I want to build an Islamic school.
This is a dream, of course, because I dream a lot. But this school will be coeducational. The floors will be made of glass like King Solomon’s palace as described in the Qur’an (27:44). Copies of the Qur’an will adorn cherry-sandalwood bookshelves, including original copies without diacriticals. (Believe it or not, the Arabic version of the Qur’an that we read today is not the original. It’s the standardized version produced in Egypt during the twentieth century, and it’s eradicated all the variance in recitation that existed prior to that. This can influence meaning sometimes, though usually not significantly.) Translations of the Qur’an provided would be literal and accurate, like this one, which translates elusive words like ego and piety and legalistic verses correctly.
Enough of that tangent. This school would not necessarily have a uniform, but all students of all genders would be required to cover from the shoulders to the knees. This seems reasonable, and probably wouldn’t provoke unnecessary arguments. Headscarves would be allowed though not required. The school colors would be crystal blue and lavender and white and pale floral rose gold, and it would be domed with waxing crescent moons on gilded pedestals. The architecture would be based on Shaykh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi.
The school would require students to learn some degree of classical or modern Arabic in addition to another foreign language. Unlike foreign language programs in the US, which require students to attain functional fluency over the course of a dreary four years, this school would require functional fluency to be attained within two years, because I am the headmistress, and therefore I get to decide these types of things.
Math and core academics would also be required. The educational system would be standardized so that all students must complete Algebra II by ninth grade and be proficient in calculus by 11th. (I happen to think the American school system in general is way too easy, so my school would be much harder. Yes, I am a simply tyrannical headmistress.)
Biology, chemistry, and a year of physics would all be required. Students would all have to write multiple research papers. No academic slacking would be allowed. Teachers would all have the best qualifications. Students would not have to raise their hand in class; instead a system like the Harkness Method would be employed. (It’s used at gifted children’s institutions such as Exeter, and it works.)
There would be an adjoining prayer hall designed with the architecture of Nasir Al-Mulk of Shiraz in mind. (This is also where I would theoretically want to have my honeymoon if that were to happen, but whatever.)
The prayer halls would be open-floored. Children would pray however they want to, and families would not be segregated by sex. Both girls and boys would say the azaan, and we would welcome child imams of any gender.
Memorization of the Qur’an would be optional, but elementary understanding of the basics of Islam would be required. Further legal theory would have to be studied independently, because I am very much against enforcing an exegetical curriculum beyond the basics of Qur’anic interpretation.
Hadith would be studied secondarily and their unreliability would be greatly emphasized. Only hadith collections that seem accurate (there’s really no way to tell for sure) and paint the Prophet in a respectable light would be subject to formal academic study. All else would be scrutinized and likely discarded.
Poetry, the visual arts, singing, and dancing would be not only allowed but encouraged. Pianos, violins, and concert halls would be provided. Fluffy therapy dogs would be brought on campus regularly, much to the chagrin of Muslim scholars who think dogs are unclean. Parental complaints regarding these policies would be entertained with measured but potent amusement.
Our school would raise money for charity every year, thousands of dollars. We would sponsor orphans in Nepal and send medical supplies to Syria and electricity to Gaza. We would be the best school ever established.
Who would provide the funding for such a school? IDK. That’s not my problem. I just invent the architecture and curriculum. Y’all can deal with all the financial logistics.
Such a school would likely only be possible in a utopian society. For if it were built in Pakistan, it would be bombed. If it were built in Aleppo or Raqqa, it would be shelled to pieces. If it were built in Somalia, it would be vacated in preparation for army standoffs. In the United States it would be declared an “extremist institution.”
Such is our situation.
But anyways. Here is a picture of the school’s garden, because I like to be optimistic in faith: