All praise is due to Allah Who has elevated His religion Islam, as the best way of life; Who has sent the Quraan as the perfect guide to mankind and Who has sent the Prophet (SA) as the best exemplar.
Allah has attached greatness, significance and excellence to those means through which Islam, the Quraan and the Prophet (SA) are elevated. Education by means of learning and teaching the Quraan and the Sunnah, as well as other sciences of the Deen, is in fact one of the most efficient ways of propagating and elevating the religion of Islam. This Islamic knowledge far excels worldly knowledge, since it leads directly to the pleasure of Allah, and to obedience to Him and the Prophet (SA). It is also a means of achieving success in this world as well as in the Hereafter. Those who follow this path are certainly distinguished by Allah and have been given a lofty status.
Allah says in the Quraan: “Say are those who know equal to those who know not? It is only those of understanding who will remember.” (Quraan 39:9)
He also emphasized: “Allah has elevated those who believe from among you and those who have been given knowledge are upon higher ranks.” (Quraan 58:11)
The Prophet (SA) has also dignified the virtue of knowledge and those who traverse the path towards it.
He (SA) has said: “The learned (in religion) are the heirs of the prophets. The prophets have not left gold or silver as their legacy but have left knowledge. Whosoever acquires this knowledge has certainly acquired a great portion.” (Bukhaari)
It is this prominence which has been given to the Knowledge of Islam, and of the virtues of learning and teaching, that the Darul Uloom Trinidad and Tobago has an automatic distinction and virtue with Allah, His angels and people of understanding. In addition, the Darul Uloom has been acknowledged and accepted for its services in the cause of Islam not only in Trinidad and Tobago but also in the Caribbean, the Americas and other parts of the world.
Alhamdulillah, all praise is due to Allah, who has shown acceptance to the Darul Uloom in its objectives, as has been expressed by the founder and first Principal, Mufti Shabil Ali (Rahmatullah ‘alaih) in this statement.
“To impart a sound Islamic as well as academic education along with good morals and etiquettes, producing graduates who will sincerely obey Allah and the Messenger (SA), and will efficiently serve the cause of Islam fulfilling their responsibility of family life, such that they become beneficial to themselves, their family members and the muslim community and the society at large.”
Therefore to acknowledge and appreciate the status of the Darul Uloom in its present age and to benefit from the services offered, one needs to reflect on the past, of the needs of the then Muslim community and then compare them to the present achievements.
Allah, out of His infinite mercy, has preserved His religion in the island of Trinidad, as well as in others, by the use of His devout servants. Some came as missionaries; some resided for a number of years and served as teachers, Imams etc; some wrote booklets and articles; some did yeoman services in the establishing of mosques, schools, etc. May Allah bless and reward them fittingly for their noble efforts.
Yet with all the hard work done by those mentioned, there was still a void that needed to be filled. The thirst for Islamic learning grew, and especially for a higher level of the sciences of Islam, of Quraan, Hadith, Tajweed, Fiqh, etc. The gap was even widened as those learned men who had worked hard before were becoming old and weary, some had passed away, and yet some had to return to their native land. Even though maktabs were being conducted in some mosques in the country, khutbahs were being delivered throughout for Jum’ah, and functions and lectures were being organized, yet the appetite for a higher level of Islamic knowledge which the young, vibrant and yearning Muslim community needed was not appeased.
Allah Ta’aala, out of His benevolence and goodness, guided a group of enthusiastic youths out of the shores of Trinidad, in 1973, to India and Pakistan in the pursuit of the then needed higher Islamic studies. Several individuals followed in subsequent years. This was certainly goodness from Allaah, as the Prophet (SA) has said: “Whosoever Allaah intends for him goodness, He gives him knowledge and understanding of Islaam.” (Bukhaari and Muslim)
From among this first group which left in pursuit of higher Islamic knowledge, to become Maulanas / Aalims / Sheiks were Mufti Shabil Ali (RH), Maulana Abdus Salam and others.
Mufti Shabil Ali and Maulana Abdus Salam were outstanding students at the Arabic College, Darul Uloom, Sabeelur Rashaad, in Bangalore, India, and both completed the Maulana course. Mufti Shabil Ali along with the Maulana course became an ‘Ashara Qaari (one who is versed in ten variant ways of recitation). He then proceeded to Dabhel Madrasah in Surat, Gujrat, India, where he completed his Mufti course. He returned to Trinidad in 1981 and was very active in the Nur e Islam Maktab. Three years later, in 1984, with the request of many and the pious duas of his teachers, the Darul Uloom Trinidad and Tobago was established with its humble beginning in the garage of his home in San Juan.
He started the Darul Uloom with only a handful of students and a few staff members, among whom were Maulana Abdus Salam and Maulana Afzal Ally (RH. – passed away). The number of students increased as the institution became known and as such the facility was inadequate and the need for space demanded a new location.
The Darul Uloom was then relocated in 1986 to its present venue at Rashaad Ave, Mon Plasir Road, Cunupia. This early progress was a clear indication of the acceptance from Allaah.
The Darul Uloom also recognized the need to equip its students academically in order that they be able to face the ever-growing challenges of society, and for them to work competently in their service of Deen. Thus, as part of the programme of studies, students were also taught a comprehensive secular syllabus up to A’ level along with their Islamic syllabus.
As the needs of the males existed for the orthodox and high level of Islamic knowledge, similarly were the needs of the females. This need of educating the Muslim sisters in Islam initiated the Darul Uloom Girls’ College which also began at the house of Mufti Shabil Ali.
The classes at the Girls’ College were conducted only by females. After a few years the facility became too cramped as a result of the large number of students’ intake, and by the grace of Allah, the Girls’ College was then relocated to its new and present venue at Cunupia St. Southern Main Rd, Cunupia.
Therefore it can be seen that from the very inception of the Darul Uloom it became unique as the institution for sound Islamic learning. The thirst of many for knowledge was being quenched; questions were being answered; the void was being filled and the gap was being bridged. Since their humble beginning both colleges have grown and are still growing.
The passing away of Mufti Shabil Ali (RH) on 15th April 1996 was indeed a great loss to the Darul Uloom and to the Muslims at large. However his good works continued competently with Mufti Waseem Khan succeeding him as Principal and part of an Administrative Committee with Maulana Abdus Salam and Maulana Shiraz Ali. Mufti Waseem who after completing his Maulana course in Pakistan completed the Mufti course at the Darul Uloom Trinidad and Tobago studying under Mufti Shabil Ali (RH). Thus after his demise the objectives, functions and services of the Darul Uloom continued efficiently.
To this day, Islamic Education at the Darul Uloom has reached an unparalleled advanced level in the history of Trinidad and Tobago, the entire Caribbean and South America.
At the Institute, advancements in Islamic learning have reached the perimeters of both Bachelor of Arts and Masters’ Degrees and have been acknowledged and accredited by one of the top and leading Islamic Universities of India – Darul Uloom Sabeelur Rashaad of Bangalore, India.
Along with this University, many others throughout the Indo-Pak Continent have also given the same endorsement to the standard of Islamic Education at the Darul Uloom Trinidad and Tobago.
Having reached this elevation and proficiency in the field of Islamic Education, it can be said without exaggeration that Darul Uloom Trinidad and Tobago is the first and only Islamic Institution in the Caribbean and South America which has taken Islamic Education and Training to such a high and admirable standard.
Students graduating from these Institutes are fully equipped in the field of higher Arabic/ Islamic Studies as well as Science and Academic Education.
Unlike other Institutes, Darul Uloom continues to be a fully private Institution which fulfills all its needs through the generous contributions of the local Muslims. In this manner the Institute has remained aloof from the problems encountered by the public schools with regards to violence, indiscipline and misbehaviour. Providing its own rules, code of ethics and syllabuses, the Institute is recognized to be one of the most disciplined schools in Trinidad and Tobago where staff-members, workers and educators continue to show full dedication and commitment to their service without fail
The Darul Uloom, ever since its establishment in 1984, has always been a peaceful Institute, fulfilling its objectives of educating and training students in Islam, according to orthodox and pure teachings of the beliefs of the Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah (Main stream majority of Muslims). It has always cooperated with the Government and its Minis-terial offices and has never been a threat to the Government or to the public at large, as claimed by an allegation in a local newspaper. In fact the Ministry of Education has used the facilities of the Darul Uloom in its ‘school for all’ programme in filling the gap of non-placement of students who wrote S.E.A exams, with no available places at other secondary schools. The Darul Uloom is also registered with the Ministry of Education as a Private Secondary School and is incorporated with the Ministry of Finance as a ‘Charitable Non-profit Organization’ under the Companies Ordinance Ch. 31 No.1 since 1984.
Being a unique Institute in providing Academic and Higher Arabic and Islamic Studies under one umbrella, the Darul Uloom continues to attract numerous students from foreign lands. Over the past years, students have been admitted in the Institute from Tobago, the United States of America, England, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Bahamas, Bermuda, Guyana, Dominica, Haiti, Cuba, Barbados, Grenada, Surinam, Brazil, U.S. Virgin Islands, Nevis, Anguilla, St. Vincent, St. Lucia, Surinam, and Venezuela.
So far some of these students have successfully completed their courses in many different fields and have returned to their countries as Aalims/Maulanas, Qaaris and Huffaadh along with qualifications in ‘O’ and ‘A’ level subjects.
In the field of Islamic Education, the responsibility has been placed upon competent and qualified scholars who have graduated from renowned and prestigious Islamic Universities of India, Pakistan, Madina, England and Darul Uloom T&T. Similarly, the Academic and Science aspect of Education are also handled by well qualified and efficient educators who possess degrees, teachers’ training and many other qualifications.
At present the enrollment at the Boys’ College is one hundred and thirty. Part-time enrollment is about three hundred and fifty. There are thirty-five members of the teaching staff at the Boys’ College. As regards to infrastructure the compound has nine buildings. These are used for school, offices, libraries, classes, boarding facilities, memorization of Quraan, labs, mosque, kitchen and dining, etc.
At present the enrollment at the Girls’ College is one hundred and forty five. Teaching staff at the Girls’ College comprises twenty six members. As regards to infrastructure the compound has a multi-purpose block and the foundation of a hostel building is at present being laid. This building is being used for school, offices, libraries, classes, boarding facilities, memori-zation of Quraan, labs, kitchen and dining, Salaah areas, etc.
Along with the establishment of this advanced level of Islamic Education the Darul Uloom has also instituted a strict and credible standard of examinations which continues to be maintained as the criterion for the certification of its students. Besides being double-checked by other ‘Ulamaa of the Institute, the coursework of the graduating students is sent to Darul Uloom Sabeelur Rashaad, Bangalore, India to be re-examined and checked, after which students can successfully graduate as Aalims/Maulanas from the Darul Uloom. In the same manner, those enrolled in the Iftaa course (Mufti course) must be examined and tested by one of the top and leading Muftis of India (who now resides in England) and under whose patronage the Darul Iftaa of the Darul Uloom has been established.
Note: After successfully completing the B.A. Degree (8 – Year Aalim Course) students who have excelled with 1st Class Honours can enrol in the field of Iftaa or Mufti course (Specialization in Islamic Law and Jurisprudence). This is a two-year advanced course and is equated to a Masters Degree by Islamic Universities of India and Pakistan.
Today we can see the need for sound knowledge and discipline for our youths and we must carefully decide in whose hands this responsibility is placed. The best knowledge is the knowledge of Islam and the best guidance is the guidance of Allah. As such, we must with urgency, embrace the opportunities for ourselves and our children to learn the religion of Allah and ways of His Prophet, so that we can earn His pleasure.
As the Darul Uloom T&T continues to work for the cause of Islam, we make a humble appeal to you for your kind assistance in whatever way possible. Your contribution is extremely significant to us, as it helps to carry on this great task. There are many ways in which you can help that will bring great rewards to you and will also be a means of continuous rewards for you after your demise. You can donate monthly or yearly towards running expenses like groceries, bills, etc; finance projects and buildings; sponsor student(s); sponsor teachers’ salaries; send your Zakaah and Sadaqah to us to be given to needy students; and be supportive of the activities of Darul Uloom Trinidad and Tobago even by your humble Duas.