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Joy and Happiness in Education and Spirituality: Teachings of Imam, Sheikh Iskender Ali Mihr

The purpose of this study was to bring more clarification to the concepts of spirituality and happiness, their meaning, attainability, and position in the field of Multicultural Education. In general, people think they will find joy and happiness if they graduate from a post-secondary educational institution with an undergraduate or graduate degree, find a good work environment, position, salary, living standards, status, etc. Yet, in the real world there may be a different way to find genuine happiness and joy which is fair, simple, easy and equal for all human beings even those who cannot afford higher levels of education. In order to present the data, the study discussed the life, philosophy and teachings of Imam Sheikh Iskender Ali Mihr, president of Mihr Foundation in Turkey, International Mihr Foundation in the United States and University of Allah in Virginia, and utterly an Ottoman. The review of literature was also included to assist the readers to grasp the different perspectives of the subject matter. Education should be inclusive and equal for all and so should joy and happiness! In today’s world where diversity is the key factor for almost every community, it is important for educators (teachers/instructors/administrators) to know what shapes students’ lives. This study encompassed the idea that only educating our students’ minds and bodies is not enough, and without spirituality the education is not complete. As Pamela Leigh (1997) stated, “..acknowledging that people come to work with more than their bodies and minds, they bring individual talents and unique spirits” (p. 26). Students also come with their unique spirits and we should take them as a whole and value them with all the qualities they possess. Nurturing their spirit should be part of our school system. No matter if they believe in God or not, educators should be ready to address the aspect of spirituality and religion. The research was to bring a greater understanding to questions such as how we can better accommodate students’ different spiritual beliefs, what the pros and cons are of bringing them together or keeping them separate. In order to answer these questions in a fashionable manner, we need to know “how much the spiritual beliefs of these students shape their cultures and their lives.” In a greater context, the questions like; what we really know about ‘true’ Islam as one of the fastest growing beliefs in the U.S., is it any different than other beliefs or is it the same, is there a way to eradicate the Islam-phobia that occurred after the 9/11 attack, what was the Ottoman Islamic model, were also answered. As educators, how do we cope with students who hear voices and start shooting around in a schoolyard, or students who binge drink or get suicidal? Even more importantly, how do we help the remaining population live a healthy and happy life without thinking of ending their own or others’ lives, as these examples turn out to be a daily life for us all! The remainder of this study looked at the “neutrality” of the school systems in the United States. Should educators stay neutral or not will be each individual’s decision to make.
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