Muslims are living in the West
It’s somehow tricky to find Islamic schools in the West.
At the beginning of each school year, parents feel excited about their kids returning to school. Yet, for Muslims living in the West, their enthusiasm is mixed with other concerns. Parents are keen to provide their children with the best education they can get, yet compromising their children’s faith is a red line that brings up confusion.
Muslim parents in the West worry about ideologies taught or promoted at Public Schools that may contradict the Islamic core values. To name a few, non-marital relationships, the acceptance of same-gender relationships/marriage, drugs, or clubbing, and 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 sheltered Islamic environment they lack in public schools. Children pray and communicate with many Muslim friends and teachers during the school day. They usually have less exposure to violence, drugs, and non-marital relationships.
Parents believe that Islamic schools offer their kids a community where children feel that they belong and can identify.
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.
Is it the end if you choose not to send your children to Islamic schools?
Of course not.
Ways to instill Islam in your children in the West
Befriend your children
Bringing your children’s home and haven every day is the best gift you can give them.
Seek to be the first one that pops into 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 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.
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.
For example, asking them to pray on time while we postpone our prayers until the last minute. Or teaching them honesty while on the phone with our friends. They hear us saying we’re on the way while still at home. We are their role models, and we shall consciously act upon that.
Build a community
Muslim children in the West still need to see Islam outside their homes. Children grow spiritually and maturely when a strong alike active community surrounds them.
Being among people who feel they belong fosters a sense of strength and pride in their religion. They feel that they have a tribe that backs them up. Instead of hiding their faith within the Public school setting – because fitting in is more accessible than standing out, they feel honored with it and 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 فُرُطًا
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.
Building a community for your family
- 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 exciting to capture their hearts. It’s an opportunity to make more Muslim friends.
- Arrange with your child’s teacher/school principal to hold a ‘Build bridges’ seminar at your child’s class. Choose an exciting topic to talk about, like Ramadhan or Eid. Explain to the students our culture and how we celebrate. You can talk about the basic principles of our faith and how it’s all about manners. If you want to leave a great last impression, you can prepare related giveaways for the students. Your child will forever be grateful you did this in their class.
- You can also enroll your children in a weekend school to learn the Quran or volunteer at the masjid if you need support with the learning.
Lastly, we must remind ourselves and our children that we are messengers of our deen daily. 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 خَبِيرٌ
O humanity, we have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know. Indeed, the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is your most righteous. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.