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Bayyinah Institute: First Full Time Classical Arabic On-Campus Program in the US

Omar Usman



Alhamdulillah, Bayyinah is proud to introduce the DREAM program – a program where students will experience ten months of intensive study, which will equip them with the quality of Arabic education that has thus far been unsurpassed in the western world. This powerful full-time  curriculum has been designed to remove the cultural barriers that students often face when traveling abroad to study and yet give them the exposure to classical texts and methods of study which have enriched Islamic traditions through centuries and generations. Bayyinah is introducing a system that will combine the best of both worlds – employing the innovative methods of teaching, which Bayyinah is widely known for, while giving classical Arabic instructional texts used throughout our scholarly traditions their full due.

The first batch begins its journey this September insha’Allah. The campus will be a state of the art facility in the heart of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex in Texas. The nearly 12,000 sq. ft space will comfortably accommodate a batch of fifty students [25 brothers and 25 sisters] each year. For students that will be attending from out of state, the location provides an additional advantage. It is close to the airport and there are several options for affordable, safe and appropriate housing within a square mile of the DREAM location, not to mention a major Islamic center.

The program will be taught by Bayyinah instructors Nouman Ali Khan, AbdulNasir Jangda, and Wisam Sharieff – along with additional modules from visiting scholars.

As the Muslim community in the West matures and move forward, a lot of discourse is taking place regarding the need to develop indigenous scholarship and community leadership. These scholars and leaders need to be well equipped to push our communities in a productive and positive direction. While this program will not produce scholars in and of themselves, it is our hope that Bayyinah can provide the foundation in Arabic and Quranic studies that will enable its students to move forward with a solid and practical foundation in the most crucial subjects needed to properly study Islam. In short, we are producing well qualified students that can truly benefit from scholars and bring that benefit to their communities.

To accomplish this, a thorough, one of a kind curriculum has been developed.

CORE ELEMENT: A rigorous Classical Arabic studies program with extensive focus on a deep literary and linguistic appreciation of the Qur’an. The program will produce graduates with advanced proficiency in key areas of Arabic studies including

  • Grammar: Morphology and Syntax (Sarf & Nahw)
  • Rhetoric: Word Order, Figures of Speech, Embellishments (Al-Ma’aani, Al-Bayaan, Al-Badee’)
  • Literary appreciation (Adab)
  • Qur’anic linguistic analysis
  • Reading & translating classical texts
  • Advanced Composition
  • Fluent Conversational Communication
  • Oral Presentation
  • Research

SECONDARY ELEMENT: The program will also include a memorization program requiring students to complete at least 6 juz of the Qur’an by the end along with a tradition certification (ijazah) in tajweed (proper recitation)

TERTIARY ELEMENT: Students will go through a number of lecture series focusing on linguistic beauty dealing with:

  • Qur’an
  • The 40 Ahadith of Al-Nawawi
  • The Shamail of Tirmidhi
  • Each utterance of the daily prayer and prophetic traditions of Friday sermons

The program steers clear of contentious issues in jurisprudence and theology focusing on the language and the beauty of the sacred text instead. In ten months, our graduates will have sound knowledge of the above, but additionally there will be a focus on instilling the following characteristics:

  • A respect for scholarship and the Islamic scholarly tradition
  • A sound awareness of one’s place as a well trained student, not a scholar
  • A recognition of one’s role as contributor to the efforts of the community

By the end of the full time 10 month program, students who finish will be expected to:

  • Have extensive knowledge of Quranic vocabulary
  • Have a sophisticated understanding of Quranic grammatical analysis
  • Be more than prepared to pass the ACTFL exam with a superior ranking. This allows for up to 16 college credit hours in foreign language.
  • Learn Arabic not only through the innovative means that Bayyinah has become well known for, but also cover classical Arabic texts to learn the traditional method of learning Arabic

The full curriculum outline can be accessed here: Curriculum Outline.

We all come across talented and energetic Muslim youth in our communities. They are helping out at Islamic schools, Sunday Schools, Islamic centers, youth groups, da’wah programs, MSA’s, relief project, and more. These unique individuals are the future of our community and of Islam in America. We talk about their importance in sermons and conferences. We worry about them and think deeply about how to cultivate them into tomorrow’s leaders. A sound future for the Muslim community in this country is predicated on inspiring a generation of mature, learned, balanced, and articulate leaders from within.

In order to acquire such an education, the real possibilities thus far have only been abroad. This is where the Bayyinah DREAM program comes in.

We humbly encourage you to look into your community and help sponsor such individuals. The best investment a community can make is in one of their own.

Lastly, the applications are now open, and at the time of this article roughly 15 spots [5 brothers and 10 sisters] remain.


Bayyinah’s campus:

Omar Usman is a founding member of MuslimMatters and Qalam Institute. He teaches Islamic seminars across the US including Khateeb Workshop and Fiqh of Social Media. He has served in varying administrative capacities for multiple national and local Islamic organizations. You can follow his work at



  1. Avatar


    April 14, 2010 at 12:26 AM

    Mash’Allah, I hope one day I can be among the students insh’allah. May Allah reward these brothers/sisters for the much needed noble work they’re doing and grant them success in the dunya and akhira, ameen.

    • Avatar


      June 6, 2016 at 5:35 PM

      Pleas call me
      At 5106907090

  2. Avatar


    April 14, 2010 at 12:53 AM

    To be honest, this seems like an amazing opportunity… if folks, who can afford it (and to be honest, the price-tag for the amount of study involved is very reasonable), can take out the time, and who always wanted to learn Arabic, but don’t take advantage of this opportunity, then I think it says something about motivation and intentions.

    I myself have tried the on and off halaqa style Arabic and many other “styles”, and made little progress, because I don’t think there is a substitute for full-time study. The problem with part-time is that there will always be a million distractions that will cause you to miss one class, then two and then finally disband altogether. We can see this in the example of those who went off to Egypt for full-time Arabic and actually learned it. Having this course in the US precludes the need for travel, and potentially better quality (for sure better bilingual command) and more Islamically grounded teachers.

    P.S. Out of curiosity, is Bayyinah still associated with AlMaghrib or independent?

  3. Avatar

    Bayyinah Institute

    April 14, 2010 at 1:14 AM

    Jazakallahu khayr for the comments.

    Bayyinah is a separate and completely independent organization.

    • Avatar


      April 14, 2010 at 7:55 AM

      salam alaikum,

      separate, and completely independent…but aren’t you “in association” with them or teamed up some way? The back of the Bayyinah Divine Speech cards say “in collaboration with” AlMaghrib Institute.

      mashallah I thought this was a good thing, and want to make sure it is still the case

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    April 14, 2010 at 1:35 AM

    This is such an amazing initiative, may Allah bless Bayyinah Institute and reward them for their efforts.

    InshaAllah I hope it continues running for the years to come.

  5. Avatar


    April 14, 2010 at 7:16 AM

    What time the classes would be? How can working person attend it?

  6. Avatar


    April 14, 2010 at 7:27 AM

    I wish I could enrol onto this course but I’m in the UK. : (

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    April 14, 2010 at 8:32 AM

    My husband and I are going to apply soon Insha’Allah, but we wanted to know what texts will students be studying from? In the FAQ video online, it mentioned we would be studying the Alfiyya by Ibn Malik… is that it for Sarf and Nahu? Please respond with details asap. I have emailed but did not get a response.

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    April 14, 2010 at 8:54 AM

    Is that really the building? MashaAllah!

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    Bayyinah Institute

    April 14, 2010 at 10:09 AM

    MR – yep renting out of that building

    umm Maryam – work with each other, but the organizations are both separate and independent of one another.

    Hassan – classes are 6 days a week, 6 hours a day. but its not really something that can be done while working. most people are either taking leave from work or taking time off school to attend

  10. Avatar


    April 14, 2010 at 10:45 AM

    If Bayyinah comes to Toronto I’ll paypal you a hug =D}

  11. Avatar


    April 14, 2010 at 11:23 AM

    Excellent program and intiative. May Allah(swt) put barakah in it.

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    April 14, 2010 at 12:01 PM


    MashaAllah, may Allah reward bayinah for stepping up to make this program possible. Ameen

    I have a question: How many, if any, breaks will their be in the program? And when is the program planned to finish inshallah. If their are no breaks, and the program lasts exactly 10 months, then the program will end at about the near end of June, right?

    Also wil their be a follow up course, or set of lectures online, for the selected students who want to teach arabic?

    Jazakumullahu khairun

    • Avatar

      Bayyinah Institute

      April 14, 2010 at 12:09 PM

      it runs september 20th through june 26th. there might be a week off in between (around end of december) and obviously a break for eid.

      there might be a follow up for students who want to teach but details have not yet been finalized

      jazakallahu khayr

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    April 14, 2010 at 12:43 PM

    InshaAllah the program is successful in its objectives.

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    Interested sister

    April 14, 2010 at 12:54 PM

    Do you have any suggestions for daycares in the area that are open during class time. Do classes start after fajr?

    • Avatar

      Bayyinah Institute

      April 14, 2010 at 1:10 PM

      we will try to look into that inshallah, but nothing compiled on day cares off hand.

      classes will either be 7 to 3 or 8-4

    • Avatar

      Umm Bilqis

      April 14, 2010 at 1:45 PM

      My dear interested sister this is fyi. Please do not be offended ultimately it is your decision however I firmly believe that daycares don’t care. Here is a website that highlights why.

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    Interested sister

    April 14, 2010 at 12:55 PM

    What prior Arabic experience do you have to have?

    • Avatar

      Bayyinah Institute

      April 14, 2010 at 1:10 PM

      none, but students must be able to pass a basic tajweed test [not advanced rules but basic level]

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    April 14, 2010 at 1:30 PM

    What does Bayyinah hope the students will do after they graduate from the program ? The more specific you can be, the better. Maybe even give examples. Jezkallah khair

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    Nihal Khan

    April 14, 2010 at 1:34 PM

    Support the Bayyinah Dream Project!

  18. Avatar


    April 14, 2010 at 2:00 PM

    Assalamu Alaikum

    Is there any chance of Bayyinah coming to UK?

    That would be wonderful.

  19. Avatar


    April 14, 2010 at 2:02 PM

    Im currently studying at alazhar. No arabic institue in america will be able to surpass azhar, or madinah or any islamic univeristy in the middle east.

    • Avatar


      April 14, 2010 at 2:40 PM

      alazhar teaches adab also

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      April 14, 2010 at 4:06 PM

      Assalaamu alaikum, alhumdulilah I am currently studying at alazhar as well, and I agree with you, but not everyone has the opportunity to study at alazhar or madinah, so we should commend the brothers at Bayyinah for their efforts and make dua that Allah helps them and makes them successful

    • Avatar


      April 14, 2010 at 4:39 PM

      Been playing with the Magic 8-ball again, huh?


    • Avatar


      April 14, 2010 at 5:41 PM


      Very true, but about the Arabic:
      AlAzhar doesnt teach Arabic to nonarabic speakers. To learn Arabic in Cairo, you must study in institutes like Diwaan or Al-Fajr. From what I’ve heard, they, the institutes, tend to cover Modern Standard Arabic before covering classical Arabic. This is found to make learning classical Arabic even more harder then it actually is for students. But of course you can get a private teacher to follow your requested curriculum…

      Madinah curriculum lasts about 2 years, but its worth it when the prophets mosque is 10 minuites away and every day there are halaqas held by many scholers in the prophet’s mosque.

      However not many people are accepted to Madinah, and the ones who ARE accepted, are only accepted a year after they Apply, During that one year gap, one can do many things, one of which could be to attend Bayyinah Dream!

      Bayyinah Dream provides many unique opportunities that many institutes lack:
      1. Its at home
      2. The curriculum is built upon many other good curriculum making it diverse.
      3. The teachers are from native tongue…
      4. Auxiliary modules
      5. a 10 month course rather then a 2 year less intensive course…

      And another add on is that it fills the spots that of the institutes abroad have but rather it tends to lacks.
      1. An environment such as restaurants where one can practice his/her Arabic.
      2. Scholars to listen to in Arabic in an attempt to practice Arabic.

      You can learn Arabic in Cairo in about 6-9 months. But what you can do in 6-9 is the intensive classical study and practice Bayyinah offers.

    • Avatar

      Ahmed Saleh

      April 14, 2010 at 10:28 PM

      I disagree with this weak comment. It all depends upon the student. If the student works hard, he will get things done anywhere with the blessing of Allah SWT. Although it is prefreable to study in an Arabic country when learning arabic. Just for the record, many people at azhar university do not have great arabic. They understand a great amount, but have really bad grammar skills because they dont work hard enough to preserve what they took before entering the actual university.


    • Avatar

      AbdelRahman Murphy

      April 15, 2010 at 9:46 PM

      LOL this guy is hilarious. Best comment thus far. Bravo!

  20. Avatar


    April 14, 2010 at 5:44 PM

    oh, and just wondering, how long does it take oneself to study for the Al-Azhar placement Exams? I’m Talking about using Al-Waadih Series…

    • Avatar

      Ahmed Saleh

      April 14, 2010 at 10:24 PM

      1 year if u speak arabic, 2 years if u dont

  21. Avatar

    Abu Suhaib

    April 14, 2010 at 7:36 PM

    Sounds amazing but I hope the hype can match the class

  22. Avatar

    Ahmed Saleh

    April 14, 2010 at 10:24 PM

    Dear bayinah,
    I think what your doing is great. I have been studying Islamic Studies and Arabic for the past 3 years, and am currently as Azhar University. I just have one request. Please dont tell people that it is possible to learn the Arabic language in only 10 months. It takes more then two years even. Many people who do the Madinah program cant even speak amazing arabic after there done. The Arabic Language is no joke, and as Imam Ashafii Said ” No one can completely encompass this Language except a Prophet (peace and blessings upon them All)” And, when I say learn the Arabic language, I mean seriously learn it, to where you can teach it without looking, and argue against those who try to break it.
    So yes, this looks like a great idea, but it is simply a start for people do go on after wards. Anyone who passes this program successfully should not think he is done his studies. This field takes years to master.

    May Allah bless us All, increase us in knowledge and purify our hearts from bad intentions

    • Amad


      April 15, 2010 at 12:37 AM

      JazakAllahkhair Ahmed, for clarifying your earlier comment, BUT I think we also have to be careful about disclaimers, especially when we haven’t experienced the actual thing… let me explain:

      I have known tons of Muslims in my life who are always talking about their Arabic-overseas dream, whether Madinah, Egypt, etc. And most never end up doing it. They also stop reading translations of Islamic books because it’s always about “after I am done mastering Arabic, THEN I’ll start”. The problem is that such an attitude can eventually become debilitating if and when the overseas trip doesn’t materialize.

      So instead of raising all sorts of red flags on the Institute, I think a more productive way to phrase what you are trying to say is that “I encourage all those who have future but uncertain plans to go overseas, to still go ahead and take the opportunity that is available in their backyard, and that it can only be a HUGE head-start if they indeed do end up going overseas”. Same message, different result.

      Finally, I think it’s a mistake to think that there aren’t different methods of teaching a subject, producing different results. We all know that what can be taught in few years in a university-paced environment can be taught in a year in a high-intensity environment. We also know that methodology itself can greatly accelerate or decelerate learning. In the case of Bayyinah, let’s wait until the first batch graduates to make that determination… you may be surprised… may Allah help them succeed in their mission.

      • Avatar


        April 15, 2010 at 4:56 AM

        Jazakallahu Khairan Akhi Amad,

        Wise point. May Allah SWT make the students strong.
        I am with you 100% about not waiting until you have mastered the Arabic language to start reading and searching. But, that wasnt what i was implying at all. I was trying to say that people today DO NOT understand how deep, immense and detailed the Arabic language is. Yes, you are also right about the teaching methods, and yes Allah SWT does what we wills with whom he wills when he wills. Which means if Allah swt wanted to we can all master the Arabic Language in a few weeks and be happy campers. But, let us speak about the normal rather than what massive blessings Allah swt can bestow upon his servant. Normally speaking, and i speak thru slight experience, no matter how intensive the program is, the human mind needs time to consume this information. This Arabic Language is something that needs to be memorized to a certain extent in order to be used the way we want to use it. Sad to say the American way today is, ” as long as I have read it and i understood it, than I can move on. ” As long as I passed the test that means I have a grasped what needs to be grasped and have consumed all that was given to me”. This my dear brother in Islam, is a very bad way of thinking that most people have become used to in the passed. The fact of the matter is, true knowledge takes serious time to be completed. It needs to be built the proper way and then stored in the mind. If we don’t use this method of teaching, then we will have a bunch a people saying they know arabic simply because they went thru intensive programs and passed with honors, and the fact of the matter is later on down the line much of this information may be lost. I have seen this happening with many intensives all around the States. How many people do the 4 year degree in the U.S and pass with honors and still remember half of what they studied. If you ask them about a certain topic they studied, they will say ” man i took that years ago.. as long as I can do my job right today. not to mention how many jobs today don’t even ask you for half the stuff you took during the years of your study, because thats not the way our culture is in America. You are asked to know what you need to know, and the rest can be forgotten. Yes, you can say that the students can revise all that they have taken within this intensive 10 month period, but this is also a very difficult long task because of all that Information you just crammed needs to be re read and things forgotten must be re understood making you feel at the end of the day that you just took your time in the first place…………….

        One last thing, the Arabic language needs to be respected. This is the language of the Quran and Sunnah. Cant we at least give it a proper amount of time to be explained?? Anything given to quickly is not appreciated as much. If someone was introducing you to a group of people that don’t know you, and he explained your entire life in a minute.. would you feel very important??
        May Allah increase us in knowledge
        W3laykum Asalam

        • Avatar


          April 15, 2010 at 12:11 PM

          I don’t think it’s wise of you to pass a judgment on the institute’s teaching methodology until you have experienced it yourself.

          When I FIRST took the Fundamentals of Classical Arabic with Br. Nouman, I didn’t think I’d come out with anything (since I was already studying at a turtle pace with another Arabic teacher… who was Arab and spoke Arabic. It took us an entire year to learn pronouns with her, how was Br. Nouman going to teach us more than THAT in 10 days!?), but I was surprised with the results. His teaching style is UNIQUE. It’s not like the teaching style overseas, neither is it of the Western standards.

          I think we should take a step back and let time decide how effective this program is going to be.

          • Avatar


            April 15, 2010 at 7:05 PM

            I completely second Sis. Zainab’s comment. I grew up in an Arab country and learnt arabic for 2 years in school yet I feel I learnt so much more with Br. Nouman. He’s an EXCEPTIONAL instructor. His ability to convey complex material in such a natural and simple fashion is truly amazing. His teaching style tops all of the religious and secular instructors’ styles I’ve witnessed in my life.

        • Avatar


          April 19, 2010 at 10:43 PM

          Masha’Allah, brother good point. It is a weighty matter indeed.

          Sayings of the Salaf – Lack of Arabic and Bid’ah

          Abdullah b. Zayd Al-Numayrî reports that Al-Hasan Al-Basrî said:
          They (the heretics) were destroyed by their inability in Arabic (al-‘ujmah).
          Al-Bukhârî, Al-Târîkh Al-Kabîr Vol.5 p99.

          And Imâm Al-Shâfi’î said:
          People didn’t become ignorant and didn’t differ amongst themselves except because they left Arabic and leaned towards the language of Aristotle.

          Quoted by Al-Suyûtî in Sawn Al-Mantiq p15. He said on p22:
          I have found Salaf before Al- Shâfi’î indicate what he did: that the cause of heresy (al-ibtidâ’) is ignorance of Arabic language.

          May Allah grant us to the tawfeeq to understand and speak the language of the Qur’an.

  23. Avatar

    Abu 'Ubaidah

    April 14, 2010 at 10:28 PM


    May Allah(swt) Make your institute a success. Ameen

    One question: Do all students start in the same level? Because not everyone is on the same level, there are others who have an edge. What do you do in this case?

    jazakhallah khair!

    • Avatar

      Bayyinah Institute

      April 15, 2010 at 12:20 AM

      Not everyone is necessarily at the same level coming in, but everyone will begin at the same level. for some it will be new information, for some it might serve as a refresher.

      of course, there will be some who are perhaps overqualified and may have covered most of the curriculum already – that should be vetted out during the application process and they’ll be notified if they are seemingly overqualified.

  24. Avatar


    April 15, 2010 at 12:18 AM

    As Salamu Alaikum,

    A question to Al-Bayinnah:

    is this program appropriate for someone who can read the quran pretty well, knows most of the rules of tajweed. Speaks colloquial arabic w/moderate understanding of fus’ha?

    Is the program more advanced that someone in my position can attend and learn much more?

    Jazakum Allahu Khayer, an awesome program by the way, may Allah put His baraka in this effort

    • Avatar

      Bayyinah Institute

      April 15, 2010 at 12:21 AM

      please email admin //at// with the details of your situation and we can see if the program would be of benefit to you inshallah

  25. Avatar


    April 15, 2010 at 12:23 AM

    Sister Eman:

    About the texts to be studied in class I have two things to share with you. Firstly, when students move into modules that build reading fluency, a diverse wealth of excerpts from classical Islamic texts pertaining to Tafsir and Seerah etc will be employed. As for texts that pertain to the subject of Arabic grammar itself, we’ve developed our own unique curriculum deriving from classical works and great works like those of Al-Kafrawi or Al-Izzi etc will be given their due in the course. However, a complete syllabus of sources and to-be-covered materials will be made available only to registered students. The public document is the curricular outline link the article above. Registered students should expect the syllabus via email by the end of June.

    • Avatar


      April 15, 2010 at 9:25 AM

      Okay, Jazakum Allahu Khairan. I was trying to decide whether my husband and I will attend and wanted to understand the nahu/sarf curriculum better. My husband taking taking a year off from medical school and investing ~ $25-30K in all for the both of us is obviously a big commitment to make. I guess ultimately, my question is when students complete the program, will they be independent when it comes to understanding Arabic texts, being able to understand grammatical nuances of the Qur’an/Hadith, and moving forward in study of the Arabic language, etc. To study balagha, obviously one must have a very strong background first. And it seemed from the curricular outline that the second 6 week block was dedicated to that, but I wasn’t sure what else was and how in depth we can go in the time.

      Also, students leaving the program are expected to be fluent in Arabic correct? Like IA one should be able to give a speech in Fus’ha, converse in Fus’ha, etc?

      Jazakum Allahu Khairan. I am very excited about the program and hope to be able to attend if its best for us iA.

      • Avatar

        Bayyinah Institute

        April 15, 2010 at 12:47 PM

        you’ll be able to independently research all those things inshallah yes, the program will train you to dig into those texts and find things like the grammatical nuances etc.

        yes it is expected that students will be fluent in arabic inshallah.

        we’d recommend watching this video if you havent already:

        although the video covers a lot of the logistical issues of moving to dallas it also discusses the curriculum as well.

  26. Avatar


    April 15, 2010 at 12:25 AM

    Based only on what you described in your brief comment, I’d say you have a lot to gain from this program. It depends however on your own academic goals beyond the program. Qur’anic studies depend heavily upon a sound understanding of linguistic intricacies; most if not all of which are completely overlooked in modern standard Arabic.

  27. Avatar


    April 15, 2010 at 7:46 AM

    @ Bayyinah,

    1) I am from Toronto, and I saw a requirement that all students must be from US. Is it possible to enroll?
    2) Is this course ideal for Huffadh?

    Jazak Allah

    • Avatar

      Bayyinah Institute

      April 15, 2010 at 12:44 PM

      1) you need to work out your visa situation so you can stay here for 10 months
      2) huffaz are the ideal candidate, many of the applicants so far are huffaz

      • Avatar


        April 15, 2010 at 4:59 PM

        will Bayyinah explore giving Hifdh ijazaat (to those who do not have it yet) along with the tajweed ijazaah?

  28. Avatar


    April 15, 2010 at 8:02 AM

    What an exciting step for Bayyinah.. I still have to take a class, but a 10 ms immersion sounds even better…May Allah bless your efforts for bringing solid Arabic education and appreciation of the Quran to N. America!

  29. Avatar


    April 15, 2010 at 9:19 AM

    is this open for UK students?

    • Avatar

      Bayyinah Institute

      April 15, 2010 at 12:44 PM

      it is open, but you would have to make sure to take care of your visa/immigration issues appropriately so you can stay in the US legally for 10 months.

  30. Avatar


    April 15, 2010 at 2:03 PM

    Salam bayyinah,

    you know for most muslims in america it is extremely difficult to take 10 months(!) out of thier schedule with school, work, etc.. And the prophet pbuh taught us to make the teaching of this deen easy. It is not possible for those who can’t afford traveling for 10 months and/or taking off from work/school for 10 months either [that would be most muslims-even those that want to take something like this].

    You guys should put all the course content on the internet and allow those who work and go to school to be able to learn Quranic arabic too so those muslims who want to learn but who don’t live in the dallas/fort worth area can benefit or can’t afford the money and to take off from work.

    • Avatar

      Bayyinah Institute

      April 15, 2010 at 3:18 PM

      we already have a curriculum online for those who wish to take it at, and actually the content there is in the process of being moved to and will be fully posted for free.

      jazakallahu khayr

      • Avatar


        April 16, 2010 at 2:39 PM

        is it free? and is it a complete program on the website or did you give some Arabic to people on the interent and hide from them some?

        • Avatar

          Bayyinah Institute

          April 21, 2010 at 11:51 PM

          not sure what your question is asking ..

 is not free, but we are in the process of moving the materials to and making them free.

  31. Avatar

    abu Rumay-s.a.

    April 15, 2010 at 3:42 PM

    barak Allahu feekum…

    Is the material covered for the online 201 series (units 1-10) the same as 10 month course material, more or less, how do they differ?

    what expectations (in terms of level) do you have for those completing your online series (201) and when do you expect to have all the sessions available online?

    • Avatar

      Bayyinah Institute

      April 15, 2010 at 3:52 PM

      10 month program will obviously be much different

      sessions should be available online by next month

  32. Avatar


    April 15, 2010 at 11:01 PM

    Alhumdulelah, I’ve been following Br. Nouman’s Dream from the beginning and I have witnessed the power of Dua, and Allah SWT’s will. The support and the energy in this feat is utterly remarkable, I’m sure everyone involved feel’s an immense sense of achievement and excitement. I am just so happy that this is happening, and InshAllah one day I will become one of the students of this outstanding program. My Dua’s are with you brothers always, and I hope you produce students and lovers of Classical Arabic and Quran like never before. Salam Aleykum!

    ps- Your live online talk on TA HA tonight was very informative, and really enjoyed the jokes (Br. Nouman’s Buzz Cut)! Really enjoyed the anecdote on the Dajjal and such as well, LOL.

  33. Avatar

    Abu Suhaib

    April 16, 2010 at 12:40 AM

    What should a person who studies units 1-10 online hope to achieve? For example do the units cover the quran module that will be offered at the dream? Will going through the 10 units help one if they are accepted into the dream program? If so, how..

  34. Avatar

    Sister in Islaam

    April 16, 2010 at 5:14 PM


    Asa Wr Wb

    Dear Bayyinah,

    My parents are still not convinced about it being safe for me to live there away from home :'( Will you have dorm rooms in an enclosed area or a gated housing arrangement, a chaperon for the female students, or any such thing for extra security, at least by next year? Something like a hostel? I told them all the current information and they would love me to do this, but they don’t agree with me being in an apartment. Please make du’a that Allah swt gives me a chance to apply and if not, then that He swt replaces me with something better.

    May Allah swt accept all your efforts,
    JazakumAllahu Khayran Katheera,
    Wa Salaam.

    • Avatar


      April 17, 2010 at 12:29 PM

      I wonder how many of us are in a similar dilemma :D lol…

    • Avatar

      Bayyinah Institute

      April 18, 2010 at 1:43 AM

      we can help coordinate so that you can stay with other sisters doing the program, but unfortunately at this time we’re not able to provide any dorming. we know this is an issue for a lot of people, especially sisters, we’re trying to see what we can do inshallah – but it might not be something that we can do in the immediate future

  35. Avatar

    Abu Suhaib

    April 17, 2010 at 8:36 PM

    If I have almost 4 months this summe what are some things I can do to study arabic on my own.

    Lqtoronto has a about 300 hrs on the madinah books which is pretty good
    bayyinah’s 10 units
    shariah program canada has a 2 mo intensive (25 hrs a week) but i would have to move to canada..

    what other advice on books or courses I can take.

    Also will the dream program have extra curricular topics such as khutbah prep and research, counseling, or other imam/youth coordinator related issues, how to lead prayer, etc..

    • Avatar


      April 17, 2010 at 8:53 PM

      I’m in the same boat as you!

    • Avatar


      April 18, 2010 at 1:53 AM

      Qalam Institute is conducting a khateeb workshop June 3-7 inshallah. Nouman Ali Khan, Yaser Birjas, and Abdulnasir Jnagda all writers here are going to teach it. check out for information.

  36. Avatar

    Nihal Khan

    April 20, 2010 at 7:21 PM

    Why do some people write ridiculously long emotional comments? Lol, if you want to do the program, then do it. If you don’t, then relax and take a chill pill and perhaps a vacation.

  37. Avatar


    April 21, 2010 at 1:39 AM

    Salaam, this sounds like such a great idea, but I don’t get one thing…how are people supposed to take off work or school and/or leave their families for 10 months?

    Everything listed above sounds great curriculum-wise, but how many people would really be able to leave their homes, move to Dallas for 10 months, and not have to worry about work/a steady income coming in every month..What about the sisters that want to apply? How would that even be possible for them to move to a different city alone, unless they lived there, and had a random year off?

    This seems like it is only focusing on college students who have just recently graduated, and are interested in a one-year crash course in Arabic. All others wouldn’t even be able to fathom the idea. No disrespect, although I would love to take this course, It seems like it was poorly planned from a logistical standpoint.

    May Allah swt make your institute successful, and I hope to be able to take this for myself someday.

    • Avatar

      Abu Suhaib

      April 21, 2010 at 10:30 AM

      Those who are interested in studying will do so.. However, I agree in the long run that there won’t be too many people interested.

      Can Bayyinah please answer the questions below. I don’t live in Dallas so Qalam institute’s program wouldn’t work. I hope they make good videos of the program though.

      I’ve read the curriculur outline and it sounds great but what will this program hope to offer that other programs don’t have. Also, will it be comparable to studying Arabic in Madinah or other such programs?

      If someone wants to get ready for the dream program and they have the summer what should be studied?

      If I have almost 4 months this summer what are some things I can do to study arabic on my own.

      Lqtoronto has a about 300 hrs on the madinah books which is pretty good
      bayyinah’s 10 units
      shariah program canada has a 2 mo intensive (25 hrs a week) but i would have to move to canada..

      what other advice on books or courses I can take.

      Also will the dream program have extra curricular topics such as khutbah prep and research, counseling, or other imam/youth coordinator related issues, how to lead prayer, etc..

      • Avatar


        April 21, 2010 at 5:51 PM

        you can try joining the shariah program online course and just try to catch up to and existing class or get ahead by listening to the recording. then you could continue it during the year and only need to spend a few hours a week.

      • Avatar

        Bayyinah Institute

        April 21, 2010 at 11:53 PM

        the options you listed are good. if you are planning to do dream though, we’d try to do as much hifz of quran as possible before starting if not already hafiz. if you are a hafiz, then the options you listed should be good inshallah

  38. Avatar

    Abu Suhaib

    April 22, 2010 at 12:24 AM

    So if I know about 3 juzz, I should work on memorizing more. Could more details be given on the extra curricular topics that will be studied. For example in one video it was mentioned tajweed, divine speech topics, and tafseer were some extra topics. Will there be more?

  39. Avatar

    Abu Suhaib

    April 22, 2010 at 1:05 PM

    Is there anyway a student can study the first 2 tracks the Quran and classical studies and stop the studies at a discounted rate? Those who have kids can get up to 12 weeks without pay of course for paternal or maternal leave. Kind of like famiy time.. This is fedral law.

  40. Avatar


    April 25, 2010 at 10:41 PM

    shariah program in toronto 2 mo summer intensive 350 canadian each month

    more info here

  41. Avatar


    May 14, 2010 at 11:15 PM

    Assalamo alaikum

    Jazak Allah br. Nouman. Your lectures are very interesting, easy to understand and informative, Masha Allah.
    Are you also coming to Canada, since I live in Toronto and eager to take this course inshaAllah.

  42. Avatar

    Abdul Aziz

    May 23, 2010 at 12:38 PM


    What books are utilised to teach the Quranic Arabic module?

    And what classical texts are covered/used in module 2?

    jazakhallah khair

  43. Avatar


    August 13, 2010 at 5:14 PM


    If we provide all state of art facilities in Chennai, India – will you come here and host similar dream. Please share your interest in visiting Chennai as we’d like to invite you.

    Jazaakumullah khairan.

  44. Avatar

    Mansoor Mirza

    August 24, 2010 at 11:59 PM

    assalamu aliakum

    i live in greater Chicagoland area and i was just curious where is bayyinah institute located in the United States?

  45. Avatar


    November 2, 2010 at 2:02 PM

    just wanted to post for those who were not able to go for the dream program that the shariah program is having its 6 month intensive starting this january. more info is available at their website

  46. Avatar


    March 15, 2011 at 9:31 AM

    Asalamu alaykum,

    i had a few questions im new to all of this, i only started embracing islam about 2 years ago(i was born into the religion tho). i never knew that such institutes even exist, atleast in the US. i live in NY, is bayyinah in NY? bc im not sure..also i would LOVE to take part in these classes/lectures but as i see these comments are from months ago. if i could get a response with any sort of feedback on this it’d be very much appreciated inshAllah.

    jazakullah khayr

    sister jasmine

  47. Avatar


    March 15, 2011 at 9:33 AM

    Asalamu alaykum,

    i had a few questions im new to all of this, i only started embracing islam about 2 years ago(i was born into the religion tho). i never knew that such institutes even exist, atleast in the US. i live in NY, is bayyinah in NY? bc im not sure..also i would LOVE to take part in these classes/lectures but as i see these comments are from months ago. if i could get a response with any sort of feedback on this it’d be very much appreciated inshAllah.

    jazakullah khayr

    sister jasmine

  48. Avatar

    Ali Khan

    May 3, 2012 at 11:34 PM

    Assalam o Alaikum
    I am new in London and it seems like Bayyinah Institute don’t have any near plains of coming as-well so, Can you advise me any of good institute  from where I can start learning arabic, as I am new in London so don’t know much about.
    JazakAllah Khair.

    email id:

  49. Avatar


    April 23, 2013 at 12:49 PM

    Assalamu alaikum brothers and sisters. I am a student of Quraan and am very interested to join the course, bi iznillah. But I wanted to know the approximate amount, inclusive of housing and food, that will be needed till the completion of the course. It’ud be really helpful if some one could provide me with the info. Jazakumullahu Khair.

  50. Avatar


    October 28, 2014 at 10:42 PM

    Assalamu Alaikum,
    do we have an online course of bayyinah..
    Quran memorization or any other course.
    iam from india and want to learn with bayyinah

  51. Avatar


    November 10, 2014 at 9:03 PM

    I heard about this program. Mashallah it is a great cause. I would like to know if there is any kind of scholarship for Hafizeen? Jazak.

  52. Avatar


    January 30, 2016 at 9:09 AM

    Is it possible to register and attend such a course online?

  53. Avatar

    Fatima hajat

    June 19, 2016 at 2:52 PM

    I would like to donate some of my zakat to go towards the new campus. Can u tell me if u except zakat donations and if u do where can I donate it?

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Challenges of Identity & Conviction: The Need to Construct an Islamic Worldview





islamic online high school

He squirmed in his seat as his Middle East history professor–yet again–made a subtle jab about Islam, this time about the jizyah.  This professor claimed to be pro-Arab and pro-Islam and was part of a university department that touted itself for presenting history and narratives that are typically left out of the West’s Eurocentric social studies sequence. Still, she would subjectively only present an Orientalist interpretation of Islam. Ahmad* sighed. He felt bad just thinking about what all his classmates at this esteemed university thought about Islam and Muslims. He was also worried about fellow Muslims in his class who had not grown up in a practicing household-what if they believed her? He hated how she was using her position as the “sage” in the room to present her bias as absolute truth. As for himself, he knew deep down in his bones that what his professor was alleging just could not be true. His fitrah was protesting her coy smile as she knowingly agitated the few Muslims in her class of one-hundred-fifty.  Yet, Ahmad had never studied such topics growing up and felt all his years of secondary education left him ill-equipped as a freshman in college.  He tried to search for answers to her false accusations after class and approached her later during office hours, but she just laughed him off as a backward, orthodox Muslim who had obviously been brainwashed into believing the “fairy tale version” of Islam. 


Asiyah* graduated as class valedictorian of her Islamic school. She loved Biology and Physics and planned to major in Engineering at a top-notch program. While both family, friends, and peers were proud of her (some maybe even wishing they were in her shoes), they had no idea of the bitter inner struggle that was eating away at her, tearing her up from the inside out. Her crisis of faith shook her to the core and her parents were at their wits’ end. While she prayed all her prayers and even properly donned her hijab, deep down she felt……..sort of….……atheist.  Physics was her life–her complete being. She loved how the numbers just added up and everything could be empirically proven. But this led to her greatest anguish: how could certain miraculous events during the time of the Blessed Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) have occurred? How could she believe in events that were physically and scientifically impossible?  She felt like an empty body performing the rituals of Islam.

*names changed


An Unwelcome Surprise

Islam is a way of life. Its principles operate in every avenue of one’s life. However, English, History, Science and Mathematics are often taught as if they are beyond the scope of Islam. It is commonly assumed that moral teaching happens, or should happen, only in the Islamic Studies class. Yet, if we compare what is being taught in the Islamic Studies class with what is being taught consciously or unconsciously in other classes, an unwelcome surprise awaits us. Examining typical reading material in English classes, for example, reveals that too much of the material is actually going against Islamic norms and principles. Some of the most prominent problems with traditional English literature (which directly clash with Islamic moral and ethical principles) include: the mockery of God and religion, the promotion of rebellion against parents and traditional family values, the normalization of immoral conduct such as lying and rude behavior, and the condoning of inappropriate cross-gender interactions. Additionally, positive references about Islamic culture are either nonexistent or rare. Toxic themes of secularism, atheism, materialism, liberalism, and agnosticism are constantly bombarding our young Muslim students, thus shaping the way in which they view and interact with the world.

Corrective Lens: The Worldview of Islam

We need our children to develop an Islamic worldview, one that provides a framework for Muslims to understand their world from the perspective of the Qur’an.  It is impossible for the Islamic Studies classes alone to successfully teach Islamic behavior and nurture moral commitment unless the other classes also reflect the Islamic worldview- an outlook that emphasizes the idea that all our actions should be focused on pleasing Allah and doing good for ourselves and others. Therefore, the majority of what is taught in all academic disciplines should be based on Islamic values, aiming to improve the life of the student by promoting sublime ethical conduct. The unfortunate reality is quite the opposite: a typical child in a school in the West spends a minimum of 576 periods (16 periods of core classes/week * 4 weeks/month * 9 months) of classroom instruction annually on academic subjects that are devoid of Islam and contain minimal teaching of morality that aligns with Islamic principles. How much Islam a child learns depends on whether their parents choose Sunday school, Islamic schools, and/or other forms of supplementation to provide religious knowledge. However, rarely does that supplemental instruction undo the thousands of hours of the atheistic worldview that children soak in by the time they finish high school through the study of secular subjects. By not having an Islamic worldview and not having Muslims’ heritage and contributions to humanity infused into the teaching of academic subjects, we witness the problems experienced by the likes of Ahmad* and Asiyah*–problems that plague modern Muslim youth.

Identifying the Unlikely Suspect

This realization is perhaps the missing piece in the puzzle when it comes to our bewilderment: how are large swaths of youth from some of the kindest, sweetest, practicing Muslim families going astray and getting confused? When we shepherd our flock and find one or more of our “sheep” lost and off the beaten path, we think of the likely suspects, which include negative influences from peers, family, movies, social media, etc. We may even blame the lack of inspiring role models. We are less likely to suspect that the very literature that our children are consuming day in and day out through our well-intentioned efforts to make them “educated” and “sophisticated” could cause them to question Islam or fall into moral abyss.

Ibn ‘Umar reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, “All of you are shepherds and each of you is responsible for his flock. A man is the shepherd of the people of his house and he is responsible. A woman is the shepherd of the house of her husband and she is responsible. Each of you is a shepherd and each is responsible for his flock.”

Islamic Infusion in Academic Study as a Solution

There have been efforts across the globe to infuse Islam into academic study of worldly subjects. Universities such as the International Islamic University of Malaysia(IIUM), which has a dedicated “Centre for Islamisation (CENTRIS),” is an example. At the secondary school level, most brick and mortar Islamic schools do offer Arabic, Qur’an, and Islamic studies; however, few Muslim teachers are trained in how to teach core academic subjects using principles of Islamic pedagogy.

How exactly can educators infuse an Islamic perspective into their teaching? And how can Muslim children have access to high quality education from the worldview of Islam, taught by talented and dynamic educators?

Infusing Islam & Muslim Heritage in Core Academic Subjects, According to the Experts:

  • Dr. Nadeem Memon, professor of Islamic pedagogy, states that for a pedagogy to be Islamic, it should not contradict the aims, objectives and ethics contained in revelation (Qur’an) and should closely reflect an Islamic ethos that is based on revelation, the sunnah of the Prophet(pbuh), and the intellectual and spiritual heritage of his followers. It should also effectively develop the student’s intelligence (`aql), faith (iman), morality and character (khuluq), knowledge and practice of personal religious obligations (fard ain) and knowledge, skills and physical abilities warranted by worldly responsibilities and duties (Ajem, Ramzy and Nadeem Memon, “Prophetic Pedagogy: Teaching ‘Islamically’ in our Classrooms”)
  • Dr. Susan Douglass, expert in Social Studies, promotes a panoramic study of the world by global eras–emphasizing the interdependence of nations–rather than an isolationist civilizations approach (which in Western societies focuses only on Western civilization). Such study includes Islamic history and Muslims’ contributions to humanity throughout the ages.
  • Dr. Freda Shamma, pioneer in promoting culturally inclusive and ethical literature, emphasizes that English classes should carefully select literature aligned with Islamic moral values and include works by both Western authors and those from other cultures, i.e. literature that 1-features Muslim main characters and 2- is authored by Muslims.
  • Dr. Nur Jannah Hassan at CENTRIS, stresses that Science classes should be designed to awaken the student’s mind, to inspire a complete awe of and servitude towards the Creator and Sustainer, to instill the purpose of creation, vicegerency and stewardship of the earth and its inhabitants, to enable students to decipher God’s Signs in nature and in the self, to infuse responsibility in sustaining balance and accountability, and should include Muslims’ legacy in the field.
  • Dr. Reema alNizami, specialist in Math Education, advocates that Math classes should instill creative thinking, systematic problem solving and an appreciation of balance; include a survey of Muslims’ contributions to the field; and utilize word problems that encourage charitable and ethical financial practices.

Technology Enables Access to Islamically Infused Schooling for grades 6-12

Technology has now enabled this Islamic infusion for middle schools and secondary schools to become a reality on a global scale, alhamdulillah. Legacy International Online High School, a college preparatory, online Islamic school serving grades 6-12, whose mission is “Cultivating Compassionate Global Leaders”, offers all academic subjects from the Islamic worldview. Pioneered by leading Muslim educators from around the globe with background in Islamic pedagogy and digital learning, Legacy is the first of its kind online platform that is accessible to:

  • homeschooling families seeking full-time, rigorous, Islamically infused classes
  • Public school families looking for a part-time Islamic studies or Arabic sequence
  • Islamic schools, evening programs, and Sunday schools that are short-staffed and would like to outsource certain courses from the Islamic worldview
  • Schools and entities needing training/workshops to empower Muslim educators on how to teach from the Islamic worldview

Alhamdulillah, Legacy IOHS is an accessible resource for families with children in grades 6-8 who are seeking curriculum and instruction that is Islamically infused.

Strengthening Faith & Identity in College and Beyond

For those seeking supplementary resources to address the most prevalent hot topic issues plaguing young Muslims of our times, Yaqeen Institute, whose initial publications were more targeted towards a university audience, is now working to make its research more accessible to the general public through both its Conviction Circles initiative and its short videos featuring infographics.

Another online platform, California Islamic University, offers a comprehensive course sequence which allows college students to graduate with a second degree in Islamic studies while simultaneously completing their undergraduate studies at any accredited community college or university in the United States. Qalam and AlMaghrib Institute also offer online coursework in Islamic studies.

What We Hope to Avoid

While volunteering at his son Sulayman’s* public school with ten student participants, Ibrahim* was saddened when he met a young boy named Chris*. When Chris met Ibrahim, he piped up and eagerly told Ibrahim, “my grandparents are Muslim!” Through the course of the conversation, Ibrahim realized that he knew Chris’ grandparents, a very sweet elderly couple (and currently very practicing) who had not made the Islamic worldview a priority early on in their children’s lives. A mere two generations later, Islam is completely eliminated from their family.  *names changed

Our Resolve

Legacy IOHS recommends the following to Muslim families/educators and Islamic schools:

  1. Instill in our children a strong grasp of the foundational sciences of Islam, while preparing them with the necessary contemporary knowledge and skills
  2. Teach our children in their formative years to view the world (including their “secular” academic study) through the lens of Islam
  3. Follow this up with relevant motivational programs that assist them in understanding challenging issues of today and coach them on how to respond to the issues in their teenage years.

We pray that with the above, we will have fulfilled our duty in shepherding our flock in a comprehensive way, with utmost care. It is Allah’s help we seek in these challenging times:

رَبَّنَا لَا تُزِغْ قُلُوبَنَا بَعْدَ إِذْ هَدَيْتَنَا وَهَبْ لَنَا مِنْ لَدُنْكَ رَحْمَةً ۚ إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ الْوَهَّابُ

‘Our Lord, do not let our hearts deviate after You have guided us. Grant us Your mercy: You are the Ever Giving. [Qur’an 3:8]

 رَبَّنَا هَبْ لَنَا مِنْ أَزْوَاجِنَا وَذُرِّيَّاتِنَا قُرَّةَ أَعْيُنٍ وَاجْعَلْنَا لِلْمُتَّقِينَ إِمَامًا

‘Our Lord, give us joy in our spouses and offspring. Make us good examples to those who are aware of You’. [Qur’an 25:74]

يَا مُقَلِّبَ القُلُوبِ ثَبِّتْ قَلْبِيْ عَلَى دِيْنِكْ

“O turner of the hearts, keep my heart firm on your religion.”

Freda Shamma has a M.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, and an Ed.D. from the University of Cincinnati in the area of Curriculum Development. A veteran educator, she has worked with educators from the United States, South Africa and all over the Muslim world to develop integrated curricula based on an Islamic worldview that meets the needs of modern Muslim youth. She serves as Curriculum Advisor for Legacy International Online High School.

An avid student of the Islamic sciences, Zaheer Arastu earned his M.Ed from The George Washington University and completed his training in Educational Leadership from the University of Oklahoma. his experience in Islamic education spans over 15 years serving as both teacher, administrator, and dean of innovation and technology. He currently serves as the Head of School for Legacy International Online High School.

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Grit and Resilience: The Self-Help vs. Islamic Perspective

Omar Usman




I don’t really care about grit.

Persevering and persisting through difficulties to achieve a higher goal is awesome. High-five. We should all develop that. No one disagrees that resilience is an essential characteristic to have.

Somehow, this simple concept has ballooned into what feels like a self-help cottage industry of sorts. It has a Ted talk with tens of millions of views, podcasts, keynote speeches, a New York Times best-selling book, and finding ways to teach this in schools and workplaces.

What I do care about is critically analyzing if it is all that it’s cracked up to be (spoiler alert: I don’t think so), why the self-help industry aggressively promotes it, and how we understand it from an Islamic perspective. For me, this is about much more than just grit – it’s about understanding character development from a (mostly Americanized) secular perspective vis-a-vis the Islamic one.

The appeal of grit in a self-help context is that it provides a magic bullet that intuitively feels correct. It provides optimism. If I can master this one thing, it will unlock what I need to be successful. When I keep running into a roadblock, I can scapegoat my reason for failure – a lack of grit.

Grit encompasses several inspirational cliches – be satisfied with being unsatisfied, or love the chase as much as the capture, or that grit is falling in love and staying in love. It is to believe anyone can succeed if they work long and hard enough. In short, it is the one-word encapsulation of the ideal of the American Dream.

Self-help literature has an underlying theme of controlling what is within your control and letting go of the rest. Islamically, in general, we agree with this sentiment. We focus our actions where we are personally accountable and put our trust in Allah for what we cannot control.

The problem with this theme, specifically with grit, is that it necessitates believing the circumstances around you cannot be changed. Therefore, you must simply accept things the way that they are. Teaching people that they can overcome any situation by merely working hard enough is not only unrealistic but utterly devoid of compassion.

“The notion that kids in poverty can overcome hunger, lack of medical care, homelessness, and trauma by buckling down and persisting was always stupid and heartless, exactly what you would expect to hear from Scrooge or the Koch brothers or Betsy DeVos.” -Diane Ravitch, Forget Grit, Focus on Inequality

Focusing on the individual characteristics of grit and perseverance shifts attention away from structural or systemic issues that impact someone’s ability to succeed. The personal characteristics can be changed while structural inequalities are seen as ‘fixed.’

Alfie Kohn, in an article critical of Grit by Angela Duckworth, notes that Duckworth and her mentor while studying grit operated under a belief that,

[U]nderachievement isn’t explained by structural factors — social, economic, or even educational. Rather, they insisted it should be attributed to the students themselves and their “failure to exercise self-discipline.” The entire conceptual edifice of grit is constructed on that individualistic premise, one that remains popular for ideological reasons even though it’s been repeatedly debunked by research.

Duckworth admitted as much in an interview with EdSurge.

There was a student who introduced himself having written a critical essay about the narrative of grit. His major point was that when we talk about grit as a kind of ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps,’ personal strength, it leaves in the shadows structural poverty and racism and other things that make it impossible, frankly, for some kids to do what we would expect them to do. When he sent me that essay, of course, I wanted to know more. I joined his [dissertation] committee because I don’t know much about sociology, and I don’t know much about this criticism.

I learned a lot from him over the years. I think the lesson for me is that when someone criticizes you, when someone criticized me, the natural thing is to be defensive and to reflexively make more clear your case and why you’re right, but I’ve always learned more from just listening. When I have the courage to just say, “Well, maybe there’s a point here that I hadn’t thought of,” and in this case the Grit narrative and what Grit has become is something that he really brought to me and my awareness in a way that I was oblivious to before.

It is mind-boggling that the person who popularized this research and wrote the book on the topic simply didn’t know that there was such a thing as structural inequality. It is quite disappointing that her response essentially amounted to “That’s interesting. I’d like to learn more.”

Duckworth provides a caveat – “My theory doesn’t address these outside ­forces, nor does it include luck. It’s about the psychology of achievement, but because psychology isn’t all that matters, it’s incomplete.” This is a cop-out we see consistently in the self-help industry and elsewhere. They won’t deny that those problems exist, they simply say that’s not the current focus.

It is intellectually dishonest to promote something as a key to success while outright ignoring the structures needed to enable success. That is not the only thing the theory of grit ignores. While marketing it as a necessary characteristic, it overlooks traits like honesty and kindness.

The grit narrative lionizes this superhero type of individual who breaks through all obstacles no matter how much the deck is stacked against them. It provides a sense of false hope. Instead of knowing when to cut your losses and see a failure for what it is, espousing a grit mentality will make a person stubbornly pursue a failing endeavor. It reminds me of those singers who comically fail the first round of auditions on American Idol, are rightly ridiculed by the judges, and then emotionally tell the whole world they’re going to come out on top (and then never do).

Overconfidence, obstinance, and naive optimism are the result of grit without context or boundaries. It fosters denial and a lack of self-awareness – the consequences of which are felt when horrible leaders keep rising to the top due, in part, to their grit and perseverance.

The entire idea of the psychology of achievement completely ignores the notion of morality and ethics. Grit in a vacuum may be amoral, but that is not how the real world works. This speaks powerfully to the need to understand the application of these types of concepts through a lens of faith.

The individual focus, however, is precisely what makes something like grit a prime candidate to become a popular self-help item. Schools and corporations alike will want to push it because it focuses on the individual instead of the reality of circumstances. There is a real amount of cognitive dissonance when a corporation can tell employees to focus on developing grit while not addressing toxic employment practices that increase turnover and destroy employees physically and emotionally (see: Dying for a Paycheck by Jeffrey Pfeffer).

Circumstances matter more than ever. You’ve probably heard the story (of course, in a Ted Talk) about the famous marshmallow test at some point. This popularizes the self-help version of delayed gratification. A bunch of kids are given a marshmallow and told that if they can avoid eating it for 5 minutes, they’ll get a second one. The children are then shown hilariously trying to resist eating it. These kids were then studied as they grew older, and lo and behold, those who had the self-discipline to hold out for the 2nd marshmallow were far more successful in life than those who gave in.

A new study found that a child’s ability to hold out for the second marshmallow had nothing to do with the ability to delay gratification. As The Atlantic points out, it had much more to do with the child’s social and economic background. When a child comes from a well to do household, the promise of a second marshmallow will be fulfilled. Their parents always deliver. When someone grows up in poverty, they are more attuned to take the short term reward because the guarantee does not exist that the marshmallow would still be there later. The circumstances matter much more than the psychological studies can account for. It is far easier to display grit with an entrepreneurial venture, for example, when you have the safety net of wealthy and supportive parents.

Valerie Strauss writes in the Washington Post that grit discourse is driven by middle and upper-class parents wanting their spoiled kids to appreciate the virtues of struggling against hardship. Unfortunately, this focus on character education means that poor students suffer because less money will then be spent on teaching disadvantaged students the skills they need to be successful. Sisyphus, she notes, had plenty of grit, but it didn’t get him very far.

Strauss asks us to imagine if a toxic dump was discovered near Beverly Hills, and our response was to teach kids how to lessen the effects of toxins instead of fixing the dump.

The grit discourse does not teach that poor children deserve poverty; it teaches that poverty itself is not so bad. In fact, hardship provides the very traits required to escape hardship. This logic is as seductive as it is circular. Pulling yourself up by the bootstraps is seen as a virtuous enterprise whether practiced by Horatio Alger’s urchins or Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurs (bootstrapping is a common term in technology finance circles). And most importantly, it creates a purported path out of poverty that does not involve any sacrifice on the part of the privileged classes. -Valerie Strauss

This approach is a way to appear noble while perpetuating the status quo. It provides the illusion of upliftment while further entrenching the very systems that prevent it. We see this enacted most commonly with modern-day Silicon Valley style of philanthropy. Anand Giridharadas has an entire book dedicated to this ‘elite charade of changing the world’ entitled Winners Take All.

The media also does its fair share to push this narrative. Stories that should horrify us are passed along as inspirational stories of perseverance. It’s like celebrating a GoFundMe campaign that helps pay for surgery to save someone’s life instead of critically analyzing why healthcare is not seen as a human right in the first place.

Islamic Perspective

Islamically, we are taught to find ways to address the individual as well as the system. Characteristics like grit and delayed gratification are not bad. They’re misapplied when the bigger picture is not taken into account. In the Islamic system, for example, a person is encouraged not to beg. At the same time, there is an encouragement for those who can give to seek out those in need. A person in debt is strongly advised to pay off their debts as quickly as possible. At the same time, the lender is encouraged to be easygoing and to forgive the debt if possible.

This provides a more realistic framework for applying these concepts. A person facing difficulty should be encouraged to be resilient and find ways to bounce back. At the same time, support structures must be established to help that person.

Beyond the framework, there is a much larger issue. Grit is oriented around success. Success is unquestionably assumed to be a personal success oriented around academic achievement, career, wealth, and status. When that is the end goal, it makes it much easier to keep the focus on the individual.

The Islamic definition of success is much broader. There is the obvious idea of success in the Hereafter, but that is separate from this discussion. Even in a worldly sense, a successful person may be the one who sacrifices attending a good school, or perhaps even a dream job type of career opportunity, to spend more time with their family. The emphasis on individual success at all costs has contributed to the breakdown of essential family and community support systems.

A misapplied sense of grit furthers this when a person thinks they don’t need anyone else, and they just need to persevere. It is part of a larger body of messaging that promotes freedom and autonomy. We celebrate people who are strong and independent. Self-help tells us we can achieve anything with the right mindset.

But what happens when we fail? What happens when we find loneliness and not fulfillment, when we lack the bonds of familial solidarity, and when money does not make us whole? Then it all falls on us. It is precisely this feeling of constriction that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), give good news to those who are steadfast, those who say, when afflicted with a calamity, ‘We belong to God and to Him we shall return.’ These will be given blessings and mercy from their Lord, and it is they who are rightly guided.” (2:155-157)

Resilience is a reflex. When a person faces hardship, they will fall back on the habits and values they have. It brings to mind the statement of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) that patience is at the first strike. He taught us the mindset needed to have grit in the first place,

“Wondrous is the affair of the believer for there is good for him in every matter and this is not the case with anyone except the believer. If he is happy, then he thanks Allah and thus there is good for him, and if he is harmed, then he shows patience and thus there is good for him” (Muslim).

He also taught us the habits we need to ensure that we have the reflex of grit when the situation warrants it –

“Whoever would be pleased for Allah to answer him during times of hardship and difficulty, let him supplicate often during times of ease” (Tirmidhi).

The institution of the masjid as a community center provides a massive opportunity to build infrastructure to support people. Resilience, as Michael Ungar writes, is not a DIY endeavor. Communities must find ways to provide the resources a person needs to persevere. Ungar explains, “What kind of resources? The kind that get you through the inevitable crises that life throws our way. A bank of sick days. Some savings or an extended family who can take you in. Neighbours or a congregation willing to bring over a casserole, shovel your driveway or help care for your children while you are doing whatever you need to do to get through the moment. Communities with police, social workers, home-care workers, fire departments, ambulances, and food banks. Employment insurance, pension plans or financial advisers to help you through a layoff.”

Ungar summarizes the appropriate application of grit, “The science of resilience is clear: The social, political and natural environments in which we live are far more important to our health, fitness, finances and time management than our individual thoughts, feelings or behaviours. When it comes to maintaining well-being and finding success, environments matter. In fact, they may matter just as much, and likely much more, than individual thoughts, feelings or behaviours. A positive attitude may be required to take advantage of opportunities as you find them, but no amount of positive thinking on its own is going to help you survive a natural disaster, a bad workplace or childhood abuse. Change your world first by finding the relationships that nurture you, the opportunities to use your talents and the places where you experience community and governmental support and social justice. Once you have these, your world will help you succeed more than you could ever help yourself.”

The one major missing ingredient here is tawakkul (trust in Allah). One of the events in the life of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) that epitomized grit, resilience, and perseverance was the Battle of Badr. At this occasion, the Companions said, “God is enough for us: He is the best protector.

“Those whose faith only increased when people said, ‘Fear your enemy: they have amassed a great army against you,’ and who replied, ‘God is enough for us: He is the best protector,’“ (3:173)

This is the same phrase that Ibrahim 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), while displaying the utmost level of resilience, said when he was thrown into the fire, and it was made cool.

There is a core belief in Islam about balancing between fear and hope. Scholars advise when a person feels despair, they should remind themselves of the traditions that reinforce hope in Allah’s forgiveness. When a person feels themselves sliding further and further into disobedience to Allah, then they should remind themselves of the traditions that warn against Allah’s punishment. The focus changes depending on the situation.

Grit itself is a praiseworthy characteristic

There is no doubt that it is a trait that makes people successful. The challenge comes in applying it and how we teach it. It needs a proper level of balance. Too much focus on grit as a singular predictor of success may lead to victim-blaming and false hope syndrome. Overlooking it on the other hand, enables a feeling of entitlement and a victim mentality.

One purpose of teaching grit was to help students from privileged backgrounds understand and appreciate the struggle needed to overcome difficulty. Misapplied, it can lead to overlooking systemic issues that prevent a person from succeeding even when they have grit.

Self-help literature often fails to make these types of distinctions. It fails to provide guidance for balancing adapting the advice based on circumstance. The criticisms here are not of the idea of grit, but rather the myopic way in which self-help literature promotes concepts like grit without real-world contextualization. We need to find a way to have the right proportionality of understanding individual effort, societal support, and our reliance on Allah.

Our ability to persevere, to be resilient, and to have grit, is linked directly to our relationship with Allah, and our true level of trust in Him.

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Who Can We Trust?

Danish Qasim




Spiritual abusers are con-artists, and if they were easy to spot then they would be far less successful. That is why you must exercise vigilance and your own judgment above that of public opinion. Never let the person’s position make you trust them more than you would without it.

Spiritual abusers work covertly, present themselves well, and use their service as a cover beneath which to operate. The way to avoid them is to recognize their tactics and avoid being caught by them.

Blurring Lines

Spiritual abuse often begins with hard-to-spot precursors, with manipulators exploiting grey areas and blurring boundaries to confuse targets. For example, when setting someone up for illicit relations or secret marriage, teachers may begin with inappropriate jokes that lower boundaries.

They may touch others in ways that confuse the person touched as to permissibility, for example, men touching women on their hijabs rather than direct skin. They may inappropriately touch someone in ways that leave him/her wondering whether or not it was intentional.

There may be frivolous texting while the premise of engagement is ‘work only’. Boundaries may be blurred by adding flirtatious content, sending articles praising polygamy, or mentioning dreams about getting married. The recipient may struggle to pinpoint what’s wrong with any of this, but the bottom line is that they don’t have to.

While these tactics may be hard to prove, you don’t need to prove that you don’t want to be communicated with in this way and that you will not tolerate it. You can withdraw from the situation on the basis of your own boundaries.

One of the key challenges in standing up to spiritual abuse is the lack of confidence in calling out bad behavior or the need for validation for wrongs. We may be afraid to a question a teacher who is more knowledgeable than us when he is doing clear haram. However, halal and haram are defined by Allah and no human has the right to amend them. If a religious leader claims exemption to the rules for themselves or their students, that’s a big, bright, red flag.

Beware of Bullying

When you witness or experience bullying, understand that a Muslim’s dignity is sacred and don’t accept justifications of ‘tarbiyah’ (spiritual edification/character reformation) or breaking someone’s nafs (ego). If you didn’t sign up for spiritual edification, don’t accept any volunteer spiritual guides.

If you did sign up, pay attention as to whether these harsh rebukes are having a positive or negative effect. If they are having a negative emotional, mental, or physical effect on you, then this is clearly not tarbiyah, which is meant to build you up.

When abuse in the name of tarbiyah happens, it is the shaykh himself or the shaykha herself who needs character reformation. When such behavior goes unchecked, students become outlets of unchecked anger and are left with trauma and PTSD. This type of bullying is very common in women’s groups.

Trust Built and Trust Destroyed

There are different levels of trust, and as it relates to religious leaders, one does not need to investigate individuals or build trust for a perfunctory relationship. You do not need a high degree of trust if you are just attending someone’s general lectures and not establishing any personal relationship.

If you want to study something with an Islamic teacher, do so as you would with a school-teacher, understanding that their position does not make that person either exceptionally safe nor exceptionally harmful. Treat religious figures as religious consultants who are there to answer questions based on their knowledge. Give every teacher a clean slate, don’t have baseless suspicions, but if behavior becomes manipulative, exploitative, cultish, or otherwise abusive, don’t justify it either.

Personal accountability is a cornerstone of the Islamic faith and we have to take responsibility for our own faith and actions. There is no need to be suspicious without reason, but nor is there a justification for blind trust in someone you don’t know, just because they lead prayers or have a degree of religious education.

It is natural to ask ourselves whether people can be trusted after experiencing or learning about spiritual abuse. The answer is yes – you can trust yourself. You can also trust others in ways that are appropriate for the relationship. If you know someone well and they have proven over a long period of time to be trustworthy, keep secrets, and do not use you or take advantage of you, then it makes sense to trust that person more than a stranger or someone who has outward uprightness that you do not know well. That level of trust is earned through long-time demonstration of its characteristics.

Seeing someone on stage for years or relying on testimony of people impressed by someone should not convince you to lower your guard. Even if you do believe someone is pious, you still never drop your better judgment, because even saints are fallible.

Don’t Fall for Reputation

Never take other respected leaders praising or working alongside an individual as proof of his or her trustworthiness. It is possible that the teachers you trust are unaware of any wrongdoing. It’s not a reasonable expectation, nor is it a responsibility for them to boycott or disassociate themselves from another religious figure even if they are aware of them being abusive.

Furthermore, skilled manipulators often gain favor from respected teachers both overseas and domestically to gain credibility.

If one shaykh praises another shaykh, but you witness abusive behavior, don’t doubt yourself based on this praise. The praise may have been true at one time or may have been true in the experience of the one giving the praise, but no one knows another person’s current spiritual state as spiritual states can change.

Even if the abusive individual was previously recognized to be a great wali (saint), understand that there are saints who have lost their sainthood as they do not have isma (divine protection from sin or leaving Islam) like the prophets (upon them be peace) do. What was true yesterday, may not be true today.

Often praises of integrity, courage, and inclusiveness are heaped on men who support influential female figures. However, men who are praised as ‘allies,’ and thanked for ‘using their privilege’ to support female scholarship and the participation of women in religious organizations and events are no more trustworthy than those who don’t.

Abusers are often very image-conscious and may be acting to improve their own image and brand strength. Influential male and female religious figures also help one another with mutual praising and social-proofing. That is how the misdoings of men who are supportive of women are ignored, as long as they support the right politicized causes such as inclusive spaces and diverse panels.

Don’t be tricked into trust through a person’s credentials. An ijazah (license) to be a shaykh of a tariqa is purportedly the highest credential. It’s a credential that allegedly has a chain that goes all the way back to the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), but that does not impart any of the Prophet’s character or trustworthiness in and of itself. A shaykh has to continuously live up to the ijaza and position. The position does not justify behavior outside of the sharia or any form of abuse. Scholars are inheritors of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) only to the degree to which they embody his character.

When a teacher who hasn’t spent adequate time with righteous shayukh abuses, they are said to lack suhba (companionship of the pious), and that is why they are abusive.

The truth is many of the worst abusers in traditional circles are highly certified, have spent adequate time with shayukh, are valid representatives of them, and are able to abuse because the previously mentioned credentials lead to blind trust.

Don’t let certifications about spiritual abuse, ethical leadership, or the like mean anything to you. Skilled narcissists will be the first to get such certifications and take courses because they know this will make people trust them more. You will see courses on ‘healthy leadership’ and ‘spiritual abuse prevention’ being taught and designed by them. There is a false premise behind such certifications that if religious leaders knew how abuse occurs and the damage it causes victims they wouldn’t do it. The fact is they know how abuse works, know how damaging it is, and don’t care. In a way, it’s good to have lessons on spiritual abuse from purveyors of abuse, just as learning theft prevention from a thief might be the most beneficial.

Don’t judge by rhetoric

Don’t look at the rhetoric of groups or individuals to see how seriously they take abuse. Spiritual abuse occurs in all groups. It is common for members of one group to call out abuse that they see in another group while ignoring abuse occurring within their own group.

Sufis who will talk about the importance of sharia, label others as ‘goofy-Sufis,’ and insist that real Sufis follow sharia, will very often abuse in private and use the same justifications as the other Sufi groups they publicly deride.

Many imams and religious leaders will talk publicly about the importance of justice, having zero-tolerance for abuse, and the importance of building safe spaces, while they themselves are participating in the abuse.

Furthermore, female religious leaders will often cover up secret marriages, and other abuses for such men and help them to ostracize and destroy the credibility of their victims as long as their political views align. Muslim mental health providers often incorporate religious figures when they do programs, and in some cases they involve known abusers if it helps their cause.

In some cases, the organization does not know of any abuse. Abusive individuals use partnerships with Muslim mental health organizations to enhance their image as a “safe person.” This is especially dangerous due to the vulnerability of those struggling with mental illness and spiritual issues, who may then be exploited by the abuser. It is a community responsibility to ensure the safety of these vulnerable individuals and to ensure that they do have access to resources that can actually help them.

Don’t judge by fame

One false assumption is that the local-unknown teacher is sincere while the famous preacher is insincere and just wants to amass followers. This contrast is baseless although rhetorically catchy.

The fact is, many unknown teachers desire fame and work towards it more than those who are famous. Other times the unknown and famous teacher may have the same love of leadership, but one is more skilled than the other. They both may also be incredibly sincere.

Ultimately, we cannot judge what is in someone’s heart but must look at their actions, and if their actions are abusive, they are a danger to the community. Both famous and non-famous teachers are equally capable of spiritual abuse.

Look for a procedure

Before being involved in an organization, look for a code of conduct. There is no accountability without one in non-criminal matters. Never depend on people, look at the procedures and ensure that the procedure calls for transparency, such as the one we at In Shaykh’s Clothing published and made free for the public to use.

Procedure also applies to an organizations’ financials. Do not donate money to organizations based on personalities, instead demand financial transparency and accountability for the money spent. There is great incentive for spiritual abusers to win the trust of crowds when it means they can raise money without any financial accountability.

But what about Husne-Zann? Thinking well of others?

Allah tells us يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اجْتَنِبُوا كَثِيرًا مِّنَ الظَّنِّ إِنَّ بَعْضَ الظَّنِّ إِثْمٌ

O You who believe, leave much suspicion, indeed some suspicions are sinful” (Quran 49:12).

From this verse, we see that some – not all negative opinions are sinful. The prohibition is partitive, meaning some bad opinions are permissible.

If someone punches you, it is not hunse-zann to assume that person just happened to stretch with a closed fist and did not see your face was in the way. This kind of delusion will lead to you getting punched more. To be wary of their fist isn’t a sinful level of suspicion.

Part of why spiritual abuse is difficult to detect is that its purveyors have a reputation for outright uprightness. They are thought well of in the community, and in many cases they are its pillars and have decades of positive service to their defense. Assuming that someone cannot be abusive simply because they have been a teacher or leader for a long time is not husne-zann. When facts are brought to light- like a fist to the face – it is delusional to assume they didn’t mean it that way.

If someone does something that warrants suspicion, then put your guard up and don’t make excuses for those actions. Start with a general guard and be procedural about things which require a procedure.  For example, if you are going to loan someone money, don’t just take their word that they will pay you back but insist on a written record. If they say they are offended, just say “it’s my standard procedure to avoid any confusion later on.” A reasonable person won’t have an issue with that. If someone mentions on the phone they will pay you $100 for your work, write an email to confirm what was said on the phone so there’s a record for it.

Lastly, and most importantly, never leave your child alone with a teacher where you or others cannot see them. Many cases of child sexual assault can be prevented if we never allow children to study alone with adults. There should never be an exception to this, and parents much uphold this as a matter of policy. Precaution is not an accusation, and this is a professional and standard no one should reject.

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