Book 30 Critical Thinking and the Chronological Quran in the Life of Prophet Muhammad: Teacher’s Manual


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This Teacher’s Manual is divided into three chapters: Chapter I: Critical thinkers apply the Nine Standards (clarity, accuracy, precision, relevance, depth, breadth, logic, importance and fairness) to: Chapter II: The Eight Elements of Reasoning (point of view, purpose, questions, inferences, concepts, information, implications, assumptions): Whenever we think, we think for a purpose within a point of view based on assumptions leading to implications (consequences). We use vocabulary (concepts, ideas and theories) to interpret facts (data, evidence and experiences) in order to answer questions, (solve problems, and resolve issues) in order to develop: Chapter III: The Seven Moral Traits (belief in One God, God-consciousness, integrity through moral discipline, empowering courage, persevering in goodness, empathic altruism and being fair and just). Critical thinking is a process that analyzes how we think. This is the key to critical thinking. We do not learn “what” to think, but, rather, “how” to think. In English, the words “critical thinking” and “critical judgment” both refer to basically the Quranic concept of discernment (furqan). While our first reaction to the word “critical” may be that we think it means something negative such as “to criticize,” this is not what critical thinking or critical judgment is about. There are no negative connotations. Critical thinking (judgment, discernment (furqan)) refers to analyzing thoughts in order to become better at thinking. In this case, it is analyzing the Quranic text by studying HOW to think. Students best develop Quranic critical thinking skills through dialogical learning. Dialogic learning is learning that takes place through dialogue. It is typically the result of dialogue where those engaging in dialogue relate to, or believe in the principle that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities. In other words, the consequence of a dialogue in which different people provide arguments based on validity claims and not on power claims. Through dialogue with the Quranic text with classmates, with a teacher or mentor, the goal of the students is to achieve ethically rational development, that is, a genuine sense of justice or fair-mindedness. If critical thinking is taught simply as atomic skills, separate from the empathic practice of entering into points of view that students are fearful of or hostile toward, they will simply find additional means of rationalizing prejudices and preconceptions, or convincing people that their point of view is the correct one. In order for students to develop into Quranic critical thinkers, they have to engage in questioning as the sacred text does through many of its signs (ayat). Learning from the Quranic way of questioning deepens students’ understanding and strengthens their belief. They are then able to put what they believe into practice in a fair and meaningfully way. As emerging critical thinkers who learn to deeply question what they believe, they bridge any gap that may be present between their beliefs and their practice.


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