Frequently Asked Questions
+ 1. What is a Sanad Scholar?
Sanad Scholars are guided by the philosophy and culture of the Foundation, will possess a general knowledge of the religious sciences, as well as specialised knowledge in one of its fields.
Additionally, they will have demonstrated their capacity to learn and teach at the crossroads of their own academic disciplines and the Islamic Sciences - an activity the foundation deems essential to an informed and productive communal movement in Australia today.
Having completed such studies, our scholars will then go on to integrate into our local scholarly community, in addition to participating in addressing issues affecting the Muslim community and Australian society at large.
The goals of the foundation however, are not restricted to local collaboration, and the participation in a truly global mobilisation of scholars and students is the higher objective and long term strategy of the foundation.
+ 2. When will the application process open for scholarships? How many rounds each year?
The Foundation will open applications for 10 weeks from 9am Monday, 11 June 2018, to midnight on Friday, 17 August 2018.
Applications must be submitted via the online form here (link). Applicants will undergo the selection process outlined in the Guidelines here (link).
Notification of outcomes will occur by October 2018.
There will be only one round in 2018.
+ 3. How many scholarships will you offer? ?
The Foundation is offering up to three scholarships during a pilot phase this year, open to both women and men. This number may vary pending on the number of candidates meeting the criteria.
The Foundation’s first ongoing scholarship recipient is Mohamed Acharki. Further information about him can be found here.
+ 4. What will the scholarship cover?
Autonomy given to the recipient on how they will expend their scholarship, covering mainly living and educational expenses. Payments are made quarterly to a recipient’s Australian bank account.
The value of each scholarship varies, with consideration given to the location and duration of studies, as well the recipient’s estimated living expenses.
The amount awarded can range from $3,000 to $15,000 per applicant, per year.
+ 5. Are the scholarships only open to Australian citizens based in Melbourne?
Scholarships are offered to Australian Citizens and Permanent Residents of Australia only.
Our focus is to create a scholarly community in Victoria. As such, preference will be given to applicants who currently reside, or are willing to reside, in Victoria.
The Foundation is open to providing conditional scholarships to interstate applicants; with a requirement they reside in Victoria upon returning from their studies abroad, and serve the local community for a minimum of 2 years thereafter. After this period, Sanad scholars may reside in other parts of Australia, whilst maintaining ongoing links to the scholarly community in Victoria.
Note: All recipients are required to arrange valid travel documents such as a passport, visas, insurance etc.
+ 6. Where will students study abroad?
Sanad considers the identification of edifying, stimulating and innovative locations of study for its scholarship recipients to be a key factor both for the success of recipients’ overseas studies, and for the achievement of the Foundation’s objective of building a robust scholarly community in Victoria in the future.
It is the Foundation’s conviction that an integral characteristic of such locations is the availability of both traditional and contemporary institutions of Islamic education. Whilst traditional circles of knowledge provide students with access to more rigorous, focused and hence authoritative levels of understanding of core Islamic subjects, more contemporary institutions enable access to a wider variety of subjects and modern research, in addition to utilising more contemporary texts and pedagogical devices in the study of core subjects.
For the foregoing reasons, the Sanad Foundation encourages students to settle in areas in which these diverse opportunities and facilities are available. Whilst attendance solely at more traditional institutions may be satisfactory in the preliminary years of study, the availability of, and access to, more contemporary institutions is especially important in latter years.
A location such as Cairo, Egypt, is held by the Foundation to be a good example of a dynamic centre for study - the city’s Al Azhar University has successfully merged and melded both traditional and contemporary forms of education within its main curriculum. In addition, an impressive array of study circles and programs, led by highly qualified instructors, are available throughout the city. Locations where students have the ability to practise and directly utilise the Arabic language are deemed important at the beginning of a student’s studies. Good locations for later studies include places such as Malaysia, Turkey, Morocco and others.
The Foundation acknowledges that there is a broad range of locations that may be appropriate for study, and is presently involved in an ongoing process of identifying and forging partnerships with institutions in such locations. Given this, the Foundation is open to receiving study plans from applicants in which appropriate locations are proposed. Among the most important factors in considering such proposals is the Foundation’s ability to ascertain that the identified institutions are able to provide students with education that is accessible, and appropriate to their level. Institutions that adhere rigidly to the instruction of students in a set range of classical texts, using didactic methods that make it very difficult to comprehend the taught content, are considered inappropriate (particularly for students in their earlier years of study, or who who may be unfamiliar with such methods).
+ 7. Will it be safe sending students overseas?
The safety of students is a key priority. To this end, scholarship recipients are required to register their travel on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s “smartraveller” website, and to adhere to the advice therein: (www.smartraveller.gov.au)
Scholarship recipients also must follow the additional requirements to ensure their safety:
Safeguards: ● Must take responsibility for their physical safety ● Must sign the Travel Guide Policy (included in the Contract) ● Must hold personal health and travel insurance policies ● Must hold a valid passport, and relevant visa and travel documents
Record management and ongoing communication: ● Personal Information: Must provide personal contact, emergency contact, Australian bank account, travel and health insurance details ● Rental Agreement: Must provide proof of rental agreement (including address and signature) ● Enrolment: Must provide proof of enrolment at the relevant institution, university or course ● Finances: Must retain records of scholarship payments, which are made in quarterly installments to recipients’ Australian bank accounts over the course of their studies
+ 8. Am I required to know Arabic? How much Quran do I need to have memorized?
Applicants require an ability to comprehend both spoken and written Arabic, together with at least a basic ability to communicate in spoken Arabic (which includes, for example, an ability to ask questions and communicate one’s thoughts). An ability to write in Arabic would additionally be required in the case of persons wishing to pursue university studies at Arabic institutions. (See: Application and Selection document, ‘Eligibility’ section)
There is no specific amount of Quran that an applicant needs to have memorised. The memorisation of Quran is just one of several ways that an applicant may demonstrate the possession of Islamic knowledge. (See the ‘Eligibility’ criteria in the Application and Selection document for more detail.)
+ 9. What if I have never studied under a Shaykh before?
The Foundation acknowledges that applicants may have confronted difficulties in gaining access to Islamic knowledge in Australia, via traditional means such as studying under a Shaykh or similar person. If an applicant can demonstrate possession of the requisite level of Islamic knowledge, despite not having had the opportunity to study under a Shaykh or other person of knowledge, they are encouraged to apply. (See: Application and Selection document, ‘Eligibility’ section.)
+ 10. Is there a preferred field of study?
As has been noted and elaborated upon in the Sanad philosophy document, the Foundation aims to contribute to the production of educators and thinkers who can address the basic to advanced educational needs of the Muslim community within the core Islamic sciences, and who can contribute constructively to scholarly discourse in a given field of Islamic thought (such as ‘Islam and the Social’, ‘Islam and the Sciences’, ‘Islam and Economics’ and so on).
As such, the Foundation considers it of great importance that students possess a (tertiary) intellectual background that appropriately complements the area of the Islamic sciences in which they are selected to specialise. For instance, students with a background in philosophy and/or science will be prioritised for study and specialisation in the Islamic science of theology, students with a background in humanities fields such as law and economics will be prioritised for study and specialization in the Islamic legal sciences, students with backgrounds in other relevant fields of the humanities will prioritised for study and specialization in Islamic sciences such as the Quranic sciences, Hadith sciences (Ulum Al-Hadith), history and so on.
If, however, an applicant wishes to pursue specialisation in an area of the Islamic sciences that is not cognate to their tertiary background, they will be required to demonstrate their capacity to do so. That is, they will be required to demonstrate that they have the capacity to eventually teach and contribute to the scholarly discourse and thought in these areas, despite their lack of formal tertiary studies in the required cognate discipline. The means of such demonstration will vary from applicant to applicant, and may include, for example, prior published works or examples of writings.
+ 11. Do I need to have done an undergraduate degree or masters/Phd in Australia?
An undergraduate degree is the minimum academic requirement. Applicants who possess postgraduate qualifications in their chosen academic field will be highly regarded. In the absence of postgraduate qualifications, at least two years’ work experience in a field cognate to the applicant’s tertiary studies will be highly regarded. (See: Application and Selection document, Eligibility section.)
+ 12. What will scholarship recipients do when they return to Australia?
Sanad scholars are passionate about not only gaining, but also sharing knowledge. Having returned to Australia, they will share their knowledge in a wide range of ways. These may include: giving presentations and lectures, participating in community forums and discussion panels, teaching at courses in local mosques and madrasas, and contributing to the development of Islamic knowledge curricula (see: Strategic Plan document).
In addition, they will work to keep abreast of developments in their chosen area of expertise, via their own research and study, and via collaboration, both locally and internationally, with Islamic and other scholars (see: Philosophy and Culture document, ‘Realising the Sanad Fund Vision’).
They will act as beacons of knowledge in the community; teaching, mentoring and inspiring others. Through their knowledge and expertise in the Islamic and other sciences, and through their character and adaab, they will represent Islam positively and beneficially in both the Muslim and broader Australian community (see: Assessment Criteria 2.c.)
+ 13. Can you guarantee scholarship recipients will return to Australia?
Sanad is placing its trust in the goodwill of scholarship recipients in this regard.
The Selection Criteria and Agreement clearly state what is expected of scholarship recipients. This includes a minimum requirement that they serve the local community for 2 years in Victoria, Australia.
The Foundation does understand, however, that unexpected events and changes in circumstances do occur in life, and is open to supporting scholarship recipients to achieve a beneficial outcome for all in such situations.
+ 14. Do you partner with mosques, centres and Islamic organisations to select scholarship recipients?
No, the selection process is independent and based upon the individual merit of the applicants.
However, the Foundation does work with mosques and other organisations in various ways. For example, organisations will assist during the recruitment process by sharing information with their students and networks, and identifying knowledge gaps and barriers to be addressed by the Foundation in the future.
+ 15. Who decides who will be awarded a scholarship? Who will be on the selection panel?
The selection panel will be lead by the Foundation’s religious adviser - presently Sh. Abdinur Weli. Also on the panel will be members of the Sanad Foundation board. The final decision on the award of scholarships will be made collectively by the selection panel, on a merit basis.
+ 16. Are families able to go? Will the scholarship cover any of their expenses?
Sanad scholars are intelligent, mature and responsible persons, fully capable of making important life decisions for themselves and those in their care. Thus, the Foundation sees that successful applicants will be well equipped to determine the impact - if any - that travelling with their families will have upon the success of their studies, and the welfare of the family members. Successful applicants are free to utilise their scholarships for living expenses as they see fit, and this would include family related living expenditures for those deciding to travel with their family. Successful applicants will need to consider, of course, whether the funds awarded will be sufficient to cover such expenditures.
+ 17. If I am unsuccessful will I get feedback? Can I reapply?
Unsuccessful applicants are certainly encouraged to reapply. Applicants who are unsuccessful at the selection panel will, in due course, receive feedback on steps they may take to improve their likelihood of success in future applications.
+ 18. How long am I required to be/can I be supported as a student of knowledge?
Successful applicants will be funded for the duration of their overseas studies, limited in most cases to 7 years.
+ 19. How much time do I have until I have to commence studies once I receive a scholarship?
Successful applicants will have up to 9 months from signing the Contact to commencing their studies overseas as per the agreement. If this is not possible, the Foundation must be notified immediately.
+ 20. What if I want to come back to Australia before my studies end?
Sanad scholars are mature and resilient persons, who are goal-focused and determined to succeed. It is expected, therefore, that Sanad scholars will be strongly motivated to fulfill their agreement with the Foundation and see their studies through to their conclusion - even in the face of difficulty. Nonetheless, the Foundation acknowledges that some life events entail insuperable difficulties and would, of course, fully support a scholar’s decision to return to Australia earlier in such circumstances.
+ 21. Where do you get your religious advice?
The Foundation is advised by its scholar-in-residence and religious advisor, who is presently Sh. Abdinur Weli of the ICV Mosque and member of Victorian Board of Imams. The Foundation is also an affiliate organisation of the Islamic Council of Victoria.
+ 22. Can females apply and study overseas?
The Foundation equally encourages applications by both females and males. Female scholars have always played an integral role in the transmission of authentic knowledge within Muslim communities, and the Australian Muslim community ought to represent no exception to this tradition. The present shortage of qualified Islamic scholars in Australia creates an imperative for capable females and males within the local Muslim community to seek knowledge abroad, and to return to share that knowledge. The Foundation is of the conviction that our community must benefit from the leadership and guidance of female and male scholars equally.
+ 23. Can I pay my Zakat to Sanad Foundation
Yes, students of Islamic knowledge can be recipients of zakat. [Tahtawi, Hashiyat Maraqi Falah] If they are not legally poor, they can be supported if they study Islamic knowledge full-time. Otherwise if they are legally poor, they can be supported in any case. To be legally poor means that one owns less than the quantum (nisab) of zakat.
According to the Seekers Hub website (checked and approved by Sheikh Faraz Rabbani)
+ 24. Are donations tax deductible?
The Foundation does not have Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) status; as such donations are not tax-deductible. However, the Foundation is a registered charity in Australia.
+ 25. Are you a charity organization? What governance processes do you have in place?
The ‘Sanad Foundation Incorporated’ (ABN 94356250197) is a ‘registered charity’ with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission. The Foundation complies with all relevant obligations under Australian charities and other laws. This includes compliance with the relevant ‘Governance Standards’ set out by the Commission, which can be found here
+ 26. Are your financials audited?
Given its present level of annual revenue, the Sanad Foundation is defined as a ‘Small Charity’ by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission. This designation means that the Foundation is not required to undergo an annual audit of its financial statements, but is instead required to keep the relevant financial and other records, and to submit an ‘Annual Information Statement’ to the Commission. In addition to its compliance with this requirement, the Foundation voluntarily submits its annual financial statements to the Commission.
+ 27. Where do my donations go? How much is spent on admin fees?
All donations are utilised to fund the scholarships, and to meet the administrative costs of the Foundation. The Sanad team, including its boards members and advisers, are all volunteers and are therefore not paid for their work with the Foundation.