Foundational Diploma in Islamic Studies (Gateway to Sacred Knowledge)

Gateway to Sacred Knowledge

A foundation course in Islamic Studies

 

General Course Aims

  • To equip students with conceptual clarity, the necessary tools of sound reasoning, and the methodological knowledge to navigate the complex terrain of contemporary Islamic discourse
  • To empower students with a sound, authoritative and systematic understanding of essential Islamic sciences along with effective strategies for expressing, defending and living their knowledge
  • To enrich the lives of our students with the profound and timeless principles of the Islamic Tradition assisting them in their journeys of self-discovery, growth and ultimate salvation.

Over-all Intended Learning Outcomes

  • Students will be able to successfully recognize the principal features and defining characteristics of the Islamic tradition, as understood, practiced and transmitted by scholars and sages across the ages, back to Prophetic epoch.
  • Students will be able to distinguish, filter and refute ill-founded, arbitrary and extremist notions adulterating the doctrinal, legal and ethical landscape of Islam.
  • Students will be able to appreciate the open-minded and encompassing spectrum of valid interpretation and difference of opinion in Islam
  • Students will grow in their appreciation and knowledge of the richness of Islam’s intellectual legacy
  • Students will gain the essential knowledge and skills to be able to effectively and wholesomely practice Islam, while tackling the challenges of modern age
  • Students will be able to successfully identify and develop plans of action for intellectual and spiritual growth at both the individual and communal level

Syllabus

 

  1. Course Description

The Gateway to Sacred Knowledge (GTSK) Foundation Course is a unique and much-needed educational program designed to serve the growing intellectual and spiritual needs of the British Muslim community in general, with specific emphasis on the oft-neglected academic challenges faced by young Muslims.

Anchored in a deeply nuanced and native understanding of both the external and internal challenges afflicting the Muslim populous, the GTSK course aims to methodically and effectively address questions, correct misconceptions and provide guidance.

The philosophical foundations of the course are rooted in the timeless, and, simultaneously, very timely, words of the Prophet Muhammad- peace and blessings be upon him-,

This Knowledge will be passed down in every age by those who are upright/balanced (‘Udul). They will save it from the alterations/misinterpretations of extremists, the false ascriptions of falsifiers and the misinterpretations of the ignorant.

(al-Bayhaqi, Sunan al Kubra)

 

  1. Key Course Distinctives

The following features of the GTSK are representative of its core distinctives;

  • Methodological Soundness (Manhaj): The GTSK has whole modules, comprising of dozens of hours of teaching time, devoted to systematically outlining, detailing and inculcating the intellectual ethos, interpretative principles and spiritual values that underpin the Islamic Tradition and normative Islamic scholarship. Students will be introduced to the Islamic Tradition as understood, practiced and transmitted by the great bastions of classical Islamic learning such as al-Azhar in Egypt, the Qarwiyin in Morocco, the Jawami’ of Syria, the Arbita of Yemen and the Madaris of the Sub-continent. Such survey and analysis will also shed light on the radical dissension of many of the crude and arbitrary pseudo-interpretations of modern Islamic movements.
  • Primary Sources: Amongst the most elemental distinguishing features of the GTSK is its focus on connecting students to the study and appreciation of the primary Scriptures of Islam, namely the Quran and Hadith. Due to the interpretative complexities revolving around the Primary Sources, and the deeply nuanced nature of the expression, students rarely engage them with any meaningful study. Through the provision of key principles, together with their application to the actual text of the Scriptures, the GTSK intends for students to develop a more significant intellectual relationship with the Scriptures.
  • Contextual: Recognising the ever-changing landscape of contemporary Islamic discourse, the GTSK provides a contextual study of key Islamic sciences. While inextricably connected to our perennial masters and the classical method, the GTSK devotes entire modules to studying contemporary polemics and exploring issues of doctrinal dissent, whether instigated from within the Muslim community, or imposed from without.

Course Contents

Exploring the definition, development, transmission and preservation of the Islamic Tradition. This module will focus on mapping out for the student, the normative path to studying, practicing and conveying the classical sciences of Islam. Given the vastness of the doctrinal, legal and ethical body of Islamic teachings, getting started in one’s pursuit can be daunting task for the student. Where do I start? Which subject do I prioritise? How do I know when to move on? Who do I study with? How do I know whether I’m studying with the right person? Questions of this nature often plague students, sometimes entailing years of fruitless pursuit and minimal gain.

In addition to this, the module will delve into the features of orthodoxy in Islam, and the tools by which the novice can distinguish between valid and invalid interpretations of the faith.

A study of the theory and practice of the essential injunctions of Islamic law pertaining to cardinal acts of Islamic Worship. This module will focus on giving students a firm foundation in the sacred rules of ritual Purity, Prayer, Charity and the Halal & Haram of daily life; providing students a moral and spiritual compass to navigate the demands of modern living, from the workplace to family life. The principal aim of this module is to root the daily ritual practice of the students in sound knowledge and understanding, minimising ethical insecurities and reducing the spiritual uneasiness induced by doubt and conjecture.

This module consists of a brief, but unique study of the Holy Quran, covering key themes, narratives, meanings and connections of key selections. The purpose is to provide students a method for a more meaningful engagement with the Quran, as well as navigable roadmap of its thematic and textual connections. This exploration will focus especially on the following two features of Quranic studies:

  • Internal Interconnectedness (Munasabah) of Quranic chapters and verses
  • Central Themes (Mahawir) and Higher Objectives (Maqasid) that internal bind each chapter

A detailed examination of 10 prophetic traditions that have been specifically selected for their universal relevance, timelessness and profundity of meaning. These narrations are amongst those that have been highlighted in the scholarly tradition as succinct expressions of the foundational principles of the entire Islamic Tradition. Referred to in the scholarly literature as the Jawami’ al Kalim (The Comprehensive Words), this module will analyse these prophetic gems in light of their chains of transmission, their literary dexterity and the abundant guidance that can be extrapolated from them.

This module consists of a brief, but unique study of the Holy Quran, covering key themes, narratives, meanings and connections of key selections. The purpose is to provide students a method for a more meaningful engagement with the Quran, as well as navigable roadmap of its thematic and textual connections. This exploration will focus especially on the following two features of Quranic studies:

  • Internal Interconnectedness (Munasabah) of Quranic chapters and verses
  • Central Themes (Mahawir) and Higher Objectives (Maqasid) that internal bind each chapter

A fascinating and insightful module, Navigating the Sea of Faith comprises of an unprecedented survey, analysis and critical study of disagreement, debate and dissent in controversial issues of contemporary Islamic doctrine and law.

What are the ethics of war in Islam? Is suicide bombing a valid martial strategy? Is Sufism central to Islamic orthodoxy? What constitutes a valid understanding of Bid’ah, innovation in Islam? Is it permitted to celebrate the Mawlid, the birth of the Prophet Muhammad- peace be upon him-?  Is visiting graves the same as grave-worship?  

Navigating the Sea of Faith will engage critically and academically with the arguments for and against these, and other such, propositions, as well as shed light on the tools of sound reasoning and the methods of scholarly research by which to objectively approach matters of contextual polemics.

A classical, methodical and pure articulation of essential and defining Islamic beliefs. It is by accepting this core set of beliefs that a person becomes a believer, and a systematic study of them is key to the strengthening and consolidation of one’s faith. Given that ours is an age of limitless information, constant exposure to novel ideas and relentless ideological attacks against religious belief, a codified, coherent and intelligent approach to studying doctrine is paramount.

Faith Foundations is based on a textual study of classical Islamic doctrine, while providing unique & relevant contemporary commentary, granting students both a firm footing in the pure creed of the early Muslims, as well as a framework for understanding and articulating them in today’s world.

Moral and spiritual transformation lies at the heart of all ritual practice; for in its absence, deeds remain shells without kernels; forms without meaning; rituals bereft of reality. The Path to Purity is a blueprint for Muslims to identify ethical shortcomings in their lives and the processes by which to overcome them. This module will delve into the essentials of the science of Tazkiyah, spiritual purification, and the rigorous time-tested methods that one can utilise to improve their character, develop a rich inner life and leave behind a life of sin and distance from one’s Origin. The content of this module puts meaning back into religious practice, paving the path to ultimate salvation.

This module consists of a multi-dimensional study of the blessed personage of the Prophet Muhammad- peace and blessings be upon him-, intended to connect, revive and transform the lives of students by an acute knowledge of him. A deep relationship of love and reverence for the Prophet- peace and blessings be upon him- lies at the very heart of every personal and communal renaissance in the Muslim community. As such, an educational program that is not, at its core, Prophet-centric, is ultimately bereft of spiritual value and other-worldly benefit. The Living Link module comprises of the following four areas of study:

  • Shama’il- The physical beauty and moral perfection of the Prophet
  • Khasa’is- The unique superlative qualities of the Prophet
  • Mu’jizat- The wondersome miracles of the Prophet
  • SIrah- A brief thematic overview of the life of the Prophet

 

 

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