The journey of Tariq, the Muslim beekeeper began approximately three years ago. Tariq has always been a “nature boy” for as long as he could remember. As a young boy, he was the kid that stayed outdoors. His preference would be to ride bikes or play basketball than to play video games. But when friends were not around, he passed time collecting and building vivariums (enclosures, containers, or structures adapted or prepared for keeping animals under seminatural conditions for observation). Tariq first started off building terrariums for collecting and raising toads, lizards, and snakes that he would catch around the house. He then moved to aquariums where he raised various fish, crustaceans, amphibians, and turtles.
It should come to no surprise that by his senior year of high school he was well positioned to go to college and major in zoology. However, due to his father cautioning him that a zoologist would not have a financially rewarding life and the school of his choice (Morehouse) didn’t have a zoology major, he chose to major in biology instead. Although he was on a pre-med track, he opted not to pursue medical school after college. Rather his secondary passion for social activism lead him to education.
Tariq never strayed far from his nature loving side; in his classrooms he raised praying mantises. Shortly after starting a career as a high school teacher, he was back in the seat of the student obtaining a master’s degree in Science Education. After about 10 years as a teacher, he transitioned into Educational Leadership. Tariq currently acts as director, educator, and wellness therapist at Makkah International Institute.
After founding Makkah International Institute and beginning to homestead he has now been afforded the opportunity to rekindle his childhood passion of exploring the natural world. Among other endeavors, Makkah International Institute takes regular expeditions to provide youth with real world, culturally relevant learning experiences. Among these expeditions, we have gone snorkeling, taken college tours, visited nature centers, and various farms including that of a Muslim beekeeper.
It was at this trip to visit a Muslim beekeeper in 2014 that he was first introduced to beekeeping. The beekeeper saw the enthusiasm in the faces of the summer camp youth that he decided to invest in the organization by giving the organization a beginner’s beekeeping book. Tariq flipped through it, and three years later, as his homestead was steadily growing, he was ready to buy my first batch of honeybees which he purchased from another Muslim Beekeeper. The honeybees were one of the last animals to join his homestead: after the chickens, quail, and goats.
After his first year of beekeeping he attended the Young Harris Beekeeping Institute and became a certified beekeeper. He is currently working on his third beehive, and plans to continue to advance in the art of beekeeping until he becomes a master beekeeper. Tariq aspires to add to the scientific research of bee related matters as well as experience being a honey judge.
In addition to the personal fulfillment that beekeeping has given Tariq, children within the community have also benefitted tremendously from him being a beekeeper. Since honeybees are major pollinators, the children have gained a better interest in and understanding of agriculture and food production. Beyond honey, the children have also learned that humans collect many other useful products from bees such as wax, royal jelly, and pollen. We anticipate that we will soon have children expressing interest in going into the natural health field due to learning of the many health benefits of pollen and royal jelly. We already have children that want to make candles and cosmetic products from the wax! The youth have already gained experience in harvesting honey, this year Makkah International Institute is looking forward to producing candles and cosmetics as well!
Unlike the keeping of other animals and critters, Tariq finds that beekeeping is highly connected to his religious fulfillment. The bee is mentioned in the Quran and the Prophet said that honey, black seed, and hijama are cures for all diseases and the best of all medicines. As an Islamic wellness therapist not only does Tariq perform hijama, but he also gives wellness advice on a regular basis. So quite naturally, he relays the many narrations of Prophet Muhammad that relate to wellness. If someone is sick, all too often Tariq will recommend that they take some honey. In fact, he even provides it after his hijama appointments. Which is local, fresh from the farm, and above the organic standard!
After it is all said and done the number one question people ask is “how many times have you been stung”? Contrary to what most people believe, honeybees are relatively easy to manage. In his three years of beekeeping, he has only been stung about five times. Beekeeping maintenance mainly consists of opening the hive about twice a month to check the health and development of the colony. In my three years I have spent about $700 in beekeeping supplies and training. Which is about the same as a good pedigree German Shephard (without the training!). But unlike a pet dog, the honeybees find their own food. They will travel about a mile away to find the flowers they love.
Makkah International Institute combines three essentials to community prosperity: service, education, and wellness. Central to our mission is the honeybee. With aw inspiring social structure and unmatched work ethic the honeybee is so central to our organization that it was chosen as our mascot. The Makkah Institute Killer Bees are steadily growing in popularity at many local basketball tournaments donning their Stealers (and honeybee) black and gold colors. Beyond summer camps and school curricula, Makkah International Institute uses beekeeping in a holistic manner to uplift our community.
If anyone has any questions or need advice Tariq is always willing to lend a helping hand to the community. Till the next time, Happy Beekeeping!
Tariq Abdul-Malik B.S, MAT, Ed.S, CHP
Tariq Abdul-Malik is the founder and director of Makkah International Institute LLC, Makkah Institute Inc., and Makkah Farms. He is a passionate father of 9, husband, son, brother, educator, hijama practicitioner, and beekeeper. He is a staunch advocate for holistic wellness and education that balances mind, body, and spirit.
On May 19th, the CDC released guidelines for school attendance during the COVID-19 pandemic. The CDC outlined three possible scenarios and included the risks of each situation. The three scenarios included:
Lowest Risk: Students and teachers engage in virtual-only classes, activities, and events.
More Risk: Small, in-person classes, activities, and events. Groups of students stay together and with the same teacher throughout/across school days, and groups do not mix. Students remain at least 6 feet apart and do not share objects (e.g., hybrid virtual and in-person class structures or staggered/rotated scheduling to accommodate smaller class sizes).
Highest Risk: Full-sized, in-person classes, activities, and events. Students are not spaced apart, share classroom materials or supplies, and mix between classes and activities. By late June, three schools had rolled out their fall school opening plans giving parents a choice between digital, in-person, and a hybrid model. The proposal came after both parent and staff surveys, but the announcements shocked many. The last few months took parents through the burden of homeschooling, cancelation of graduations, and the worry of keeping their children safe during a pandemic. Now parents must decide how their child would learn for the next school year with very little information as to how it will look. As we walk into this great unknown, what can we do to be prepared and ensure our children have the best school experience possible? (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/schools.html)
When schools closed in March, there wasn't a single parent ready for the burden of digital learning. We scrambled to keep up with assignments and understand what in the world it all meant. The parents struggled, the students struggled, and we all felt like we had fallen down the rabbit hole, hoping to return home soon. As summer approached, it felt like we were free, and our "normal" would return. We celebrated the start of summer with all the hopes school in the fall would be the same as we left it, but we approach the start of school this fall it looks like we will have to accept a new "normal." That "normal" included parents having to decide how their children will receive their education for the next school year and the reality that the pandemic is still present.
At the end of June, three counties had announced their plans for reopening. These plans included Hybrid, in-person or digital options. Ready or not, our students will return no later than August 17th. With this realization, parents want to know how schools plan to keep our students and their staff safe. The state of Georgia does not require masks, but some school districts are strongly recommending it along with six feet of distance when possible. Decisions about restrictions during this pandemic change monthly, so there are still many unknowns. Districts have not given specific and definite guidelines on recess, PE, assemblies, Parent nights, etc. where crowds and distancing will be difficult. So how do we ensure our children will be safe. As a parent of elementary and a high school student and also an elementary teacher, I know that it will be hard to keep the little ones masked and apart from each other all day. It is important to make sure we implore our children to keep their safety in mind. Make sure they have personal cleansing and disinfecting materials, and keep in mind they need to stay distant from their friends when possible. Schools are not allowing sharing of materials, but children need to make sure they are not sharing personal materials like they may be used to. Just as we prepare our children for safety in any environment, we now have to prepare them to stay safe in school.
Now that we have heard what the return of school may look like, how can we, as parents, ensure that our children are safe, and their educational needs are met? With information coming from every which way and changing weekly, we as parents will be our children's most important advocates. Schools will be working diligently to create environments that follow state guidelines while keeping student's academic needs in mind. Whether your child is attending a hybrid, in person, or digital format, it will be starkly different from what they have been used to. One possible concern with face to face or hybrid instruction might be the possibility of the necessary safety precautions posing an emotional an/or academic risk to a successful school year. In preparation for this possible concern, it is important to be aware of any and all safety measures your school will be implementing. Making your child is aware ahead of time can reduce any possible anxiety or fear. Knowing the school's safety measures will also help parents to feel empowered and in the know.
It is important as an advocate to know what your child's academic needs are and how they will be met. It is ok to ask as many questions as you need to understand and support your child. These questions may help you understand…
I am am a wife mother of four and an elementary education teacher for Cobb County schools. I have spent the last four years advocating for children who have experienced adverse effects of trauma. I am a teacher trainer and curriculum developer striving to create curriculum for teachers and schools to better address students who are underserved. I am also the creative director of MACE (Muslim Advocated of Children with Exceptionalities), a group that strives to open avenues for special needs children and their families.
The saying “we are living in a new normal” is so cliché, yet so real. When we think about education in this new way it seems to be a toss-up. You may have a great system in place to deliver digital learning, with a supportive community, as well as a dedicated staff to support digital learning. You may have a system where summer began after March 13, 2020, or a system that is somewhere in-between the two poles. We have lived through Covid-19 digital learning of Pre-K through college level classes. As Pre-K through 12th grade administrators and governments identify reopening options, college officials are doing the same. We have a limited amount of information about what’s to come, but our students should still stay enriched and supported through this transition. We are now looking at young adults affected by this change but still striving for college and career readiness. Brick-and-Mortar institutions are now online schools, college admissions requirements are focused on something other than standardized exams, and students are continuing to question what to do with their lives.
As a Georgia school counselor, I have been inundated with students’ questions about what happens next year as it relates to Dual Enrollment or college admissions. The questions are filled with nervousness of the unknown, angst as it pertains to admissions answers, and I can only respond, “I don’t have all the answers, but take a minute to breath.” Though this time we are living in is like no other in our lifetime, I suggest students continue to build their resumes and add on to their mental lexicon. Over the summer, students should try to keep their minds sharp and build their knowledge. Find a group of friends that share your interest and create a book club or watch and discuss a movie together. A recent High School graduate told me that her and a group of friends “watch a movie together” at their respective homes while using a virtual meeting medium. Students are honing in on analytical and discussion skills every time they talk about the new movie, song, or book that’s out. Become accustom to reading the paper, watching the news, sitting with the elders and understanding historical and current events. Without deadlines or teacher driven instructions, try understanding some math concepts that completely made no sense during digital learning. Learning should not have ceased because of Covid-19.
College admissions procedures have drastically changed to accommodate the fluctuations in the world. The requirements are different; mandating minimum SAT or ACT scores is becoming obsolete, qualifying GPAs is still a necessity, and requiring various letters of recommendations are holding more weight. College Board is a not-for-profit organization, governing the SAT and other college success opportunities, who had to modify their exam schedule due to this pandemic; they are hoping to restart the exam schedule in August 2020 and adding exam dates more frequently. The question is, what does all of this mean for potential college students?
Colleges and Universities were obligated to think quickly to ensure students could still be admitted to their Summer 2020 or Fall 2020 programs. Many of the University System of Georgia (USG) schools have begun to accept a digital version of a dissimilar college admissions test: The Accuplacer in lieu of SAT or ACT scores is now being used. Georgia Gwinnett College and Georgia State University, to name a few, are amongst the schools that adopted the Accuplacer exam (Georgia Gwinnett College, 2020). Moreover, other states are rethinking admissions criteria as well. The University of California (UC) college system declared that they will not use SAT or ACT for admissions, but instead will have students complete a new test that aligns with UC expectations (Hess, 2020). Consequently, some schools such as Kennesaw State University have taken the stance of eliminating admissions tests completely during this time. These modifications have benefits and downsides. A Georgia technical college recently contacted me stating that students can now be placed in a college level math course just by submitting an official transcript. This is significant because math placement has been based on test scores under the guise that the scores are indicative of a student that can handle higher level thinking in that subject area. This is a benefit for students who simple do not test well. These changes affect rising college students, dual enrollment students, and current students on their matriculation journey.
Early last week, Georgia had ideas, but no concrete decision on how to reopen its brick-and-mortar campuses. According to the USG Fall 2020 Memo there were three Contingency plans that consider the safety of the staff and students of these institutions.
The current status of college admissions is not stagnant and can change as the pandemic changes. I encourage students to stay the course, and end the school year with a strong foundation to begin anew. If grades and GPA are a major factor in college admissions, then focus on being driven to succeed and follow your goals. Regardless of the conflicts of the times, remember your creator and set your course towards being a productive member of your community.
Georgia Gwinnett College. (2020). Freshman admission: Never attended college. https://www.ggc.edu/admissions/how-to-apply/freshmen-no-college.html
Hess, A. (2020, May 26). The UC sytem plans to phase out the SAT and ACT-and other schools may follow. CNBC. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/05/22/uc-plans-to-phase-out-sat-and-act-other-schools-may-follow-suit.html
University System of Georgia. (2020, May 12). Stay safe, stay well on campus. https://www.usg.edu/coronavirus/
Madeenah Alwakeel-Dawson MEd
Madeenah Alwakeel-Dawson is a certified school counselor in the state of Georgia and a Doctoral student at the University of West Georgia. She has 18 years of education and counseling experience, working with children and adults alike. For the past 6 years, she has created a counseling department at a private Islamic School in the Atlanta Metro area and has held the School Counselor Department chair position. Madeenah is a proponent of tapping into hidden potential to support individuals in self-discovery and goal setting.
Who would ever imagine we would have gotten to this point: online learning for every student in the United States of America. As an educator for 17 years, I must say this is one of the most difficult times I’ve experienced. According to a NewsWeek article, a group of NWEA researchers came up with two possible scenarios when discussing the effect of the pandemic,
“… data to project growth trajectories for the students under two scenarios: a "melt," in which students basically gained no ground during the school closures; and a "slide," in which students lost ground academically during the closures at rates similar to those seen over the long summer break.” (Sparks, 2020).
This might sound discouraging to some parents; however, it also should not deter them from trying to lessen any negative effect a prolonged closing might have on their children returning to school in the fall, Inshallah (God willing). Being an educator, I expect for some of my students to have a summer slide due to a number of different reasons: traveling, lack of supervision, parents’ jobs, mental break, etc. I used to suggest various activities to parents that students can complete during their summer break:
Taking this model into account, we can plan to continue learning during the summer time to ensure that our children do not have a huge summer slide once we return in the fall. Some ideas to continue learning are:
Dr. Khaleeqa Bruce Ed D
My name is Dr. Gloria Bruce. I have been in education for 17 years, with the last five years as an Assistant Principal at Al-Falah Academy. I am a firm believer that learning is a continuous journey and I am always looking in areas I can improve my craft.
By Sakeena Abdul-Hakeem
The kids call me “aunty.” What else are they expected to call a nearly 40 year old American lady who suddenly shows up in their third grade classroom? After living in Senegal, West Africa for two years, looking for educational opportunities for adults, I was dissatisfied with the options. My understanding of Wolof was too rudimentary to attend lectures by the resident scholars. And my Arabic knowledge had too many holes in its foundation to be useful. I was attending a one hour Arabic class, four days a week, but the main focus was on memorizing poetry. I struggled through basic Arabic conversation, but could parrot lines of ancient prose. I was no closer to my goal of understanding the language of the Quran than when I’d first arrived in Africa.
That’s when the director of a local private school invited me to attend the El Hajj Abdullahi Niass Institute. I’d thought for sure that the local K-12 schools were for children up to age 18, just as they are in the a United States. Boy was I wrong.
Have you ever thought about going back to school? What did that look like for you? Perhaps you can enroll in night classes or weekend courses at your local college. Maybe you’re looking to achieve a financial goal that earning another degree or a certificate will ensure. Not for me. I was going all the way back. Back to primary school.
After an initial assessment, which I didn’t realize I was taking until half way through, I was placed in 3rd grade. I thought I was just having a polite conversation with the principal. In Arabic, he asked me my name and where I was from. He asked if I could recite a Hadith, a surah from the Quran, and if I knew the difference between verbs and nouns. He scribbled a quick note and directed my young translator to show me the 3rd grade classroom. I thought perhaps I’d peek in, greet the teacher and make arrangements to start attending class the following week. Nope! The teacher rearranged the rows of girls and squeezed me onto a narrow bench besides two of them. This was to be my first day of class.
As I sat in the classroom, I noticed some major differences between our American educational system and theirs. Instead of colorful posters pasted to the walls, they were bare. All attention was focused on the huge blackboard in the front of the room. There were about 80 students to one teacher. And some of these kids didn’t look like 8 year olds- what I would consider to be a 3rd grader. In fact, a man sitting two rows over from me had a speckled beard!
What could I learn in 3rd grade in Africa? I really had to humble my nearly 40 year old ego to learn from Muhammad, which I would discover was the name of almost every teacher in the entire school. We baked in the hot classrooms without so much as a fan, but no one complained. The students stood at silent attention whenever the teacher, or a visiting guest, would enter the classroom. If the teacher was in class before them, the students stood at the door of the classroom waiting for permission to enter. They ooh’d and aah’d in appreciation whenever a fellow classmates was called upon to recite a lesson from the Quran. They stood to respond whenever the teacher called on them. The girls took turns sweeping the classroom each morning while the boys cleaned the blackboard and arranged the desks properly.
There was a lot more to learn here than just reading and writing. There was a wholistic approach to education. It was more so about respect, good manners, honoring knowledge and it’s teacher- developing a whole person as opposed to just the mind- which seems to be the problem with much of western education. Many of the students had completed the memorization of the entire Holy Quran before enrolling in Arabic school, hence the varied ages of the students.
Although, initially it took some getting used to, I really benefited from Arabic school in Senegal. I have a greater appreciation for traditional knowledge and it’s transmission. I believe every person who has the will, should take the opportunity to enjoy learning traditional Islamic knowledge in Africa. The holes in my Arabic foundational knowledge have been filled and I can see great strides in my understanding of Quran. If this is your goal, you too can achieve it, no matter what age. It just takes going back to the basics. All the way back.
Sakeena Abdul-Hakeem is an entrepreneur, sign language interpreter, mother, and published author. For more of her work, check out her blog SakeenainSenegal.wordpress.com and find her novels and short stories on Wattpad.
By Atiba Jones
Only 59% of black males graduate public high school in this nation
And only 17% go on to earn Bachelor’s Degrees, is the reality of the situation
And even blacks with degrees, statistically earn far less than their uneducated white counterparts throughout their career’s duration
So it’s no wonder why African-Americans are far more likely to end up on probation
And consistently have the highest percentages in prison AKA the new plantation
Yes, we’ve come a long way, but I believe there’s still need for a lot more salvation
What happens to the other 41% of black males who didn’t complete high school?
What happens to the other 83% without a Bachelors to use as a tool?
Are they to just be forgotten about as if the problem is merely minuscule?
Our educational system has failed them, and no, it’s not cool
It’s time for an alternative system that goes beyond the surface
It’s time to interrupt their cycles of poverty, crime, incarceration and lack of purpose
It’s time for our youth to be exposed to agriculture, vocational trades, entrepreneurship and humanitarian service
The art of service has been used for centuries as a tool for character development and spiritual training
It instills humility, gratitude and decreases complaining
It rids one of arrogance & hypocrisy and leaves nothing but purity remaining
It focuses one on benefiting others rather than seeking that which is merely entertaining
And the beauty of agriculture is that it reconnects us with nature and our natural state
It helps us to understand where the food comes from that ends up on our plate
It helps us to experience, through our hands, what God can Create
And it allows us to feed our communities healthy foods from what we collectively cultivate
Over the past few decades, from high schools we’ve seen vocational education gradually disappear
“You have to go to college” is all that we’ve begun to hear
And perceptions of inferiority from not having a degree has become a real fear
While many tradesman earn far more than the average college graduate per year
So why is it made to seem as if the only options are either college or the street?
With the only exception being the possibility of becoming a professional athlete
Or maybe you can make it by learning how to rap some destructive lyrics to a beat
Presenting these as the only options is blatant deceit
There is absolutely nothing wrong with going to college, however, it’s not the only way to economically compete
And if you don’t have a degree, there’s no need to feel as if you’re somehow incomplete
And besides this, entrepreneurs are consistently the wealthiest people on Earth
And they create situations for children to inherit enterprises at birth
Beyond money, entrepreneurship helps one to discover their true worth
It shows you that you can build and lead
You can create jobs for those in need
But the key is to not fall into the trap of arrogance or greed
Because the objective is to save ourselves so that we can save our families and others
So that we can uplift our sisters and inspire our brothers
Provide hope and support for all the single mothers
So this is not just about some economic or material pursuit
It’s about radically changing the trajectory of the poor and destitute
Providing a new career path for the dope boy and the prostitute
Snatching up misguided youth from out of the streets and showing them that there’s a different route
And this, my brothers and sisters, has sparked the coming of SAVE Institute
Atiba Jones is the director of the SAVE Institute and former founding director of the Risala Institute. He has been a community activist in the Atlanta area for over 15 years.
By Reshelle Abdul-Malik
Social Distancing has caused an unprecedented obstacle for families across the globe. Families are missing Jumuah, daily congregational salah, afterschool, and Sunday school classes. The Islamic community has responded by making a wide variety of courses available from the comfort of your home. Check out our list of some popular online free and paid Islamic Studies courses for the young or seasoned.
Al Qalam Institute
Offers weekly classes from seerah to tafsir. These classes are completely free.
Offers hifd and tajweed for women and girls
Al Huda Online
Offer Quran, Hadith, Tazkiyah courses online
Al Madrassatu Al Umarriyah
Offering free daily Islamic Studies courses.
Online Arabic Courses for children
Arabic and Quran classes for all ages.
Online Islamic Seminary that offers free classes.
International Open University
Started by Dr. Bilal Phillips offers undergraduate and graduate courses on a sliding scale. They are offering diploma courses for free for the next two months.
Imam Ghazali Institute
Offers free weekend school for children and teens as well as courses for adults.
Offer Fiqh, Arabic, Quran, Tajweed, and Hadith courses
Islamic Institute of Toronto
IIT is offering all of their courses for free for the next 300 days! Check out the wide variety of topics from Aisha RA to Ramadan, to Salah.
FaithEssentials is free for 3 weeks. Register and get immediate access to our 23 modules on fundamental subjects of belief, worship, and daily life.
Offers online Islamic studies courses that range from Hadith, Quran, History, and Fiqh.
Offers over 2000 of hours online of video lessons from Nouman Ali Khan and other Islamic scholars.
Offers online courses for women by women. Subjects include Islamic Sciences, Arabic, and Quran.
Is offering free courses in response to COVID-19. Some topics include faith essentials, how to protect yourself from disease, and Faith and Fiqh in Uncertain Times. Courses are free for the next three weeks.
This list is not exhaustive, please share your resources in the comments section below.
Reshelle is the editor of A Message from Makkah. She is also the administrator for Makkah International Institute. Reshelle is a masters degreed educator with with over ten years experience teaching domestically and abroad.
Makkah International Institute