From a Local Tradition to a Universal Practice: Ijāzah as a Muslim Educational Tradition (With Special Reference to a 19th Century Idrīs Fahmī b. Sālih's Ijāzah Issued in the Balkans and Its Annotated English Translation)
The ijāzah tradition is recognized as having a long history in Muslim educational life. The term 'ijāzah' in Islamic pedagogy generally signifies a 'licence to teach', and more specifically refers to a certificate issued by a professor in an institution of higher learning to a student who has attended a course of lecturers to the professor's satisfaction, and who has been deemed henceforth as qualified to transmit the same subject to his own students. The ijāzah tradition developed in Muslim education life as early as the 4th century A.H. (10th century A.D.) and became a universally applied educational procedure in all Muslim lands. Originally, it was a tradition developed by Muslims under the influence of Islamic sciences, such as hadīth and tafsīr. Some two centuries later, in the second half of the 12th century, ijāzah made its appearance in the Latin West or Christian Europe. It was a licence to teach, a so-called 'licentia docendi', which is the same as ijāzah. Licentia docendi was the earliest form of certificate in the West. But throughout history, the term 'licentia docendi' has been altered, according to the university system, into certificate, diploma, degree, etc. Whereas the term ijāzah has remained almost the same since the time it was developed, from the early years of Islam up until today, with a few exceptions in some areas. The various ijāzahs in Islamic sciences and in other fields demonstrate the religious, cultural and educational unity of Muslims in the past, despite their geographical differences. In this article, we will have an attempt to study the ijāzah tradition in the Balkans by analyzing an ijāzah issued in the 19th century in the famous city of Üsküp (Skopje), then translating the same ijāzah into English.