Current Educational Approach
Islam has been prescribed for mankind by Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta’ala) as a compulsory and complete code of life, however, it is unfortunate that majority of “practical” and “modern” Muslims consider Islamic education secondary and choose to benefit from it in their spare time, if they have any. They focus very strongly on choosing a highly qualified career path and consequentially are able to establish themselves as good doctors, good engineers, good lawyers, but do no invest the same time and effort into Islam. At the opposite end of the spectrum, if an individual engrosses themselves in Islamic Studies that are not balanced or holistic, such individuals can develop an attitude of arrogance, intolerance, and disconnect, failing to understand the issues that Muslims face in a modern context.
A Hybrid Educational Approach
The youth must make a wise and informed decision of adopting a socio-religious hybrid education system that brings the best of both worlds. It would help them emerge as active community members and professionals who are well versed with the theology, morals, and the jurisprudence of their faith as well. They would be able to benefit from the best of Deen and Dunya, both. One must also rid themselves of the misconception that Islamic studies are less practical, or that worldly arts and sciences have no link back to Islam (Islam has branches of history, business, psychology, linguistics).
An All-Rounder Curriculum
Fortunately enough, some devout Muslims in western countries are proactive about homeschooling their children, or choosing Muslim-owned schools and high schools. If you belong to such a family you would already have benefitted from the basics of Islamic education. However, if you have received minimal homeschooling and a secular western schooling, then work will need to be done to gain knowledge of your deen. A proactive and conscientious Muslim understands that he or she needs to acquire Islamic knowledge as importantly as worldly academics and so they must know the curricula they are supposed to complete. Islamic studies is vast, but the following are essential components that one must seek to learn: Tawheed (the principles of the Oneness of Allah), the Seal of Prophethood (the life of the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) and accepting him as the final Prophet), basic Fiqh (jurisprudence, rulings that govern your daily life), Tajweed (correct pronunciation/recitation of the Qur’an), Tarbiyah (Islamic lifestyle, ethics, morals). There is also the Arabic language, tafsir (explanation of Qur’an), and Islamic history. And remember, you don’t need to learn everything in one night or one year; in addition to gaining knowledge, it’s also about implementing what we learn.
Ease of Acquiring Basic Islamic Knowledge
The brilliance of basic Islamic studies is that they do not require you to attend expensive schools and universities because faith has been perfected by Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta’ala) for the Ummah in the form of the Quran and through the Sunnah and Hadith of His Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him). Masjids, Islamic institutes, and community centers offer voluntary or affordable Islamic studies classes ranging from Tajweed (Quranic recitation and pronunciation) and Tafsir (Quranic meaning) to Hadith sciences and personal development. We have Al-Qur’an, the Book of Allah, which we should strive to learn, recite, and understand (and implement). Tafsir Ibn Kathir and other books of tafsir/exegesis are available to explain the meaning and context of ayaat. Riyadh us-Saliheen is a book compiled of authentic hadith that is accessible for Muslims, though you can dive intoSahih Al-Bukhari with commentary by a scholar. Stories of the Prophets is a brilliant read that conveys the chain of prophethood from Prophet Adam (Peace be upon him to the final Prophet Mohammad (Peace and blessings be upon him). Countless other authentic scholarly collections and books have been published or translated and are available for anyone who seeks Islamic knowledge. We can also use the Internet and social media to our benefit. Islamic study programs, degrees, diplomas, and support classes, are available online. You can easily benefit from the lectures and opinions of scholars via their videos on YouTube or on their personal web spaces i.e. websites, Facebook pages, and Twitter feeds. However you choose to gain your education, ensure it is authentic to the Qur’an and Sunnah – and in accordance to our beliefs of the articles of faith (Tawheed, Angels, Books (Revelations), Prophethood, Day of Judgment, and Predestination (Qadar). In the next part of this article we’ll explore how to schedule time for Islamic studies and practical action tips.