Islamic Online University

44 iou interview

Q1. How did Islamic Online University start its journey? Tell us a little about the initial days.

Alhumdulillah, the Islamic Online University (IOU) began its journey in 2001. Unfortunately, the programme ran into technical difficulties and had to shut down; however, the material developed for its courses was used to establish a department of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the Preston University, Ajman, UAE, and three years later, the department had its first batch of BA graduates. In 2007, IOU made a comeback with completely free diploma courses., and in 2010, the degree programme was launched and the first batch of Bachelor’s degree students began their journey of seeking authentic Islamic knowledge in a structured manner.

Q3. Where are the headquarters of the university? Are there any onsite campuses?

The IOU headquarters are located in Gambia, where we offer locally the Intensive English Course, which is also available offline in two other countries. Insha’Allah, we will also be launching Bachelor of Education offline in Gambia.

Q4. Tell us about the teaching staff: who are they and what is the criterion for their recruitment?

The IOU teaching staff is divided into instructors and tutorial assistants. Instructors explain lessons to the best of their abilities through recorded lectures. A minimum requirement to teach at the Bachelor’s level is Master’s degree in the respective field and higher, and Master’s or Ph.D. and higher for the IOU’s Master’s level. Most of our instructors hold either Master’s or Ph.D. degrees.

IOU tutorial assistants guide and help students during their semester. Each subject has its designated and highly qualified tutorial assistant, who is available to students through emails, various forums, Skype, or telephone. They have also recorded supplementary sessions to review and further explain given material. All IOU tutorial assistants must have at least Bachelor’s degree.

Q5. The IOU is a huge project comprising of so many faculties – how is everything organized and managed? Please shed some light on the efforts of the non-teaching staff too.

From across the globe, we have more than 100 administrative staff spread over different departments such as Registrar’s Office, Academic Coordination and Development Department, Promotions, IT, Human Resources, Chat/Info/Help Desk, and individual contributors, who form the admin infrastructure of IOU and work tirelessly in the backend to support the structure in its daily operations to ensure a smooth and comfortable study environment for IOU students. Alhumdulillah, we are glad to say that over the past years, we have gained a certain extent of expertise in global online staff management.

Q6. The concept of seeking Islamic knowledge online is a rather new one. How is the Muslim world taking it, especially with reference to IOU?

Alhumdulillah, Muslims are taking advantage of the Internet and participating in various educational activities that IOU offers. Word about the quality, authentic, and affordable education is spreading. The number of enrolled and graduate students is increasing with each semester. Alhumdulillah, the global IOU student body is comprised of 200,000+ registered students and 5000+ degree students from 228 different countries.

Q8. The university was founded with the vision “changing the nation through education” – do you now see this vision manifested?

The IOU students and graduates are probably our greatest assets and flag-bearers of changing the nation through education. Our students are involved in various activities that benefit their local or online communities.

Q9. What feedback have you received from IOU graduates? What are the major accomplishments of the university in terms of human capital?

Alhumdulillah, we have recently launched the M.A. in Islamic Studies programme, and most of our graduates have enrolled and continue their studies with us. Some of our students have started a second Bachelor’s programme at IOU. In addition, some students joined our administration team or faculty as tutorial assistants. This in itself shows that they are satisfied with IOU and the quality of education we offer, as they are continuing their journey with us. Moreover, we have received positive feedback from our students and alumni, who further recommend and present IOU to their local and online communities.

Q10. The university often arranges innovative programmes and workshops for youth, such as YL360 and Empowered Muslimah. What is their impact?

Our special workshops, such as the YL360 and Empowered Muslimah, have been a success primarily because these courses were aimed at helping the youth inculcate a sense of belonging, a sense of pride in our rich history, which is very much lacking in today’s generation. During one of the sessions of YL360 programme, students were taught to start a community project. Many sisters have even starting teaching the Empowered Muslimah course locally in their communities for the sisters, who do not have any Internet facility.

Q11. Your message for the Islamic world, especially Muslim families.

Acquisition of knowledge should be given a high priority. The only way to overcome the problem of Muslims getting radicalized is by educating the Muslim community about Islam. As Dr. Bilal Philips says: “Islam is not about kissing the Quran and keeping it on a shelf. It is about seeking knowledge by reading, understanding, and reflecting.”

Q12. What are the aspirations of the IOU team?

A new course packed with seven powerful sessions covering topics from improving one’s communication skills to acquiring the skills of working efficiently in a team called “The Seven Gems” will be introduced shortly. This new course is aimed at helping the youth out of the shackles that prevent them from achieving success, personally and professionally. With Allah’s (swt) help, more interesting and beneficial programmes will be coming soon.

Dr. Bilal Philips’ Official Statement from Immigration Detention, Davao City

Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Phillips, renowned speaker and author, has been arrested in Davao City, Philippines, and is recommended for deportation. Following is his official statement as posted on his Facebook page. We pray to Allah (swt) to help him and grant him relief. Ameen.

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Most Merciful

10 September, 2014
From Immigration Detention, Davao City
Mindanao, Philippines

Dear Friends, Students, and Supporters,
Salaam alaykum. Peace be upon you all.
I would first like to thank you for all your prayers and various positive expressions of are, concern and support. I’m happy to inform you that I am safe and well-treated in Davao City immigration custody, as my request for voluntary deportation is being processed.

Though I appreciate your rallies and demonstrations of support in Marawi City, Zamboanga and elsewhere, I advise you all to keep calm and not let your genuine expressions of support spiral out of control and degenerate into wanton destruction of property and the loss of life and limb.

Please allow the due process of law to take its course. The false allegations and misunderstandings circulating in the media will be tackled legally in order to clear my name and lift the ban on any future visits to the Philippines – God willing. There is sufficient evidence to prove my innocence in my hundreds of youtube video lectures and khutbahs (see my youtube channel: aabphilips), over 50 published books, many of which can be downloaded freely from my website: or, or the hundreds of posts on my official facebook page: Dr. Bilal Philips, with almost 2 million likes.

As to my being on the no-fly black list of America, I join the ranks of Nelson Mandela who was put on it while he was in Robbin Island, and he remained on the list as president of South Africa until he won the Nobel Peace Prize for the same reason he was put on the list in the first place. Because of a narrow policy of the US and inhospitable atmosphere, I prefer not to go to US like one your local public official in Davao City who shunned going to the US for medical treatment. Not to mention the actual meaning of American label placed on me as an un-indicted co-conspirator in the 1993 attempted bombing of the World Trade Center. In normal language, “un-indicted” simply means “no charges have been filed against me due to lack of evidence”, and “co-conspirator” means “guilty by association”, that someone who the authorities arrested had my name in their telephone book, or they were seen shaking hands with me, or they prayed next to me in a mosque, etc.

Regarding the British 3-year ban, based on a statement taken out of context from a video program originally made in 1995 and rebroadcast along with my other programs continuously in Sharjah TV, UAE, since 2003, it has already been successfully demonstrated to Canadian Immigration authorities that I was misquoted. The ban in Australia follows the American lead blindly and the ban in Kenya also blindly follows the British ban. As for the German lifetime ban unilaterally issued by the Mayor of Frankfurt, it was thrown out of court in Germany last year. The Mayor’s appeal was also rejected by the higher courts, he was made to cover all court costs and the ban was lifted. I was not banned or deported from Bangladesh earlier this year as in commonly falsely reported. I entered the country and left on my own will.

Sensational journalism has also played a major role in demonizing me, like that of the daily newspaper which plastered a picture of me on their front page, Sept. 10th issue, with the heading “Suspected Terrorist Arrested”. The related article contained a series of irresponsible, inflammatory and inaccurate statements from PRO 11 Regional Director Chief Superintendent Wendy G. Rosario. Superintendent Rosario was quoted as saying that I was considered a person of interest because of alleged links to a terrorist group outside the country. I have never had any links nor have I ever been accused of having links to any terrorist group. Superintendent Rosario further stated that I was invited for questioning by the police while lecturing in a mosque which is inaccurate, as I did not lecture in any mosque in Davao, my lecture on “Raising Righteous Children” was a public lecture in the Sunny Point Hotel auditorium attended by Muslims and non-Muslims. He then stated that I was prevented from lecturing in Zamboanga scheduled for the 4 and 5th (correctly the 5th and 6th) which is untrue. I personally decided not to go to Zamboanga when the Mayor of Zamboanga withdrew her support by cancelling the venue and her provision of government security forces. She also requested the Department of Justice to prevent me from coming there. The organizers in Zamboanga requested me to come anyway, assuring security from ex-generals from their ranks, but I thought it prudent not to go since the mayor was personally opposed. He then stated that the Bureau of Immigration issued a blacklist order against me on the 4th September, also untrue. They issued the order on the 5th at the request of the Mayor of Zamboanga, and I arrived in the country on the 4th. He then mentioned that there was a report that I was already blacklisted while failing to mention that the previous blacklisting was lifted by the government. Such irresponsible sensational journalism has been identified by the UK government’s Runymede Report as a major source of Islamophobia. I trust and pray that the majority of the people of the Philippines will not tolerate such attitude.

It is very sad that lecturers and speakers like myself who call to Islamic moderation and oppose extremism, terrorism, indiscriminate violence and revolt, are blocked from conveying this peaceful message to Muslim minority communities. We recognize that extremism is a product of ignorance of true Islamic teachings so we promote in our lectures the acquisition of correct knowledge and the practice of Islam’s authentic teachings. In banning and demonizing us, they have created a vacuum of information which continues to be exploited and filled by extremist elements who easily recruit youthful impressionable followers with emotional messages to their savage, violent and merciless unIslamic methodologies and ideologies.

I have always been a proponent of peaceful solutions to our problems as you all know, the motto of my university (Islamic Online is “Changing the Nation Through Education”. Please be an active part of this prophetic methodology for change by joining the ranks of over 180,000 registered students in my university, most of whom are studying free of any charge in the free Islamic Studies Diploma program.

Peace be upon you all.
Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips
Chancellor, Islamic Online University

[Part 2] Parenting by the Horns

bull_by_the_horns_9518Based on an Islamic Online University Webinar

When children crib and cry we can tackle them in the following steps:

Step 1: Conflict

Every tantrum starts with a conflict. The moment the conflict appears in front of you, how you deal with the conflict shows what kind of connection you have and the result that you will get.

In life we get a lot of conflicts. How do you deal with those conflicts? Do you panic when a conflict comes? Or are you more relaxed when a conflict comes? In psychology, we call it either you ‘flight or fight’. Hopefully with children we don’t have to do either of the two. We have to reason between the two; we’ll not fight and not run away from them; rather, we’ll face the conflict.

One of the most important rules in parenting is that children do not hear, they see. You can tell a child hundred times do not do this, do not speak on the mobile late, and do not chat late but if they see you calling someone late at night, they see you doing the same thing; hence, they will not obey you.

One of the most important rules in parenting is that children do not hear, they see.

Once there was a huge earthquake in Japan and as the earthquake spread people started starving. Grocery stores closed down and there was a shortage of food. There was one juice dispenser company with different kind of juices. It was dispensing one juice at a time. There was a big queue at that juice company headquarters for everybody to take a juice. There was an American manager in this Japanese firm and he also was in the juice queue. Every Japanese could have taken more than once juice on their turn but they took one juice and went back to end of line to take another one, just so that everyone gets an equal opportunity. This manager was tired and hungry. When his turn came, he got four juices immediately and he went home. Nobody said a word to the manager. A few days later, word spread that the manager was not a man of integrity. He could not lead a team, because the people did not accept a leader like him.

Are we the kind of leaders as that manager was? Or are we like the people who are waiting in the queue to show our children? It is not talk the talk, it is walk the talk.

Conflict usually happens when we say something but we do not implement it. This is one lesson that Luqman Hakeem gave to his son: “And do not turn your cheek (in contempt) toward people and do not walk through the earth exultantly. Indeed, Allah (swt) does not like everyone self-deluded and boastful.” (Luqman 31:18) He is admonishing his son; do not turn away from people and do not walk in arrogance. How you walk shows what kind of a person you are.

Where are our manners? Abdullah ibn Mubarak said twelve hundred years back that today the Ummah needs more Akhlaq than Ilm. What would he have said if he was alive today?

Where are our manners? Abdullah ibn Mubarak said twelve hundred years back that today the Ummah needs more Akhlaq than Ilm. What would he have said if he was alive today? It is our Akhlaq that the children are watching. It’s the way you are driving, not the lessons that you give while you are driving. While I was living in Dubai, a Sheikh once said that Islam will spread faster if we drive a little nicer. Children are noticing the way you flash lights and honk people from behind. Don’t ever think that they are not noticing.

Are you a Tiger Mom?

A tiger mom is someone who is very clear or strict with the child’s upbringing. She wants him to succeed all the time. She wants him to always achieve first position. She wants him to take part in the painting competition, the debate competition, become a Hafidh of Quran – in short, she wants him to be the best at everything. She expects everything from one child – which is why we say please have more children! If you have any of the traits of a tiger mom, please reflect your position. Our children are not trophies. “Oh you know my child knows Surah Fajr or Surah Naba.” Please don’t treat your child like a trophy in front of others; just let them be what they are. This method is not bad all the time, but we don’t want them to be performing monkeys.

The opposite of a tiger mom is a helicopter parent, who is always hovering over a child. You choose their clothes, you choose their toys etc. A tiger mom lets the child take responsibility. We do not want to become roaring, growling tiger moms and make our home an emotional jail, as a child would put it. There needs to be a balance between the two.

There is a great parenting tip in how Muhammad (sa) dealt with young Sahabah. He was not their father but far greater than a father. When the treaty of Hudaibiyah was about to be signed with Suhail bin Amr, Abu Jandal (rta) came running in chains. He escaped from Makkah somehow, from the jail and torture and came running to the best refuge. Now this was the greatest test that a leader can have.

Abu Jandal’s hands were tied. He was still crying, “Please save me. Will you leave me alone?”

Suhail (also the father of Abu Jandal) said: “He is the first example we’ll take and I’ll take him back with me.”

The Prophet (sa) said: “But the treaty has not been signed yet.”

Suhail refused saying: “We’ve agreed to the terms.”

All the Sahabah were looking at him. The Prophet (sa) told him we’ve now negotiated and you’ll have to go back.

Such a difficult decision it was! This is walk the talk. It had a lesson not only for Abu Jandal or the Sahabah but even for the Mushrikeen. Do you not believe in a man who’s keeping his word even for a companion? Did Abu Jandal’s Iman increase or decrease? It only increased. If your children see that their father stands up for principles, they’ll only love you more.

Step 2: Connection

Now that you’ve resolved the conflict, how do you go back and make a connection with your child? In the next verse, after the arrogant part, Luqman Hakeem tells how to make a connection. “And be moderate in your pace and lower your voice; indeed, the most disagreeable of sounds is the voice of donkeys.” (Luqman 31:19)

Please don’t treat your child like a trophy in front of others; just let them be what they are. This method is not bad all the time, but we don’t want them to be performing monkeys.

Please follow the middle path and whenever you see a conflict happening; do not be arrogant. Let’s become a parent of the middle path. The child cannot go out and buy everyday everything that he wants; yet it’s not that none of his demands are fulfilled.

Luqman did not say that your voice is like a donkey. He is not pointing to the child directly. When you shout, children get scared. For example, we say, “You are lazy.” That’s a big thing to say. Instead make Dua that your child is protected from it. Who gave you the right to say so? Our language is not like that of Luqman. He truly was Hakeem.

Dolphin Dad

Fathers need to spend time with their children. A Dolphin dad is a father who is helpful; he is a father who is playful and wants to raise happy children. These are the fathers we are looking for.

Fathers are directly involved in character building. They should use the correct language. The first words that Luqman Hakeem used were “Ya Bunayya: O my Son!” Address them in the best manner.

When you tell your children how beautiful their names are, they feel good.  We give them such good names but do we ever tell them what their names mean?

Do not raise your voice. Do not compare your child to a stupid donkey, etc. Become a dolphin dad and not a complaining dad.

At the end of the day, our mission as parents is as follows:

“O you who believe! Ward off from yourselves and your families a Fire (Hell)…” (At-Tahrim 66:6)

Parenting by the Horns

bull_by_the_horns_9518Based on an Islamic Online University Webinar

Today we’ll be discussing some of the challenges that we face as fathers and mothers. What does parenting mean to us? How much time do we give to our children? How much time do our children expect from us? Where do we have all that joy in parenting? What we are going to share today is all based on experience and whatever we’ve read and heard.

The first Naseeha that I would like to share with you is what Allah (swt) says in Surah Tahreem. This is what Allah (swt) is saying to all of us as teachers, as students of knowledge and as Daees. He says: “O you who believe! Ward off from yourselves and your families a Fire (Hell)…” (At-Tahrim 66:6)

Our first responsibility, our first duty that we have, Allah (swt) says is you and your family, save them from the hellfire. Allah (swt) did not tell us to go ahead and save the world because that’s where we have to work on; charity begins at home, Dawah begins from home, good deeds begin from home and it is here we need to start with. We have seen in many families that the husband is a great Daee. He goes around the world talking about Islam whereas his children at home get none of his time. They just keep waiting for him. “When will my father come home? When will my mother come home? When will I get my share of their time?” If only we have to take one Naseeha, if only we have to take one advice, it is this question: “Where are we with regard to our family?” You might be a very polite, fun loving, smiling person outside, but at home people are traumatized with you; people are scared by you. Maybe you are short tempered for a very short time but those short times are very dangerous times. So remember this advice that Allah (swat) gives us. Let us take care of this particular area which is much neglected.

The S4 case study

Let’s go to this case study of a nine year old boy Mubeen and her mother Rashida. Put yourself in the mother’s role now. A lot of relatives have come to visit and like a typical little boy he knows when to get on the mother’s nerve. Mubeen starts howling and crying in front of all the relatives so he can play with the mother’s new S4.

One good advice is not to get any expensive phones. Allah (swt) will save you from this kind of trials. Insha’Allah.

Rashida is now helpless in this case. Mubeen is making havoc and the mother has no idea what to do. What will you do if you are in her place?

Not to create a scene, Rashida handed over the mobile to her son; do you agree or disagree with her?

These situations come up in every home. Actually the built up to this situation was wrong. What we know is that the nine year old is crying. Let us go one scene behind. What was going on in Mubeen’s mind when he started shouting for the s4? Somewhere along the line Mubeen did not get the attention from his mother before the relatives came home. Do you see my point? I am not saying that our children do not misbehave when guests come home; I am just trying to share a parenting technique here. Children know that to get attention we need to create a scene.

There is a rule that during Salah the chest should be facing the Qibla otherwise the Salah is invalid. Although it is a Fiqh rule, the same rule applies to child care. Whenever you talk to children you should be facing them.

There is a rule that during Salah the chest should be facing the Qibla otherwise the Salah is invalid. Although it is a Fiqh rule, the same rule applies to child care. Whenever you talk to children you should be facing them. When you face them when they are calm, they treat you as someone who is caring and concerned. When you face them when they are hyper active and making tantrums, they treat you as someone who is big and bullying them. Remember this golden rule. Do not face them when they are showing tantrums; ignore them or redirect their attention. Give them their due attention beforehand. When children misbehave in public:

  1. Ignore them.
  2. Take them aside and talk to them.
  3. Before going out tell them what you expect from them. A child does not know sometimes what misbehaviour is. Please be reasonable.

Remember that you have to treat the problem, not the child. When you go to the doctor, the doctor diagnoses the disease. Likewise, the child is good; it is not that he is problematic; it is the behaviour that is problematic. Treat the behaviour, not the child.

There was a boy once who said that I love to get lost in the supermarket. His counsellor asked: “What makes you say so? Won’t you cry?”  He said: “No, whenever I get lost, my name is heard on the loud speaker; I love the attention and when I cry, the uncle in the supermarket gives me an ice-cream or a chocolate.” End of the story. Do you realize what children want? They want your undivided attention. This is one simple rule to learn in parenting: children want undivided attention. They want to hear about themselves and they want to be the centre of attention, which actually is the same thing for the spouses, so you can’t become a great father or a mother, before becoming a great husband or a wife.

Children are not absolute little gems that listen to us all the time, that’s why we need to use technique. This is what we call parenting by the horns.

Watch out for Part 2 of this article in which we will discuss two main steps to deal with cribbing children.