IOU - "First Day" Course Review
I recently signed up for Islamic Online University's ( http://www.islamiconlineuniversity.com/ ) free courses, and started with the absolute basic course. They call this "The First Day" and it is intended for new Muslims who literally accepted Islam that day, or are thinking of accepting Islam and want to know what to expect. I figured I would give a lengthy review so that others might see what the course has to offer and perhaps recommend it to others that may benefit from it. The different classes are in Modules that I will outline below. Each comes with a written text (.pdf file), an audio version, and a video version of the lesson. The audio version is the exact same as the video version without the visuals.
Module 1: Your Conversion to Islam
This module goes over the basic understandings of converting to Islam. It stresses that conversion should be based on knowledge, not emotions, and you should be fully conscious of what you are doing for the sake of Allah and not for any other reason. It reviews basic differences between Islam and other religions (that Jesus (pbuh) was a man and not a god such as in Christianity, that Allah does not take the form of his creation such as in Hinduism), and notes that there is no idolatry in Islam, nor is Muhammad (pbuh) to be worshiped. It goes very briefly over the pillars of Islam, reasons for conversion and when not to convert, and what to expect when you convert.
My only real criticism, and it runs throughout this course, is that it assumes that the person will be making their conversion at a mosque or other Islamic center. As someone who does not have a mosque within several hours drive, I would have liked to have seen more on one's options if a mosque was not available.
Module 2: Wudu
This module goes quite in depth into making wudu, as it is established that it is the responsibility of the new Muslim to begin praying immediately after they convert. This goes into the next logical lesson . . .
Module 3: The Salah
This lesson has a lot of good advice for new Muslims who are praying at a mosque with others . . . to follow along in the movements while seeking guidance from Allah, don't do things like look at your watch, no talking, the benefits of praying five times a day. But it does not actually teach you HOW to pray; they do this in a later course (called "The First Week") and I think it would have been very beneficial to at least have a video to follow along to for those who are not at a mosque or for after they have gone home. Yes, it is easy to find these online, but some are not as good as others and a very good one I think would have made a valid addition.
Module 4: The Act of Salah
This module goes over the very, VERY basic movements in the prayer. It is in no way an instruction manual on how to pray, it is more of "this is the general jist of what the imam is going to do in front of you". I think very few new Muslims would find this module terribly helpful, and again, an actual video of the prayer would have been better.
Module 5: Pairing the Convert
This lesson talks about how a new convert will usually be paired with someone at the masjid to help them through their early weeks of their Islam. I'm sure it would be helpful for someone who is going to mosque, but I cannot comment much on it as it does not apply to me. This would have been a good place to include where to find information if you are not a part of a muslim community due to distance.
Module 6: Letter to the Imam:
Another helpful lesson on introducing yourself to the imam of your mosque. For those who do not attend a mosque, it would have been a good place to list resources for finding rulings from reputable scholars or something to that effect.
Module 7: The Ghusl:
A concise but thorough enough explanation on how to perform ghusl, and how and why it is recommended for new Muslims, when it is needed after conversion, as well as the difference between ghusl and a baptism.
Module 8: Covering the Awrah
This lesson goes over the basics of Islamic dress for both men and women, and why it is required. I would have liked to have seen a link for information as to how to wear the hijab here, rather than just saying "it's a scarf".
Module 9: Major Muharramat
Covers the basic prohibitions quite well: fornication, pork, alcohol, and usury. They did a very good job of explaining "why" to a new Muslim without going into verses.
Module 10: Hiding Islam:
A lesson on when it is okay to hide your Islam, and explaining that it is acceptable to do so. A good module for those in the West who are at risk of losing their jobs over it and such (yeah yeah, supposedly we are protected by law, but that's not how it really works).
Module 11: Seasonal Acts of Worship
An overview of Ramadan and the Hajj. I really liked the emphasis on "don't wait" for either of these, to start fasting immediately if you convert during Ramadan and to make the Hajj as soon as you are able to, rather than putting it off until later "to cleanse yourself".
Module 12: The Gift
A short lesson on how giving gifts in Islam, especially to new converts, is common and should not be seen as "paying" you to accept Islam. Actually just a great lesson on gift-giving in general.
After each of these modules is a 5 question quiz - you are graded - and at the end of it all is a 50 question exam, also graded. You receive a certificate that you can print out after passing the final exam, and they will mail you a hard copy if you are willing to pay for it.
Overall I think it is an excellent course for the person who has ALREADY decided to accept Islam. There is not much in it to convince someone to convert to Islam, so this is not the appropriate type of class for them. My two biggest criticisms are that
1.) There is not much help for the person who is converting without the aid of a Muslim community to back them up, and they may become discouraged and feel a little bit lost
2.) There is NO emphasis on reading the Qur'an, really. I do not know if they are assuming that the convert has already read it and that is why they decided to convert or what, but I would have liked to have seen a lot more emphasis on the benefits of reading the Qur'an from day one.
It also needs to be noted that the course is called "The First Day" for a reason: it is intended to be completed in the first day or two after conversion, if possible. The next course that they offer is called "The First Week" and is intended to go much more in depth into the basics of Islam. I have only just barely started it (and at a very bad time as I am working a TON of overtime with two people on vacation at work) and can say that the first lesson, for example, goes much more in depth on how to pray and starts teaching the basics of Arabic that a person will hear often (Bismillah, Alhamduillah, etc) as well as starting to memorize Surah Al-Fatiha. When I finish the "First Week" courses I will post a review of those as well, insha'Allah.
Re: IOU - "First Day" Course Review
will be interested to hear your thoughts on the first week, iou have a bunch of neat free papers so definitely make the most of them
worship the creator not the creation
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Last Post: 12-02-2010, 11:32 PM