No subject has caused as much confusion, concern and conflict upon its introduction into the syllabus of South African schools as did the subject ‘Life Orientation’. Educators were confused because they had little or no idea what the new subject was all about, and parents were concerned because the little they did know about L.O. said that it covered delicate topics like sex. In general, there was a general clamour as regards exposing children to such a subject. No one knew what to do.
When the first batches of L.O. textbooks were released, everyone’s fears were confirmed. The content of the textbooks was simply alarming; everything was extremely pro-West, which almost always means immoral and anti-Islamic. Many sensitive issues were dealt with in a crude and insensitive manner. Even educators themselves were at a loss as to how to go about educating learners on such things. Again, no one knew what to do. Most people simply adopted the ‘ostrich’ mentality; that is, if you stick your head in the ground and wait long enough, the problem will go away on its own. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen; Life Orientation is here to stay.
Islam to the rescue
Islam is not some mysterious, magical religion based on fable, superstitions and meaningless rituals. It is a practical, completely logical and comprehensive way of life. Whatever the Prophet taught, was realistic and workable for every human being. Not only that, but his teachings covered every aspect of our lives; nothing was left untouched, not even things like sex and relationships. But the fundamental difference in the way the Prophet discussed such things, and the way the West does is, in a word, modesty.
Keeping that in mind, the authors of the book ‘Life Orientation for Success in Both Worlds’* decided to study the learning outcomes of L.O. as set by the Department of Education of South Africa, and see how they can be put forward in an Islamic way, and from an Islamic perspective. This led to the realization that almost everything that the government wishes to educate children about in L.O., whether it has to do with sex and relationships, or other important matters like careers and personal well-being, has already been taught by Islam! Furthermore, it comes to light that Islam doesn’t just teach Life Orientation but, in a manner of speaking, Islam is Life Orientation!
The book, which comes highly recommended by the Jamiatul Ulama KZN, will prove to be a helpful resource for teaching Life Orientation. Throughout the book the authors have adhered to the National Curriculum Statement, which is a document that specifies the government’s requirements for all school subjects, so it can be taught at both Islamic and government schools. For those who are not at school, it will serve as a valuable source of information about the Islamic perspective on many important aspects of life.
Extract from the foreword:
“[The book Life Orientation for Success in Both Worlds] is a giant step in helping our children become better adults and citizens of our beautiful country.”
Moulana Haroon Abbasomar, ex-President, Jamiatul Ulama KwaZulu Natal