What is an Islamic Foundation?

I went to Weekend School for over nine years at Islamic Foundation in Villa Park, Illinois. There were three main classes – tajweed, tafseer, and tarykh. Tajweed is the study of how to pronounce Quranic Arabic correctly. Tafseer is often translated as “exegesis,” but honestly, how helpful is that? Tafseer is the study of what the Quran means. It includes obvious, apparent meanings, as well as more subtle, deeper meanings. Tarykh is history. We studied political history, focusing on key leaders, battles they fought, and the lands they conquered.

It might appear, from that description, that I learned a great deal at Islamic Foundation. But I wish I had learned more. I wish they had taught me more. I was a high school senior from 1999 to 2000. My Weekend School teachers had no idea that terrorists would attack America in 2001. They could not have known that we would fight two wars in Muslim majority countries that would continue into 2010.

Specifically, I wish my teachers had taught me more about different sects of Islam, about controversial interpretations of certain verses of the Quran, and about the history of Islam in the U.S. I learned very little in Villa Park about Shia Islam. I learned next to nothing about the Nation of Islam. We never spoke about the verse of the Quran in which Allah permits men who have been repeatedly disobeyed by their wives to use physical force for discipline. (4:34)

Did Islamic Foundation fail me? I say no. The key is in the name itself. It is a “foundation.” It’s not the whole structure. It serves as a solid base that one can build on. I did learn enough to sustain my faith until I could learn more. I came out of the school with literacy skills that enabled me to study in college classes and to study on my own. They could have taught me more, but they might have also exposed me to issues before I was ready to handle them.

  1. #1 by ibn yahya on December 2, 2010 - 10:04 pm

    Asalaamu alaykum,
    Unfortunately, Weekend schools only have limited time and can only teach you so much. To understand more about this deen we need to delve into. Alhamdulillah you have a foundation, every foundation reaches its potential by builiding a sound structure on it 🙂

  2. #2 by asad123 on December 4, 2010 - 12:42 am

    Salaam Mike, thanks for stopping by. Weekend schools do have limits but I feel they have plenty of time. I went for three hours a week (during the school year) for more than ten years.And we spent quite a bit of time on things like the reasons why teacher X doesn’t care for the Jews. I think teachers are afraid of being controversial, of thinking differently, and of mentioning things that scare parents.One small yet powerful change – what if an Islamic school principal began the year by telling all of his teachers, “Teach what you think the students have the greatest need to know. As long as you do that, I will personally stand up to any parent who objects.” ? Still I am grateful for what I received because I did benefit from it. Yet I will not be satisfied as long as I know we are capable of much more.

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