Program of teaching Islamic studies in Yemen: An appraisal [Archives:2006/1008/Education]

December 18 2006

Dr. Ashi Ali Ben Al-Ajmi
Assistant Professor
Coordinator, Program of Islamic Studies
University of Science and Technology, Sana'a
[email protected]

Instruction in Islamic studies marked the main source of education per se in Al-Yemen Al-Saeed (Happy Yemen). Subsequently, the programs of the teaching of the Holy Quran and the Islamic Studies pioneered the movement of education in several institutions in the Islamic World in general and in Yemen in particular as the symbol of Islamic faith and wisdom.

This article attempts to shed some light on the program of teaching Islamic Studies in Yemen, analyze its aims and objectives, and briefly suggest ways and means to develop it. It is a kind of stock taking of the Islamic Studies scenario in Yemen. It seeks to identify areas that need review and repair, especially the methods to teach this important field so as to make it more practical and useful.

Islamic Studies program in Yemeni primary schools

Primary education refers to education involving children of 6-15 years, that is from the 1st class upto the 9th class. Education in this stage aims at imparting the requisite knowledge and skills that the child needs so as to support and facilitate his education at a higher level and to enable him to effectively participate in the social reconstruction process. The program of Islamic Studies at this stage of education includes the following two courses:

a. An independent course for the Holy Quran involving memorization, recitation and “Tajweed”

b. Islamic Education courses that include Islamic beliefs, jurisprudence of worship, morals and ideal behavior, “Sunnah” embodying the Prophet's instructions and learning of Hadith science containing the Prophet's utterances and its documentations.

Aim of Islamic Studies programs at the primary level

The most important aims at this stage are to:

a. Inculcate Islamic values and beliefs in the youngsters, and bring them up in harmony with these values. The overall objective of the curriculum at this is to help create a social order based on the firm foundation of an appropriate set of psychological, economic and political principles which help children in forming the right attitude and behavior based on the two precious resources namely, the Holy Quran and the best of Sunnah.

b. Create a sense of reverence for the Holy Quran in the minds of the youngsters and motivate them to study it thoroughly with a deep sense of dedication and commitment.

c. Achieve proficiency in the recitation of the Holy Quran, understand its underlying philosophy, intuitively reflect on it and model one's life according to its directive principles.

d. Orient the younger generation into Islamic views of life by assimilating the fundamental tenets of Islamic education.

Islamic studies programs in Yemeni universities

There is a department of Islamic Education in every university in Yemen – public or private. The curriculum components of Islamic studies consist of memorization, recitation and Tajweed (techniques of reading) of the Holy Quran, scientific elucidation of its basic cardinal principles, the Islamic belief system, Hadith and its terminology, Islamic jurisdiction with all its culture and thought patterns, the present Islamic world, science of religions, the Islamic mission, and such courses that can potentially be included while planning the curriculum renewal in future.

Objectives of Islamic Studies programs in Yemeni universities

Islamic Studies programs in Yemeni universities are geared

a. to re-associate sciences with their respective Islamic origin

b. to stabilize the deeper significance and Islamic cultural values matrix and belief system in the deeper consciousness of the Yemeni people.

c. to make them aware of the true essence of worship, sterling moral precepts, foundations of model codes of conduct, purity and transparency in personal life situations away from factional and sectarian conflicts.

d. to adequately prepare cadres of Yemeni Islamic missionaries as well as Islamic and Arab scholars in Yemen, properly qualify and equip them with the right sorts of religious knowledge away from destructive extravagance and extremism.

e. to put the whole range of the Islamic concepts in proper perspective constituting it as a life's mission, characterized by comprehension and flexibility, interacting with human life through time and space.

Suggested ways and means to innovate these programs and methods of teaching them

1. The revision of these programs in future has to be in harmony with the progressive development and change of life. Any attempt for restructuring of the curriculum has inevitably to be accompanied by a suitable textbook that adequately fulfils the curricular objectives. In this context, it won't be out of place to mention here that the currently prescribed text, Dr. Ali Jreesha's The Present Situation of the Islamic World seems inappropriate because, with due respect for the book and its author, it was written in the middle of 1970s, that is more than 30 years ago. Moreover, it is not updated to include the latest thinking in the Islamic World.

2. There should be support for the scientific programs in the field of preparing specialists for teaching the Holy Quran and Islamic Studies so that they enrich Yemen with their scholarly contributions.

3. The universities shoud provide for the use of the modern media in imparting instruction in Islamic science incorporating the modern advances in the field.

4. There should be facilities for utilizing the contemporary information storage technology to facilitate the comprehension of Islamic science and modernization of the teaching technology.

Translated by Zeena Mohammed Al-Tarib

Level 4, Faculty of Education, University of Science and Technology, Sana'a