MYC believes in education, rather than indoctrination. MYC recognizes that internalizing Islam is dependant upon asking questions. Even the youngest child can ask the most profound questions about creation. At MYC we try to address those questions by explaining how Muslims throughout history have asked and answered the very same questions. We encourage campers to think and find answers that are meaningful to them. We believe this exploration is most successful in an environment that values the individual’s need for quiet reflection, creative expression, and value to the whole group. MYC reinforces these needs in its classes in an age-appropriate manner and emphasizes that learning about Islam and one’s Muslim identity is based on the following:
- the basics: personal reflection on God and oneself;
- the historical texts: various ways Muslims have studied Qur’an and sunna, such as tafsir (Qur’anic commentary), legal theory, ethics, history, theology, philosophy, cosmology, and so on;
- contemporary realities: tools to understand how conflict and progress occur, such as the dynamics of personality, social constructs, power dynamics, cultural values, and economic and political realities
Secondarily, our curriculum is designed to nurture our campers’ own individual Islamic identities through basic teachings in Islam and age-appropriate exercises in critical thinking about current and historical issues. Classes are designed around a different annual theme, always drawing upon some combination of Islamic history, theology, law, ethics, philosophy, and sociology. A typical curriculum might include courses on Qur’anic themes and concepts, knowledge of the life of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his Companions, as well as other prophets, exploration of classical Islamic beliefs and history of Muslim cultures, contemporary Muslim life in the United States and other contexts, and exploration of how to live in harmony and peace with other human beings and the environment. Pre-school, elementary and middle school campers are given a foundation in these subjects, with additional emphasis on the value of Islamic adab (etiquette). For high school and above, classes incorporate discussion of tafsir and hadith interpretation in the formation of religious rules and laws, scholarship by ulama (scholars) of the past and present, and how to understand variation of opinion and practice in the Islamic tradition. On really tough topics, where there can be incredible disagreement, MYC campers not only learn the points of disagreement between Muslims, but also practice how to engage in polite, respectful discussion while maintaining a Muslim friendship. Our staff and faculty are expected to be a living example of these principles for the whole camp, showing that intellectual differences evolve naturally from the many ways that sincere Muslims approach common questions, and that everyone’s sincere effort deserves to be respected.
In MYC classes, no one is judged on the amount of knowledge they know or don’t know. In fact, the MYC curriculum does not aim to “graduate” campers with a particular body of substantive information. Rather, MYC ultimately aims to empower campers with the appropriate tools with which they can continue their own knowledge, by creating educational experiences where Islam is learned in an environment that encourages discussion, honest and respectful questioning and open expression of thoughts and views on a given topic. It is important to us that campers leave the camp feeling both supported and challenged by the MYC curriculum.
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