have to put much weight onto it, in order to substantiate the ideals. Nonetheless, we have to distinguish between the scripts and rules that are dictated at current religious institutes, and the “spirit of religion”. The “spirit of religion” derived from the simple statement “No god but Allah” is the slogan of education, for it proclaims freedom and outlines the morals suitable for free people. That is what we have expressed as the way to handle a person’s freedom.

Teaching religious texts, rules, and particulars, as practiced now at religious institutes, is a profession that is non-different than other professions, but which our proposed society does not need. Yes, we do need law authorities, but not as those we have today; we are no more willing to nurse that duality of Sharia courts and civil courts. Legislation will be unified, and so will jurisdiction.

Legislation will stand upon refined human values, which we shall teach at our schools and homes, and to which we shall inquire liability of all citizens, regardless to religion or status.

One body, namely “the ministry of education”, must administer education. Also, it has to be unified, in curricula and in programming, in order to initiate a nationality of distinctive thoughts, morals, outlook, and norms.

Addressing “moral education” under a title apart from “professional education” shouldn’t be mistaken for an intended separation between the two. As a matter of fact, I believe that the right professional education is the one that unifies the technical skill and the moral value, and consequently motivate the professional work. There was a widely cited saying by profit Mohammed- peace be upon him- that: “Allah instructed perfection over every action and everything; if you killed, make it perfect; and if you slaughtered, sharpen the blade and make it easy for the slaughtered animal”. In every act there is some concern that belongs to someone else; it should be handled justly and mercifully. If this is realized in every act, morals become a spirit embodied in every work and each profession, however small and tiny it may be.

These recommendations may be considered as a too much responsibility for the ministry of education, for they impose into its realm affairs that are not conventionally enlisted. Yet, I don’t recommend, while bound to the habit; I rather do aspiring a possible perfection. These suggestions constitute an applicable perfection. In fact, the work of education is the biggest of all works to effectively influence individuals. Hence, it should not be odd, if we proposed the expansion of its authorities to include all social, economic, and health services. If this is not familiar, may be it is time to make it so, as long as it is possible and legitimate. On the other hand, these are only the very broad lines for what I have in mind on education. I had to stop here for my limited time. Otherwise I would have illustrated on the educational values for the system of the local government, and in performing democracy, at Boy Scout activities, as well as in male and female youth organizations, and adjoined all of them to the core of the educational system. I would have made the request that the ministry of education acquires the upper hand in administering them all.

I hope that I have not wasted your time futilely. Good by.


Mahmoud Mohammed Taha