A Paper presented to the Middle Atlantic States Philosophy of Education Society,
West Chester University, October 1992
The Aristotelian Precedents of Islamic Moral Education: A Reformist Perspective
Antonia D'Onofrio, Ph. D.
Center for Education
Any new idea, Mahoud, is asked two questions. The first is asked when it is weak: what kind of idea are you? Are you the kind of idea that compromises, does deals, accommodates itself to society, aims to find a niche, to survive; or are you the cussed, bloody minded, ramrod-backed type of damnfool notion that would rather break than sway with the breeze? The kind that will almost certainly, ninety-nine times out of a hundred, be smacked to bits, but on the hundredth time, will change the world?
----- S. Rushdie, Satanic Verses.
The Purpose of the Investigation
In this paper, I will evaluate a number of issues associated with the education of virtue from the perspective of a reformist movement occurring within contemporary Islamic society. The major arguments advanced by two scholars associated with this movement, Din Khalil (1991) and all Awani (1989), have figured largely in my investigation. Their writings have stimulated the following objectives of this paper:
1.To identify ethical elements that reside in a reformist approach to Islamic curriculum and schooling.
2.To examine in a preliminary way the pedagogical discourse of Din Khalil and al'Awani. This exercise was an attempt to distill thematic content about the education of virtue from the point of view of these two theorists.
3.To create an intelligible context for understanding this reform movement. I will refer their ideas regarding a moral education to Aristotelian principles.
4.To propose for subsequent curriculum inquiries some unresolved problems suggested by this analysis. These pertain mostly to the problem of constructing culturally authentic definitions of morality.
Identity in a Religious Framework
Western educational theorists often translate explicit concepts of a morally autonomous individual into prescriptions for secular schooling that focus on the development of responsibility for one's actions, willingness to make self-directed ethical decisions, and the ability to regulate one's interactions with others independently (Beyer & Wood, 1986; Dewey, 1916; Greene, 1978). 1 chose to begin this analysis with an anecdote because it portrays how one Muslim student in a Western university negotiated an intellectual compromise between Western ideas of moral autonomy and personal connections to the religious beliefs that order his life.
Ahmed, a Malayan student in an undergraduate seminar on ethical values, delivered a report on pornography from an Islamic perspective. Ahmed concluded his report urging, "Come back to religion and prayer." This conclusion was justified by a rather sophisticated argument. Prayer makes the "pure life" possible. Having lived and studied in the West, he disagreed with legal bans on pornography. To Ahmed the choice to enjoy pornography should be available. But he argued, prayer makes it unnecessary to exercise this freedom.
Although Ahmed may have engaged in some assiduous mental exercise to reach his conclusions, he advanced the following implicit arguments about an appropriate moral response to pornography.
1. Individuals are able to choose virtue over evil.
2.Individuals will choose virtue if provided with life experiences that are felicitous to the development of virtue.
3. Individuals exercise the choice of virtue only if the choice is made available as a conscious and deliberate act.
Delimiting our understanding of educational reform within Islam are Western beliefs that Muslims generally have a formulaic orientation toward ethics, or that duty and morality are synonymous (Serpell, 1969; Serpell, 1976; Strauss, Ankori, Orpaz, & Stavy, 1977). For that reason four terms require definition.
Fundamental should be assumed to have its ordinary meaning. Although the word fundamentalist can and often does connote strict obedience to religious duty and prescription, that is not a necessary interpretation of the word within reformist Islamic theories.
Value: Once again the ordinary meaning should be entertained, a quality desired because of its moral attractiveness.
Pious: a term referring to the quality of showing religious devotion. Within the Islamic context, the word pious does not necessarily designate that one makes a pretense of virtue.
Virtue: A quality of individuals that describes their power to do good.
For believing Muslims, including fundamentalists, expressions of faith are demonstrated by conduct that is consistent with the Quran. The Quran, which contains principles for living a pious life, according to al'Alwani, serves ultimately as a plan for the spiritual salvation of each individual. Din Khalil asserts that individuality is also preserved by adherence to the Quranic ethic, because salvation is offered to each person who embraces it. The Schooling of Knowledge and Belief
The Islamization of Knowledge: A Contemporary Plan for Authentic Muslim Schooling
Pious Muslims understand the creation myth to be an allegory that depicts the moral nature of schooling (Din Khalil, 1991) Din Khalil likens the creation myth to an archetypal representation wherein the first Teacher (Allah) transmits knowledge of the world to humankind (Adam and Eve). A transaction is portrayed in which a mythical account of moral obligation was originally conveyed. The first man and woman were obliged to master all the world contains.
The quality of this relationship is described by Din Khalil as a struggle between Kufr and Iman (between worldliness and concordance with the plan of the Creator), the seen and the unseen, the mundane and the holy. To humans fell the responsibility to resolve these conflicts, to live in harmony, to overcome duality, and to live within the Sunmah [the holy plan prescribed in the Quran and enacted in the life of Mohammed].
Contemporary Muslim scholars argue that the modern experience of educated Muslims has caused an intellectual duality that contradicts an elemental obligation to find balance between the worldly and the pious (Ahmad, 1986; Faruqi, 1986; Lodhi, 1989; al Qaradawi, 1987). They explain that this duality is in large part a product of the imperialism of the colonial period. Moreover, they suggest that modern science has introduced additional cultural distortions that separate educated Muslims from knowledge that is fundamentally Islamic in nature.
The Islamization of Knowledge also refers to a needed re-integration, at both theoretical and practical levels, of contemporary knowledge and Islamic thinking; that is, an Islamic conception of the universe. According to Din Khalil, Islamic schooling would result in empowering the intellect by overcoming contemporary conflicts between divine and natural laws.
Pious Muslim scholars (al'Alwani, 1989; Abu Sulayman, 1985; al Qaradawi, 1984) argue that humans should use intellect to interact with the world in a virtuous way. As such, intellect should incorporate the transaction between divine and natural realities in order to inject meaning and value into schooling. Din Khalil represents the proper use of intellect as follows, 11 ... man, as the vice-regent of Allah, (was] put on earth to continue the task of regulating life according to Divine intentions."
Din Khalil contends that not all disciplines are uniformly able to benefit from an Islamic strategy that would bring secular and spiritual aspects of experience into harmony. Mathematics and geology, for example, are considered to be spiritually neutral disciplines. The attitudes and practices (the ethics) of those who put neutral disciplines to work are however of great concern. Din Khalil argues that science and technology risk being used as "counter-Islamic weapons".
Subtext in the writing of Din Khalil
Much of the writing by Din Khalil about an Islamic agenda for re-modeling schooling includes a sense of legacy, and a consciousness of alien elements that have separated Muslims from their traditions, and therefore from a sense of authentic identity. Din Khalil cites alien influences in secular schooling that he believes have contributed to continued perceptions of duality, and to personal feelings of emotional and spiritual conflict. However, Din Khalil
explains that contemporary Muslim educators are not so interested in asserting the sanctity of the Islamic legacy. This they take for granted. Rather they wish to discover and clarify the effects of alien experiences that are embedded in contemporary schooling. Din Khalil aims not so much to revise knowledge as to recognize the presence of intellectual material that separates believing Muslims from their intellectual traditions. Moreover, he aims to outline procedures to be followed in various disciplines that will at once satisfy the requirements of subject matter, be comprehensive, retain coherence, and yet be direct about spiritual and emotional messages.
A Thematic Lexicon
In order to isolate thematic material in the work of Din Khalil and all Alwani, I abstracted a lexicon of recurring terminology. Categories were derived from regularly repeating terms, concepts and ideas. This technique made it possible to classify ideas that were probably important to both authors. From conceptually similar terms, fundamental issues could be inferred. These could also be understood as principles that define Islamic i.deals of schooling. Aspects of schooling were reconstituted as important thematic categories.
1. Intentions refer to the goals of schooling. From an Islamic perspective the idealized experience of schooling was disclosed through terms like: overcoming duality, finding a homogeneous grounds consolidation, summarizing, integrating efforts, compiling, piecing together, becoming harmonious, containing (human experience) within the universe, covering everything, making compatible, interacting with surroundings, developing frameworks of faith, incorporating truth, connecting, realizing a comprehensive view, accommodating different aspects, blending, continuing, reconciling. Terms associated with harmony, containment, integration, or connection emphasized the importance of bringing the worldly into relationship with a pious life.
2. Ways of teaching and knowing are represented by intellectual activities, cognitive acts, that encourage achievement of an Islamic perspective. These words included: sifting, clarifying, analyzing, testing, discovering, specializing, communicating, expressing, organizing, examining, scrutinizing, tracing, verifying, classifying, categorizing. It is notable that the acquisition of knowledge was described by intellective processes that have a problemsolving orientation, and refer to higher-order thinking. Western taxonomies of cognitive competence include strategies associated with memory and the retention of information, in addition to more analytic competencies. Terms that refer to memorizing, recalling, representing, rehearsing were noticeably absent throughout the documents.
3. The use of knowledge suggests what the purpose of schooling might be. The lexicon contained entries like:
Shaping, weaving together, building, mastering, developing, imparting, reinforcing, overcoming duality, regulating, determining, controlling, protecting from alien elements, re-modelling, creating, and propagating. Terms like shaping, remodelling, creating, and propagating usually had as their complements an Islamic vision of learning and schooling.
4. Virtuous outcomes of schooling propose the moral basis of education, based on objectives that describe the social identity of the learner, as well as the civic and communal values that learners should develop in response to educational experiences. Din Khalil and al'Alwani posed the following moral elements of schooling: Iman, Shari'ah, overcoming kufr, expertise, knowledge, commitment, accuracy, belief, faithfulness, creating a world-wide context, achieving an Islamic vision, interweaving a fabric.
5. Deficiencies, the shortcomings of educational experiences, can impede efforts to develop virtue. In the Islamic view, impediments to the education of virtue included:
Duality, separation, deviation, distortion, misconception, ignorance, shallowness. The Islamic perspective describes ignorance, deviation, duality and distortion as states of separation from fundamental values that are given in the Quran and by tradition.
6. Alien (non-Muslim) elements introduce shortcomings into schooling that preserve dualities and distortions. In describing how this happens, Din Khalil and al'Alwani depended on words like: infiltrates, inserts, subverts, invades, smothers.
7. The legacy of schooling, i.e., that which education communicates about a society to its children, included terms like: Tradition, history, maturity, mission, creed, faith, Sunmah, fabric of interwoven threads, Figh, Hadith.
An implicit paradigm
When thematic material, found in the lexicon, was subsequently re-organized semantically, it suggested the following portrayal of authentic Muslim schooling.
The aim of Islamic schooling is to reconnect pious and worldly experiences, and to blend them into a harmonious relationship. Harmony can be achieved by examining and testing modern and traditional knowledge in order to discover how both can be applied theoretically and practically. The use of knowledge should realize its primary focus, that of portraying an Islamic vision of society. The moral value of schooling rests with the development of a comprehensive view of the world (its sacred and profane realities), and commitment to expertise shaped in a context of faith and piety. Failure to overcome alien influences has in the past subverted traditions of faith and piety, and contributed to a duality of Kufr and Iman. Ultimately the subversion of authentic Muslim values has led to distortions of character and intellect.
Schooling and the Quranic Framework
If the Islamization of Knowledge amounts to a new vision of schooling, the Quran could be viewed as a curricular framework for schooling experiences. The contents of a curriculum can be general or specific, and broad or prescriptive (Ornstein & Hunkins, 1989). Thus the Quran is not dissimilar to a curriculum. It contains a plan that places an individual in relationship to the divine. It is even used by faithful Muslims as source of legal, scientific, and moral knowledge. By analogy, the Quran is specific and prescriptive, and it includes strategies for living a pious life.
Schooling, knowledge and individuality
Western curriculum theorists begin the articulation of curriculum by identifying fundamental or core knowledge. The core may be variously grounded in scientific sources of knowledge, society and culture, the disciplines, or divine inspiration (Ornstein & Hunkins, 1989). Secular curriculum theorists also distinguish scientific, social, disciplinary and religious knowledge bases as independent sources of information. Distinctions of scientific knowledge and divinely inspired knowledge are not posited in the Islamic framework. In fact, it is because of the belief that all knowledge is divinely given, and therefore indivisible (Din Khalil), that Islamic educational theory avoids much of the appearance of revisionism that characterizes so many debates in our own recent history of schooling about evolution and creationism, or about how best to educate moral natures.
Din Khalil argues that Muslim students are not imperiled by secular explanations of the natural universe. The study of astronomy (like geology), for example, is also considered to be morally neutral. Competing interpretations of the origins of the universe are tolerable, since all possible understandings would have been known to Allah as well. In fact, it is Allah who reveals each successive level of scientific understanding in his own time. The greater moral peril comes from applications of knowledge that remove divine influence from interpretation. In other words, Islamic students are encouraged to interpret and reinterpret scientific phenomena because of their moral obligation to correct ignorance, and thereby to discover the many layers of Allah's intelligence.
The Islamic vision of schooling also stresses the importance of bringing individuality in line with something larger than the individual. Islamic traditions may also seem to choke off the capacity for critical thought, and appear intellectually repressive. However, from the Islamic perspective it is far too easy to decontextualize experiences. It is likewise very difficult to reconnect individuals to sources of knowledge that engage the intellect and retain moral value and meaning. Din Khalil speaks of taming the intellect, as if the fabric of experience is more important than the thread. He also, perhaps paradoxically, emphasizes analytic and abstract processes of thought. His claims not only recall historical images of the intellectual contributions of the Arab civilization to Western science; they also plant the trenchant suggestion that too keen an intellect can separate individuals from the source of intellectuality itself. A theme that emerges in his work is that secular infatuation with intellect can be a source of vice.
Aristotelian Conceptions of the Education of Virtue
Aristotle proposed something like a moral continuum on which Evil (acts that are evil in themselves) occupies one extreme (see Allen, 1991). On the continuum can also be found virtue, a disposition involving choices which discover a midpoint between excess and deficiency. The Aristotelian notion of virtue is that it is like a mid-point (or at least it aims at a mean). Finally there is virtue seen from the vantage point of supreme good, which Aristotle declares is the greatest or best virtue. This portrayal of virtue posits a range of choices between superordinate notions of good and evil. Between absolute good and evil can be found a theatre of operations in which individuals endeavor to achieve a rational balance, so they neither succumb to vice (excesses of appetite and instinct);nor take the easy way out and forsake good, seeking instead the absence of virtue (deficiency).
The Aristotelian ethic demands that we do some work to discover goodness by testing its truthful quality. In like manner, Din Khalil emphasizes that the mediating activities of individual reasoning can overcome the divide between the worlds of the sacred and profane by conscious intellectual effort.
The ethical component of secular Western schooling emphasizes individually managed morality (Fineberg, in Beauchamp, 1982). Given a range of choices posed as moral dilemmas, students are asked to choose between the greater and lesser good, or between conditioned good and evil. In this way secular Western educators aspire to foster a particular orientation toward moral reasoning:
That individuals of virtuous disposition will tend toward actions that are consistent with superordinate moral principles (Beauchamp, 1982).
This is essentially a deontological posture, and as such it anchors morality within the individual. The deontological perspective is also a modern perspective in which God has become epiphenomenal. Thus, secular education has the more difficult time determining where to situate the wisdom and moral counsel to decide on right princples, and when to apply them (Beauchamp, 1982).
Furthermore, the Aristotelian ethic is based on a morality of virtue rather than a morality of principles (Allen, 1991). Moral judgements are made, neither of behaviors nor of their consequences, but according to assumptions that are very similar to those of the student, Ahmed:
1. That one acts from choice;
2. That one's choice is determined by the intrinsic virtue of individual life experiences;
3. That one's moral disposition is firm.
Just as the virtuous individual is formed by opportunities to act in virtuous ways, so education must foster these opportunities (Beauchamp, 1982).
An insufficient education, then, is one that vitiates the will to choose virtuously, just as excess and deficiency destroy virtue itself.
Implications for research about Islamic schooling in contemporary settings
The discovery of culturally relevant constructs for cross-cultural inquiry has occupied much space in methodological literature. On the side of those who espouse non-ethnocentric perspectives, it can be argued that little can be understood about cultural meanings of schooling or the education of virtue by applying deontological arguments. There are too many occasions where fundamental differences in principles occur from one culture to another (Brandt, see Beauchamp, 1982).
Conversely, the discovery of moral universals requires that ethical conclusions be justifiable because they can be logically drawn from initial assumptions that are constant over occasions of individual experience. Admittedly this argument is important only if the pretext of principles that are constant over cultures is possible.
The issue of whether standards for judging ethical conclusions can depend on one's paradigm of inquiry is important but not entirely relevant to a study of contemporary reforms of Islamic schooling. Fineberg (see Beauchamp, 1982) has amply demonstrated that secular Western ethics posit no pre-ordinate rules or commands to obey, but are rather concerned with realizing justifiable conclusions from moral principles, and knowledge of when to apply them. The reformist Islamic movement described in this study posits a virtue ethic in which virtue in both its absolute and proportional sense is knowable and does contribute to virtuous conduct. For those who would inquire more deeply into this movement, it is very important to be certain of the normative values that apply to all occasions of Islamic schooling-- i.e., conclusions held to be ethical within every context of schooling or curriculum proposed by Islamic educators. In other words, do the proposals of Din Khalil and all Awani enjoy a coherent ethical structure?
Brandt expressed the dilemma of cross-cultural research very eloquently. What if adherence to a practice is justified on the basis of an argument that in fact one side or the other does not agree with, yet both sides conform to the practice (see Beauchamp, 1982). Both radical feminists and the university student Ahmed agree that pornography is evil, but is the nature of evil the same for each? Both Din Khalil and William James agree that ethically deficient educational practices vitiate the will. But do both agree on definitions of morally deficient educational practices, or whether the will is free to reason about virtue? Divine intention intervenes in the former case, and an inherent disposition is predicated in the latter.
The Islamic view of schooling limits the ethical autonomy of individuals. Secular Western perspectives on moral education generally posit reason as the ultimate ethical authority, and may therefore reject the conclusion that culturally different views of ethical conduct are not equally justifiable. However, ultimate disagreement on ethical practices does not necessarily entail fundamental disagreements on principles when a virtue ethic is substituted for a ethic of principles (Brandt, see Beauchamp, 1982). Aristotle then could be seen to provide a sympathetic framework for constructing the Islamic moral view. In fact by returning to an even earlier Socratic idea one can fix virtue (rather than moral authority) with the individual. For example it is possible to illustrate Brandt's argument in terms of two related moral claims searching for a super-ordinate principle or moral universal:
1.To limit an individual's freedom to make moral choices (for example, about reproductive choice) is always wrong, even though some individuals will make choices that differ from what we ourselves believe to be a virtuous choice.
2.To prevent others from enjoying safety (for example, an unpolluted environment) is always wrong, even if that means that our personal freedom (for example, economic self-determination) will be limited.
In the first argument an ethics of virtue is implicated because the statement assumes that virtue is entailed in the ethical choices of individuals. In the second argument, an ethics of virtue is also implicated because a 'good' might be denied in the event that individual freedoms obstruct that 'good'. However the first argument leads to a conclusion that is incompatible with Islamic ethics, or for that matter with Aristotelian ideas of virtue. Given an ethics of virtue, most individuals should collectively agree on the virtue of some choices and the iniquity of others since virtue cannot be relative but only absolute or proportional. The second argument however leads entirely to a conclusion that is consistent with Aristotle and the Quran, if it is possible to agree that communal safety is a virtue.
Even if safety is only a relatively greater 'good' than relative endangerment, the value of safety cannot be conditioned by the personal freedoms of any one individual. Therefore within an ethic of virtue it is always virtuous to provide for collective safety before investigating individual claims for personal freedom or selfdetermination. Brandt's caveat would then suggest that formal inquiries carefully analyze (a) the ethical contents of schooling, (b) cultural dispositions toward virtue, and (3) occasions when virtue is or can be proportional and when it is absolute.
At another level, understanding the cultural content of a virtue-based ethic is important to curriculum inquiry. For example, duty based morality, fostered by the tribal histories of many Islamic groups, is often a source of ethical conflict. Duty is often misunderstood for virtue, both by'Westerners and by segments of Islamic society, including members of the clergy and members of various political and social classes.
The following two arguments exemplify how a notion of a particular virtue (chastity) can be confounded with conduct and behavior as prescribed by custom (mores).
1.Purda (the custom of veiling women) is itself a virtue, synonymous with the chastity of the woman who veils herself.
2.Illicit carnal knowledge (particularly for an unmarried woman) signifies moral deficiency- i.e., she has been unchaste and therefore should be punished.
These arguments are not equal in the way each compares an underlying virtue with an associated behavior. The first either confuses duty with virtue, or perhaps deliberately equates duty with virtue. Within the framework of the Quran, purda follows from a chaste disposition and begets more chastity. The second argument stipulates illicit carnal knowledge as a morally deficient state and attaches a sanction for moral deficiency. The idea of virtue is lost in the social arrangements that require a brother or father to murder an unmarried daughter. It is not clear whether the moral deficiency of a woman, taken to be the absence of a virtue, is sufficient as the sole motive to warrant familial punishment, or whether fathers and brothers are also morally enjoined to act in a certain way because of a different virtue that refers to them, perhaps righteousness. In trying to come to terms with the ethical content of schooling (which after all preserves and communicates definitions of duty and virtue), distinctions between dutybased morality (which is always culturally determined) and virtue can become more difficult to untangle than distinctions between virtue and-principle.
If we believe it is important to come to terms with contemporary Islamic ethical thought, because we wish to apprehend Islamic schooling in all its expressions of collective morality, then it will be equally important to disclose culturally responsive ethical constructs as they are embedded within schooling and curriculum. To this end post-structuralist ethnographic theory can be helpful.
Wallach-Bullogh (1992) argues that it is important to understand the political milieu that mediates collective representations of value. Islamic reformers wish to return to a period in their intellectual history in which an Aristotelian ethic created a framework for resolving differences between the motives of individuals, thereby uniting individuals according to an ethic that embraced differences. This was achieved by postulating that virtue was within reach because it could be actively pursued.
However these reformers are in conflict with a more recent intellectual history that dates to the colonial period and that is inimical to the virtue ethic. The reformers are also in conflict with some clerical elements and classes in Muslim societies that embrace a duty ethic that is inimical to the important task of mediating differences with the West. The economic and social benefits that can be gained from Western technology and technical education also conflict with the anti-secular dispositions of Islamic scholars who are concerned that the fabric of Muslim culture will be damaged by the moral dilemmas presented by science and technology, dilemmas the West itself has not been able to resolve. Reformers are also in conflict with their most recent political past, characterized by secular Pan-arabist institutions and structures.
In addition, a virtue ethic itself introduces problems for cross-cultural curriculum inquiry. When a particular conception of virtue is implicitly endorsed within any society, schooling is taxed by the need to arrive at consensual agreement about the nature of good and evil. Whenever any two cultures disagree on the nature of virtue, they may likewise find it difficult to comprehend how another culture engages in moral reasoning about deeds judged proportionally virtuous. Should one explore a foreign logic regarding the meaning of virtue and evil, one may discover that first principles are "incommensurable", thereby making differences in moral conclusions "unsettable" (MacIntyre, see Beauchamp, 1982). This point is illustrated by the unequal construction of two previous examples; one that compared individual freedom with individual choice, and another that compared freedom to collective safety.
A second problem of virtue ethics arises when individuals must first recognize virtue before acting in an ethically reasonable way, particularly when making judgements of proportional virtue. For example, how does a Muslim woman distinguish herself as virtuous, in or out of purda, when she engages as a moral agent in the schooling of her children? Her own formal schooling experiences may have been influenced more by the secular traditions of the West than by pious tradition. She may not wish consciously to endorse a curriculum based on a duty ethic that eliminates moral and intellectual conflict; or she may not be consciously aware that a duty ethic ignores many of the arguments advance by Din Khalil and al'Awani. Therefore, research into the ethical content of schooling would ideally investigate:
1.If there is a conscious individual sense of separation from tradition, and if this separation acts as a backdrop for interpreting personal interactions with schools?
2.Whether personal texts can be mined for cultural statements about the moral importance of schooling?
3.If individual speakers seem unsure of how to interact with schools in an authentically Muslim way?
4.If contradictory thematic material is evident in the texts of individuals who express their experience of dissonant intellectual and moral traditions?
S. Whether in individual narratives the themes of individual responsibility co-exist with themes of traditional obligation, and whether the speaker is aware of the dissonance implied by their contradictory relationship?
6.How individuality is brought into line with something larger than the individual?
Research strategies are needed that distinguish a virtue ethic, that is constant throughout the Islamic experience, from schooling experiences that have been infused with a duty-based morality occurring because of singular political influences. Such research strategies must also be able to distinguish among the many voices that express the variety of negotiated roles and attitudes that are likely to be heard in settings that have unique histories and traditions.
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In order to clarify the Islamic translation of Aristotelian moral reasoning, it is helpful to distinguish Islamic ethics from fundamentalist Christian ethics. The former has its philosophical roots in the neo-Platonic tradition in which the choice of virtue is realized in correct impulses, choosing good because God affords this choice. The recognition of goodness is the recognition of an ideal order through personal intuitions. The will is attracted to goodness, and when the will is errant, attracted to evil, it is because evil has masqueraded as virtue, and has duped fragile moral instincts. Conversely the Aristotelian ethic portrays the choice of virtue as the pursuit of a normative idea of goodness that must be discovered "in the mind of Allah" if we are Muslims (in the mind of God if we follow Aquinas; or in the rational principles that occupy the mind of man if we follow Kant).
The author wishes to express her appreciation to Dr. John P. O'Malley who spent very valuable time clarifying important conceptual differences between forms of Aristotelian argument in theology, and various conceptions of virtue and evil in their respective theological models.