The issue of Islamic Schooling is one that often arises amongst Muslim families living in the West.
Some find it to be the best option to maintain their kids’ Islamic identity, especially through the rough years of adolescence. While others feel they can opt for public schooling and leave the Islamic teaching to the home and masjid.
There is also a third party who would prefer to enroll their offspring in Islamic schooling, but hold off due to the often lower standard of those schools, usually because of lack of resources, professionalism, etc.
I believe both options have their pros and cons. Sending kids to public schools will help them feel a part of a larger society and thus aid them in dealing more spontaneously with the rest of the society, while moreover often leading them to maintaining a willingness to be a pioneer on a larger scale. However, it would be more challenging for them to maintain their Islamic identities.
On the other hand, opting for Islamic schooling will often make them feel more “at home” creating a safe haven, whilst at the same time giving them the opportunity of an Islamic teaching.
However, it will often not help them integrate as much with the rest of the society isolating them further and at times making them less ambitious to achieve something on a wider scale.
Last but not least, mass media is a very sensitive weapon in the hands of our kids.
Whether we approve of its presence or not, we cannot deny it and must acknowledge the fact that it has a very strong effect on our kids. Our task is rather to regulate what they watch.
From a very young age, there must be rules for what is allowed to be watched, parents must monitor that. Kids must be taught that as Muslims we must maintain our modesty and watch something that does not displease Almighty.
Moreover, kids must understand the value of time in Islam. It is not an option to watch endless hours of useless shows. Leisure is important for sure but within limits of ethics and time.
Mu`adh ibn Jabal quotes the Prophet (peace be upon him) as saying:
A servant of Allah will remain standing on the Day of Resurrection until he is asked about four things: his life and how he spent it, his youth and how he used it up, his property and how he acquired and managed it and his knowledge and how he utilized it. (At-Tirmidhi, 2417)
Islamic Tarbiyah into Action
Sister Om Yahia from Texas, USA shares her story right from the beginning:
“If I start by telling you how perfect our three little Ninjas (Yahia, Yaseen and Hadeel) are and how perfectly everything is under control I would not be completely truthful to you, and trust me nothing is perfect in this world.
But, my husband and I believe that Allah rewards the believers who work hard and believe Allah will reward them with what is best. So, here is a quick snapshot of our life.
More than 11 years ago; when we started thinking about raising kids, we wanted to be involved in it as a team. We did not want to have two individuals with completely different tasks in the household in which one person supports the household financially, while the other takes care of internal home matters.
In fact, we wanted to do every aspect as a team where one person takes the lead while the other provides the support whether that be in education (Islamic and school), financial, sports or even entertainment.
My husband works as a full time engineer at Texas Instruments in Dallas and I pursue my PhD in Economics at University of Texas in Dallas, so I can pursue a career in Academia with more flexible hours. We believe the importance of the role of what kids learn at home if not even more than what they learn from their school.
When I was pregnant with our first child “Yahia” we put a plan for raising our kids. First, we studied how to raise our kid in a well-balanced Islamic environment for eight months then we decided to be the main resource when it comes to teach our kids their religion- deen- especially with all the surrounding challenges these days.
From the first day, my husband would read to them stories and help me put them to sleep after I feed them. Then, when our first kid turned 2, my husband and I sat together and we put an Arabic/Islamic studies curriculum for our kids collecting it from so many resources. Also, our parents would always support us with resources from back home (Egypt) too.
Our kids go to public schools, but they still go to a Quran program for memorization. Then, came our role where I work with them on the memorization and understanding of Quran meanings as well as Arabic reading and writing.
My husband works with them on Stories of Seerah and Prophets as well as Arabic grammar. We try to have this as a weekly schedule.
Also we have made sure that what the kids see from us is in sync with what we teach them. One simple thing that comes to my mind that might seem trivial, but it can be telling; before we had children, my husband and I would drink Soda without any problem.
But, after we had kids we thought this would not be a good habit to develop for our kids, so both of us decided to forfeit this habit. So, when we ask our kids not to drink it they comply since they see us refraining from it.
This applies to everything that simple, all the way to performing Salah (Prayers) or being nice to your neighbor, etc.
One fundamental factor that totally put our life in ease is valuing time. This is something that both my husband and I cannot function without. Any plans or goals we want to achieve, we divide each plan into many steps and plot them on a time line.
Personally, this is something I am always grateful for; that Allah granted me amazing parents who taught me one vital skill to be successful is how to value time.
We apply this concept of plan ahead in mostly every single aspect in our life. And we try to stick to the schedules. We plan as much as possible and for any reason if something interrupts it, like for example if one of our kids gets sick and you know how this can mess up any plan you have until they get better.
Again, me and my husband and the kids sit to discuss what needs to be rescheduled and how to adjust to our schedules. We make sure to keep the kids involved in planning their schedules too so they would always expect their tasks.
Kids function amazingly when they know their tasks head rather than calling them each time and assign them what they are not expecting which spreads a panic mood in the house.
This is just to give you some idea of our thoughts about raising our kids to be future Muslims in a Non Muslim society.”
Drs. Ekram and Mohamed Rida Beshir. Answers to Frequently Asked Questions on Parenting (Part 1). Beltsville: Amana Publications, 2005. Page 66.