Sunday, 2 March 2008

Guidelines & Advices for the Establishment of Islamic Schools & Madrasahs

The world is suffering from insecurity and discontent. The most important thing needed in the world today is Islamic education. It is ignorance of Islamic education that leads to insecurity and discontentment. The world is desperately searching for the solution to that. Be rest assured that if the world knew what Islam is and what it offers, they will abandon everything else.

The words of Allah - The Noble Qur'an; and the teachings of Rasulullah SAW – Ahadith – bring peace, happiness and contentment to the heart. They are the solution to all problems. Let us all encourage our family members, friends and acquaintances to sacrifice some time of their life to study the Ilm of Deen. Let us motivate our local Islamic organisation to also assist such people. Remember, if one person becomes an Aalim (an Islamic scholar) through our means, so many people will be guided. They will be Allah-Conscious and perform Solat and many virtuous deeds.

The reward for all that will be accredited to us, InshaAllah. We will see this granted by Allah in the Hereafter, InshaAllah. What an easy way to earn Allah's pleasure and great rewards! Let us make it an agenda of our everyday life to encourage people to study Ilm of Deen and assist such people to spend some time with the Ulama.

The Perfect Basic Islamic Institution of Knowledge

Ideally, a complete basic institution would provide the following courses:

(a) Hifz (memorisation of the Qur'an)

(b) Aalim (Islamic scholarship)

(c) Iftaa (Fatwa / mufti course)

One of the first fundamental rules is that the functionaries of the institution, as far as possible, should always have an eye to the augmentation of donation. Let us make effort and also persuade others to do the same. The well-wishers of the institution must always keep this thing in mind. It is important that the institution is primarily driven by well-wishers and charity / donations. Anonymous donations are recommended. This is because - the donation of such people who can afford and contribute as much as they can but do not expect fame from it gives more Barakah, InshaAllah. On the whole, the donor's good faith appears to be the provision for greater durability of the institution.

An Islamic institution of knowledge should not be reliant on the government, or any body which could result in the institution(s) being dependent, controlled and indoctrinated by these controls, Na’udzubillah. Such institutions should be independent and have the ability to voice out what has been prescribed in Qur’an and Hadith without prejudice and without dilution.

As far as technology is concerned, a website and IT facility may be set-up which have connection with other established traditional institutions. This is in order to cater for the needs and questions of the public, so that they may be addressed through this mechanism.

One of the elements of beauty and grandeur of an Islamic institution of Haqq, piety and righteousness is that – the poor, disadvantaged, orphaned children and new Muslims are included as students of the institution and zakat money can be funnelled to them. Their studies will be solely based on contribution from Muslims. Schemes such as "sponsor-a-student" programmes ought to be encouraged to enable those who want to become Aalims of Deen to proceed with their endeavour.

Virtues of Islamic Scholarship & Hifdh

Students of Deen should be well informed and reminded of the virtues of enrolling in Madrasah.

These are marked as below:

It has been narrated in the Ahadith:

"The best amongst you is he who learns the Qur'an or teaches it."

"For you to go in the morning and learn one verse of the Book of Allah Ta'ala is better for you than performing a 100 Rakaats (of Solat) and for you to go in the morning and learn a chapter of knowledge, whether it is practised upon or not, is better than performing a 1000 Rakaats."

"Never do a people gather in one of the houses of Allah Ta'ala reciting the Qur'an and reading it to one another but Sakinah (peace) descends upon them, Rahmah (mercy) enshrouds them, the angels throng around them and Allah Ta'ala remembers them in the assembly of angels."

The above narration describe the special virtues of Madaris, which carry honour of varying degrees. Each of the rewards mentioned above is so sublime that even if one devotes his whole life to acquire it, it will be worthwhile. But here there are so many rewards, especially the last one. Certainly, mention in the court of the Almighty Sustainer and remembrance in the company of the Beloved are bounties that can hardly be surpassed.

"Amongst the people there are those who are like the household of Allah Ta'ala."

The Sahabah RA asked:

"Who are those people?"

Rasulullah SAW replied:

"Men of the Qur'an, they are the household of Allah and His favoured ones."

Here, "Men of the Qur'an" refers to those people who are always occupied with the Qur'an and have a special attachment to it.

"Whoever reads the Qur'an and acts upon what is contained in it, his parents will be made to wear a crown on the Day of Judgement the brilliance of which will excel that of the sun, if it were within your worldly houses. So what do you think of the person who himself acts upon it?"

Thus it is through the virtues of reading the Qur'an and acting upon it that the parents of the reader will be honoured with a crown, the brilliance of which will far excel the light of the sun even if the sun was within one's own house. The light of the crown to be worn by the parents of the reader will be more brilliant than that of the sun. The parents get this reward solely because they were the cause of the reader coming into being or because they were responsible for his education.

"Whomsoever makes his child memorise the Qur'an will be raised on the Day of Judgement in the semblance of the full moon. His son will be asked to begin reciting and for every verse read by the child, the status of the parent will be raised to the next higher grade in Jannah till the recitation of the Qur'an is completed."

Such are the blessings of teaching the Qur'an to your children. As long as the child lives whatever good deeds he performs, the Solat he performs and forgiveness he seeks from Allah Ta'ala for you, will elevate the parents' position in Jannah.

"Whomsoever reads the Qur'an and learns it by heart and regards its lawful as lawful and its unlawful as unlawful will be admitted into Jannah by Allah Ta'ala."

"One who recites the Qur'an and acts upon it will be made to wear a crown of Nur (celestial brilliance) and his parents will be made to wear two garments which will be more valuable than the entire world. They (the parents) will exclaim: "Almighty Allah! For what are we being given these garments?" In lieu of the reading of the Qur'an by your child," will be the reply."

Guidance for Parents / Guardians

Parents play a great role in the education of their children. It is not a one-sided effort of the Ustaz alone on the child. The Ustaz will do his share but the parents must also play their part. These could be summarised as follows:

(a) Parents must show their eagerness and concern for the student's educational progress and good behaviour.

(b) Parents must encourage their children to take their studies seriously and boost their spirits always.

(c) Parents must particularly see to it that their children attend very regularly and punctually. Especially the morning classes after Subuh. Vain excuses like weddings etc. should not be allowed to disturb the educational progress of the child.

(d) Parents must see to it that the dressing of their children at all times is such that it befits a student becoming Hafiz of the Qur'an / Student of Deen.

(e) Parents are requested to keep an eye on the character, morals and behaviour of students.

(f) Parents / Guardians must agree to all the institutions regulations.

(g) Parents should keep contact with the institution and particularly with the student's Ustaz with regard to the student's progress, behaviour, problems etc. Always feel free and welcome to discuss any matter of mutual interest, particularly with regard to matters pertaining to the student, his progress etc.

(h) Any student who leaves the institution without consent ceases to be the responsibility of the institution and the institution, principal and staff will not be held liable if any misfortune, Allah forbid, befalls the student as a consequence thereof.

(i) The length of a Hifz course would generally be between two to three years.

(j) All necessary requirements of the students like meals, laundry etc. will be attended to by the institution. A reasonable fee for boarding is charged.

(k) Students should wear appropriate dress i.e. Jubah - its end at least 5cm above the ankles. All clothing to be in plain white material. Students will not be permitted to keep long hair. Beards etc. must be according to Shari'ah.

(l) Students must abide to the time and days of all classes strictly. Students not punctual will be warned, punished or expelled. Full attendance and strict punctuality is of great basic importance for success.

Qualities of the Teachers of the Institution

(a) Dedicated to the effective transmission of reliable and relevant religious knowledge.

(b) They have been formally trained and authorised to transmit knowledge by leading scholars of the Muslim heartlands.

(c) Dynamic - They are meticulous in their conformity to the time-honoured orthodoxy of Sunni Islam while sensitive to the circumstances of Muslims living in the modern world.

(d) They focus in conveying beneficial knowledge in a positive manner that inspires students and encourages practice.

(e) They do not engage in argumentation

(f) They teach for the sake of understanding and practice, not just in the academic approach of seeking knowledge for its own sake.

Philosophy of the Institution: What is Traditional Islamic Education?

Although innovation is critical for scientific advancement, the central concern of religion is emulation. The word "traditional" reflects an overriding concern for preservation, and stands in contrast to our modern preoccupation with novelty.

Traditional Islamic education is the means by which Muslims have preserved their religion. Its core is the student-teacher relationship. Since the time of the Prophet SAW sacred knowledge has been transmitted directly from teacher to student, never acquired solely by turning the pages of books. Students seeking sacred knowledge traditionally spend long years studying intricate texts with teachers who have taken their knowledge from their teachers, and so on all the way back to the Prophet SAW.

The teachers transmit sacred knowledge exactly as they inherited it from their teachers and when they judge the student to be their worthy heir, they authorise him or her to go forth and transmit sacred knowledge to others.

This metaphor of "inheriting" sacred knowledge from teachers is taken from the hadith of the Prophet SAW:

"Verily, the Prophets do not bequeath dinars nor dirhams, but rather, they bequeath knowledge." (Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah)

This traditional model of education ensures that students have respect for their teacher, their teacher's teachers, and so on all the way back to the Prophet SAW. Iconoclastic tendencies in the modern Muslim mindset that have filled our homes with disrespect, our mosques with argumentation, and our societies with intolerance are a direct result of our departure from traditional methods of education. Direct aural instruction from a teacher also ensures that sacred knowledge is properly understood and applied: unlike books, teachers bring sacred knowledge to life by interacting with their students and providing living examples that can be emulated.

Philosophy of the Institution: The Strive for Beneficial Knowledge

Knowledge is beneficial only when it draws one closer to Allah.

Imam Ghazali RA said:

"Beneficial knowledge is (knowledge) that increases your fear of Allah, improves your ability to discern the faults of your ego, makes you more cognizant of how to worship your Lord, reduces your desire for this world, increases your longing for the next world, and opens your spiritual insight to the disastrous defects of your actions so you can avoid them. It discloses to you the plots and delusions of Shaytaan and how he misleads the scholars who have gone astray until he exposes them to the hatred and anger of Allah Most High, for they have used religion to purchase this world, taken knowledge as a means to gain the wealth of sultans, to consume the wealth of religious endowments, the poor, and the needy, and turned their energies throughout the day to the acquisition of prestige and high standing in the hearts of people, which forces them to show off their good deeds, to argue, and to be quarrelsome and ostentatious when they speak." (Bidayat-Al-Hidayah)

Emphasis On Quality Rather Than Quantity

The well-wishers of the Madrasah, as far as they can, should endeavour for the continuous supply of food, needs and necessities to the students; rather than focusing on increasing the number of students.

The counsellors of the Madrasah must be aware of the institution's mission and vision to acquire well-being and excellence, thus Mashuarah (consultation) is essential, and no one should be unyielding in one's opinion - as this will disturb the foundation of the institution. Thus, all decisions on the running of the institution should be made through Mashuarah (consultation) with a decision-making Amir, InshaAllah.

The counsellors should not be hesitant in expressing their opinions, and the rest should always hear them with good faith. Even these opinions might be contrary to the opinion of some, it would be accepted with heart and soul as part of the decision-making process. And for the same reason the Muhtamim (vice-chancellor) must necessarily seek the counsellors' advice in all important matters.

Over and above this, it is also necessary that - should the vice-chancellor due to some reason, does not chance to consult all the counsellors, but may have taken counsel from a proper quorum of them, one should not feel displeased for not being consulted. A counsellor, however, can of course take exception if the vice-chancellor may not have consulted any one.

It is a very necessary thing that all the teachers be of the same Mashrab (vision, aim, mission, concern and worry), and neither presumptuous like the other religious divines of the time nor be after insulting each other.

So long as there are no regular means of income for this insitution, it will go on like this, if it please Allah, provided we pin our faith Allah. There should be no loss of hope in Allah.

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