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In the Name of God بسم الله

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Salam , Do you think Madrassahs focus too much on pedantic topics ie fiqh , tarikh, basic Kalam, akhlaq - do you think there is a need to incorporate more wide ranging topics especially for older children - ie philosophy , politics , Islamic / western thought ? 

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47 minutes ago, NormaL_UseR said:

Salam , Do you think Madrassahs focus too much on pedantic topics ie fiqh , tarikh, basic Kalam, akhlaq - do you think there is a need to incorporate more wide ranging topics especially for older children - ie philosophy , politics , Islamic / western thought ? 

Wa alaykum salaam,

well, you must take into consideration that most Muslims only make a small portion of their time (and their childrens') available for religious study. So, if a teacher is given this limited amount of time to impart knowledge to a child/student, he will focus on the most important parts, which are hoped will guide the rest of the child's approach to life. For example, he will be taught the basic ahkaam rules to be able to perform the obligatory acts of worship as required of a baligh child, so topics like taharah, salah, sawm etc are a must cover. The teacher will also be focusing on imparting basic knowledge of aqaid and knowledge of Allah so that the child/student has a foundation on understanding God - basics on justice, omnipresence, kindness, etc. A basic knowledge of history is also necessary as it forms a background against which the child understands why they are Muslim and not any other religion and why other people are of other religions. Akhlaq is a major foundation which will insha'Allah create a fertile ground for the child to be able to learn other things as they go: taqwa, humility, respect for elders, interaction with other human beings, dos and donts.

The problem I think lies with us, as families/parents/adults giving minimal priority to learning the religion. We actively seek out and invest our resources for good schools for secular education of our children, buy them the necessary books, equipment, pay for trips, help with homework etc.. but then neglect the other, more crucial part of their education, the wajib education, and expect the madrassah teachers to perform a miracle and teach them everything they need to know in the cumulative 2 to 3 years of their lives we send them to madrassah.

The challenge is for us to up our game, and madrassahs will automatically follow. We cannot compromise on the basics being taught to replace them with the next level.

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Yes but I’ve taught in Madressa a lot of what is taught is repetitive and boring for kids quite frankly - and kids not challenged intellectually will become even more disruptive . Another factor unfortunately is that even parents do not have the necessary knowledge to educate their kids it’s a perpetual cycle , and as a result you get a gradual dilution of knowledge . Therefore the madrasah has an important part to play in enlightening the community - if the syllabus is such that it is repetitive and pedantic it has not real impact. And in fact nowadays if the institutions play their cards properly the kids could educate some of their parents about Islam.

the mosque and madrasah has always been a focal point for educating and enlightening people , and uniting people . If you produce a community of uneducated, unenlightened and disunited people the future is going to be bleak . 

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12 minutes ago, NormaL_UseR said:

Yes but I’ve taught in Madressa a lot of what is taught is repetitive and boring for kids quite frankly - and kids not challenged intellectually will become even more disruptive . Another factor unfortunately is that even parents do not have the necessary knowledge to educate their kids it’s a perpetual cycle , and as a result you get a gradual dilution of knowledge . Therefore the madrasah has an important part to play in enlightening the community - if the syllabus is such that it is repetitive and pedantic it has not real impact. And in fact nowadays if the institutions play their cards properly the kids could educate some of their parents about Islam.

the mosque and madrasah has always been a focal point for educating and enlightening people , and uniting people . If you produce a community of uneducated, unenlightened and disunited people the future is going to be bleak . 

We must acknowledge that times have changed very fast. For instance, my great grand mother's grand mother had the most knowledgeable male aalim in their town coming to study/have mubahatha sessions with her behind a wall/curtain because she was at a higher level than the other females in her area. She was not an aalima by "profession". Another of my family members was made to memorize the Qur'an by his mother, who died when he was 6 years old. 

So a lot of what we are demanding from madrassah teachers needs to start from home. We can not expect a teacher handling a class of 30 40 students of varying IQ, discipline etc levels to make each of them reach a high level. I am however worried by the watering down of many of our madrassah syllabus systems. For instance, when I studied at the local khoja madrassah, the syllabus was pretty interesting on the aspect of thought provoking (e.g in the way of looking at history, current affairs), but very poor when it came to Arabic and Qur'an. At the wahhabi madrassah I attended briefly for Arabic and tahfeedh (memorization), this was their forte. At the shafi'I madrassahs where I have spent the most time studying religion, there is a lot of focus on transforming the student to pious, well mannered people - I.e the madrassah focuses on instilling God fear and love for the Prophet and his family (عليه السلام), and a high sense of morals in their students. I think in the end it is not about what madrassahs can or cannot do in general, rather, it is what we, as a community can create an enabling environment for. For instance, can a lot of the average mubaligheen being produced by our hawzas after a 5 6 year stint in hawza even handle the questions being posed by our teenagers today who are growing up in an era of atheism, questioning the existence of God, LGBT promotion, etc. If they are unable to get satisfactory answers to these questions at madrassah, unfortunately, this could completely break their deen and take them out of the fold of Islam. 

To avoid this and stay on the safe side, many madrassahs have opted to adopt a syllabus which can be handled by an averagely learned person to give them the basics. 

I am more concerned that some hawzahs are not producing educated and enlightened people, since it is a select group of students who go there, as opposed to a madrassah which is a mixed lot.

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