Curriculum vitae - Alim
More and more today, the Ulama are required to provide a curriculum vitae (CV) to establish their credentials. In some cases it has become a legal requirement. I was requested to provide an outline of the Alim course. So I thought it may be beneficial to present a breakdown accompanied with the rationale. Additionally I created an editable template of a CV which the reader may change at their own leisure for reuse.
The word document template for the CV is downloadable at the bottom of this article (below the signature). I pray it is of benefit. Editing guidance is at the document bottom of the template. Here, I shall mention a brief background of the certification process and content covered with a reference to National Qualification Framework (NQF) so that those unfamiliar may glean the depth.
A brief history
The practice of reviewing sanads (certificates) and following up references to check the calibre and conduct of an Alim has been present from the first century of Islam. This validation was done by specialist scholars, experts in their respective fields, who after close scrutiny would give their recommendation regarding the Alim both in terms of piety and competency. The lay in turn would then trust the Alim and turn to them for legal and moral guidance.
Historically, students would travel far and wide seeking pious experts to learn whole or parts of a subject. They would spend a sufficient amount of time in the service and move to the next pious expert and so on so forth until such time when they had gathered enough and the teacher gives them ijazah (certification) on a particular field; be it verbal or in writing. The trend of today of mere visitation is not enough rather acquisition and competence accompanied with piety and practice must be present for the ijazah to hold value. Otherwise, the ijazah will be of no use; worse yet it may even damage the teacher’s credibility due to the blemish of false or negligent testimony.
The rise of the madarsah allowed for the streamlining of the process by facilitating all the teachers to be in one location. This was later followed by a unified curriculum which allowed for the standardisation of learning across the region.
The objective of this article does not allow or calls for an elaboration on the variety, intricacies and revisions of the standard curriculum. Suffice it to say that it was enough to say that they studied so and so curriculum for the whole corpus and depth of topics covered to come to mind. Similar to if we were to say, a person has completed their chartered qualification in law, accountancy or psychology.
The Dars Nizami was one such standard curriculum prevalent in the Indian subcontinent. It provided for a learner to acquire broad and deep knowledge all the while emphasising on the development of skills which would make the person an independent learner. Above is a sample of what one might expect the average Madarsah teaching the Dars Nizami to cover (give or take some core texts depending on the Madarsah’s specialism).
Madaris with a tafsir orientation may very well have Baydhawi and perhaps even al-Itqan in the curriculum. Coinciding closely with them will be the language orientated Madaris which will include Durus al-Balaghah, Talkhis, al-Kafi as well as high literature such as Mutanabbi and Hammasah amongst others. As for those with a stronger hadith orientation may include Mu’atta Imam Muhammad, Tadrib Rawi or even Muqaddima Ibn Salah. Furthermore, such madaris may adopt Nuqayah with Fath Bab al-‘Inayah rather than Sharh Wiqayah or Kanz or none of these at all. In contrast, those with a fiqh orientation will insist on an intermediary book between Quduri and Hidayah such as those mentioned [See The path to Hidayah]. Like the usul orientated Madaris, they may add Talwih after Nur al-Anwar perhaps going as far as to include Musallam thereafter. The usul orientated may further include more books of Mantiq such as Qutbi, Sullam or even Sadra or Shams Bazighah in addition to covering Nasafi fully.
The National Qualification Framework
The Dars Nizami is taught globally and pre-dates most qualification standards. Its objective does not call for government accreditation.1 Nevertheless, many have saw a need to make a comparison in order to continue education in other fields with varying declaration between undergraduate and masters. Using the National Qualification Framework (NQF) in the UK, I am arguing that it be classified as a Masters2.
The curriculum vitae illustrate the course of study in four stages, (1) The preparatory year, (2) Foundation Arabic (3) bachelors and (4) masters.
The preparatory stage may be considered equivalent to the NQF level 2 as the person fills all gaps in their Islamic knowledge and gains good knowledge and the subject area of work. The students develop advanced proficiency in Urdu and a good proficiency in Arabic so much so that they can write short prose.
The Foundation Arabic stage can be considered at NQF level 3. Graduates of this level have detailed working knowledge of Arabic with all its rules with the ability to decipher unseen text independently. They would also have broad and detailed knowledge of the Islamic legal code as well as the Islamic heritage. It is expected that at this stage learners would have become morally upright and focused in their prayer with an added sense of understanding.
The bachelor stage should be considererd at NQF levels 4-6. Some Madaris complete this phase in two years, considering the additional hours and intensity, it exceeds the hours of a normal university.
The subject matter is divided into two parts. The left column includes topics which are knowledge driven whilst the right column is largely skill driven although each covers the topics of the other also. At the end of this stage graduates have a highly developed and complex level of knowledge in Aqa’id, Tafsir, Fiqh, Hadith, and Usul which allows them to solve complex problems using analysis and research. This level allows a person to practice in the field. Historically, this was considered the terminal stage but the master stage was introduced to heighten spirituality and develop a connection with the prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم) which is the source to acquiring ta’ammuq (depth).
The master’s stage or Dawrah as it is called can be considered as NQF level 7 depending on the grade of their graduate. The six famous hadith books are studied with the addition of Mu’atta and Tahawi which covers all that was covered from a source driven perspective. This stage provides complex levels of knowledge which enables the graduate to respond with in-depth and original responses complex problems. This is historically proven as that was the level of education of Allm. Anwar Shah Kashmiri, Mft. Rashid Ahmad Gangohi, Ml. Qasim Nanotwi, Hakim al-Ummat Thanwi and Ml. Hussayn Ahmad Madani et al who provided in-depth solutions to complex problems. These are not exceptions rather the product of a curriculum which is robust enough to allow for such people to reach their potential unaided thereafter.
Note! The comparison between the National Qualification Framework (NQF) is being made in terms of the skill developed or else the sacred knowledge are considered far more deeper, broader and resilient than that which is limited to purely material benefits.
This is merely academic component and broadly so. The other components being amal and ihsan 3. The first focuses on development on discipline to live by the code and the latter on morality and character.
Muhammad Saifur Rahman Nawhami
11 Rabi II 1434
22 February 2013
Attachment: Curriculum Vitae Template (v1.1)
- 1. Rather one may find that the constitution argues against that (See The Octet Principal). Autonomy is core to the curriculum, at the very least it should not be impacted due to external or populist pressure.
- 2. This is the position taken by Pakistan and Bangladesh board of education albeit with some caveats
- 3. See Hadith Jibril for detail