SunniPath Academy: Learning Tracks: Foundations: A Curriculum of Core Islamic Learning

Knowledge is vast. Life is short.” – Imam al-Ghazali

A quick survey of the branches of religious learning can be
overwhelming. Where, then, should you start your journey? To answer this
question, scholars have divided religious knowledge into two types: personally
obligatory knowledge and communally obligatory knowledge.

The goal of the Foundations Curriculum is to teach essential
religious knowledge that every Muslim must know. Upon completing Foundations,
you will know how to make your belief, worship of Allah, and dealings with
people valid and proper according to the sunna of the Messenger of Allah (Allah
bless him and give him peace). Completing Foundations takes three steps:
conceptualization, core learning, and broadening horizons. 

Types of Religious Knowledge

The first category of knowledge is called personally
obligatory knowledge
. This is knowledge that every Muslim must learn:
someone who neglects it is answerable to Allah Most High on the Day of Judgment.
Examples of this knowledge include learning what you must believe about Allah
Most High, how you should pray and fast, and how you can remove unlawful traits
such as arrogance and pride from your heart.

The second category is called communally obligatory knowledge.
This is knowledge that scholars preserve on behalf of their community. Not every
Muslim is obligated to learn this knowledge, but each Muslim community is
collectively responsible for ensuring that some of its members dedicate
themselves to acquiring it. Scholars with this knowledge are able to address the
religious needs of their communities by answering questions about rare
situations, dispelling doubts about points of faith, and conducting classes that
expound the words of Allah Most High and His messenger (Allah bless him and give
him peace).

The proper way to seek religious knowledge is to immediately set
aside time to acquire personally obligatory knowledge and then, if you have the
time and interest, to learn communally obligatory knowledge.

Foundations: Putting First Things First

The Foundations curriculum seeks to teach essential religious
knowledge that is personally obligatory. The three steps to obtaining this
knowledge are detailed below.

Step 1: Conceptualization

If you had 60 seconds to explain to a newcomer how your religion
affects your life, what would you say? Think about it.

If you are like many Muslims, you only have a hazy understanding
of your religion and you’ll find yourself groping for words to answer this
simple question. The first step of the Foundations curriculum consists of two
courses that will give you clarity: (1) Foundations of Islamic Law and
(2) Essentials of Islam.

Foundations of Islamic Law is an important course that
explains how to operationalize the Book of Allah and the Sunna of His Messenger
(Allah bless him and give him peace) in the modern world. It will give you
confidence in our scholarly heritage, and, more importantly, it will teach you
how to sift the authentic from the inauthentic, enabling you to find your way
through the multitudes of contradictory answers floating around in our

Essentials of Islam is a detailed exposition of the famous
hadith of Gabriel, which the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him
peace) said, “teaches you your religion.” This course gives you a clear picture
of the core religious disciplines that directly affect your life as a Muslim.

Step 2: Core Learning

Have you ever wondered whether or not something you did affected
the validity of your prayer? Or why exactly a certain article of our faith
differs from what some other religion propounds? Or how exactly to achieve focus
and presence of heart in your prayer?

You probably have wondered all this and more, but, finding no
one to ask, brushed aside your thoughts, telling yourself, “It doesn’t matter,
anyway.” Or, if you’re lucky, you might have posed your questions to a visiting
scholar only to receive a rushed and confusing answer.

It sometimes comes as a surprise to Muslims that scholars have
already thought of all such questions and formulated well-thought, satisfying
answers. The second step of the Foundations curriculum consists of six courses
that are detailed and technical, giving you a solid foundation in matters of
belief, worship, interpersonal dealings, and spirituality.

Introduction to Islamic Belief systematically teaches you
what you need to know about Allah, His Messengers, and matters relating to the
unseen world.

Introduction to Worship is a comprehensive two-part course
that teaches you everything you have ever wondered about your acts of worship.
You will learn in detail the rulings related to purification, prayer, fasting,
zakat, and Hajj.

Introduction to Islamic Finance answers the questions you
had about hot topics such as interest, halal mortgages, and other contemporary
financial issues. It also clearly explains how you can keep your earnings halal.

Introduction to the Fiqh of Life addresses common religious
questions that we face in our daily lives, such as those related to food, drink,
clothing, gender interactions, social interaction, and good conduct.

Introduction to Islamic Spirituality is a beautiful course
that clarifies the concept of Islamic spirituality. It explains how to purify
your heart of spiritual diseases such as arrogance, envy, and anger, and how to
adorn your heart with noble traits such as sincerity, love, and gratitude.
Another option for the sixth course is Journey to Allah, an inspiring and
motivating course on traveling the path to Allah.

Step 3: Broadening Horizons

By the time you reach the third step of the Foundations
curriculum, you will have a solid grounding in the fundamentals of what you need
to know to live your life in accordance with the guidance of the Book of Allah
and the Sunna of His Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace).

This thorough and detailed knowledge is necessary because it
provides clarity. However, if you confine yourself to this flavor of knowledge,
you can easily get lost in technicalities and lose sight of the big picture.

Thus, the third step of the Foundations curriculum consists of
two elective courses that enrich your knowledge and broaden your horizons,
reconnecting you to the guidance and spirit of the Quran and Sunna. You have a
wide variety of courses to choose from, including several inspiring tafsir
courses, courses that explain the wise sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (Allah
bless him and give him peace), and courses on the beautiful life of the Prophet
Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) and the early generation of
Muslims. We are continually expanding the number and variety of elective courses

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