Editor’s note: Like many hundreds of members of the Ottawa jamat, I enjoyed the recent Encounters Showcase held at the Ottawa Jamatkhana, and I am grateful to the Ismaili Tariqah and Religious Education Board (ITREB) for preparing this special write-up for readers of this website. We invite Bait ul-Ilm (BUI) Centres around the world to submit their exciting and innovative projects and stories for publication on this website.
Ottawa BUI Encounters Showcase — by Nawaaz Makhani and Rabia Kara
The Bait ul-Ilm Encounters Showcase, held at the Ottawa Jamatkhana in June 2015. Photo: ITREB, Ottawa. Copyright.
The 2014-2015 Bait ul-Ilm (BUI) Encounters program in Ottawa offered grade 7-12 students high-quality Religious Education experiences both in the classroom and outside. The work of BUI Encounters teachers is guided by the vision of the Institute of Ismaili Studies’ (IIS) Secondary Curriculum:
“The Curriculum adopts an approach to the study of Islam based on humanistic, civilisational and normative perspectives. It seeks to acquaint secondary students with the diverse and dynamic interplay of Islamic expressions – religious, social, cultural and material – that manifest themselves in Muslim societies of the past and present day.”
The Bait ul-Ilm Encounters Showcase, held at the Ottawa jamatkhana in June 2015. Photo: ITREB, Ottawa. Copyright.
Some of the highlights during the year included an overnight sleepover with a focus on expression through painting, a ‘Model Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN)’ simulation activity with the Aga Khan Foundation Canada Headquarters, housed in the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat on Sussex Drive in Ottawa, and Luminate 2015, a weekend camping experience in collaboration with the Duke of Edinburgh Award. The experiences and learning were shared with the Jamat in a Showcase, where students identified themes from the Institute’s Ethical Pathways to Human Development (EPHD) curriculum and shared their reflections and learning in a unique and collaborative form.
Students were asked to create an interactive Showcase for the Jamat to learn about their journey this past year. They collaboratively identified themes believed to express their experience and learning over the year, and chose pieces that would clearly help others understand their newly gained perspectives. The pieces chosen for the display included student reflections from the year, art work, pictures of field trips and/or camp, student classroom work, as well as excerpts from the EPHD curriculum.
“Religion is not viewed as a detached and compartmentalized phenomenon in history and society, but rather in terms of its multifaceted connections with various dimensions of human experience.” 
Sharing of knowledge is an important ethic in Islam, and for students, this allowed them to share in a creative and unique platform. By allowing student voice and agency to showcase their learning from the 2014/2015 BUI Encounters year, the students were able to reflect on their experiences as an end of the year activity and the community was in turn was exposed to the program and appreciated the value of Religious Education as part of the development of the student.
Read and view more on Simerg com