Ta‘lim is an international programme in religious, moral and cultural education for Ismaili children from pre-school to secondary. Its overall aim is to educate children in the faith, ethics, history and cultures of Muslim peoples and of the Ismaili community in particular. Based on this framework, it seeks to promote self-development, learning and moral responsibility through instructional approaches which encourage creativity and reflection.
The Institute’s Pre-school Curriculum forms part of the broader programme of Early Childhood Education for Ismaili children. It contributes to the religious and moral formation of children by acquainting them with simple precepts of faith and ethics. These elementary concepts are presented through the Pre-school Series, a set of colourfully illustrated booklets which introduce children to the topics of Allah, Prophet Muhammad and the Imams. The Teacher’s and Parent’s Guide provides lesson outlines and activities on these topics.
Book 1: “Allah the Creator” introduces children to the concept of Allah as al-Khaliq, the Creator. Through the text and illustrations, children learn about Allah's kindness and the many bounties He has given to human beings. These include the use of the five senses, and the ability to discern the good from the bad.
In Book 2: “Allah is Great”, children obtain a glimpse of the vastness and majesty of Allah's creation. They follow the adventures of a new-born bird that sets out to explore the many wonders and mysteries in creation. Children also learn that Allah is everywhere, and that He is all-seeing and all-knowing. This idea is conveyed through the story of three boys who are challenged to eat an apple in a place where no one can see them.
Book 3: “Prophet Muhammad” is a very simple introduction to the life and teachings of the Prophet. Children learn of the Prophet's life in Mecca, and the values of honesty, unity and kindness taught by him. The book includes a story of a Meccan woman who was forgiven by the Prophet, despite being unkind to him.
Book 4: “Mawlana Ali” focuses on two important historical events. In the first, Prophet Muhammad announces to his relatives that Hazrat Ali is his helper and successor. This event took place when Hazrat Ali was a young boy living with the Prophet. The second event is related to Ghadir Khumm, where the Prophet declares Hazrat Ali, at Allah's command, to be the Mawla of the believers.
In Book 5: “Mawlana Hazir Imam”, children are made aware that Mawlana Hazir Imam is the 49th hereditary Imam of Shia Ismaili Muslims and the direct descendant of Prophet Muhammad. They learn about the farmans of the Imam on the spiritual and material life, and his humanitarian programmes for the benefit of communities all over the world.
Book 6: “Ya Ali Madad” helps children to become familiar with this greeting, and its meaning and usage within the Ismaili Jamat. The second part of the book is about a typical day in the life of an Ismaili Muslim boy. Children follow his various activities, from the time he wakes up to the time he goes to bed. Through the story, children learn of the importance of leading a balanced life.
The Teacher’s and Parent’s Guide contains a general introduction to the aims and approaches of the Pre-school Series. It also provides a series of structured topic plans, each consisting of objectives, instructional content, learning activities, and other useful suggestions.