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How Do Secular Schools Impact Muslim Children?

13 February, 2017
Q I have 2 boys (4 years and 2 years). I plan to continue my studies in Canada and I am worried about my kids being affected by the environment there. My older kid will attend school in Canada. Canadian schools do not teach religion for students. My question is: how far can the non-Muslim teachers, at school, along with the environment in general, affect the kids? My wife will be staying at home, looking after them. However, I am still worried about their religion and their behavior. Do you have an advice to deal with that situation?

Answer

Asalamu Alaikum Ahmad,

Thank you for contacting About Islam with your question.

It is quite refreshing to see that Muslims are concerned about the affairs of their children. This is quite important, especially when they move to different environments, as it is clear from this question. 

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The importance of a proper environment for bringing up children cannot be overemphasized. The Prophet (peace be upon him) has indicated that the human being is born in a state of pure nature, and that it is his parents and environment that makes him/her follow a different path from the straight path of Islam. 

Among lessons deducted from this, scholars have pointed out the following two points: 

1. The environment has a great impact on the way a child is brought up. 

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2. Parents represent the first circle of environments faced by a child. The effect of this circle is so great that it can change a child’s pure nature by its influence. 

Other environmental circles, which children face, are schools, neighbors, and friends (local community). The mainstream society is, in general, represented in all the events and in the array of ideas and information, which are dumped on children via media, especially television.

It is a fact that young children are very much influenced by their teachers. They also like to imitate other children at school. 

If the teacher is promoting good values, this is not going to represent a problem for your child.

In the public school system in Canada, generally teachers treat children fairly, try to take care for each individual child’s needs, and help them learn. On the other hand, their own personal conduct may not agree with our Islamic values.

Also, the overall school environment conveys a lot of un-Islamic ideas to the children associated with Canadian cultural traditions such as Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s day, Easter, and others.

These holidays cover nearly the whole school year and the whole education program, which will be centered on the theme of festivity at the time.

Classmates are definitely another effective element; their interests, their celebrations, and the ideology they are brought up to believe in. 

To be aware of these dangers is a good and positive parenting attitude. It is actually the parent’s responsibility to filter the negative effects of their environment from shaping the child’s personality. 

Our advice is:

Register the child in one of the private Islamic schools. Make sure you give it enough investigation. You can go through the homework to find out the quality of education and moral behavior in the school.

If Islamic schools are not the right answer for you, for any reason, put the child in the public school system. Then, try to filter negative environmental effects from reaching the child. 

Here are some essential techniques to apply:

  • Always maintain a good family environment. 
  • Use the true and proper Islamic methods of training for your children’s upbringing. 
  • Always have good and sound communication with your child. 
  • Become actively involved at your child’s school. 
  • Become actively involved with the Muslim community, where your child can have a much better opportunity to meet other Muslim children of his age and feel he is part of a bigger community. 
  • Register your child in a part time Islamic school, where they teach Arabic and Islamic studies. 
  • Work with your child on learning Arabic, Quran, and Islamic teachings at a level that is satisfactory for you. 

It is also worth mentioning that parents should take the above measures, when living in countries where Muslims are in the minority or majority.

However, in your situation, an Islamic school may make your job easier because it is encouraging the child in the same direction. On the other hand, if the child is in a non-Islamic school, you will be encouraging against the mainstream. There are successful examples of both situations. 

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

Harassed at School for Being Muslim: What To Do?

How Muslim students Are Rated at US Schools

Muslims Outnumber Christians in UK Church Schools