How a small Muslim community turns Sunday school into an enjoyable lesson

Sunday School Teacher: Instructor Daniyya Naeem poses in front of a display of Qurans on Jan. 28. Naeem shares Quranic teachings in her Sunday school classes. The Quran is the Holy book of Islam. (Photo by Sadia Chaudhry/The Press)

According to the official Ahmadiyya website Al-Islam, Ahmadiyya Muslims take pride in teaching their future generation. They believe that the future of Islam-Ahmadiyyat lies in how they prepare their children today to become the guardians of future.

Nasir Academy is a Sunday school run by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community for kids ages seven to 15, at the Ahmadiyya Muslim mosques in Calgary.

“The objective of Nasir Academy is to equip the children with grassroot knowledge of their faith,” says Nasir Academy teacher Daniyya Naeem. “We want them to have a solid foundation to build on and become a confident Ahmadi Muslim.”

According to Naeem, a key item of the success of the academy is that it uses existing professional teaching methods of public schools and buffs them out to deliver religious education. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community takes great pride in nurturing the generations to come, which is why teachers are carefully appointed.

Most Nasir Academy teachers are selected when they dominate in good communication and teaching skills, as well as basic to moderate level knowledge of Islam-Ahmadiyyat.

“It takes one confident Ahmadi Muslim to form another confident Ahmadi Muslim,” said Naeem.

Naeem has been a teacher at Nasir Academy for four years now and teaches level one advance for students, age eight to nine.

The academy is divided into four levels: level one (seven and eight years), level two (nine and 10 years), level three (11 and 12 years) and level four (13 and 14 years).

Nasir Academy curriculum is age-appropriate and uses innovative approaches in its teachings. According to the Department Education of Ahmadiyya Muslim Canada, a proper base is placed to educate the young generation with an approach that embraces everything from social to spiritual to moral to academic dimensions.

When one applies to become a teacher, they are asked for their qualifications and what they are interested in.

Naeem worked as a Sunday school teacher at the Baitun-Nur mosque before the start of Nasir Academy. When she applied to volunteer as a teacher, the principal in charge, Zahra Upal, took her in right away as an assistant for the first year.

“The principal allows you to pick what you prefer along with her input of who she feels as teachers teach the best,” said Naeem.

Another aspect of the success of the academy is that it engages the children in fun and interactive activities.

It takes one confident Ahmadi Muslim to form another confident Ahmadi Muslim – Daniyya Naeem.

“My son is always looking forward to going to Nasir Academy every Sunday because of the gym time the kids get,” says Afshan Choudhry.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Nasir Academy in Calgary also takes annual hiking trips to the mountains.

The Department of Education of Ahmadiyya Muslim Canada says, “We do not want those people, after graduating from high school or college, to run after worldly pursuits. We expect them to dedicate their lives to the service of faith.”