To learn more about Madrasat al-Hasanayn’s method of teaching and its curriculum, here is a brief synopsis of the books/subjects covered each year and how they are taught. Keep in mind that this is how the curriculum looked when I was there around fifteen years ago. There have been significant changes in the curriculum since then. I was there during the testing phases and saw many aspects of the syllabus evolve over time.
Before getting into details about the curriculum, I would like to mention three main aspects of the curriculum that served as foundational principles for the school.
1) One-Subject System: the madrasah sought to utilize the more traditional method of studying one science at a time. Of course, this logistically conflicted with the entire concept of institutionalized education in a way and so Hasanayn practically adopted a blend of more conventional multi-class sytems with its perceived singular ideal. Therefore, classes were limited to two or three per day and emphasis was still placed on one subject per year. Additional classes either served as lectures and depended on the instructor’s efforts more or were supplementary to the main class of the year and so retained the student’s focus.
2) Arabic Emphasis: the madrasah felt that Arabic studies had been neglected in our madaris and that the solution was to require instruction to be done in Arabic. Additionally, students were required to converse amongst themselves in Arabic alone and a fee was imposed upon those who were caught breaking the rule. Practically speaking, implementing the rule became very difficult and students needed to be constantly encouraged to revive an environment of Arabic conversation. The effectiveness of this technique depended largely upon the students and their motivation to learn the language at the cost of minor embarrasment and initial struggle.
3) Research & Individual Study: Mawlana Tariq Jameel Sahib (may Allah protect him) strongly felt that there was also a deficiency in students in the amount of mutala’ah they did for and outside of class. For this purpose, as well as for the purpose of allowing them to better retain material, class time was limited to two to three hours a day (with the exception of the final years, I believe, where four to five classes a day became the norm). Students were highly encouraged to purchase and read books outside of class and large chunks of the day, including some morning hours, were alotted for mutala’ah and takrar.
Initially, the course was designed to take things as slow as possible. First year, therefore, only covered basic Arabic speech and composition along with beginner’s level literature and grammar. The books that were employed for this year at that time were:
1. Durus al-Lughat al-‘Arabiyyah (Volumes 1-2): There was very little explanation for this class. Students were expected to read through each lesson in class loudly and clearly, working on correcting pronunciation. Conversations found in book two were to be memorized. Practice exercises were to be written out mulitiple times to improve handwriting. Students were asked to purchase Arabic conversation books outside of class and memorize expressions that would then be used in practice conversations during class time.
2. Qasas al-Nabiyyin (First few volumes): Focus in this class was to memorize important vocabulary and expressions. Students were to focus on improving reading skills and correctly identify i’rab. Additionally, students would be asked to summarize the chapters upon their completion from memory, effectively ingraining the word usage and expressions in their minds.
3. al-Ahadith al-Muntakhabah (Muntakhab Ahadith): When I was there, the teachers had chosen this collection of hadiths to be memorized. I believe fifty hadiths from each six chapters were meant to be memorized and understood. The book was chosen because it would help students in bayans.
I believe that Sarf was eventually added to this year.
Much of the first year depended upon the teacher’s engaging students in conversation, asking them to write out their lessons multiple times to practice handwriting, and memorizing conversations in order to familiarize them with Arabic expressions.
During this year, students were also taught Masa’il Behishti Zewar by Mufti ‘Abd al-Wahid as well as basic tajwid and calligraphy by a Qari who visited the madrasah twice or thrice a week.
In this year, the main focus of study was Sarf. Like I mentioned before, Hasanayn minimized class time as much as possible. Therefore, there was only one hour of sarf instruction per day and then an additional class on reading/comprehension/literature.
1. ‘Ilm al-Sighah (Arabic translation): the style that was employed in this class was very similar to how Hadrat Mufti Taqi Usmani describes how Mizan should be taught. The teacher treated the class like a hifz class, speaking less and listening more. Practice exercises consisted of listening to everyone’s conjugations at least once a day. The board was used heavily during explanation of ta’lilat. Throughout the year, students would be divided into two groups and engaged in a competition in recognizing sighahs. These competitions were very useful in engaging the students in an otherwise dry subject. The teacher who taught my class used to devote fifteen minutes of class time daily for reading from books of the elders, particularly Tadhkirat Rashid (which is probably because it was the only one available at the time besides Aap Beeti).
2. Durus al-Lughat al-‘Arabiyyah (3): This class was taught similar to its first two volumes in year one. The only difference being in the fact that exercises only had to be written once. The teacher had to restrain himself from going beyond what was in the book. Students were trusted to figure out what grammar rules were being highlighted in each section. The usage of the Key is very important for the teacher. Through it, he can identify all the rules that the author had intended to be learnt for each lesson.
3. al-Manthurat: The purpose of this class was primarily to improve reading skills and increase student vocabulary. Additionally, students were asked to memorize certain words, expressions, and metaphors and use them in their own sentences.
This year focused on Nahw. Because of the heavy focus on grammar, it was considered the driest year of study. It was, however, arguably our most benefical.
1. Jami’ al-Durus al-‘Arabiyyah: Although this book is quite advanced for a first exposure to formalized grammar, since students were familiar with the basic concepts through Durus al-Lughah, the jump to this level was not difficult. The usage of this book, however, did not start until the discussion of the marfu’at. Before that, the teacher used the Alfiyyah of Ibn Malik and its related commentaries to teach the muqaddimat of Nahw. During this time, students were busy purchasing as many Nahw books as possible and reading through them to get a better understanding of the science before delving into Jami’ al-Durus. Since the reading speed and comprehension abilities of the students was quite satisfactory by this point, students had no difficulty with understanding the text. Most students would therefore supplement their mutala’ah with books that the teacher suggested to read, such as Mughni al-Labib, al-Nahw al-Wafi, Sharh Shudhur al-Dhahab, etc… Once the teacher had completed teaching Jami’ al-Durus, he would have the students read through Hidayat al-Nahw in a couple of days. Additionally, selected chapters of Sharh al-Jami were read in class and discussed by the teacher. During the year, there was a periodical “tamrin” class that took place thrice a week. A teacher would use al-Nahw al-Wadih to orally quiz students on the relevant chapter of grammar they were covering in Jami’ al-Durus class. Lastly, tarkibs were done with poetry more than anything else. Our teacher’s philosophy was that if one could grammatically break down a line of poetry, he would find prose a breeze.
2. al-Sirah al-Nabawiyyah: Although I did not study this in the third year, this class was eventually incorporated into the third year. Mawlana Tariq Jameel Sahib (may Allah preserve him) taught this class and so it was periodical and not regular. Students were asked to read appointed chapters of ‘Allamah Nadwi’s al-Sirah al-Nabawiyyah before coming to class. During classtime, the lecture would not seek to cover anything in the book but add interesting points that were not in the book. Sometimes the discussions were very specific and very academic. Sometimes, they were more spiritual. In any case, the burden of mutala’ah was on the student alone. The lectures dealt with aspects of the Sirah that couldn’t be gained from texts, such as geographical information, pre-Islamic history, the layout of the Ka’bah and the well of Zam Zam, the trade routes of the Arabs, etc…
3. al-Fiqh al-Muyassar: I believe this was being taught in third year. It was simply a class for reading through the book and understanding the text itself. I am not sure if the class was continued because I don’t recall the last class I saw go through third year study the book.
To be continued…