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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Noor Cultural Centre: Children's Islamic School: October 4, 2009

Noor Cultural Centre


The Sunday religious education program at Noor serves children ranging in age from four to twelve, and meets on Sunday mornings at Noor Cultural Centre. While the curriculum is designed specifically for the religious, spiritual, and moral education of Muslim children, children of all faiths are welcome to attend and participate. Typically, students are grouped according to age and learn in the presence of a teacher and one or more volunteer(s).

Interweaving Qur’ān and Prophetic traditions (the Hadith traditions) into every lesson, the curriculum is anchored in four main subject areas: al-īn (faith), al-islām (acts of worship); al-ihsān (“righteousness” or spiritually-informed living), and Islamic History. (Curriculum developed by Dr. Timothy Gianotti, Noor Fellow in Islamic Studies at York University, 2008-2010.)

Objective: To provide our young with a strong, academically-grounded foundation in the areas of Islamic faith, practice, ethics (including questions of social justice, gender justice, environmental responsibility, and cross-cultural and interfaith understanding, to name a few core areas), and history. The Sunday school aims to achieve this in an environment that is free of cultural bias, an environment that allows children to develop their own unique identities as both Muslims and Canadians in a manner consistent with Noor’s guiding vision.

General Topics Covered

Qur’ān & Hadīth:

  • Developing an appreciation for the centrality of the Qur’ān in Islam and for the living of an informed Muslim life
  • Building a basic yet solid foundation upon which our students can stand as they pursue an ever-deepened engagement with the Qur’ān as emerging adults
  • Cultivating an appreciation for the importance of context and the “occasions’ of revelation, beginning with a basic distinction between Meccan and Medinan revelations and moving into a more nuanced understanding of particular passages in the light of their specific contexts
  • Learning valuable life lessons from the stories and parables of the Qur’an, including the creation story, the stories of the prophets, and the many symbolic parables (amthāl) found throughout the Qur’ān
  • Developing the ability to recite and memorize sūrahs in Arabic with appropriate pronunciation and always with a basic comprehension of their meaning (in responsible English translations)
  • Studying the spiritual meanings of the “sacred hadīth” (hadīth qudsī) traditions, emphasizing the love God holds for the creation and for each one of us
  • Learning about the life of the Prophet and appreciating him as “a mercy unto all of the worlds” and as “the beautiful role model” for all of us, male and female
  • Getting acquainted for the complementary role the reliable hadīth traditions play in piecing together a Muslim life
  • Understanding the history and methodology of hadīth transmission and why the hadīth traditions are more vulnerable to human error than are the recitations that make up the Qur’ān

History:

  • Getting to know Islamic history and its place in the unfolding story of God’s gradual revelation to humanity
  • Learning about other prophets, their revelations, and the histories of their communities
  • Understanding the history of Arabia prior to the dawning of Islam and understanding its importance in shaping the emergence of Islam
  • Cultivating an appreciation for the profundity of the Islamic concept of ummah within its original context of tribalism, feuding, and pre-Islamic notions of “nobility” through lineage
  • Appreciating the great challenges facing the ummah in the immediate aftermath of the prophet’s death in 632 CE; compassionately and fairly addressing the differences and divisions that gradually formed between the companions and Muslims of subsequent generations
  • Learning about the positive roles Muslims have played in world history, with particular reference to the contribution of Muslims to human civilization and Muslims’ acceptance of diversity
  • Discovering the history of Muslims in North America, including the stories of African Muslims brought to North America as slaves, and the unique ways in which Islam has grown and developed in the west
  • Cultivating an ever-expanding awareness of current issues facing Muslims and members of other religions

Faith: Al-Īmān :

  • Growing a deeply rooted awareness of the Oneness of God and an understanding of God’s “most beautiful” attributes, especially those reflecting Divine mercy, compassion, love, forgiveness, protection, healing, guidance, etc.; instilling an appreciation for the fact that Allah, alone, will ultimately judge each of us, but will do so in concert with the mysteries of Divine compassion, love and mercy
  • Understanding who and what the Angels of God are; appreciating their various roles in serving as intermediaries between God and humanity (especially in relation to prophecy and revelation) while always emphasizing that our spiritual relationship with God is direct and unmediated
  • Learning about “the Books and the Messengers” in a spirit that helps us feel connected to them as members of one religious family and in a manner that is respectful of the diverse religious communities that likewise claim a connection to them
  • Speaking frankly yet sensitively about the inevitability of death; learning about the promise of Heaven and the threat of Hell – as abodes determined by God on the basis of deeds and character rather than on mere membership in any particular faith group – but always with an optimistic faith in God’s Mercy, Compassion, Forgiveness, and Love for each and every one of us
  • Appreciating both the reality and the mystery of God’s providence or “decree” while encouraging every individual to strive to be the best he/she can be and to search for the unique contributions that God is calling him/her to make in this life; appreciating that God’s will and our will do not always concur; learning to accept God’s decree and embracing the unique challenges and tests God gives us

Practice I: Al-Islām (acts of worship) :

  • Exploring the vital importance of publicly and actively “witnessing” to the faith (al-shahādah) as an ongoing challenge rather than a one-time-only event
  • Learning why the obligatory prayers are so important and how to prepare for and perform them
  • Learning about fasting, including how it is or has been practiced by other religious communities (Jewish, Christian, Native North American, etc.); understanding how it is practiced, both physically and spiritually
  • Appreciating the importance of al-zakat in a world where many people are hungry and do not have enough; connecting this pillar practice to our general responsibility to make good use of our gifts in a way that benefits humankind and the creation
  • Learning about the history of the Ka‘bah, its original construction by Abraham (Ibrāhīm) and Isma‘īl (Ishmael), and the significance of travelling to this “house of God” for pilgrimage (hajj) once in our lifetimes, if we can afford to do so; exploring some of the rituals that are included in the pillar of pilgrimage

Practice II: Al-Ihsān (“righteousness” or spiritually-informed living / ethical and moral responsibility) :

  • Understanding and appreciating the role of all human beings, male and female, as “vicegerents of God” on earth; exploring how we can connect our Islam to everyday life (including our social interactions, respecting and caring for the environment, helping the needy, respecting our parents and promoting harmony and justice between our siblings)
  • Becoming conscious that we are always in the presence of God; expanding the notion of worship to include everything we do
  • Appreciating the fact that everything and everyone in the creation are receptacles of God’s “signs” (āyāt) and so deserve our reverent attention and utmost respect

Special Projects: In everything we do, our faculty, staff, and volunteers will strive to create an atmosphere of fun, inclusiveness, belonging, and pride in who we are and what we do. Throughout the year, we will celebrate Islamic and Canadian holidays, including the two ‘īds (‘īd ul-fitr and ‘īd ul-adha), the Prophet’s birthday, Mother’s/Father’s Day, Canada Day, Islamic New Year and others). We will also participate in Noor events and community events (e.g., food bank drive, walks for charities, etc.).

Teachers: All our Noor Sunday school instructors understand the importance of observing strict protocols for interacting and communicating with children, their parents and other teachers. More, Noor is committed to the ongoing education and training of its teachers, and so will offer regular teacher education and training workshops in order to achieve and maintain a responsible, stimulating, enjoyable and rewarding learning environment.

Sunday School Administration: Shameela Hoosen-Shakeel administers the Sunday school, with assistance and support from the Noor Fellow in Islamic Studies, the Noor Chair in Islamic Studies, and other Islamic Studies scholars, both within and beyond the Noor community. Parent involvement will be requested from time to time.

Program Start Dates and Times: The program runs on Sunday mornings from 10:00 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., with a snack break for all groups at 11:15 a.m. In the 2009-2010 school year, classes will run from October 4th to June 20th. Classes will not be held on long weekends or school holidays. A calendar will be provided at the start of the school year.

Fees: For the 2009-2010 school year (approximately 30 classes), program fees are $400 per child. This fee is payable by cheque(s) and must accompany a completed registration form at the start of the school year. You may provide one cheque for the full amount or two post-dated cheques, one dated October 4, 2009 ($200 per child) and the other dated January 4, 2010 ($200 per child). Please note that fees are non-refundable for missed classes. If you need to request other payment options (e.g., monthly post-dated cheques), please contact Shameela Hoosen-Shakeel at shameela305@yahoo.com or 905-895-6264.

Registration Form

Information for Parents

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