How should the instruction and education of the foundations and associations that have university students or high school students in their dormitories be like?
Succeeding at school subjects, knowing one’s self, having deep knowledge of one’s own history and knowing the world are of course among the objectives. However, it is obvious that the good pleasure of Allah and education related to it should be the main objective and basis, and all the other studies and works should be correlated to that basis and be canalized towards marifatullah – the knowledge of Allah. In this regard in the education of students ‘one point of the compass divider’ should always stay on faith subjects and marifatullah and then the instruction and education should go on with this respect by drawing wide circles. Regarding this issue it has been observed and experienced that benefiting from the Risale-i Nur (The Book of Light) gives successful results for both worldly and religious lives of students.
Their education should not be limited with instructional content; behavioural and moral improvement of manners must be included too.
Boarding students attend their schools in daytime. In the evenings they should follow a religious program apart from their allocated time for school assignments and works. They should stay together with a friend group who are able to exercise and share their knowledge and experiences with each other in the circle of Sunnah (model practices, customs, and traditions of The Prophet (PBUH). This sharing among students is the most precious part of their education process, for the knowledge they get transforms into practical experience and behaviour through time, and this is what is ideally aimed.
When students come to board, first of all, an affectionate and sincere brotherhood has to be established in terms of helping them get rid of some old habits and bad effects of their nafs. It must be ensured that they feel themselves in a close friendship, brotherhood and a family-like environment. After this orientation period, they should be taught how to read the Qur’an as soon as possible; or tajwid if they already know reading the Qur’an. In this step, fundamental religious knowledge and Islamic manners (Sunnah based) should be instructed. After that period, their education must be based on increasing their marifatullah. Weekly and monthly programs have to be prepared and checked in order to strengthen what they learn.
Student training program should not only be unique to the boarding university and high school students, all university, high school or secondary school students who live with their families should also be involved in these programs. Good relations should be formed with these students and their families. These students must be helped with their school subjects and also their religious awareness should be increased by lessons of marifatullah. All these studies should be arranged according to a plan and needs of addressee such as teaching Qur’an, Islamic fundamentals, reading books like the Risale-i Nur.
Goals in this process are:
1. Having a strong faith.
2. Gaining a complete Islamic consciousness.
3. Reaching to the goal of living the moral principles of Islam and Sunnah
4. Being equipped with the necessary knowledge and awareness towards bid’ah sayyia (bad innovation in religion)
5. Gaining love and awareness of serving the religion of Islam
Some contents of the daily, weekly and annual programmes and routines applied in the Risale-i Nur based dormitories or residential house-madrasas in Turkey are as follows:
I- DAILY AND WEEKLY PROGRAMMES
Since majority of the boarding students are mainly university and high school students, programs need to be arranged according to school times, especially after morning prayer and after school in the evenings.
1. Reading Qur’an: The first thing for a beginner is to learn how to read the Holy Quran. If they already know how to read it, they should study tajweed and qiraat. To ensure a habit of reading Qur’an, every student are included in a local khatm of Qur’an group, and at least one juz (part) of the Qur’an is given for every week.
2. Scholarly Study: Every evening in the madrasas a scholarly subject is read altogether for one hour. What we call “madrasa” is not a school in Arabic here. It is a house where university students stay together or other types of residence, dormitory etc where students stay and do receive Islamic education after their school hours). Everyone in these studies should aim at being a student of knowledge with which all Muslims are encouraged.
3. Memorisation (Hifz): Every morning or at the weekends, after morning prayers various surahs of Quran should be memorized. After finishing them, some important risalas that teach marifatullah can also be memorized. Among the benefits of memorization; its being engraved to the spirit of human, having a chance to use the memorised knowledge easily whenever required, and giving fluency and eloquence by improving speaking skills are the well-known ones. Therefore, memorization must be put particular emphasis on.
In a period of four years, students are expected to memorise at least the Juz of Amma, Surah Yaseen, Suratul Mulk, and Suratul Fath as well as necessary dua like tasbeehat after the salah, Names of Allah, some awrād and azkār (devotional litanies) mentioned in the ahadith.
4. Lectures (Durūs): After evening studies, the responsible person (it could be a well-trained student-leader of the residential madrasa or ideally the “waqif” who dedicated his life to train students) and the residential students give lectures in a sequence every day from among subjects determined earlier. It takes half an hour and students (who will give lecture) get prepared beforehand. Participation of listeners is important and they are encouraged to interact during the lessons so as not to make the lectures monotonous. These lectures have an important role in training them and growing consciousness of students; and this is a well experienced truth that it helps individual and spiritual development.
6. Additional Studies: After school times, students are encouraged to study more in order to increase their level of knowledge and wisdom. These additional studies are scheduled with daily targets for finishing a book in a month or so. To encourage students, achievements are rewarded with group travels and free books as a gift.
7. Performing the Daily Prayers in jamaah: Salah should be performed in jamaah (congregation or in community) as much as possible. Tasbihat and duas after Salah should not be missed and if possible be done all together.
9. Weekly Lectures: Weekly adult lectures are held in a central residential or house madrasa with the participation of local people from the neighbourhood. Participation of boarding students is also important for getting benefit from lectures, being acquainted with students from other house-madrasas and having close brotherhood and friendship with the people that attend the lectures.Two kinds of lectures are made as occasion requires. First one is the lecture related with truths of Qur’an and iman; the second one is about consciousness of serving iman. The aim of these lectures is to make the students and local people conscious of serving Islam.
II. ANNUAL PROGRAMMES
Residentials in Semester and Summer Holidays
In semester and summer holidays, the aim of residential study circles and studies is to advance the Islamic knowledge and to improve the manners of students. This is an intensive programme where the students stay in a different madrasa or a central and bigger madrasa. These studies should be held during at least one week in a semester and four weeks in summer holidays. All students gather in one place or more depending upon the number.
The similar programme implemented during the school terms is expanded to the whole day during the holiday studies, and all the attention of students is directed to the programme. Because they can now easily focus on reading, writing, memorising, doing dua and not going to university during the day, sometimes a student can gain such a high level of consciousness in a summer program that one could otherwise reach in a term. These study circles and residentials can be more instrumental and effective than a study of a year with university participation.
Last but not least, some of the factors that train a student and help them attain shu’ur (awareness) to serve the deen can be achieved in many ways some of which are designating them some tasks to do like following up a another student generally a younger student, giving lectures to school friends, working on a project ie: being part of the project or leading parts of it.
The most important thing for a student is to realize what they are doing and why they are doing that. The overarching aim of all studies is to let the students obtain awareness. If they know what they are doing and what they are going to do, it will be easy for them to find how to do that as well.
We ask Allah (swt) for the sake of deen to grant us success in the activities and studies we perform in the way of gaining the Divine pleasure (ridha) of Allah.