The Perfect Syllabus.. Can it be found?

Post Fair sunlight

My head had been rumbling on for months, threatening to turn into a tornado if I don’t sit down and deal with the thoughts and ideas (and reservations) that were all having a tangle. 

‘What is your cause for concern?’, you may ask.

‘Homeschooling’, is what it is. 

And more specifically, syllabuses. 

As Uthman hit the age of 6, doubts began to creep in. Hey, everyone is using a syllabus. There is one for language arts, another one for science, and a third one for history! Do I use the Irish curriculum? But I am more familiar with the British version! But, why learn about the Vikings before the Islamic history? And I don’t even like the rest of the history they teach here! What about tawheed? Would the Saudi curriculum be suitable? But where am I going to find the time for all of this?

Enough was enough, I declared. I had to start somewhere, so I began to read about schools; how they came about, why the twelve-year model, and why these subjects. And the more I read and learnt the clearer the picture became. 

As I gained clarity, certain convictions began to take shape. Mind you, I had a gut feeling before I read, but gut feelings aren’t enough. Knowledge must form the basis of decisions such as this. One must know for sure.

The secular separation of subjects had never sat well with me. Ever since I started homeschooling, it just never made sense, which is why I had always used unit studies. The disconnection between school subjects is what bothered me the most. Allah mentions the moon and the stars and the sun in the Quran but you learn about them in Science/geography. Quran is reserved to Madrasah -if at all -. 

If you happen to be in a muslim country, the lesson may contain a few verses of the Quran on the topic of the sun but that’s it. Science is considered a secular scientific subject and Tafsir is considered a religious subject. When I was little, even history and geography were separate subjects despite how connected they are to one another!

These separate subjects are then presented to the students in separate cells. The student goes from one cell to another throughout the day learning about subjects so disconnected from one another yet presented as equally important.

Don’t even get me started on the bell.

Science and geography books center modern science, whilst Tafeer and Hadith have our religion as reference. 

There is no starting point for syllabuses, no central anchor. All information no matter the reference is treated as equal but remember, they must be disconnected. 

That’s how the school model functions. 

Separate cells. And disconnection. Remember that. 

And yet..

All knowledge should begin from the point of view of revelation! Isn’t the Quran (a guidance)?

By centering modern science sometimes and centering our faith at other times we are equating both references. And because modern science is more fashionable and well.. modern, it takes over as the anchor, to the point where we only take from the book of Allah that which matches modern science. 

Modern science with its shifting conclusions. Modern science that believes that there is no creator, no afterlife, no heaven, and no hell. Modern science that is so disconnected from religion. 

How is it surprising that we are raising a generation that feels extremely inferior where religion is concerned? How are they supposed to feel otherwise, when all they’ve been taught all along through schools/school subjects is to centre modern science and start from modern science, then only take from the Quran that which matches modern science? Can you see how easy it is for doubts/shubuhat to creep into one’s mind because of how we centre modern science and take it as the law? Then only do we take from Allah’s Book what we think matches the modern narrative?

Imagine something totally different. Imagine learning about the world in a manner befitting of a muslim.

Imagine us starting the other way round, with the Book of Allah as our starting point. It was sent down as a guide, afterall, a guide for the believers ‘in which there is no doubt’. Once we have learnt and understood what Allah says, then only do we branch out into what modern science has concluded thus far – mind you, conclusions that can change overnight! Remember how atheists believed that the universe has been there for eternity, but are now admitting that it must have had a starting point post big bang theory!

Imagine starting with knowledge (in which there is no doubt) then moving on to what the limited human brain has concluded about the world thus far.

If you were to read books written by muslim scholars during the Golden Islamic Era, you will notice how the starting point for any branch of knowledge was always what Allah says (Read in the name of your Lord Who Created). It is only when all these books were translated by the West were they butchered and separated from their faith-centred cornerstones.  

Despite all of this being my thought process for the longest time, resisting the status quo is harder than you might think, and before long, I found myself looking into secular syllabuses for science, geography, history, and language arts (notice how they’re all separate from one another). 

It was only when I took a step backwards and thought long and hard about where I want to take my homeschool that I realised that I was worrying about a teaching methodology that I didn’t even agree with. 

I immediately began searching for ‘homeschool syllabuses for the muslim child’ and ‘muslim homeschool’ but all I found were largely modified versions of secular syllabuses, with an inclusion of a verse/hadith here and there. I did find ideas, 10-year old blogposts, and a more recent product on Quranic homeschooling, or in another words, giving the child an education that is centred around the Quran. The starting point is always the Quran, then only do you branch out. 

But then I did something brave. I decided to create my own syllabus, one that suits my family and my children. I planned it in my head and got excited almost immediately!  We’d start from Surah An-Nas, go through the tafsir, enhance our knowledge of Arabic vocabulary on the way, then branch out into aqeedah, hadith, adaab, and finally into science, social studies, and language arts! We’d then move onto Surah Al-Falaq, and do the same! So much planning, but oh so rewarding. 

The very next day, I started planning out how we were going to learn Surah An-Nas, but that’s for another blogpost! 

And what can I tell you! This is what has been missing from my homeschool, and I have finally found it! Better than any unit study. Better than any syllabus. 

Allah’s Book as a guide. 

Alhamdulillah ya Rabb!