In a sound hadith we learn from the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ):
قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : "من يرد الله به خيرًا يفقه في الدين"
"When Allah wishes good for someone, He bestows upon him correct understanding of the religion." — Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ)
Seeking knowledge is a life long journey of self-awakening, improvement and transformation — but where does it begin?
I wrote previously about good resources we can use online, and engaging books and lectures we can study ourselves. However nothing is as good as studying directly with a learned scholar.
There is so much we learn from a teacher that isn’t just in what they say, but in the character learnt and absorbed just from being in the same space and vicinity as those more knowledgeable than ourselves. Seeing how they conduct themselves with adab, manners and observing the character that they bring to their everyday interactions.
This goes hand in hand with the suhbah, companionship while being around your fellow classmates, the humour, the support, the companionship and advice.
Studying under the tutelage of a teacher is the main way Islam has been passed down traditionally. Part of this transmission of knowledge is that it happens in-person, from heart to heart. Unlike passing on a book, knowledge when taught individually allows more flexibility in discussion and allows the student to ask and explore their questions more fully; insha’Allah leading to a more solid understanding and foundation of belief.
Studying in person or virtually with a scholar and getting to explore key Islamic concepts in detail is incredibly beneficial to our understanding and practise of Islam. And in turn our relationship with Allah. But where does this journey begin?
"Through part-time study (one day a week live attendance online or onsite) and a dynamic selection of modules, the course provides the opportunity for students and working professionals to study Arabic and the Islamic sciences to an advanced level."
At the forefront of Islamic scholarship programmes in the UK — ASI offers a really excellent course, with great teachers and a sleek online platform. Very well organised, always professionally run and aspiring to provide a similar level of education, organisation and professionalism as a top-tier university.
Al-Salam institute have invested heavily in curriculum development with a dedicated team working on refining the texts and materials that are studied hoping to achieve and facilitate the best outcomes for students.
"Students can begin their studies on the Foundation Year, progress onto the Arabic Immersion Year and graduate from the Alimiyyah Programme as an ‘Alim or ‘Alimah, with a penetrating understanding of the fundamental Islamic sciences.
These pioneering programmes have already produced a number graduates, a number of whom now teach with us as Al-Salam Institute course instructors."
The course is pitched at three levels
Foundation year - 1st year
"The course provides a solid foundation in Islamic scholarship through part-time study with qualified teachers in the UK, including Shaykh Akram Nadwi himself. Students who successfully complete all modules of the Foundation Year (including written assignments and examinations) will be awarded a Certificate in Classical Arabic and Islamic Sciences."
1st year - morning sessions are Arabic grammar and applied (afternoon sessions are on islamic sciences)
First year also has a focus on teaching Islamic-Sciences in English, covering:
- Fiqh - Islamic law/rulings
- Intro to Usul al-Fiqh (jurisprudence)
- Intro to Usul al-Tafsir (Science of the Qur’an)
- Intro to Usul al-Hadith (Hadith methodology)
2nd year is focused on Arabic immersion -- grammar, application practice and compositions.
"The year-long course provides an immersive environment for students to improve in their knowledge of Arabic grammar and morphology, as well as further develop their skills of speaking, listening, reading, and writing in the Arabic language"
From the third year onwards students progress to the alimiyyah programme
"The Alimiyyah Programme is designed to provide students with a firm grounding in both the Arabic language and Classical Islamic Disciplines. Students begin by forming a solid core in the Islamic Sciences, studying intermediate texts in a variety of disciplines before being exposed to broader and more advanced texts."
I personally have thoroughly enjoyed studying with al-salam as they teach everything thoroughly well and they teach more than just Arabic. e.g Hadith, Fiqh tafsir classes and more.
One learns a lot through studying one day a week — but it is a long day. Sunday 10am-5pm. Overall I found this quite manageable, with some homework through the week, about a couple of extra hours for first year. A few essay assignments through the year, with Eexams at the end of each year which really help to solidify the learnings from the year.
In terms of help and support, the institute is always professionally run with lots of support from teachers over messaging and email. Videos from class are recorded so you can watch them back afterwards, either for revision or recap. Al-Salam has a Group-chat set up for each year-group to make it easy to ask teachers questions throughout the week. Teachers reply quickly and other students are also available for support.
Another excellent place to study. The college is well run and has all round excellent teaching. All the teachers are engaging and knowledgeable.
Offering a wide range of modules, whereas Al-Salam focuses on Arabic+Alimiyyah. EC has individual modules that they run as short-courses (https://ebrahimcollege.org.uk/product-category/all-courses/) :
- Arabic language
It can be easier to fit shorter modules around a busy schedule, but then the short-courses teach less than the more complete alimiyyah programmes. Ebrahim College also offers an alimiyyah programme which can be taken part time:
They offer an intensive-programme over the summer. The intensive programme covers Level-1 Arabic and is a good primer-refresher course.
Apart from just short-courses and intensive they also a large, complete alimiyyah programme with a variety of methods and timings available for study.
- Arabic intensive provides lots of options for study.
- Full Time
- Part-Time - Full-day Sunday
- Part-Time - After work - Mon/Wed/Fri evenings
My friends that have taken the course have enjoyed it and continued on past the first year. They would all recommend it. This course comes highly recommended and is a much smaller time commitment than some of the larger alimiyyah programmes.
Providing a year-long course with a simple commitment of one day a week (3 hour session). From what I understand this is a three hour course on Sunday afternoon, that proves very manageable and beneficial alhumdulilah.
There are 3 years of teaching altogether. For the first year, it's all Arabic studies, and no islamic sciences, but that changes in later years
First year - Arabic Immersion:
Second year - islamic sciences:
Final year - more in-depth study of the Qur’an and Quran’ic arabic:
Testimonial from a friend: "Sacred text is amazing! I’m really enjoying it! I absolutely love the teachers! The Arabic journey site is so helpful and engaging. Topics are broken down into very manageable chunks which are just the right length and detail and I love the way you can mark lessons and quizzes as complete to track progress and stay motivated."
"The thing that stands out for me with Sacred Texts is that the teachers are pretty much the same generation as me (24-35) and have been through the process of learning Arabic as non native Arabic speakers . I feel assured that the course hasn’t got any overly cumbersome content and that I’m getting a distilled version of what I need to know as a beginner."
The program teaches the Islamic Sciences in the Arabic medium. This is a unique approach of teaching Quranic Arabic and conversational Arabic together in a fun and interactive way.
Students become fluent in Arabic within two years of doing part-time once a week classes. For an example:
The program offers live, trial sessions, making it excellent if you want to try before committing.
This is very conversational, at the early stages, this works great for some people. From year three, classes are fully taught in Arabic and only Arabic is allowed in class. A testament to the level of Arabic attained by students on the course.
There is a strong focus on applied grammar and i’rab (inflection) in all four language skills: listening, speaking reading and writing.
From year three onwards the Islamic studies are taught in the Arabic medium as part of a complete Islamic studies / Alimiyya program. The courses include:
- Aqidah & more!
Teachers are very knowledgeable and the course is rigorous and well structured. Professionally run with lots of support from teachers and admin.
Five free lessons before you sign up so you can try it before you commit.
- 20% early bird discount all year round.
An Islamic institute that offers Arabic and alimiyah programs designed for those with full time responsibilities who wish to learn the fundamentals of their deen. Their programs are year long, holistic and are taught by knowledgeable and reputable teachers.
Centre is located on commercial road, Whitechapel.
Classes are very interactive, with a heavy focus on discussions and teachers promoting students to reflect on the application of knowledge in their lives and the world at large.
Qiman offers a really high quality of teaching at affordable prices. They also provide the option to trial each program.
1st year- Arabic awakening covers nahw, sarf, tajweed, spoken Arabic. Every Sunday 9am-6pm and 2 evenings a week.
2nd - 4th year - Islamic Science Diploma focuses on 3 Islamic sciences covering the principles (usul) of each science - Tafsir , Hadith and Fiqh. Students are introduced to key classical Arabic texts such as tafsir ibn Kathir, Hadith Sahih Bukhari & Muslim and Quduri.
Also study and discuss Aqeedah tahawiya.
All days Sunday and 3 evenings a week.
5th - 6th year - Specialisation looks at the 3 Sciences in greater detail, providing students with deeper understanding on how the sciences developed including historic backdrop, the key methodologies used in each principle and in-depth study of commentaries of classical texts such as hidayah, itqan, tafsir wa almufasirun and sharh ma'ani al-athar.
All days Sunday and 3 evenings a week with the option to focus on one subject - one evening a week.
In addition, they provide regular halaqahs on modern day Islamic discourse. Teachers are on hand to provide support via telegram & WhatsApp. Virtual logins are provided for those who can't make it to class. Students each year form study groups to support one another.
Short online courses that cover variety of topics centred around improving our understanding and practise of islam; and in turn strengthen our iman insha’Alla.
Topics range from improving spirituality during Ramadan to psychology of Islam.
They also have one program focussing on young people and providing them with mentorship in their journey to a deeper understanding of Islam.
Islamic classes - (not including Arabic lessons):
Teaches thoroughly excellent and engaging courses, at a variety of levels.
Very, very engaging. Teachers are knowledgeable and excellent at conveying that knowledge in a way that is applicable, relatable and informative. Great teachers all around and a varied host of teachers from different backgrounds and disciplines each with their own unique and enjoyable style.
Really good resources provided and professionally bound course textbooks are a valuable resource going forward.
All taught in English, so doesn’t require any knowledge of Arabic beforehand.
Q-Club goes through tafsir of the Qur’an at a level that is both applicable to a beginner while also teaching one how to reflect more in-depth on what they’re reading. Classes held in Oxford and London
The London Academy on Friday evenings goes into much more depth. Two year course.
G1 course - general - focuses on spiritual side of things:
- Tafsir + Hadith - Reading through the qur’an and hadith, teaching the meanings and lessons we can take from them.
- Characteristics of the Prophet
- Other modules based on learning and becoming better muslims and gaining “spiritual” knowledge
A1 Course - Auxiliary programme - focuses on more detailed teaching:
- Fiqh - teaching the fiqh/law necessary for daily muslim life.
- Aqeedah - core tenets of faith and Islamic creed
CEI also host some larger annual events that are always great. Including a conference once a year and insha’Allah a hike too!
Taught by the excellent Ustadh Shabbir Hassan — offering spiritual courses and classes, that are engaging and spiritually enlivening. Aimed at
"Welcome to Faith.
Come as you are, to Faith as it is."
"A space for us to feel comfortable and have a hot drink whilst discussing life and that which we hold most dear to us, faith itself."
IIDR - (https://www.iidr.org)
iSyllabus - (https://www.isyllabus.org)
Legacy Institute courses - (https://legacy.institute/)
Al-Maghrib Institute - (https://www.almaghrib.org)
- Online and in-person weekend seminars. Always exceptionally well taught and well-organised
Imam Zakariya Academy - (https://www.iza.org.uk)
- An educational institute based in the heart of East London.
- Offering Alimiyyah courses, Islamic studies GCSEs & a Diploma in Islamic Studies
White Thread Institute - https://whitethreadinstitute.org
Rabata - Online Islamic Knowledge for Muslim Women - (https://www.rabata.org)
- Online and in-person (in the US though) institute for women by women.
- Sound, scholarly knowledge emphasising the heart-to-heart transmission.
Ihsan Institute - https://www.ihsaninstitute.co.uk
Al-Qalam Institute (Leicester) - (https://www.alqalaminstitute.org)
- "Amazing & affordable. The teaching is exceptional quality"
- Their YouTube playlists cover a wide range of texts too e.g. Qatr an-Nada (https://www.alqalaminstitute.org/resources/videos)
- They do a variety of subjects e.g. nahw ṣarf balaaghah
Ribat Institute - Surrey - (https://www.ribat.org.uk/faculty)
Extra Arabic resources:
Qasas al-Nabiyyin is an excellent book for practicing reading in fuhsaa: https://darmakkah.co.uk/product/qasasul-nibiyin-lilatfal-قصص-النبيين-للأطفال/
- Good quality written fuhsaa
- Simple vocabulary at the beginning of the book that builds up slowly over the course of the book to more advanced levels.
- Stories of the prophets including quotations from the Qur'an
Al-Ajrumiyah is a classic grammar book - https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PL7VxbCzUM8yxHe9s-QapzedLr5IxiOxZ2
Practise listening to arabic:
Bayna yadayk for spoken arabic: https://youtube.com/c/ArabicEnthusiasts
Stories of the qur’an: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PL9lHPIsZK_SX09wLpvXzMX7t4di8Du2kw
Arabic cartoons for boys and girls: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLP3ke6jz11_CriG08TtJ90b-osRRJP-kD
Imam Bukhara series, animated for kids: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL9ViWgoe8rhXb3S7BE84sIYamvTa-d1B9
Quranic Arabic Course - (YouTube)
13 week Quranic Arabic Course designed to teach you the basic structure of the Arabic language so that you can begin to understand the literal meaning of the Quran without a translation.
Aims of the course:
- 40% of the words in the Quran
- Structure of the Arabic language to enable you to understand basic verses of the Quran without a translation
- Learn about root words and how they can be changed to make new meanings
- Your concentration in Salah will increase as a result, In shaa Allah
Started 21st Jan 2021 - but recordings and resources available
I hope this list has been beneficial, please let me know if you have found it helpful or you would like to add to and expand the list insha’Allah.
May Allah accept all our efforts, forgive us for our shortcomings, and guide us to sound knowledge and grant us the power to act on that which we learn insha’Allah.