Adab and Democratic Education

  • Nuraan DavidsEmail author
  • Yusef Waghid


In this chapter, we proffer an argument for an interrelationship between the physical–intellectual and emotional dimensions of human life. In reference to the seminal thoughts of al-Attas, we argue that educational human encounters are constituted by the rational and the emotional dimensions of human action. Of pertinence to our non-bifurcationist view of knowledge, our contention is that human encounters about credible speech and respectful human conduct, have the potential to cultivate democratic human relations—referred to by al-Attas as actions grounded in adab. In the main, the point about democratic human encounters is that such encounters cannot be blind to the physical–intellectual and the emotional aspects of human life. Rather, as we argue, expressions of adab—that is, to act with refinement and decorum—can advance and enhance democratic encounters, through consciously averting disrespect and dismissiveness.


Human life Human encounter Non-bifurcation of knowledge Adab (good action) 


  1. Al-Attas, S.M.N. 1980. The Concept of Education in Islam: A Framework for an Islamic Philosophy of Education. Kuala Lumpur: International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilisation Publications.Google Scholar
  2. ———. 1993. Islam and Secularism. Kuala Lumpur: International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilisation Publications.Google Scholar
  3. ———. 2005. Islam and Secularism. Journal of Islamic Philosophy 1: 11–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Al-Qardawi, Y. 1981. Al-Khasā’is al-‘ammah lil Islāmi [The Universal Characteristics of Islam]. Qaherah: Maktabah Wahbah.Google Scholar
  5. Halstead, J.M. 2004. An Islamic Concept of Education. Comparative Education 40 (4): 517–530.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. ———. 2007. Islamic Values: A Distinctive Framework for Moral Education? Journal of Moral Education 36 (3): 283–296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Kirabiev, N. 2004. Paideia and Adab in Islam. In Educating for Democracy: Paideia in an Age of Uncertainty, ed. A.M. Olson, D.M. Steiner, and I.S. Tuuli, 97–102. New York: Rowan & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  8. Saada, N. 2018. The Theology of Islamic Education from Salafi and Liberal Perspectives. Religious Education 113 (4): 406–418.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Education Policy StudiesStellenbosch UniversityStellenboschSouth Africa
  2. 2.Faculty of EducationStellenbosch UniversityStellenboschSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations