Islamic Studies as a subject is very dear to our hearts. It doesn’t matter whether you are a teacher or a parent or a student, Islam is important and extremely significant to all of us.
Important, not because you learn it as a subject in school. Important, not because you teach it as its’ subject teacher. It is significant and vital for our very existence.
It is a life-oriented subject. Not something you teach for time-pass or you learn it just because you live in U.A.E and that you are forced to study this subject in school!!
Right from the inception, the Government of the U.A.E has been very keen in imparting Islamic Education to all Muslim students studying in all schools in the UAE.
As expatriates we must be grateful to the Ministry of Education for providing the golden opportunity of teaching-learning Islam in the U.A.E.
Muslims parents are fortunate that their children learn about Islam in this country, and that too in the best possible way. Many parents regret that they didn’t get such opportunities during their school days back home.
In the beginning – and for a very long period of time – the series of books entitled ‘Islamic Studies’ authored by Maulvi Abdul Aziz were taught in UAE schools. Then, in 2010, there was a change in the books and the curriculum. And we all know that ‘I Love Islam’ series and ‘Learning Islam’ books were followed, and are still followed in many schools.
Now, in 2017, the Ministry of Education has come up with its’ own publication, for grades 1 to 12, by the name Islamic Education.
The books are translated from the existing books in Arabic language meant for Arabic-speaking students. In fact, the Ministry of Education has been publishing and supplying Islamic Education books in Arabic since the very beginning.
Now, the content of Islamic Education is same irrespective of Arabic or non-Arabic speakers. This is the fruit of the Government’s commitment to bring about unification of the subject and its content. It will also provide an opportunity for the teachers (Arabic and non-Arabic speakers) to discuss and share their knowledge, expertise and experiences for the common good of the student community.
As UAE seeks to raise the standard of education – through Vision 2021 – the new books reflect U.A.E’s commitment to contribute in the development of creative and innovative thinking.
Congratulation to the team of scholars who wrote the books in an excellent manner, adopting the finest educational standards in achieving the desired learning outcomes.
The textbooks comprise of two parts. Each part has 3 units. So there are 6 units per grade, per academic year.
The books are colourful and very pleasing to the learners. And why not? UAE always strives to give its best. Many lessons have colour-coded passages that are purposefully done in order to highlight the differences between one point and the other.
The books are of very high standard. The approach is novel. There is a lot of providence for the students to fine-tune their thinking and analytical skills. They will undergo a transformation in their very approach to the subject. They will experience new learning methods which are interesting and challenging as well.
The teachers will find it hard to deliver the content unless they are competent in the subject, and are willing to go out of the way to impart this vital subject to their students.
The structure of this book is based on units: Each unit includes various subjects representing the fields and themes of the Curriculum in an integrated manner, including Divine Revelation, Islamic faith, Islamic values and Morals, Rules and Purposes of Islam, Biography of the Prophet and Personalities, Identity and Contemporary issues.
The books translate curriculum criteria into comprehensive contents and states learning objectives at the beginning of each lesson under the heading “In this lesson, I will learn to”.
Lessons consist of an introduction (I take the initiative to learn), a body (I use my skills to learn), and a conclusion (I organize my imprint)
The content of the lessons demand that there should be more periods per week to complete the lessons. One cannot do justice to lessons if the Timetable provides just 2 periods in a week!!
There is no supplementary workbook. All exercises/student activities are meticulously given in the textbook itself. The activities are of three types: general activities for all students (I answer by myself), enriching activities for outstanding students (Enriching My Experience), and applied activities (I assess myself)
Questions/exercise are concise and there is no enough space for the students to write lengthy answers. When this is the case, it becomes challenging for the students and teachers to find/discuss answers with the students. It is easy to write a long essay but it is not easy to put things briefly, precisely and in a concise manner. For writing concise answers, you not only need to understand the lesson well but you also need a good command over English language.
Low and Middle Achievers will need teacher’s guidance to complete the exercises. However, it will be in the interest of achieving the learning outcomes if the teachers let their students think and do the answers on their own.
Teachers with not-so-good English knowledge will have to do a lot of home work to cope up with the strands incorporated in the new curriculum. Unfortunately there exists a mindset among a section of teachers teaching Islamic Studies that language is not important, subject is important. To me, this is a ridiculous thinking!
It will be interesting to see how teachers come up with ideas to make a standard question paper based on the new books. Teachers with less experience may struggle to adopt a framework and to come up with an all-encompassing pattern or blueprint. It will be easy if teachers make a section-wise question paper based on the approach adopted in the student activity/exercises.
Without mind-mapping and an effective lesson plan, a teacher cannot do any justice to his or her job of teaching this life-changing subject.
The bottom-line is that the new textbooks are application-oriented. You apply the knowledge you learn, firstly in the form of answers to the exercises given and, secondly, you apply your knowledge in different walks of your life. After all that is the purpose of learning Islam as a subject.
‘Say, “Indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah, Lord of the worlds.’ Surah al An’aam 6:162
The parents will definitely have a sigh of relief as the new books are cost-effective. We can expect that the parents will buy the books as they are priced reasonably.
In any case, teachers must motivate the students/parents not to go for photocopying of the books. Photocopying is akin to compromising on the interest of students. It will also defeat the purpose of the colour-coded approach.
The books are not available in the open market, they can be purchased only through respective schools via the Ministry’s electronic outlet.
May Allah reward the committee of authors for their exemplary work in producing the textbooks of highest standard.
May Allah make the books beneficial to all the students and teachers.
Request to teachers of Islamic Education in UAE:
Kindly give your inputs and suggestions how best to use the books in an innovative way.