Essentials of Islam Course

The tradition of Islam, as delivered to us by the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, has always furthered itself through the prophetic method of teaching and learning, heart to heart, from teacher to student. The very essence of our practice relies on sound understanding to guide our belief and acts of worship, drawing us closer to our Creator. There is no shortage of evidence that in today’s world, we are suffering profound deficiencies in our comprehension of the Prophetic Way, but by the grace and permission of Allah, for every ailment, there exists a cure and this cure is knowledge of faith.

The Mihraab Foundation is pleased to announce it will be offering the Essentials of Islam Course, an arrangement of three disciplines formulated to increase our foundational understanding of belief, acceptable practice, and lessons from the life of the Prophet ﷺ. Unlike our weekly Sacred Knowledge Classes, which are designed to accommodate learners in a casual setting, the Essentials of Islam Course is a formal study whereby students will be guided through multiple texts within a specific time frame (9-10 weeks per quarter), and will include various means of assessment by teachers who have been entrusted with ijazat, or licensure to teach, from scholars in whose presence they sat for several years. Truly, this is a blessed opportunity to fulfill the obligation of learning as commanded to the believers by the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.

Registration for Fall Quarter is Now Closed.                                EIC 2017-18 Flyer (11x17 JPEG)

Essentials of Islam Course 2017-18:

These classes have been designed for students to learn obligatory knowledge that will bring us closer to following the Messenger of Allah ﷺ through a consistent method of practice and understanding of Islam. Outlined below is a full description of the course, which textbooks are required, and where they can be purchased, as well as a list of frequently asked questions. Please read over this pertinent information and be prepared on the first day of class. Please contact us at if you have any additional questions. We look forward to seeing you!

Program Overview:

The Essentials of Islam Course is designed to walk students through that which is considered obligatory knowledge for all Muslims to understand and implement. We have also added an elective component in order to contextualize Islam as a complex system of living, passed down through oral and written tradition. It is imperative that students take advantage of attending all three classes; however, there are selective classes as well.

In order to facilitate your success in this course, students should come prepared to take notes and participate. Required textbooks can be purchased online; digital PDFs will be made available when possible. It is recommended that students glance through their textbooks and familiarize themselves with the material.

Course Information:

Class 1 (9am – 9:55am): Sīrah 101 (Life of the Prophet ﷺ)

The significance of studying the life story of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ cannot be emphasized enough. As Muslims, our path to Allah, Most High, lies only in following in the footsteps of His beloved Messenger ﷺ. The current climate around the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is one of hostility, fear, but most of all, misunderstanding. For centuries, the Ummah held a practice of continuously studying the sīrah of our beloved Prophet ﷺ–going through it again and again and again. It is in this spirit that we launch the sīrah class. This study will not only familiarize students with his life events but also build an understanding of the man that he truly was. “Hearts melt when the Beloved of Allah is mentioned.”—Habib Kādhim al Saqqāf. Instructor: Shaykh Umair Ahmad. Required textbook: Muhammad: His Life Based On The Earliest Sources by Martin Lings.

Class 2 (10:05am – 11am): Fiqh 101 (Islamic Jurisprudence – Shafi’i or Hanafi)

Traditionally, after learning the fundamentals of belief, students engage in studies of Jurisprudence or Fiqh. Choosing a school from where one can reference a consistent methodology based on how legal rulings are extracted from the Qur’an and Sunnah is always considered more a matter of access to a teacher and less between selecting a specific madthab as all four are considered valid. Although, living in the West in some ways has allowed greater choice due to the diversity of the Muslim community, access to qualified scholarship is often a barrier. With the addition of Shaykh Umair Ahmad, the Mihraab Foundation is able to offer students a choice between studying the Qur’an and Sunnah as interpreted by either the Hanafi School or the Shafi’i School. The names of the various schools are unimportant; critical is implementing an acceptable practice, based on consistent parameters as developed by thousands of scholars for well over a millennium.  Instructors: Shaykh Qasim Hatem for Shafi’i Fiqh. Required textbook: Al-Mukhtasar al-Saghir, by `Abd Allah b. `Abd al-Rahman BaFadl (translated). Shaykh Umair Ahmad for Hanafi Fiqh. Required textbook: Ascent to Felicity by Abu `I-Ikhlas al-Sharunbulali (translated).

Class 3 (11:10am – 12:05pm): `Aqīdah 101 (Islamic Creed)  

More than any other science, Creed or `Aqidah, is most foundational, and unfortunately, the least understood. In order to facilitate any religious practice, one must understand to whom that practice is devoted, in other words, “Who are you and who is your Lord?” What does the religion of Islam say about the fundamental questions of existence? How do we relate to God? What is Divine Predestination and can it be reconciled with the concept of free will? How do we understand the Word of God, the Qur’an? What of the Prophets and the fall of Iblis? In addition to these topics, several others will be addressed to cultivate a solid understanding of what belief entails. Instructor: Shaykh Qasim Hatem. Required textbook: The Creed of Imam Al-Tahawi, translated by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf.

 Course Teachers:

Shaykh Qasim Hatem

A year after graduating with his bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2003, Shaykh Qasim traveled to Yemen to study in the blessed city of Tarim. He first enrolled in the Badr Language Institute and later moved on to the prestigious seminary, Dar al-Mustafa, to study the traditional Islamic disciplines under some of the most illustrious scholars of our time. Shaykh Qasim completed his rigorous studies in 2011, with primary ijazaat (licensure to teach) in: Shafi’i Fiqh (Jurisprudence), ’Aqeedah (Islamic Creed), Nahu (Arabic grammar), Tajwīd (Quranic recitation in Hafs), and Da’wa (methodology of inviting to Islam).

Shaykh Syed Umair Ahmad

In 2009, Shaykh Umair Ahmad embarked on a journey to South Africa where he attended Madrasah In’aamiyyah to study the Higher Islamic Sciences, which included Sarf (Arabic Morphology), Nahu (Arabic Grammar), Tajwīd (Quranic recitation), Hanafi Fiqh (Jurisprudence), Usul al-Fiqh (Principles of Jurisprudence), Tafsir (Qur’ānic Exegesis), Hadith (Prophetic Traditions). In 2015, Shaykh Umair’s studies culminated in him receiving an ijāzah al-tadris, (licensure to teach) as well as an unbroken chain of transmission by which to narrate the Prophetic Traditions (Ahadith) of such books as the Muwatta of Imam Malik and Imam Muhammad, six of the authenticated books of Prophetic Traditions (the Sihah al-Sittah: Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, Nasa’i, and Ibn Majah), and the Sharh Ma’ani al-Athār of Imam al-Tahawi. He also holds an unbroken chain of recitation of the entire Qur’an in the rendition of Imam Hafs.

Required Booklist for Fall, Winter, and Spring Quarters:

Muhammad: His Life Based On The Earliest Sources by Martin Lings. Inner Traditions: 2006.

From the publisher: Martin Lings’s biography of Muhammad is an internationally acclaimed, comprehensive, and authoritative account of the life of the Prophet. Based on the sira, the eighth- and ninth-century Arabic biographies that recount numerous events in the Prophet’s life, it contains original English translations of many important passages that reveal the words of men and women who heard Muhammad speak and witnessed the events of his life. Scrupulous and exhaustive in its fidelity to its sources, Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources is presented in a narrative style that is easily comprehensible, yet authentic and inspiring in its use of language, reflecting both the simplicity and grandeur of the story it tells. The book has been published in twelve languages and has received numerous awards, including acknowledgement as best biography of the Prophet in English at the National Seerat Conference in Islamabad. This revised edition, which represents the final updates made to the text before the author’s death in 2005, incorporates important additions about the Prophet’s expanding influence and his spreading of the message of Islam into Syria and its neighboring states.

Al-Mukhtasar al-Saghir, by `Abd Allah b. `Abd al-Rahman BaFadl, Abu Malik al-Azhari (trans.). Mihrab Publishing: 2014.

From the publisher: BaFadl wrote al-Muqaddimah al-Hadramiyyah, and its abridgment al-Mukhtasar al-Saghir, for students of knowledge at Qubah Abu Murayyam in Tarim, Yemen. BaFadl composed these works to simplify and facilitate that endeavor. Luminaries like Ibn Hajar al-Haytami, Shams al-Din al-Ramli, Muhammad b. Sulayman al-Kurdi, Muhammad Mahfuz al-Tarmasi, ‘Abd Allah b. Sulayman al-Jarhazi, and others all penned commentaries elucidating these blessed texts. The reason for the widespread acceptance of BaFadl’s books manifests with every turn of the page. Lucid passages explain the most fundamental concepts of fiqh with a conciseness and clarity only possible when a master jurist wields the pen. These works attest to both BaFadl’s sheer brilliance and his closeness to his Lord. He has undoubtedly captured the spirit in which it was first written. The translation presented side-by-side with the Arabic original make this publication an excellent introductory level textbook in the subject of fiqh for the individual, masjid study group, or Qur’an school. This continues a profound and magnificent legacy. From those students of Qubah Abu Murayyam until now, countless are those who have taken tremendous benefit from this masterpiece.

Ascent to Felicity (Maraqi `I-Sadat) by Abu `I-Ikhlas al-Sharunbulali, Faraz A. Khan (trans.). White Thread Press: 2010.

From the publisher: Written by the eminent 11th century Hanafi scholar, Abu ’l-Ikhlas al-Shurunbulali, Ascent to Felicity is a concise yet comprehensive primer in creed and jurisprudence. It spans all five pillars of Islam, as well as the topics of slaughtering, ritual sacrifice, and hunting. To supplement the text, the translator has added key explanatory notes taken from several reliable works on theology and jurisprudence. He has also added appendices that comprise numerous supplications related to the five pillars, presented in Arabic script along with English transliteration, as well as the etiquette of visiting the Messenger of Allāh (Allah bless him peace) in Madina.

The Creed of Imam al-Tahawi, by Imam Abu Ja’far al-Ṭaḥawi or simply al-Ṭaḥawi (843 or 853-933 CE), Shaykh Hamza Yusuf (trans.). Sandala Books: 2009.

From the publisher: In an age of bewildering spiritual and intellectual confusion, creed has never been more important. Every Muslim is obliged to learn it and is promised protection from deviant beliefs by following the unassailable texts of the scholastic community of Islam. Of them all, The Creed of Imam al-Tahawi is the simplest, the most effective, and the least controversial. It serves as a sound basis for Islamic faith and is the most reliable of the early articulations of Muslim belief. Because Imam al-Tahawi avoided involutedly theological issues and systematically presented the most fundamental aspects of dogmatic theology, his creed has achieved an unusual degree of acceptance in the Muslim milieu. In the thousand years since it was written, many great Muslim scholars have penned commentaries on it. It is still studied throughout the Muslim world and increasingly in the West.

Recommended Resources List for Fall, Winter, and Spring Quarters:


Intention of Imam `Abdullah ibn `Alawi al-Haddad

Sirah (Life of the Prophet ):

The Hand of the Prophet by Dr. Mostafa al-Badawi

Why Do We Send Prayers of Peace & Blessings Upon the Beloved Prophet of God? by Shaykh Afroz Ali

The Prophet’s Miracles by Imam Nawawi

Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence):

Understanding the Four Madhhabs: The Problem with Anti-Madhhabism by Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad

Innovation and Creativity in Islam by Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah

The Principal Imams and Their Schools (Audio) by Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah

`Aqidah (Islamic Creed):

Who Are the Ahl as-Sunnah wa’l Jama’ah? by Ahmed ibn Muhammad

One God, Many Names by Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah

Is It Permissible for A Muslim To Believe That Allah Is in the Sky in Literal Sense? by Shaykh Nuh Ha Mim Keller

Suffering and Divine Wisdom by Shaykh Nuh Keller

Islam and Evolution: A Letter to Suleman Ali by Shaykh Nuh Keller

The Attributes of God in Islam (Audio) by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf and Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers:

Q: What are the class dates in Fall, Winter, and Spring Quarters?

A: Fall Quarter: October 14 – December 16, 2017 (no class on November 25). Winter Quarter: January 6 – March 3, 2018. Spring Quarter: March 17 – May 12, 2018.

Q: What is the time schedule of the classes?

A: Class 1 is from 9am – 9:55am (10 min break). Class 2 is from 10:05am – 11am (10 min break). Class 3 is from 11:10am – 12:05pm.

Q: Will I be penalized if I cannot attend every class?

A: Attendance requirements are upon the teacher’s discretion and not attending without an excuse may result in a loss of a student’s participation grade.

Q: How much is tuition per quarter?

A: $180 per quarter for all three classes. For individual classes, the fee is $70 per quarter.

Q: Is financial aid available?

A: Yes. Students must apply through the registration page and financial aid will be given to those who qualify.

Q: What should I do in the event of an absence?

A: Students should make their best effort to attend every class, especially classes on Creed and Jurisprudence. If a student is not able to attend, a courtesy email to the teacher is appropriate as well as arranging to retrieve the lecture notes from a classmate.

Q: Are the classes recorded?

A: Yes, each class is audio recorded. Students may request audio recordings by emailing

Q: Can I sign up for select classes or do I have to register for all three?

A: Yes, you can sign up for select classes or register for all three.

Q: Will childcare be available?

A: No.

Q: Will classes include homework assignments or research papers?

A: Most work will take place during class; however, additional assignments are to the teacher’s discretion.

Q: Are books included in the tuition?

A:  No. All textbooks are to be purchased separately from tuition.

Q: Where can I find the books?

A: Under the course descriptions or on the booklist (all titles are linked to online booksellers; although, they can be purchased elsewhere).

Q: Should I prepare to take notes or maintain a binder?

A: Imam Shafi’i said, “Knowledge is that which is written down” so yes, it is advised to bring something to take notes on in addition to the texts for each class unless the teacher suggests otherwise.

Q: Should I expect exams?

A: Yes; however, the means of doing so are specific to the teacher.

Q: Can I register for multiple quarters or do I have to wait until the announcement of each quarter?

A: Students must register in the time-frame ahead of each quarter.

Q: Is the Essentials of Islam Course a collaboration between MAPS and the Mihraab Foundation?

A: No.

Q: Will sisters have equal access to the knowledge and teachers?

A: Yes.

Q: Is there a minimum age requirement?

A: The Essentials of Islam Course is designed for adults; however, high school age students and above are all encouraged to enroll─exceptions may be granted on a case-by-case basis to younger students.

Q: Can non-Muslims register for the Essentials of Islam Course?

A: Yes.

Q: Can I split classes between myself and a friend?

A: No, classes cannot be divided amongst students.

Q: Can I take both the Hanafi and Shafi’i Jurisprudence classes?

A: No, these classes are held concurrently.

Q: Can I use a different translation from those on the booklist?

A: No. Students should use the same text as assigned in order to be consistent with the teacher; however, students may use the original version of translated texts (or other translated versions for that matter) in addition to that which is found on the booklist.

Q: Is the Mihraab Foundation changing its model?

A: We will continue to offer weekly Sacred Knowledge Classes and Youth Halaqahs at various venues in the area free of charge. For more information, visit the Mihraab homepage. The Essentials of Islam Course is designed for the student who wishes to attend a more in depth and formally structured environment.