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Islamic or Multicultural Public School?

Questioner

S (35_male_US)

Reply Date

May 22, 2017

Question

As-Salamu `Alaykum,My son enters his first year of school this September, and I am in a dilemma. Do I enroll my son in an Islamic school, where most of the children are from one background, or do I enroll him in a multicultural public school?I ask this question because, in general, our Muslim students are not brought up to respect other races; indeed, by the time they are teenagers, they tend to have a hatred for other races. I guess this is mainly because of their upbringing at home.Our Muslim youth tend to think that everyone in the community hates them. I can truly say that Muslims have a very bad name in Sydney, especially Lebanese Muslims. The other general statement is that Muslim students do not want to learn; but it is the environment that always affects the child. On the other hand, should I enroll him in a school with different races and different religions and where children have respect for themselves and others? In the end, I hope my child is in an environment where students want to learn and are open-minded about people and other religions.Please help. I am truly trying to ask Allah for guidance in this matter. Please e-mail me if you would like further information. Jazaka Allahu khayrun.

Counselor

Answer


Islamic

As-Salamu `Alaykum brother,

Thank you for your important question which raises an issue that a lot of parents in the West inevitably face. Before we answer the question, let us think together on some of the things we want a school to provide for our children:

  • A good education
  • A safe playing environment
  • Respect for individuality and capability
  • A chance to develop potential
  • A place to interact with other children
  • A place which fosters good character
  • A place which fosters a child’s beliefs

All parents have slightly different expectations or priorities with regards to choosing the right school for their children, for it is a fact that school is a major factor in determining much of a child’s thinking and view of life.

I suggest brother that you sit down with your wife and write down what you require from a school and the priorities of such requirements. Pay visits to both schools; look around them and talk to the teachers. Make istikharah prayer (supplication for guidance in making a decision) and go ahead and choose the school you believe meets your requirements most.

Many Muslims tend to choose Islamic schools because they believe such schools will help their children in their belief as Muslims. Other parents may have different sources for strengthening Muslim beliefs in their children, such as enrolling in weekend Arabic schools. Some parents have children with tendencies towards the Western lifestyle and beliefs, so parents feel it is safer and better for their children to be in an Islamic environment most of the day, in order to safeguard their `aqeedah (beliefs). Other parents feel that they would like to enroll their children for a few years in multicultural schools, and then move them on to Islamic ones when the children are approaching puberty. As you can see, each family has its unique factors and priority of requirements.

We wish you the very best in your decision-making process, brother, for it is Allah’s pleasure that you are seeking, and your confusion only stems from your great feeling of responsibility towards those children that Allah Most High has granted you. He will ask you about the measures you have taken to bring them up to be Muslims who are a pride to Islam in this life, as well as a shelter for you from Hellfire in the Afterlife.

Salam

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About Hwaa Irfan

Late Hwaa Irfan, may her soul rest in peace, served as consultant, counselor and freelance writer. Her main focus was on traditional healing mechanisms as practiced in various communities, as opposed to Western healing mechanisms.

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