The Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) warned that those who learn sacred knowledge to gain the admiration of other people would be among the first to be thrown into the Hellfire. (Muslim) Take this course to learn how to be sincere in your quest for sacred knowledge by: (1) distinguishing true religious knowledge that is useful (‘ilm nafi’) from ostensibly religious knowledge that is not, (2) sleeping, waking, worshiping, and living according to the Sunna, and (3) organizing your life around regular spiritual routines. This the first of a two-part course that covers a primer on Islamic spirituality by Imam al-Ghazali.

Curricular Context

  • This is a second-level course in Step One
  • Before taking this course, take The Absolute Essentials of Islam (Hanafi) or The Absolute Essentials of Islam (Shafi‘i)
  • Take this course before all courses in Step Two

Course Outline

  • LESSON 1: Introduction to the Text and Author
  • LESSON 2: Importance of Routines and Courtesy to the Divine
  • LESSON 3: On Purification
  • LESSON 4: On Visiting the Mosque and the Time Before Sunrise
  • LESSON 5: The Value of Time
  • LESSON 6: One’s Daily Afternoon Routine
  • LESSON 7: The Etiquette of Sleep
  • LESSON 8: The Method and Etiquette of the Ritual Prayer
  • LESSON 9: On Facing Allah Most High With Awe and Reverence in the Prayer
  • LESSON 10: The Etiquette of Leading and Following in the Prayer
  • LESSON 11: The Etiquette of Friday
  • LESSON 12: The Etiquette of Fasting

What You Will Learn:

  • Distinguish between true religious knowledge that is beneficial and ostensibly religious knowledge that is not
  • Memorize the sunna supplications for waking up from sleep, donning a garment, entering the lavatory, leaving the lavatory, making wudu, leaving the house, walking to mosque, entering and leaving the mosque, after prayer, and going to sleep
  • Incorporate regular spiritual routines into your daily life

Course Format: 12 downloadable lessons, 3 live sessions.

About the Course Text

This course is an exposition of Bidayat al-Hidaya (“Beginning of Guidance”), the greatest scholar of his time and arguably the most famous scholar of Islam who ever lived, Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (d. 505 A.H. /  1111 C.E.). Imam al-Ghazali is unanimously regarded as the renewer (mujaddid) of Islam of his century, first for his intellectual defense of traditional Islamic beliefs against Avicennan philosophy, and then for his powerful spiritual reinvigoration of the Islamic sciences through his magnum opus, the 40-part Ihya ‘Ulum al-Din (“Revival of the Religious Sciences”). The textbook for this course, Bidayat al-Hidaya, one of his last works, is written for students who are beginning their religious studies to warn them against the dangers of ostentation, and to teach them how to use their religious knowledge towards their own benefit for eternity.

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“Whoever guides someone to goodness will have a similar reward”– The Prophet (Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him)