In a previous post (“Shaykh Hamza Yusuf has started blogging“), I highlighted how modernity has reversed how Islamic learning takes places and how we can use this reversal to our advantage:
“We live in strange times. In the days of old, students would travel great distances to sit at the feet of the ‘Ulema – sometimes only to learn a single hadeeth or to understand a single legal issue. Today, the situation has almost reversed – the scholars come to us.
Although the modern era has come with its own set of traumas, one of the unique advantages of globalization is the ability to connect with ‘Ulema all over the world. One such institution of learning, SeekersGuidance, fulfills this vital role in our community by bringing knowledge to our fingertips through online courses, weekend seminars, summer retreats, and webinars that have featured scholars such as Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Imam Zaid Shakir, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Shaykh Yahya Rhodus, Shaykh Ninowy, Imam Tahir Anwar, Ustadha Zaynab Ansari, and many others.
The video below explains how SeekersGuidance courses work. The gist of it is that SeekersGuidance offers affordable courses taught by qualified Scholars in different Islamic sciences such as tajweed (rules of Qur’anic recitation), nahw (Arabic grammar), aqeedah (theology), fiqh (jurisprudence), tasawwuf (spirituality), and daily living guidance. What makes these courses unique is not only their rich content, but the flexibility by which the student can master the subject.
Unlike other institutes, all course materials are downloadable. This means, you can download all of the mp3s and pdfs that are in a course and take them wherever you go. Think about that for a second. Many people say “I don’t have time to take a course, I’m busy with school or work or family obligations.” The truth of the matter is that there are opportunities to learn at every moment. How many of us waste time on long commutes to school or work? Or spend our evenings goofing off on the internet or watching nonsense on television. The truth is: we don’t have a “time” problem, we have a “time management” problem.
To give an example, I took the course “Introduction to Islamic Beliefs: the Kharida al-Bahiyya by Imam al-Dardir.” I downloaded all of the audio onto my laptop. Each time my family visited our relatives, who lived approximately an hour away, I would cover a lesson. Thus, each time I went to a dawaat, I would cover two lessons – one on the way there and one on the way back. By the time the weekend was over, I would have covered 6 lessons – half the course.
If you have to commute to school or work, you can easily listen to the lectures on your mp3 player, smartphone (I had the complete audio set for four entire courses on my smart phone), iPad or laptop. Again, its not about whether you have time or not, you have the time, its whether you want to use it in a meaningful manner.
The following video explains how SG courses work.
Brief Overview of Courses
My personal course recommendations:
- Activists: For daees and activists, consider taking Islamic Manners with Shaykh Faraz Rabbani. Many of the problems in our families, Masajid, and Islamic organizations stem from a lack of adab. Adab, in some ways, can be described as the major problem of the Ummah (Inshallah, I’ll post something by Sayyid Naquib al-Attas soon about how the loss of adab lead to the decline of the Muslim world).
- Liberal Arts/Humanities Majors: For people in the humanities, especially philosophy, political science, religious studies, law, or economics, I’d recommend Al-Kharida al-Bahiyya with Shaykh Faraz Rabbani. For those of you in the sciences, take this course, but supplement it with a course on the philosophy of science.
- Parents: Although I’m not married and have no children, I’ve attended a few seminars by Shaykh Faraz on the topic of parenting and I found it to be immensely beneficial. My friends who have taken the online course have said its one of the best courses they’ve ever taken. So consider Islamic Parenting: Raising Upright Children by Shaykh Faraz and his wife Ustadha Umm ‘Umar.
- Students of Knowledge: If you’re serious about studying the Islamic sciences, then start off with the Arabic taught by Ustadh Salman Younas and Tajweed courses taught by Mufti Umer Esmail. For you Hanafis out there, take Islamic Law for Seekers (Hanafi) with Shaykh Faraz Rabbani. The first lesson alone will blow you away. Its one of the best fiqh courses out there.
- Spirituality: For those of you interested in the art of the heart, I’d recommend Marvels of the Heart taught by Shaykh Yahya Rhodus which covers a key chapter in the Ihya Uloom al-Deen by Imam al-Ghazzali.
- Meccan Dawn: The Life of the Beloved Prophet Muhammad (sallahu alayhi wa sallam) taught by Sidi Anik Misra (who has some of the best answers on the SeekersGuidance Answers Service)
- Seeking Allah: Imam Muhasibi’s Treatise of the Seekers of Guidance Explained taught by Imam Afroz Ali of the Al-Ghazzali Centre (Australia) using Imam Zaid Shakir’s translation of Imam Muhasibi’s work. Alhamdulillah, earlier this year I was fortunate enough to attend a retreat in Adelaide, Australia and was able to benefit from Imam Afroz. Based on my experiences in Australia, I’d definitely recommend this course and for those of you in the land down under, check out the Al-Ghazzali Centre whenever you get a chance.
- Excellence in Faith & Action: Ghazali’s 40 Foundations of Religion Explained (Sections I & II: Faith & Action) taught by Ustadh Faraz Khan. Alhamdulillah, I attended a weekend seminar at Princeton University last year taught by Shaykh Faraz and I found it to be one of the most beneficial programs I ever attended.
If you still aren’t sure which course to take, then consider starting with the basics such as the Absolute Essentials of Islam: Beliefs and Worship taught by Shaykh Faraz.
May Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) preserve our teachers and enable us to benefit from them. Ameen!