Teaching Techniques of Prophet Muhammad (sa) – A Workshop for Parents & Educators

Teaching Techniques 2

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Muslim Awareness Program (MAP)

MAP Logo

Do you remember billboards with profound Islamic reminders that were put up all around Karachi, along with the standees in shops and malls? What a pleasant feeling it was to see the words of Allah (swt) and His Messenger (sa), as we ventured outside the house, instead of the usual, glaring advertisements that test our faith to the nth degree.

The organization that initiated this commendable venture is “Muslim Awareness Programme” or MAP for short. Running under the umbrella of “Alwasila Trust”, MAP tries to practically implement the following verses from the Quran:

“Invite (mankind, O Muhammad) to the Way of your Lord (i.e., Islam) with wisdom (i.e., with the Divine Inspiration and the Quran) and fair preaching.” (An-Nahl 16:125)

“Let there arise out of you a group of people inviting to all that is good (Islam), enjoining Al-Maruf (i.e., Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do) and forbidding Al-Munkar (polytheism and disbelief and all that Islam has forbidden). And it is they who are the successful.” (Aal-Imran 3:104)

The main vision of MAP is as follows: “MAP exists to create a better society based on the principles of the Islamic value system through awareness on social and personal issues that pertain to all individuals.”

From this vision follows a two-pronged agenda:

MAP for Change: MAP brings to light the Ayahs and Ahadeeth about issues rampant in our society, such as religious and regional riots, immodesty in media, Riba, etc.

MAP for Success: MAP highlights key principles from the Quran and the Sunnah that will help a Muslim lead a contented and successful life.

Initially, MAP put up billboards and standees around the city. However, their focus now is more on products with Islamic messages. Their current catalogue includes mugs, car stickers, t-shirts, bags, and hoodies. Each product has on it a catchy, witty one-liner that immediately conveys a deeper message. This certainly does not mean that we have seen the end of MAP billboards. Insha’Allah, they will be up again! Schoolbags will also be part of MAP’s catalogue in the near future.

Hiba approached Mr. Asim Ismail, the founder of “Alwasila Trust”, to ask him, why he opted to bring out paraphernalia, when many other Dawah-based institutes are also doing just that.  He replied: “We did it for two reasons. One is to spread more and more awareness. We saw other organizations working on it but on a very small scale. Second reason is to raise some money in order to make MAP self-sustainable.”

They are certainly not restricted to the above-mentioned products, as Mr. Ismail mentioned: “What we want is to have (Islamic) quotes on maximum products, so that it serves as a reminder for the people.” He also mentions a mega project of MAP that is in the pipeline: “We plan to have an online TV channel and a complete media broadcasting company, Insha’Allah, in the next 2-3 years. Right now, we are establishing the MAP brand, so when we open up our media company, we are already known in the market.”

It is noteworthy that MAP offers the concept of ‘online shopping’, without requiring the use of credit cards. All over Pakistan, one can simply browse through their catalogue at http://map.net.pk, place an order and pay cash on delivery. Customers who have used the online purchase option attest that MAP delivers excellent service, Masha’Allah!

With over 8000 fans on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/muslimawarenessprogram), it is evident that the young and old alike are interested in the work that MAP is doing. An advertising agency has now taken over MAP’s sales and social media marketing, which means one will be able to effectively stay in touch with them and do their bit. Overall, Mr. Ismail had the following advice for those who want to participate: “Make Dua, spread the word, sponsor a billboard, invite us to put up stalls on different occasions and buy our products.”

Fitrah – Revert Support Programme

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The word ‘Fitrah’ refers to one’s inborn disposition towards virtue. It is the faculty of knowing Allah (swt) with which every child is created. Consider the following Hadeeth:

Abu Hurairah (rtam) reported: The Messenger (sa) said: “No one is born except they are upon natural instinct; then his parents turn him into a Jew or Christian or Magian; as animals produce their young with perfect limbs, do you see anything defective?” (Muslim)

Fitrah is a revert support programme. Functioning under the umbrella of Alwasila Trust, Fitrah’s aim is to “provide assistance and support to Muslims who are new to the Deen of Islam through educational, financial and social support.” Alhumdulillah, 12 individuals have accepted Islam through Fitrah. Families initially stay under Fitrah for three months, where they are given support in the form of food, housing, transport, education, etc. After that, they are encouraged to start their own business supported by Alwasila Trust’s “Rozgar” scheme.

As per their vision, the three-pronged approach of Fitrah works in the following areas:

Educational support: This includes the conduction of various courses as well as one-on-one counselling to introduce the beliefs and practices of Islam to the reverts.

Financial support: Zakat and Sadaqah are provided to the reverts as part of financial assistance. The idea is to relieve them from any previous loans and help create opportunities for entrepreneurship through Rozgar (another forum from Alwasila Trust that facilitates the lesser-privileged factions of the society to become economically independent).

Social support: This includes provision of emotional counselling in order to equip new Muslims to deal with the social struggles and opposition they might face.

So how does Fitrah choose the individuals to provide the aforementioned support? This is done through a systematic procedure in which newly-reverted individuals and families are adopted through Fitrah after a verification team reviews their background and authenticity. Currently, there are 16 individuals and 3 families under Fitrah’s care. Assistance is provided on various levels in order to ensure that a complete and well-rounded understanding of Deen is imparted to them.

Newly reverted men are enrolled in a weekly course that introduces them to the basic concepts and principles of Islam as well as fundamentals of the Quran and the Sunnah. Women are also sponsored for a Quran course. The duration of both courses is a year and a half.

Most families disown the members who revert to Islam. Hence, they are in need of housing. Initially the family is sponsored through a Zakat fund, which covers housing as well as the children’s education, if needed. A start-up loan for micro-financing is arranged through a Sadaqah Fund.

Counselling is offered to deal with emotional and social struggles met with during this period of change.

Brothers and sisters can support this effort by donations (as approximately PKR100,000- 150,000 is required to support one family through Fitrah).

Contact details

Website: www.fitrah.net

Email: info@fitrah.net

Fajr Academy – Creating Readers and Leaders!

Fajr Academy – Creating Readers and Leaders!

By Umm Zakariya – Reading and Creative Writing Coach at Fajr Academy, Karachi

Reading is one of the greatest sources of knowledge and pleasure known to mankind. Avid readers will tell you nothing can replace a good book. Reading is a taught skill and though we all learn to read when we go through our educational system, we mainly treat it as a form of acquiring knowledge. We rarely find a school which inculcates in children the passion to read for pleasure.

Fajr Academy is one of the rare schools that consider reading as top priority in their educational programme – for knowledgeand for pleasure. The newly-opened school is the brainchild of Mr. Asim Ismail, an educationist entrepreneur who has launched an extensive reading programme where children from the nursery level are exposed to a wide variety of books and literature. Two out of seven periods in a single day are dedicated to reading, where two to three reading teachers take a class of maximum twelve children. The reading teachers are also supervised by an experienced co-coordinator who keeps updating them with new ideas to make the reading lessons more effective. Depending on the reading level of the child, children are either led through a guided reading programme or are encouraged to read independently, with the teacher ensuring that the material being read is effectively comprehended. At all times, reading is made to be a fun activity, with children waiting impatiently to get their hands on the books so they can discover new places, people and ideas.

Each class at the school also houses an in-class library with age-appropriate books. Precocious readers in the class are allowed by the reading teachers to choose books from the main library as well to encourage them to read higher-level books. The school has invested heavily into the reading programme by purchasing books from all leading bookstores in the city. Experienced teachers have carefully selected books for the school in order to give children reading material covering a wide range of topics. The team of teachers also has a trained teacher for assessing children with learning difficulties, more specifically, dyslexia. These students are then instructed through multi-sensory modes to help them read effectively.

“The results of the reading programme have been beyond our wildest expectations”, says a teacher at Fajr Academy. The children of Prep 2 have already finished readers in the first term of the school year which are usually finished at the end of the school year in other schools. Some children of Prep-1 have become fluent readers as well. The children of Nursery, though young, have also become little book lovers, pouring over the pictures of the books while the teachers give words to what they see.

When asked to comment on the reading programme at his school, Mr. Asim Ismail simply states: “Reading is to the mind what food is for the body.” This small quote from him sums up the importance of the reading programme at Fajr Academy. He believes once the passion for reading is inculcated in children, they will excel at academics. This is because the best form of gaining knowledge is through the printed word. If children become fluent readers at an early age and enjoy picking up a good book to read, the scope of what they can learn would be beyond our wildest imagination. As they say, “today a reader, tomorrow a leader!”

Concept of Punishment in Islam

Apr 11 - Concept of punishment

By Asim Ismail

Punishment is a word with negative connotations. However, when seen from an Islamic perspective, it brings about a paradigm shift in the word itself. Amazing, isn’t it? This is why we say Islam is the solution to every problem! Now, let us see what guidance Muslim educationists and scholars offer us regarding punishment.

It is strongly believed and recommended that the reason for punishment remains one of the following four:

Protection

If a child misbehaves at home, the entire family will be disturbed. In order to avoid this, parents can punish the child by excluding him/her from some activity.

Prevention

This is to stop the child from doing something wrong. Example: give the child an esteemed position and then take it from him/her as a punishment. This will make him/her realize that a mistake has been committed.

Recompense (Badla)

A judge can use this form of punishment. However, for small children, parents should find out the reasons which led the child to a wrong action.

Correction (Islah)

Islah should be done gently. Example: If a child’s writing is not good, don’t tell him so bluntly. Instead, say: “I hope your writing will become better from today.”

If you look at the aforementioned four reasons, each one of them has a long-term positive effect on the child’s life.

As we know, the best example for all mankind is Prophet Muhammad (saw). Allah (swt) says in the Quran: “Indeed in the Messenger of Allah (Muhammad) you have a good example to follow for him who hopes in (the meeting with) Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah much.” (Al-Ahzab 33:21)

Let us see how the Prophet (saw) dealt with someone who had committed a mistake. If a person had lied, he would not say: “Kazabta” (“You lied”). Instead, he used to say: “Akhtata” (“You made a mistake”). Subhan’Allah! How beautifully were we taught to deal with others! How are we dealing with each other in this day and age? Just think about how far we have drifted from the Sunnah.

Going back to the topic, there should not be a uniform punishment for all, as it may not work effectively for all the children. Punish according to the nature of the child. Let us see what Muslim educationists and scholars have to say on this subject.

  • Al-Qabisi, in the fourth century AH, was of the opinion that only Allah (swt) is flawless. Humans can make mistakes; therefore, punishment can be given. For children, however, Qabisi explains that excuse is Wajib because of four reasons: age, child’s play, small mind and lack of sense of differentiation
  • Ibn Khuldoom, in the eighth century AH, advocated that severity with children is not allowed. By being strict, we do not get to the root of the problem. Instead, it pushes the child in his cocoon. He shuts himself up and withholds his feelings. This forces him to become two-faced: he will be different inside and outside. Just to come up to your standards, he will pretend to be what he is not. This will generate hypocrisy in him.
  • According to Ibn Taymiyyah there are two kinds of punishments:

1)      Duration of punishment till the work is completed;

2)      In case it is a mistake, punish once only.

It is very rightly said: “Children need trained parents, as much as they need loving parents.”

Lastly, we all make mistakes, and if Allah (swt) starts punishing us for every single mistake we commit, there will be no one left on this earth. If we want ourselves to be forgiven, we should start forgiving others. The Prophet (sa) said: “Have mercy on those who are on the earth, and the One Who is in heaven will show mercy to you.” (Abu Dawood)

This article has been compiled from a workshop titled “Concept of Punishment in Islam” conducted by Mr. Asim Ismail (asim_ismail@yahoo.com) at “Reflections” school.