To unravel this question, there is the need to define the key words; competition and learning. First, what is competition? According to Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, 9th edition, competition is the activity or condition of striving to gain or win something by defeating or establishing superiority over others. The same dictionary defines learning as acquisition of knowledge or skills through study, experience, or being taught. Therefore, it can be contested that learning thrives best in a competitive climes.
Life is a competitive field. Charles Darwin would argue that competition is instinctive. Human beings have a natural inclination to compete and win. Competition stimulates people to obtain recognition or to win some kind of indelible prize in a society. It is the mother that births learning.
Thomas Edison, who tried two thousand different materials in search of a filament to generate the light bulb. When none worked satisfactorily, his assistant complained, “All our work is in vain. We have learned nothing. "Edison replied very confidently,” Oh, we now know that there are two thousand materials which cannot be used to make a good light bulb” such is the beauty of competition. It gives room for learning to take place even when failures surface.
Moreover, “healthy” competition is a term used in economics to mean competition that focuses on delivering a quality products and continuously looking for ways to improve them so that it will be better than that of other competitors in the arena of sales. This makes their product more attractive and eventually wins the patronage of consumers. Thus, competition invariably spurs learning.
Competition is a driving force which propels learning. If student are competing to emerge as the best in a class, they tend to do more than is required in other to stand out first with the flag of excellence. In this regard, competition can be plausibly viewed as a propellant of learning process.
Let us consider the case of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates who are geniuses and tycoons in the sphere of technological business. You will all agree with me that these men have successfully etched their dents in the history of technological advancement. Such lofty height may not have been attained in a world devoid of competition.
Muslim faithful naturally have a competitive propensity and are usually dissatisfied with deeds that attract low rewards. Hence, they never rest in this life, for they always aspire to achieve a state of perfect servitude. A Muslim should always feel as if they are in a competition of some sort and should henceforth forge ahead by putting their shoulder to the wheel in order to attain their goals. Allah, the Almighty, says, “And the front runners – those are the ones brought near to Allaah” (Quran 56: 10-11).
Competition which produces ingenuity, sportsmanship, creativity and unending ambition is a necessary tool for learning. It rescues people from the dungeon of darkness to the acme of light, from the sea of ignorance to the shore of enlightenment, from the blurs of weakness to sheer strength and from the valleys of hopelessness to the annotated height of hopefulness.