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Mastery Level 1
Mastery Level 2
Mastery Level 3
Mastery Level 4
Mastery Level 5
Mastery Level 6
Mastery Level 7
Mastery Level 8
Master in Islam

About This Program:

    Alhumdulillah, many Muslims are involved in planning Weekend School programs in Masajid and Islamic Centers.  There are many different approaches to take.  Some may emphasize the basics of Islam while others may try to take a broader approach touching on issues of culture or ethnic identity.

    After considering all the difficult factors that come into play when trying to design a well-rounded Weekend School program, we have come up with the following suggested syllabus and curriculum.  It is, of course, subject to change and improvement.  E-mail us with your comments.

    There are three main elements to this syllabus.   They are: 1) Building a Muslim identity.  2)  Gaining knowledge of Islamic beliefs and practices.  And 3) becoming fluent in Qur'anic knowledge, Arabic language and Islamic Philosophy.

    The first element involves trying to combat the influence of non-Muslim culture in the minds of our youth.  Let's face it: the only books our children read are written by non-Muslims, the only TV shows they watch are produced by non-Muslims, all their best friends are non-Muslims, the only heroes they have are non-Muslims, the only musicians they listen to are non-Muslims, they go to school 40 hours a week with non-Muslims and the only places they like to go to for recreation such as Malls, amusement parks and restaurants are all operated by non-Muslims.  Is it any wonder your child doesn't "feel" very Muslim!

    The only true counter-weight to such a crushing influence on your children's identities would be the formation of Muslim towns and neighborhoods, but seeing that this won't happen any time soon, we must at least expose them to literature and stories written by Muslims, movies produced by Muslims, art and achievements by Muslims and real-life talented Muslims.

    Therefore, one class will be devoted only to reading Islamic literature, both classical and modern: story books, adventures, biographies, etc...  Some may consider it a waste of time for a class to read together, but then again, if their child doesn't get an A+ in Reading and English class in the local public school, these same people get angry.  Fight Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Baby Sitter's Club, Goosebumps and all the other identity shapers at least for one hour a week!

    The second element is fairly self-explanatory.   The approach must be systematic.  We can't teach the same thing to every grade as if there is nothing else in Islam.  There should be a variety of knowledge from class to class.   Therefore, the textbooks chosen must be varied also to suit the various requirements of each class level.

    The third element is a combination of Arabic class, Hifz class and Ta'leem class.  I've never liked to see Arabic classes taught as separate from the Qur'an.  I have also never liked "Memorization" classes being taught devoid of discussion, tafseer and reflection.  All three must be combined.  It may seem a daunting task but this is how it used to be done in the old days.  One teacher will teach all three elements in one, interwoven lesson each week.   The usual approaches have failed.  We must renew our methods to make all three trends relevant to each other.

    It is assumed that most Weekend Schools will break up their classes into age groups.  The usual formula will go like this: 5-6, 7-9, 10-12, 13-15, 16+.  Whether it is shifted one year one way or the other, the basic age separation remains basically the same.  In my experience this type of grouping presents a number of problems, the main one being the following:

    The level of knowledge among students of the same age group will vary greatly.  One child may know half the Qur'an while the kid next to him or her won't even know Surah Fatihah.  This causes the teacher to have to concentrate on "the basics" of Islam in order to try and bring the other students up to speed. 

    But what usually happens is that the students who come from less knowledgeable families are often disruptive and skeptical of Islam to begin with.   Many times they question whether the core beliefs of Islam are even true or not.   I have seen this over and over.  Then the teacher is forced to turn the class into a "da'wah" class to convert the "Muslim" child into believing in Islam. 

    The other children, who already accept Islam as at least theoretically true, become bored and dispirited as the lion's share of the attention goes to the "unbelieving Muslims."   The next academic year sees another influx of such "green" students so the information taught will be merely a repeat of the previous year, no matter what grade level they are in.  On and on it goes.

    A better scheme might be to divide the children up into knowledge ability levels which we will label "Mastery Levels".  Here is how our procedure will work:

    Give an entrance exam to the students when their parents bring them to register for the Weekend School.  This test will determine how much they know about Islam.  (We will provide such a test in this web-site, soon, insha'llah.)  Then, place them in Mastery Level 1, 2, 3, or 4.  "1" being the basic level class and "4" being geared towards advanced studies.

    Some people may scoff at this approach under the false impression that the child will be embarrassed or that the parents will be angry that their child is placed in a more basic level.  Wait a minute!  Whose fault is it if the teenager comes into the Weekend School program not even knowing how to make Wudu!!!  You can't put a child who is barely a Muslim into a class which seeks to teach a higher level of Islamic knowledge. 

The Weekend School is offering to teach a person about Islam.  To accomplish this, you must "teach people according to their level" as the Hadith of the Blessed Prophet states.  As the child masters each level of Islamic learning, they move on to a higher level, until when they graduate, they are a fully functional and literate Muslim. 

Would you expect to go to a college and be placed in a Junior level course if you can barely do Freshman level work?  Don't worry if a thirteen year old is learning how to make Wudu for the first time next to an eight year old.  It's not your fault the parents were so negligent.  Their fault shouldn't be the cause of ruining your program!

Therefore, our Weekend School curriculum will follow this advanced and sensible ability-based model and will be structured into the following classes:

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Mastery Level 1.  (Class A and Class B)  This class will be for all 5-7 year olds regardless.   Each student will spend two years in this level (if he or she passes) and then will move to level 2.  No one over eight years old will be allowed in this level.  Anyone over eight years old, even if they failed the entrance test, will begin in level 2.
 

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Mastery Level 2.  This is for all students who pass Level 1 or who score below an 80 on the entrance test or who are older than eight years old regardless.
 

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Mastery Level 3.  This is for all students who pass Level 2 or who score below a 90 on the entrance test.
 

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Mastery Level 4.  This is for all students who pass Level 3.  Also, every new student to the Weekend School will start in this Level provided they score above a 90 on the entrance exam.  If they score below a 90 then they will fall in either Level 2 or 3 as was mentioned previously.
 

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Mastery Level 5.  This is for all students who pass Level 4 first.  No exceptions.
 

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Mastery Level 6.  This level is only for those who have passed Levels 4 and 5 in the weekend school program.
 

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Mastery Level 7.  This level is only for those who pass a comprehensive exam over the summer covering all information taught in levels 1-6.  If the exam is not passed with at least an 85 then the student must repeat the level which teaches the information they had the most difficulty with.
 

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Mastery Level 8.  This advanced level is only for those who passed level 7.
 

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Master of Islamic Education.  This final class is only for those who have spent at least four years in the weekend school program.   When they graduate, in a very auspicious ceremony, they will be given a diploma of Master in Islamic Education.  After this, the graduate will become a teacher in this or some other Weekend school program, or, they will attend adult study classes that teach even more advanced knowledge.

    The exact knowledge and subject matter for each class will vary according to their level.  One of our goals should be to give the students something to look forward to.  They should expect that something different will come as they advance through the grades.  This is only possible if the students have a similar level of knowledge.  Then the teacher can build the instruction from there.  

You may click on each Level listed below for a full discussion and syllabus.

Mastery Level 1 Mastery Level 2 Mastery Level 3 Mastery Level 4 Mastery Level 5 Mastery Level 6 Mastery Level 7 Mastery Level 8 Master in Islam

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