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The Monarch Unit

Nestled in an opaque egg and barely noticeable, a creature stirs. Its monarch mother placed the egg in the safe palm of a milkweed leaf, knowing her offspring’s taste and needs. In a short time, the egg’s walls give way for a tiny caterpillar to crawl out. Almost instantly it starts to eat! First it eats the eggshell itself, and then the leaves surrounding it. The caterpillar, ravenous for nutrients, does virtually nothing but eat and grow. Its once tiny body has multiplied several times over into a robust caterpillar, stretching and molting layers of skin, until it’s dressed in a bright yellow coat interspersed with black stripes. When it can’t possibly grow another inch, the caterpillar knows it’s time for a different kind of change. In search of a new identity, it begins to spin a cloak of silk around itself. The cocoon envelopes the caterpillar, and a hidden transformation begins. The caterpillar breaks down and rebuilds, taking the components of itself and reconfiguring them into a new form. Over time the cocoon begins to change color, vibrating with the promise of an impending miracle. Finally, the layered cavern gives way and from its translucent folds emerges a set of wings still wet and heavy. The fledgling butterfly begins to try out its newfound form, slowly expanding, stretching and testing out its wings. A few tentative flutters give way to short flights, as the butterfly skittles from plant to plant, filling up with sweet nectar. The wings strengthen and now the butterfly soars, dips and dives sailing through the sky. It sets course on the same path as its ancestors, migrating thousands of miles to complete its life journey and ultimate calling. 

What an awe-inspiring phenomenon! It captured our imagination, and the more we explored its stages, the more we started to see ourselves in it. You and I are not that much different from those eggs as we grow and progress as believers. 

These courses have been designed out of the concept of metamorphosis: the journey from egg to butterfly. This miraculous transformation is a sign from God for those who reflect. We have applied the stages of metamorphosis as an analogy for the kind of growth we hope to inspire. The following learning stages are designed to guide you to a holistic and deep understanding of the Companion stories. We don’t want you to just read the stories. We want you to experience the stories. We have hope in our approach because as we developed it, we experienced it. It is as much our own metamorphosis as it is yours.

You will find detailed stories of the Companions of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. Each Companion story, inspired by the monarch butterfly and its amazing journey, forms a Monarch Unit consisting of five learning stages. Each stage has its own merit, purpose, and builds upon the prior stages. It is important to follow the stages in order and give each stage quality, attention, and care. In developing this curriculum we have drawn upon Bloom’s taxonomy of higher level thinking, Gardner’s multiple intelligence theory, and Wiggins and Mctighe’s Understanding by Design model. This course has been designed to adapt to diverse learning settings from full-time Islamic school classes, to Muslim youth groups, to weekend programs, and even homeschool co-ops. Feel free to adapt the activities presented in each stage to a large group, small group, partners, or individual learners.