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From Students to Teachers: Al Manhal Institute Increases Ilm

Hafizah Ismail narrates how a handful of sisters filled a gap in the UK by starting up a Qur’an school inclusive to all Muslim women.

Al Manhal Institute, Manchester, is a non-profit organisation soon to become a UK registered charity, offering structured courses in the study of the Noble Qur’an with a focus on proficient recitation, or tajweed. Bringing the love of Qur’an into the household of each student is a primary goal of Al Manhal. They strive to not only help others recite the Qur’an correctly, but to understand and live by it, purely for the sake of Allah (SWT).

 

 
The Founding Women
After settling in Manchester, a group of sisters who had obtained their ijazah (permission to teach) in Jordan, saw a need in their new community that was too significant to overlook; the need for a place where sisters could learn the authentic way of reading and reciting Qur’an.  Though they had never taught under an organisation before, they placed their full trust in Allah (SWT) and began teaching women tajweed. Driven by the belief that once you learn something, you must spread it, they made it their life mission to teach others the knowledge of Qur’an that they had been gifted with by Allah (SWT).

 

 

These humble sisters have requested that their identities not be published, feeling that it would take away from the essence of their work; which is purely for the sake of Allah (SWT). They believe that by Allah’s will, it is their collective efforts that have contributed to Al Manhal’s realisation and success.

 

 

These women have lived and continue to live by this beautiful hadith:  “The Prophet said, ‘The most superior among you (Muslims) are those who learn the Qur’an and teach it’.” (Sahih Bukhari)

 

 
The Start Up – From Then to Now
Beginning in 2003, the classes were only taught in Arabic, but in 2005, English classes started becoming available after Al Manhal’s main course book ‘Al Muneer’ was translated. Starting off with 12 English speaking students in the Didsbury Masjid, the class sizes have since grown exponentially masha Allah. In addition to Manchester, courses are now taught in Bradford, England; Glasgow, Scotland; and Bangor, North Wales.

 

 

The institute also benefits greatly from its strong links to The Society of the Conservation of the Qur’an, Jordan, via their assistance in many areas including teacher training and assessment, examinations and issuing of some certificates.

 

 

The Programme
Al Manhal is an all-inclusive professional organisation catering to sisters from all walks of life who want to strengthen their relationship with the Qur’an and ultimately, their creator. From bare basics for absolute beginners to advanced classes for the proficient, instruction takes place in masjids all around Manchester, UK, with the main office in the Didsbury Central Mosque (also known as ‘Manchester Islamic Centre’).

 

 

Originally in Arabic, the curriculum has been translated into English and organised into structured classes. The inclusive curriculum includes detailed lesson plans, and written and oral exams, with an emphasis on multifaceted learning using audio, visual and kinesthetic methods of teaching. High importance is placed on group activities in order to motivate the students. As one student mentions:

“Alhamdullilah, revising with other students has been very beneficial, as we can share tips and ideas. Each person brings their own ideas and understanding to the topics and lessons. When one person forgets, another remembers. And because we are learning for the sake of Allah, you don’t feel like you are in competition with each other, so sharing knowledge is definitely beneficial.”  – Shaila Hussain
 

 
For sisters who have graduated from the institute, extra lessons are made available via Skype in order for them to maintain and update their knowledge of both hifdh (memorisation to safeguard Qur’an) and theory.

 

 
The institute has several unique features, with an important one being that it offers a complete curriculum for learning tajweed, starting with an introductory level for beginners, progressing all the way up to an ijazah masha Allah. Also when it comes to tajweed, Al Manhal provides a balance between theory and practice, something that is so rare to find.

 

 
The Teachers
With over 30 volunteer teachers working solely for the pleasure of Allah (SWT), Al Manhal is flourishing from their tireless efforts. By recognising the uniqueness of each individual and resisting the temptation to engage in the one-size-fits-all approach of mass schooling, our teachers help students feel respected and remain engaged throughout an enjoyable learning process. Fostering an atmosphere full of love, while always maintaining professionalism, is given great importance.

 

 
“They have wonderful, down-to-earth teachers, who go beyond the call of duty to support and help students. There is a real family atmosphere here.” – Bilkisu Abdullahi

 

 
Upon passing an external qualification examination with a qualified sheikh, teachers are required to participate in ongoing training to keep them up-to-date with the best teaching methods and ready to deliver their course in the most effective ways.

 

 
The sincerity of the volunteers who have dedicated themselves to spreading the ‘ilm (knowledge) of Qur’an recitation is exuded in their humble and benevolent teaching style.

 

 
“The sisters who teach for this organisation – their love for the Qur’an permeates their personalities, making them respected and truly loved by their students. No matter how difficult a student finds the study of Qur’an and tajweed, Al Manhal teachers instruct them with such care and dedication that no one is left feeling that it is an insurmountable task.” – Zaiba Sadiq
 

 
The Students
Young women, mothers with babies and grandmothers alike have been warmly welcomed at the institute. The population is extremely diverse with sisters of all ages and nationalities, both new Muslims and born Muslims, all working together. The institute attracts such a large group of women because they do not shut their doors on anyone; even the mother who brings her small children with her is welcomed and encouraged to learn to her heart’s content.

 

 

 
Women come here for many different reasons. Some have not recited Qur’an for a long time and need practice, some can recite fluently but without proper pronunciation or Tajweed, and some have literally no prior knowledge of the Arabic language and want to learn how to read. Though their motivations may be different, their ultimate goal is the same: to strengthen their relationship with the Qur’an in order to gain the pleasure of Allah (SWT).

 

 

Future Plans
Al Manhal is in the process of becoming a registered charity and hopes to expand its unique teaching methods throughout the UK in order to benefit many more sisters insha Allah. Already in progress is the plan to visit Glasgow again this summer and teach various courses in tajweed.

 

 
Renting or purchasing a better location where classes can be held throughout the week is also high on the to-do list, as well as having offices to plan and produce resources. On a larger international scale, we are working on plans to develop an online curriculum for those who are unable to attend one of our physical locations. We pray insha Allah that Allah (SWT) puts barakah in their efforts and allows them to reach out to many more sisters in the future.

 

 
Donations are welcome to assist in realising these plans and insha Allah will earn the givers sadaqah jariya (charity which continues to receive blessings after the giver’s death).

 

 

More information cane be found here.

 

 
Hafizah Ismail is an educational consultant, life coach, founder of Children of Jannah and a student and teacher of Al Manhal Institute.  For more information, visit: http://tajweed.org.uk/.

 

 

 

Madrassa An-Noor – Institute for Visually Impaired