Contemporary Studies for Religious Students to Acquire additional technical skills:
It is highly recommended to raise the level of religious knowledge and competence of Imams and Khateebs in our mosques to ensure that muslim masses receive authentic information and answers to their queries and questions. We accordingly encourage our bright youth to pursue to path of religious scholarship and light up the ways for this ummah in coming centuries.
However, it is to be noted that seeking religious knowledge is not a responsibility for Imams and Khateebs alone. It is for everyone of us, as our prophet PBUH asked us to do. In order to achieve that purpose, we should refer to authentic scholars and authentic sources of Islamic knowledge. In this manner, members of our community engaged in various professions such as engineering, medical, accounting, technical services, trade etc. would also develop reasonable level of religious understanding.
It is to be noted that in order for our communities to maintain balance and operate more effectively, we need religiously competent people and Ulema in other fields of life as well. We need our journalists to be highly profound in their religious knowledge so that they can represent the true beautiful picture of Islam. We want our accounting personnel to be religiously profound so that they can represent the great value Islamic system of finance and economics can bring to the world.. and so on and so forth. We accordingly need our religious scholars and students of madaris to also take part in these fields.
Our religious graduates need to be presented with a broad range of employment options. If we only rely on mosque Imam positions or odd teaching positions to accommodate all these graduates, it may be unfair the their scholarly potential. On the other hand, if we can present employment options to our religious students in a range of fields including law, finance, training, consultancy, curriculum development, IT, management, psychology and other fields, we will not only enhance employment opportunities for our graduates but also ensure that religiously profound personnel are distributed in every field of life. It may also mean a better income opportunity for religious graduates.
A couple of recent examples where this concept has been tried as as follows are International Islamic University, Pakistan and Islamic Online University (run by Dr. Bilal Philips). These universities offers many contemporary skills such as law, economics, management etc. which are offered in combination with Islamic studies courses. Many other traditional madaris have also started offering courses in IT, English etc.
However, if we just add a few courses, and do not train people to a standard where they can actually get employment in these fields it wouldn't be enough. There is a fine balance which needs to be maintained to ensure that religious knowledge and competence is also not compromised while acquiring job skills.
Our recommendation in this regard is to have specialization streams. Certain part of curriculum can be same across the board (core units or courses) and some electives can be offered. In the specialization year, we can incorporate employability related professional courses.
Many scholars are already working on optimizing the curriculum and teaching methodologies of madaris and religious institutions. We have plenty of great examples from our Aslaf who were not only competent in religious matters but were also engrossed in studying what is up there in skies, inside our bodies, deep down in the sea, burried underneath the earth we walk on and what not. The way muslims studies history, no other nation ever did. The way we formed the authentication process for transmitted information, no other group of scholars could ever imagine about. The way we learnt various languages and translated their resources in arabic to enable to boom of muslim scholarship, no other nation could ever demonstrate. We need to revive that. It is our responsibility to think and act.
In this bookshelf, we have presented a few books on technical and professional skills which are expected to be beneficial to our readers. It is to be noted that this bookshelf just presents a flavor and in order to acquire full taste, a deeper study and broader study is recommended. In order to practice most of the skills below (or others of similar nature), a formal qualification or study may be recommended.