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Hello I’m Neil. Welcome to 6 Minute English. And with me here in the studio ladies and gentlemen is … Finn!
Thank you! Thank you sound effects! Thank you, Neil! Is this all for me? I feel like quite a celebrity!
Yes, a celebrity – someone famous - particularly someone in show business, that's the world of entertainment, theatre and film. Today we're talking about fame, and teaching you some related vocabulary.
Yes. Some celebrities are famous for their talent, which means by their ability to do something well, like singing, acting or telling jokes …
And others are famous for… well, for being famous or being associated with someone who is. The names Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian come to mind: wealthy women with their own TV shows. But, talking about celebrity, let me ask you a question.
Actually Neil, only if you play that lovely applause again. Go on Neil!
I knew you would love this. Right. Here it goes.
Yes! Anyway, Neil... I can give you my autograph later…
You mean signature? An autograph is the signature of a famous person, Finn. Fans collect these and things like photographs.
Yes, we call things like those memorabilia.
For example, Michael Jackson's leather glove with shiny crystals - it became very famous in the 1980s when he presented his moonwalk to the world. How much was it sold for at auction in 2009? Was it:
a) US$ 150,000
b) US$ 250,000 or
c) US$ 350,000
I think Michael Jackson has some big fans in the world so I'll say c) US$ 350,000.
Okay. I'll give you the answer at the end of the programme.
So the idea of celebrity seems very modern in some ways – does it have a long history?
Well, Lord Byron, a very famous English poet born in 1788, is considered by some experts to be the world's first modern-style celebrity. Let's hear Dr Corin Throsby, English Literature researcher at Cambridge University.
Why was Byron a celebrity?
Listen out for the noun she uses in the first sentence meaning a product, or something for sale.
Dr Corin Throsby, Cambridge University
If we think of celebrity as the moment where someone's personality becomes a commodity. So, for Byron the fact that he was popular on this scale that had never been achieved before because his career had coincided with mass printing. But something more than that, that there was a sort of a secondary industry of Byron stuff, you know, that there were Byron neck ties, people wanted to look like Byron. There was this mass of people that loved him. He could no longer control his image. I think that's what separates celebrity from the fame that had preceded that.
So the noun was 'a commodity'. She said that when someone's personality becomes a product, that's when they turn into a celebrity.
She talked of fame so big you can't control your own image – that's your reputation, the way other people think about you and imagine you. Someone interesting in this respect is Justin Bieber.
Yeah. Are you a fan, Neil?
I'm a massive fan of Justin Bieber. I love him.
I believe you.
He's a big name and he's always in the newspapers. His fans are called 'Beliebers'…
and Byron's fans were called 'Byron maniacs'. That's the name his wife gave his adoring fans. Though she wasn't too happy about them.
Yes. Byron's life was full of scandals, actions which cause shock and disapproval among people.
And for Byron it was mainly his love life. He had affairs with men and women.
For Justin Bieber it's about his behaviour. He was accused of driving after drinking alcohol, and of vandalism.
Vandalism means causing damage to property.
Poor Justin Bieber!
Though he's very popular - his career started when he was in his early teens and I think it must have been difficult growing up with this global fame. Still, I wonder how much his autograph is worth in the current market…
Well,I don't know about Justin Bieber's autograph but I do know about Michael Jackson's shiny glove. It became iconic in the 1980s, but how much was it sold for? Was it US$ 150,000; US$ 250,000 or c) US$ 350,000?
I said c) US$ 350,000.
And you were right.
Wow! That's rare.
Did you buy it?
It wasn't me. No.
Well, our time's up but let's remember the words we heard from today. Finn.
That's it for today. Please join us again soon for 6 Minute English from BBC Learning English.
You know what. Go on.
Okay. One more time.
You love it as well, don't you?
I do. It's great. I'll join in.
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THE CONCEPT OF EDUCATION IN ISLAM
Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas
© Naquib al-Attas 1980. All rights reserved. Excerpted with the permission of the
author from The Concept of Islamic Education, the keynote address delivered by
Professor Naquib al-Attas at the “First World Conference on Muslim Education”
held in Makkatul MucaÀÀamah in March 1977. Professor al-Attas is former
Director of International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization (ISTAC)
and a member of the International Advisory Board of the Muslim Education
THE CONCEPT OF EDUCATION IN ISLAM
the meaning of education and of what it involves is of
utmost importance in the formulation of a system of
education and its implementation. Supposing I am
asked: What is education?, and I answer: Education is a process of
instilling something into human beings. In this answer ‘a process of
instilling’ refers to the method and the system by which what is
called ‘education’ is gradually imparted; ‘something’ refers to the
content of what is instilled; and ‘human beings’ refers to the
recipient of both the process and the content. Now the answer
given above already encompasses the three fundamental
elements that constitute education: the process, the content, the
recipient; but it is not yet a definition because those elements are
deliberately left vague. Furthermore, the way of formulating the
sentence meant to be developed into a definition as given above
gives the impression that what is emphasized is the process.
Supposing I reformulate the answer: Education is something
progressively instilled into man. Now here we still encompass the
three fundamental elements inherent in education, but the order
of precedence as to the important clement that constitutes
education is now the content and not the process. Let us consider
this last formulation and proceed in analyzing the inherent
I shall begin with man, since the definition of man is already
generally well known, and that is, that he is a ‘rational animal’.
Since rationality defines man, we must at least have some idea as
to what ‘rational’ means, and we all agree that it refers to
‘reason’. However, in Western intellectual history, the concept of
ratio has undergone much controversy, and has become—at least
from the Muslim point of view—problematic, for it has gradually
become separated from the ‘intellect’ or intellectus in the process
of secularization of ideas that coursed through the history of
Western thought since the periods of the ancient Greeks and
Romans. Muslim thinkers did not conceive of what is understood
as ratio as something separate from what is understood as
intellectus; they conceived the aql as an organic unity of both
ratio and intellectus. Bearing this in mind, the Muslims defined
man as al-ÌaywÂn al-nÂtiq,1 where the term nÂtiq signifies
‘rational’. Man is possessed of an inner faculty that formulates
Meaning dhÄ nutq and this formulation of meaning,
which involves judgment and discrimination and clarification, is
what constitutes his ‘rationality’. The terms nÂtiq and nutq are
derived from a root that conveys the basic meaning of ‘speech’,
in the sense of human speech, so that they both signify a certain
power and capacity in man to articulate words in meaningful pattern.
He is, as it were, a ‘language animal’, and the articulation of
linguistic symbols into meaningful patterns is no other than the
outward, visible and audible expression of the inner, unseen
reality which we call caql. The term caql itself basically signifies a
kind of ‘binding’ or ‘withholding’, so that in this respect caql
signifies an innate property that binds and withholds objects of
knowledge by means of words. cAql is synonymous with qalb in
the same way as qalb, which is a spiritual organ of cognition
called the ‘heart’, is synonymous with caql.3 The real nature of
caql is that it is a spiritual substance by which the rational soul (alnafs
al-nÂtiqah recognizes and distinguishes truth from falsehood.4 It is clear from this, and many more references which we have not mentioned, that the reality underlying the definition
of man is this spiritual substance, which is indicated by everyone
when he says “I”. When we speak of education, therefore, it must
pertain to this reality of man, and not simply to his body and his
animal aspect.5 In defining man as a rational animal, where we
mean by ‘rational’ the capacity for understanding speech, and
the power responsible for the formulation of meaning—which
involves judgment, discrimination, distinction and clarification,
and which has to do with the articulation of words or expressions
in meaningful pattern—the meaning of ‘meaning’ in our present
context, and based on the concept of macnÂ), is the recognition of
the place of anything in a system. Such recognition occurs when the
relation a thing has with other things in the system becomes
clarified and understood. The relation describes a certain order.
Meaning, conceived in the way I have formulated above, is a
mental image in which a word or expression is applied to denote
it. When that word or expression becomes an idea, or a notion,
in the mind (caql with reference to nutq) it is called the
‘understood’ (mafhÄm). As an intelligible form that is formed in
answer to the question “what is it?”, it is called ‘essence’
(mÂhiyyah). Considered as something that exists outside the
mind, that is, objectively, it is called ‘reality’ (ÌaqÆqah: حقيق ة ). Seen
as a specific reality distinguished from the others, it is called
‘individuality’ or ‘individual existence’ (huwiyyah: 6.( هويي ه In this
way and in the context of the present discussion we say that what
constitutes meaning, or the definition of meaning, is recognition
of the place of anything in a system which occurs when the relation a
thing has with others in the system becomes clarified and understood. We
say further that the relation describes a certain order. If every
thing in any system were in the same place, then there could be
no recognition, there could be no meaning, since there would be
no relational criteria to judge, discriminate, distinguish and
clarify. Indeed, there would be no ‘system’. For recognition to be
possible, there must be specific difference, there must be essential
relation and, moreover, these must remain, for if the difference
and the relation were not abiding but were in a state of constant
change specifically and essentially, then recognition of things
would be impossible, and meaning would perish. In this brief
outline is already revealed the intrinsic connection between
meaning and knowledge.
The second important element inherent in education is its
content, which is here indicated as ‘something’. This is done
deliberately because even though we all know that it must refer
to knowledge, we have still to determine what we mean by it. The
teaching and learning of skills alone, however scientific, and no
matter if what is taught and learned is encompassed in the
general concept ‘knowledge’, docs not necessarily constitute
education. The teaching and learning of the human, natural and
applied sciences alone does not constitute education in the sense
we are clarifying. There is a ‘something’ in knowledge which if it
is not inculcated will not make its teaching and learning and
assimilation an education. In fact the ‘some thing’ that we allude
to here is itself knowledge; indeed, it is knowledge of the purpose
of seeking it. At this point we are compelled to ask: What, then, is
knowledge? or: What does knowledge consist of? In the beginning, I
referred to the fact that in accordance with Islamic tradition we
understand definition as of two kinds: definition by Ìadd and
definition by rasm. By the former is meant a precise or concise
specification of the distinctive characteristic of a thing; and by
the latter is meant a description of the nature of a thing. This
distinction reveals that there are things which we can define
specifically to its precise, distinctive characteristic—such as in the
case of the definition of man—and there are things which we
cannot so define, but can define only by describing its nature.
Knowledge comes under this latter category. There are many
definitions describing the nature of knowledge, but what is of
relevance here is the epistemological definition, since it is
important to understand what the Islamic epistemological
context involves and implies. Perhaps its greatest implication lies
in its effect upon our vision of reality and truth and our
methodology of research; our intellectual scope and practical
application in planning for what is called ‘development’, which
all bear upon our understanding of education. Muslims are in
concerted agreement that all knowledge comes from God, and
we also know that the manner of its arrival, and the faculties and
senses that receive and interpret it are distinctly not the same.
Since all knowledge comes from God and is interpreted by the
soul through its spiritual and physical faculties, it follows that the
most suitable definition would be that knowledge, with reference
to God as being its origin, is the arrival (ÌuÈÄl: حصو ل ) in the soul of
the meaning of a thing or an object of knowledge; and that with
reference to the soul as being its interpreter, knowledge is the
arrival (wuÈÄl: وصو ل ) of the soul at the meaning of a thing or an object
very selves, is like a word in that Great Book that speaks to man
about its Author.8 Now the word as it really is is a sign, a symbol;
and to know it as it really is is to know what it stands for, what it
symbolizes, what it means. To study the word as word, regarding
it as if it had an independent reality of its own, is to miss the real
point of studying it; for regarded as such it is no longer a sign or
a symbol, as it is being made to point to itself, which is not what
it really is. So in like manner is the study of nature, of any thing,
any object of knowledge in Creation, pursued in order to attain
knowledge of it; if the expression ‘as it really is’ is taken to mean
its alleged independent reality, essentially and existentially, as if
it were something ultimate and subsistent—then such study is
devoid of real purpose, and the pursuit of knowledge becomes a
deviation from the truth, which necessarily puts into question the
validity of such knowledge. For as it really is, a thing or an object
of knowledge is other than what it is, and that ‘other’ is what it
means. So just as the study of words as words leads to deviation
from the real truth underlying them, in the same way the
preoccupation in philosophy with things as things leads to the
erroneous, ordinary level of experience belief in the existence of
their alleged essences outside the mind, whereas in reality the so
called essences are only mentally posited.9 A thing, like a word, is
in reality ultimately a sign or a symbol that is apparent and is
inseparable from another thing not equally apparent, in such
wise that when the former is perceived the other, which cannot
8. For example: 41:53.
9. I refer here the ‘essentialist’ view of reality as opposed to the
existentialist view. By ‘existentialist’, however, I do not in
our present discussion refer to recent Western
philosophical speculation called by that name, but to the
Islamic view that existence (wujÄd وج و:د ) constitutes the real
essences of things.
be perceived and which is of one predicament as the former, is
known. What we have outlined is in fact a summary exposition of
the Qurbanic concept of Âyah as referring to words and things.10
That is why we have defined knowledge epistemologically as the
arrival in the soul of the meaning of a thing, or the arrival of the
soul at the meaning of a thing. The ‘meaning of a thing’ means
the right meaning of it; and what is considered to be the ‘right’
meaning is in this context determined by the Islamic vision of
reality and truth as projected by the Qurbanic conceptual system.
We may now recall our earlier reference to the relevance
obtained between tafsÆr and tabwÆl as valid methods of approach
to knowledge and scientific methodology respecting our study
and interpretation of the world of nature, and its significance in
our conception of knowledge and education. In the same way
that tafsÆr and tabwÆl apply to the Glorious QurbÂn, involving its
entire conceptual system, its reflected meanings in the ËadÆth
and Sunnah and in the things of the empirical world; so is the
Book of the world of nature to be interpreted by scientific
methods emulating those of tafsÆr and tabwÆl, treating the things
of the empirical world as ‘words’, as signs and symbols operating
in a network of conceptual relations that altogether describe an
organic unity reflecting the Noble QurbÂn itself. In this way also
the Noble QurbÂn is the final authority that confirms the truth in
our rational and empirical investigations. What we are saying is
that knowledge, as referring to meaning, consists of the
recognition of the proper places of things in the order of creation, such
that it leads to the recognition of the proper place of God in the order of
being and existence.
8 • The Concept of Education in Islam
We said that there is a ‘something’ in knowledge which if it is
not inculcated will not make its teaching and learning and
assimilation an education, We said further that this ‘something’
is knowledge of the purpose of seeking it. Now when knowledge,
which is here defined as recognition of the proper places of
things in the order of creation, such that it leads to recognition
of the proper place of God in the order of being and existence,
is made the content of education, it still would not suffice to
render the education an education in the sense we are clarifying—
unless that ‘something’ in knowledge is included in the
definition of knowledge. For recognition alone of the proper
places of things and of God does not necessarily imply
concomitant action on the part of man to behave in accordance
with the suitable requirements of what is recognized. True
recognition must be followed by acknowledgement, otherwise
the recognition is in vain. Acknowledgement, like recognition,
pertains to man and consists in man making himself suitable to
the requirements of the right or proper places of things or
affairs. The requirements of the proper places of things and
affairs entail action on the part of man, and this action is
denoted by the term camal. From this it is now clear that the
‘something’ in knowledge that we must have to realize education
is acknowledgement of the proper places of things and of God that
is recognized as existing in the order of creation and of being
and existence. So now we are in a position to complete our
definition of the content of education as: recognition and
acknowledgement of the proper places of things in the order of creation,
such that it leads to the recognition and acknowledgement of the proper
place of God in the order of being and existence.
In our definition of knowledge, that is, of what knowledge
consists and of the content of education, we notice that the
concept of ‘proper place’ pertains to two domains of application:
on the one hand it refers to the ontological domain which
Naquib al-Attas • 9
includes man and the world of empirical things, and on the
other to the theological domain which includes the religious and
ethical aspects of human existence. ‘Proper’ place means ‘real’
and ‘true’ place as denoted by the term Ìaqq, for Ìaqq signifies
both reality and truth pertaining to the two domains. Ëaqq
signifies a judgment or Ìukm conforming with reality or the real
situation. This judgment involves statements or uttered words or
propositions, religious beliefs, religions and schools of thought.
The exact opposite of Ìaqq is bÂtil, meaning falsehood,
something vain, futile. The term Ìaqq, then, basically signifies a
suitableness to the requirements of wisdom and justice.11 We
understand by ‘justice’ (cadl) a harmonious condition of things
being in their right or proper places. By ‘wisdom’ (Ìikmah) we
mean the knowledge given by God, by which the recipient is able
to effect correct judgments as to the proper places of things.
Thus when we speak of the truth of a matter as the suitableness
of a fact or a reality to a judgment, we mean by that judgment
that which is derived from wisdom. Truth or Ìaqq is then a
suitableness to the requirements of the proper places of things as
recognized by true judgment. The notion of right or proper places
involves necessity for things to be in that condition, to be
deployed in a certain order, arranged according to various
‘levels’ (marÂtib) and ‘degrees’ (darajÂt). Ontologically, things are
already so arranged, but man, out of ignorance of the just order
pervading all creation, makes alterations and confuses the places
of things such that injustice occurs. When the truth of the matter
is revealed to man and recognized by him, it then becomes
incumbent upon him to guide his conduct so as to conform with
10 • The Concept of Education in Islam
that truth. By his conformity with that truth, he is in effect
putting himself in his proper place. Recognition of the truth in
both domains, the ontological and the theological, necessitates
in man a conduct that conforms with that truth. Thus Ìaqq also
signifies ‘duty’ or ‘obligation’ that binds in accordance with the
requirements of reality and truth.12 When in Islam we speak of
man as possessing ‘right(s)’ in the sense of just claim or what he
is entitled to, we mean by that his duty or obligation as described
above. Thus ‘acknowledgement’ as the fundamental element in
true ‘recognition’ in the Islamic concept of education means
‘affirmation and confirmation’ or ‘realization’ and ‘actualization’
in one’s self of what is recognized. This is denoted by the term
taÌqÆq ( تحقيق ), which is derived from the same root as Ìaqq.
Acknowledgement of what is recognized is what renders
education an education; otherwise, recognition alone is but a
At this stage of our exposition of the concept of education in
Islam, we have already brought to bear upon it many of the key
concepts that form the basic vocabulary of the Islamic con
ceptual system. We have briefly explained the concepts of
meaning (macnÂ); knowledge (cilm); justice (cadl); wisdom
(Ìikmah); action (camal); right or proper in respect of what is true
and real (Ìaqq); of reason (nutq); self (nafs); heart (qalb); mind
and intellect (caql); hierarchical order in creation (marÂtib and
darajÂt); words, signs and symbols (ÂyÂt); interpretation (tafsÆr and
tabwÆl). We have woven these concepts together in meaningful
Naquib al-Attas • 11
pattern, elucidating the concept of education peculiar to Islam,
which we now define as: recognition and acknowledgement,
progressively instilled into man, of the proper places of things in the
order of creation, such that it leads to the recognition and
acknowledgement of the proper place of God in the order of being and
existence. There is one other key concept which in reality is
central to education and the educational process, because the
others we have mentioned all focus their meanings in this
context toward it alone, such that by itself it stands sufficient as
the precise term to denote education. This is because the key
concept alluded to identifies itself as the ‘something’ in
knowledge which is knowledge of the purpose of seeking it. This
major key concept is couched in the term adab ( .( أدب
Adab is the discipline of body, mind and soul; the discipline
that assures the recognition and acknowl
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