Ibn Sahnun’s Ninth Century Framework: A Guide for Arabic Language Curriculum Writing

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Nadia Selim

Abstract

Building Arabic curricula for non-Arabic learners is problematic due to the specificity of the Arabic language. This problem is exacerbated by the existence of a subclass of Arabic learners who do not truly fit into any of the normative classifications of language learners. Non-Arab learners are unable to cope with curricula designed for Arab-background heritage learners. Consequently, teachers of Muslim children in Islamic schools in English-speaking contexts are designing Arabic curricula without adequate training or support. It has, therefore, become a necessity to develop a curriculum framework that responds to the needs of Muslim learners of Arabic in Western Islamic settings. As Islamic civilisation presented a body of robust educational thought and led to one of the earliest Arabic literacy campaigns, it is imperative that Arabic curriculum writers look to it for guidance. Therefore, this paper considers one of the earliest iterations of an Arabic curriculum presented in Kitab Adab al-Mu'allimin (The Book of Teachers’ Ethics) by Ibn Sahnun (817 – 870 CE).

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