Dear Teachers

Salaamun Alaykum

I would like to warmly welcome you all to the 2018 academic year.

I can’t recall the last time in Madressa where one could say we are continuing how we left off…! Last year we moved to a new site, this year we change curriculum.

On reflection, it reminds me of the advice of Imam Ali (as) “Do not force your own customs upon your children for they are in other times than yours.” It is not easy to constantly adapt to changes and rise to new challenges, but as a Madressa we acknowledge that for education purposes, as time passes we need to reach out to the next generation in different ways to how we were taught.

The advice of our Imam (as) encourages us to be innovative, creative and experimental in order to find new avenues to engage with our students. Gone are the days where we had 5-10 students per class and teachers could recite a 30-45min lecture on their chosen subject and students would be expected to absorb, learn and implement what their teacher has dictated.

The Tarbiyah curriculum offers much promise as we continually seek to enhance and advance Madressa’s offering. For teachers I appreciate that the coming year will be one filled with a certain amount of experimentation on how to teach the new curriculum; deploy all the resources available effectively and importantly, focussing even more than in previous years on the nurturing of our students in a holistic manner and not just on content delivery.

In September 2017, when staff voted overwhelmingly to take on the challenge of a new curriculum there were many uncertainties and still the road ahead is not crystal clear. However, I am certain that in time we will overcome any challenges collectively and we will close the year in a better position then we began.

It has been mentioned repeatedly particularly at management level, that our staff are the heart and soul of Madressa. Irrespective of how the Madressa is organised and managed, the fact that around 175 volunteers walk through the doors each Sunday morning with just one vision to ‘nurture a community of students that exhibits the features of Ahlul-Bayt (AS)’ serves to demonstrate that the Madressa’s success lies in the hands of our staff.

For your efforts the only appropriate reward will be from the Almighty, and may He reward each one of you and your respective families abundantly both in this world, and the hereafter for the time you are sacrificing in furthering the cause of His religion. I can only express gratitude to all of you, for the hard work which you will undoubtedly undertake over the course of this academic year.

I would be remiss if I did not make a mention of our outgoing Principal and Junior’s Coordinator. Sajjad Govani and Shenaz Dhalla have served Madressa for at least a decade if not longer and it has been an absolute pleasure to work with them and learn from them. As an institution we are today, after more than 30 years, in a better place due in no small part to the contribution of all individuals who on a daily basis take on significant responsibility, work and effort to propel the Madressa forward. Today, the Madressa is in better place because we “stand on the shoulders of giants”.

Finally, I would like to request you all to recite a Surah Fateha for all marhumeen particularly for those individuals on whose efforts, foresight and wisdom the Madressa has been able to progress and evolve over the last 33 years (Madressa was formed on 13 January 1985).

Maisam Jaffer

Shia Ithna’asheri Madressa,
London, United Kingdom—January 2018