I never went to a new muslim class. Come to think of it, I’ve been to very few real life based classes. One of the reasons is because the teachers rarely state their biases outright. One has to have a certain level of sophistication in order to detect the leaning of the materials. At least from what I’ve seen, many classes aimed at new muslims or that cover the basics, have a strong salafi leaning. But do they tell you that? Noooo.
For example, I went to an aqidah class a few months back. Everything was chugging along when wham, “there are several groups who have very similar aqidahs to ahl al sunnah wa jamaah, but they are deviant. Asharis, maturidis…” Argh! *pulls hair out from under hijab*
If you’re going to teach an aqidah class, you have two choices. One, teach the basics that all the different aqidah schools agree on. They agree on most. Why dwell on disputed points like the literality of Allah’s (swt) hand and foot? Why declare a large portion of the sunni muslim ummah to be outside of ahl al sunnah wa jamaah?
The second choice is to state right out from the front – this is an aqidah class from x perspective. Don’t pretend that your point of view is the be all and end all of islam. Muslims have been disagreeing about this for centuries, and those differing points of view have survived through to this day.
These two choices hold true for all classes. Welcome to Islam 101. Now that we’ve gone over the 5 pillars and the 6 articles of faith, we’re going to go into some fiqh issues. One thing you all should know is that although Islam is based on the book of Allah (swt), and on the example of His beloved Messenger (saws), muslims do differ on certain points. Don’t worry yourself about these differences at this point in time, but do realize that over the centuries, the greatest scholars of this ummah have disagreed, but did so in a polite manner without declaring their opponents kufar. In this class, we’ll be teaching from x perspective. If you hear something that contradicts what you’ve learned here, don’t be scared, don’t try to argue. Note that different view point, and bring it up in the next class. inshaAllah we’ll discuss it then, and inshaAllah it will help you understand.
That’s why I love Sunnipath. You know where they’re coming from. You know their biases. Their Islam 101 classes are Essentials of Islam (Hanafi, Maliki or Shafi’i). You know what you’re getting right up from.
Ok, with that ramble out of the way, here’s the NPR story.