Islamic schools will strengthen the connections in the God Module in the child’s brain and make him a God-conscious person.
Education should address not only the mind and body, but also the heart and soul of a child. Academic knowledge without moral and value-based guidance creates progress but an undirected development of a society. Academic knowledge should never be presented to children in a moral vacuum. Allah (SWT) should always be a part of the lesson. An example of this would be teaching about a seed developing into a plant. Through practical experience students discover that of the 20 seeds sowed in a pot, only 15-17 develop into a plant even though all the seeds have the essential things (air, water, sunlight and warmth) to facilitate their growth. There is no reason that explains the inability of some seeds to grow into plants. The teacher then informs the students that the seeds that did not grow into plants did not have Allah’s help. Thus scientific knowledge is taught within the context of “God consciousness.”
Being a medical doctor and teacher, I can even extend this context of “God consciousness” to the teaching of Medicine. For example, the fact that some people who are infected with the Hepatitis B virus manifest the disease (and can even die of the disease) whereas others (who are called carriers) do not have any symptoms of the disease even though they are also infected by the virus. I would explain this to my students by bringing in “Allah.” Allah (SWT) is the one who decides who will suffer from Hepatitis B irrespective of the presence of the virus in the body. The awe and marvel of our Lord’s creation should be discussed by the teacher for the students to experience and internalise the academic and religious knowledge.
Our brain is made of billions of nerve cells. These nerve cells are able to perform their actions through connections between nerve cells (called synapses). A child is born with billions of such neural connections. Some of these connections represent understandings or patterns that the child already possesses at birth. As the child experiences life in the world, connections are gradually strengthened. Connections that are essential to the individual’s overall development and functioning remain. Those connections that are not strengthened by use atrophy that is, decrease in size affecting their function. At the same time, new connections form as the growing child experiences the world around him. This process continues throughout our lives but never at quite the same rapid rate as it does during infancy and early childhood. The environment in which the child is immersed will either reinforce or neglect the God consciousness that already exists in the child. Islamic schools aim to nurture the seeds of iman and taqwa, implanted in our brains before birth by the Creator Himself.
The fact that Allah (SWT) has implanted connections in our brain related to God consciousness has been corroborated by scientists. In 1997, Los Angeles Times reported that Dr Vilayanur Ramachandran, director of the Center for Brain and Cognition at the University of California headed a research team, which suggested the discovery of a “God module.” This area of the brain is responsible for our instinct to believe in God. “There may be a dedicated neural machinery in the temporal lobes concerned with religion,” the team had reported at a conference.
The findings about “God module” was based on a study conducted by Dr Ramachandran. Some persons suffering from epilepsy (fits) report spiritual feelings during the attack. In such persons there was an increase in the electrical activity of a certain part of the brain (God module), which was recorded by EEG. Dr Ramachandran compared the electrical activity of the same area of the brain in people who were religious with those who were not. The results showed that electrical activity could be recorded in that area of the brain in religious people whereas no or decreased activity could be recorded in those who were not religious.
As mentioned earlier, connections in the brain get strengthened in childhood. Therefore, an Islamic environment both at home and at school (where the child spends most of his wakeful hours) will reinforce the connections in the God module, which Allah (SWT) has implanted into our brains in His divine mercy.
What after Islamic school? … The age of 3-15 years is the vital age when the connections get strengthened in the God module. So after Islamic schooling they need not go to an Islamic college because in the impressionable 13 years of their life, the connections in the God module would have become strong. Islamic schools will strengthen the connections of the God module of our child’s brain and will make him a God conscious person, so by the time he goes to college he will become immune to atrophy of the connections in the God module.
Dr Shehnaz Shaikh is a Medical Doctor with an MD in Human Physiology. She is the founder and Principal of Al-Mu’minah School – An Islamic Academic School for Girls in Mumbai and can be reached at email@example.com.