Reflections of British Muslim
GUIDELINES FOR ISLAMIC STUDY CIRCLES
Written by Head Imam Sajid Latif Qadri.
The following guidelines consist of an introduction, a description of the nature of Islamic Study Circles, a suggested organizational structure, a format and approach to the study of the Quran-e-Kareem, Hadith -e-Pak and Traditions, rules of the meeting, physical arrangements, a children’s program, suggested list of topics and timetable example and, finally, a list of suggested books and resource materials.
By the grace of God Almighty, Islamic awareness and desire to know more about Islam is increasing. In every town, small or big, one or more groups are being organised to learn the Quran -e Kareem, Hadith-e-Pak and the Traditions. We hope, with the Will of Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala, and Mohammad Salla Allahu Alayhi wa Aelayhe Wasallum. They will accept our efforts and reward us by bringing change in our way of life to total submission to his Will. The purpose of this article is to present a formal outline as guidelines to organize and sustain such efforts. Based on 40 years of experience, I also offer what problems to except and offer some practical solutions.
NATURE OF ISLAMIC STUDY CIRCLES
Islamic Study Circles are not a substitute for the weekend school or weekly. RIC meetings are for those who are seriously committed to change their lives in accordance with the teachings of Islam.
Each participant should prepare for the meeting and contribute to the discussion. Although they should be encouraged to continue their weekdays/weekend Islamic activities.
It is observed that many problems in such circles are due to lack of effective leadership. Therefore, as recommended by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), whenever there are three or more people we should follow our Head Imam.
The Head Imam is with the qualities of piety (taqwa), leadership and organisation. Our Head Imam scholar who studies religious rulings derived from Islamic law and the sources of legislation: these are the Qur’an, Sunnah (the Prophet’s tradition), scholarly consensus and juristic reasoning. literature is the main resource of a faqih who engages in analysing literary Islamic sources in order to deduce Islamic rulings that distinguish between what is obligatory, prohibited, recommended or allowed.
There is usually controversy regarding the format, i.e. whether to start with topics, or the Traditions (Hadith) or the Qur’an e Kareem first and which part of the Quran e Kareem, i.e. from the beginning to end or otherwise:
STUDY OF THE QURAN-E-KAREEM
We should not rush through the Qur’an e Kareem since it is the comprehensive book of wisdom and knowledge. It is reported that Abdullah Bin Umar took eight years to finish the second chapter, Surah al-Baqarah. He used to read a verse, memorise it, practice upon it and then proceed further.
Even if we read at a fast pace of one section (ruku) a week it should take us several years to finish the Quran in ISC gatherings. Emphasis should be made on individual efforts daily at home and be assimilating and incorporating the message of the Qur’an e Kareem. First, we should gather authentic commentaries, i.e, Kanz-ul-Eemaan (Translation & Tafseer of Holy Quran) Alahazrat Imam Ahmed Raza Khan (RA)
STUDY OF TRADITIONS
At least one Tradition (Hadith e Pak) could be discussed from the authentic books, i.e. Bukhari, Muslim or collection of forty Traditions or the Sacred Traditions (Hadith Qudsi, in which Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala spoke to his beloved Mohammad Salla Allahu Alayhi Wa Aelayhe Wasallum, but they are not included in the Quran). The Traditions (Hadith e Pak) should be read in Arabic and English and the resource person should be able to explain the context in which the Tradition was cited and how it applies to our present life.
STUDY OF TOPICS AND LITERATURE
According to the wishes and deficiencies of the members, topics may be selected by the group and assigned in advance to be presented in a concise manner quoting again not the imagination, but the Quran, Traditions or authentic books of commentary, i.e., Halal Wal and the topic may alternate with the presentation of various Traditions.
CONDUCTING THE LESSONS
The lessons should start with the recitation from the Holy Quran followed by other items on the Topic (see example) and should end with a prayer or supplication. General Islamic code of manner of conducting lessons should be observed.
a. One person to speak at a time with the permission of the Head Imam
b. No whispering or talking to others while the Quran is being recited or explained.
c. Speak in a low voice.
d. Do not interrupt the speaker but let him or her finish first.
e. The Head Imam will ask his student to express themselves with the restriction that such discussion be 1) after the presentation 2) related to the subject 3) not based on personal opinion but prefer- able from the Quran e Kareem, Hadith e Pak, Traditions, or noted authority.
f. The Head Imam, will them with greater understand of any question they may have and provide them with the answers from the Quran e Kareem, Hadith e Pak , Traditions or say one of the schools of jurisprudence.
g. Avoid talking about a person if he or she is not present at the lesson, even if what is being said is true.
It is advised that the lesson be held on a carpeted floor in form of a circle, then around a table. Men should be in a separate area of the same room. Everyone should be modestly dressed. There should not be any mixing or joking between the men and women. Questions should be directed to the Head Imam and not to individual people.
RULES OF THE CLASS
a. Frequency: classes can be held every week or once a month, depending on the level of interest and time available.
b. Timing: It should be according to what is best for the members. I believe Friday evening between evening and night prescribed prayer is the best, leaving the weekend for other social activities.
c. Place: Can be in one central place at the Mosque. Again, good communication is needed to avoid misunderstanding.
d. Punctuality: This is the key to the success. If anyone is planning to be late or absent, they should call the Head Imam in advance, so that others are not left in waiting The Head Imam should be able to come up with a good excuse in the next class. It is our experience that people make a point of attending a function if they attach importance to it.
CHILDREN’S PROGRAM AT RIC
Though participation by children in each program is very important for the purpose of bringing them together, it does not replace Islamic efforts at the weekend Madrassa or individual efforts by parents themselves at home.
The children’s program should be short and sweet, no more than 20 minutes total and should include topics on the life of the Prophet (PBUH), listening to newly memorized Surah, Traditions, presentations, and Islamic knowledge.
Based on their efforts, small prizes can be given once a month to encourage participation and completion.
Start with 1) 30th part
or 2) al-Baqarah
or 3) al-Nisa
B) Topics: Prescribed prayer (salat), the poor-due (zakat), the Hajj, prescribed fasting, jihad, usury (ribah), the modest dress, permissible and non-permissible food, family life or social problems.
C) Life of the Prophet Mohammad Salla Allahu Alayhi Wa Aelayhe Wasallum as:
SUGGESTED TIME TABLE (THIS WILL CHANGE WITH THE SEASON)
5:45 – Gathering time
6:00 – Evening prescribed prayer
6:15 – Start the program with recitation of the Quran
6:30 – Children’s program
6:45 – Quran Commentary and Translation
7:15 – Traditions, jurisprudence or topic
7:30 – Prayer or supplication and Adjourn
7:35 – Snack. tea and social hour
8:00 – Night prescribed prayer
8:30 – Disperse
SUGGESTED BOOKS AND RESOURCE MATERIALS
1. Quranic translations:
Kanz-ul-Eemaan (Translation & Tafseer of Holy Quran) Alahazrat Imam Ahmed Raza Khan (ra)
40 Ahadith (Al-Nawawi) Qudsi
3. Lawful and Prohibited
4. Way to the Quran
5. Islamic Manners
6. Islamic Teaching Tapes
Teaching of Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh)
1. REFORMING THE MUSLIMS OF BAGHDAD:
2. EFFECTS OF HIS LECTURES
3. “MY FOOT IS ON THE NECK OF ALL THE SAINTS”
4. ONE HUNDRED JURISTS HUMBLED:
May Allah Ta’ala grant us the Taufeeq to learn from the spiritual teachings of Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh) and to sincerely put it into practice, Ameen.