The Vision

To provide an education that brings us closer to the Creator; a process of learning based on the Qur’anic worldview, encompassing all curricular disciplines, in order to develop critical minds, conscious hearts, and compassionate human beings; learning that will support the lifelong journey to embody the teachings of the Qur’an.

Origin of the Initiative

Sakinah Circle has grown out of a specific vision of education based on the Qur’anic worldview developed by the Muslim Education Foundation (MEF)—a society registered with Alberta Registrar of Corporations. Articulated in considerable detail in Concentric Circles: Nurturing Awe and Wonder in Early Learning: A Foundational Approach (2006), this approach to holistic learning, grounded in Islamic spiritual and intellectual tradition, has received enthusiastic response from Edmonton’s growing Muslim community. As a result of well-established educational needs in the Muslim community, MEF approached the principal at the Argyll Centre for Home Education in 2006 for support in developing a program of education based on the vision described below. Sakinah Circle started as an alternative pilot in 2007.

The Mission

To provide guidance and an environment that recognizes the learner’s fitrah (innate nature), nurtures taqwa (God consciousness), and cultivates learners who strive to become khulafah (vicegerents of Allah).

Sakinah Circle has a commitment to meet the Alberta Program of Studies learning outcomes in each of the academic disciplines. The units of study will be approached thematically using approved resources to support learning and integrating Qur’anic content, Islamic concepts and tradition where appropriate to enrich the life sense and values central to the Islamic way of life. The emphasis on holistic learning of useful knowledge which addresses the spiritual, intellectual, aesthetic, and practical needs of the learner is central to Sakinah Circle principles.  Arabic language instruction, with the emphasis on understanding and communication, will support and extend knowledge of the teachings of the Qur’an and encompass concepts in the Alberta Program of Studies Second Language requirement.

The Sakinah Circle Pilot will support the student to grow and develop a distinctively Islamic personality to negotiate their passage through contemporary times to become a contributing member of the Canadian and world community.

Educational Plan

 At the current time, the Sakinah Circle day pilot consists of 46 students in a community of learners from kindergarten to grade four.  Two classes (K–1 and grades 2, 3, and 4) are facilitated by two teachers with a shared classroom assistant. The Qur’an instructor assists with the development of the Islamic principles through daily interactions with the students and teachers. Parents are an integral part of the program.  Members of the Sakinah Society participate as volunteers in the classroom and with extra-curricular events.  Sakinah Society aims to foster a home and school partnership whereby Sakinah Circle becomes an extended family for everyone involved.

Sakinah Circle seeks to nurture taqwa, consciousness of God, in all aspects of the learning experience.  The morning assembly in Sakinah Circle provides a collective spiritual orientation, when everyone joins in recitation of the Qur’an, dhikr, and listening to stories drawn from the Islamic tradition.  Individual classrooms have daily circle time and weekly classroom meetings to strengthen responsible attitudes and build community.  Recognition of individual accountability for the use of each moment in passing time focuses on the qualitative dimension of our time and emphasizes the belief that we are here in this world for a purpose and that together we can learn and live with intention and meaning.

Curriculum Design

The Sakinah Circle pilot has developed a curriculum overview to link the Alberta Program of Studies learning outcomes to their Mission Statement and Vision.  This plan was created using Understanding by Design principles in order to explain the connection with and the integration of Qur’anic content, Islamic concepts, and values which are central to the Islamic way of life.  Reflection and contemplation are central to the Sakinah Circle philosophy.

Enduring Understandings

 The enduring understandings which support the Vision and Mission statements are as follows:

  1. Signs and Symbols

The Qur’anic term ayat is translated as “signs”, and refers to the verses of the Qur’an as well as the signs in creation.  The three realms of creation (the cosmos, human history, and our own selves) are filled with signs that can guide us to become more aware of the Creator and Sustainer of these realms in which we live and have our being.  The ayat are signs of revelation.  We can learn to see all things as signs that remind us of the Creator Who has given us life and sustains us.

Children encounter signs and symbols at every turn.  These signs and symbols indicate or signify the presence of something beyond – the perception of that sense of “other” is a fundamental part of learning.  Children’s first learning is experiential; they perceive real objects in real life.  With experience, they transfer that understanding to representations of the real thing: models, illustrations, diagrams, words, numbers, abbreviations, acronyms, and so on into further abstractions.  As learners, we all move from concrete to more and more abstract ways of thinking.

Enduring Understanding: Read the signs and symbols that point us to our Creator and Sustainer. 

  1. Cosmic Patterns

The whole universe displays a remarkable harmony, and the Qur’an draws our attention to this apparent harmony in the universe and within ourselves as a proof for tawhid. The innate nature of things reflects that everything has been created and is being sustained.  The balance, the symmetry, and the design of the cosmos provide a natural starting point to cultivate a sense of order, justice, peace, and aesthetics.

In the process of discovering what we see, what we hear, and how things move, cosmic patterns emerge and are obviously an inherent part of the harmony of Creation. We can make a conscious intention to look around to recognize the harmonies of the cosmos, which point to the One Who sustains us all. We seek to develop an approach of inquiry and inquisitiveness that is always alert for patterns and cycles. We as facilitators can guide young learners to look for patterns and cycles all around us; it is the children who will often discover what we have not seen.

Enduring Understanding: Consciously recognize the harmony of the cosmos.

  1. Our Story

Our story is ongoing. We all have a place in this world and a story that connects us to others. The names we each are given, the innate resources we receive, and external factors in our family and community all play a significant part in who we are and how we relate to each other. Language is a divine gift which serves as a tool of expression in our ongoing story.

We live in relationship to one another.  As individuals and as communities we have a particular place on the continuum of time. Human beings on earth have been given the caretaker role of khalifah, which is one of responsibility, humility, and kindness. The Qur’an emphasizes that relationships among people are harmonious when they are grounded in the same beliefs; in essence, relationships that are not based on faith do not have fundamental consonance and lose significance. The strongest manifestation of harmony in human relationships is evident when there is mutual faith in God.  Such harmony is lasting, because it roots the relationship in the Absolute.

Enduring Understanding: Find our place in space and time.

Language is a divine gift; appreciate and treat language as an amanah.

 

  1. The Prophetic Tradition

Allah has sent Messengers to guide humanity. The revelation given to the prophets weaves a continuous thread up to the final message that was sent to Prophet Muhammad in the form of the Qur’an, the last of the revealed Books. As children become familiar with the stories of the prophets, they see how the stories connect to one another on the timeline of history. The Prophetic Tradition is seen as a universal history and prophets form the pivotal points in our history.  Learning about the Prophetic Tradition provides a young learner with role models, a framework to understand time through the ages, and inspiration to live life with faith in the One Who guides, sustains and protects.

Enduring Understanding: See that all Prophets brought the same essential message: to remember God.

  1. Sakinah and Inner Harmony

We strive to nurture sakinah (tranquility) in our hearts. Strategies to nurture inner harmony demand that we develop taqwa, observe the signs around us, and reflect on how things are sustained and in balance with each other.  Learn to see things as they really are, distinguish between the true and the false, and focus on sincerity of heart and mind and the intentions of our deeds. Inner harmony is also affected by externals, and we can strive to bring balance to our physical body with good nutrition, regular physical exercise, habits of hygiene, and a positive healthy lifestyle.

Learning the Beautiful Names of Allah help us to increase in taqwa.  Everything in the cosmos glorifies Allah, resonates in praise, and we can also join in this harmony. Through frequent repetition and discussion about the meanings of al-Asma’ al-Husna we begin to internalize these attributes. 

Enduring Understanding: Sakinah is the fruit of inner harmony and external balance.

Every part of creation is exalting and extolling the Creator.