Assalaamu alaykum warahmatullah,

There are a few updates which I wanted to let everyone know about.

Firstly, as I have mentioned previously, there is going to be a four fold increase to the number of students accepted this year, in shaa Allah. Most of the places have already been allocated, and the main ‘deadline’ has already passed. However, I doubt that they will have filled every single place, because of the massive increase in places, and as I keep saying, there is no official cut-off date, in the sense that they stop accepting applications. However, once they have allocated all of the places (which was scheduled to happen about a month ago), all other applications will be considered for the following year. This can be thought of as an unofficial deadline, but people can still be accepted after it has passed, just not very many.

Secondly, there are some very big changes scheduled to happen in the coming few years which seem like they are going to change the Islamic University (for better or worse) – and Allah knows best.

  1. Firstly, as mentioned above, the university is going to have much larger facilities and therefore accept more students. This has its good points and bad points. The concern is that the standard will be even more watered down than it already is, in terms of both teachers and students, as the university struggles to cope with the massive increase in numbers.
  2. Secondly, masters may (this is still unofficial as far as I know) be changed to 2 years instead of 4-5 years, with no research paper (only a standard dissertation written over months not years). This will make the masters programme much more accessible, in shaa Allah, with a large increase in the number of students who are accepted. This again can be good and bad, since it represents yet another compromise in standards and quality, but on the other hand, makes the programme viable for more people.
  3. Thirdly, there is a rumor that they are making progress in terms of the sisters’ facilities, and we may see something more concrete next year – and Allah knows best. Not only does this open the door to sisters who want to apply, but also could potentially make it much easier for married students.
  4. Finally, the university is planning to expand to cover non-Islamic specialisations, making it a mainstream university, rather than a purely Islamic one. I don’t know the timescale for this, or whether any scholarships would be provided to students from outside of Saudi Arabia, but the change is something which is being seriously talked about.

On one hand, I’m really pleased that the university is becoming more accessible and many of the difficulties mentioned on this blog are becoming easier, in shaa Allah. On the other hand, there is a serious concern that if changes happen in an unplanned way, a lot of the quality and the atmosphere of the university may be lost. Also, there is a major push to lower the standards required of the students, which are already so much lower than they were five or six years ago, and a million miles away from what they were 10 or 20 years ago. It used to be that students graduated with a solid foundation in all of the major Islamic sciences, whereas it now seems that the gaping holes in the university syllabus are getting bigger and bigger, with each course becoming more and more specialised, and focusing less and less on classical sources (with some exceptions of course). The blame for that doesn’t rest solely with the administration; the students have to accept their fair share of the blame.

If you look at certain major Islamic universities in the world and what has happened to them, you can see how much they were affected by these kinds of changes. These kind of changes can be something very positive, in shaa Allah, if they are accompanied by adherence to the Sunnah and a solid Islamic framework, as well as a firm respect for the status of Islamic  knowledge. However, if they are implemented simply to make a university closer to its counterparts in the West, then they can be the beginning of a serious decline, making a university more concerned with quantity than quality, and turning what should be the single most important and comprehenive field of study in the world into little more than a token degree and a hobby course, no longer producing future scholars and serious students of knowledge. Some might say that has already happened to some extent.

We ask Allah to protect this university and to make it a source of benefit for the world, and to grant the teachers, students, and management the ability to fulfill the amaanah which they have been given.

Wassalaamu alaykum warahmatullah,

Muhammad

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