Proposal for the establishment of the Majma` al-Bahrayn

About 1400 years ago, Allah revealed that He had perfected our religion for us and gave us Islam as our religion. Soon after the death of the Prophet Muhammad(peace be upon him) a unique form of scholarship developed in response to the need to ensure the unchanging transmission of the revealed words of Allah in the Qur’an and the sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him). In the centuries following the time of the Prophet(peace be upon him) this traditional Islamic scholarship was also the means by which Muslims reached heights in culture, science, art and medicine far beyond those existing elsewhere in the world. Today we live in the generations which could see the last of the great traditional Islamic scholars, whose unbroken lines of transmission lead back directly to our most blessed Prophet (peace be upon him). Once this line of transmission is broken there will prevail a generation of teachers who will be no longer passing on knowledge from previous generations, but who will begin to transmit knowledge that is only their opinion. This gravity of this situation is shown by the fact that it is considered as possibly one of the signs of the end of time. Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-‘As narrated that, I heard Allah’s Apostle (peace be upon him) saying, “Allah does not take away knowledge, by taking it away from (the hearts of) the people, but takes it away by the death of the scholars till(in the end of time) none of the scholars remains, people will take as their leaders ignorant persons who when consulted will give their verdict without knowledge. So they will go astray and will lead the people astray.” {Bukhari}
Perhaps no more important struggle could be undertaken today as we strive to ensure the continuation and further progression of true Islamic culture and spirituality than to provide a means to revive and preserve traditional Islamic scholarship. This present proposal arose as an outcome of the realization of this dire need to ensure the survival of that scholarship before those lines of transmission(isnad) back to the Prophet(peace be upon him) do indeed become broken. In the development of a plan to ensure the continuation of the transmission of authorized knowledge (ijazah system) it became clear that with little extra effort or funding that much wider benefits were available and could be of tremendous importance to the future of Islam. A few of the expected results of the implementation of this proposal are:

  1. The preservation and wide dissemination of traditional Islamic scholarship.
  2. Maintenance of the unbroken line of transmission directly back to the Messenger of Allah(peace be upon him).
  3. The unification of the worldwide ummah.
  4. Millions more people around the world learning the Arabic language.
  5. Millions more people around the word reading and memorizing the Holy Qur’an.
  6. Many thousands of people around the world will begin using the masjid as a place of study.
  7. The preservation and dissemination of Islamic books and manuscripts.
  8. The authorized(by ijazah) translation and commentary of important Islamic texts.
  9. The acceptance of rightly used technology into contemporary Islamic culture.
  10. A resurgence of interest in Islamic arts and craftsmanship.
  11. A resurgence of interest in Islamic science and medicine.
  12. A powerful weapon to counter the steadily increasing negative influence of western secular materialism.
  13. Creation of wide interest in and attraction to traditional Islamic culture by both Muslims and non-Muslims.
  14. Possibly the most successful worldwide da`wah ever practiced.
  15. An important step toward a fully and truly Islamic world.

The central focus of this proposed plan will be a center of learning devoted to the transmission of traditional Islamic knowledge. The name tentatively offered for this center of learning is the Majma` al-Bahrayn Institute for the Preservation of Traditional Islamic Scholarship. ‘Majma` al-Bahrayn’ meaning, the meeting of the two seas, and is mentioned in the Qur’an as the place where Allah told Moses(Musa) to go to find knowledge. The Institute itself would be situated within the surrounds of a traditional Islamic community which, besides providing a support function, will portray a model of traditional Islamic life showing its beauty and spiritual purity. Another unique feature of this institute will be its role as the hub of an international computer network which will link traditional Islamic scholars across the world with students where ever they may be and whatever may be their circumstances. The following is a brief listing of some of the characteristics and functions of these three aspects(institute of learning, surrounding community and the international Islamic computer network) of this proposal: A. Institute of Learning.

  • The primary function of the Institute is to provide a physical facility for students to come and study with traditional Islamic scholars (perhaps 40 in the beginning).
  • Each traditional Islamic scholar at the Institute must have authorization (ijazah) through a continuous line of transmission (isnad) back to the Prophet (peace be upon him).
  • The Institute scholars will transmit to their students the Qur’anic sciences (ulum al-Qur’an), hadith sciences (ulum al-hadith), Arabic linguistic sciences(nahw, sarf, bayan, and badi`), Islamic logic (mantiq), Sharia sciences (fiqh), and Islamic theology (kalam).
  • The Institute’s scholars will provide the same level of transmitted knowledge (ulum naqliyyah) to many more qualified students worldwide over the international Islamic computer network.
  • With so many authorized scholars transmitting traditional knowledge the Institute should gain immediate credibility in the Islamic world, and should be shielded from unwarranted criticism.
  • Scholars at the Institute will select their own students (from among the applicants) and will teach their students using traditional methods of instruction.
  • There may be study of some core texts required before beginning instruction at the Institute.
  • Students who complete studies to the satisfaction of their teachers will be awarded an ijazah authorizing them to take on students and begin their own transmission of the continuous line of traditional Islamic knowledge.
  • Additionally, the Institute will in the beginning have fifty or so outlying traditional Islamic scholars across the world of the same or higher qualifications residing and teaching in their local communities and over a computer network visually linked with their students in many countries.
  • The Institute will be a provider of a wide range of Islamic knowledge to fulfill the needs of three different levels of student.
    1. In recognition of the fact that traditional Islamic scholarship involves so much more than contemporary scholarship, the highest level of student will be those fully involved in study leading to an ijazah.
    2. Those students desiring a contemporary university degree in Islamic studies. (Note: it will be possible to include study for a contemporary degree with traditional scholarship leading to an ijazah.)
    3. Those who have a desire to learn more about any Islamic subject for their personal betterment and are not interested in a degree program or ijazah.
  • There will be an emphasis on students keeping the company of their teachers and following their personal example as representatives of the prophetic tradition.
  • Every student studying with a traditional Islamic scholar and working toward receiving an ijazah will be assigned a spiritual guide(mu’addib) to ensure their proper ethical and spiritual development.
  • All students, both from the Institute and those studying with outlying traditional scholars, will be encouraged to provide instruction appropriate to their level of expertise to other students over the worldwide Islamic computer network.
  • Due to the present unavailability of authorized female teachers, women students will also be encouraged to study with the traditional scholars so they may obtain an ijazah and become authorized teachers for other women. (Note: this will be done in a manner that respects the sensitivities of those who have concerns on issues of women’s education.)
  • There will be an attempt to gather from around the world copies of every traditional Islamic book and manuscript still in existence. These will be stored and included in a database that will be made available to Institute scholars and students. This carefully preserved body of Islamic textual scholarship will also be made accessible to scholars and other interested persons from around the world.
  • Translations from the Arabic will be made of important books and manuscripts. The translators will work with traditional scholars to ensure their translations are accurate and convey the original intent of the words. These translations will also include authorized commentary. (Note: most translations will initially be into English, but some into Bahasa – of Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei, Urdu, and Chinese.)
  • The Institute will, through its own publishing house, publish important texts in their original Arabic and in authorized translation with commentary. These books translated through the Institute will be published with the ijazah of authorized scholars(printing initially to be contracted out).
  • The Institute will have a multimedia studio which will produce and distribute books, translations, and varied educational materials in the form of cassettes, video tapes and CD’s.
  • The Institute will supervise and manage the worldwide Islamic computer network.
  • It is important that from the beginning the Institute be financially independent, so as not to be hindered in its work by debilitating obligations to governments, other organizations, or individuals.
  • It is planned the Institute will eventually become self-supporting through its various activities.
  • B. The Community

    1. Surrounding the Institute will be a traditional Islamic community striving in all ways to emulate the spiritual and cultural purity of the Golden Age of Islam.
    2. The Institute community should be situated in an area sufficiently isolated from the existing communities of today so as to be free of the influences of secular materialism.
    3. The Institute and surrounding community structures will be designed in accord with local cultural traditions and will utilize traditional materials.
    4. Every aspect of the community will incorporate traditional Islamic character into its style, with harmony and beauty being a crucial consideration even in the smallest detail.
    5. The people who will live in the community will be responsible for most of its construction and preparation.
    6. The community will house perhaps 5,000 or so members, of which the majority will be students.
    7. Following traditional practice, students will be required to provide some service to their teachers and to the community.
    8. The structures in the community will include the Institute facility, mosque, studios, workshops, schools, scholar’s residences, family homes, communal living and recreational areas.
    9. Living in the community will be scholars, students, artisans, craftsmen, support staff and their families.
    10. The community will be devoid of symbols of secular materialistic life (e.g. advertising).
    11. The community will utilize any necessary modern technology which is socially unobtrusive, environmentally clean, and spiritually pure.
    12. As was traditionally practiced, all technological devices will be given a unique Islamic character.
    13. Every member of the community will be expected to observe traditional Islamic standards of conduct.
    14. There will be no commercial television, radio or movies.
    15. The community may run its own television and radio station to provide Islamic news, information and rightly guided entertainment.
    16. Some food may be locally produced by the community, but food obtained from outside sources must not be obviously commercial(e.g. labels, wrappings, preparation, or from multinational corporations)
    17. Members of the community will be expected to reflect traditional Islamic culture in its various manifestations in their dress.
    18. Artisans and craftsmen will be given the opportunity to teach their skills to students.
    19. The Institute will assist artisans and craftsmen who want to sell the articles they produce.
    20. Parents will be assisted to learn and practice effective Islamic parenting skills.
    21. Children will be taught according to traditional Islamic practice, but will additionally be offered schooling in Islamized contemporary subjects.
    22. Some aspects of community life, prayer, study, work and recreation will be shown to the public, both Muslim and non-Muslim, in order to show the many benefits of a right Islamic society.

    C. The worldwide Islamic computer network

  • The Institute will operate a worldwide Islamic computer network.
  • Traditional Islamic scholars, having the same level of qualifications as those within the Institute, residing in many countries will be linked(through real-time two way audiovisual communication) with their students around the world.
  • These outlying scholars(initially about 50 in number) may presently be teaching at universities in their respective countries, or may be teaching their students in the traditional manner while living in rural or even very isolated areas.
  • The Institute will provide for all the expenses of one dedicated student for each of the outlying traditional scholars who will study with that scholar for years until receiving his ijazah. That student will also be responsible for handling the networking technology necessary for the connection of the scholar with his students around the world.
  • The networking technology used to connect the outlying scholars with their students from around the world will be specially designed to be as non-intrusive as possible into the scholars’ traditional environments and teaching practices.
  • All lectures by the outlying scholars will be recorded and stored so as to be available for future reference by their, or other, students.
  • In a number of countries (about 20 to begin with) there will be network linked instruction centers set up in main mosques (up to 10 mosques in each country) in those countries (Muslim countries, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei, the USA, Britain and China). Each Islamic scholarship center in the mosques will have up to 10 network linked computer terminals. More than one student could study at each terminal at a time, and different groups of students could use the terminals at various times during the day.
  • One of the long term goals of this worldwide Islamic computer network is to have at least one network linked terminal in every mosque in the world.
  • There will be a number of network linked servers (computers) set up in various countries around the world which would allow access to the Islamic educational services being offered to millions of interested persons in virtually any country who have their own computers.
  • The worldwide Islamic computer network will offer many other services including:
    1. Access to all existing Islamic educational databases.
    2. Research facility for scholars, students and other interested persons.
    3. Access to instructional programs for learning Arabic.
    4. Links to a large number of qualified volunteer instructors who will assist with Qur’anic memorization.
    5. Access to audiovisual materials depicting various aspects of Islamic life, culture, arts, sciences and medicine.
    6. Connections between potential converts and qualified persons willing to offer instruction, guidance and encouragement.
    7. Access to current Islamic world news and information.
    8. Providing instruction in effective Islamic methods of parenting and teaching.
    9. Providing immediate opportunities for direct communication between geographically separated scholars.
  • The contacts established through this worldwide Islamic computer network would also provide a means by which the widely dispersed international ummah can be unified.
  • It is hoped even this brief overview can convey the potential, magnitude and scope of this proposal as a means to restore Islam to its rightful former glory, and offer a solution to Muslims and non-Muslims alike as they attempt to reclaim the world and its society for Allah.

    4 responses to “Proposal for the establishment of the Majma` al-Bahrayn

    1. Moshood Amokun-mosa

      Salam Alaekum, I wish to see what type of recommendation can we ,who have fear of ALLAH do with you to touch the lives of our local communities in Nigeria .If you wish to work with us directly we do not want intermediary we have projects for islamic jihad for propagation of Islam we are honest .Thanks Maa Salam

    2. Abu Daud

      As-salamu ‘alaikum,

      I just came across this and was overjoyed to read such an interresting paper. I have been dreaming of this sort of establishment for some time and it nice to finally see that I am not alone. What progress has been made? How can one help? Where can I find out more about this blessed effort?

    3. Wa’alaykumus-salam, akh. Unfortunately it has remained only an idea….

    Leave a Reply

    Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

    WordPress.com Logo

    You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

    Twitter picture

    You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

    Facebook photo

    You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

    Google+ photo

    You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

    Connecting to %s