Interview: Muhammad Khan, First Year at the Islamic University Of Medina

By Siddiq Ather

First Year student in the Faculty of Shari’ah

1.  What are some similarities between an Islamic University and a traditional four year college?

There are many similarities between the two, first off is that both include four years of studies before receiving the bachelor’s degree. There are also many extracurricular activities such as debating and various types of sports including basketball and soccer. Also it depends on the teacher how hard your class be, however, almost all of the teachers care about their student.

2.  How are the professors? Do they have office hours (times outside of class where you can talk with professors and ask for help regarding class material)?

Teachers are of two types. One is that they are basically the old school style of teaching meaning he lectures and no one asks anything in class, if you do get hold of his outside of class maybe then you can get the opportunity to ask about anything bothering you. The other type is one of such that tolerates a lot of questions and are more beneficial to the students and the second type are much more prevalent, Alhamdulillah. Yes, teachers in the university do have offices, where you can schedule an appointment to see them if you wished to do so.

3.   How is the teaching style different? Are all classes taught by professors, or are there T.A.’s (teacher assistants)?

Teaching is a bit different because there is more in class learning rather than homework learning, meaning that there isn’t a lot of homework given. However, at the end of the day you have to do your amount of reading in order to keep up with the class. There is no such thing as a TA right now but in the near future it’s possible.

4.  How is the campus atmosphere? How is the campus culture and Student Body?

The atmosphere is incredibly amazing in the sense that everyone is a Muslim, and studying in the best place, Medina, the city of the Prophet (s). You would find that the students come from 156 different nationalities, which mean that we have to cope with different cultures and backgrounds.

5.  Do you have to know Arabic to attend the University?

The best thing with this university is that it does not require you to have any Arabic background. If a student does not speak Arabic then there is a two year program that focuses primarily on learning Arabic. However, it’s always better to be ahead of the game and get a tutor to sit and explain thing you might have problems with.

6.  What subjects can you study and how many years would it take to obtain a degree in one of the respective areas?

There are 5 different schools that you can major I; Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence), Hadith (traditions from the Prophet (s)), Qur`an, Da’wah (How to explain the message of Islam in the light of the Companions of the Prophet (s)) and the Arabic language. Each of these majors takes 4 years to complete before you can graduate with a bachelors.

7.  Are there any extracurricular groups/activities around campus?

There are many extracurricular activities, such as sports, which include basketball, soccer, cricket, volleyball and swimming. There are also a tafseer group that meets every Thursday and Quran memorizing groups that meet every day to memorize Quran or Hadith.

8.  What are some general steps in the application process?

1.      High school diploma and transcript
2.      2 letters of recommendation
3.      Filled out application form
4.      An interview with the deans of admission

9.  What are some things every individual can do to prepare before they enter the university? And what are some reasons for studying in the Arabic language?

Reading is the key to success in the university and try to have some background in the Arabic language. For Philip K Hitti writes “No people in the world manifest such enthusiastic admiration for literary expression and are so moved by the word, spoken or written, as the Arabs. Modern audiences in Baghdad, Damascus and Cairo can be stirred to the highest degree by the recital of poems, only vaguely comprehended, and by the delivery of orations in the classical tongue, though it be only partially understood. The rhythm, the rhyme, the music, produce on them the effect of what they call “lawful magic (sihr halal).” And Ibn Hazm says about the Arabic language; “…the most comprehensive of all languages, the clearest in expression, the least ambiguous, the most concise, and the most extensive in vocabulary to comprehend the names of all things, whether substances or accidents…”

10.  How different is the culture in Medina compared to the culture of a Muslim community in America? (Personal experience if you want or general observations)

What we must understand is that when you are in the depth of our studies the surroundings really does not matter. For focusing brings the best out of an individual. For example, if I am studying medicine my focus is trying my best to understand my classes such as anatomy, physiology and other core classes rather than partying. The same idea applies to us studying in different countries. Yes the temperature goes over 130 degrees but everyone else lives with it so we just fall in line.


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