A Path to Felicity and Rectitude
An excerpt from al-Farabi’s disquisition on the ‘Excellence of the Sciences and the Arts’ (found in Osman Bakar’s Classification of Knowledge in Islam) validates the potency of pursuing the religious sciences (al-‘ulum al-shar’iyyah), as he describes the excellence of so by virtue of the ‘immensity of the benefits in the science[s], whether these benefits are anticipated or are already presented’. According to al-Farabi, happiness is perfected through the acquisition of knowledge – the sole agent that enables one to ‘perceive reality and thus reach the highest perfection and ultimate happiness’. Admittedly abstract, possibly cheesy and perhaps a misunderstanding of al-Farabi’s fundamental point – such a perspective is understood by myself to be in direct relation to my experience with Sacred Texts.
Whether in study of the language of the Qur’an and the blessed words of the Beloved (peace and blessings be upon him), Islamic Law, the nature and beauty of the Beloved (peace and blessings be upon him) through his sayings and physical appearance, or of God and His divine attributes – my experience of studying such blessed sciences, in respect to the exceptional guidance of our great teachers, has completely changed my life.
In particular, the study of Aqidah during the Language and Revelation programme and developed during the Studies in Tradition programme has enabled me to have a much better understanding of God and has subsequently cleared many misconceptions and common misunderstandings I had previously believed in regards to the essence and attributes of God. The study of amazing texts such as Imam al-Ghazali’s The Foundation of the Articles of Faith (Qawaid al–‘Aqa’id) really put things into perspective – especially due to the guidance of the teachers, who have done an amazing job in teaching the subject in such detail but in a way that is yet easily understandable for someone like myself; who has a difficult time comprehending basic concepts and ideas.
Best described as a felicitous experience – a new and proper understanding of God has allowed me to ponder and reflect on God, reminding me of God’s saying: “Indeed, it is in the remembrance of God that hearts find rest and contentment.” [13:28]
The Hadith module in the Language and Revelation programme, covering Imam al-Nawawi’s Forty Hadith, was also a humbling experience. Having heard the sayings of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) constantly throughout my childhood, I was surprised to learn the vastness of the meaning and implications of such narrations. This module personally has represented an entirely renewed meaning to moral rectitude – giving me the tools to, if God wills, better both my conduct and thinking.
Lastly and most importantly, it is important to note the practicality and flexibility of the course. Before enrolling, I had various doubts as to how I can balance my studies and such a seemingly challenging course. Yet, having completed almost three years of the course, I can confidently say that such a course is completely accommodating for any imaginable challenges you may face.
The course, in terms of its contact only being one day a week, and by its ability to nurture one into being able to develop on his/her studies during non-contact hours, is unique and, from my knowledge, the only course that enables one to do so. Whether it may be work, studies, or any other commitment that you feel may have to be compromised, my experience (and alongside my friends at the course) should reassure you that – despite the fact that it may be challenging from the outset – all courses offered will be practical, enjoyable and incredibly beneficial.