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Relevance of Content and Context: A Word From The iSyllabus Project Director

From my experience, having taught the iSyllabus course at both the Intermediary and Advanced levels, iSyllabus gives students the opportunity to explore important subjects mentioned in passing in the One-Year Diploma. The Dawah module was for me one highlight of the Intermediary course. It is an area which is part of our daily lives and yet our efforts might not seem to reap the best results simply because we haven’t grasped the essence of what Dawah really is. The module focuses on how to make Dawah both practical and profoundly prophetic at the same time. It takes me back to the questions I had when studying the topic such as ‘How do we give Dawah?’ and ‘How do we judge success in Dawah?’ The practical result is that the module inspires many a student to become both active and effective contributors to community work.

From the outset, the Intermediary course covers contextual hadith studies, which is one of the most eye opening and challenging subjects for students. We look at technical hadith analysis, scholarly Usul methodology, and all the various opinions including the four schools and minority opinions. We grapple with reoccurring questions which often provoke lengthy discussions of what really is the sunnah in a particular question. An obvious example would be, ‘Why do two of the four schools of law not accept the extra raising of the hands in prayer (Raf’ al-Yadayn) despite there being rigorously authenticated hadith related by al-Bukhari and others on this very topic?’ The course deals in depth with this and more complicated questions.

Studying the Prophetic character (Shama’il) is a real and intimate experience. The subject creates a deep connection with the Prophet of God; how was he as a person, how did he deal with different situations, etc. It allows students to aspire to improve and adopt prophetic characteristics in their daily lives. Knowledge without improving a person’s character is deficient. Thus, the Plus course through both the Intermediary and Advanced level gives ample time to subjects that touch the soul, create a yearning to be a better person, and improve our relationship with our Creator. The materials tie in what the Salaf talked about regarding purification of the heart but within our context in the 21st Century.

By the Advanced level of iSyllabus, students have been studying with me for a few years. The relationship changes, our discussions become very frank, and I often share my experiences and real-life scenarios with them. Since I intentionally keep class sizes smaller, we establish a more intimate relationship between teacher and student.

The Advanced course gave me the opportunity to go in depth into my favourite subject: Muslim family law. We covered the detailed marriage, divorce, custody and inheritance law. Students already cover the basic rules of these topics in the One-Year Diploma, and now—together with textual hadith studies on family law—we engage with the subject in greater depth, covering all significant opinions. Topics explored include temporary marriage (looking at both the Sunni and Shia perspective); what happens when a woman becomes Muslim but her husband hasn’t converted; contraception and its parameters; a woman seeking divorce via khul; the standing of ‘three talaq’ given at once—with an extensive discussion on the debate on this topic amongst classical and contemporary scholars.

I have also realised that such topics as Muslim family law are invaluable for both teaching knowledge and showing students how to apply that knowledge to real-life scenarios. Students benefit from applying knowledge with wisdom and thus can benefit many people since marriage is such a large component of our lives.

We repeat the same depth when covering the religious text of financial law and the discussions of the schools on issues such as interest (riba), the stipulation of contracts in marriage, and uncertainty in financial contracts. This proves to be an eyeopener for students and gives a glimpse into the wisdom and relevance of Islam to the modern age.

SHAYKH AMIR JAMIL
iSyllabus Project Director

One Year Diploma

One Year Diploma

The Diploma course serves as an excellent entry to a nuanced yet fulfilling experience of the Islamic sciences as they relate to both the individual and society in the 21st Century.

We fully integrated and refined the modules and material to cover core hermeneutical concepts in a graded manner. It incorporates life-hacks that make living one’s faith a fulfilling experience. The course both contextualises core texts and enhances the spiritual aspect of one’s religious observance.

One Year Diploma Overview

  • Seeking Purity
  • Setting the base for Worship
  • Perfecting the Prayer
  • Returning to the Homeland
  • Towards a Tranquil Soul 1
  • Towards a Tranquil Soul 2
  • Understanding the Quran
  • Understanding the Sunnah
  • Living the Law 1 – The Theory
  • Living the Law 2 – Case studies
  • Understanding Muslim Creed 1
  • Understanding Muslim Creed 2
  • Understanding the law and spirituality of income & charity
  • The Sacred Bond
  • The Tradition of scholars

Intermediary

The Intermediary course develops an understanding of the primary texts of the Quran and Sunnah covered in the Diploma course, exploring the context and history of the classical religious corpus of Islam. It incorporates detailed studies of religious text and the trends that led to their being set down in writing.

Why did Fiqh develop the way we know it today? What are the major trends in classical Islamic theology and what led to their genesis? How can the classical spiritual tradition of Islam help in creating healthier individuals and societies today?

The course covers six major areas of study—focusing on applied religious studies—that prioritise understanding context and universals.

For the full module details, click here for the Year One and Year Two program details.

Intermediary at a glance

Year 1&2: Applied Tafsir Studies

Year 1&2: Comparative fiqh & Textual hadith studies

Year 1:

  • Classical Islamic Laws of worship

Year 2:

  • Classical Islamic Laws of worship
  • Legal Maxims (al-Qawaid al-Fiqhiyyah)
  • Advanced Zakat case studies (Joint elective)
  •  

Year 1:

  • Commentary on the fiqh al-Akbar of Abu Hanifa
  • Homiletics and Da’wah

Year 2:

  • Commentary on the fiqh al-Akbar of Abu Hanifa
  • Sects and Divisions (Joint elective)

Year 1:

  • Shama’il of the Prophet [2]
  • Hikam of Ibn Ata’illah

Year 2:

  • Shama’il of the Prophet [3]
  • Hikam of Ibn Ata’illah

Year 1:

  • History of Hadith works and their authors
  • History of Fiqh and the schools of law

Year 2:

  • Analytical History of Islam (Joint elective)

Advanced

The Advanced course, as the two-year culmination to the full course, focuses on the relevance of the classical corpus of Islam to the challenges that Muslims face today. What can our intellectual tradition teach us in responding to the main ethical and religious questions we face?

To what degree are religions decisive and violent by nature? What is the ‘question of evil’ and what does Islamic theology say about it? Can we apply Islamic law in the West? Can an understanding of the breadth of scholarly opinion on contentious issues help provide solutions to the seemly intractable problems Muslims face? Does Islam have the requisite framework for navigating the problematics of gender that affect religious scriptures?

The vast majority of the content which I teach in the Advanced course—such as Polemics, Apologetics and the Philosophy of religion—is not covered in any Alimmiyah course. However, today it is an absolute necessity for advanced students of knowledge.

Click here for module details of the Advanced Year One and Year Two programs.

Advanced at a glance

Year 1:

  • Applied Tafsir Studies
  • Quranic Hermeneutical Axioms

Year 2:

  • Applied Tafsir Studies

Year 1:

  • Comparative fiqh & Textual hadith studies
  • Hadith terminology

Year 2:

  • Comparative fiqh & Textual hadith studies

Year 1:

  • Muslim Family Law
  • Principles of Jurisprudence
  • Caliphate and Authority
  • Advanced Zakat case studies (Joint elective)

Year 2:

  • Muslim Family Law
  • Principles of Jurisprudence
  • Inheritance law
  • Minority Fiqh (Fiqh al-Aqalliyat)

Year 1:

  • Religion, Religious Pluralism and the Concept of God
  • The Cosmological and Teleological Arguments
  • Apologetics: Religious Violence
  • Public Speaking
  • Sects and Divisions (Joint elective)

Year 2:

  • The Ontological argument and The question of Evil
  • Science and Religious experience
  • Apologetics: Gender
  • Formal logic (mantiq) and Logical fallacies

Year 1&2: Hikam of Ibn Ata’illah

Year 2: Analytical History of Islam (Joint elective)

Short Courses

Besides our one year long programmes, we also offer a series of short courses covering an array of Islamic subjects. A typical short course runs for a duration of three to four weeks.

Coming soon…

Besides our one year long programmes, we also offer a series of short courses covering an array of Islamic subjects. A typical short course runs for the duration of three to four weeks.

Click here to see our offer.

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