12/17/2017

Do Muslims Need Complete Islamic Educational Curriculums? - Islamization of Education - Ihsaan Home Academy

   
If you have read my 'About' page, then you know that I am a former teacher who later became a home educator. My journey through education started from my second year of college (university) when I volunteered in a weekend Islamic school. My full-time work experience as an educator in an Islamic school started right after graduating. I taught all subjects and really enjoyed my experience. Working in an Islamic school was a blessing and a great opportunity for me. Despite the positive experiences, I also had questions, concerns, and thought of ways I could contribute to make a difference. That's when I thought about Muslim educational curricula or textbooks.

What do I mean by Muslim educational curricula?
Well, as we all may know, the subject textbooks we use in Islamic schools and homeschools are the conventional and secular textbooks that are for the most part less inclusive. I share a lot of those free resources on this blog because it is better to have them than have nothing. But, when reading chapters in a Social Studies textbook for example, Muslim children aren't represented. And if they are, it is very little. When reading chapters in Science textbooks, the contribution of Muslim scientists isn't mentioned. This leaves us no choice but to simply try to incorporate Islam into the lessons as much as possible when teaching. But can every educator successfully do that for every single lesson without missing crucial points or confusing the students?

Alhamdulillah, there are many Islamic Studies textbooks that cover subjects such as Seerah, Tafseer, Qur'an, sometimes highlight people of different societies, and more. It is a great blessing to have them, but should Islamic Studies be completely separated from other subjects? Absolutely NOT! Islam is a way of life, so as an ummah, we should make more wholesome educational resources available to both educators and students. Not every educator (school or homeschool) is able to create lesson curriculums or detailed lesson plans that suit his/her students or children. Some people just want to open textbooks or activity books of every subject and have everything outlined for them. This is the reason why people buy curriculums. There're people from other societies and religious groups who create their subject curriculums that incorporate their way of life, belief, and society. There's a lot of free information on the internet that educators could put together themselves before every lesson, but it's not only time consuming, not everyone can do it. I really enjoy forming my own curriculum resources, but I don't expect everyone to do the same if there could be an easier and a more effective way out.


Islamization and racial diversity of education
I remember years ago listening to a lecture by Dr. Bilal Philips from the Islamic Online University where he mentioned the importance of the Islamization of Muslim education. This started to make me think and ponder upon how I wanted my then future children's educational experience to be. Did I want them to be educated with books that not only excluded them racially, culturally, and religiously, but also taught in a way that sometimes went completely against their moral and religious values? Did I simply want to make small changes in the lesson plans along the way and hope not to confuse them? Sister Zahra Osman from Makkah Centric Education put it beautifully when she tackled the topic of Muslim education in one of her podcast when she mentioned the possibility of students getting confused with the drastic differences in subjects taught to Muslim students. She also talked about how Euro-centric the resources that are currently available to us are in both Islamic schools in the West and in Muslim countries.

I always knew that teaching 'Islamic Studies' totally separated from other subjects was just not the way I wanted my children to be educated. And even in the few Islamic books we have available, there's a lack of racial and cultural diversity. As an African, I believe that Islamic educational books and resources should be diversed, sometimes including the varieties of Africans, Arabs, Europeans, Asians, Hispanics, Americans, and everyone else. The focus shouldn't just be on one race because the Muslim ummah is more than just one race. It's important to represent the people who make-up the ummah. So I was very glad to hear this topic talked about in the most recent podcast. The thoughts of the Islamization of education that Dr. Bilal Philips talked about along with racial and cultural diversity had a huge impact on me knowing that I certainly wanted to educate my children myself, if Allah made it possible of course. I was just sure that homeschooling was the way for me (in shaa Allah). I talked more about that in a previous post where I listed my reasons for choosing homeschooling.


Steps towards making subject by subject full curricula
I started doing lots of research and piling resources. My plan was and still is to form my own curricula (subject by subject) using the resources I collect, to incorporate the Deen as well as I can, and to produce new books and activity books that I would use with my children year after year in shaa Allah. I started with a pre-school curriculum which is very simple compared to what's to come. Most of my daughter's preschool learning has been through us simply reading books and discussing what we've read. For the next school years (besides KG), I'd have to do the same or similar for every subject. I don't plan on selling or sharing those other than just few printables here and there. I don't think that I have the required knowledge and experience to produce full curricula (subject by subject) that could benefit the ummah as a whole. That's when another idea came to mine.

I thought, "Why not hire experienced curriculum developers, researchers, and illustrators to help me produce full hard-copy curricula?" But of course, that's impossible right now because not only don't I have those people available, I do not have the funding to hire them. I'm full of ideas and the necessary steps needed to accomplish this goal, but I first need to speak with the right people in shaa Allah.

Here's how YOU can help
If you believe in this project and the reasons behind it, help me spread this post and hopefully someone who's able to join me will read it and contact me. After finding the right people, the next step would be funding the project. But, I'm nowhere close to that right now because I first need to find the right people. If I don't find the right people for this project, I would have to put it on hold. In shaa Allah, the best outcome will be possible, and this project will be accomplished.

The subjects I would like to start with are Social Studies, Reading, Writing, and Mathematics. But out of these subjects, I would like to first start with Social Studies from Grade 1 to 5. If everything goes well according to plans or even better, we could work our way through the rest (6-12), then move on to other subjects. The long-term goal would be to include Science, History, Health and Nutrition, and more in shaa Allah.

Please, share this post, give your suggestions if you have any, and share your opinions. You never know who may read it and make a difference in shaa Allah. In which case, you would have also made a difference because of sharing the post.

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