All of the reviews below were submitted in 2003-2004 when we first began offering classes in the Toronto area. Since then, our methods have only gotten more refined and focused. We initially started with a 5-year format, before eventually settling on the 2-year “Foundations Program” described on the curriculum page. For this reason, in some of the reviews below, you might come across references to a “5-year course”. That no longer is applicable. Additionally, titles have been added by us to ease readability.
Unparalleled by anything else out there
As with many Muslims born and raised in the West, the heritage of the Islamic intellectual tradition is one that I was brought up to revere, venerate and consider my own. Surrounded both at home and in the mosque by stories of luminaries like Abu Hanifah and al-Ghazzali, it was impossible to escape without a distinct impression of the vastness and sophistication of Islamic scholarship, as well as its central contribution to the history of both the Eastern and Western worlds.
Yet, despite being an integral part of my identity, the reality of a truly comprehensive Islamic education was always just beyond my reach. The more I thought about this, the more I realized that I, like the vast majority of North American Muslims, was in fact divorced from a true understanding of our own intellectual history. Content with stories and anecdotes, or at most a rudimentary knowledge of basic fiqh, we were, and continue to be, deprived of the deep and profound insights of the scholars of the Islamic world.
why i like this course
Before I start I just want to say that the contents of this brief text are entirely from me, and none of the course organizers had anything to do with its content.
Why be interested?
• Have you been sporadically going to halaqas for years, but have little or nothing to show for it?
• Do you crave a serious course that doesn’t seem like a “guilty conscience assuager” but actually teaches you something?
• Do you want to go beyond the numerous lectures/ conferences but don’t know where to go?
• Do you want an organized curriculum, with textbooks, punctual, regular sessions, a clear path and a beginning and an end-goal?
• Have you been raised here and can’t access courses in foreign languages? Do you constantly dream of going overseas for Islamic education but don’t have the time/money/freedom-from-responsibility to do so?
If you answer Yes to any of these questions then you should seriously consider this course.
gain mastery of Arabic
In the Name of Allah Most Merciful Most Compassionate
I am currently a student of the Shariah Program in Toronto. I have previously studied some Arabic language in Madinah University and Zaytuna Institute, and would like to comment on the Shariah Program.
This is a new and innovative program that began approximately 2 ½ months ago. The following are some of the salient features of the program:
Instruction in English
Classical approach to the Religious Sciences
Teachers who have Ijaza in their respective subjects
Part-time schedule (12 hours every weekend, for 5 years)
The initial focus of the program has been, of course the Arabic language, with the aim that as soon as possible, textbooks will be read in the original Arabic language. This will enable the students to study the advanced subjects from the source (Usool-ul-Fiqh, Usool-ut-Tafseer, Hadith, Tafseer, Mantiq, and Balagha).
totally dedicated format
Assalamu-aliakum Wr. Wb.,
Name: Saeed Shaikh
Education: Bachelor of Applied Science and Engineering (Computer Engineering) University of Toronto (9T7)
Profession: Independent PeopleSoft Technical Consultant
My interest in learning the Arabic language came to light during my post graduate years. Reflecting on these past years, I had spent about 4 years, more or less, in what I would call my many ‘failed attempts’ and ‘false starts’ in learning this beautiful language. Alhamdulillah, these many attempts were of course generally beneficial and I pray to Allah s.w.t to reward all those teachers who had taught me over the past years. With all the previous classes though, I was disappointed to find the classes would either dwindle down in attendance and then stop or the methodology of teaching lacked an overall direction and structure and the students would eventually lose interest and hope.
who am i and what brought me to this course
Assalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatu,
My name is Ziring Zurar and I am an elementary school teacher at the Islamic School of Hamilton. I was born in Canada twenty-five years ago and have been living here ever since. I have recently enrolled in the new and only one of its kind Sharia Program organized by Sheikh Yusuf Mullan. I have previously studied some Arabic in Damascus, Syria where I stayed for seven months and continued studying Arabic using a different methodology when I returned to Canada. When I first saw the advertisement for this course I was very sceptical that anything of this nature could be available in Canada. This is something that many people travel overseas for extended periods of time for. Upon my return from Syria I have had my eyes on many masjid billboards and internet sites looking for something even remotely similar to this. To my disappointment I couldn’t find anything. The closest I found were 6 months courses or online Sharia courses, which were not even teaching traditional Islam but rather reformist twentieth century “visions” of Islam.
Fortunately, there were the deen intensives and rihla programs imparting traditional knowledge. May Allah reward those who have been working so hard to provide this avenue of traditional learning and spiritual development. However, once you’ve been to a couple of these, you’ve been to all of them. The same program is essentially repeated over and over again every year, without a substantial development of previous knowledge experiences. I was looking for something which would give me an accumulation of knowledge in a systematized fashion, with the goal of removing my disability and illiteracy, allowing me to access my Islamic heritage myself rather than just be told about it. I found the weekly Halaqa’s of benefit as well, but they are also not comparable to a systematized Sharia Program. Nor do I believe they were intended for such. Halaqas for the most part covered snap shots of a wide variety of issues. They are beneficial in helping you keep to the straight path. In short they gave a little of everything. It seemed like they were giving a taste of the sacred sciences. I found the Halaqas in some respects like the deen intensives on a smaller scale, the icing on the cake, but I still had not found the cake.
When I saw the advertisement of this course I thought it would be another of the propaganda reformist courses. But although my hope of finding something of this nature in Canada were just about dead, my curiosity motivated me to write the internet address down. I was confusingly surprised when I looked at the proposed curriculum on the internet. Not only was this a serious program which had a definite and clear goal ahead of itself, it surprisingly looked traditional, using classical relied upon texts agreed upon by the ummah. My years of failing to find such a course in the west, made me a little pessimistic so I literally thought it was a trick and didn’t pursue it. A couple of months later and a couple weeks before the course had begun I heard some friends talking about the Sharia program happening in Toronto. I naturally asked what Shaira Program?!? To my astonishment it was the one I saw a few months ago. It turns out it was legitimate after all, and the organizer and head teacher Sheikh Yusuf was a student of Mufti Taqi Usmani!! Needless to say, I called him up right away and joined the class.
review by sister who attended 6-month intensive in 2005
I started my undergrad at harvard in the NELC department learning arabic, and a few years later went to the toronto Shariah Program for a 6-month arabic learning intensive. There is NO comparison.
here’s the difference: in the Al Kitaab method that most universities follow, the approach to language learning is very random. Each unit/lesson starts with a word list that you learn, then you see those words in some sentences, then you learn some grammar rules that were in those sentences. The vocab is not what a student of deen really needs (there’s little religious vocab), and it’s not what someone who wants to communicate with arabs really needs (because it’s not colloquial). So to be honest, I see it as being totally useless unless one’s interest is just to read the news or listen to political speeches in arabic.
Contrast that with the traditional, time-tested way that developed of teaching arabic to non-arabs as islam spread to non-arab countries. This is what the Shariah Program in toronto uses and I TOTALLY WHOLE-HEARTEDLY (not shouting, just gushing) recommend it to anyone who wants to learn to read arabic in general (for any purpose whether news/religious books/etc) as well as anyone who primarily wants to learn arabic for future religious studies. It is a totally cohesive, top-down method of teaching arabic. The early classes are just about explaining the language, eg: ” ‘Lafz (لفظ( refers to every sound that comes out of the human mouth. Sound can be meaningful or non-meaningful. If it is meaningful, it can be a single meaning (one word) or a compound meaning. If it is one word, it is either an ism(~noun), a fi3l(~verb), or a harf(~preposition). If it is a verb, it is either maadi (past tense), mudari3 (present), amr (command), or nahy (negation). etc.etc.” – creating a tree diagram so every possible word type in arabic is broken down and you understand exactly how the language fits together.
The above reviews are a small sampling of those submitted over the years. As mentioned at the top of the page, our teaching methods have only improved and become more refined in this long period of seven years. Feel free in contacting any of the individuals who have disclosed their contact information, if you want to learn more about the program.