Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Shariah Program VS Sunnipath Miftah Curriculum

I’ve been a student of the Toronto Shariah Program for a year and half now (online as well), and currently, I’m a teaching assistant to the summer course- Introductory Arabic on SunniPath. A lot of people have asked my advice on which is better, and all I can say is, I love both the courses!

Below is a table highlighting the similarities and differences:

Shariah Program

SunniPath Miftah Curriculum


Right from the beginning the Arabic and English terms are used interchangeably. So, you would know that ism ishara is demonstrative pronoun in English, and such. If you are a grammar person, being able to match the English and Arabic terms is helpful. But if you're not a grammar person, then you might take some time to get used to all the terms.

My first impression of the terminology was: This is weird. Passive is called doer-less form, masdars are called verbal noun, moreover, the raf, nasb and jar states go by R-, N- and J-states. There is no exposure to the terms in Arabic, and definitely no linking to the English grammar terms. This is probably good because there isn't a one-to-one match in grammar: Passive in Arabic is slightly different from that in English

Structure and Methodology

There is a pseudo-syllabus, and the instructor’s style is to introduce advanced concepts from the beginning, but not explain them formally until much later. I have to point something out: The instructor of this program has a very unique style that stimulates your mind. Often, he will bring examples from the Qur’an, Arabic poetry, and other grammar books. The very constructions are very interesting. The course goes fast, but with continuous repetitions.

Weekly lessons are concise, and there are lots and lots of slides. There are weekly tutorials that answer any questions the students have, and do further practice. Advanced concepts are “simplified”, and then later introduced as is (there’s an ‘unlearning’ feature). The course goes a bit slow, and the weekly assignments will keep you quite busy.


The total course time with the instructor is: 3 hours each on the weekend days, and 1.5 hour in the middle of the week.

2 half an hour each/week pre-recorded lessons by the instructor and 2.5 hour tutorial with the tutorial teacher


Check the website. The instructor has a unique style of teaching that doesn’t involve any grammar book for the first 8 months. After that, the grammar is repeated from a book called Hidayatun Nahw. No dictionary.

Check the website. The instructor has a unique style of teaching that doesn’t involve any grammar book. Use of the Hans Wehr dictionary is encouraged.


One instructor

Instructor, tutorial teacher, teaching assistant


Vocabulary is derived from the Stories of the Prophets (children’s version). The book is read in class word for word, and often, a sentence is pulled out for word-by-word analysis.

Vocabulary is derived from various passages on day to day activities/stories. A list of vocabulary words is provided. Each passage has application of the lesson of the corresponding week.


Once a week the students have a chance to recite the verb tables, which is great practice. Students are encouraged to recite with speed and from memory. Since the lessons are live, you can clarify concepts as you listen.

In the introductory Arabic course, there are weekly (1 or 2) assignments based on the lessons, so they make sure you learn as you go.

Since the lessons are pre-recorded, you only get to ask questions in the tutorial, once a week.


There’s an exam once in 4/5 months.

Test every 4 weeks, and weekly tutorial attendance.


Students can test their knowledge best by answering questions in class. Low grades don’t deter you from continuing.

Students receive feedback on their weekly assignments. If students do not meet the minimum, they can’t next the next course and are required to repeat it.


The program runs for 2 years in one go.

Courses are 3.5 months each, and repeated most semesters.


Paltalk [with audio video streaming], and online powerpoint conferencing. All lectures are recorded and free for download anytime.

SunniPath’s e-learning system that includes: audio, video, slides streaming, recordings, discussion forum [accessible for 2 semesters only]

Assignments require typing in Arabic (a pain for some)

Please note that the information provided does not cover the syllabus in detail. If you want to know what both the courses cover, you have to visit their websites.
You can download a PDF of this table here [It may differ from the table above.


sheepoo said...

You missed one point:
Shariah Program has a blog , Sunni Path doesn't :)

Nice comparison, though. I went through the exercise of comparing the two courses before selecting Shariah Program. I wish this list was available at that time.

Jazak Allah!

Humairah Irfan said...

Well.. Sunnipath has slides that have everything written and explained in them.. :)

But your blog is totally unique, I have to agree!


Ozair said...

Well done ... although, I have a bias since I have only taken one of the courses that you analyzed. The Shariah program instructor makes the Arabic learning experience quite unique and entertaining :). The mosque near my house is running Arabic classes every Monday which I started attending to refresh my Arabic studies .. you can check it out here: http://sundaycircle.wordpress.com/other-classes-or-events-with-shaykh-zahir/.

Humairah Irfan said...

Ozair, you know Hafsa and I are quite proud of you for re-starting Arabic classes :) Mashallah!!
May Allah (swt) grant you knowledge that benefits.

And I'm sure you're missed in class :) I don't even know how it's like with all the new faces, but I'm definitely enjoying the online classes, Alhamdulillah.

Hafsa said...

yup, Ozair...very proud :)

ameen to humairah's duas

Anonymous said...

Become a Shariah program fan on Facebook

Obaidullah said...

Another Difference...

SP is much costlier than ShP...