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More students opting for Islamic ‘gap’ year

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As thousands of prospective students begin the new school year in the Western Cape, hundreds of local Muslim students have instead ventured into new territory by taking a gap in vocational studies to pursue a more deen-conscious path. In so doing, they aim to go against the norm of secular studies and invest in themselves spiritually through short Islamic studies couses.

While there is a trend in high school learners moving away from attending madrassah, at least there is a compensation in the amount of those students who actually go on to take a gap year after completing their secondary education, to develop themselves spiritually first, says Sheikh Igsaan Taliep from the International Peace College of South Africa (IPSA).

Taliep says that while focusing one’s efforts on gaining knowledge in a respective career field, to ultimately become contributing individuals within society is of utmost importance. Parents and leaders in the community should encourage young students to achieve a more holistic development of their personalities and as human beings.

“We are spiritual beings before we are physical beings. We are who we are because of our spiritual awareness and consciousness. All of what we do in our lives has to be based on a training of one’s self and be more conscious of our role in the community. In addition, intellectual construction becomes a focal point when pursuing deen studies,” Taliep explained.

IPSA, Darun-Na’im Institute of Higher Learning and Madina Institute SA are the most high ranking tertiary institutions.

A young adult, Masood Abrahams has now just completed three years of Islamic Studies at Daru’Naim, where he intensively focused on adherence to the Islamic ethos and further understanding his identity. Now, he will move on to a career in Pharmaceuticals at the University of the Western Cape.

Speaking to VOC News, he tells of how those three years have completely changed his perspective on not only himself but what type of man he would like to be in the community.

“These past three years has really positively influenced my thinking, my spiritual self. I am not only more mature in my understanding of things but taking these few gap years has allowed me to take a step back and really look at the relationships I have with the people in my life. I also have a better understanding of how I’d like to give back to my community,” Abrahams explained.

While he begins his studies at the age of 20, when all his fellow classmates have already begun their tertiary education, Abrahams says his decision to study the deen has definitely broadened his understanding of the world and instilled in him a sense of spiritual assurance that is beneficial to his character.

Thaakirah Achmat last year completed her seventh year of primary school at a secular institution. Achmat will now go on to complete three years of Hifth studies at Darun’ Naim before she goes on to secondary education.

“I have always wanted to complete Hifths and Alhamdulillah my parents have been very supportive. In fact, they encouraged me to take on this new venture in my life,” Achmat said.

While Achmat will be missing out on her school friends and in sharing the excitement of what the beginning of high school brings with it, Achmat explained that she is sure that this small sacrifice will benefit her in more ways than she could imagine.

Various Muslim organisations and institutions have over the years constructed bursary plans to accommodate students wanting to further Islamic studies and in so doing, encouraged a new generation of youth to in fact do so.

Taliep says societal pressures to grow young successful individuals are more so than ever before. However, Taliep believes that if young people have a steadfast foundation in understanding their spiritual self, it will result in a brighter success for the individual and for the development of society. VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)

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