One year diploma

The Diploma course serves as an excellent entry to a nuanced yet fulfilling experience of the Islamic sciences as they relate to both the individual and society in the 21st Century.

The modules and material is fully integrated and refined so as to cover core hermeneutical concepts in a graded manner and incorporates life-hacks that make living one’s faith a fulfilling experience. The course both contextualises core texts as well as enhances the spiritual aspect of one’s religious observance. 

How will I benefit?

The iSyllabus Diploma course aims to equip you to be confident in what you know, while respecting legitimate differences of opinion. We will explain not only what scholars disagree upon, but also why.

The modules will provide an indispensable base from which to increase your faith.

  • Take firm steps in gaining proximity to your Creator.

  • Come to know and love the final Messenger through knowing his legacy.

  • Discover a new vigour and passion for learning about your faith.

  • Create a lifelong habit to increase your commitment to helping others.

  • Understand how your faith can help in your wider family and social interactions.

The course is designed to give Muslims of all backgrounds confidence in themselves by empowering them with Islamic knowledge they can trust.

  • Want to take your understanding of the Quran and the Sunnah to the next level?

  • Feel that your practice of Islam is purely mechanical and without soul?

  • Tired and confused by hearing so many different opinions to the same question?

  • Feel the need to make sense of what you read on the Web or in books?

  • Wonder why there are so many opinions out there on one issue?

Holistic Knowledge

Central to the iSyllabus educational philosophy is a conviction in the holistic and interrelated nature of both human beings and knowledge and this is fully apparent in our One Year Diploma course. Though the course is taught through subject modules, we believe that Islamic education can only be fully appreciated when the spiritual, ethical and legal aspects of the faith are seen as a comprehensive whole. So whether studying the validity of financial transactions or Muslim creed, students are introduced to the deeper significance of such acts, as expounded by the greatest scholars that lived – directly and in their own words. With this in mind, two major leitmotivs are developed as essential elements of the total learning experience of the course, seeking to promote a balanced understanding of Muslim faith and practice.

“Reconnecting with the spirits” & “Text in focus”

The exploration of the spiritual and ethical significance of outward acts of worship and devotion through the “Reconnecting with the Spirit” theme, seeking to give life and meaning to the lived reality that is Islam.

A search for a balanced understanding of Islamic texts and sources through the innovative “Text in focus”motif. Used constantly throughout the course, this seeks to demonstrate the complexity, as well as the multi disciplinary skill with which the primary sources of

Topics

1. The Laws of Purity and Prayer

The ‘seeking purity’ module provides students with an introduction to the laws relating to ritual purity in Islamic law. Students will be provided with a detailed insight into the theory and practice of how to attain ritual purity and the spiritual aspects of cleanliness, as well as focusing on modern issues that relate to taharah.

At a glance. Just some of the issues and questions explored:

  • A history of purity in Islam.

  • What is pure and what is not – considering the different substances encountered day to day.

  • Reconnecting with the spirit; how does attaining purity of the body relate to purity of the soul – al-Ghazali on the various levels of purity.

  • Text in focus: how to purify different objects, with a case study on synthetic alcohol.

  • When can I recite the Qur’an and when can I not; understanding the ramifications of impurity.

  • Text in focus: in-depth case study on the issue of wiping over ‘socks’.

  • How do I attain purity if I am ill; the nature of dispensations.

  • Reconnecting with the spirit; the metaphor of purity and prayer – the hidden meanings of worship and cleanliness.

By the end of this module, students will:

  • Have the confidence to worship knowing that it is based on a sound base of knowledge.

  • Understand the basis upon which actions are performed.

  • Be able to discuss differences of opinion based upon knowledge of what the great scholars have said.

  • Be equipped to teach the basics of purity to friends and family, in detail.

  • Learn the etiquette with which scholars of the past discussed issues of importance.

The first prayer module provides students with an understanding of the theory and practice of prayer, examining the most important elements that make up daily worship. It covers the preconditions necessary before one prays, as well as the pillars of the prayer, without which there is no prayer. The importance of performing the prayer, as well as the way to rectify mistakes will be addressed in detail, together with the necessary spiritual awareness that is at the core of heartfelt worship.

At a glance. Just some of the issues and questions explored:

  • A history of purity in Islam.

  • What is pure and what is not – considering the different substances encountered day to day.

  • Reconnecting with the spirit; how does attaining purity of the body relate to purity of the soul – al-Ghazali on the various levels of purity.

  • Text in focus: how to purify different objects, with a case study on synthetic alcohol.

  • When can I recite the Qur’an and when can I not; understanding the ramifications of impurity.

  • Text in focus: in-depth case study on the issue of wiping over ‘socks’.

  • How do I attain purity if I am ill; the nature of dispensations.

  • Reconnecting with the spirit; the metaphor of purity and prayer – the hidden meanings of worship and cleanliness.

By the end of this module, students will:

  • Have the confidence to worship knowing that it is based on a sound base of knowledge.

  • Understand the basis upon which actions are performed.

  • Be able to discuss differences of opinion based upon knowledge of what the great scholars have said.

  • Be equipped to teach the basics of purity to friends and family, in detail.

  • Learn the etiquette with which scholars of the past discussed issues of importance.

The second prayer module sets out the manner in which the prayer is perfected, focusing on the prophetic manner of praying. This includes case studies on method of prayer for women and the significance of number when used in Shariah text, as well as the benefits of sending salutations upon the Prophet and the night prayer vigil (tahajjud).

At a glance. Just some of the issues and questions explored:

  • What was the prophetic manner of praying?

  • Why do scholars differ on the details of the Prophet’s prayer?

  • Reconnecting with the spirit: the blessing of prayer on the Prophet.

  • Text in focus: case study on the prayer of women. Is there any difference?

  • A practical description of the prayer from beginning to end.

  • Reconnecting with the spirit: al-Ghazali on the cure for having distracting thoughts in prayer.

  • The prayer in congregation – scenarios explained.

  • Text in focus: case study on reconciling mutually conflicting opinions.

  • How to pray if one is ill: are all illnesses given the same rulings?

  • Special prayers for special occasions: nawafil prayers

  • Reconnecting with the spirit: Imam al-Haddad on the spiritual intimacy of the night vigil prayer (tahujjud).

By the end of this module, students will:

  • Know that the actions in prayer are based on the understanding of recognised scholarly positions.

  • Discover the connection one has to the Prophet in the actions of prayer.

  • Have the confidence to worship knowing that it is based on knowledge.

  • Perfect the act of prayer and teach it to others.

  • Realise the importance of the optional prayers in spiritual life.

  • Wonder at the skill with which scholars discuss issues of law.

The third and final prayer module looks at the theory and practice of the jum’ah and travelling prayer, with a case study on the various positions on combining prayers. It will finish with practical considerations of what is done when someone dies, from the throes of death through to sending rewards of good actions to the deceased once they have been buried. This also includes a detailed case study on the concept of Bidah (innovation) in classical Islamic law and Theology.

At a glance. Just some of the issues and questions explored:

  • Why is jum’ah described as a day of Eid? – The significance of the day the Adam was created.

  • Need to pray Jum’ah? Here’s the lowdown. English khutbah or Arabic?

  • Reconnecting with the spirit: Imam al-Khattabi on the power and significance of supplication: pre-requisites and conditions.

  • Left home? The detailed rules of the travel prayer, with practical examples.

  • Text in focus: Imam al-Nawawi on the hadith regarding combining prayers.

  • Saying farewell: performing the funeral prayer with respect.

  • Text in focus: in the shadow of “every innovation is a misguidance..”.

  • Accepting death – from the last breaths, mourning, burial and donating acts of charity to the dead.

By the end of this module, students will:

  • Be able to discuss differences of opinion based upon knowledge of what the great scholars have said.

  • Finally understand the orthodox position on innovation and what the hadith really means.

  • Have a deepened  appreciation of the benefits of learning. 

  • Be able to practically conduct a funeral, from washing the body to the burial.

  • Focus on the important things in life by reflecting on the nature of death.

2. Towards a Tranquil Soul

The process of perfecting one’s character is a necessary precondition to heartfelt devotion. The theory and practice of purifying the heart -spiritual detox- will be investigated through 2 modules, which describe how to free oneself of internal and external blameworthy traits and habits, and acquire those spiritual qualities that are the hallmarks of the Prophets.

At a glance. Just some of the issues and questions explored:

  • What is the relationship between the physical and the spiritual heart?

  • Where does the brain fit into our understanding of the heart?

  • Can we tell if our heart is sick or healthy?

  • What are the practical steps to achieving taqwa – purity of body and soul?

  • What relationship is there between our limbs and spiritual health?

By the end of this module, students will:

  • Understand the way the human soul functions.

  • Take the first steps to building a lasting connection with the Creator.

  • Focus on the importance of sincerity and taqwa in spiritual life.

  • Take practical steps to give life to the spiritual heart.

 

This follow-on to the first module will analyse the two different sources of the ailments of the heart (shubahat and shahawat) and show how knowing this helps to cure spiritual diseases. The various ailments that affect the spiritual heart will be pinpointed, with practical tips and techniques that aid in their cure.

At a glance. Just some of the issues and questions explored:

  • What are the sources of spiritual diseases?

  • How does belief in God relate to such diseases?

  • What are the diseases that affect one’s understanding and belief?

  • The role of the world and its allure in giving rise to spiritual diseases.

  • Spiritual diseases that are connected with the ego or ‘nafs,’ such as vanity and arrogance, and how they come about.

  • What are the most comprehensive treatments for the diseases of the heart?

By the end of this module, students will:

  • Understand how spiritual diseases affect the heart.

  • Observe how what surrounds us affects our spiritual health.

  • Take practical steps to combat personal failings.

  • Be able to create a personal plan for spiritual development.

3. Understanding the Divine Sources

Entitled ‘Investigating the history, form and importance of the Qur’anic revelation’, this module introduces students to the status, history and nature of the Qur’an, the sacred book of Islam. Students will also be provided with an insight into those elements necessary for a clear contextual reading of the Qur’anic revelation, as well as the scholarly techniques required in the understanding of the Qur’an.

This module will give students access to in-depth original writing related to the importance, preservation and vocabulary of the hadith sciences, with particular emphasis on the era of the Companions. By examining how mainstream Muslim scholars have interacted with the vast hadith literature, it will provide an insightful and balanced understanding of this important source of Islamic knowledge.

 

4. Living the Law

Entitled ‘Understanding the theory behind Islamic law in the modern age’, this module aims to give students a greater appreciation of the theoretical and practical dynamics involved in understanding Shari’ah law in the modern world. This will be done by observing the sources used in formulating authentic Islamic responses to contemporary issues.

At a glance. Just some of the issues and questions explored:

  • The complexity involved in living in accordance with the Shari’ah in the modern world.

  • Understanding the underlying theory through which these issues are discussed by scholars.

  • What is meant by al-Nazilah (a new legal occurrence), and how does this relate to the changing dynamics of human life?

  • How have contemporary Muslim scholars sought to face up to the challenges posed by modern life, and what are fatwa councils?

  • How does understanding the intent of the Sunnah affect the application of Islamic law?

  • What types of public interests are taken into consideration in law, and what types are not?

  • Does Islam recognise local customs, and if so, which ones?

  • What values did Islamic law come to protect and preserve?

  • The practical use of legal maxims as rules of thumb.

By the end of this module, students will:

  • Be confident in discussing how Islamic law is derived in a modern context.

  • Appreciate the complexity of the ethical issues facing mankind, and what our faith has to say about them.

  • Understand how the Shari’ah seeks to promote common values agreed upon by all civilised people. 

  • Be equipped with a legal ‘first aid kit’ to use in your day-to-day life.

Building on what has been learned in previous modules, this module gives students a behind-the- scenes insight into how scholars look at new issues. These case studies on modern issues explore how timeless principles are used and appropriated to address the major legal and ethical dilemmas of the day.

At a glance. Just some of the issues and questions explored:

  • How do scholars discuss issues such as organ donations and euthanasia?

  • In an age of nuclear weapons, does Islam have a ‘just war’ theory?

  • What effect does intensive animal rearing have on our meat supplies, and are they even Halal?

  • How Islamic is ‘Islamic finance’?

These are just some of the detailed case studies and ethical questions facing Muslims in the West that are covered.

By the end of this module, students will:

  • Engage in discussion and informed debate on the burning moral and ethical issues of the day.

  • Be able to navigate complex issues through the lens of principled thinking.

  • Appreciate the benefit of scholarly differences of opinion.

  • Help others to better understand issues of debate in the community.

5. Articulating Muslim Creed

The first module provides students with an understanding of the key issues of Islamic creed (al-aqidah) related to the ‘testification of faith’ (al-Shahadah), as explained by the scholarly tradition of Sunni Islam. The Muslim belief in God will be explored, explaining how scholars have set out to preserve the unique oneness of God in the face of internal and external challenges to this. The module will also cover the tenets of belief that relate to the Prophets and their special qualities.

At a glance. Just some of the issues and questions explored:

  • Why did Muslims feel the need to set down the science of creed?

  • How do we know God exists?

  • What are the essential attributes of God?

  • How may we and may we not describe the Creator?

  • Why do we need Prophets?

  • Who are they and what qualities do they possess?

  • These questions, and more, will be covered, focusing on the methods used by scholars to preserve the integrity and status of Prophethood.

By the end of this module, students will:

  • Have confidence in their beliefs out of conviction and proofs.

  • Be able to navigate erroneous beliefs by referring back to basic principles of creed.

  • Gain exposure to the beliefs of the main Muslim sects and groups, understanding where they went wrong and why.

  • Have an opportunity to have all their specific faith-related questions, confusions, and doubts answered.

  • Cover one of the earliest statements of orthodox Muslim belief.

The second module will look in detail at how issues of creed are classified into what is essential and what is not. They will also see how this determines what Sunni Islam’s understanding of issues such as freewill and predestination, belief in the unseen, ‘Faith and the Community’ as well as  the issue of ‘who is a Muslim?’. 

At a glance. Just some of the issues and questions explored:

  • How do scholars decide what is essential to believe in and what is not?

  • Are we free to act as we want or does God control our destiny?

  • Why does God allow evil to exist in the world?

  • Does committing a major wrong action lead to one leaving the Muslim faith?

  • What are the creedal issues that are related to belief in the unseen realities such as paradise and hell?

By the end of this module, students will:

  • Be able to better understand what it entails to be a Muslim.

  • Have the confidence to separate the essentials of creed from those that are of a secondary nature.

  • Learn how to understand the role of human free will and predestination in their lives.

  • Realise the inclusive nature of Muslim belief.

6. Family and society

Having successfully completed the module ‘Understanding the law and spirituality of income & charity’, students should have an appreciation of the theory and practice of earning a pure and halal livelihood, as well as the sacred laws of zakat and charity. They should also understand the issues related to those that are expressly eligible to receive zakat and those who are not.

At a glance. Just some of the issues and questions explored:

  • What are the sources of permitted income?

  • Which types of transactions are, and are not, allowed in the Shari’ah?

  • Reconnecting with the spirit: ways to increase the blessing of one’s wealth.

  • Text in focus: do I have to pay zakat on my jewellery?

  • The issues involved in calculating one’s zakat and how it relates to contemporary finance. How do I practically calculate and pay my zakat?

  • Text in focus: in-depth case study on giving zakat funds to general ‘good causes’ not mentioned as recipients of zakat, such as mosques and educational initiatives.

By the end of this module, students will:

  • Look at earning a livelihood in a new light.

  • Wonder at the power of charity and how it works in the unseen realm.

  • Be equipped to discuss modern financial issues from the perspective of Islamic law.

  • Have the confidence to help others in practically calculating their zakat.

  • Unlock the secrets of rizq, and discover the ‘keys to provision’.

Described as half of faith, marriage has provided a tried and tested foundation for a balanced and healthy society. Through this module, students will gain an appreciation of the workings of a successful marriage and household. It will cover the fiqh and etiquette of the marital bond, the laws of divorce, as well as the rights and responsibilities that this necessarily entails, clarifying many prevalent misunderstandings in family issues.

At a glance. Just some of the issues and questions explored:

  • What are the preliminaries of marriage, and the criteria related to partner choice and suitability?

  • Text in focus: is legal guardianship of a male elder an essential condition in marriage?

  • How to appreciate and understand the relationship dynamics within marriage.

  • How a balanced understanding of marital rights and responsibilities helps preserve the relationship through hardship. 

  • Understanding the wisdom in making divorce part of the Sacred law.

  • What are the detailed laws of divorce (talaq)?

  • Understand the theory and practice of divorce at the behest of the wife (al-khul’), as well the ramifications of divorce.

By the end of this module, students will:

  • Better understand the intricacies of Islamic family law.

  • Discover the practical issues that the Shari’ah emphasises when looking at marriage.

  • Learn the etiquette with which scholars of the past discussed issues of importance.

  • Appreciate the blessings and challenges that married life bring.

  • Commit to furthering one’s knowledge of the Sacred law.

7. Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy

Consisting of 2 half-modules, these lessons are designed to provide an introduction to the history and practice of Islamic learning. They examine the requisite etiquette and mannerisms (adab al-ta’alum) that have been behind the strength of the student-teacher relationship in Islamic scholarship throughout history. The module then continues to investigate how a stable orthodoxy developed within the Muslim knowledge culture in both fiqh as well as aqidah.

Together, it provides a snapshot into how Islamic knowledge is transmitted and preserved, observing how scholars of the past conserved the teachings of the Prophet through Islamic history, sitting at the feet of scholars and taking the prophetic inheritance directly, face to face.

In an age when everyone claims to speak on behalf of Islam, these sessions provide a refreshing roadmap to reviving the study of Islam for the modern individual, looking at what qualifies a person to speak on religious matters.

At a glance. Just some of the issues and questions explored:

  • What are the qualities to look for in a teacher?

  • How should a student conduct themselves with their teacher to attain maximum benefit from what is being taught?

  • How can we make the most of what we learn?

  • What were the qualities that great scholars and their students had?

  • What qualifies one to speak in areas of knowledge? How have scholars of the past ensured that only the most competent teach the religion of the final Prophet   ?

  • Where do the qualifications of scholars come from and who issues them?

  • What is the methodology used in training scholars in the most important learning centres of the Muslim world?

By the end of this module, students will:

  • Appreciate the importance of proper etiquette in life, particularly in learning sacred knowledge.

  • Marvel at the tradition of scholars that faithfully passed on the Prophetic legacy.

  • Understand the importance of seeking qualified scholarly advice from recognised sources.

  • Recognise the main Muslim colleges in the world, and the role they play in safeguarding mainstream Sunni Islam.