Who says that there is no Freedom in Being a Muslim?

Who says that in Islam the concept of ‘Freedom’ does not exist? Let me break it down for you.

Being Muslim is just promising God that you would be good. That’s the general idea. Good to who?

Good to God, I guess in the first instance. In fact, finding Him is sort of finding yourself – being good to Him through being good to yourself and your fellowman. Thats it. Now that was not hard is it, to deduce was it? Yeah, yeah, I know many people don’t look at their calling to God that way.

Anyway, too often, people think, and this includes Muslims, that anyone that identifies with Islam is a ardent Believer. Wrong! Well, every Believer is a Muslim, but not every Muslim is a Believer. You see, being Muslim is the act of bearing witness to a set of truths and obligations, such as:

(1) testifying that there is only One, Unique God (Allah, in Arabic) and that Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) is this last Prophet and Messenger

(2) promising to establish prayer at proscribed times

(3) redistributing a proscribed amount of wealth to poor and needy Muslims

(4) abstaining from food, drink and copulation during the daytime hours of a proscribed month

(5) and making pilgrimage to the first house built for the worship of God, in your lifetime, if you can afford to.

And you know what? A Muslim is not obliged to do any of it, he or she can choose to adhere or break their promises, but – and there is a BIG BUT – that will be breaking a most solemn oath with God and with that comes consequences in this life and in the life to come. Well, one is not even obliged to believe in those consequences at all; because if you did, then you’d be a ‘Believer’ for that moment.

Now here is another aspect of believing. The Holy Prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon him) promised that adherence to those five aforementioned acts is sufficient for anyone to be rewarded entry into Paradise. He once told one of his followers, Mu’aadh Ibn Jabal (may Allah be pleased with him): ‘Whosoever, says ‘There is only One, Unique God, with sincerity, will enter Paradise.’ Bemused with the news, he said, ‘Shall I tell the people? The prophet then replied, ‘No, they will rely on that alone.’ http://www.abc.se/~m9783/n/lail_e.html

Now you would have to believe that Prophets and Messengers once walked the earth and bring revealed books of guidance to many and that these men preached in the existence of a Unique God and a promise of a life after this world. Well if you could agree with that you’d be halfway there to earning the title of being a ‘Believer’.

Wait up, not so quick. There are three more articles of belief: to accept that all ones actions are accounted for by supernatural beings called angels and that they are only collecting evidence against you because Allah already knows all of the choices and non-choices you will make.

Aha! I know what you’r thinking now. If I am free why are all of my choices not really choices because they are already preordained by a God? Well, you don’t have to believe and then you’d already been preordained to be a non-believer. Not everyone can be a believer you know and today you maybe and tomorrow you are not. That’s why you got to keep living the good life in the hope that you please your creator and fulfilled your promises. Its a tough life, but don’t worry. Everyone makes mistakes.

The Holy Prophet, Muhammad (pbuh) on another occasion when the Prophet said that ‘anyone who acknowledged that there was only One Unique Creator, sincerely from his heart will enter Paradise, was asked by one of his companions, Abu Dhar al-Ghifaari (ra) thrice: ‘Even if he committed fornication, adultury or stole?’ The prophet (pbuh) replied, ‘even if he fornicated or did adultery and stole … The Prophet (pbuh) sensing Abu Dhar hesitations said, despite any objections you may have Oh Abi Dhar (raghima anfak).”

Don’t get excited. You will obtain Paradise after paying for the price for your transgressions against the rights of others. Now, if you ended up in prison, don’t ask, why are there laws that persecute me for my injustices – why there are laws that violate and dictate the extent of my freedoms. Lol.

Well, someone knew that you would violate the rights of others and that you’d have to be curtailed. Someone knew that someone had to set the example of evil and its consequences. That doesn’t have to be you? If you are already in such a position – role-playing evil that is. You must really be enjoying it, not to want to change what you are? If you feel that you have no power to change your situation, then you are a danger to you and me.

Now if you are not on the wrong end of justice, then you are making the right choices until now, aren’t you?

What if you didn’t get caught? What if someone is doing you injustice, did not get caught?

Look, the bottom line is, you don’t have to be a Muslim, if thats what you ORDAINED for yourself. You don’t have to be a Believer also. Be anything you want to be. You prefer hell over heaven, that is your choice. Just don’t break the laws that keep you and me safe.

Malick Elias

Follow up: What is Islamic Education?

Assalamu ‘Alaykum, now and always,

Going through the list of videos programmed to show up on this blog, I am recommending the best I have viewed so far, which highlights sentiments of my earlier article: What is and What is Not Islamic Education. 
Take the time and study this lecture and I recommend its showing to Senior school Islamic Education students at the start of the new academic year. 
Good viewing.

Can Transliterated Quranic Sheets Make a Difference to Children’s Quran Memorisation?

Islamic Pedagogy Series 1

A dilemma often faced by co-ordinators of Islamic Education when planning the delivery of Quranic memorisation is whether to begin teaching the children to read Quran first, before setting them on the path to memorisation, or to begin memorisation straight away. For classroom practitioners it all boils down to the time constraints within the curriculum and this often gives way to the use of transliterated Arabic texts. Transliterated sheets must be seen as only a temporary measure, because it does not make sense for children to memorise huge chunks of the Holy Quran and they cannot in the end read it, in Arabic.
Therefore, for those of us who will continue to use transliterated Quranic memorisation sheets a final word of warning: do not throw it at children as if to imply I have done my job to help you, but use it to gradually build the child’s memory and recalling skills, while slowly building their ability to read the Holy book in the language within which, it was revealed.

The following links contains a range of effective tried and tested resources to help you teach children to read the Holy Quran in Arabic. Use them both strategically and wisely.  Please review your success or failer after using them and send in your feedback in writing; it will be most welcomed.

Surah al-Faatiha and the last 10 Surahs transliterated Quranic monitoring sheets.

 Qaa’edah An-Nooraniyah: Nooraniyah Guide for learning to read the Holy Quran

Al-Baghdaadiya: Another great Quranic Reader Guide

Malick Elias

Improve your Teaching of ‘I Love Islam’ series and your Children’s Learning Experiences

Islamic Pedagogy Series 1

It is that time of the year when we begin planning for the next academic year. After a year of using the new Islamic Education Syllabus, I LOVE ISLAM for Grades 1-6 and having many afterthoughts about how best to deliver such a huge resource, I thought that putting it down on paper would be best.

If you are interested in improving your teaching and the learning experiences of your pupils please review my ideas and give me constructive feedback on how it can be improved and give it a rating between 1-5. 1 is low and 5 is high.

Coming Next: How to use Islamic Education to improve the English literacy of your pupils.

Malick Elias

20 Quick, Tried, Tested and Effective Practices for Teaching the Holy Quran to Children

Islamic Pedagogy Series 1

1-    Read and point at the text of the Holy Quran (displayed on the whiteboard) matching symbol with sound, while pupils follow the reading along with you.

Rated: Good for linking text with sound and developing reading skills. This must be done in a slow rhythmic pace.
2-    Randomly point to verses in a Surah written on the board and pupils are required to read it out immediately without hesitation, as a group or individually.
Rated: Good for keeping pupils alert and getting them remember verses quickly if they know that they will be asked.
3-    Select the last ten Surahs, for example, read by a very good reciter and pupils read along miming his recitation as it is being read.
 Rated: Very good for improving and developing pupil’s reading style. They must however read with the same pace as the expert reciter.
4-    Read a verse alone and pupils then follow the reading after stopping.
Rated: Good for drilling the memorisation of the verse. Must be done in a clear voice paying attention to pronunciation rules (Makhaarij al-Huroof).
5-    Read a verse to the class and pupils read the next verse in sequence.
Rated:  Very good. This is done best when most pupils have learnt the Surah, with perfection.
6-    Read to the class and stop at words, which some pupils find difficult, they read that word and you then continue reading.
Rated: Good for checking pronunciation.
7-    Read a verse in a distinctive tone and pupils read the next verse in an alternate tone.
Rated: A good, but very specialist way for drawing pupils’ attention to the intonation and changes of tone and voice in the reading of a Surah. Before doing this pupils must be made aware of the meaning of the Surah and the story it tells.
8-    Select Surahs, which highlight a distinctive rhythmic style, especially those with the ending of verses which rhyme and read it with passion to the pupils.
Rated: Excellent for developing the pupils love for Quranic recitation and its stylistic features.
9-    Begin reading a Surah or random verse and then select a pupil to continue it.
 Rated: An excellent way of checking the depth of memorisation.

10- Read a Surah and pupils have to guess the name of it. This game can be extended to test their knowledge on other details of the Surah, for example, where it was revealed and in which chapter is it located in the Holy Quran …
Rated: Very good for developing pupils general knowledge of the Surahs, especially their names and where they were revealed.
11- Use images to link to verses if relevant. Best done on learning sheets.
Rated:  A good way of allowing visual learner to remember what the Surah is about.
12- Request from pupils the recitation of a specific Surah as they enter the class, standing behind their chairs before they sit.
 Rated:  Excellent technique for pupils to get into the habit. It helps them to consolidate the learning of particular Surahs. You could also develop this around gender lines. Boys begin reading and girls take over the reading at a certain point.
13- Group pupils who are at the same level and learning the same Surah to read the Surah in synchronised manner as one person in front of the class.
Rated: Very good for building the confidence of weaker pupils. But for this to be successful they must all read in chorus together.
14- Group pupils who are at the same level and learning the same Surah to read the Surah verse by verse. Each pupil in the group reads a verse and matches the pace and tone of the last reader.
Rated: Good. This is an advanced way of developing recitation skills of Tajweed and Tarteel.
15- Set a Quranic competition at the end of the lesson for pupils to compete.
Rated: Excellent for developing excitement and love for the learning of Quranic recitation. At a more advance level, give children the opportunity to choreograph their own presentations. Be creative! They love it. This is one of the most successful activities as it reflects popular culture that they can relate with.
16- Use transliterated Quran sheets, but only issue two verses at a time for individual pupils to learn. Let the pupils read to you after they learnt the verses and the teacher put a tick on the sheet and date it.
Rated: Excellent if used properly. It can build pupil confidence and memorisation skills. Pupils sense achievement quickly as they feel that they can learn the Surah. This is a good method for differentiating learning in Quran lessons.
17- Assign the copying of the short Surah or parts or selection from a long Surah in Calligraphic style, if the pupil is advanced. For the less advanced, but capable of reading the Holy Quran in Arabic, they should at least learn how to write Surah al-Fatihah from memory.
Rated:  An excellent way of developing pupils’ precision in reading, but useful also for visual learners.
18- Select pupils to read to the class, while others assess the level of their recitation. They are given levelling criteria: level 1 is recitation with some mistakes; level 2 is recitation without any mistakes but no tajweed and level 3 is recitation with tajweed.
Rated:  A excellent method for getting pupils to gauge the standard of recitation expected from them and to seek to excel in Quranic reading. It really works!
19- Assign a memorisation buddy for each pupil. They listen and check the memorisation of each other before letting you check their recitation and memorisation.
Rated: Excellent tool for classroom management and developing independent learning.
20- Assign the role of Memorisation Inspector to the most advance memorisers and or reciters of the Quran to go around and check the memorisation of others and issue them with a level; they then report back the levels of the pupil’s reading to you.
Rated: Very good method of engaging gifted and talented pupils in the learning process and classroom management aid.

Malick Elias