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.
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. In the spring of 2007, collaborative efforts of MEF and the Argyll Centre resulted in an afterschool program entitled, Doorways to Islamic Civilzation, which was offered over eight evenings. Seventy-five students and their parents attended the series. Subsequently, MEF worked with the District to pursue the beginning of an alternative program of education based on the Qur'anic Worldview. In the fall of 2007, an onsite enrichment program was initiated at the Argyll Centre with 21 students. The following year, the Sakinah Circle Pilot became a full day program for Division 1. MEF continued to work with the District and on March 23, 2010, the Board of Trustees approved Sakinah Circle as an alternative program within Edmonton Public School Board. Classes started in September 2010 at Grace Martin.
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
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.
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.
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.
The enduring understandings which support the Vision and
Mission statements are as follows:
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
Enduring Understanding: Read
the signs and symbols that point us to our Creator and Sustainer.
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
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.
Consciously recognize the harmony of the cosmos.
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.
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.
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
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.
Sakinah is the fruit of inner harmony and external balance.
Every part of creation is exalting and extolling the