Madrasat al-Hasanayn: Educational Outlook, Curriculum, and Methodology of Instruction

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.

Year 1:

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.

Year 2:

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.

Year 3:

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…

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17 thoughts on “Madrasat al-Hasanayn: Educational Outlook, Curriculum, and Methodology of Instruction

  1. Haroon Ahmed says:

    Assalamualaikum Maulana this is Haroon Ahmed from Indianapolis a currently enrolled student at Madrasa al-hasanayn here in Indy . We have met earlier at iie last year and at other occasions .. Jazakumullah hu khairan for this wonderful post . One small thing though there has been some significant changes to the books in these following years if needed I could email you the PDFs of the new curriculum inshallah .

    Wassalam

    • Bilal Ali says:

      Please do. I’ve also come upon the syllabus as of last year. This post was actually an old one. I mean to update the website with the new curriculum at some point in the near future. If you have a soft copy, that would be much appreciated.

    • Muhammad ahmed says:

      Since you are enrolled in the Indianapolis campus, I wanted to know more information about it. The size of the building, some pictures maybe, and probably let me know if they have a website. Also do they send students to pakistan later on to study under moulana tariq jameel? And what are the names of the teachers who teach there? Also, how many years it it, and is the cirriculum the same as it is in pakistan?If you could provide some info of this campus, it would be great!

      Jazakallahu khairun

  2. Hhhh says:

    What is your opinion on Al-azhar al-shareef? Also what is the best place to study for ladies? Are you currently a full time imam? Does your brother go out in the path of Allah?

  3. Bilal Ali says:

    I initially intended to enroll at the Raiwind markaz, until I was fortunate to meet Mawlana Tariq Jameel on a special visit to his home. In a detailed conversation, I was sold on his ideas for improving the curriculum of madrasahs through an Arabic-medium, one-subject-at-a-time approach, and a focus on research and extracurricular reading. These, in my opinion, were important considerations for an adult learner and indicated to me the superiority of Hasanayn’s education.

    I maintain its superiority to this day, though I will admit that Hasanayn’s curriculum is not perfect and can be vastly improved in many ways.

    I don’t have any opinion worth of consideration when it comes to studying at al-Azhar. For both men and women, giving recommendations about where to study is best done on an individual basis after a lengthy consultation. Giving generalized statements is often more harmful than beneficial and frequently inaccurate.

    I am not a full-time imam. I currently teach at Darul Qasim in the department of Hadith.

    By my brother, do you mean my blood brother(s)? Why do you ask?

    • Humza says:

      Do you recommend going to darul ulum karachi first, or madrasatul hasanain? And in what ways can hasanain improve?

      • Bilal Ali says:

        The question of improvement is best left to those of knowledge and in positions to improve it. Regarding specific advice about where you study, again, I would recommend a personal consult rather than a generalization. If you are interested in specific advice to your situation, ask a local scholar who you trust and who either knows you or you can make aware of your situation and get their advice after. Then compensate them for their time as a courtesy.

      • Humza says:

        How many years is the alim program in darul uloom karachi? And do you know where I can find their syllabus?

  4. Hhhh says:

    I would like to thank you very much for taking the time out to answer my questions. I was just curious about your blood brother. It seems he was the engine behind your getting in the line of knowledge.

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