IQRA’: The Apple of Islamic Education

Most people don’t equate Apple Computers with an Islamic publishing company, but the parallels between Iqra and Apple are many and varied.

Twenty years ago there was no such thing as an Apple home computer. Ten years ago there was no such thing as an iPod. Five years ago there was no such thing as an iPhone or an iPad. People wrote papers on electronic typewriters, listened to music on Walkmans, talked to each other on land lines, and played games on their TV sets. No one imagined that an interconnected family of devices could meet all those needs and more. Yet now, millions of people around the globe depend on Apple products for all their writing, listening, communication and entertainment needs. Apple created a line of products that made things easier, educated the public about them, and became the manufacturer of an indispensable part of 21st century living. And all this was the vision of two guys who saw what could be done to improve things and worked to do so without faltering.

Similarly, twenty years ago there were no Islamic textbooks in English. Ten years ago there were no graded series that provided teachers with continuity from one grade to the next. Five years ago there were no integrated curricula for Islamic and Arabic studies. Principals and teachers had to put their syllabi together piecemeal, pecking out random Islamic and Arabic resources from wherever they could find them. Yet now, IQRA provides a comprehensive curricula to Islamic schools around the world, who depend on their systematic approach to complete, integrated Islamic education. And all this began in the 1980s with the vision of Abdullah and Tasneema Ghazi, who have worked tirelessly over the past two decades to bring Islamic education to the same level as core subject curricula.

One of the successes of both companies is that they have developed almost universal brand recognition. Everyone in the computing world knows the apple with a bite missing, and it’s seen being used by actors in movies as well as students in coffee shops. Likewise, when anyone in the English–speaking Muslim world says they use IQRA’s curricula, everyone else in that world knows what they mean, and knows that what they mean is business – the business of giving Muslim children a quality education and teaching them to love Islam, not just know the rules.

Finally, Steve Jobs and the team at Apple are masters of the wow effect. When one opens an Apple product, sees all the sharp, colorful packaging, reads the easy-to-understand instruction manual, and plugs in their product to the miracle of having it work well straight away, they can’t help but marvel, “WOW!” Muslim educators are being treated to a similar wow effect by virtue of IQRA’s ever-growing inventory of inspiring Islamic studies books and textbooks, colorful new editions of classic books with stunning graphics, and now state-of-the-art ebook publishing so that schools and students can benefit from Islamic information in both hard-copy and electronic formats. Readers can now take their IQRA books with them to study and enjoy on their iPad, Mac, Kindle, Nook or PC.

The two companies with so much in common now provide the hardware and content that will allow Muslim students to study structured Islamic curricula wherever they are.

Can an American Islamic Culture Arise on These Shores?

By: Muhammed Abdullah al-Ahari

What is the future for an American Islam that is able to be seen as a full component part of the larger Muslim world? In other nations Muslims were able to be Malay and Muslim, Berber and Muslim, Indian and Muslim, or even Turkish and Muslim.

Muslims have been in the Unites States ever since Columbus “discovered” the New World and claimed it for the Crown of Spain. During the time of slavery, Muslims were here and some were able to preserve some of their culture for a short time. We see this in Selim the Algerine attending the first Continental Congress and in the Arabic writings of al-Hajj ‘Umar ibn Said and Bilali Muhammad and his selections from the Maliki fiqh text al-Risalah.

When slavery ended we had some false starts at an American Islamic Community. The most noteworthy, from the beginning of the 20th century, was from a Missouri born convert – Muhammad Alexander Russell Webb – who founded an Islamic journal and press and wrote the first text for propagation of Islam in America.

After the fall of the Ottoman Empire and World War I, large numbers of Arab, Turkish, Albanian, and Bosnian immigrants came to America. Most assimilated quickly and only further immigration kept the number of Muslims growing.

In the general American society many ills were occurring such as Racism, Sexism, etc. The abused saw Islam as a solution but the immigrant (for the most part) were not spreading the Message of Islam. Therefore, sects and schisms arose that spoke more of solving social ills than of practicing Islam.

In the late 1950s the Sunday School Movement was started in Toledo by the Bosnian scholar Shaykh Kamil Yusuf Avdich – a graduate of Sarajevo’s Gazi Husref Bey’s Madressa and Cairo’s al-Azhar. He also helped to start four Islamic journals in America and to open the Northbrook, Illinois Islamic Cultural Center (ICC) and the Bosnian American Cultural Home formerly on Halsted in Chicago from which the ICC grew.

From that humble center on Halsted, MCC (Chicago’s Muslim Cultural Center) and Mosque Foundation were given birth. Today we see the fruit of the pioneers, but we are still chasing after every identity but that as American Muslims.  The tragedy of September 11th should have opened our eyes. As American Muslims we were harmed also. Our brothers and sisters were killed in the twin towers.

How to we achieve the American Muslim Identity?

Several scholars have provided answers such as Dr. Ismail Farooqi and the “Islamization of English” and many social scientists that are beginning to see Islam as an American phenomenon. However, like all cultures, we need an Islam that is a reflection of the culture we are in. Muslim societies have done this in the past by the use of prose, poetry, novels, and other literary devices. Food, clothing, and change in language are other ways this can be affected. It is hoped that we as American Muslims can find a path to develop as a cultured people.

MOOZ-lum in Kansas City

“MOOZ-lum” The Movie playing in Kansas City.
Sat, May 14, 2011

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