A Wrinkle in Time and the Muslim Mind

Introducing an online video-chat-based book club for Muslim students based on Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time.

Meets once a week for 55 minutes for 5 weeks.

Cost:     $65 USD per student
Ages:    8-12 year old boys and girls

Available Sections:

  • Tuesdays, July 10-August 7 at 6 pm US Eastern Time (EDT)
  • Wednesdays, July 11-August 8 at 10 am US Eastern Time (EDT) (4 pm UK, 7 pm Islamabad)
  • Thursdays, July 12-August 9 at 2 pm US Eastern Time (EDT)

Additional sections may be available on request as long as a minimum of 5 students register.

  • Teen Girls’ Section: Sundays, July 15-August 12 at 5 pm US Eastern Time (EDT)

The Teen Girls Section is a new offering for this course. A Wrinkle in Time has a great deal of deep ideas and thought-provoking themes that are perfect for this age group. In the teen class, I will be getting into some of the deeper discussions that the 8-12 year old group would not yet be ready for.

Note: Based on past semesters, sections all fill up rapidly. Please submit registrations quickly in order to secure spot in class. Each student needs a separate registration form.

Course Description

A Wrinkle in Time is a classic novel that has been a favorite for over 50 years, winning the Newbery Medal in 1963. Through its masterful language and plot, it explores issues of belonging, family, good vs. evil, and love.

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Sample slide from the class. Our goal is to constantly make Islamic connections with what we are reading.

This is a class for young readers and thinkers to explore a novel together from an Islamic and literary perspective through engaging discussion guided by the teacher’s thoughtful questioning. This is the first book in L’Engle’s “Time Travel Quintet” and we will immerse ourselves in her world as we discover the characters, themes, motifs, language, and philosophy of her world, all while interpreting them within the Islamic worldview.

TME Approach muslim lenses.jpgTogether, we will pay close attention to the themes and messages of the novel and how they relate to our own Islamic perspective. Each week, students will bring an ayah or hadith to share with the class that relates to the week’s discussion. In this way, we will be active readers, critically examining and reflecting on the text using our Islamic lenses. We will learn more about Madeleine L’Engle’s personal beliefs and how that shaped the novel as we critically examine those beliefs in relation to our own.

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I ask students, “How are we as Muslims called to stake our lives for the truth?”

I will share my excitement about the eloquent language of the novel as we examine passages and learn how to imitate the author’s vivid writing style. Optional assignments will guide students to craft their own sentences in the style of L’Engle.

This is a discussion-based class, so students should be ready to share their thoughts and ideas in an environment where their ideas are valued, and healthy disagreements are welcomed.

Students should have their own physical copy of the book that they can annotate by highlighting and making notes in the margins. This practice of creating “marginalia” is an excellent way to be a critical, involved reader, and students will learn how to use this technique to reflect on the book as they read. 

Special Needs: Please inform me of any special needs at the time of registration. I would love to be able to accommodate your student.

Technical Requirements: Parents will be emailed a link to join the online classroom, where I will post class documents and links to the live sessions, which will be conducted through Zoom. Students will need a computer that has a webcam and mic.

Listening to the audiobook is encouraged, especially for those who may be more reluctant readers, but it is not required.
Islamic Perspective: Please note that this class is taught from an orthodox Sunni perspective. If there are specific questions or concerns regarding how Islamic teachings will be integrated in the class, please feel free to email me to discuss before registering.

Ready to register? Click here.

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Summer Class Schedule Coming Soon

Over the last few months, I have started several pilot sections of online classes for Muslim kids. We’ve completed an Islamic-themed discussion course on the novel A Wrinkle in Time, and we are currently in the middle of a Ramadan Qur’an Club. So far, the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. All 8 sections of the classes quickly filled, and students have been excited about coming to class and participating.

This summer, I hope to launch more classes here and open up The Muslim Educator Online Academy. If you’d like to request certain subjects or classes, and be the first to find out about new classes, please complete this interest survey:

Summer & Fall 2018 Classes Coming Soon! Please fill this form to get notified of new classes and submit class requests.

INTEREST FORM

I’ll leave you with some photos from the Ramadan Qur’an Club! (Work samples shared with parent’s permission)

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Ibraheem, 12 years old, created this mind map to show the connections between Surahs Falaq and Naas

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Sumayyah, age 9, illustrates connections between Surahs Kaafiroon and Ikhlas. She observed the repetition of verses and reflected on the reasons for it.

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Fatima, age 7, writes an acrostic poem about the Qur’an. 

Ramadan Qur’an Club Registration is Now Open!

I want your students to fall in love with the Qur’an this month.

I want them to learn how to enjoy the Qur’an and to view it as a treat, not a burden or a chore.

To that end, I am pleased to announce The Ramadan Qur’an Club.

In the Ramadan Qur’an club, students will learn to develop a close and meaningful relationship with the Qur’an. Each student will have a copy of the translation to make his or her own–for notes, thoughts, highlights, and questions. We will discuss the themes of the Qur’an as we use creative ways to interact with the Qur’an such as mind maps, graphic organizers, and journaling. The focus is on enjoying our relationship with the Book of Allah and making it meaningful and personal.

By working in a group, students can gain insight from each other, benefit from others’ reflections and thoughts, and become inspired and encouraged. We will be cheering each other on to read more, and reflect more on this book throughout Ramadan, and together we will make a plan for how to keep our momentum going after Ramadan.

Included Activities

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An example of one of my own mind-maps. I’ll help students create these at their level.

  • Finding a weekly “Gem”: a verse or passage that is beautiful and inspiring
  • Using art and modern calligraphy techniques to design an inspiring visual reminder of a verse or passage
  • Learning to support each other: students will be encouraged to be supporters of each other in their Qur’an goals
  • How to create a Qur’an journal: a notebook with a collection of Qur’an quotes, questions, reflections, and mind-maps (visual representations of a surah’s themes)
  • A “Qur’an Cooperation”–instead of a competition, we’ll set a whole class goal and then cheer each other on until we all reach our goal for the month. Students will take ownership by deciding on their class goal, whether that be studying the meaning of a certain number of surahs, learning the tafseer of select passages, or any other Qur’an based project.
Required Materials 
  • A Qur’an translation. Students should have the Saheeh International translation and have their own copy that can be highlighted and marked in. Here is one purchase option.
  • Highlighters: Because the Qur’an pages are very thin, I recommend “gel
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    We’ll learn how to do some quick modern calligraphy designs like these.

    highlighters” because these do not bleed through the thin paper of the Qur’an translation. These are sometimes sold as “Bible-safe” highlighters.

  • A high-quality notebook to create a Qur’an journal that can be used long-term. Please choose a bound notebook, not a spiral notebook.
  • Some basic art supplies for Week 3. It can be as simple as markers and pens, or can include watercolor, colored pencils, pastels, etc.

Full Schedule:

Week 1:

  • “This is MY Qur’an”: how to make the Qur’an feel like a personal message to you
  • Reading strategies–the “parallel reading” technique for reading Arabic and English translation
  • Creating a Ramadan game plan for Qur’an reading
  • Whole-class “Qur’an Cooperation”: instead of a Qur’an competition, we will plan a “cooperation”–a whole-class goal for us to reach by the end of the month.

 Week 2:

  • Share your gems: what beautiful verse did you find this week?
  • The Qur’an reads your mind: how the Qur’an fits every mood and every situation
  • Intro to Qur’an journaling and mind-mapping

Week 3:

  • Share your gems: what beautiful verse did you find this week?
  • Getting creative: using art to connect to the Qur’an.
  • Modern-style calligraphy tips, and how to create unique written word and visual art representations of Qur’anic ayat

Week 4:

  • Share your gems: what beautiful verse did you find this week?
  • Night of Power: Planning for the biggest night of the year. Make a list of verses to inspire you in the last ten days.
  • More mind-mapping practice: how to extract the themes and big-picture ideas from surahs

Week 5:

  • Share your gems: what beautiful verse did you find this week?
  • Entering the final stretch of this month of Qur’an–making these last few days count
  • Continue working on Qur’an journals and mind-maps

Week 6:

  • Qur’an Cooperation final results: did we meet our goal?
  • Final project presentations
  • Keeping it going: Making a plan to keep the Qur’an close to our hearts all year long

 

 Registration and Timings:

Several different sections are available. You can choose the one that meets your needs:

For 8-12 year old boys and girls:

SECTION FULL: Sundays May 13- June 17, 4 pm EDT (Eastern Standard, GMT-5), 9 pm UK time

Sundays May 13- June 17, 5:15 pm EDT (Eastern Standard, GMT-5)

Thursdays May 17- June 21, 2 pm EDT (Eastern Standard GMT-5), 7 pm UK time

Wednesdays May 16- June 20,  12 pm EDT (Eastern Standard GMT-5), 5 pm UK

Wednesdays May 16-June 20, 6 pm EDT (Eastern Standard GMT-5), 11 pm UK

For teenage girls (13 and up):

Sundays May 13- June 20 at 1 pm EDT (Eastern Standard), 7 pm UK time

Instructor: Merium Khan
We meet online, once a week for 60 minutes via Zoom.
6-week session: $65 USD

Technical Requirements

  • Students will need a computer or tablet that can run the Zoom program.
  • Headphones with a mic are recommended but not required
  • Students will receive a link to the online classroom where they can find the access links to the live sessions as well as any handouts for the class.

About the Instructor

Merium Khan has been teaching for the last 20 years in Islamic full-time schools, weekend schools, private tutoring, halaqahs, and online classes for children and adults. She has authored a book on Seerah that is used in Islamic schools and has also worked as a curriculum developer and consultant. The one word that students and parents use to describe her teaching is “passionate.” She loves to bring concepts to life in thought-provoking ways while tapping into her students’ innate intelligence and knowledge.

She is the founder of The Muslim Educator blog and Online Academy and is also an artist with Heart Murmur Designs, combining thoughtful words with whimsical images. She currently homeschools her three children in the United States.

Registration

Registration is filled on a first come, first serve basis. 

Ready to register? Click here!

 

let them in

Look to those who love you and have your best interests at heart, and let them in. Let them see you–the unfiltered you; the one without the mask; the one who is hurting; the one who is rejoicing. Lower your walls for them. Invite them in.

Those who love you–they want all of you, brokenness and all. Those who love you–they want the true you, not the one that hides behind false smiles and says, “I’m fine.”

The greatest gift you can give your loved ones is the gift of your true self, unhidden.

The greatest display of trust you can give to your loved ones is to speak your truth to them.

clasped-hands-541849_960_720The greatest act of daring you can do is to is to allow your loved ones to see the parts of you that lie in shadow and darkness. To courageously be you, while trusting that they will embrace your whole self.

To do this, you will need to be brave. You will need to allow yourself to feel; to be vulnerable; to be broken. You will need to let go of your shame, of your sense of unworthiness. You will need to draw upon stores of strength that you never knew you possessed.

If you do this, you will find that eventually, you will feel an incredible lightness of self. You will find that the love you share will multiply. You and your loved ones will see each other with eyes that see more keenly, and love more deeply. You will wonder how it is possible that this love you share could have grown so much, and you will realize that it can grow even more still.

Not all deserve this side of you. Look to those who truly keep a part of you in their heart. Draw these special ones in. For we are all suffering in some way, and after Divine help, it is these dear souls that help us, share the load with us, as we walk hand-in-hand on the long journey home.

 

–Merium, The Muslim Educator

Dreading the Sex-Ed Talk? Try this instead

#MuslimSexEd

So many parents dread “The Talk.” They will do anything to ignore it, delay it, and outsource it. I have had parents tell me, knowing that I am a teacher and rather open in the way I discuss: “Can you just explain this to my kids so I don’t have to?”

Forget the idea of “The Talk.” Think of it as “The Ongoing Conversation.” It starts at birth and continues through adulthood. It is a dialogue that is woven into everyday life as something frank, matter-of-fact, and not shameful.

It starts with respect for the body of the child in infancy. It continues into toddlerhood, when you use anatomically correct names.

It’s the matter-of-fact answer that you give to your four year old when he asks what makes his sister a girl: “She doesn’t have a penis like you do,” you say.

”Whaaaat??” he will say, “You mean everyone doesn’t have a penis? That’s crazy!” Then you think to yourself, “Freud would get a kick out of that comment.”

The conversation continues when your children don’t see their mother praying. You explain that there’s something called menstruation, and you will tie it into reproduction and tell them about how every month, there is a window of opportunity for a woman to become pregnant, and if she does not, she will shed her uterine lining during menstruation.

When your children go to the science museum and see an exhibit on skeletons, you point out that the female skeleton has wider hips to accommodate a baby during childbirth.

As your children read science books and watch documentaries, they will come to know that animals “mate” in order to have babies. They will hear about mating behaviors. My son will often point out: “See that bird? They usually fly like that when they are looking for a mate.” This is a great opportunity to talk about how animals engage in mating behaviors to attract potential mates. “Even humans use mating behaviors as well to attract others.” More conversation ensues.

These frank conversations mean that your kids don’t have a problem talking about these issues openly. My 8 year old daughter told me that her friend saw on the TV show “Anne With an E” that the girls were making fun of Anne because she was the only one who didn’t get her period. What a great conversation starter!

Another time, my son got confused and said, “Since you are not praying this week, does that mean you are having a baby?” Time for more conversation, this time explaining that no, menstruation means a woman is not pregnant.

After years of this type of frank openness, do you think it will be hard to explain the actual mechanics of reproduction? Everything ties in together, and the idea of sex is not something that exists in a vacuum–it is part of this beautiful conversation about our bodies, our feelings, gender, physiology. Honestly, after all these conversations, an astute enough child would probably intuitively figure out how humans reproduce.

All of this openness serves to create an environment that is free of shame regarding the body and sexuality. I do not mean by this that it is free of modesty–what I refer to is the toxic sense of shame in one’s body, thinking that the privates are dirty, or that sex is a crude, dirty act borne of necessity.

When children see our discomfort in talking about the body, or about sexuality, it can give them the message that these are sordid, shameful topics. They think that “good boys” and “good girls” don’t talk about these things. And in their marriages, it can lead to a relationship where sexuality is not cherished and respected.

How do you handle these conversations in your home? Do you have any advice to share regarding how to address sex ed in an open and inviting way? Please let us know in the comments.

Another “dear mom on the phone” post…

Dear Mom at the Park on Her Phone,

Wait, why are these things always addressed to the moms? Oh, that’s right, because mothers are the only ones expected to parent perfectly; we get so happy at park daddies that we don’t bother to judge them.

I digress. Dear mother on her phone: thank you. Thank you for taking the moment to yourself. Thank you for trusting your children’s competence enough to tear your eyes away from them and allow them to play while you decompress. You’re nailing this parenting thing.

You’re making a solid choice here to relax on your phone while your kids are playing, because as we all know, chaos will erupt the second you leave. 

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Heck, give yourself a pat on the back for even making it to the park. I’m typing this at the park right now and I had no desire to be here. I was grumbling a little bit as I was taking them, so my husband deadpanned, “If the kids want a park, tell them we have a park. It’s called a backyard.”

So here I am, on my phone, proudly engaging in some benign neglect of my offspring. Maybe I can increase my street cred by surreptitiously using my phone inside of a copy of a Jane Austen novel. 

Much love to you, fellow phone swiping mother at the park–I feel you. I am you.

Our dear Nabra, why do bad things happen to good people?

#Nabra

“Why does God let bad things happen to good people?”

In the face of tragedy, it is this question that burns in many a heart. The youth are especially vulnerable, and find that it is all too easy for their faith to crack under the strain of the world’s heartaches.

You see, that same God gave us a precious gift of free will. It’s the same free will that led Nabra to choose to be a giver, a helper, one who fed her friends and spent her nights praying to her lord. And it’s the same free that her murderer used to make the choice to take her precious life.

These tragedies are consequences of our free will.

The angels understood this, for when they heard from Allah that He would create generations of humans on earth, they immediately questioned why He would create beings that would sow seeds of corruption and shed innocent blood. So it has been a given that we would misuse this free will.

But what did Allah say?

He said, “I know that which you do not know.”

You see, He knew that for every human that used their free will to cheat, steal, maim, and kill, there would be many more humans of beauty and faith. There would be humans like Nabra, who would use their free will to fast by day, feed her friends, and pray by night.

Without that opportunity for us to actively choose to do good, our free will would be a farce.

But Allah doesn’t just leave us here on this earth to fight it out, kill and be killed, suffer and toil, and have that be an end of it.

He’s “maaliki yawmid-deen.” The Master of the Day of Judgment. The word “deen” means that it is a day of recompense. A day where justice is served. A day where the evil ones will get only the amount of punishment that is justly due to them, not an ounce more, but where the good ones will get a reward that is infinitely beyond their deserving.

Not only does he amply recompense and care for those victims like Nabra, but his mercy is so gloriously vast that every second of pain her loved ones feel will also be recompensed. Every tear of her mother. Every ache of her father. Every fear, sorrow, and hardship of her friends and community will all be recompensed on that Day.

His Mercy is so vast. We are grieving, we are weeping as we reap the consequences of a world in which humans have been given free rein to make choices that can build or destroy.

Don’t think that He has left her, that He has left us.

وَلاَ تَحْسَبَنَّ اللّهَ غَافِلاً عَمَّا يَعْمَلُ الظَّالِمُونَ

“Do not think that Allah is unaware of what the evildoers do” (Surah Ibrahim: 42).

وَلَدَيْنَا كِتَابٌ يَنطِقُ بِالْحَقِّ وَهُمْ لَا يُظْلَمُونَ

“And with us is a record that speaks the truth; and none shall be wronged.” (Surah Muminoon: 62)

Dear Nabra, may Allah give you a reward that will erase every second of your pain. May He give your family and community ease and healing. May you be now rejoicing in peace in His Gardens of bliss. Aameen, ya rabb.