Taleem and tarbiyath are two words encountered quite often in the discussions, but they remain elusive in comprehending their complete meaning in their true sense in prevalent times. Taleem can be referred to as education and tarbiyath as training and development. Taleem is the means and process of acquiring knowledge (Ilm); the process involves sharing of the information from the giver to the receiver. The objective of knowledge sharing is to make the receiver understands the information as understood by the giver. Tarbiyath, on the other hand, requires that the recipient of the knowledge and training demonstrate the learning through action.
The erstwhile upbringing of the young ones by their parents had a combination of both. Taleem and tarbiyath were required to make an individual a better person, and demand for taleem for making a living was minimal. The child was groomed in the skill or profession of the parent or family to make both ends meet and the gap on the taleem front was filled by the scholar available. Taleem here was restricted to some spiritual books and thought by the teacher.
Even during prophets (pbuh), the importance of mastering the asri (worldly) taleem was evident from the famous sayings. “Seek knowledge even if you have to go to China”. What taleem was the Prophet Muhammad was referring to here in the hadith? It is definitely not Quranic knowledge but worldly knowledge that could help the individual to lead a more comprehensive life.
However, with the advancement of time and progress of the world, the scope and context of both taleem and tarbiyath widened. Today the demand for a complete hold on taleem and tarbiyath requires a totally new look to cover the vast grounds. Among Muslims, taleem has been bifurcated into asri (worldy) and oqravi (religious) and tarbiyath followed on the same classification leads to asri tarbiyath (skills to earn a living) and oqravi tarbiyath (behavior based on the spiritual and moral values).
The present-day taleem is extra focused on the knowledge that leads to tarbiyath that pays back in the form of earning. Taleem that focuses on the religious or moral values are not taught in the secular education systems as they are not considered an essential part of the education. Some parents and entities try to impart this extra-school learning in the private centres. Since they don’t seem to demand a mandate of being essential therefore do not carry relevance to the individual. taleem and tarbiyath are devoid of responsibility from either the parents or teachers in the prevailing system.
On the flip side, taleem and tarbiyath do not always come from the formal ambiance of a classroom or the parents’ lap. Individuals pick up a vast majority of the attitudes and behavior from their surroundings. Indeed they have a deeper and lasting impact than the formal setup. This is due to the individual attention that the ward receives in an informal setup against almost negligible attention in a formal classroom environment.
In the early years of the child’s growth, most of the time is spent with parents and siblings. Adding months and years to the age, more interaction happens with friends, classmates, etc. Simultaneously due to false priority, parents tend to worry less about tarbiyath and more about taleem, pushing their children’s development responsibilities to the teacher and educational institution. No doubt good teachers can inculcate better values through taleem and monitor tarbiyath. But the demand from a larger group of students in the class does provide the privilege of dedicated attention. Thereby the lion’s share of influence is from the peer groups. Unfortunately, the peer groups are exposed to unhealthy and immoral values based on TV and Social media content, which have a huge impact. If continued unchecked, we may see taleem received individuals but very low in practice. A cursory look into the present society around us will indicate students who measure education with the return it will fetch. Taleem is seen as a cost that must be recovered as much and as early as possible with the highest multiple factors.
The skewed approach to focusing on learning to earn has made machines out of the human. Individuals are measured as successful based on the return that one can generate on the investment into taleem and tarbiyath (asari). The necessity of moral obligations towards fellow beings and others is never learned and never displayed as tarbiyath.
These hollow groomed individuals collectively form a self-centered and self-interested society. This society on higher plains created a world where me-I-myself is the ultimate purpose of living. The world has witnessed cultures in the past that lacked taleem and tarbiyath, thereby limiting the capacity to earn survived. On the contrary, societies without moral and spiritual values cannot promote coherence and just societies, which is evident today.
The drive of the western education system since the Industrial Revolution brought progress in a few areas of worldly pleasures. But most of the developments have come with their own set of negative impacts. But unfortunately, these are pushed under the carpets as it affects only the voiceless and weaker sections. Having seen the adverse effects on social, economic, political, cultural, religious arenas, it is time for the parents and society in general to work towards a holistic approach towards taleem and tarbiyath that encompasses not just ‘learn to earn’ but rather learn to earn to return. Return here means fulfillment of obligation towards the society to bring harmony and justice.
Parents today need to pay more attention to tarbiyath as an outcome of taleem rather than return in monetary terms. The educational systems and society, in general, should strengthen an ambience of spreading taleem in a true sense that creates human-centric value systems, stronger beliefs, attitude of gratitude, and seeing oneself as part of the big ecosystem. Parents cannot absolve themselves from the responsibility by outsourcing the critical responsibility of parenting to the teacher and expect the fruits of the well-groomed ward for a paltry fee. Especially during early childhood, the responsibility is more because this period becomes the foundation period. There should be the same concern as with the admission into some reputed school to observe every child’s activity and mend appropriately.
It is time for the parents to upgrade to better parenting by putting effort in taleem and tarbiyath of self to counter the distractive environment that lures the young minds to digressing paths. The focus should be on societal centric upbringing rather than self-centric.