The Need for Standardized Islamic Testing for Muslim Youth

Multiple choice Test text, with pencil

Just like there is a standardized SAT or ACT, there should be a standardized nation-wide test for Muslim high school students to ensure that they have basic knowledge of Islam before they go to college.

I taught Islamic Sunday school at the high school level for a number of years, and the kids coming into that class knew very little even though they had been attending the school since kindergarten. It seems like this is a wider phenomenon. A standardized test that can be adopted across the US or even UK would give a benchmark that schools can aspire to in their instruction.

What should this test cover? Obviously fard `ayn (individually obligatory) knowledge is critical: tahara (purification), salah (daily prayers), sawm (fasting) should be covered in depth. What is the meaning of the shahada (lots of Muslim youth have no clue). What does Surat al-Fatiha mean in English? What does Surat al-Ikhlas mean? Also what are the pillars of iman? What are the attributes of Allah? What is the meaning of tawhid? What is the meaning of shirk? Beyond these basics, the test should cover basic Islamic concepts: What is the Sharia? What is fiqh? Basic points of sirah (Prophetic biography), tarikh would be good. Questions on Islamic adab would also be key surrounding issues like ghayba, haya, husn al-dhann, etc. Also, something on marriage would be good to make sure the students have had some exposure to the Islamic values associated with marriage as they reach adulthood.

What else would make sense for a standardized test of this nature?

Top scorers on the test can then be celebrated annually and awarded scholarships. Islamic schools or masajid with the highest average scores can also be recognized and awarded. This way, we can develop a culture of excellence when it comes to Islamic knowledge at the level of the general Muslim population.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Daniel I agree. But the Sunday schools in the masjid just suck. Between the infighting of masjid politics and unqualified aunties teaching the classes, these Sunday school classes don’t hold much value. Honestly, I learned more about Islam by picking up books and reading and engaging in conversation discussing Islamic topics.

  2. Given the harmful impact standardized testing has had on education in general I think this would only serve to worsen the situation. If we want to fix Islamic education we need to start by bringing it to the forefront and embedding it in the things our children learn day to day instead of making it a weekend ordeal that only serves to leave children exhausted. The post-industrial education system is not a model that should be emulated.

  3. Unfortunately most of our children are subjected to this educational model and it simply isn’t good enough.

    The state school system is inadequate and subversive, reasons for which I won’t go into here and the traditional madrasah system is a secondary consideration for alot of our ‘cultured’ Muslim brethren. It too has its own deficiencies again for reasons too numerous to mention here.

    Take ownership of your children’s education, root it in the Islamic lens and live and breathe it every day.

    May Allah protect our progeny, make them the comfort and coolness of our eyes and the vehicles for our salvation.

  4. I hate standardized tests, especially Meaningless ones like SAT ACT, trying to judge an engineer or doctor, both equally by math and vocabulary, of all things.

    But an easier test for Islamic knowledge might be ok. I agree on the Fard Ayn part. Though meaning of Surah Ikhlas? Why not another Surah? Why not more or less? Kind of a can of worms.

    Definitely think most of Sirah and all of Tarikh are way beyond basics and should be avoided at this level for the general populace.

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