Culturally Relevant Islamic Institute Equips Muslims to Educate Others

Alhamdulillah, by the grace of Allah (swt), AlMaghrib Institute continues to expand to an even larger audience. Houston Chronicle got a glimpse of AlMaghrib in action and had nothing but awesome things to say.

AlMaghrib students enjoy a discussion in class

“God will exalt those of you who believe and those who have knowledge to high degrees.” (The Quran – 58:11)

Muslims place a high emphasis on knowledge of the Quran and that wisdom being passed on from generation to generation. In the Middle East, and other Muslim majority countries, there are easily accessible opportunities for Quran-based education. On the rare occasion when this type of traditional Islamic training is available to Muslims living in the West, many times it is disconnected from their Western reality.

To meet that need, the AlMaghrib Institute, a Sunni Muslim educational institution operating in Houston and throughout the United States, teaches students orthodox Islam in a way that helps individuals apply principles in their contemporary Western contexts.

It is this cutting edge perspective and focus on application of the fundamentals of Islam in the West that sets AlMaghrib apart from other forms of Islamic education. This emphasis is meant to not only educate Muslims, but expose the West to modern Islam.

“It’s hard for people in the West to relate to the teachings of Islam as they are passed on and exist in Arab countries” said Sheik Waleed Basyouni, Vice President of AlMaghrib and Houston imam, “the challenge of our classes is to communicate, translate and re-introduce Islam so it communicates to modern life.”

Founded in Virginia in 2002 by Canadian born Muhammed Alshareef, AlMaghrib began with the goal of teaching authentic, doctrinally correct Islamic history and faith to younger generations in the West in a way that is engaging and culturally savvy. Alshareef’s hope was to enable young Muslims to learn and share their faith without being estranged from their community.

Since its establishment AlMaghrib has taught over 40,000 students and continues to offer courses in Islamic faith, arts, history and ethics with a contemporary twist in cities across the USA, Canada, the UK and several other countries.

Recent courses offered in Houston include a class on fiqh dealing with all the modern issues that Muslim females face in 21st century America including discussions on a woman’s role in Western society, politics, the work force and at home.

One of AlMaghrib’s most dedicated students is one such woman, Rayda Edding who, along with her husband and six children, attended an AlMaghrib course and enjoyed its unique approach to Islamic education so much she wished to take part in every single course.

“I pulled my kids out of public school and started homeschooling them so we could travel to attend every course” said Edding, “and now we travel to other cities in the USA, to Canada and to the UK so that my kids can better appreciate their Islamic identity in the West.”

Edding and her children, aged 9-19, dedicate themselves to the classes because they believe they are central to faithfully living out Islam in a non-Muslim context. Facing persecution and misperceptions about their religion, the Eddings look to AlMaghrib’s courses for role models and encouragement.

“Learning the history of Islam we learned we face similar trials, similar persecution,” said Edding, “it helps us deal with the challenges we are facing right now in the West.”

“It helps solidify our Islamic identity and gives us courage” she said.

AlMaghrib not only seeks to educate and encourage students, but enable them to be better Muslims and Americans.

“We, as Muslims, have a duty towards our country and our religion,” said Basyouni, “one of our goals is to empower the Islamic community to be active members in American society.”

Basyouni hopes this education will be passed on to others outside the Muslim community and erase ignorance concerning Islam.

“Since day one we have felt that misperceptions about Islam will be corrected as more American Muslims learn to share the richness of their faith with others,” said Basyouni, “it is our responsibility to teach others.”

“At AlMaghrib the instructors bring both a deep knowledge of the Islamic faith’s historical interactions with other communities and also excellent communication skills vital to transferring that knowledge base on to others.”

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