Visit the main Open Islamic Curriculum website: www.openislamiccurriculum.com
Madaar: The point upon which we can revolve for refining Islamic Education
For those who understand Arabic, the concept of 1st Ethical’s new ‘Ilm 2 ‘Amal School Curriculum will not be a difficult one to grasp. Linking ‘ilm (knowledge) with ‘amal (action) is critical: “for the great aim of education is not knowledge but action.” (Herbert Spencer).
‘Ilm 2 ‘Amal is a specialist curriculum being delivered in several dozen leading British Muslim secondary schools, enriching learners with financial literacy (mu‘āmalāt) and social responsibility (mu‘āsharāt) skills, thereby shaping well-rounded and responsible citizens for the betterment of wider society.
Not only does the ‘Ilm 2 ‘Amal Curriculum fill the gaps in the existing curricula by covering niche subject matters, which often are neglected or under-taught, but aspiringly, the curriculum is designed to connect classroom learning with community action, thereby living up to its strapline; ‘Bring learning to life’.
Anyone involved in education, particularly in teaching, will be aware of the impact that experience of the outside world has upon learners. The very idea of applying what one learns in a classroom setting to an external environment for the benefit of one’s community adds an entirely new dimension to the learning experience in schools.
What could be more beneficial for young British Muslims today? Arguably by interlocking theory with practice, there is nothing of greater importance than for Muslim learners in troubled times to demonstrate their faith in a meaningful way. By the grace of the Almighty, this transformation has already started through ‘Ilm 2 ‘Amal’s contribution, sweeping through a dozen or so communities across Britain.
Over the past couple of weekends, top Muslim Secondary schools from around the country were pre-selected to attend the launch events of the Key Stage 3 Curriculum in Manchester’s British Muslim Heritage Centre and in London.
Teacher delegates from nearly 20 different institutes sat through an intensive training programme focused on how to effectively deliver the curriculum in a way most beneficial to their pupils. The morning sessions were opened with heart-warming key note speeches by Mrs Mohamed, Head of Manchester Islamic High School for Girls, in the North and Mr Muhammad Akram Khan-Cheema, Senior Ofsted Inspector, in the South.
The Head described the ‘Ilm 2 ‘Amal initiative as “not just another curriculum” but an organised programme of study, complementing the ethos of all Muslim schools and front-line educators and Mr Khan-Cheema described the project as being something which our children are “entitled to”.
His inspiring speech stressed the need for demonstrating Islam for the benefit of society in both academia and actions. “I don’t just want to see involvement in the ‘Ilm 2 ‘Amal project. I want to see engagement”. Teachers, he said, need to drive this project not just get involved.
Several contributing teachers such as Mrs. Badat, Director of Learning at Bolton Muslim Girls’ School praised the curriculum as a unique and much-needed resource for all those looking to ensure their pupils are sufficiently prepared to benefit themselves as well as their surrounding communities.
Mrs Parveen, Head of R.E at Manchester Islamic High School for Girls, shared the experience of her pupils, who had the opportunity to explore the importance of understanding Islam in its entirety – beyond creedal matters and acts of worship and encompassing the rights of the creation as well as social responsibility and money matters.
After praising the efforts of the 1st Ethical team in actually listening to and incorporating the views of young pupils to constructively enhance the lesson plans, she shared pupil testimonials with delegates to demonstrate the impact the curriculum had on her young girls.
The afternoon session saw engaging presentations by selected 1st Ethical campaign partners, including The Salvation Army, the RSPCA and the Al-Qalam Sharī‘ah Scholar Panel as well as testimonials from those schools which were part of the initial pilot project. Delegates had the confidence to see how a school can actually get their learners involved in the on-ground campaigns in a short window.
Mrs. Parveen again demonstrated how easy it was to run student campaigns by drawing on her experience of using 1st Ethical’s Food Drive campaign toolkit to feed needy people in Manchester’s city centre, “These step-by-step and well thought out instructions map out exactly how one goes about helping their pupils implement the ‘ilm learnt in the classroom in a way which is beneficial for society.”
Despite this curriculum being delivered in just twenty pre-selected Muslim schools for the 2012/13 academic year, approximately two-thousand young pupils will participate in the curriculum, God willing. With the help of the Almighty and the continuous support and du‘ā’s of school partners, the ‘Ilm 2 Amal initiative can equip an entire generation of young Muslims for the benefit of British society insha’Allāh.