With the beginning of each school year, parents feel excited about their kids’ going back to school. Yet, for Muslims living in the West, their enthusiasm is mixed with some other concerns. Parents are keen to provide their children with the best education that they could get, yet compromising their children’s faith is a red line and this brings up the confusion.
Muslim parents in the West worry about ideologies taught or promoted at Public Schools that may contradict with the Islamic core values. To name a few; non-marital relationships, the acceptance of same-gender relationships/marriage, drugs, or clubbing. And over and above all, is the peer pressure that Muslim children might face at Public Schools.
Sending Muslim children to Islamic schools in the West can provide them with the Islamic sheltered environment that they lack in public schools. During the school day, children get to pray and communicate with lots of Muslim friends and teachers. They usually have less exposure to violence, drugs, and non-marital relationships as well.
Parents believe that Islamic schools offer their kids the community where children feel that they belong and can identify with.
While Islamic schools can be part of the solution, it is not always an affordable or convenient choice for everyone. 99% of Muslim children in the United States attend public schools.
If you choose not to send your children to Islamic schools, is it the end?
Of course not…
There are other various ways to instill Islam in your children every day during the whole year.
Ways to instill Islam in your children in the West
1. Befriend your children
Being your children’s home and safe haven every day is the best gift that you can give them.
Seek to be the first one that pops in their mind whenever they have a question in mind. They will trust you when you trust them. Shaming, judging, or scolding will break the trust and harm more than build or correct. This actually widens the gap between both of you. And next time they fall into a problem or have a question, they will think twice before approaching you.
2. Begin at home
Practicing Islam at home is the first way to introduce it to our children in the West. Though, we need to preach what we only do. We can not ask them to do or not do things that we as parents don’t live by.
Like for example, asking them to pray on time while we postpone our prayers till the last minute. Or teaching them honesty while on the phone with our friends they hear us saying that we’re on the way while we’re still at home. We are their role models and upon that we shall consciously act.
3. Build a community
Muslim children in the West still need to see Islam outside their homes as well. Children grow spiritually and maturely when they are surrounded by a strong alike active community.
Being among people where they feel that they belong fosters a sense of strength and pride in their religion. They feel that they have their own tribe that backs them up. Instead of hiding their faith within the Public school setting – because fitting in is easier than standing out- they feel honored with it and they practice it daily wherever with appreciation.
It is said, “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” Creating a circle around your family that shares the same spiritual goals towards Jannah makes it easier for you and your children to stay on track and remember al akhira (the hereafter) in your day-to-day activities.
وَاصْبِرْ نَفْسَكَ مَعَ الَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ رَبَّهُم بِالْغَدَاةِ وَالْعَشِيِّ يُرِيدُونَ وَجْهَهُ ۖ وَلَا تَعْدُ عَيْنَاكَ عَنْهُمْ تُرِيدُ زِينَةَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا ۖ وَلَا تُطِعْ مَنْ أَغْفَلْنَا قَلْبَهُ عَن ذِكْرِنَا وَاتَّبَعَ هَوَاهُ وَكَانَ أَمْرُهُ فُرُطًاالكهف 28
And keep yourself patient [by being] with those who call upon their Lord in the morning and the evening, seeking His countenance. And let not your eyes pass beyond them, desiring adornments of the worldly life, and do not obey one whose heart We have made heedless of Our remembrance and who follows his desire and whose affair is ever [in] neglect.Al-Kahf 18:28
Building a community for your family
1. Ask a knowledgeable open-minded friend or family member to gather the children with like age/youth once per week for a halaqah (a gentle reminder), and chitchat. Make it entertaining and interesting to capture their hearts. It’s an opportunity to make more Muslim friends.
2. Arrange with your child’s teacher/school principal to hold a ‘Build bridges’ seminar at your child’s class. Choose an interesting topic to talk about like Ramadhan, Eid. Explain to the students our culture and how we celebrate. You can talk about basic principles about our faith and how it’s all about manners. If you want to leave a great last impression, you can prepare related giveaways to offer to the students. Your child will forever be grateful you did this in his/her class.
3. You can also enroll your children in a weekend school to learn Quran or volunteer at the masjid if you feel that you need support with the learning.
Lastly, we need to remind ourselves and our children that we are messengers of our deen every day. And dealing with non-Muslims is a golden chance to show our true selves.
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَىٰ وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا ۚ إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ13 الحجرات
O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.Al-Hujurat (49:13)