SeekersGuidance Launches the Dar al-Fuqaha’ Islamic Seminary in Istanbul

In Partnership with the Sultan Mehmet Fatih Waqf University — and Classes Begin

In the Name of Allah, the Merciful and Compassionate 

For a number of years, SeekersGuidance has been supporting displaced Syrian scholars based in Istanbul (Turkey) through the Islamic Scholars Fund. 

This support has enabled them to dedicate themselves to teaching and spreading balanced, mainstream Islamic knowledge and guidance in a dignified manner.

However, our senior scholars felt there was still a clear gap: these scholars were dispersed across Istanbul and neighbouring areas—and it was difficult for students of knowledge to access them, and to have a clear program of traditional Islamic studies.

The Next Step: The Dar al-Fuqaha’ Islamic Seminary Launches—and Begins with Hundreds of Students

To address this, Dr. Mahmud Masri, our Senior Academic Advisor, proposed the Dar al-Fuqaha’ Islamic Seminary, and the Sultan Mehmet Fatih Waqf University embraced the proposal and partnered with SeekersGuidance in January 2020 to launch this visionary program.

The Dar al-Fuqaha’ Islamic Seminary connects leading mainstream, traditionally-trained senior scholars with students of Islamic knowledge from around the world, completely free—at the beautiful Ottoman Madrasa, the Yenikapi Mevlevihanesi, founded over 420 years ago.

Launch of the Ijaza Program

Classes began on January 25, 2020, the Ijaza Program began with 15 weekly classes—each at the maximum 100-student capacity—with leading scholars including Shaykh Usama al-Rifa’i, Shaykh Khalid Kharsa, Shaykh Ismail Majdhub, Dr. Mahmud Masri, and many others. 

This program is meant to revive the classical system of scholarly authorization (ijaza) in a meaningful way: students who complete a text, or level of study, or program with understanding and mastery will receive specific scholarly authorization (ijaza) in what they have completed.

The Specialization in Islamic Law and Method

These classes—in a wide range of classical Islamic studies disciplines—will culminate in a Specialization in Islamic Law and Method (Takhassus fi’l Fiqh wa’l Usul). Details of the current weekly schedule and the Specialization can be found below.

The goal of this Specialization in Islamic Law is to produce scholars who can address the critical challenges facing Muslims and humanity in our times—through deep training in both classical texts and contemporary issues, under-trained, qualified specialist scholars.

These classes are open to students from across the world. Already, there are students from several dozen countries attending the Ijaza Program—despite it not being widely announced yet. Alhamdulillah.

The Launch Ceremony

At the launch ceremony in mid-January, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani (founder and Executive Director of SeekersGuidance) emphasized that this Dar al-Fuqaha’ Seminary, and the Ijaza Program seeks to connect seekers of knowledge with leading mainstream, trained scholars, through the system of direct study (talaqqi) that is the key to recognize traditional Islamic learning. 

He stated that the hope and aspiration is that the Specialization in Islamic Law and Method will facilitate the transfer of the Prophetic inheritance that these leading scholars have to a new generation of upcoming scholars—around the world—who will be able to uphold, live, and transmit this life-giving Prophetic legacy, and spread knowledge, guidance, and good.

Abdüs Samet Koçak, representing the Sultan Mehmet Fatih Waqf University, made clear the esteemed institution’s commitment to facilitate the success of this globally-impactful project, as part of fulfilling its own vision of being a leading institution of higher learning.

Dr. Mahmud Masri introduced the Dar al-Fuqaha’ Seminary project, as a collaboration of SeekersGuidance and the Sultan Mehmet Fatih Waqf University

He explained why the classes were beginning under the title of the Ijaza Program (Dawrat al-Ijaza). The point of Islamic knowledge isn’t scholarly authorization (ijaza). Neither the scholars teaching nor the students are in this program for mere authorization. Rather, the purpose of Islamic knowledge is drawing closer to Allah, through seeking and spreading the good, for oneself and others. 

However, the ijaza system requires revival as part of the revival of traditional Islamic studies—through rigorous curricula of Islamic studies, with high standards, and careful, conditional granting of qualified authorizations that can be trusted and relied upon.

Dr. Mahmud explained the full Specialization in Islamic Law and Method, with its stages and levels. You can read its details below. This is, insha’Allah, a truly Ummatically-impactful project.

Shaykh Usama al-Rifa’i and Shaykh Isma’il Majdhub Emphasize Mastery, Roundedness, Sincerity, and Truly Benefiting From One’s Teachers

Two of the seniormost scholars in the Dar al-Fuqaha’ Seminary, Shaykh Usama al-Rifa’i and Shaykh Ismail Majdhub spoke about their great joy at the launch of this project.

They both highlighted how “ijazas” (scholarly authorizations) have become in danger of losing their significance—with people giving and receiving “baraka ijazas” or ijazas without complete, rigorous study and training under qualified scholars. 

Thus, a revival of sound scholarly authorizations that are (1) through rigorous, complete study; (2) limited to the text or level of study completed; and (3) demonstrated uprightness of the one receiving the authorization is a significant step forward.

These senior scholars reminded students of the need to (1) take their studies seriously and to strive towards mastery; (2) to have well-rounded study of all components of a complete curriculum of Islamic studies; (3) to ensure that their knowledge is sought sincerely for the sake of Allah; and (4) to make the most of the opportunity of direct benefit from their teachers’ example and wisdom.

Classes Began on January 25, 2020, With 15 Classes—All At Capacity

By the grace of Allah Most High, the Ijaza Program of the Dar al-Fuqaha’ Islamic Seminary began on January 25, 2020, with 15 weekly classes. Every class is at the (100-student) capacity. Over 400 students—Turkish, Syrian, Western, and other—had applied. Already, it is clear that this program is addressing a critical need, both locally and globally.

All these classes are being recorded. These classes will be offered as complete online courses through the SeekersGuidance Arabiyya (Nur al-Huda) online portal, insha’Allah.

“I have spent over five years studying in Istanbul, but I haven’t found any opportunity that offers the level of scholarship that Dar al-Fuqaha offers.” said a student from Italy.

“This is an Ummatically-impactful project,” said Shaykh Mumin al-Annan (Syrian scholar, now in Sweden).

This program is open to both men and women, and over 40% of the students are women.

“Whoever pursues a path seeking knowledge therein, Allah facilitates for them a path to Paradise,” said the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). 

We ask Allah Most High that the Dar al-Fuqaha’ Islamic Seminary be a means of His facilitating a clear path of seeking and spreading such knowledge—for seekers everywhere—and a part of a global revival of the light of Prophetic guidance, in an authentic, relevant, merciful, balanced, transformative manner.

The Summer Program: the Ijaza Intensive

This Summer, SeekersGuidance has announced the Summer Ijaza Intensive—one of three Summer Intensive Programs in Istanbul. 

Already, several hundred students have applied, to study classical Islamic texts in Arabic, at various levels, directly with trained, authorized traditional Islamic scholars. This program, like all SeekersGuidance offerings, is provided completely free—as part of our Knowledge Without Barriers commitment and ethos. 

In total, almost 2000 students (yes, almost 2000) have applied for the three Summer Intensive Programs. You can still apply, till the end of February.

These programs are supported through the SeekersGuidance Islamic Scholars Fund—which you can support through your zakat and charity and help support the scholars and students who will preserve, revive, and spread the light of Prophetic guidance across the world, now and in upcoming generations. 

And Allah is the giver of success and facilitation. 

Knowledge Without Barriers: A Heartbreaking Story About A Student in Need

I just wanted to share a quick story that reflects the importance and blessings of SeekersGuidance and the Knowledge Without Barriers initiative.

This is a short story about one of the sharpest students in our class, who always looked exhausted. Every half an hour or so, he would stand so that he wouldn’t doze off in class.

Every chance he got, he would ask me about the ‘ulema in Pakistan and Canada. He would lament about the state of his people but was hopeful that one day they would reclaim the legacy of the likes of Imam Bukhari, Baha’udin Naqshaband and Imam Tirmidhi.

One morning, I saw him sitting on a bench outside the masjid waiting for Fajr to come in. As I greeted him and saw the exhaustion on his face, I wondered how many nights he had spent on a park bench, and if that was the reason he was always so tired… That was also the last day I saw him in class, he stopped attending.

I ran into him today, and asked him where he’s been… He smiled and said he’s been attending a reading of Sahih al Bukhari. I asked him when he’ll be returning to class… Sadly, he informed me that he wouldn’t be able to, and that he plans to start at another mahad(institution). Why? I asked, ‘this mahad is known to have a much better program and teachers’… He looked down and said ‘I know, but its too much money.’ I asked, how much? ‘200 lira per month ($35 USD), but the other one I can study for free.’ I told him not to worry, let’s figure something out’, he just smiled and said ‘it’s difficult.’

Often times I hear people referring to programs that cost thousands of dollars. It’s not a lot of money! If people really valued knowledge they’d make it a priority!

This brother left his country to seek knowledge, he likely often sleeps on a park bench, doesn’t own a cell phone.. $35/month is his barrier to entry… $35/month. We may lose a future ‘Alim, one who shows deep concern for the umma, loves the ‘ulema and the tradition, and is more than capable, for just $35/month.

Knowledge Without Barriers is critical.

Seven Muslim Scholars on How to Survive Ramadan and Make The Most of It

The blessed month is upon us but are you dreading the long days without food or drink and the sleep disruption? You’re not alone. This timely seminar has loads of tips and lessons on how to prepare, receive and make the most of Ramadan.

Talks by Ustadha Shireen Ahmed, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin, Dr. Umar Faruq Abd Allah, Habib Umar bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim as-Saqqaf and Habib Mohammed Al-Saggaf

Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

Habib Umar bin Hafiz

Habib Kadhim as-Saqqaf

Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

Dr. Umar Faruq Abd Allah

Ustadha Shireen Ahmed

Imam Zaid Shakir

Habib Mohammed Al-Saggaf

Ustadh Amjad Tarsin (Q&A)

 

Cover photo by yeowatzup.

The Ramadan Reader: A Guide to Fasting, Prayer, Qur’an, and Spirituality in the Month of Ramadan

A Practical Guide to Fasting, Prayer, Qur’an, and Spirituality in the Month of Ramadan

 

Fasting:

 

Prayer

 

Qur’an

 

Works of the Heart

 

See also

Reflections on the Life of Omar ibn Said – Dr Hadia Mubarak

Dr Hadia Mubrak shares her reflections and thoughts on the life and legacy of Omar ibn Said.

 

In our public discourse, the term “Muslim” tends to be synonymous with words like “foreigner,” “immigrant” and “refugee.” Yet the historical reality of Muslims in America depicts a completely different portrait. The first Muslims to come to America were Africans, chained, forced into bondage and stripped of their heritage, religions, and families.
The history of Muslims in America begins with people like Omar ibn Said, a Muslim scholar who was brought to Charleston, SC in 1807 and was later imprisoned in Fayetteville, NC for running away from his slave master. A few months ago, the Library of Congress made virtually accessible his autobiography, the only one of its kind, to the world, noted in the PBS video below.As a Muslim American, I feel personally indebted to the legacy of Omar ibn Said. I cannot fathom what it must have been like for this 37-year-old Gambian scholar of Islam to arrive to a new land, forced to contend with a new culture, religion and language and be stripped of one’s freedom and identity. The autobiography of Ibn Said speaks to his faith, wisdom and perseverance.
His decision to write his autobiography in Arabic – the only extant autobiography in Arabic by an African slave – is not incidental. By writing his autobiography in Arabic, a language that neither the slave masters nor the dominant society could understand, Omar ibn Said was asserting an autonomy of identity. He, and not his slave masters, would have the final word on his own narrative. Further, Ibn Said’s reference to the 67th chapter of the Quran, the Chapter of Dominion (Surat al-Mulk), in his autobiography is revealing. It reflects the faith of a man who internalized the ultimate reality of God’s dominion over all things; it reflects the knowledge of man who recognized that the only Master in this world is the Creator of the heavens and earth and everything in between.
It is worth considering how Omar ibn Said’s mastery of the Quran paved his way to living the rest of his life honorably, removed from a life of arduous labor under ruthless conditions, to which most slaves were subject. By writing passages of the Quran in Arabic on the walls of his Fayetteville prison cell, Ibn Said was recognized by those in power to be an educated man. As a result, Ibn Said was not subject to the laws applied to runaway slaves. Saved from punishment, he was instead transferred to the home of General James Owen, the brother of North Carolina’s governor, and treated very well, according to Ibn Said himself. It was not Omar’s decision to run away from slavery nor to seek shelter in a church that turned his fate around. Rather, it was his decision to write passages of the Quran on his prison cell walls that turned his fate around, attracting the attention of state authorities.
As the Library of Congress makes virtually accessible Ibn Said’s autobiography to the world, I cannot help but wonder whether he had ever considered the possibility that millions of people would one day read his biography. As an educated, literate and well-read scholar, his decision to select high quality paper for his manuscript indicates that he was writing for posterity. Could he have imagined, however, that millions, maybe billions, would read his words nearly 200 years later? We can never really know.
The public release of his autobiography reflects the redemptive nature of history, a history in which the marginalized, the oppressed and the voiceless are given the final word. As a Muslim, I interpret this as God’s acceptance of Ibn Said in His divine favor, and God knows best.
The stories of Muslim African slaves like Ibn Said’s offer just a glimpse into a part of American history that we’ve neglected to tell. And by the way, Ibn Said’s story represents not African American history nor Muslim American history, but American history. The personal accounts of enslaved Muslims like Ibn Said, who felt compelled to publicly convert to Christianity – the official religion of their slave masters – shifts the overall story we have told ourselves about religious freedom in U.S. history. Without question, America offered refuge from religious persecution for scores of immigrants who came to U.S. shores of their own volition. Yet this was not the case for over 300,000 enslaved African men and women. The personal accounts of folks like Omar ibn Said should occupy the center, not the margins, of American history.

Dr. Hadia Mubarak is an assistant professor of religious studies at Guilford College. Previously, Mubarak taught at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Davidson College. Mubarak completed her Ph.D. in Islamic studies from Georgetown University, where she specialized in modern and classical Qurʾanic exegesis, Islamic feminism, and gender reform in the modern Muslim world.


Shaykh Faraz Rabbani on Seeking Beneficial Knowledge

In this series of five videos, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani answers some common questions people ask about seeking knowledge.

 

1. Why study Islam?
2. Don’t I know enough already?
3. What should I prioritize in my study?
4. Who should I study with?
5. When reconnecting or considering Islam, where do I begin?

Resources for Seekers

The Blessed Experience of Seeking Knowledge, by Shaykh Faiz Qureshy
Ten Adab of Seekers of Knowledge
Importance of Intention in Seeking Knowledge
10 Steps to Firm-Footedness in Seeking Knowledge of Fiqh

Five Reasons to Support the SeekersHub Global Islamic Seminary This Ramadan

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(1) Global Impact. (2)World-Class Steps Curriculum. (3) Completely Free–Millions Reached. (4) Lives Transformed. (5) Reliable, Balanced, Merciful and Mindful Message.

It was through SeekersHub that I learned the purpose of life and how to connect my soul to my Lord, Allah. – Mehnaz

This is why we urge you to become a supporter of the SeekersHub Global Islamic Seminary. Help us raise $10,000 in monthly donations this Ramadan. Give now.
One. Global Impact 
In 2017, we had over 80,000 student registrations in our courses–and almost four million unique visitors to www.seekershub.org
In Term One of 2018, we had over 33,000 student registrations in Term One alone–and visits to the site are up. But this requires greater resources to sustain–and to continue to spread our reach and impact.
Two. World-Class Steps Curriculum
This year, we’ve launched our five level Steps Curriculum–developed in consultation with many of the world’s leading Islamic scholars. We launched the one-year Step One Essentials Certificate, and are busy completing Step Two and Three, Alhamdulillah.
For this, we have brought on some world-class scholars–including Shaykh Hamza Karamali, Shaykh Ali Hani, Shaykh Muhammad Ba-Dhib, and others.
Three. Completely Free–Millions Reached
Millions access our Answers, Guidance articles, Podcasts, YouTube videos, and other educational services–as well as the tens of thousands benefiting from our online courses. All this reach is possible because we offer all our courses and services completely free of charge.
This is the way of the Prophets, who all said, “I ask you for no payment for this. It is but a reminder to the whole world.” [Qur’an, 6.90]
This also makes knowledge open and accessible to all–believers and non-believers, male and female, rich and poor, wherever they may be.
Four. Lives Transformed 
Our reach isn’t about numbers: it is about lives transformed–about human impact, change, and benefit.
Five. Reliable, Balancing Mercy and Mindfulness
SeekersHub offers reliable, qualified mainstream Islamic scholarship that balances the mercy and beauty of Prophetic guidance with mindfulness (taqwa) and practical caution–for a message that uplifts, is practical, brings meaning and mercy into lives, and transforms hearts and lives, helping them turn to Allah and His Beloved Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him).
This is why we urge you to become a supporter of the SeekersHub Global Islamic Seminary. Help us raise $10,000 in monthly donations this Ramadan.

Give now

Support impact. Support SeekersHub Global.
P.S. SeekersHub Global supports needy and deserving scholars and students through the Islamic Scholars Fund. Give your zakat and charity …….  
Last year, we raised $1.3 million.

Give Your Zakat

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Step One: Essentials Certificate Launch at SeekersHub Toronto Islamic Seminary

On February 4th, 2018, SeekersHub Toronto launched the very first class of the Step One: Essentials Certificate!

Over 100 students attended. SeekersHub Toronto was blooming with lively discussions, great questions and many newly formed friendships. It is an exciting step as we embark on this blessed journey of learning. This is also one of the first steps into turning SeekersHub Toronto into an Islamic Seminary, and launching the Steps Curriculum.

Steps Curriculum

Part of a five step curriculum, this first step focuses on the religious knowledge that every Muslim must learn in order to fulfill their personal obligations to Allah Most High. This gives you a clear grounding in your beliefs, worship, living the religion, in your spiritual turning to Allah Most High, as well as a clear understanding of the Islamic scholarly method.

If you are in Toronto and want to learn more or register to the Step One: Essentials Certificate, click here.

If you are outside of Toronto, you could register for the Global Step One: Essentials through the SeekersHub Global Islamic Seminary, here.

A New Partnership

A new and very special partnership has been made between Seekershub Toronto and Global Deaf Muslims Canada (GDMC). Each class, interpreters will be present to interpret the entire lesson for the attending deaf community members. The first class was an absolute success for those attending and needing interpretation, Alhamdulillah.

We pray that Allah make us steadfast and consistent so that we may benefit and spread this benefit, with sincerity. And Allah alone gives success.

Step One: Essentials Certificate Open to the Deaf Community at SeekersHub Toronto

SeekersHub’s vision is to make reliable Islamic knowledge accessible to everyone, anywhere in the world. As such, SeekersHub has partnered with Global Deaf Muslims Canada (GDMC), in order to make accessible the Step One: Essentials Certificate to the deaf community.

Each week, an interpreter will be present to interpret the entire lesson to deaf students. Alhamdulillah, the first class was an absolute success! Watch the following video as Zohaib Qureshi, the Executive Director of GDMC, describes his experience at the first class of the Step One: Essentials Certificate.

Zohaib invites the wider deaf Muslim community to take advantage of this offering and attend the classes. (The video is also close captioned.)

If you are in Toronto and want to learn more or register to the Step One: Essentials Certificate, click here.

 

Full Transcript of the Video

Zohaib: Assalamu Alaikum. GDMC and the Hub (Toronto) are working together on something very exciting. We will ask some questions. Would you like to introduce yourself to us?

Yasmin: Yes, my name is Yasmin Taher. I’m one of the team members here at SeekersHub Toronto. I’m very happy to be with you all Alhamdulillah (Thank God).

Zohaib: I showed up for this class, I was curious about it and I learned so much. I don’t want to learn by myself, I want everybody else to come. I wanted to ask you a few questions about the organization. What does the organization do? How does it benefit people? Do you have to register? Do you have to pay? If you can just explain a little bit more about the curriculum and about the course, so that people
get a better understanding of it.

Yasmin: Perfect, yes. SeekersHub is a non-profit charity. It’s main aim really, insha’Allah (God willing), is to spread knowledge: to spread Islamic knowledge to everyone everywhere around the world. And alhamdulillah (thank God) everything, absolutely all the programing that is being offered at SeekersHub
is free. Anybody can join, anybody can walk in, ask their questions, sit and learn from the scholars. So
alhamdulillah (Thank God), it’s a very open space.

We’re very excited to launch this particular curriculum. It’s called the Steps curriculum. And it’s very exciting because it’s a curriculum that introduces Islam and Islamic knowledge in a step-by-step format. So, it’s a curriculum where you are able to receive a certificate after completion. And this first step is a one-year program and you only come Sundays from 1 pm to 4 pm. Insha’Allah (God willing), you’ll benefit from the teachers, you’ll get to ask your questions, and you do receive a certificate of completion at the end of it.

Zohaib: Ok, is there an age limit for this. Or is there a minimum age for people to attend?

Yasmin: Absolutely not, we saw today, masha’Allah (with God’s will), a huge turnout for our first class. We
had, actually, a gentleman who was, I believe maybe 10 years old, and another boy who was about 7
years old or so joining. And we have aunties and uncles as well.

So, there is absolutely no age limit, minimum or maximum. The only thing is that person coming, wants to learn, they want o commit and take this seriously and learn about their religion and be able to benefit themselves insha’Allah (God willing) and their families and friends.

Zohaib: That is really amazing! Masha’Allah (with God’s will). It’s a great opportunity. Make sure you don’t miss out on that. Will there be an interpreter provided, going forward, for the classes?

Yasmin: Yes Alhamdulilah (Thank God), we plan to have an interpreter every class here. And so, I really encourage everyone to come out and benefit insha’Allah. And there is always a dedicated time for you to ask your questions with the interpreter to the teacher and to be able to clarify any points.

Even if it’s before class, we can schedule time and there are sessions during the classes where you are able to have that conversation and discussion and questions with the teacher and the interpreter present to clarify
any points taught in class.

Zohaib: That is amazing masha’Allah (with God’s will). Well, it was first time to join it and I thought I would take a look at it. And I was amazed. It is a great opportunity and it is good knowledge and Allah (God) will reward you and insha’Allah (God Willing) benefit us and benefit future generations to come.

For the kids, I had a question, if there are going to be Deaf children attending and if hey are not understanding something, would the Imam be willing to show up here at the location maybe half an hour before or if someone lives far away or close, would they have to come here, or do you have different locations as
well?

Yasmin: We only do have this one location, which is in Mississauga. We are located in a central area in Mississauga. Dixie and Eglinton is the main intersection. So, the teacher inshallah when required can be here a little bit before class to help clarify and answer questions here in person. As well, we do have a course forum where you are able to ask questions online ahead of time and we are able to take it up in class as well.

Zohaib: For anyone who lives far in the West end or East end, they would be able to take it online correct?

Yasmin: There’s also this program, the Steps program, being offered online, yes, that is correct.

Zohaib: Alhamdulilah, masha’Allah. We’ve been working together with SeekersHub and GDMC and we want to make sure it’s successful. Thank you for your time. Do you have anything else you want to add?

Yasmin: Alhamdulilah, we are very happy to be working with GDMC and we really hope to see more of the community come out and learn and really be able to show everyone else, you know, that you’re able
to sit here and learn in classes with teachers as well. So, don’t be shy, come to drop by even to just look.
And insha’Allah (God willing), we get to see more of you.

Zohaib: Insha’Allah, I look forward to seeing more of you here, not only myself. And so that afterwards we can have discussions and study groups. So be ready for that. Assalamu Alaikum.

We Need $70K to Protect Our Future

Each month, SeekersHub Global financially supports scholars and students of knowledge in dire need. We need $70,000 every month to make sure our Islamic Scholars Fund can continue to assist them. Help us help them by giving generously, now.

DONATE

You can trust that your donation to the Islamic Scholars Fund is 100% Zakat-eligible and tax-deductible
These are people in our community that give freely of the knowledge that Allah gave them. They are our scholars, our imams, our teachers, our shaykhs, our leaders, and they need your support to make sure they can continue to serve you.
When the month of Ramadan was here, you gave your money open-heartedly because you thought with your heart.
Just because the month has come and gone does not mean the needs of our scholars and students of knowledge go away, as Imam Zaid mentions here.

Think with your heart and give to the Islamic Scholars Fund now!

DONATE