Alhamdulillah after school meeting today, I am given two subjects to teach next semester.
1. Muslim Nations (Islamic History)
2. Fiqh 4 (Contemporary Fiqh)
Both are project base.
Today, I am with the team from Khalifah Model School (Secondary) and Khalifah Education Foundation visited MUIS, al-Mawaddah Mosque and PERGAS HQ in Singapore. The last time I discussed about Islamic Education in Singapore with friends, was around year 2007 or 2008 when Madrasahs in Singapore were in dilemma after the government imposed compulsory education back then. I was very worried listening to the stories and at that time I thought, Singapore must do something since the paradigm of Islamic Education at that time looked poor. The disintegration between Diniyyah and Academic curriculum and Madrasahs against public schools was not encouraging. Later on, I was not sure where can I get the latest information and progress regarding Islamic education in Singapore.
But today, I had the opportunity to meet and discuss about the latest progress on Islamic education with MUIS, and we were introduced to the Joint Madrasah System (JMS) and I was overwhelmed listening to the presentation. Not only the integration between the Diniyyah curriculum with the academic has produced many internationally recognised qualifications such as GCSE Cambridge and IB but the Islamic education has also embrace the 21st century education with more learner centered, with high level of progressivism and even learning Islam has become fun, dynamic and exciting.
Now, our Singaporean brothers and sisters can pursue their tertiary education in Islamic Studies in countries like Egypt, Jordan and similar destinations directly from Madrasah, without the need to take a diploma in Malaysia like many did several years ago.
Congratulations MUIS and Singaporean Muslims for the great job in education.
“First, share what you remember from the Hijrah. Its the who, where and when.” I told my students.
This is the most basic part of the forum. Panelists should not over estimate the audience thinking that they already know everything. It is good to remind them of what are we talking about. Which Hijrah are you going to discuss, when did it happen, who involved, it took place from where to where… all these things will enhance your REMEMBERING.
Some of my students will become the panelists in a forum organised by our primary school (Khalifah Model School). Two of the panelists and the moderator were students there during their primary education, and one panelist will be a guest panelist. The forum is a part of the family day organised by the primary school. They invited students from the secondary school to conduct a forum on Hijrah, and the audience will be the primary school’s students and their parents, including the teachers.
“Okay, next stage, I suggest you to demonstrate your UNDERSTANDING. What do you understand about the Hijrah of the Prophet PBUH? Was it because they were afraid of the kuffar in Mecca? Or something else. Why Hijrah was so significant to Muslims? Well, what do you understand about the connection between Hijrah, and the development of Islamic calendar during the time of Khalifah Umar bin al-Khattab r.a.? These are the things that you can explore” I continued the coaching session.
Since early this year, we promote the Bloom’s Taxonomy as our strategy to promote High Order Thinking Skills. It has to be embedded in the learning, presentation, assessment, and all other possible activities.
Some of the students wrote down some notes, some were drawing, and I just smiled knowing each of them has their own way of learning. I hope so!
“After remembering and understanding, we should try to move to the next stage. The moderator can invite the next panelist to demonstrate his or her capability of APPLYING. If you live in Mecca during the time of the Hijrah, how would you see yourself as part of the historical event. What was your expectations? Will the face of Islam changed after the Hijrah? How confident you were at that time?” I added the next step to the strategy.
I don’t want to provide answers to all these questions. I want them to find them themselves. In fact, the questions should come from them. But at this stage, some sort of coaching is still needed.
“Does a forum has specific way to talk? Does it have to be formal, or… what do you think, ustaz?” one of the students ask me.
“Don’t worry about that. Which ever makes you more comfortable, then use it. Balance between them. And remember, you don’t have to impress the teachers or the parents. They are there, but I think, just concentrate on your juniors, the students.” I suggested.
Knowing that parents will also attend the forum, my students looked nervous.
“Well, the next stage, try to show some efforts on ANALYSING. Does Hijrah only refer to the physical movement from one place to another? Is there any other form of Hijrah? Are there still a requirement for us to hijrah? Did our Prophet PBUH mention anything about categories of Hijrah? Can you categorise Hijrah?” I continued with the Bloom’s.
I suggested them yo watch a video clip on Youtube when I talked about Hijrah on TV3 several years ago. I hoped they can see some different ideas on Hijrah, some different interpretations and understandings.
“The moderator can find your way to ask the next panelist to show the EVALUATING skills. What do you think about the current situation of Muslims? How they perceive Hijrah? How by improving their commitment to the better understanding of Hijrah can help them to change their life into betterment? Do you agree with the tradition of Hijrah marching or parade on the streets? If you agree, how you defend your agreement? If not, how do you argue?” I bombarded them with more and more questions.
I hope their experience in this forum will spark their mind to read, research and present in a more critical manner. If discussing about Hijrah goes only around where, when, who and a tinge of why, they will get bored and boring.
“Last but not least, can you come out with some skills on CREATING? Any action plan to help your peer? How you can help them improving themselves, and fulfilling your second duty as khalifah, help others to become good?” I concluded the coaching session.
I believe, if students can get into the habit of using Bloom’s Taxonomy in developing a content of any form of discussion, they will fulfil the objective of education, and that is LEARNING and developing the most precious skill as a human being and that is THINKING.
All the best, guys!
Assalamualaikum WBT. Alhamdulillah, Solatan wa salaman ‘ala Rasulillah. Amma ba’du.
Sheikh Ramzy Ajem described the topic excellently and I benefited a lot from it. The extended explanation and tadabbur on the verse (فاعلم أنّه لا إله إلا الله) is very important that Allah declares even the highest degree of recognition the truth (there is no God but Allah) is still by seeking knowledge.
It reminds me on the explanation given by Ibn ‘Abbas r.a. regarding the origin of Shirk, back in the time of Prophet Nuh ‘alayhi al-Salam. On commenting verse 22 chapter Nuh, Ibn ‘Abbas r.a. said:
هذه أسماء رجال صالحين من قوم نوح، فلما هلكوا أوحى الشيطان إلى قومهم: أن أنصبوا إلى مجالسهم التي كانوا يجلسون أنصاباً وسموها بأسمائهم، ففعلوا، فلم تعبد، حتى إذا هلك أولئك ونسخ العلم عبدت
“They (for those whom the idols were named) were the names of righteous men among Nuh’s AS people. Then when they died, Shaytan inspired their people to set up images at the places where they used to sit and call them by their names. So they did this, but they were not worshipped until when those who made them had died and the knowledge of the origin of the statues was altered, they were worshipped. (al-Bukhari 4920)”
When faith is no longer based on knowledge and understanding, what happened to the people of Nuh a.s. and the famous Ashram Cat, will continue to damage the foundation of our ummah.
I strongly agree that the totalitarian approach in Islamic Schools is a form of Jahiliyyah, against all the examples we learn from the traditions of the Prophet as listed in our handbook. Some even misuse verse 101 chapter 5 (al-Māidah) in a wrong context:
“O ye who believe! Ask not of things which, if they were made unto you, would trouble you”
But yes, as Sheikh Ramzy Ajem said, we also need to guide our students how to ask. The Prophet PBUH was not only encouraging the companions to ask questions, but sometimes he also corrected the questions asked or directed it to a more relevant topic. Once a Bedouin asked the Prophet, peace be upon him, “When is the hour?” [the Day of Judgment]. The Prophet said, “What have you prepared for that final hour?” The Bedouin said, “I haven’t prepared a lot of salah and I haven’t prepared a lot of zakah but I am preparing one thing – my love for Allah and His messenger.” The Prophet (pbuh) said, “You will be with who you love.”
But culturally, our students are mainly shy away from asking questions. The effort here is double or triple than what I experienced when teaching in Ireland many years ago. Students here need a huge paradigm shifting in order to raise their hands or move forward to ask questions.
QUESTION: What do you currently do in your classrooms to enact this principle. There is great learning through sharing of ideas so please try to post your thoughts, activities and approaches.
First, we need to understand why students do not ask questions. There is a huge influence of cultural background that causes the students to remain silence. The reason is different from one community to other. As for the Japanese, many believe that it was a sign of strength to solve your problems yourself and not to impose them on others. [Tateishi, Carol A. “Taking a chance with words.” Rethinking Schools 22, no. 2 (2007): 20-23.]
As for Malaysian students like in our country, Peen, Tan Yin, and Mohammad Yusof Arshad suggested that problem-based learning (PBL) proves to be able to promote teacher and student questioning in Malaysian classroom context during sharing phase, and students are able to adapt to this new learning approach. However, the ratio of high order questions to low order questions is still low. Teachers need to develop better facilitating and questioning skills. One of the methods is by extending basic low order questions with the ‘why’, ‘how’, and ‘what if’ reflective questions. For example, “why do you say so?”, “why is it so?”, “how do you do that?”, “how does it happen?”, “what if that’s not …?”, “how about other options…?”, etc. These types of questions stimulate students to think critically and creatively. Teachers should continuously reflect on their own questioning practice and make enhancement. [Peen, Tan Yin, and Mohammad Yusof Arshad. “Teacher and Student Questions: A Case Study in Malaysian Secondary School Problem-Based Learning.” Asian Social Science 10, no. 4 (2014): p174.]
In our school, we see improvements after shifting the instruction from teacher centered classroom into the current learner centered progressivistic classroom. Students involve in three different types of learning:
We explore many aspects of non conventional learning, with one specific reason, we want to promote that knowing is fun, our students are no longer act as receivers of knowledge but builders of their own knowledge with teacher as facilitator, not as provider.
In parenting course, we also encourage parents to discuss about the learning process at school with their kids. We provide them some tips on how to engage with teenage children beginning with understanding what happened at school.
May Allah ease the process, ameen.
Assalamualaikum wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatuh.
Alhamdulillah, praise is all due to Allah.
Nothing is more important in teaching than placing “intention” as the point to begin, which is aligned with the tradition of our scholars who many of them began their books with the hadith (إنّما الأعمال بالنيات).
Our school’s name is Khalifah Model School (kmss.edu.my) and the niche of our school is the Khalifah Method. It is all about being Khalifah, shaping our students to embrace the idea of being Khalifah and having the quality of Khalifah. Khalifah is placed at the world view level which produces approaches, policies and curriculum.
I am so grateful to listen to Sheikh Ramzy Ajem’s lecture. Thank you Sheikh. Several important points are taken:
Question: What do you currently do in your classroom teaching to embody (yourself) and reinforce (to your students) that teaching and learning is a trust and that we, as human beings, are God’s vicegerents (khalifa) on earth?
Our goal in Khalifah Model School is very clear at the conceptual and practical level and that is “SHAPING EXCELLENT CHARACTER”. In terms of academic, we strongly believe that academic excellency is byproduct when the students possess the excellent character.
Therefore, since last year (when I join ITEP), we work hard on embedding the school’s vision to not only the character shaping activities, but as well as the academic (subjects and classroom activities). We break down the idea of being Khalifah into actions with the three responsibilities:
This is also the school oath which the students repeatedly recite during our Friday morning assembly.
As for the academic level, for example, when students sit for their Mathematics’ paper, students are given the option to choose which paper they want to answer: the basic, the intermediate or the advance paper. The advance paper allows students to use calculator and refer to text books. The intermediate paper allows students to refer to text book with no calculator. The basic paper does not allow students to refer to text books or use the calculator. This is to teach them to exercise their free will and taking the responsibility at the highest level.
If the result is very poor, students are allowed to resit the subject with different mode of paper. Students with good result can help their peers with difficulties and if they manage to help their friends, they can claim small extra marks for the paper as a reward for “help others to become good”.
So, subjects, be it the scientific subjects or the Diniyyah, the compulsory questions they need to answer are:
This is at the classroom level.
Outside the classroom, we design the learning to emphasize a lot on the contextual learning. The taqwa and character development unit organize programs from time to time, and we dedicate a short non academic semester (3 months, while academic semester is 4 months) for students to participates in programs they desire based on their interest and parents financial capability. This year, the students are currently participate in programs as follow:
All these activities are connected each other with the idea of being Khalifah.
In summary, being Khalifah to us means: exploring your uniqueness, strength and talent given by Allah, nurture and expand them, and use them to serve mankind, to please Allah.
“The best of people are those that bring most benefit to the rest of mankind.” [Dâraqutni, Hasan]
As for teachers, we are consistently reminding each other and I share ITEP videos with our teachers and discuss them on weekly basis.
Dear teacher and friends. Alhamdulillah. Solatan wa salaman ‘ala Rasulillah.
It is a blessing from Allah for allowing me to continue the journey with ITEP which has now embarking our third and last modul, C103K. May Allah guide us and make the path fruitfully smooth and effective.
What is teaching if it is not guided by principles?
Beforehand, perhaps we should ask, what is life if it is not guided by principles? We cannot separate our teaching from other aspects of our life. When a teacher teaches without principles, the teacher might doing it only to fulfil the bread and butter. The satisfaction relies solely on the external reward. The schooling is easily influenced by industry and other non-educational interests.
But how do we develop principles?
We develop principles from a world view which is the blue print for any system including education. The world view which shapes our belief system sets the fundamental truth to serve as the foundation where teaching, learning and school administration are working in harmony.
What principles have guided your teaching?
In Q17:70, Allah declared that He honoured the children of Adam and positioned them with definite preference over other creatures. This statement made teachers and students our major capital among the professional capitals we have. Education is human-centered, mainly the learners. The teaching and learning are both characterised with the process of developing and perfecting the full meaning of ‘insan’. Anything that dehumanise student, teachers and staffs, must be removed from all theoretical and practical levels.
Teaching also is part of my belief that the ultimate reason of me being created by Allah is for me to be His servant (‘abd) and vicegerent (khalifah). My integrity is the reflection of me being His servant, and my competency is the reflection of me being His khalifah. Therefore, I must teach according to Allah’s guidance, both from His Syariatullah (al-Quran and al-Sunnah), and Sunnatullah (the Science of teaching and learning).
What principles guide teaching in your school?
Our school (Khalifah Model School) runs as a demonstration project to showcase the full extent of the positive holistic growth children can make under an educational system completely based on the Khalifah Method. This will include a unified curriculum for the revealed knowledge and scientific knowledge delivered using the modern Islamic psychology based on the Law of Learning by which all human characteristics develop.
The Khalifah Method relies heavily on the style of interaction with and training of children according to the tradition of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The positive benefits of this warm and loving, although firm, method of relating to children will be maximised by directing all communication with children according to the Laws of Learning, given to us as a Mercy by Allah to enable us to guide ourselves and others toward all that Allah has told us is right in the Islamic way of life.
The founder of our school, the late Professor Muhammad al’Mahdi Jenkins once said:
“If you were to give to any individual or social group just two things, a positive, accurate, and motivational world view, plus a good understanding of the Laws of Learning by which all human characteristics are developed, then that individual or social group would move naturally and inevitably toward everything good and right.”
Nowadays in our country, integrated schools are flourishing everywhere.
The word ‘integration’ becoming a hot item on sales. Perhaps in the ‘educational business’.
The term ‘integrated’ led the parents to imagine how nice to have their children to go to only one school which provides everything. The academic is there, the religious study is there, too. We have fardhu kifayah, we have fardhu ‘ain, all under one roof. Our children will no longer need to go home at noon, change their school uniform, take the 4 daily bus trips to attend the separated Islamic and public school. It is safer, and cheaper too.
The integrated school is the answer to the parents’ need.
We might not do enough justice to what it means by the word integration. Integration to us is just to have two at one place, even if the two do not interact, do not integrate. We might not realize that our integration means appended, and far from integration.
We want al-Quran only in al-Quran’s lesson.
We have not yet think in depth, how much do we need al-Quran to also exist in subjects other than the Quran’s lesson.
Al-Quran in mathematics?
Al-Quran in science?
Al-Quran in history?
Al-Quran in geography?
Al-Quran in economics and accounting?
Al-Quran in languages?
Al-Quran in arts?
Al-Quran in not just the subjects taught, but also al-Quran in the way they are taught?
Is it Quranic the way the teachers teach?
Is it Quranic the way the Quran teachers teach al-Quran?
We overlook, at the end of the schooling process, a graduate from an integrated Islamic school is still a person who has two items in his mind and self. The n0-interaction two and the no-integration two. His academic has nothing to do with his religion, but shadowed by the good akhlaq which might not resulted from any form of integration.
A graduate from an integrated Islamic school is a person who still has the secular mind, no matter if he becomes an adult who wears a neck tie, or a turban.
A ‘hafiz’ engineer is still a secular in mind person, because his engineering is the non Quranic engineering. While his hafiz side, does not influence anything on his engineering at philosophical and epistemological stage.
The question now is, how important is this matter? Is it so important to investigate if the mathematics we learnt is based on an Islamic world view or incautiously we fail to notice any concern? We believe there is no struggle at theoretical and ideological level behind the knowledge we learn!?
“Well, I don’t know. My child seems okay. What are you nagging about?” a parent ask.
It egged me to silence.
If what parents want is only a school that offer the two without any need for the two to interact and integrate, what is then the value of this jihad to integrate Islam and knowledge, in education?
Integrated Islamic schools are springing up like mushrooms after the rain . Some of the mushrooms are poisonous.
A muslim speaks well.
They choose good words to speak their mind and heart.
To speak well is to be well educated and to be cultured.
O you who have believed, fear Allah and speak words of appropriate justice. [al-Ahzāb 33: 70]
It is a specific command by Allah instructing the believers whenever they speak, they must speak with quality. The words are sound, the message is clear and the meaning is delivered and understood.
But we do not have an Islamic Language.
We have Arabic as the chosen language to deliver the premier sources of our language but it is not conditioned that to become a Muslim, one must speak Arabic. To learn and understand Arabic is highly recommended but it does not make Arabic as the exclusive language of Islam. Our fellow Christian Arabs read their Bible in Arabic and pray in their churches with the same language.
So, all languages spoken by any Muslims are potentially Islamic.
But with a condition; the language must be spoken according to its specific instructions.
Speaking a language properly, even when describing others, is demonstrating the talker rather than the talked.
The sentence “John is stupid” is a shorthand version of something like this: “When I perceive John’s behavior in a variety of contexts, I am disappointed or distressed or frustrated or disgusted.” We are talking about ourselves here more than about John. But through a kind of grammatical alchemy, the ‘I’ has disappeared. Our grammar has forced us to ‘objectify’ our feelings, to protect them onto something outside of our skins. [Postman, Neil. Building a bridge to the 18th century: How the past can improve our future. Random House LLC, 2011.]
Plato once said, “when the mind is thinking, it is talking to itself”.
Speaking is directly related to the mind, and the quality of mind is the quality of a person’s personhood.
Therefore, we must carefully examine our language. A Malay Muslim, ‘Islamically’ speaking, must use proper Malay language. To learn Malay language it to improve the ‘Malayness’ of a Malay so that as a Muslim, he or she speaks with Islam’s quality and value.
Let us take an example.
When a young man aged 20 sent an email to an ustaz to invite him to his campus, he asked, “ustaz, ana nak tanya anta free tak tarikh 20 Mac nanti? Ana nak ajak anta datang kampus ana”
The sentence is made up of three languages; Malay, English, and Arabic:
The meaning of the sentence is “ustaz, are you free on the 20th of March? I want to invite you to my campus.”
Is the sentence Arabic, English or Malay?
The student who said the sentence is a Malay, the ustaz is Malay, so, the sentence is in Malay when spoken and heard. By using the Arabic pronoun which is ‘ana’ (I or saya in Malay) and ‘anta’ (you or awak in Malay), it does not make the sentence Arabic. I am amused to discover that some people think that using the Arabic pronouns such as ana and anta is a Sunnah because the Prophet PBUH used those pronouns! I believed that Rasulullah PBUH did not only use the Arabic limited to pronouns, but he spoke the entire sentence in Arabic. So, if any of us want to be more Islamic by following the Sunnah, then we should speak the whole sentence in Arabic, and not just the pronouns.
By using the mixed words in one sentence, the person might not realize that his intention to make the sentence Islamic, produced a reverse impact. In Malay language, we have our own way to address others. We consider the seniority, and we use the appropriate pronouns accordingly.
The sentence is heard by the ustaz who is a Malay and with his Malay ears and brain, “Ustaz, aku nak tanya engkau, engkau lapang tak pada 20 Mac nanti? Aku nak ajak engkau ke kampus aku!”
The sentence is considered rude. Even if aku is changed into saya, it is still inappropriate to do so.
I saw some young journalists on television inappropriately address people during interview with the wrong pronouns. They address and old man as ‘dia’ rather than ‘beliau’. Even though the message is understood, but again, the whole point here is to improve the way we speak, not just because of the social requirement, but it is Allah who commands us to speak proper Malay, proper English and proper Arabic, to be good Muslims.
A Muslim is a person with a sound language.
Mind our language.
Speaking, writing, and thinking!
It is hard to say, why parents should be so upset with the recent PT3 results.
As an educationist, I am not into the idea of mass instructions reflected by this centralized series of exam. There are so many reasons, be it economic, political, cultural, or even psychological, why the exams fail to serve justice. Students are individually unique and the standardized exams are always good at ignoring them.
Teachers and schools know their students better and school should have the autonomy to design the assessment based on the uniqueness of each institution. At least, part of it is exercised through this new PT3 where marking is not centralized. And the poor result should be taken as a measurement for improvement at school level, rather than blaming here and there.
There’s nothing to be upset. The result does not determine anything. Not even SPM, not to mention the future of our kid.
When my wife and I decided to send our kids to private schools, we consciously understood what sort of future would it be for them. If they want to pursue their higher education abroad, getting a normal scholarship is not going to be easy, no matter how good the qualification is. That is the reason, I prefer using the term independent school, rather than private school. The idea of being independent must properly embedded right from the beginning.
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