Islam as Education: Pedagogies of Pilgrimage, Prophecy, and Jihad

by Aaron J. Ghiloni

Motivated by the intellectual historian Shahab Ahmed’s observation that “the history of Islamic paideia has yet to be written,” Islam as Education explores multiple forms that the search for knowledge and the transmission of wisdom have taken in Islam, focusing on the classical period (800–1500 CE). Ghiloni draws on a wide range of Islamic primary source material, ranging from sacred texts and parables to neglected pedagogical literature and paintings. He depicts three Islamic religious practices—pilgrimage, prophecy, and jihad—as modes of pedagogy: embodied ways of defining, defusing, and defending sacred knowledge.

Islam as Education’s educational heuristic not only aids in understanding Islam, but also provides guidance for intercultural and interreligious relations. Ghiloni argues that Islam’s grand ʿilm (knowledge) tradition serves as a bridge between Muslims and non-Muslims, and compares it with the educational theory of John Dewey, the celebrated American pragmatist. Based on this discussion, a final chapter develops practical tools for learning from cultural and religious difference.