By: Rusmanhaji

  1. Meaning of Education

The main area of Philosophy of Education in which the ideas of Al-Ghazali had a great influence, for instances, are the Philosophy of Education related to aims and goals of education; the theories of knowledge (epistemology; implementation which includes methodologies, institution, administration, evaluation and teachers etc. On Al-Ghazali’s epistemology was explained in chapter four. This chapter would like to explain on the meaning and definition of education, the aims of education, methods of education, curriculum and stages of learning, and the duties and character of teacher.

In Al-Qanun fi al- Tibb, Fifth Chapter : Tarbiyah al-Atfal wa Amradhihim, Ibnu Sina uses the term of “Tarbiyah”. In this part, he mentioned the first instruction on Tarbiyah and he divided it into four divisions: the first on arrangement birth; the second on best freed; the third on disease and its medicine; the four on instruction and and education of children until adult (baligh). In this part Ibnu Sina eplains on education of soul (tarbiyah al-nafsiyah) and the best effective methods. In his book on Swing (Al-kitab al-arjuzah) from Kitab al-Tib, Ibnu Sina explains the principles of children education and it’s growing upn (asas al-tarbiyah wa nashatuhu).

In Kitab al-siyasah, (the Book of Politic), Ibnu Sina also explains on the principles of Islamic education (Tarbiyah Islamiyah). Ibnu Sina says:

“when the boy’s joints strengthen, and his tongue is apt, and he is ready for instruction and hearing is attentive, he begins to learn the Quran, and he is shown letters of the alphabet, and is instructed in the outlines of religion. The boy should recite the rajaz  (poetic verse), the qasida (classic ode); the rajaz is easier and is more quickly learned because its stanzas are shorter and its rhythm lighter. The child should

  1. Aim of Education

The general aim of education can be divided into three aspects as follows:

  1. To make human relationship to his Creator perfect. The closer relationship to his God the better faith of someone, and thus the obedience to accept  God’s command and His prohibition will be developed, so that he will get chance to be successful.
  2. To make human relationship one another perfect. By maintaining, improving and increasing relationship between human beings and environments constitutes human’s effort that should be continuously developed. Here interaction among human beings , either Muslims or non-Muslims, so that how beautiful Islamic image  showed by Muslims’ character. And at the same time Islam becomes Rahmatan lil ‘alamin.
  3. To exist balance, harmony, and conformity between both relationships, and to activate both of them in the self individual. The continuous efforts of understanding and improving oneself  and actuated both aspects in conformity and balance in the form of action and daily activities will show how far the piety level of Allah’s worshipper has been gained.

The existence of the three aim aspects above in the self individual only can be gained through knowledge mastery. Without knowledge indicates that a person has not ready yet to have title of Allah’s worshipper.

The meaning of knowledge here should encompass the whole knowledge that can be acquired by man. Islam doesn’t differentiate  or separate between what is called common knowledge and religious knowledge.[1]

The aim of Islamic education according to the formulation of the world Islamic education congress in Islamabad year 1980, and decision the Indonesian Islamic education Seminar dated on 7th  to 11th of May 1960 in Cipayung Bogor.

  1. The formulation of the world congress on Islamic Education as follows:

“Education should aim at the balanced growth of total personality of man through training of man spirit, intellect the rational self, feeling and bodily sense. Education should therefore cater for the growth of man in all its aspects, spiritual, intellectual, imaginative, physical, scientific, linguistic, both individually and collectively, and motivate all these aspects toward goodness and attainment of perfection. The ultimate aim of education lies in the realization of complete submission to Allah on the level of individual, the community and human at large,”

  1. The formulation of the Indonesian seminar decision on Islamic education dated on 7th up to 11th May 1960, in Cipung Bogor , as follows: The aim of Islamic education is to plant piety and character and to erect the truth in order to form man of having good personality and conduct in accordance with Islamic doctrines.[2]


“Viewed from philosophical point of view related to the duty of man, the aim  of education can be divided into three kinds, namely:

  1. Individual aim, related to individual through learning process in order to prepare himself for the life in the world and hereafter.
  2. Social aim, related to social life as a whole, and social behavior in general, and changes wanted in the individual growth, experience and his life development as well.
  3. Professional aim, related to teaching as knowledge, art and profession, as well as social activity

In educational process, the three aims should be gained integrally , inseparably one another, so that they can create type of perfect man as wished by the Islamic doctrine”[3]

In educational matter, Al-Ghazali was of the opinion that the education had to be directed to self nearness to God the Almighty and from here life prosperity in the world and happiness in the hereafter would be obtained. Man can be perfect and recognize his Lord only through knowledge.

According to him, the aim of education is the forming of  the perfect man, both in the here and hereafter. Man can obtain perfectness if he efforts to acquire knowledge, then he apply benefit (fadhilah) through the knowledge he has learned. This benefit then can lead him to near to God Allah and make him happy  in both the world and the next woeld hereafter in the long run. In this case, he said,:

”If you pay attention to knowledge, you’ll see there is delicacy in it, so that you need to study and you’ll find that knowledge is a means of leading to happiness in the hereafter and as means of approaching  (taqarrub) Allah the Almighty , in which taqarrub cannot be obtained without knowledge.

The highest dignity of man’s right is the eternal happiness. And the most important thing is something leading to the happiness. The happiness cannot be gained without knowledge and its application way. The knowledge is the way of happiness in the world and the next world hereafter. Therefore the acquisition of knowledge belongs to the main action.”[4]

  1. Curriculum and the Stages of Education
  2. Nizamiyah School in Baghdad.

Nizamul Muluk in Islamic history was well known as a Muslim Statesman who had great merit in the progress of Islamic Education Development. He was a Prime Minister (Wazir) of Sultan Malik Syah from Daulah Bani Saljuk (1072-1092) , originally Persian blood who lived in the medieval of 5th century. The schools he had built and financed were named Madrasah Nizamiyah. The schools were scattered in the whole country of Daulah Bani Saljuk territories: in Baghdad, Nysaphur, Asfahan, Basrah, Mausal and many others.

Nizamul Muluk ‘s establishment of these schools aimed at political affairs, namely, to strengthened Turkish authority in administration and to strengthen the state school of thoughts in religion (ahlus sunnah) by fighting against other sects.

The Turkish kings were much in need of people’s sympathy and they belonged to ahlus sunnah sect. Therefore the Nizamiyah schools’ mission is to plant people’s respect and love to Turkish ruling regimes and to strengthen Ahlus sunnah school of thoughts.

The biggest and most famous Nizamiyah School was Nizamiyah school in Baghdad, established in 457 H/ 1065 AD, located near the market called “Suqustsulasa”.

The teachers of the school among other things as follows:

  1. Abu Ishaq as-Syairazi (demised in 476  H = 1083  AD)
  2. Abu Nashr as-Shabbagh (demised in 477  H = 1084 AD)
  3. Abu Qasim Al-Alawi (demised in 495 H = 1089 AD)
  4. Abu Abdullah Al-Thabari (demised in 495  H = 1101 AD)
  5. Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali (demised in505 H = 1111 AD)
  6. Radliyyudin Al-Qazwaini (demised in 575 H = 1179 AD)
  7. Al-Firuzabadi  (demised in 817 H = 1414 AD)

Ibnu Khalikan in his book Wafaqatul A’yan narrated on Abu Ishaq as-Syairazi that he was asked to give lesson by Wazir Nizamul Mulk. But when the students were gathering to listen to his lectures, he didn’t appear. Then he was fetched but he was not found. So that he was then substituted by Ibnu Sabagh. The time had elapsed As-Syairazi was known to teach in his mosque. His students came to see him, and expressed their disagreement against his teacher’s attitude of rejecting Wazir’s request. And they insisted him to accept it otherwise  they would leave him and studied with Ibnu Sabbagh. He had no other alternative  so he accepted his students’ proposal. He began teaching by replacing Ibnu Sabbagh after teaching more or less twenty days.[5]

In this case, Ibnu Khalikan narrated that when time or prayer had come Abu Ishaq left the school and went to mosque. After saying his prayer he went back to school to give the lesson again. Ibnu Khalikan commented regarding this matter, that Abu Ishaq knew most fund of this school construction building came from unlawful wealth. This made him refuse teaching in this school when he was requested for the first time. When he was insisted by his students, as if he were faced with two alternatives: to accept Wazir’s offering or to lose the followers. In the long run he chose to accept the offering of Nizamul Muluk, because this choice was lighter.

            Whereas why his students or followers insisted him because if  they together with their teacher were far from the Nizamiyah school, they would lose various facilities, meanwhile Wazir was very generous to the students as well as Muslim scholars.[6]

            The financial cost for Nizamiyah school in Baghdad amounted to 60,000 dinar annually.

            The teaching learning program in this school was not much known exactly. But there are much evidence showed that the lesson plans were limited to Islamic Jurisprudence, and there were no philosophy. Some of evidence was as follows:

1)      No historians said that among the subjects were medical science, Cosmology, or Mathematics like what we found in Baitul Hikmah in Baghdad or Darul Ilmi in Cairo. They just mentioned the subjects of Arabic grammar (Nahwu), Islamic Jurisprudence (Fiqih), and Theology.

2)      The scholars who were mentioned as teachers in Nizamiyah School in Baghdad were like Abu Ishaq A-Syairazi, Al-Ghazali and Al-Qzwaini, from Syari’ah department. No philosopher who mastered general sciences participated in teaching in this school.

3)      Nizamiyah school was not a person who was interested in general science nor supporter of scientific research.

4)      The era of Nizamul Muluk was the era of Philosophy declension. In this era people put emphasis on education and religion, not improving sciences : general sciences (hikmah science) nor developing freedom of thought  like what happened in Baitul Hikmah previously.[7]

  1. This was the situation of Nizamiyah school where Imam Ghazali had taugh for four years. The question is : Why did Al-Ghazali leave Nizamiyah School?. Was it from his own impulse that he wanted to exile from the worldly life? Or was As-Syairozi’s opinion on unlawful fund of the school influenced his soul? Or due to the school climate that didn’t like general sciences , while he tended to those sciences.
  2. Possibility of Education

Education, according to Al-Ghazali, was omitting bad moral and planting the good one. So education is a process of systematic activity to create progressive changes on human behaviors. For example, how far is the possible change which can be attained through those efforts? Is it possible to lose the bad moral and to plant the good moral fully?

Before further discussion, lets first discuss about the meaning of moral or Akhlaq  itself.

Akhlaq, an Arabic word, plural form of Khulqun / khuluqun, according to Arabic-English Dictionary means moral, character, temperance.

The difference between temperance and character is as follows.

Temperance is the soul constitution which is closely related with body. The possibility to change temperance or educate it is very little, because in the temperance there are elements which cannot be influenced by will.

Character is situation or soul constitution appearing in its actions. Character epends on potency and life environment (social and education). So, the character depends on the inner power and to the outer power. Character is bigger than temperance. The temperance exists in the character, the character can be changed and educated.[8]

Akhlaq (conduct) is also meant as morals (plural). For instance, Christian morals = those qualities which placed human acts in conformity with the Judae- Christian tradition, namely the Ten Commandment and the Two Commandments of the New Law: “Love God” and “Love your neighbor as yourself”[9]

Al-Akhlaqul Islamiyah


  1. Al-Ghazali’s Concepts on Education
    1. The role of Education.

Al-Ghazali belonged to sufistic group who paid much attention to education, because the education put emphasis on the life of any nation and thought. This is Ahmad Fuad Ahwani’s observation toward Al-Ghazali’s concept of education.[10]

      Meanwhile H.M.Arifin, a professor in the field of education said, when viewed from philosophical aspect, Al-Ghazali was a fellow of idealism school of thought who was committed to the religion as his basic point of view.[11]

In education matter Al-Ghazali tended to have empiric understanding. This due to his emphasis on the influence of education upon children. In his opinion, a child depended on his/ her  parents. A child’s heart is clean, pure, as if it were a valuable diamond, simple and clean from any feature. This was in harmony with the Prophet’s tradition as saying:

Kullu mauludin yuuladu ‘alal fitrah fa abawaahu yhawwidaanihi au yunashiraanihi au yumajjusaanihi.” H.R. Muslim

Every baby was born clean, his two parents caused him becomes Jews, Christians or Majusi, (HR Muslim)

      In relations with the said tradition, Al-Ghazali said that when a child got good teaching and  habits . on the other hand, when a child was accustomed to do bad deeds and evil things, so the child will have bad conducts. The importance of education was based on the life experience of Al-Ghazali himself.

  1. The Aim of Education.

After discussing the role of education as described above Al-Ghazali further  explained the aim of education. According to him, the aim of education is  to be near to God Allah the Almighty, not to gain  luxury and got the position to earn money. Because when the aim of education was directed not to approach himself to Allah, jealousy, hatred, and enmity will  appear.[12]

Such aim of education is relevant with Allah’s verse of the Holy Quran as follows:

“I created the jiin and humankind only that they might worship Me.” QS.51 Al-Dzariyat : 56[13]

Besides, this definition reflects Zuhud attitude of Al-Ghazali toward the worldly life, satisfaction feeling (to feel sufficient for the available one), and much thinking of the hereafter life rather than the worldly life. Such attitude was shown also when his father’s friend sent Al-Ghazali and his brother, Ahmad, to Islamic school which provided with various facilities, meals and baverages as well as other study facilities. In relation with is matter Al-Ghazali said, “I have come to this place to look for Allah’s pleasure, not to look for wealth and mercy.”[14]

Al-Ghazali had such aim of education because he considered the world not to be main subject, not eternal and will be in destruction, while the death could cut the mercy any time. The world was only the temporary passing place, not eternal. Whereas the hereafter was the eternal; village, and the death always keeps watchful eye over every man.

      Al-Ghazali further said that the man having sound reason would be able to use the world for the purpose of the hereafter, so that the person would get high position beside God and would enjoy his happiness in the hereafter. This indicated that the aim of education according to Al-Ghazali wouldn’t insult the world, but the world was only as a tool.  This understood by Al-Ghazali based on the holy Quran:

“…whereas the life of the world is but matter of illusion”.

QS. Al-Hadid 57:20[15]



“And verily the latter portion will be better for thee than the former.”

QS. Al-Dzuha, 93: 4[16]

  1. His Opinions about Teaching Profession.

In harmony with the importance of education in obtaining the aims mentioned above, Al-Ghazali also explained about the character of teacher who may carry out his duties. The characteristics as follows: Guidelines for Teachers.

  1. Teacher should love his students like he loves his own kids.
  2. Teacher should not hope material (wage) as the main aim from his job, teaching, because teaching is a task bequeathed by the holy Prophet Muhammad PBUH, while his wage lies at the establishment of students who applied the knowledge he teaches.
  3. Teacher should remind his students  so that their purposes to acquire knowledge not for his pride or look for  personal benefits, but to approach himself to Allah.
  4. Teacher should encourage his students in order to seek the beneficial knowledge, i.e. the knowledge that leads to the happiness in the world and in the next world hereafter.
  5. Before his students, teacher should give good examples, such as to be humble, polite, patient, generous, and other noble characters.
  6. Teacher should teach the lessons in accordance with the children’s intellectual  and  response.
  7. Teacher should apply what he has taught, because he becomes the idol in the students’ eyes.
  8. Teacher should understand his students’ interest, potency, and psychology, so that he won’t educate them wrongly, and the relationship between teacher and his students will be closed and good.
  9. Teacher should be able to plant the faith to the students’ personality, so that their reasons will be inspired by the faith.[17]

If the type of ideal teacher wanted by Al-Ghazali mentioned above  is viewed from teacher’s perspective as profession, it seems to directed to teacher’s moral and personality, while the aspects of skill, profession, and the material mastery and teaching method are less paid attention.This can be understood, because Al-Ghazali used sufistic  paradigm which palces teacher as  central figure, idol, and even as having spiritual power, where the students tend to him a lot.By such position teacher has an important role in education. This may be no longer relevant with pattern and approach of the applied education in the modern society right now.Teacher’s position in education today is not the only  agent of science and information, because science and information have been mastered by not only teacher but also technological equipment of data safety and so on. Teacher in this era becomes facilitator, guide, and man of source who directs the teaching learning process.

            The type of ideal teacher presented by Al-Ghazali which is full of codes of ethic, remains to be considered relevant  in case not considered as the only model, but  if it is completed with requirements of academic and profession. The ideal teacher today is the teacher who has requirement of personality as forwarded by Al-Ghazali , and requirements of academic as well as profession.



  1. Children’s Education.

In Ihyaulumuddin, Al-Ghazali described a lot about children’s education i.e. their physical, intellect and conduct since early beginning of their growth. In brief there are some directions as follows:

  1. Children’s education should be paid attention since birth, including their education of all aspects. This task should be trusted to pious women. He was of the opinion that if children were ignored since early growth, in general they would have   bad conduct, such as telling lies, doing insulted acts. In order to maintain children from such a bad character , good education is required.
  2. In order to educate simple life in having meals , clothing and sleeping. According to Al-Ghazali, children should be educated to be simple in their meals, fore example, to make a custom of having dried bread without jam in certain time, to persuade the children not to put emphasis on eating, and therefore they should be satisfied with the plain food. Children should be suggested to put on white clothes, not colored or flowered, for such color is women’s clothing. He also suggested preventing children from sleeping on thick mattress so that their muscles became strong.
  3. Children should be taught the Holy Quran, selected Traditions, biography of noted people, so that their hearts will have sense of respect to pious people, on the contrary they should not read poem, pornographic book, because this can plan seed of moral destruction in their souls.
  4. Give enough time to train their physical education so that their body will be healthy and energetic. He said, “Children should be trained in the morning by taking a walk, sport, and other exercises so that they won’t be lazy. In other occasion  he said, “After learning activity, children should be give chance to play a game so they will refresh from tiring study. Yet the games should not make them tired, to forbid children to play and to stress them to continuously study in fact will kill their soul, in consequent they will find trick in order to get out from such a difficulty.
  5. Teacher should plant noble character and polite manner and get rid them of insulted and bad character. He should also plant courage and endurance, dignity of family, respect of parents, they should be trained of little talk, good listening method, oath reluctance, obedience to teachers. They should also be kept away from bad talk and pride of their parents’ wealth to their friends.
  6. Children should be maintained from acquaintance of their bad friends because bad character  will be contagious just like contagious disease to sound body.
  7. Good character and praised acts shown by children should be awarded because the reward will attract children to do more good deeds.
  8. No mocking or insulting children more and more when they are making mistakes. Al-Ghazali said, Never say bad words to children when they are making a mistake, because  such method will make children ignore the mockery and make mistakes in  the long run. They will be immune insulted words, that’s why parents should keep their self respect.
  9. When children grow to be teenagers they should be taught principles of religious knowledge, and don’t let them leaving their prayers.
  10. When they grow adult, begin to teach them jurisprudence knowledge , because in this period their reason development enable to access such knowledge.

There are also some demands for Students.

Imam Ghazali as a well known person who has a lot of experience on Education and instruction, has lied guidelines for the students to gain success in acquisition of knowledge. Here are his thoughts presented by Mustafa Amin quoted from Al-Ihya Second Volume, Chapter V.

a)      Students should put emphasis on soul purity from dirt of conduct and bad character. Because the student of bad character is far from the true and useful knowledge.

b)      Students should decrease their business in worldly affairs and be far from relatives and home town, because the worldly affairs can bother their attention. God didn’t create two hearts in man’s chest.

c)      Students should not proud of themselves upon knowledge and never humiliate teacher , but they must offer all affairs to him and listen to his advice like sick people should obey their doctor’s advice. When a teacher tell them learning method they should follow it and leave their own opinions. Teacher’s fault is more beneficial for them than their true opinions. In short, every student who defend his own opinion and his choice is not his teacher’s choice  he might fail and suffer losses.

In line with the principle that the acquisition of knowledge is a worship and a self approach  toward Allah , therefore the students should carry out as follows:

Guidelines for Students.

1)      To respect teachers, to be humble and not to be arrogant. This is in relevant with Al-Ghazali’s opinion stating that the acquisition of knowledge is a heavy struggle demanding high diligence and teacher’s guidance.

2)      To feel one building with other students so that they become one building which love and help one another and also affectionate one another.

3)      To get ride of learning various sects which can create disturbance in mind.

4)      To study not only one kind of useful knowledge, but also to study various knowledge and to endeavor  diligently so tey can gain the objective of respective knowledge.[18]


d)     Curriculum.

Traditionally curriculum means the subjects given to the students in order to plant a number of knowledge so that they are able to adapt with their environment. The curriculum is composed to attain the given objectives.

Al-Ghazali’s opinion on curriculum can be understood from his opinion about knowledge.

[1] Drs. Udin Sarifuddin Winataputra MA and Drs. Rustana Adiwinata, Materi Pokok Perencanaan Pengajaran, Ditjen Bimbaga Islam dan UT, 1991, page 120-121.

[2] Prof.H.M. Arifin M.Ed,Ilmu Pendidikan Islam, Bumi Aksara, Jakarta, 1991, p. 40-41.

[3] Ibid, page 42.

[4] Fathiah Hasan Sulaiman, Sistem Pendidikan Islam Versi Al-Ghazali, alih bahasa Drs. Fathurrahman May dan Drs. Syamsuddin Asyari, PT Al-Ma’arif, Bandung, 1986. P. 25-26.

[5] Abu Bakar Aceh, Prof.Dr. Op. Cit., p. 135.

[6] Syarafuddin Khattab, At-Tarbiyyah fil Ushuril Wustha, Egypt, Mathba’ah, p. 30.

[7] Ibid., p. 32

[8] Bigot CS., Ilmu Jiwa dan Pendidikan, Yogyakarta, till chapter V Charactereology.

[9] Carter V. Good, Directory of Education, New York, Mc. Graw Hill Book Company, Inc., entry Morals.

[10] Ahmad Fuad Al-Ahwani, At-Tarbiyah fi al-Islam, Egypt : Dar al-Misriyyah, tt, p. 238.


[12] Muhammad Athiyah Al-Abrasy, At-Tarbiyah al-Islamiyah wa falasifatuha, Egypt: Isa al-Babi al-Halabi, 3rd printed ,1973, p.237.

[13] Marmaduke Pickthall, The Meaning of The Glorious Quran Text and Explanatory Translation, Karachi:Taj Company Ltd, p. 526

[14] Ibid, p. 237

[15] Ibid, p. 548

[16] Ibid, p. 627.

[17] HM. Arifin, Op. Cit., Page 103-104.

[18] Al-Abrasyi, Lock. Cit.


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