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TALK 4: Building a World-Class Higher Education under the Khilafah

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم



Building a World-Class Higher Education under the Khilafah "Caliphate"


A thousand years ago, distinguished universities existed in Gundishapur, Baghdad, Kufah,  Isfahan, Cordoba, Alexandria, Cairo, Damascus, and in several other major cities of Islamic regions. Higher education outside the Islamic State during that era existed only in Constantinople, Kaifeng (China), and Nalanda (India). And even then, the University of Constantinople was emulating universities in Baghdad and Cordoba. In western Europe, at this time, there wasn’t even a single university. The oldest university in Italy is the University of Bologna established in 1088. The University of Paris and Oxford University was established between the 11th and 12th century, and up until the 16th century only had reference books imported from the Islamic World.

Vast course selections of higher education in the Islamic Khilafah "Caliphate" State contributed in elevating the Islamic Civilization. Thousands of years before the era of the Wright brothers, Abbas ibn Firnas had made several experiments to engineer a flying machine. In the year of 852, he leapt off the great mosque of Cordoba's minaret, wrapped with a loose cloak stiffened with wooden struts. Ibn Ismail Ibn al Razzaz Al-Jazari, was a scientist and engineer who succeeded to develop the first robot in the world during the 12th century. He lived in Mesopotamia and worked for 25 years in the palace of Sultan Nasir Al-din Mahmoud. Apart from succeeding to develop robotic technology, he also developed tools that simplify human activities, by developing them to operate automatically with very limited human interference. Besides this, there were many more researches and inventions in the era of the Khilafah "Caliphate" which have changed the face of the world.

The loss of the Khilafah "Caliphate" State has obscured the portrait of education in the world today. Education has been manipulated in the way that now it has become an imperial tool and a means to further western foreign policy objectives rather than a means to create a golden generation and civilization. This is facilitated by the regimes of the Muslim World.

The following addresses the current problems with higher education, how the organization and funding of higher education will become a priority in the Khilafah "Caliphate" State, and how the Khilafah "Caliphate" State will practically organize higher education in order to fulfill the educational aspirations of the people, revive a great generation of scholarship and creativity, and ensure development and research to look after and serve the interests and needs of the people.

A. Problems with Higher Education

Today, higher education in the Muslim lands is being manipulated by foreign agendas. Higher education in the Muslim world has become an entry gate for academic imperialism, hegemony researches and secular propaganda. Higher education has become therefore an imperial tool to further western foreign policy objectives. Higher education in the absence of the Khilafah "Caliphate" aims no more to create a golden generation and civilization. The regimes of the Muslim World are facilitating all of these secular colonial agendas.

In Indonesia, it is being said that in the year of 2017, the government will discontinue the permits to establish academic higher education institutes and push the development of vocational higher education (Kompas, December 29th 2016). To be in line with industrial interests and imitating the organizing of higher education within the developed countries has become the main consideration. This is strong evidence of Indonesia’s higher education design being nothing but pragmatic, western civilization orientated and not having enough vision to produce human resources who will develop the state and lead the civilization. Higher education, instead of being the party which is supposed to produce capable human resources in serving the needs of the Ummah, and produce inventions and creations in which the Ummah widely can benefit from- is being even further directed to fulfill the needs of the industrial world or of the market. This also shows the pragmatic education design is capable only in producing workers for the state, when in fact education is truly supposed to produce an excellent generation to create an honorable civilization, not merely skilled professionally.

The development of research in higher education is being dominated by foreign corporations. This is mentioned in the regulations of the Ministry of Education and culture number 92, year 2014 concerning the requirements to gain professorship. One of them is that it is compulsory to write in a reputable international journal indexed by Web of Science, Scopus, Microsoft Academic Search or other indexes according to the directorate general of higher education. Science capitalism has become a global business power controlling the academic workforce in Indonesia, when as a matter of course, the measure of science’s interests is supposed to transform local people and achieve the betterment of their lives, not merely to be uploaded on prestigious elite journals. Meanwhile, the majority of the academic community is not able to access those journals due to the limited access, the language issue, overly specific material, or being highly abstract-theoretical. The capitalism logic is unavoidable in this situation, especially when viewed from the copyright perspective which requires the author to shift their right to the publisher. It seems unfair, but what authority does the author posses, when the article will not be published unless they signed the agreement (Tirta, 2016).

The Indonesian Minister of Research Technology and Higher Education M. Nasir is planning in early 2017 a proposal to bring foreign renowned scholars to Indonesia. They originate from the United States, Germany, The Netherlands, England, Australia, Japan, and South Korea. There is even a discourse about importing chancellors from overseas. The policy that has been determined will most likely be accelerated to achieve targets to push Indonesia’s higher education to enter The World Class University category by increasing doctoral programs and international publication and research partnerships with higher education institutions and universities. This policy we should admit openly as the evidence of Indonesia’s inferiority before other countries educational institutions. And on the other hand, emphasizing the domination and world cooptation by Western Secular-Capitalist States over higher education in the Muslim World (Indira, 2016).

This World Class University (WCU) trend is certainly not just rolling on its own. It’s UNESCO who first initiated it through its World Declaration on Higher Education for the Twenty first Century: Vision and Action program in Paris in 1998. The argumentation was based on the urgency of generating higher education roles in preparing the competitiveness of nations for entering the globalisation era. In Indonesia, the directorate general of higher education ratified it, in the name of the Higher Education Long Term Strategy (HELTS). Dr. Nikmah (researcher, University of Airlangga) said, one of the indicators of WCU, is a program of courses that are delivered in English. The standards of English comprehension is deemed compulsory, with internationalization being the given reason. So, each study major has an English course program. It seems to be the determining factor of higher education development. Within WCU, the institution is expected to provide proper facilities for foreign students, while according to Dr. Nikmah, even for local students the facilities provided aren’t adequate. Lecturers are pushed to pursue a higher level, and doctors are demanded to pursue professorship; all the while, the administration standards for academic employment are domineered by Western Capitalist. Hence, this results in the wasting of time and energy through merely pursuing the target of promotion in ranks and positions. Aside from that, there is now a change in emphasis in university “Tridarma” (three dedications) towards more focus on research and trigger innovations, instead of heading towards serving the interests of the people. Meanwhile, basic research and funding are insufficiently facilitated, compared to research towards intellectual property rights.

Another outstanding issue with higher education in the Muslim World is poor funding and organization from the state treasury fund, demonstrated by reduced opportunities for further study specialization and research. The result is a severe brain drain from our lands, such that the western nations benefit from the excellent minds and skills of this Ummah rather than the Muslim World. Poor allocation from state treasury funds is having an impact on the high cost of higher education. As an example, to study medicine in one of the leading universities in Indonesia, the fee cost is Rp.100 million per semester.

The brain drain or human capital flight is the departure of experts, scholars, and potential intellectuals to other countries which are commonly more developed than the country of origin. This is due to the lack of opportunity to do creative work, prompting them to move to countries that give them more possibilities to develop themselves and their knowledge. A report from UNDP (AmichAlhamami, 2007) mentioned, that it’s easier to look for Ethiopian originated medical specialists in the US than in Ethiopia itself.

Commonly the brain drain phenomena is characterized with youth of great potential with above average ability leaving the countries. Some are academics, engineers, computer experts, IT experts, and aerospace and astronomy experts, doctors, and experts in other fields. They conduct various research funded by foreign countries, so as a result the outcome and invention is patented overseas. The impact being, that Indonesia has to pay royalty to foreign countries to be able to access inventions from their own native sons. Research budget allocation in Indonesia is not more than Rp.1.73 trillion Rupiah (, and even then its research pattern is overlapping on its study topics. There is no clear direction or planning from the state, and its focus is merely toward international journal publications. Although accurate empirical data is unavailable, it is estimated 5% of the brain drain is from Indonesia. This is quite a significant figure considering the fall of Indonesia’s human resources due to its poor budget allocation from the state for education. Another problem due to the brain drain phenomena is that these intellectuals become mesmerized by the western secular-capitalist civilization and then return to the Muslim world to become the ambassadors of this Western culture in their region, due to their high standing and positions they gain from their qualifications. Therefore, higher education in the Muslim world today does not lead to progress and benefit for our Muslim lands, because it is not organized or funded to solve vital issues, interests and needs of our lands and its people. Subjects are not taught in a way aimed at helping in fulfilling the vital issues, interests and needs of our lands and its people and the sincere development of that region, rather it is individualistic and detached from these goals.

In contrast, the organization and funding of higher education will be a priority for the Khilafah "Caliphate". The Khilafah "Caliphate" will practically organize higher education in order to fulfill the educational aspirations of the people, reviving a great generation of scholarship and creativity. It will also ensure sincere development and research in the Muslim lands, and that the vital issues, interests and needs of the people are looked after and served through intellectual empowerment. The organization of higher education in the Khilafah "Caliphate", its goals, types, and institutions can be found in Hizb ut Tahrir’s publication - The Foundations of the Education Curriculum in the Khilafah "Caliphate".

B. Higher Education Organization under Khilafah "Caliphate"

In the Khilafah "Caliphate", there are 3 goals of higher education: (i) To focus and deepen the higher education students’ Islamic personality and to produce Islamic scholars with specialization in all the branches of Islamic culture. (ii) To produce a task force able to serve the Ummah’s vital interests, as well as a task force able to draw short-term and long-term (strategic) plans. (iii) Preparing the necessary task force to take care of the Ummah’s affairs, such as generating sufficient doctors, teachers, nurses, engineers and those in other important professions for the needs of the people and the state.

Higher education under the Khilafah "Caliphate" State is of two main types:

Firstly- Study by Teaching (where teaching is greater than research): This is organised/formal teaching offered by faculties and universities via courses (manaahij), lectures and educational time tables. The student attains the “First Degree” certificate known today as a diploma if this education was technical or vocational; or a second academic certificate (ijaaza) known today as a “License” or “Baccalaureate” in a specific subject in one of the university faculties.

Secondly- Study by Research: This is a study that follows study by teaching where research is greater than teaching. The student learns to innovate in scientific research, and specialises in a specific cultural or scientific option. He undertakes precise and specialised research in order to discover a novel idea or unprecedented new invention. The student attains the “First International Degree (Ijaza)” known today as a “Masters” degree. Thereafter he attains the “Second International Degree”, known today as a “Doctorate”, in a cultural or scientific research field.

Higher Education Institutions

The Khilafah "Caliphate" State will establish the following institutions to achieve its higher education goals:

  1. Technical Institutes
  2. Civil Service (Employment) Institutes
  3. Universities
  4. Research and Development Centres
  5. Military Institutes/Academies
  1. 1)Technical Institutes

These institutes’ function is to prepare a technical workforce specialised in modern techniques such as repairing electronic devices e.g. telecommunication devices and computers, as well as other vocations that require more in-depth knowledge and science than offered by simple vocations. Among these institutes are agricultural institutes subordinate to the State’s Department of Agriculture in coordination with the Education Department of The State. They specialise in agricultural subjects that do not need university study. These institutes serve to prepare a qualified workforce to practically undertake agriculture e.g. techniques of irrigation and organising tree and crop agriculture, followed by tending via fertilisers, pruning, vaccination (tat’eem) etc. Also animal rearing such as livestock and birds, agro-processing and meat-processing etc.

  1. 2)Employment Institutes

These institutes’ function to prepare a workforce able to undertake some jobs that do not require the student to join university. To enroll in such institutes the applicant must have at least passed the general exam for the school stages.

Some of these institutes produce nurses and medical assistant personnel like X-ray technicians, laboratory technicians and dental technicians. There are also institutes for simple financial and administrative vocations, and whatever is required to run small companies and their related accounts without the need to join the university e.g. bookkeeping, cashbooks and Zakat accounts.

Some of these institutes produce teachers able to work in the various school stages as well as preparing special courses for university graduates wishing to work in the education fields.

Institutes are spread and diversified throughout the State’s area according to the area’s needs. Coastal area, for instance, have institutes for marine vocations such as fishing, ship repair and running ports; whereas area known for agriculture have agricultural institutes, and so on.

  1. 3)Universities

The student who passes the “General Examination for the School Stages” is entitled to apply to enter the State’s Universities. Acceptance into specific specialisations depend upon the following:

  1. The student’s average marks in the “General Examination for the School Stages.”
  2. The student’s specialisation option in the third school stage, whether culture, science or commerce.
  3. The student’s marks in the subjects in the general exam for the third school stage related to the option one intends to specialise in. The student of the Faculty of Fiqh and Shari’ah Sciences, for instance, must have attained high marks in the subjects of Islamic culture and Arabic language. The student opting for engineering must excel in mathematics and physics subjects, whereas the medical sciences student must excel in life sciences (Biology) and chemistry, and so on. Experts determine the relevant subjects for each university specialisation and the average marks required for each one.

The university includes various faculties such as:

  1. Faculty of Islamic Culture and its sciences: Tafseer, Fiqh, Ijtihad, Judiciary, Shariah Sciences.
  2. Faculty of Arabic Language and its sciences.
  3. Faculty of Engineering Sciences: Civil, mechanical, electrical, electronic, telecommunication, aeronautical, computer engineering, etc.
  4. Faculty of Computer Science: Programming, information systems, program engineering, etc.
  5. Faculty of Sciences: Mathematics, chemistry, physics, computing, astronomy, geography, geology, etc.
  6. Faculty of Medical Sciences: Medicine, nursing, medical analysis, dentistry, pharmacy.
  7. Faculty of Agricultural Sciences: Crop agriculture, livestock, cattle and poultry rearing, food preservation, crop and livestock disease sciences.
  8. Faculty of Financial and Administrative Sciences: Accounting, economic science, commerce.

Faculties can be innovated or merged according to need.

4) Research and Development Centres

The function of these centres is to produce precise and specialised research work in various cultural and scientific fields. In cultural fields, they participate in attaining deep thoughts whether in drawing long- term (strategic) plans, styles for carrying the da’wah via embassies and negotiations, or in Fiqh, Ijtihad, Language Sciences etc. In scientific fields, they work to innovate new means and styles in fields of implementation e.g. Industry, Nuclear Science, Space Science, etc that require depth and expertise in research.

Some of these centres are subordinate to universities, while others are independent of universities while subordinate to the Education Department. Scholars, university lecturers and some distinguished students—whose academic study displayed research, innovation, and development ability—work in these centres.

5) Military Research Centres and Academies

They function to produce military leaders, and to develop military means and styles that realise (the objective of) terrorising the enemies of Allah and the Muslims. These centres and academies are subordinate to the Amir of Jihad.

With all this sisters, the Khilafah "Caliphate" will establish a world-class higher education system Insha Allah, reviving a great generation of scholarship and creativity, as well as make great strides in development and research. Therefore, the manipulation by western civilizations of higher education in Muslim lands must be stopped. It’s time to bring back the Khilafah "Caliphate" to make a better world. It is this state alone that will make knowledge fulfil its true purpose for mankind, like rain that benefits this earth and everything within it. The Prophet (saw) said,

«إِنَّ مَثَلَ مَا بَعَثَنِيَ اللهُ بِهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ مِنَ الْهُدَى وَالْعِلْمِ كَمَثَلِ غَيْثٍ أَصَابَ أَرْضًا فَكَانَتْ مِنْهَا طَائِفَةٌ طَيِّبَةٌ قَبِلَتْ الْمَاءَ فَأَنْبَتَتْ الْكَلَأَ وَالْعُشْبَ الْكَثِيرَ وَكَانَ مِنْهَا أَجَادِبُ أَمْسَكَتْ الْمَاءَ فَنَفَعَ اللهُ النَّاسَ فَشَرِبُوا مِنْهَا وَسَقَوْا وَرَعَوْا وَأَصَابَ طَائِفَةً مِنْهَا أُخْرَى إِنَّمَا هِيَ قِيعَانٌ لاَ تُمْسِكُ مَاءً وَلاَ تُنْبِتُ كَلَأَ فَذَلِكَ مَثَلُ مَنْ فَقُهَ فِي دِينِ اللهِ وَنَفَعَهُ بِماَ بَعَثَنِيَ اللهُ بِهِ فَعَلِمَ وَعَلَّمَ وَمَثَلُ مَنْ لَمْ يَرْفَعْ بِذَلِكَ رَأْسًا وَلَمْ يَقْبَلْ هُدَى اللهِ الَّذِي أُرْسِلْتُ بِهِ»

“The example of guidance and knowledge with which Allah has sent me is like abundant rain falling on the earth, some of which was fertile soil that absorbed rain water and brought forth vegetation and grass in abundance. (And) another portion of it was hard and held the rain water and Allah benefited the people with it and they utilized it for drinking, making their animals drink from it and for irrigation of the land for cultivation. (And) a portion of it was barren which could neither hold the water nor bring forth vegetation (then that land gave no benefits). The first is the example of the person who comprehends Allah's religion and gets benefit (from the knowledge) which Allah has revealed through me (the Prophets and learns and then teaches others. The last example is that of a person who does not care for it and does not take Allah's guidance revealed through me (He is like that barren land.)” (Narrated by Bukhari and Muslim from Abu Musa (ra)).

Nida Saadah

Member of the Central Leadership Board of Muslimah Hizb ut Tahrir Indonesia

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