21st Century Education From Prophetic Example

In this narration, which tells us about Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his students in the words of Malik bin al-Huwairith (r.a), Muhammad was concluded by his student as a teacher with love and passion, easy to deal with, he was not only concerned with the subject, but sensitive enough to the students’ state of emotion, showed genuine interest to know the details, the students trusted him to share their personal matters, and he responded amazingly acknowledging the needs without belittling them. Read More »


ITEP C103M: Teaching that Inspires Action

Assalamualaikum wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatuh.


Alhamdulillah. Solatan wa salaman ‘ala Rasulillah. Amma Ba’du.

Sheikh Ramzy Ajem laid down many fundamental aspects on how Islam emphasises on connecting knowledge with action. Learning demonstrated by Rasulullah PBUH was always with the motivation of acting upon it. That is one of the thing we can relate when Rasulullah PBUH used a lot of modelling on how the understanding should be applied.

“Pray, the way you saw me praying”

“Take from me your Manasik (Hajj)”

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ITEP C103M: Learning Environments that Inspire


Third Khalifah’s Responsibility: Keep the Physical World Good, Clean and Beautiful, Pleasing to Allah

Assalamualaikum wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatuh. Alhamdulillah. Solatan wa salaman ‘ala Rasulillah. Amma ba’du.

Firstly, thank you to Sheikh Ramzy Ajem for such an inspiring and reflective lecture. Sheikh listed four important characters of a classroom to be considered as sound and aligned with the spirit of Islam, which are:

  • sacred
  • discipline
  • caring
  • functional

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ITEP C103M: Encouraging Inquiry in Islamic Education

Khalifah Model School (Secondary)

Students must feel safe in the classroom environment to allow inquiry

Assalamualaikum WBT.

Teacher and friends.

Sheikh Ramzy’s lecture this week reminds me to what we discussed in C101K (or C101M) regarding indoctrination in faith based school and curriculum. After consulting and debating Neil Burtonwood’s and Michael Hand’s articles, we came to a solid conclusion that Islam is not an indoctrination, and therefore, all aspects of the Deen are friendly to reasoning and learning. They are even considered as the pillar. Even the peak of Islam which is the Shahadah La Ilaha Illallah, is also meant to be achieved through the process of knowledge.

“Be in the state of having the knowledge that there is no God but Allah” [Muhammad 47: 19]

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ITEP C103K: Module 2 – Teaching in an Islamic School


Assalamualaikum WBT. Alhamdulillah, Solatan wa salaman ‘ala Rasulillah. Amma ba’du.Alhamdulillah, like everyone else, I benefited a lot from watching Sheikh Ramzy Ajem’s lecture, plus the handbook on Islamic Pedagogy which after its completion and perhaps made available into public, will definitely fill the current vacuum in Islamic Education.

From Sheikh Ramzy’s lecture, he outlined 4 important characters that we should considered when dealing with the Prophetic method in teaching:

1. Muhammad PBUH is a Messenger and he also introduced himself as a teacher.

“The Messenger of Allah came out of one of his apartments one day and entered the mosque, where he saw two circles, one reciting Qur’ân and supplicating to Allah, and the other learning and teaching. The Prophet SAW said: ‘Both of them are good. These people are reciting Qur’ân and supplicating to Allah, and if He wills He will give them, and if He wills He will withhold from them. And these people are learning and teaching. Verily I have been sent as a teacher.’ Then he sat down with them.” (Sunan Ibn Majah, Book of Sunnah, Hadith no 229, Classified as Daeef By Allama Albani)

Teaching is noble. Associating teaching with the Prophethood is essential to develop a good esteem among teachers teaching in Islamic Schools, especially in dealing with underpaid issue. Teaching is perceived as not only a profession but a jihad which ‘unfortunately’ requires  the person to live in modest.

2. The Prophet PBUH has the quality of fatanah.

Fatanah is defined in arabic (al-Mu’jam al-Wasith) as the (قوَّة استعداد الذِّهْن لإدراك ما يَرِدُ عليه) which means the strong readiness of thinking in its ability to see a subject or problem foresight.

It is a high form of intellectuality which teachers should possess to make them proactive in detecting the needs and deciding the appropriate responses. Perhaps countries like Finland took an action aligned with this requirement, when putting a very high benchmark for a candidate to apply the teaching post in primary schools.

A Muslim teacher is a smart teacher who is proactively always in a standby mode.

3. Unspoken pedagogy contains a spiritual barakah that will last.

The element of barakah is not easy to be quantified, but obviously seen in quality. The word barakah itself means (الخير الكثير) ‘the infinite goodness’. Barakah is the sign that Allah is with us. The Prophet PBUH did not say or do anything from his own lust or desire, but from Allah’s revelation. Following the Prophet’s path in teaching means, we are intended to have Allah along our teaching path.

4. Tremendous amount of narrations, resourceful pedagogy

Every single detail of the Prophet’s life (PBUH) is available through the traditions (al-Sunnah). This huge resource gives a 360 degree access for us to understand the complete picture of what Prophetic pedagogy is all about. This is a unique character characterising us as Muslims. We should not abandon the treasure.

QUESTION: How should Islamic school teachers be introduced the approach and nuance of teaching in an Islamic School?

Islamic Schools need a research and development unit to continuously work on developing the teachers training. It could be part of the school itself of like in my school, the R&D unit is under the Khalifah Education Foundation who owns the school.

I like the framework suggested by Lee Jenkins that a transformation in a school must take place in a form of “from systems thinking to systemic action”. It means that, the transformation must not be done in random and patchy but should be harmonized in a system. (Lee Jenkins; From Systems Thinking to Systemic Action: 48 Key Questions to Guide the Journey).

My suggestion is, the first think that we need to tackle in terms of introducing the Islamic School teachers to the Prophetic approach, is to build a good understanding and faith in Islamic Worldview. Without the ‘world view’, a Muslim teacher might silently have a secular mind and a materialistic value which will fundamentally contradict with the Islamic pedagogy derived from the Prophet’s tradition.

Secondly, the routine in teaching among teachers is dangerous. I recently read a PhD dissertation wrote by Kimberly E. Matier titled, “A Systems Thinking Approach to Educational Reform: Addressing Issues Surrounding Teacher Burnout Through Comprehensive School Change” (Oregon State University). I am worried with the high turnover rate among teachers in Islamic Schools, which makes any form of transformation nearly impossible. So, we need to keep our teachers in high spirit. In our humble school, we allocate Friday as a non academic day, which students will have their halaqah among themselves (the seniors lead the halaqah) and teachers will have our weekly halaqah. So far, almost every week, I share the ITEP contents I learnt with our teachers to make sure they are always in a constant learning process. The knowledge must also be perceived as ‘rizq’, apart of the salary.

By having an Islamic worldview, the teachers will become auto navigators who always check their teaching and learning if they are following the right path or not. The contemporary ideas on pedagogy will also help the teachers to sense and identify the silent pedagogy in a hadith. We cannot see what is not in our mind. So we need to instill the pedagogical senses in our mind.

For example:

Narrated Malik bin Huwairth: I came to the Prophet with some men from my tribe and stayed with him for twenty nights. He was kind and merciful to us. When he realized our longing for our families, he said to us, “Go back and stay with your families and teach them the religion, and offer the prayer and one of you should pronounce the Adhan for the prayer when its time is due and the oldest one amongst you should lead the prayer.”  [al-Bukhari]

This hadith is common to be found when we discuss about Fiqh of Salat regarding who is more preferred to become the Imam. But when we look from the pedagogical point of view, we will see how Rasulullah PBUH being kind and merciful, alerted with the decline of attention among his ‘students’ due to their longing for family. He did not accuse them for being chinless or weak. He acknowledged their emotional conditioned and opted the learning to be switched into practice, at home. I always remember Dale Carnagie’s How To Win Friends when reading this hadith.

Wallahu a’lam



‘Reconstructing’ World History and Historical Thinking Subject

historical thinking

Credit Photo:

Assalamualaikum wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatuh.

I am working on integrating History subject in our school, KMSS, with Islamic World View. Currently, we are following IGCSE module for History but we found several major concerns:

  1. Students are not familiar with the topics which are not in our national mandated curriculum. (American Civil War, Modern History of Europe etc).
  2. Concentrating on content does not efficiently help us to shape the students mind with historical thinking which is more important than the content itself.
  3. Many mainstream idea in history are not aligned with Islam. Starting with the relation between God, Man, Space and Time, freewill vs determinism, the creation of Adam vs primitiveness of early men, conflict between Muslim History and euro-centric timeline (classical, medieval and modern era), and many more.

Therefore World History and Historical Thinking need to be reconstruct based on Islamic World View, and I choose the theme Challenge and Response (as described by Arnold Toynbee inspired by Ibn Khaldun), for the subject which is renamed as “HISTORY & HISTORICAL THINKING: The Khalifah Method Way [Y1-Y3]”.

challenge and response

We want to concentrate on developing the historical thinking, while students are given the option to choose a wide range of topics in world, local and regional as well as Muslim history. They can choose which part of history they want to investigate, the subject will guide them with the ‘process of historical thinking’. So, they wont have to learn about American Civil War with no interest. They can choose to investigate the historical background of Minang Community in Negeri Sembilan if they are interested in it. The teacher’s role is to guide them with source, continuity and change, cause and effect, perspectives, empathy and significance. With a good possession of historical thinking, we believe that students will become lifelong learners of history.

The structure and key themes for this module benefited the AC History Units developed by the History Teachers’ Association of Australia.



Teaching World Religions in the Khalifah Method Way


Susan Doughlas

Assalamualaikum WBT.

Alhamdulillah. Solātan wa salāman ‘alā Rasulillāh. Ammā ba’d.

The lecture given by Sister Susan Doughlas introduced me to a very important civic framework which is timely and critically needed. Taking religion as real, important and nevertheless relevant in this public square modern life, she has summarized many important guidelines for teaching of comparative religions. Making use of what is stated in the Constitution, the framework also includes two materials suggested; Finding Common Ground. A Guide to Religious Liberty in Public Schools and Taking Religion Seriously Across Curriculum, both by Charles Haynes and co-authors.

Some of them are as follow:

  1. It is academic, not devotional.
  2. School promotes students’ awareness, not the students’ acceptance.
  3. School sponsors the study about other religions, not the practice of other religions.
  4. School exposes students to the diversity of religious view, and may not impose any particular view.
  5. School educates students about religions but do not promote or integrate them.
  6. School informs students about various religious believes but not confirming any of them.

Teaching other faiths in public education, is a huge gap in our country; be it the public schools, or private and Islamic schools. Even though Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and members of some other minor faiths are living together,  we do not know each other and tension between faiths is easily occurred. I like what Len Traubman said in the Youtube video “How to communicate in times of conflict”. He said, “We can do what the government can’t. Governments write treatise and enforce treatise. But we as the member of the community are building human relationship.” Therefore, to make use of the education is our beacon of hope. I believe many want to do it, but without a proper framework, the efforts in many ways trapped in conflicts and distanced from the objectives.

KMSS Core Subjects

In our school, we have World Religions as an elective subject to be offered under the Islamic History and Civilization’s Unit. But we have not made the subject available and one of our main concerns is to find an appropriate civic framework to teach. Many questions are raised regarding it, one of them is “can other faiths being taught without bias” and “how to make sure our students’ faith is protected when learning about other faiths”.

To me, I have a strong feeling that by learning about other faiths, it will definitely strengthen our own faith and on top of that, we will also communicate with members of other faiths with the highest degree of confidence. But my argument is too abstract. I argued that Umar ibn al-Khattab r.a. said, “if a believer knows Islam but does not know jahiliyyah, his Islam will detach from him one by one” Another argument is based on historical perspective because I admire Abū Rayḥān al-Bīrūnī (973 – 1048) . He spent a very long period in India, lived with Hindus, remained Muslim faithfully and observed the Hindu culture, faith, philosophy and recorded them objectively without being judgmental. He laid the foundation of a strong anthropological social studies and even considered as the founder of Indology.

But to formulate a proper framework, I thank ITEP for exposing us to such a resourceful and relevant materials. Both books by Charles Haynes are now in my hand and I will continue to study them Insha-Allah. This gives us confident to launch the World Religions subject next semester and  probably, it will be the first attempt in our country, a school (and even an Islamic school) teaches its students about other faiths. We want to produce leaders and to lead our country, students must admit that our country is a multi racial and multi faith society. It is dangerous to let the students continuously live in a monotonous Islamic bubble, ignoring the reality.

The only thing is, we need to clearly balance and harmonize topics which are taught in Usul al-Din class, and topics which are taught in World Religions. I believe that Deen has two dimensions, one is habl min Allah and another one is habl min al-Nas. Habl min Allah deals with the connection between man and his Creator. It is theology and here, each religion is unique and exclusive. Habl min al-Nas deals with the connection between man and his surrounding. Here, all religions are promoting similar almost similar values. Golden rules, be kind with one another, respect human lives, family, neighborhood, caring for the environment etc.

Therefore, we should not mix between the two. The theological part contains many differences which make a faith is different from the others. Here, the process of learning must commit to instilling the Aqeedah, having the Yaqeen, and feeling gratitude to be blessed with the true guidance from Allah. Other believes will be touched and the error must be made clear. With akhlaq, being on the side of al-Haqq, we feel blessed and not towards grandiosity.

The social aspect of religion is where, interfaith dialogue can be made possible. Every member of different faith will explore what their and other’s faith say about certain topics. Here, similarities are promoted for better understanding, feeling safe and secure living next to ‘the others’.

Offering World Religions subject in our school is planned with the inclusion of visiting Churches, Hindu and Buddist Temple and to let the representatives of the faiths explain themselves about their belief and practice. What we need to do is to prepare our students to have the heart of learners and ears of Ulul Albaab:



Who listen to speech and follow the best of it. Those are the ones Allah has guided, and those are people of understanding.[Q39:18]

At the subject level, we hope to achieve the learning outcomes using our Khalifah Method. At the school level, we hope to achieve the objective of Khalifah Method (“Shaping Excellent Character”) using the subject, like other subjects too.


We will continue to explore the materials ITEP provided and hopefully in the near future, World Religions subject will no longer be a taboo. Insha-Allah.

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