Farmington–November 18–The Tawheed Center has begun an enterprising hifz and mainstream education program under the tutelage of its Imam Sohel and with the use of the Calvert homeschool education program–excellent students have joined the program and are singing its praises after leaving prominent national caliber local Islamic and mainstream schools.
Several of the new students and student-parents talked with me on Saturday about the program. Inam Mohammed, 9 years old, is a bright 4th grade student (who has now memorized 1.5 juz) who transferred into the Tawheed Center Hifz Program from Cranbrook, one of the nationâ€™s most prestigious private schools, which costs in the neighborhood of $15,000 per year per student. Inam was a straight-A student there, but says â€œItâ€™s going goodâ€ at Tawheed, and says he likes to be in a school where there is discipline and where the teachers care about him.
Khalid Zafar, President of Tawheed Centerâ€™s board of directors and father of two Tawheed Hifz students, explains that currently students pay about $200 per month. The operating expenses of the school are about $3000 per month.
The studentsâ€™ day is divided into three academic parts separated by breaks and lunch. In the morning, from 8 until 10:30, there is intensive hifz memorization under the tutelage of the Tawheed Centerâ€™s Imam Sohel Mangeria, himself a well-trained hafiz-Qur`an.
From 10:45 until 1:15, the students go to the womenâ€™s portion of the mosque, where under 2 paid teachers from the community, they study the well-planned Calvert homeschool curriculum. The Tawheed Center purchased Calvert grades 2 through 8, at a cost of about $700 per year–each Calvert year program is a â€œschool in a box,â€ with everything a student needs to complete an entire academic year that is truly comparable to or better than an academic year in a full-time school–usually the year is guided primarily by the parent, but it is possible for students to be largely self-directed after about 4th grade.
After lunch and play, the students finish the day with two more hours of memorization and learning Qur`an.
All of this is followed by two hours of homework–no time for television!
The students have a uniform in that they must wear a hat, and pants that come to an end between the ankles and the knees.
The students learn rules of holding and respecting Qur`an, of thinking before they speak, and of course memorization–lots and lots of memorization. The oldest of the students I talked to, Omer Zafar, an 11-year-old 6th grader who transferred into the Tawheed Hifz program from the Huda School (another successful local Islamic school that has a different focus) has now memorized approximately 11 juz of Qur`an. Omer explained that although he had been a straight-A student at Huda, he appreciates the disciplined and rigorous atmosphere of the Tawheed Hifz program.
Khalid Zafar, his father, explains that the mosque plans to keep the Tawheed Hifz students measured against mainstream students by means of MEAP testing.
The goal of the program is to train huffaz–once the student is hafiz-Qur`an the student goes immediately back into a mainstream school.
Yusuf Zafar, an 8-year-old 3rd grader who has now memorized 2 juz, says the program is â€œgood compared to Huda.â€
The students all express happiness that there is less corruption at the hifz program than in their previous schools, where they learned â€œswear wordsâ€ and saw long-term arguments between students. There is a down-side, in that they miss the facilities like gyms, school libraries, and art classes–but they have computers at home and so do not lack in that regard.
Students like Omer and the others would likely thrive in almost any academic environment, but this school is an imaginative and creative use of available resources to challenge students in a way that is rewarding both academically and religiously, and we hope it will bring benefit to the entire community–several of the students plan to work eventually as religious scholars.
Tawheed Center Monthly Meeting
Farmington–November 18–The Tawheed Center held its usual monthly meeting this past Saturday night, complete with tasty food and a brief description of the ongoing mosque election process.
About 100 to 150 people were present for the event, a quiet and happy Saturday night which showed the real nature of the Tawheed Center–a community mosque with a tight-knit warm family atmosphere.
Two of the directors are stepping down from the board of directors, and therefore the Tawheed Center must provide replacements–this was the main function of this monthâ€™s meeting, to propel the selection of replacements.
Members of the mosque (membership is automatic for anyone who has given $100 or more to the mosque–and stands at roughly 100 members today) may vote to elect the new board members, in a deliberate and carefully worked out process.
First, members receive mailed nomination forms on which they can select the people they believe should be available to vote on during the election–they mail these forms back.
The mosque then sends every family a list of nominated people, and they vote (2 votes per household–one each for husband and wife) and mail back their ballots. By means of this careful and deliberate process the mosque can avoid any misunderstandings or hurt feelings that might result from an election about which some involved community members might have less involvement than they expect.