Assalaamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatuh
In 2010, I came across an email mentioning a new online degree program started by Dr. Bilal. Thinking this to be the golden opportunity for a mother with three kids to learn about our deen from reliable scholars, I jumped in. Initially, I thought it would be quite easy and not require more than 1/2 – 1 hr of studies daily, but I was wrong. Along with live sessions, it was quite demanding and I would occasionally think of quitting or dropping few subjects. Realizing that these were the whispers of shaytan, I did not give up and alhamdulillah, I managed to complete it after a four long years. Now, I realise that this is just the beginning. Seeking knowledge is a lifelong duty and I will always be a student, InshaAllah.
Throughout my IOU journey, I have come across some very knowledgeable and enthusiastic TAs and also some very dedicated staff backstage whose efforts often go unnoticed. May Allah bless them all and also Dr. Bilal for this unparalleled initiative to give authentic Islamic education to the masses. And how can I forget some of the sisters living in various counties, who were with me on this beautiful yet demanding journey and have become lifelong friends now. If not for them, I might have had quit. I must also mention that if not for the support of my family, I could not have done it. Finally, all praise is for Allah Who has guided us to this and given us the sabr to persevere, Alhamdulillah. May Allah keep us on the Sirat al Mustaqeem and guide us to implement what we have learnt and to pass it on to others, InshaAllah.
In my attempt to gain Islamic knowledge, I have always attended Islamic lectures and programs and was a regular student at our weekly study circle. Then, Alhamdulillah, knowledge came to me. My sister introduced me to the IOU. With IOU, I was able to study Islam in a systematic way from my home, with great convenience and without any major expenses, Alhamdulillah.
Being a student at IOU granted me the opportunity to acquire authentic Islamic knowledge through the recorded lectures, and to ask questions and clarify my doubts with qualified Shuyookh via the live sessions. The versatility of being able to study anytime and anywhere was very convenient but also meant that I had to be disciplined and committed.
IOU, being a place where Muslims from around the world converge for one purpose to learn the deen of Islam, gave me the option to gain some precious friends globally, Masha Allah.
As a student of knowledge, I have learnt that taking notes is an important aspect of every student’s life. Taking notes keeps one focused and helps with understanding the contents. It also helps with retaining the information and makes reviewing easier. Alhamdulillah, with the help of another sister, we have created a blog with our notes to help future students (https://baisnotes.wordpress.com/).
During my course of study, I faced several trials, challenges and setbacks, and felt like quitting at times. However, I recognized that these were all tests for me and if I failed, it would mean that Shaitaan has won and I am the loser. I realized that I have to make sacrifices as good things are not easily achieved. I reflected upon the words of Allah: “Allah has elevated by degrees those who have believed and those who were given knowledge among you.” (58:11) and on the sayings of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam): “…Whoever follows a path in pursuit of knowledge, Allah will make easy for him a path to Paradise…” I have continued my studies with the conviction of these messages and the support from my family and fellow students. Alhamdulillah, by the will of Allah, I was able to complete the BAIS program in four years, in 2014.
Overall, my experience with IOU is precious and very dear to me, and in sha Allah will remain with me for a very, very long time if not forever.
I thank Allah for this great blessing and I ask Him to bless and reward Dr. Bilal Philips, the founder of IOU, all the staff, and my family and friends who supported me throughout this journey and made this possible for me. Ameen.
I live in UK since 2002. My late father was a graduate from the Azhar University in Egypt and an imam in my city. Since my childhood, he taught me tafseer and hadith in my mother tongue. After his death, being the first son, the responsibility of looking after the family rested on my shoulders. This prevented me from pursuing knowledge in Islamic studies abroad, but I was reading every scholarly work I could lay my hands on; such as Fatwa Islamiya from scholars of Makkah, Commentary on Forty Hadith of Nawawi by Jamaludeen Zarabozoo and other works.
My beloved wife showed me an IOU advertisement on Islam Channel, London. She has encouraged me to enrol in the BAIS program and I have joined the IOU in September 2011. I have completed the BAIS program in 3 years, Alhamdulillah. IOU is really a blessing for the Muslim Ummah.
I had a wonderful time with the IOU tutorial assistants and students. I will enrol in to the MAIS as soon as it starts. Inshallah, my wife will join IOU next semester and enrol in the Islamic Psychology degree program.
According to the testimony of sister Bibi Samina, alhamdulillah, her experience at the Islamic Online University has greatly deepen her knowledge in Islam and has helped her to become a better Muslimah. Thus, she strives greatly to incorporate what she learns into her daily life and her family and the people around her, and insha Allah prays that one day she can help change the ‘Nation through Islamic Education’.
I remember well that this 4-year period was no easy ride for me. I lost 4 of my loved ones during the 4-year span and was in and out of hospital most of the time caring for the precious people who were sick.
The biggest advantage of the IOU was that adjustments were made and concessions given whenever we had any personal problem, so that we continued studies without dropping off.
Another blessing was the group of friends who grew close during this 4-year period, and supported each other through all, good and bad times, even though we were separated by borders and seas and we even lived in different continents!
Subhan Allah, this group was my lifeline and I grew to love them like true sisters. We are still in touch with each other, Alhamdulillah!
I owe a debt of gratitude to the management, teaching and non-teaching staff of IOU for supporting me through this incredible journey in the quest of knowledge.
A good friend of mine, who was a student at the IOU, introduced the IOU to me, alhamdulillah. At that time, I had no idea I would be studying in this blessed institution one day. SubhanAllah, Allah is the best of planners and I feel grateful for having been chosen by Allah ‘azza wa jal to be a part of the massive student body of the IOU, alhamdulillah. The intensive BAIS program, through its well-thought curriculum and supportive teachers made it possible for me to grow spiritually as well as socially. Alhamdulillah, being among the first graduates of IOU is indeed prestigious and it is a memory that I will forever cherish, inshaAllah. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala bless IOU and all the people who work day-in and day-out to make the online experience smooth for hundreds of students all over the world.
I benefitted a lot from knowledge acquired from the IOU, and the teachers are wonderful Jazakallah khair to all IOU staff.
One of my students, who is also a student of the IOU told me about this university. I was very glad to learnt about the BMAIS and alhamdulillah, started with it. The real challenge was that my family refused to help me in providing relaxation or time to study and I was continuously told that I will not be able to manage as I am busy the entire day with my mother in law who is sick and my children who were too young. One was 3.5 years and the other was 6 months. My daughter had also started her school and her Qur’an classes, and that was also my sole responsibility. Nevertheless, since I loved studying and was very keen to gain knowledge of my deen, I accepted this challenge. I used to feed my baby in the late nights while taking my live sessions but never gave up. The only time I had to study was after all had slept and with my youngest child in my lap. My sleeping hours reduced to 3-4 hours but Allah had put barakah in those 2 hours, which I had been using for my studies, and I managed to learn my courses during those hours.
When community hours started, that was another challenge. There were few elderly ladies who wanted to study tajweed, so I started online Skype classes in the early mornings after fajr so that I could complete these also.
Alhamdulillah, by taking more number of courses per semester I managed to complete my BMAIS. During my third semester, I was pregnant again and had to fight with my health as there were severe medical issues but still Allah gave me strength to manage all and I was able to complete my courses in time.When there is a will, Allah SWT finds a way for us. For those who make excuses of time, let me tell you that it is very difficult to manage a life living in a Pakistani culture family.Alhamdulillah with the blessings of Allah and hard work, I would suggest all females to make their wills strong rather than their excuses and should never miss this opportunity which isn’t provided by all universities. This is the easiest structure any university could provide you with. And the females should even take this into note that you are the nation builders. If you will practice deen well, your kids will follow you. Your family structure will change accordingly, so it is our duty to capture this opportunity.
It was my dear sister in Islam, Amina, who mentioned IOU to me one day in 2010. She had already enrolled in the freshly launched BA program in March 2010. When I heard about it from her, it sounded like a dream come true. You would be able to study under the scholars directly; and you would get to learn about the various Qur’anic and hadith sciences, and experience the beauty of the knowledge of the deen – it all sounded too good to be true! I mean, who would not want to study in such an amazing institution? Above all, it was fully available online – all I would need was a computer and internet connection, which I already had; all praise and thanks to Allaah. Hence, I was immediately captivated by the idea of studying here.
As the Fall 2010 semester approached, I got my certificates attested and prepared to join this exciting journey of gaining authentic Islamic knowledge in a formal setting. A lot of people would probably not think of joining a second four-year-journey of bachelor degree program, but in Dhaka, we were all very excited. While in the March intake there were only four or five people from our country, in September 2010, we were over sixty excited students who joined the BAIS at the IOU. The interesting part is that, for most of us, it was our second bachelor program – there were married couples, mothers with children, young university students, full time office-going professionals and practicing medical doctors among many others in various fields.
My journey hitherto has been absolutely mind blowing as I have marvelled at the beauty of the ayaat of the Book of Allaah – the Qur’an, experienced the thought provoking lessons from the books of seerah and hadith, and shed relentless tears over the books of history. The courses are extremely well designed supplying huge amount of food for thought for the students as they embark upon the journey of structured seeking of Islamic knowledge. The IOU experience completely changed the course of my life and as I have witnessed a whole new world of knowledge deep thinking and reflection open up in front of me. The whole study experience here is unique as it prepares the students for real life. There is constant encouragement from the shuyookh and ustadhs to connect the theories from the books with the real world, with the diverse society and people at large. Alhamdulillah, it is a great blessing of the Master of the universe that I came to know about this program and had the opportunity to graduate from here.
As-salamu ‘aleikum wa rahmatullah
I am Naeema Halim from Pakistan and today, I am writing as the first graduate from the BAIS program. An Electrical Engineer by profession, I always wanted to learn religion and was in continuous quest for authentic knowledge. But, like many others, I was in a confused state of mind and did not know where to start from, what to start, how to start… All these questions kept bugging me, until I finally got the golden ticket for the Flight #IOU_BAIS_2010, and then there was no looking back!
This four-year unforgettable journey gave me a chance to interact with so many amazing and wonderful people. Never had I imagined in my wildest dreams that I shall be in the company of a galaxy of learned people in such a small span of time. From New Zealand to South Africa to Trinidad, it was a never-ending journey, and in the process, I kept meeting new people both in the form of learned scholars and amazing sisters (many of whom are now lifelong friends, Alhamdulillah).
Nevertheless, the journey had a lot of rough patches as well along the road, doing six subjects a semester, and managing assignments and live sessions was not an easy task. I had a full time engineering job, plus I was also pursuing my MBA degree side by side, not to mention a family to take care off. I still remember my family getting upset seeing me on the computer 24/7 and my 2-year old throwing my laptop on the floor in her anger. But nothing could affect my determination, and alhamdulillah, I have managed to graduate within the minimum possible time of four years. I cannot thank Allah enough for helping me cross this bridge and my entire family for bearing with me all these four years.
Having said that, however, now I realize that I have merely touched the tip of the iceberg. There is so much to explore in our deen and IOU has given us the opportunity to do that. To satiate my thirst for more knowledge, I am now specializing in education and further plan to join the Masters program as well, Insha’Allah.
Moreover, as our teachers at IOU always told us that knowledge is useless without its application. Again, IOU provided me with this platform and right after my graduation, I managed to start a weekend Islamic school in my city where we teach Islamic studies to kids in an interactive and fun-loving manner. My future plans include to start a full fledge complete state of the art Islamic school, teach Arabic to students, develop a love for the language amongst ladies and children, and provide teachers training to Muslim teachers.
I shall also like to advise the new students at the IOU, esp. mothers, to never lose hope and get disappointed due to lack of time and children’s demands. If you have the right niyyah to learn knowledge, Allah will put barakah in your time, and you will sail through easily. Trust me, we are all doing this for Allah and He will help us.
Some Useful Tips for Busy Mummies
- Study in the latter half of night. Do not worry when your baby wakes up, s/he will eventually fall asleep and you can carry on with your studies.
- Focus on learning and not on your grades.
- A tip especially for the final exams, I will quote one of my MBA teachers, a note, which he always wrote on our final exam sheet.
“Final exam, not to be confused with “THEEEE FINAL EXAM”.
Lastly, a big round of applause for my mentor and my respected teacher, Dr. Bilal Philips, who through his hard work and dedication made this dream concept of online education a reality!
I shall also thank all my IOU teachers and TAs, especially Dr. Anwar (I never thought studying fiqh was that interesting.), Fazeel Muhammed (my respected Arabic teacher all the way from Trinidad), Br.Ismail Kamdar (our TA and teacher all these four years for his constant guidance and moral support in helping me choose the right profession after my graduation), Br.Yusuf Gassiep, Br.Tariq Appleby, Br. Dawud, Br.Luqman, Br.Laja Yasini, Sr.Rasheeda Abdul Hakim (for her great teaching style, and educational tips),Sr. Rosana Gulzar (for making Islamic economics so digestible and interesting),Sr. Soha (psychology TA), Br.Hunain Aijaz (for his constant support in admin matters), and all those teachers and TAs whose names I have missed, yet they played an extremely important role in shaping our future and making us love our deen more. I thank you all.