Step One – Courses 

On Spirituality: Living the Sunna, Leaving Sin, and Acquiring Good Character: Ghazali’s Beginning of Guidance

Introduction

The Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) warned that those who learn sacred knowledge to gain the admiration of other people would be among the first to be thrown into the Hellfire. (Muslim) Take this course to learn how to be sincere in your quest for sacred knowledge by (1) avoiding the sins of the outward limbs, (2) avoiding the sins of the heart, and (3) having a good character with other people.

Curricular Context

  • Before taking this course, take The Absolute Essentials of Islam (Hanafi) or The Absolute Essentials of Islam (Shafi‘i)
  • Take this course before all courses in Step Two

Course Prerequisites: The Absolute Essentials of Islam (Hanafi) or The Absolute Essentials of Islam (Shafi‘i)

Course Outline

LESSON 1: Introduction to the Text and Author

LESSON 2: Importance of Routines and Courtesy to the Divine

LESSON 3: On Purification

LESSON 4: On Visiting the Mosque and the Time Before Sunrise

LESSON 5: The Value of Time

LESSON 6: One’s Daily Afternoon Routine

LESSON 7: The Etiquette of Sleep

LESSON 8: The Method and Etiquette of the Ritual Prayer

LESSON 9: On Facing Allah Most High With Awe and Reverence in the Prayer

LESSON 10: The Etiquette of Leading and Following in the Prayer

LESSON 11: The Etiquette of Friday

LESSON 12: The Etiquette of Fasting

LESSON 13: Introduction to the Sins Committed By the Limbs

LESSON 14: Sins of the Tongue

LESSON 15: Sins of the Tongue (Continued)

LESSON 16: Sins of the Stomach, Private Parts, Hands, and Feet

LESSON 17: Envy and Ostentation

LESSON 18: Conceit, Arrogance, and Pride

LESSON 19: Etiquette of Companionship With the Creator and Creation

LESSON 20: Etiquette With the Book of Allah

LESSON 21: Etiquette of the Teacher

LESSON 22: Etiquette of the Student

LESSON 23: Etiquette of Dealing With People You Don’t Know

LESSON 24: Duties With Brothers and Friends

What You Will Learn:

  • Distinguish between true religious knowledge that is beneficial and ostensibly religious knowledge that is not
  • Identify instances of the sins of the limbs (particularly those of the tongue)
  • Identify instances of the sins of the heart
  • Complete a regimen of protecting your tongue from sin
  • Improve your character with your teachers, relatives, friends, and strangers
  • Appreciate the spiritual value of good company

Course Format: 24 downloadable lessons, plus live sessions.

About the Course Text

This course is an exposition of Bidayat al-Hidaya (“Beginning of Guidance”), the greatest scholar of his time and arguably the most famous scholar of Islam who ever lived, Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (d. 505 A.H. / 1111 C.E.). Imam al-Ghazali is unanimously regarded as the renewer (mujaddid) of Islam of his century, first for his intellectual defense of traditional Islamic beliefs against Avicennan philosophy, and then for his powerful spiritual reinvigoration of the Islamic sciences through his magnum opus, the 40-part Ihya ‘Ulum al-Din (“Revival of the Religious Sciences”). The textbook for this course, Bidayat al-Hidaya, one of his last works, is written for students who are beginning their religious studies to warn them against the dangers of ostentation, and to teach them how to use their religious knowledge towards their own benefit for eternity.

 

What Muslims Believe and Why: Dardir’s Kharida al-Bahiyya

Introduction

An introduction to the formal study of Islamic beliefs through a traditional manual of Islamic theology. Take this course to understand the basic methods of Islamic logic and how to use them to gain evidence-based conviction in Allah Most High, His attributes, His messengers, and the afterlife. This knowledge that you will learn in this course is the context that will give your life its purpose.

Curricular Context

  • This is a second-level course in Step One.
  • Before taking this course, take The Absolute Essentials of Islam (Hanafi) or The Absolute Essentials of Islam (Shafi‘i)
  • Take this course before all courses in Step Two.

Course Requirements: The Absolute Essentials of Islam (Hanafi) or The Absolute Essentials of Islam (Shafi‘i)

Course Outline

Introduction:
LESSON 1 – Introduction to Class and Biography of Author
Logical Rulings:
LESSON 2 – Introduction to Categories of Rational or Logical Rulings and What is Necessary for Allah Most High
LESSON 3 – What is Impossible and Possible for Allah Most High and Islamic Atomic Theory
Theology (Ilahiyyat):
LESSON 4 – Introduction to Theology and Attributes of Negation
LESSON 5 – Logical Absurdities: Infinite Regress (tasalsul) and Circularity (dawr)
LESSON 6 – Attributes of Affirmation
LESSON 7 – Relationship Between Attributes of Affirmation
LESSON 8 – Logically Impossible for Allah Most High
Prophetology (Nubuwwat)
LESSON 9 – Introduction and What is Necessary for the Prophets
LESSON 10 – What is Impossible and Possible for the Prophets
Eschatology (Sam’iyyat)
LESSON 11 – Angels, Jinn, and the Afterlife
Sufism
LESSON 12 – Sufism and Ending Comments

What You Will Learn:

  • Learn and use the basic logical methods of traditional Islamic theology
  • Memorize the attributes of Allah Most High, His messengers, His angels, and other unseen beings
  • Memorize the key events that will take place after death
  • Develop evidence-based conviction in all of the above
  • Understand how to turn mental conviction into spiritual certainty
  • Appreciate the logical rigor of Islamic theology


Course Format: 
12 downloadable lessons, 3 live sessions.

About the Course Text

An introduction to the formal study of Islamic beliefs through a traditional manual of Islamic theology. Take this course to understand the basic methods of Islamic logic and how to use them to gain evidence-based conviction in Allah Most High, His attributes, His messengers, and the afterlife. This knowledge that you will learn in this course is the context that will give your life its purpose. The course is an explanation of al-Kharida al-Bahiyya (“The Lustrous Pearl”), an introduction to the science of Islamic theology by the great theologian, spiritual master, and foremost Maliki jurist of al-Azhar, Shaykh Ahmad al-Dardir (d. 1201 A.H. / 1786 C.E.). The Kharida is a 71-line didactic poem that, in its own words, is “slight and small in size, but great in knowledge.” For hundreds of years, it has been studied and memorized by beginners of Islamic theology, and is frequently quoted by students and teachers alike because of its pithy expressions. A downloadable copy of the course text in both English and Arabic is provided as part of the course materials.