28May

ITEP C103K: Module 2 – Teaching in an Islamic School

ramzyajem

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

HASRIZAL
kmss.edu.my

21May

ITEP C103K: Module 1 – Importance of Principles of Teaching

Assalamualaikum WBT.

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.

khalifahmethod

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.”

Wassalamualaikum WBT.

Hasrizal
Malaysia.

_______

  1. http://hasrizal.edublogs.org/2014/11/23/video-law-of-learning-by-prof-muhammad-al-mahdi-jenkins/
  2. http://hasrizal.edublogs.org/2014/11/22/khalifah-model-school-secondary-speech-day-2014/
  3. http://kmss.edu.my/the-founder/
  4. https://www.facebook.com/KhalifahModelSchoolSecondary
18May

The ‘No-Integration’ Integrated Islamic Schools

integrate

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.

However…

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.

Hasrizal
KMSS.EDU.MY

19Mar

‘Reconstructing’ World History and Historical Thinking Subject

historical thinking

Credit Photo: http://pdce.educ.ubc.ca/

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.

Hasrizal
education.saifulislam.com

18Mar

Teaching World Religions in the Khalifah Method Way

ITEP-Susan-Doughlas

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:

39_18

Q39:18

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.

“LI TA’ĀRAFŪ: GETTING TO KNOW THE WORLD RELIGIONS IN THE KHALIFAH METHOD WAY”

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.

HASRIZAL

16Mar

Islamic School Policies in Correcting Misbehavior

schoolpunish1
credit photo: sg.theasianparent.com

“Ali, would you answer my question. What do you understand… the differences between Prophet and Messenger?” ask the teacher.

Wait.

Before Ali answers the teacher’s question, what do you think about Ali’s feeling? Does he like the teacher more or less when the teacher asked him like that? Putting him at risk of failure in public. What other students in the classroom feel about the teacher? By choosing Ali to answer the question, does that make the rest of the class like the teacher more or less?

Well, a very simple action we do in a classroom, is actually reflecting our value, and nevertheless, our world view. How important to ensure our students feel secured being in our classroom? How important the students’ dignity, the mutual respect among each other, and the level of cooperation? All these are not random acts. They are the interpretation of our belief as educators, teacher, and even as the members of our faith.

Then, we should carefully examine what our iman says about pedagogy, curriculum and dealing with Tarbiyyah.

Recently our school dealt with serious misbehavior among our students. At first, we tried to deal with them at micro level. The teachers talked with the students and try to understand their motives and perhaps help them to understand our concerns. Some of them successfully worked out but some did not. The cases were quite serious which I think in some schools, these students might be sacked and terminated.

When the frequency is increasing, it became quite alarming.

We were forced to deeply question ourselves, what is our belief? As Muslims, as the practitioners of the Khalifah Method, how to deal with this test? These are no longer isolated cases. We must act before the wrongdoings became a norm.

We remind ourselves, as khalifah we have three responsibilities:

  1. Make ourselves good
  2. Help others to become good
  3. Keep the physical surrounding clean and beautiful, pleasing to Allah.

Will terminating the students make them better? In fact, will sacking them make us better persons? How do we balance between the rights of individuals to be corrected and deserve second chance, and the rights of many to live at school in peace? So many questions came out and we concluded that Allah wants us to learn something that cannot be taught in any classrooms.

PUBLIC SHAMING

We do not subscribe ourselves to public shaming. It is against our principles in educating the students to improve and betterment. ‘Gentle but firm’ (we call it LEGAS (lembut + tegas) at school) is not a cliche, and not as simple as it sounds. We believe that evil doing must be repelled with something better. Evil is not capable to erase another evil.

This is what Allah says:

41_34

And not equal are the good deed and the bad. Repel (evil) by that (deed) which is better; and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend. [Fussilat 41:34]

It Allah who promises us that an enemy can be turned into devoted friend if we return evil with goodness. Public shaming, punishment with nothing to learn, will only thicken the ego and stubbornness, increase hatred, grudge and all forms of negativity.

Would it be easy?

If public shaming is common, this ‘soft’ action would be assumed as easy.

But Allah reminds:

41_35

But none is granted it except those who are patient, and none is granted it except one having a great portion (of good). [Fussilat 41: 35]

The ‘soft’ approach cannot be taken except by those who possess a high quality of patience (sabr). It requires patience, wisdom and good self control. For those who have the patience, they are indeed have a great portion of goodness.

CONFLICT MANAGEMENT

It is our time to practice chapter 159 from surah Āl ‘Imrān:

3_159

So by mercy from Allah , (O Muhammad), you were gentle with them. And if you had been hard (in speech) and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah . Indeed, Allah loves those who rely (upon Him). 

In this chapter, Allah gave us five steps of problem solving than can be developed into a school policy:

  1. Pardon them (‘afw)
  2. Ask forgiveness for them (istighfar)
  3. Consult them in the matter (syura)
  4. Make a decision (azam)
  5. Rely upon Allah (tawakkal)

PARDON THEM

Pardon the wrongdoers does not mean we let go everything. It means that we accept the thing had happened. We remove our anger from clouding our motive. We bring down ourselves a little bit to sit and face the wrongdoers at the same level, willing to engage and reconnect.

Looking at the wrongdoers with full of anger and  hatred can never bring education into function.

Syaitan is there, wanting the children of Adam to fail the test.

ASK FORGIVENESS

We are not in the position to forgive the students 100%. Their mistake related to our rights, the school rights and other students’ rights are only a portion of it. The other portion involves Allah’s right. How can we forgive them on behalf of Allah? That is why, after pardoning them, we should ask forgiveness from Allah so that He forgives them.

We do not ask forgiveness openly, but we will say it in our prayer. This will bring the sincerity into perfection, Insha-Allah.

How many of us, remember to ask forgiveness from Allah for our students? Maybe we can start asking Allah’s forgiveness for ourselves due to our forgetfulness in this important matter.

SYURA

Then only we should start the process of consulting them in matter. The first two steps should not be skipped because they differentiate the positive Islamic education from others. Both steps create a positive and potential surrounding for a syura to take place.

In this part, the word Syura is used in a form of shā-wara (شاور) which benefits the meaning of ‘two ways’. It means, we need both party to listen to each other in order to get a complete picture between the wrongdoers’ perspective and our expectation. We cannot make syura into success if the meeting offers only our interpretation and verdict.

Listen to the students’ point of view. They might still be at the guilty side but perhaps we can discover the real problem behind the presented problem. We are dealing with stealing, but maybe it is not the real problem. Stealing can be a symptom of a more serious psychiatric illness. It can also indicates some other social disorder in their personal life.

DECISION

The process must have a clear outcome. We cannot discuss half way and leave the trial session with inconclusive decisions. Otherwise, we are only halfway gentle but not firm. In order to achieve decisiom, it could take an hour or two, or dragged into longer hours. But here, teachers and students will experience the learning Allah wants them to learn.

They should understand at what point their actions are considered wrong.

They should understand that a sincere taubah is more valuable than punishment. There is a tendency in our society to belittle taubah and do not work enough to help a person to reach the taubah. Allah makes taubah strong enough to erase the biggest sin in amount and quality we can ever imagine.

The misbehaved students must be ensured that Allah is not just the Ghafūr to forgive when we seek forgiveness, He is also the Rahīm, who also subsequently love and bless the one He forgives!

Students should also choose some good deeds to be done, since Islam teaches us that goodness erases badness. Community service, inside and outside school is a good option. And at this stage, students are expected to do it voluntarily.

TRUST

After both parties agree upon the decision, we must reestablish the trust. Do not spy on them. Make sure they leave the session with the highest trust in Allah. They trust Allah to guide them and we trust Allah to guide them. With that trust, Insha-Allah He will guide both of us towards betterment.

Are these easy?

No!

Allah says:

“So by MERCY from Allah , (O Muhammad), you were gentle with them.”

It is the mercy of Allah.

Ask for His mercy.

Do things to gain the mercy.

deprived-rifq

Jarir radhiyallāhu ‘anhu narrated, the Prophet sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: He who is deprived of gentleness, is deprived of goodness [Muslim]

Alhamdulillah.

Alhamdulillah.

Thank you Allah.

HASRIZAL

20Feb

Teaching Islam: Between Differences and Distinctions

diversity-itep

Assalamualaikum WBT.

Alhamdulillāh. Solātan wa Salāman ‘alā Rasulillāh. Amma ba’d.

The complexity of Islamic education requires some paradigm shiftings. Rather than seeing the differences as an obstacle, we should reexamine the way we perceive it, based on the Quranic guideline, and some historical experiences.

وَلَوْ شَاءَ اللَّهُ لَجَعَلَكُمْ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً وَلَٰكِن لِّيَبْلُوَكُمْ فِي مَا آتَاكُمْ ۖ فَاسْتَبِقُوا الْخَيْرَاتِ ۚ إِلَى اللَّهِ مَرْجِعُكُمْ جَمِيعًا فَيُنَبِّئُكُم بِمَا كُنتُمْ فِيهِ تَخْتَلِفُونَ

“… Had Allah willed, He would have made you one nation [united in religion], but [He intended] to test you in what He has given you; so race to [all that is] good. To Allah is your return all together, and He will [then] inform you concerning that over which you used to differ.” [Al-Māidah 5: 48]

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَىٰ وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا ۚ إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ

O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted. [Al-Hujurāt 49: 13]

The differences and diversified aspects of life are created by Allah and meant to be like that. If we truly dedicate ourselves to the genuine spirit of Islam, we might realize that practicing and teaching Islam in a pluralistic society is more reflecting the Islamic identity than being in a monotonous society. From the Prophetic era, up to the last Muslim political entity, The Ottoman, Islam was always practiced in a multi cultural, racial, and religious society.

HOW ISLAMIC SCHOOL DEALS WITH DIFFERENCES

From my understanding after watching the video, schools have their right to maintain the standard curriculum which must be made known to parents prior registering their children. Historically, students chose to study with which Shaykh they preferred and at which Madrasa, with the information of what is the methodology and school of thought the madrasa and the Shaykh represent.

Parents must respect the school and must maintain good bilateral relationship so that any concern will be properly channeled. Nowadays, when parents disagree with certain things at school, rather than discussing them with the right persons, they take the matter to social media. When parents do not teach their children to respect school as well as the school do not teach the students to respect the parents, it will be a lose-lose battle.

Based on the 13th verse of Surah al-Hujurāt, the diversity is one of the main characters for human civilization. It should not be considered as a source of problems. But the differences are guided with the principal of lita’ārafū (لتعارفوا). The word lita’ārafū contains:

  • seeing the differences as interesting
  • wanting to know and understand the differences
  • require two way process

This should help the school to build its policy on tackling issues as sensitive as mazhab, ideology, trend, Salaf vs. Khalaf, Sunni vs Shiah, etc. School is a learning institution. Any issue, must stick to learning. Outsiders including parents, should not interfere the process of learning. Any additional values should only enter school through the process of learning.

In a school, we might experience for example, a student gave public speaking saying that reciting zikr after prayer in jamaah is bid’ah or music is haram. This naturally caused chaos among students. Some teachers agreed and some disagreed. To make sure that school maintains its identity as a school, school is advised to use the PNP policy. Positive-Negative-Positive.

  • [POSITIVE] we salute the student for his ability to express his opinion in public, willing to take risks which is crucially needed for leadership quality.
  • [NEGATIVE] we remind him that ‘throwing’ wildly his opinion like that will not help him to achieve what he himself wanted to achieve. Talking is easy, but teaching and learning are not.
  • [POSITIVE] We motivate him to use proper language, and support his opinion with evidence, argument, and come up with name of scholars who agree with his opinion. We give him this task so that he learn and other students too. We thank him, for raising the issue, so that other students alert with it.

In the class, teachers teach standard curriculum. It is hard for others to decide if the school curriculum is Shafi’e based, or non-Mazhab, because we do not use text books. Students are taught the right way to perform wudhu’ and solat. Some obvious differences like reciting Qunut in Fajr prayer are highlighted and students are made to understand the reasoning behind both contradict opinions. They’re encouraged to refer Fiqh al-Sunnah and Bidayah al-Mujtahid for advance level, as well as Kifayah al-Akhyar, al-Ikhtiyar or al-Iqna’ (Shafi’e and Hanafi’s reference in Fiqh). They conclude their understanding not necessarily on making choice between the two opinions, but to follow the Imam with adab and akhlaq. If the imam recite the Qunut, then recite with him. if the imam leave the Qunut, then do not delay the sujud to read the Qunut on your own.

Knowledge must never separated from Akhlaq. Knowledge with Akhlaq is an asset. Knowledge without Akhlaq is a liability.

DEALING WITH OTHER FAITHS

Again, school is a place to learn.

Other faiths are learnt in two modules. Theologically, the differences between Islamic faith and others are taught in Aqidah subject. In this subjects, students see differences more than similarities. For civilizational studies, the subject is taught in World Religions (civilizational studies). Here, students see similarities more than differences. For example, what other faiths talk about environment, medical ethics, as well as architecture, rituals, music, etc.

These are some of the main points I learnt from the sharing of Mr. Habeeb Quadri, Shaykh Omar Qureshi, and Mrs. Sharifa Abukar, together with our practice at school. Diversity is responsible to enhance the development. It is a rahmah. Only if the spirit of lita’ārafū is obeyed.

SYLLABUS OF IBERR AND JAMIATUL ULAMA (KNZ) TA’LIMI

The IBERR is dynamic and reflects some form of social-reconstructionistic approach. Contemporary issues such as environment, Islam and modernism etc. While The Jamiatul Ulama (KZN) Ta’limi’s syllabus is more essentialistic and perhaps perennialistic if the Turāth is used rather than text books. Both of the syllabus have their own strength. The only concern is not to overload students with too many content which the main objective at school level is to positively train the students to know how to know, and love to know, becoming the lovers or knowledge and learning.

Wallahu A’lam.

HASRIZAL
Malaysia

 

11Feb

Faith Based Curriculum Alternatives: a Jewish and a Catholic School

Greg-Beiles-Jewish-SchoolMr. Greg Beiles, Toronto, Canada

Assalamualaikum WBT.

Dr. Seema and colleagues, brothers and sisters.

1. BENEFITS FOR ISLAMIC SCHOOLS

Firstly, the two videos gave us a good understanding on what is going on in other faith based schools. In a country like Malaysia, we do not have Jewish School, a very few Catholic schools and no known Hindu or Buddhist school, which I would like to dig deeper. When we think of people from other faiths, we tend to think that everyone is against each other, especially when the perception is dominated by politics. But through education, it is clearly demonstrated that people of different faiths are working on self empowerment and learning how to become a good member of society and contribute. This is an important and strong message for Islamic schools like ours.

2. THE CURRICULUM MAPPING

Another thing, I want to think that the two videos are only at the introductory level because I feel like the explanations are not deep enough to understand the philosophy behind the integration. More or less, they are initiated at micro level and we do not hear they refer to certain Jewish or Catholic scholars in education who perhaps did their research on this matter at the philosophical level. So, I am not sure if the explanations given by Mr. Greg Beiles and Dr. Graham McDonough represent Jewish and Catholic modules of curriculum as a whole. As expressed by Mr. Greg Beiles, the integration, at least in Toronto, it is still considered as a new thing.

Mr. Beiles mentioned that the methodological level to extract concepts like freedom from Jewish tradition and distinguish it from a universal version of freedom, it not easy. When the teaching relates the story of the Jewish migration from Egypt with the experience of the American slaves escaped to Canada and how that can be understand from a Jewish Studies perspective, it raises a question to me. In Jewish Studies, why they want to integrate? What is the motive? Is it because of the external motives like wanting to make the religious studies relevant, or is it because of the internal motives, i.e. the Jewish faith itself requires integration?

As a comparison, in Islamic Studies, at the methodological level, to relate something with something represented by the concept of ‘ibrah (عبرة). The word ‘ibrah means to connect something with something. When Allah concluded the story of Prophet Yusuf ‘alayh al-salām, He said,

“There was certainly in their stories ‘IBRAH for those of understanding. Never was the Qur’an a narration invented, but a confirmation of what was before it and a detailed explanation of all things and guidance and mercy for a people who believe.”[Q12:111]

The word ‘ibrah is commonly translated into ‘lesson’. But the word itself in Arabic, semantically speaking requires us to relate the story of Yusuf with ourselves. If we see the story of Yusuf only as the story of people who used to live in Egypt and part of Palestine, we have not reach the learning objective. So in this case, integration is not because of external motives but the faith requires us to make the connection as a form of integration. It becomes a foundation in learning History.

Graham-McDonough-Catholic
Dr. Graham McDonough, Toronto, Canada

I had difficulties to understand the second video with Dr. Graham McDonough because the sound quality is not very good. I had to listen to it several times to get the main points Dr. Graham McDonough expressed in his session.

Dr. Graham McDonough opened his session with the idea that school as a formal educational institution is a culture rather than a Catholic tradition. It triggered us to also explore how was education during the early years of Muslims. From an informal form of teaching and learning, to the emergence of Madrasah, understanding the differences between form and substance can help us to maintain the dynamism in our contemporary Islamic education; knowing what to add, what to keep and what to leave.

What caught my attention the most, is the emphasization to begin the learning with cognitive studies in Catholic schools. This is unique and I wish the cognitive is specifically trained at the very early stage of education. We work on this issue in our school and my son is now studying in a school where the first 6 months of their schooling, they restrict the learning only to language proficiency (English and Arabic), plus memorization of the Quran and cognitive. The endangered mind of current students, mainly caused by early exposure to ‘screen literature’ like television, computer, tablet and smartphone somehow caused the students to experience some learning difficulties. They do not have problem with Maths and Science. But they have serious problems with subjects that require thinking, articulation, analysis. If this issue is left untreated it might lead to many forms of cognitive dissonance. I would love to see how the Catholic Schools work on this issue, as well as other Islamic schools among the ITEP colleagues.

Understanding the Jewish and Catholic schools’ effort on developing their curriculum, strengthen what Abu al-Hasan ‘Ali al-Nadwi’s view on the impact of materialism on faith (Tafsir Surah al-Kahf). Materialism disconnects physical, emotional, and intellectual aspects of life from spirituality. Not only Islam, even other faiths are facing this major challenge too.

A holistic integration between the mandated curriculum with Islam, is a huge responsibility that educationists must take it as a form of jihad.

HASRIZAL
Malaysia

28Jan

A Learner Centered Approach to Munakahat

islamic-studies

Can the learning of Fiqh being transformed from a teacher centered essentialism into a learner centered progressivism?

I don’t have an immediate answer.

But what I understand from the Sirah, it was obvious that during the time of the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, there was no text books, no structured course outline, no standardized assessments. There was no mass instruction.

But that does not mean, a structured learning is wrong. I never intended it to be understood like that. What I want to emphasize here, education is a process of instilling progressively something into a person. Having a structured content, should not let the dynamism of learning disappeared. Therefore, I believe that our 2015 Curriculum Transformation is workable, even for a perennialistic subjects like Fiqh.

Today, I had my chance to explore this when I substituted our Fiqh teacher who had an emergency. The topic was Fiqh Munakahat.

I began my class by asking them what are the things that they’ve learnt from last week session. I required them to reply in related vocabularies, knowing that our students still have problems dealing with constructing ideas in sentences. They gave me the answer and one of them was the Rukun of Nikah.

When I asked them if they can remember all the Rukun of Nikah, most of them looked reluctant. I said, “if you can understand what does the word Rukun means, and why it’s being used frequently in many aspects of Fiqh, then remembering it will be easier, and less confusing when it comes to Syarat and other stuffs.

What are the other Rukun they can remember?

They gave me all sorts of Rukun such as Rukun Solat, Rukun Haji, Rukun Negara and the list goes on.

Rukun is pillar.

Pillars are something that without them, the main structure can never exist. A house can stand without a window, but not without pillars. So, pillars mean something that are so important which you cannot imagine the existence of one without them.

You cannot imagine Hajj without Wuqf in Arafah.

You cannot imagine Prayer without Qiyam, reciting al-Fatihah, or Sujud.

Similar to the fact that you cannot imagine a building without the pillars.

That was the first five minutes of the discussion. I didn’t want to touch too much on the topic because I want them to continue it with the appointed teacher, next session Insha-Allah.

I took the opportunity to investigate the learners’ idea about marriage itself. So, I divided the discussion into two sets of topic.

munakahat

First, I drew a line and divide it into three columns, named “Jahiliyyah”, “Islam” and “Neo Jahiliyyah”. The second line was divided again into three columns, named “pre marriage marriage”, “in marriage” and “post marriage”. The students are required to share whatever they can think about the divisions. Write, whatever you want to write. Do not worry if they are right or wrong.

Alhamdulillah, the ‘entire world of marriage’ came forward and written on the whiteboard. All sorts of thing! Beyond your imagination. It is not my position to judge if their answers are right or wrong at this stage, but I have to assist them to analyze the words they and their friends shared.

We talked about all the vocabularies.

It was really fun, sometimes sad, in many ways it was awkward too, and once a while, it freaking me out.

Married to a bridge?

What is that?

Then, we decided to identify all those words on the whiteboard if they are ADAT (custom) or SYARIAT.

“Akad?”

“Syariat!”

“Reception’s color theme?”

“Adat!”

“Headache to do the financial budget?”

“Syariat! Adat! Syariat! Adat!” they got confused.

I asked the girls, “do you want to get married to a man who is good looking but fail to sort out the budget?”

“They agreed with one solid answer, “NO!!!”

It was a very good session. My advice to myself and other teachers who want to adopt the learner centered instruction, “do not overestimate your students’ current knowledge that you fail to make the topic simple, and do not underestimate your students’ capability to learn”

Appreciate and acknowledge what they already know. Let them realize that they actually know a lot of things related to the subject. Then, we discuss them, and finally we suggest them to reconstruct the outcome to a more structured knowledge by reading the suggested further reading materials, if there’s any.

Discussion was ended with a heavy topic related to neo Jahiliyyah marriage involving the same sex marriage, nikah mut’ah, and some other super rare examples.

We do not talk too much on the rule of fiqh regarding these types of marriage (because we already subconsciously categorized them as neo jahiliyyah), but we discussed a little bit about the causes that lead a person into these types of un-islamic marriage.

Why a man finally attracted to another man? Why a woman is attracted to another woman? The causes occurred at the age of ignorance, but the implications remain for the entire life. Class ended with “take a very good care of our aurat, interaction and character shaping”.

Wallahu a’lam.

I enjoyed every bit of the class, Alhamdulillah.

 

 

21Jan

Patient with the Silence

Rain of Info

Today, I had a chance to cover a class as a substitute teacher because she had a problem with her car on the way to the school. I didn’t prepare anything, only to understand just couple of minutes before the class begin, that its a Fiqh Mu’āmalāt class and topic to be covered is Khiyār.

At that time, I consciously reminded myself that our school now is moving from the traditional teacher centered learning, to the learner centered instruction. Therefore I must limit myself from providing the learners with rain of information, but to encourage them to build their knowledge and understanding.

It means, conducting a Fiqh Mu’āmalāt session without the lesson plan, will be a good advantage, provided that I myself know what Fiqh Mu’āmalāt and Khiyār are all about.

I decided not to touch too much on the Khiyār itself because I believe what the teacher planned for her class, should continue to be delivered later on. I will concentrate on few fundamental ideas on Fiqh which the teacher might not have enough time to bring it forward.

There were numbers of question I shared with the students:

  1. If the students understand about topics and subtopics, we have Physics, Chemistry and Biology as the subtopics to Science. So, what are the subtopics of Fiqh?  Who are the siblings of Fiqh Mu’āmalāt? (‘Ibādāt, Munākahāt, Jināyāt etc)
  2. Why having Fiqh in our life is better than not having it?
  3. Does Fiqh contradicts freedom?
  4. If someone says, “I am doing this because of me. This is me. I don’t want to be a hypocrite by doing what I don’t want to do simply because someone told me to do so,” how do you relate Fiqh to someone like this?

In order to promote learner centered instruction, a teacher must have patience with the silence. To me, this was the hardest part. Of course there were two or three of them who were more enthusiastic to share their opinion. But the majority were in complete silence. Sometimes, I saw their lips moving. They were whispering the answers to themselves but reluctant to voice out.

I tried again and again.

I explained to them that Fiqh is about managing reality. If the classical books in Fiqh gave examples on how to pray in a boat, we must understand that pray must continue but boat is now an airplane or a train. The learners are also reminded to identify how the people around them think about Fiqh. Otherwise, the knowledge we possess is irrelevant.

At the end, I found that it was me who did most of the talking and I am still distance away from practicing the learner centered instruction. I can tolerate  the function of content, but I am still not patient enough with the silence.

I ended my class by giving them an example in Maths (which is far from the original plan to ‘teach’ Fiqh Mu’āmalāt and Khiyar).

Division in Real Life

Their teacher for Mathematics will ask them to create a simple word problem based on this mathematical inquiry. What the teacher means, is there an event in real life that can be reflected in this mathematical problem? So, if the students can answer this question correctly (in numbers) but cannot see how this calculation can be used in solving real events, then the thinking is not really a thinking. Perhaps, no thinking took place during the problem solving.

So, all subjects are taught to help the students manage their real life.

High order thinking skills are in distance when lazy thinking is still dominant.

I pray to Allah to help our teachers as well as the learners for both parties to be blessed with the enthusiastism and high spirit to think and learn, which were the most basic characters of human being, Ameen.

 

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