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When Zubair Met Zubeida: A Snapshot of Learning at SeekersGuidance – Saad Razi Shaikh

A year and a half ago, I started learning at SeekersGuidance. Here’s why you should start too.

A few weeks into the year 2018 found me by my desk, staring at the blank screen of my computer, not unlike an oracle staring at her orb. A string of lows in life had found me bewildered and lost. My university days were drawing to a close, the career opportunities were not heart-warming, and I was at a loss at what to do next.

Winter was receding, spring was due in a couple of weeks. In February of that year, I began my first term at Seekers Guidance. I had signed up, not sure what was to come next. I was auto-enrolled for the two foundational courses, the ‘Absolute Essentials of Islam’ and the ‘Essentials of Islamic Tradition.’ Before starting on those, I had heard a short clip on how to gain the most from seeking sacred knowledge, the tips and practices, the points of caution.

Back then, I was not aware of the teachers at Seekers. But when I heard the short clip, I took notice. I paused and took detailed notes, something I rarely ever did. Both the style of the teacher and the substance of the lesson taught hit the right wavelength for me. In between jotting down notes and nodding at the screen, I thought of how wonderful it would be if the same person would be teaching the courses I had enrolled in.

And lo and behold! When I first tuned into my first ever lesson, I found the same teacher teaching. I learned his name was Shaykh Faraz Rabbani. He would be guiding the students into their first steps into the learning of the sacred sciences.

The courses were taught in English, the language that had been my medium of learning lifelong. The courses were structured according to levels, starting with the foundations, eventually progressing to Mastery. Both live sessions and term-long Q & A were offered. All of this, for absolutely no cost. Here was guidance that would measure in gold, yet for free? I was intrigued, dumbfounded. Eventually as the year passed, the lessons revised, and the learning put to practice, my intrigue gave way to gratefulness.

What made me most happy was Shaykh Faraz’s manner of teaching. The subject at hand was the building blocks of our faith, the keys to the happiness of this world and the next. As necessary it was to get the basics of it right, the task was overwhelming to picture too. I was nervous at the start, not sure if I would be sincere enough or plain simple good enough to learn it.

This is where Shaykh Faraz’s light-hearted style, his jovial way of teaching came to the rescue. Rarely ever had I seen an Islamic scholar so approachable and fluid in his teaching. The neat structuring of the lessons, the soundness of the classical texts it was based on, the unbroken chain of learning the teacher taught it with, all added up to the learning experience I was happy to partake into. I found myself hurrying through the lessons at first, eager to absorb as much as I could. Later, I slowed down, listened more carefully, took detailed notes and revised them before handing in the assignment due before the close of term.

Those who have heard Shaykh Faraz’s lectures know the characters of Zubair, Zubeida and Uncle Jamil. They are something of a regular, the hapless Zubair wanting to marry Zubeida, with her father Uncle Jamil throwing tests at Zubair. Shaykh Faraz uses them to illustrate the finer points of the lessons. These playful additions bring them to life. I have often wondered if someday, on walking into a Toronto wedding, I may bump into these characters!

As I became more comfortable with the routines and rigor of online learning, I started to explore Seekers more. In between terms, I would tune into the On-Demand courses. I would listen to podcasts, I would swap the time I could have spent reading the news feed for reading through the Answers service. Eventually, I started listening to other teachers, and Alhamdulillah, I felt both their knowledge and their states influence me for the better.

Ustadh Anik Abdullah Misra said in an interview that through the internet, ‘Allah has made believers connect to each other in an age of disconnectedness.’ The more I reflected on this, the more I realized how true it was. For how did I come to SeekersGuidance in the first place?

Back in early 2018, when I had been staring at my desk, I was at a loss at what to do next. At some point, I knew I wanted to study Islam, to at least get the basics of the Deen right. But how was I to pursue this? Drop my academics and head to a local seminary? Do a Masters in Islamic Studies? Study with local madrasah students? I had options but not the clarity to pursue which one.

It was then it dawned on me, I need not break my head open to figure things out. I could ask Allah directly. I decided to offer the Istikhara prayer to seek the way ahead. I took out my phone, googled the Istikhara dua, and opened the first link that felt right. Once the Arabic text appeared, I kept the phone aside, offered the two rakats, before picking the phone again and reciting the dua. Later, I saw the browser tab still open. I read the entire web page, I scoured through the website. I had never seen it before. At the top, I saw the ‘Courses’ section. Before I knew it, I had signed up.

The website was SeekersGuidance. My prayers had been answered, the dilemma cleared up. The road to seeking knowledge was now wide open.


Saad Razi Shaikh is a journalist based in Mumbai. He writes on popular culture and community initiatives. He can be reached on Twitter @writweeter


SeekersGuidance Free Online Courses – Register now.

Ramadan 2018 Free Prints and Graphics

Dear Seekers, our Development Team has produced a series of free Ramadan prints and graphics for you.

The prints and graphics are in four formats. You can them download directly. Just right-click and save. Ramadan Karim!

Banners 820×312 PNG

 

 

Banners 1200×630 PNG

 

 

Mobile Wall Paper PNG

 

 

Print Posters 8.5″x11″ PDF

 

 


Bring new life to this Ramadan by enrolling in a FREE On-Demand course.


SeekersHub: Fulfilling A Vital Role in Our Community

SeekersHub: Fulfilling A Vital Role in Our Community Through Unique Learning OpportunitiesSeekersGuidance: Fulfilling A Vital Role in Our Community Through Unique Learning Opportunities

Br. Khuram Zaman shares his observations about SeekersHub, where SeekersHub fits in today and how SeekersHub can help the Muslim community. Our thanks and appreciation go to Khurram for his honest assessment.

Unique Learning Opportunities

In a previous post (“Shaykh Hamza Yusuf has started blogging“), I highlighted how modernity has reversed how Islamic learning takes places and how we can use this reversal to our advantage:

“We live in strange times. In the days of old, students would travel great distances to sit at the feet of the ‘Ulema – sometimes only to learn a single hadeeth or to understand a single legal issue. Today, the situation has almost reversed – the scholars come to us.

A Word About SeekersHub

Although the modern era has come with its own set of traumas, one of the unique advantages of globalization is the ability to connect with ‘Ulema all over the world. One such institution of learning, SeekersHub, fulfils this vital role in our community by bringing knowledge to our fingertips through online courses, weekend seminars, summer retreats, and webinars that have featured scholars such as Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Imam Zaid Shakir, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Shaykh Yahya Rhodus, Shaykh Ninowy, Imam Tahir Anwar, Ustadha Zaynab Ansari, and many others.

SeekersHub offers free courses taught by qualified Scholars in different Islamic sciences such as Quran, nahw (Arabic grammar), aqeedah (theology), fiqh (jurisprudence), tasawwuf (spirituality), and guidance for daily living.

What makes these courses unique is not only their rich content, but the flexibility by which the student can master the subject.

Key Course Feature: Downloadable mp3s and videos
Unlike other institutes, all course materials are downloadable. This means, you can download all of the mp3s and pdfs that are in a course and take them wherever you go.

Think about that for a second. Many people say “I don’t have time to take a course, I’m busy with school or work or family obligations.”

The truth of the matter is that there are opportunities to learn at every moment. How many of us waste time on long commutes to school or work? Or spend our evenings goofing off on the internet or watching nonsense on television. The truth is: we don’t have a “time” problem, we have a “time management” problem.

To give an example, I took the course “Essentials of Islamic Belief: Dardir’s Kharida Explained.” I downloaded all of the audio onto my laptop. Each time my family visited our relatives, who lived approximately an hour away, I would cover a lesson. Thus, each time I went to a dawaat, I would cover two lessons – one on the way there and one on the way back. By the time the weekend was over, I would have covered 6 lessons – half the course.

If you have to commute to school or work, you can easily listen to the lectures on your mp3 player, smartphone (I had the complete audio set for four entire courses on my smart phone), iPad or laptop. Again, its not about whether you have time or not, you have the time, its whether you want to use it in a meaningful manner.

Brief Overview of Available Courses

My personal course recommendations:

  • Liberal Arts/Humanities Majors: For people in the humanities, especially philosophy, political science, religious studies, law, or economics, I’d recommend Essentials of Islamic Belief: Dardir’s Kharida Explained with Shaykh Faraz Rabbani. For those of you in the sciences, take this course, but supplement it with a course on the philosophy of science.
  • Parents: Although I’m not married and have no children, I’ve attended a few seminars by Shaykh Faraz on the topic of parenting and I found it to be immensely beneficial. My friends who have taken the online course have said its one of the best courses they’ve ever taken. So consider Islamic Parenting: Raising Upright Children by Shaykh Faraz and his wife Ustadha Umm ‘Umar.
  • Students of Knowledge: If you’re serious about studying the Islamic sciences, then start off with the Arabic taught by Shaykh Shuaib Ally. For you those following the Hanafi madhab, take Islamic Law for Seekers (Hanafi) with Shaykh Faraz Rabbani. The first lesson alone will blow you away. Its one of the best fiqh courses out there.
  • Spirituality: For those of you interested in the art of the heart, I’d recommend Marvels of the Heart taught by Shaykh Yahya Rhodus which covers a key chapter in the Ihya Uloom al-Deen by Imam al-Ghazzali.

Recommended

If you still aren’t sure which course to take, then consider starting with the basics such as the Absolute Essentials taught by Shaykh Faraz.

May Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) preserve our teachers and enable us to benefit from them. Ameen!