I recently received an instant message that was doing the rounds about mothers. The message was supposed to be inspirational and whilst the theme was Islamic, there was a point which I found troublesome. It said something to the effect of that as Muslim mothers we did not need to concern ourselves with ‘worldly affairs’ in order to raise our children. The assumption was that since we are so busy we do not have to worry about not having read the newspaper or not listening to the news on your favourite radio station, Radio Al Ansaar! Coincidentally, I learned shortly thereafter that the theme of this month’s magazine was The Muslim World. I found it appropriate to share my views on the topic with you. As a mother, you are your child’s first teacher. If you do not have the expertise how will you fulfil this role? I am not insisting that you read each and every article published or timetable the news into your schedule. Rather, I believe that it is important for us as Muslim mothers of a fast developing generation to be abreast of the issues around us.
How can we expect our young ones to understand the power of the duas being made for the people of Burma, Kashmir if we have not sat down and explained to them what is really going on in those parts of the world? Please do not rely on their school teachers or Madressa Apas to do this.
As a teacher myself, there is not the time to deal with every issue, we expect learners to come to the classroom equipped with the knowledge, values and ideals that you as a parent have been nurturing since their birth. As South African scholars your children are expected to learn about the history of this country first and foremost from you. We add and build upon their prior knowledge. If you do not yet have school-going children, it is time that you understand that soon your little ones will come home with tasks such as find pictures from a magazine, write a speech about a controversial topic in the media. If you are a mother who simply feeds and cleans after them, how will you help them with such homework?
We know from the legacy of our Nabi (SAW) that our roles as Muslims are to be Daees, we have to spread the Deen. How can we do so if we do not prepare our children for the real world? We need to educate them to be tolerant and understanding of all faiths. We cannot afford to seclude and cocoon them in our little ‘shells’. This will not benefit them in the long run. We also need to understand that our children are growing up in challenging times. Whilst there are many avenues where they are able to learn the difference between myths and facts, we should be realistic and expect them to encounter difficult questions from their peers and teachers such as why their fellow Muslim brothers behave or dress in a certain way. By teaching them to ‘stay away’ from people who are different to them, we are preventing them from becoming true representatives of this beautiful Deen.
It is our duty to strive for excellence, to motivate our children to be the best they can be, to serve not only themselves and their Creator but the Ummah at large. We need to encourage them to aim high, to set goals, to achieve success in their academics as well as other spheres of life.
So, tonight, after you have served dinner, why not sit with your family, choose an article from the newspaper and share your views on the topic….
This article was written for the Al-Ummah Magazine, a publication of the Al Ansaar Foundation of Durban, South Africa
by Ismail Kamdar
In grade 7, I asked my Islamic studies teacher why we were studying Seerah again. He replied that we are studying it with a bit more detail this time. It was the fourth time we were studying Seerah since grade one and I could not see the benefit in the repeat syllabus. Reflecting back now, no one took Islamic Studies very seriously when we were in school.
A good example was when the teacher told us to memorize the 99 names of Allah for a test. I was the only boy in my class who did so, and even that I forgot a few months later. I am not proud of this but it shows something about the Islamic studies syllabus and how much students cared about it in a renowned Islamic school.
Many years later, I would discover that Islamic knowledge is beautiful and exciting to learn and my life would begin to revolve around it. This raises the question as to why the Islamic studies syllabus in school did not have the same effect on me?
I have identified some of the problems and proposed some solutions. Feel free to add your own:
1. The syllabus is too basic
In terms of Arabic, from grade 1 till 12, we only studied an amount which we could have learned in one year outside of school. In fact, the children whom I teach Arabic to privately are way ahead of their classes in school and get an average of 99-100% on school tests. This shows that children have the potential to learn a lot more Arabic in a shorter space of time. The Arabic syllabus in schools needs to be revamped and it should not downplay the potential of students to grasp the language.
It is not just Arabic. The Aqeedah syllabus in some high schools where I have taught or studied is no different from that of the primary levels. Nothing interesting, new or even important is taught which the students have not already learned. When the syllabus is too simple and students feel they already know a subject, their minds switch off and they lose interest. Islam is so vast and so deep, why is it that we underestimate our children and teenagers and limit their access to knowledge to only the basics?
2. Content is not relevant
The Seerah and stories of the other prophets (peace be upon them all) are a great way to teach young Muslims valuable lessons and provide them with role models. Sadly, many institutes teach these stories as historical facts without delving into any significant lessons. The Seerah, in particular, is taught with a focus on the wars and battles, while not much time is spent on the issues of relevance to Muslim youth in Western countries.
There is so much potential to bring these stories to life and make them relevant. Many scholars today like Abdul Hakim Quick and Tariq Ramadan have done this for adults, it’s time we did this for children and teenagers as well. Not only would it make them more interested in history but it will increase their love for the prophets and companions.
3. Uninspiring teachers
Many Islamic studies teachers whom I have met just don’t seem motivated to make a difference. Teaching Islamic studies is their job, their source of income and that’s all. Such teachers cannot have an inspiring impact on their students. It is only those who teach Islam with passion, love, enthusiasm and the desire to ignite change that can motivate students and get them to love Islam and want to practice it. Parents and schools need to focus on such qualities when looking for teachers, and institutes need to work at training teachers who possess these qualities.
4. Teachers not being role models
Too often, I have seen Islamic studies teachers that make me cringe. Whether its a sister who wears hijab in class but you spot her at the beach dressed in the most indecent of manners, or the Moulana who smokes with his students and makes inappropriate comments about their sisters. I have encountered many Islamic studies teachers whose practice is the opposite of what they preach.
Now nobody is perfect and everybody has their faults, and I also understand that there is a difference of opinion on some issues, but when a teacher openly teaches one thing in class but his/her practice in front of students is opposite to this, it causes students to lose respect for the teacher and the subject. As Islamic teachers, we need to be very careful regarding what we say, do or post on the internet.
1. Choose the right syllabus
My favorite Islamic studies syllabus for teenagers is the four-part series written by Dr. Bilal Philips. However, this series is for Grade 7 onwards, I do not know of any syllabus for the grades below that which I am happy with, yet. That is why when I teach, I make my own syllabus as I go along. Any suggestions on a good syllabus for children?
2. Change of attitude
Teachers and parents should not look at Islamic education as a chore, job or burden. Islamic education is our chance to inspire a new generation to love, learn and live Islam. We cannot do this unless we are passionate about what we teach and the students feel this passion in our classes.
An average teacher imparts information, a true teacher inspires a generation!
3. Do not be afraid to do something different
Many times, teachers are discouraged from making any changes. They are put in a position in which, if they change something, it is seen as finding fault with their elders and their methods. Truth is that times change and our methods need to change in order to engage a new generation. Islam allows for such change and there is no one method of teaching which Islam restricts us to follow. As long as the means are permissible, it should be used as a tool in education.
Children and teenagers (even adults) enjoy lessons presented with nasheeds, videos, jokes and slideshows far more than straight up lectures. Teachers need to use their imagination and creativity and invent fun methods to impart their knowledge to others.
4. Goals need to be set
Islamic education should not be done just for the sake of it. There need to be goals in place, both short term and long term. Teachers and parents need to decide what they want children to accomplish by the age of nine, thirteen, seventeen, etc.
A lot of thought needs to be put into the priorities, objectives and purpose of Islamic education. When such goals are made, it becomes easier to see a bigger picture and thus formulate a syllabus that works towards such goals.
These are just some problems which I have observed as well as potential solutions. Feel free to add to this list or politely disagree.
Parents know that they are supposed to read but too often we become too ‘busy’ to sit with our children and engage in a wonderful world of words. The following articles (one from an Islamic perspective and the other by a Western writer) are to provide you with motivation to start or continue your journey:
The Importance of Reading in Islam
Learn How Islam Emphasises The Need To Be Literate
“Read!” the voice resonated in the cave of Mount Hira’ for the third time. The man called Muhammad froze, mostly in fear and confusion in the arms of Arch Angel Gabriel. When he found his voice, he told the angel he did not know how to read.
“Read, in the name of thy Lord who created, man from a clot. Read, for your Lord is most Generous, who teaches by means of the pen, teaches man what they know not,” (al-‘Alaq: 1-5)
The man soon to be known as Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) received the first revelation of the holy Qur’an – Islam’s holy scripture that remains untainted and unchanged until this very day. The underlying message of the Qur’an remains too – “read.”
The Qur’an is the most quoted book in the world, describing Islam as the complete way of life for every Muslim to follow. It is also the most widely read, recited and memorised book in the world.
Reading comes naturally to humans when the time comes to broach education. Children as young as three are learning to read in some countries. Benefits orf reading come like no other. Educators agree that reading to young babies every day ignites curiosity in reading material and teaches children to respect and cherish books. Reading is also a catalyst for growth and development. Young, avid readers are more likely to grow into confident adults.
Reading is knowledge
Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) encouraged his followers to broaden their horizons by seeking knowledge – even to the depths of China (Bukhari). He enthusiastically welcomed traders from different countries to stop-by in Madinah to have his followers learn and appreciate their cultures.
Nowadays, reading material is of abundance and allows the plight for knowledge to be easier than ever.
Reading – a compensation for freedom
The first battle Muslims fought was the battle of Badr, whereby they were attempting to salvage their rightful possessions that their Quraysh brethren had hijacked and were transporting to sell off for profits. When the small number of ousted Muslims triumphed against the men of Makkah, many of their former friends and relatives were held as prisoners.
Muslims during the first years of the Islam comprised mostly of the poor and illiterate – they were mostly those who escaped undue discrimination and mal-treatment of the wealthy. When these Muslims captured the people who had once tortured them in their homeland Makkah, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and unkindness towards the Quraysh prisoners.
Instead, her ordered for them to be quartered amongst Muslims and to be treated with kindness. Some were allowed to buy their freedom through ransoms. Some were given the alternative: to teach 10 Muslims how to read and write. Upon doing so, they would be free, (Ibrahim B. Syed, Education of Muslims in Kentucky Prisons; Louisville: Islamic Research Foundation International).
Reading as part of building a civilisation
A milestone in the development of Islam was marked during the treaty of Hudaybah. The Muslims were venturing back to Makkah to perform the pilgrimage ritual. They were stopped by the Quraysh – the tribe now worried that the Muslims were growing stronger. A treaty was enacted to disallow Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and his followers to only perform the rite the following year. In return, the Quraysh promised 10 years of peace between themselves and the Muslims. In addition to that, the Muslims were also free to spread the message of Islam.
Upon the enactment of this document, the Muslims jumped at the opportunity to teach followers of other faiths what they had learned about their new religion. Little did they know, the treaty was to be breached two years later by their nemesis. They paraded into Makkah with full triumph and reclaimed the land that was rightfully theirs.
None of this would have happened should the Muslim entourage not have the ability to read and agree to the contract.
Reading the Qur’an: plenty of blessings
Most importantly for Muslims is the desire to read the Qur’an. Reading the Qur’an however, also means to understand the words and to practice what is being taught. Muslims are told that the ranking of Muslims in Paradise would be determined by the number of Qur’anic verses a Muslim has learned during his or her lifetime.
Allah says, “Those who recite the Book of Allah, and establish the prayer, and spend of that which We have bestowed on them secretly and openlu, they look forward to imperishable gain, that He will pay them their wages and increase them of His grace. Lo! He is Forgiving, Responsive.” (Fatir: 29-30)
The Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) reminded, “Those who recite the Qur’an beautifully are like the noble scribes (angels)l but as for those who are struggling to read it with hardship will merit double rewards,” (Bukhari & Muslim).
The Importance of Reading in Islam: Learn How Islam Emphasises The Need To Be Literate http://islamic-beliefs.suite101.com/article.cfm/the_importance_of_reading_in_islam#ixzz0pmubboq9
importance of reading to baby
What better gift can we give our children than a love of reading?
Teaching children to read is one thing; encouraging them to want to read is another. Obviously very young children can’t read themselves, so reading to them each day is such an important first step. Why?
It gets them thinking creatively, sets reading up as an enjoyable activity, gives children an appreciation and respect for books, promotes language and vocabulary development, and allows for lots of great family time. Nothing beats a cuddle on the lounge or on a huge bean bag with your child while you read a book together.
When we read to children we:
• Answer children’s questions.
• Promote language skills
• Promote reading skills
• Develop longer attention spans
• Strengthen family relationships
Even if you don’t have a lot of time, and let’s be honest a lot of us don’t, you can still encourage your child to read by making up stories to go with picture books with no words or attending a regular storytelling time. Most libraries offer this on a regular basis.
it’s never too early to start!
Children’s brains begin to develop from the moment they emerge from the womb. Newborns respond to bright pictures, the rhythm of words and the comfort of a parent speaking to them. As parents, the voice we use when we read to children is different to our normal speaking voice which is something they really respond to.
The foundations that determine how clever, creative and imaginative a child will be are largely laid down by the time a child turns one. It’s incredible but true: at this age, most children have learnt all the sounds that make up the spoken language. By the age of two, children have a vocabulary of around 50 words.
Research has shown that language is acquired most rapidly in the first five years of life. What better way to teach language than to read to your children?
Reading aloud to children will develop their speaking skills and help them to make connections – the look of words, the way they work in sentences, how the word functions. Books can help children to learn to concentrate, to explore their inner feelings, to express themselves and to resolve conflicts.
Recent studies have shown that there is a direct relationship between literacy success and success within the wider world. Even self-esteem has been linked to the ability to read and write. Don’t underestimate the power of books.
Don’t worry if you don’t have any children’s books at home, a young baby will love hearing you read from the newspaper or your favourite novel as long as you make it sound good to them. Play up the animation and use your best acting skills – they’ll love it.
The experts say that children need 1,000 stories read to them before they begin to learn to read for themselves. Sounds like a lot? It’s just three stories a day over a year.
Children are easily influenced by their surroundings. These days, it is extremely difficult to expose our children to an ideal Islamic environment given the influences from media, friends and even other members of the family.
With television, radio, Internet and forms of media mostly touting un-Islamic values, it is up to parents and adults close to the children to set the correct example.
It is impossible to shield our children from all the negative forces that can shape their minds and, ultimately, their behavior.
However, by our own example and showing them better options, we can set them on the true path, which is to obey the commandments of Allah (swt) and our Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him).
Here are some tips you may want to follow in helping your children grow up with Islamic values.
1. Start by teaching them the importance of Worshipping only Allah: The best thing any Muslim parent could ever teach their children is to emphasize, from the day they can comprehend, that Allah (swt) is One and no one is worthy of worship except Allah (swt). This is the fundamental message of our Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) and it is our key to Paradise.
2. Treat them kindly: Kindness begets kindness. If we were kind to our children, they in turn would show kindness to others. Our Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) was the best example in being kind to children.
3. Teach them examples of Muslim heroes: Instead of Batman or Superman, tell them about real heroes such as Abu Bakr, Umar ibn Khattab, Othman bin Affan, Ali bin Abi Talib and others. Tell them how Muslim leaders brought a real peaceful change in the world and won the hearts of Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
4. Let children sit with adults: It is preferable for children to be among adults, especially when listening to Islamic lectures. The Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) would often put children in the front row when he spoke to the people.
5. Make them feel important: Consult them in family matters. Let them feel they are important members of the family and have a part to play in the growth and well being of the family.
6. Go out as a family: Take family trips rather than allowing your children to always go out only with their friends. Let your children be around family and friends from whom you want them to pick up their values. Always remember that your children will become who they are around with most of the time. So, watch their company and above all give them YOUR company.
7. Praise them: Praise is a powerful tool with children, especially in front of others. Children feel a sense of pride when their parents’ praise them and will be keen to perform other good deeds. However, praise must be limited to Islamic deeds and deeds of moral value.
8. Avoid humiliation: Similarly, do not humiliate them in front of others. Children make mistakes. Sometimes, these mistakes occur in their efforts to please the parents. If you are unhappy with your children, tell them in private.
9. Sports: The Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) encouraged sports such as swimming, running and horse riding. Other sports that build character and physical strength are also recommended, as long as the children maintain their Islamic identity, wear appropriate clothes and do not engage in unnecessary mixing.
10. Responsibility: Have faith in their abilities to perform tasks. Give them chores to do in line with their age. Convince them that they are performing an important function and you will find them eager to help you out again.
11. Don’t spoil them: Children are easily spoiled. If they receive everything they ask for, they will expect you to oblige on every occasion. Be wise in what you buy for them. Avoid extravagance and unnecessary luxuries. Take them to an orphanage or poor area of your city once in a while so they can see how privileged they are.
12. Don’t be friends: It is common in the West for parents to consider their children as friends. In Islam, it doesn’t work that way. If you have ever heard how friends talk to each other, then you will know that this is not how a parent-child relationship should be. You are the parents, and they should respect you, and this is what you should be teaching them. The friendship part should be limited to you and them keeping an open dialog so they can share their concerns with you and ask you questions when they have any.
13. Pray with them: Involve them in acts of worship. When they are young, let them see you in act of salaah (salat). Soon, they would be trying to imitate you. Wake them up for Fajr and pray as a family. Talk to them about the rewards of salaah so that it doesn’t feel like a burden to them.
14. Emphasize halaal: It is not always good to say ‘this is haraam, that is haraam’. While you must educate them on haraam things, Islam is full of halaal and tell your children to thank Allah (swt) for the bounties He has bestowed on them- not just for food and clothes. Tell them to be thankful for having eyes that see, ears that hear, arms and legs and, the ultimate blessing, Islam in their hearts.
15. Set an example: As parents, you are the best example the children can have. If you talk to your parents rudely, expect your children to do the same to you. If you are disrespectful to others, your children will follow too. Islam is filled with Divine advice on the best ways to bring up your children. That makes it an obligation upon parents to be good Muslims so their children will try to emulate them. If you don’t take Islam seriously, neither will your children. It goes back to our third point, which is to give them Islamic heroes. As a parent, you should be their number one hero.
By Claire Marketos
‘Tell me, I forget. Teach me, I remember. Involve me, I understand.’- Chinese proverb
Imagine you’re nine years old. Your first test is on Friday, and you have your book in front of you. Your mom tells you to revise your study material. Feeling helpless and ill-equipped, you stare at the pages, hoping that somehow you will remember something. Soon, you lose interest and begin playing with the dog. It is not surprising that studying turns into a lonely, repetitive chore you dread – one that stifles your natural curiosity. In the words of a fifth grader, ‘Studying is not fun.’
While most schools teach learners how to study, they do so in isolated classes, instead of integrating studying skills in daily lessons and notes, so that it becomes a part of learning. It is extremely frustrating and difficult for a fourth grader to try to apply what he has learned about studying in general to specific subjects. Your child therefore depends on you for help.
Between a rock and a hard place
Instead of treating it as yet another chore, unleash your creativity and approach study time as a fun, inspiring opportunity to bond with your children. By adopting an innovative way of thinking, your child will feel more connected to you and you will empower him with an enquiring mind for life.
Children are curious and instinctively explore their environment to find out more about the world around them. By appealing to your child’s innate inquisitiveness, you can turn studying into an incidental part of his daily activities. Show him how studying can be an enjoyable way to find answers to questions. For example, use Zulu words while preparing the salad. And while driving, throw out a question “Why is it important for people to pay taxes?” This will stimulate critical thinking and lively discussion. By collaborating with your child, you will demonstrate positive ways of interacting with others to find solutions to problems. That’s a useful attribute for almost any career your child may choose later on in life.
Learning how to study effectively is a process that has to be modified according to your child’s needs. There are so many factors influencing the way children study and how well they recall the material later. Whether your child is tired after a long day at school or just battling to concentrate on the task at hand, physical and emotional well-being plays a big role as does personality.
• If you are going through a divorce and your child worries about this, he will struggle to apply himself.
• If your child is physically unwell, he may need medical intervention before he is able to concentrate.
• If your child has learning difficulties, he may require remedial assistance before he can study effectively.
• If your child has experienced trauma or grief, his ability to retain and recall knowledge will be impaired. Play therapy, among other treatments, may be necessary to provide him with the support he needs.
How children learn
If you are going to be of any help, you need to understand how children learn and how their brains function.
Passively reading through notes, is not the most effective way to study. Research shows that children learn most efficiently by being actively involved in the learning experience. By involving your child personally through writing, speaking, or experiencing the material, you will enable him to recollect it better. Walking around while acting out their assignment helps some students retain information. Others require bright colourful pictures and concrete objects to stimulate their minds. Try different methods, until you find the best way for your child to study- the more memorable and pleasurable the experience, the better the recall.
Learning in a group also greatly improves children’s comprehension, Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky discovered in his early twentieth century research. He also found that children who worked together were able to explain what they had learned in the context of their daily lives.
Studying with, you, his peers, or teacher, helps your child clarify ideas, ask questions, and understand the subject. Vygotsky calls this ‘reciprocal teaching’ and initially used it to teach reading. So, leaving your child to study alone in his bedroom is not the greatest way to help him retain knowledge. He will recall so much more if he can visualize the material while talking about it to you.
Sensory stimulation theorist Dugan Laird found that children can remember seventy-five percent of material presented in visual form such as pictures and diagrams, thirteen percent that is auditory and twelve percent through the other senses.
Have some fun
• Help your child turn his study notes into colourful diagrams, mind maps, and cartoons.
• Involve the whole family by using different voices to speak into a tape recorder, saying important facts. Let your child listen to the tape in the car or while taking a bath.
• Use visual and auditory stimulus from the computer, to help your child remember more of his notes. A great idea is to use your child’s notes to put together a PowerPoint presentation on the computer. It is time consuming, but as a visual aid it can be invaluable.
Feeding and stimulating the brain
The brain is the source not only of our intellect, but also of our emotions. It is who we are, and our moods influence our ability to concentrate. If your child is feeling pressured or frustrated, he will find it harder to retain information. We have all heard how we only use a small part of our brains and that we rarely reach our full potential. So how can you help stimulate your child’s brain to enhance learning and memory?
The brain comprise mainly fat, so it requires ‘good fats’ and protein to function efficiently. Eating a healthy meal of fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids before studying will help fuel the brain. A favourite memory booster recommended by American Mensa supervisory psychologist Dr. Frank Lawliss is banana and chocolate, preferably eaten together. Other brain foods are water, raw or steamed fruits and vegetables, avocado, whole grains, eggs, nuts, and vitamin D.
Tips to kick start the brain
• Play marching music and have your child chew gum containing the sugar substitute, xylitol, suggests Lawliss – but avoid gum containing aspartame and sugar.
• Physical exercise not only relieves stress, it also helps your child breathe more deeply, resulting in more oxygen reaching the brain. Doing a moderate amount of exercise before study will stimulate your child’s brain into action. Too much exercise, on the other hand, will make him feel tired with little energy left to concentrate.
• Games like chess, charades and building puzzles fires up the mind.
• Devise games to help your child remember his notes. Design a quiz show or modify 30 seconds as a revision aid. .
• Sleep is essential to recharge the mind and help process information- eight to ten hours’ sleep a night is ideal.
Create the right environment
As a child how many times were you told to go and sit at your desk and study? We tend to believe that to study properly we should be seated at a table in a quiet room with good lighting. Good lighting is crucial to avoid eye strain, but children learn in different ways and can study in all sorts of environments. Your child may be able to concentrate better when he walks around or sits on a gym ball with music playing in the background.
Be sensitive and flexible in the way you approach your child’s method of studying. Almost any environment can provide an opportunity to learn, so experiment with different places in the home, until you find those best suited to study. Being able to relax and being comfortable will make the experience more beneficial and pleasant. Nevertheless, trying to study in a room with the television on and other children playing is probably too distracting for most children.
Children with learning difficulties learn more effectively in an environment that is free of clutter, well organised and structured. Have all the necessary stationery available, especially brightly coloured highlighters, dictionaries, and keep a file for notes and pictures. Don’t forget to use the computer as a visual and auditory study aid.
Establish a routine
Routine makes children feel safe and secure. Children like to know with absolute certainty what is expected of them. Having a study routine will do away with questions like, ‘Do I have to study now?’ Remember to also chat about the subject in an informal way outside of study time while grocery shopping, watching the news, or when an interesting fact occurs to you. .
Most children become irritable when they are tired, so it is best not to schedule study time just before bed. Negotiate a time for studying with your child that you know is best suited to your child’s temperament. Some children study well in the afternoon after lunch and free play, while others study better after supper. Try to schedule it for the same time every day, but accommodate extra-murals and playtime. Your child needs a balanced lifestyle- time to pursue other interests and to relax in order to be successful.
Studying for hours on end is not productive. Your child will become tired and de-motivated. Memory and concentration also decrease after a while. Stick to the allotted time, and stop when that time is up. Focus instead on managing the set times efficiently. Allow short breaks to maintain concentration and to let the brain process the information. Tomorrow will provide another opportunity to study. If your child continues to spend hours doing homework and learning, it may be necessary to evaluate your expectations of him, or chat to the teacher to find out whether the workload is too heavy. If he is experiencing difficulties with some of the material, provide him with additional help.
Aspire to stimulating curiosity in your child along with the desire to know more about himself and the world around him, instead of merely aiming for higher grades. Children who leave school with passion and energy are motivated to seize the challenges faced in adulthood, whereas overachievers who tried to please their parents throughout their childhood may feel burned out, stressed and disinclined to pursue their ambitions.
Stressing over homework and studying is counterproductive. A stressed child can’t concentrate or remember what he is studying. Choose to stop stressing about studying and your child will most likely develop a more positive attitude towards it. Waking up early to study on the day of a test is likely to create additional stress- and it will probably be ineffective, since the brain will not have sufficient time to process the crammed information. Sleep is more important at this age than studying at the last minute.
Pressuring your child to obtain higher marks, criticising him, and making him redo work over and over again, is discouraging. Not only is your child less likely to do well, he may also develop feelings of resentment, and rebel by underachieving. Avoid comparing your children, especially across the sexes, since boys and girls learn in different ways. Research shows that children who have controlling, strict parents, tend to have lower self esteem, as they learn that they cannot be trusted to manage themselves. Avoid living vicariously through your children, and make sure your intentions are to help him find his true purpose in life.
Show your child how to relax. Deep breathing, visualizations, yoga, swaying and meditation, are all ways to deal with stress, and so focus better. Explain to your child how to concentrate in class, call on the teacher for help, and get guidelines for tests- this way much of the knowledge needed can be gained in the classroom.
What to avoid
• putting pressure on your child to get higher marks
• being overly critical
• making your child redo work over and over again
• comparing him to others, particularly a girl to a boy, or a boy to a girl
• being too controlling
• living vicariously through a child
What to do
• Teach your child relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, visualizations, yoga, swaying and meditation
• encourage your child to concentrate in class
• teach your child to ask teachers for help
• make sure your child gets guidelines for tests and exams
• approach your child’s school notes with a positive attitude and cultivate this attitude in him
• allow your child to take control of his schedule, helping where necessary
• give praise where it is due ,without allowing the praise to turn into added pressure
Keeping your child motivated
‘Aw! Why do I have to study?’ moans a sixth grader. Few children are motivated to study. How do you turn this around? What can you do to inspire your child to enjoy studying? Children watch their parents all the time and your child will copy what you do. If you’re positive and enthusiastic and have a probing mind, your child is likely to be more curious and interested in studying. Watching you read or study will encourage them to do the same.
Research shows that the children of loving parents whose expectations are reasonable have higher self- esteem, and are more motivated when it comes to studying. In contrast, the children of parents who pay attention only when they do well tend to have lower self-esteem and less confidence in their own abilities.
We all enjoy being affirmed and praised for our achievements, and you should be generous in your praise. However, research by theorist William Damon from Stanford University shows that constant praise, especially when nothing has really been achieved, actually limits a child’s abilities. Instead, he says, we should ‘guide them towards worthwhile activities and goals that result in credible self esteem.’
Create opportunities for your child to learn from his mistakes, be persistent in the face of adversity, and accomplish things on his own. Imagine the sense of satisfaction he will feel when he takes control of his notes, and rearranges them to be easier to remember. Setting realistic goals and taking steps to achieve them will help motivate your child.
Children have vivid imaginations and can come up with fabulous ideas to help them remember study material. Inspire your child to think laterally as he tackles his notes. Your curiosity and interest in his subjects will stimulate intellectual thought and conversation- a much more enjoyable proposition than merely studying for tests.
We all know how infectious it can be to be around someone who is upbeat and who has a high self esteem. Teach your child the power of positive thinking. Believing in himself, defining who he is and what his abilities are will give him the confidence to overcome stress, especially when studying.
Think outside the box. Engage your child in thinking of novel ways to remember his study notes.
• When talking with your child about his study notes, add in tidbits of interesting information from your readings and travels. Children love to hear stories, and if you can tell stories relevant to their study material, it will provide a hook to help jog his memory, for example, ‘Mom saw Tutankhamen’s sarcophagus in the British Museum…..’
• Explain how their notes are relevant to their daily lives, and how as we develop as a society we build on knowledge from the past. Ask ‘what if’ questions to stimulate thinking- for example, ‘What if Thomas Edison hadn’t been curious, and hadn’t kept experimenting to find answers? We may never have discovered electricity. Then there would be so many things we wouldn’t be able to do like……”Challenge your child to come up with uses for electricity.
• Teach your child to organise his study material, and tackle difficult information first. He doesn’t need to learn work he already knows.
• Children learn best from notes and diagrams transcribed in their own words and in age-appropriate language. If your child finds his study notes difficult to understand, encourage him to summarise it in his own words. Help him draw mind maps and spider diagrams.
• Take time to teach your child to read his notes critically. Scan the material to find the most important points. Pose questions and find the answers in the study notes. Write down important points. Being able to read and take notes effectively will be of immense help once your child goes to high school.
• One picture paints a thousand words, the saying goes. This is especially true when it comes to studying. Always look for a way to represent notes visually. Help your child turn his study notes into colourful pictures and diagrams. For example, if you are studying surface and subsurface water sources, let him draw a diagram showing where the water sources are. These diagrams or pictures can be simple stick figures which don’t take a long time to draw. Use colour to make it more memorable.
• Use different coloured cards on which to write important information, such as dates. Post the cards behind the toilet door, the car seat, or on the fridge, so that your child can see the information often. Make associations like, ‘Red is 1361BC when people began to settle along the Nile River.’
• Ask your child to teach you, a teddy, a pet, or other members of the family. To teach, he will need to understand the subject material. Let him use his notes initially, but as the week goes by, let them try without notes. Or as one mother found to her delight, her daughter had rediscovered the karaoke function on the family’s music system. ‘She’s been lecturing to a phantom audience all week,” the mother said.
• Invent silly rhymes, acronyms and mnemonics with your child to help him remember difficult dates and facts.
• If your child is musically inclined, he may even make up a rap song from his notes.
• If your child has good ball skills, let him pin the answers to questions to a wall, and throw tennis balls at the correct answer.
• Putting on a puppet show for the family can help your child commit information to memory.
• Film them as they make a documentary on their assignment. They can watch it later for further reinforcement.
• Drumming is often used these days to help children with learning difficulties. Beating out facts on a drum can make them easier to recall – drumming is relaxing and helps to stimulate the brain.
• If you can actually visit the place they are learning about, do the experiment, or see the artifact in a museum, your children will easily recall it later.
• Give your child strategies and tips on how to do well on tests: “Read the questions carefully, underlining key words. Look at the mark allocation. Always answer the question even if you have to make an educated guess.”
• Guide your child to watch programmes on TV or DVD, and read newspaper articles which show how their study notes are relevant to everyday life, and to reinforce the material they have studied.
For many of us parents studying evokes unpleasant memories, which we wouldn’t want our children to experience. Throw out those old methods that didn’t work for you, and strive to replace them with inspirational ideas that make the learning experience enjoyable and memorable for your children. It is possible to show them that the world provides so many amazing opportunities that they can be part of.
Note to parents: I specifically didn’t use the word ‘work’ when referring to the child’s school notes or study notes as studying should not be viewed as ‘work’ but rather as a means of finding answers to questions.
The IQ Answer by Dr. Frank Lawliss
Child Development 5th Edition by Laura Berk
This article was first published in the book “Happy Years: A guide for paqrents’ by Abraham Kriel Childcare. The copyright remains with the author Claire Marketos.
Visit Claire Marketos’ website: http://www.inspiredparenting.co.za/
Agree or Disagree
1. In the 1st month (early days), we know that the milk is not enough because the baby keeps crying and giving a “top up” bottle of formula after a breast feed is a safer option.
2. Formula milk has become so advanced that there is almost no difference between breast milk and formula milk.
3. There are few benefits breastfeeding a child older than 6 months and so solids must be the main source of the child’s nutrition.
4. Which of the following are examples of exclusive breastfeeding?
A. A baby receiving breast milk but sometimes gets some water to drink.
B. A baby drinking only breast milk but gets 1 bottle of formula only when mom goes out for a few hours.
C. A baby drinking only breast milk but sometimes uses a dummy.
D. A baby drinking only breast milk but is taking multivitamins and iron drops given by the paediatrician.
E. A baby who is wet-nursed while the mother is at work and then continues breastfeeding from his own mother.
5. I should exclusively breastfeed until my baby is 4 months old and then start a good quality formula milk to ensure better health.
6. I should exclusively breastfeed my baby for 4 months and then start a good rice cereal to ensure better health.
7. Majority of mothers experience difficulty breastfeeding in the early days.
8. It is useful to use the dummy sometimes, especially in the early days to give the new mother an opportunity to rest.
9. When a mother has to return to work, it is important to get the baby used to a bottle early as only 1 or 2 bottles of formula milk per day will not affect the breastfeeding or make the baby ill.
10. My breasts havn’t started leaking in my last month of pregnancy so I must keep a starter formula tin ready as Iwill not have enough milk.
11. It is important for the child to sleep alone in the cot most times as it is safer than sleeping with the baby.
12. “Nipple confusion” is a myth – that means it doesn’t really happen.
13. Allowing the baby to fall asleep at the breast is the most easy, efficient and stress free method of putting the baby to sleep.
ONLY 2 of the Agree/Disagree Questions 7 & 13) are TRUE.
MCQ Question 4 : D & E are TRUE.
The REST are FALSE.
Empower yourself with the correct information for yourselves, your daughters, your sisters or your friends!
o Once a month.
o Every 2nd Friday of the Month.
o Immediately after Asr Salah.
What is it about?
How much does it Cost?
Who should attend?
o Their children.
o Pregnant women & their husbands.
o Teenage Daughters AND Sons.
o Doctors (Accredited for CPD points).
o Breastfeeding counsellors Etc.
Why have such an education Class?
o It is an Islamic Obligation (FARDH) for ALL males and FEMALES to be educated.
o Most mothers think they know how to feed their children correctly -few do, MOST don’t.
o As a result of “not knowing” about 1,5 MILLION children are dying worldwide because of inadequate breastfeeding.
o Topics on correct parenting particularly BREASTFEEDING are not taught to doctors and nurses at some medical schools.
o The time in a doctor’s room is not enough to explain all the facts.
o True Knowledge shouldn’t cost money – it should be FREE.
o Empowering our women to be well informed – to make an INFORMED DECISION. “Know the facts – make your choice”.
o NB// Highest rates of breastfeeding are seen in the White, Middle-Upper Income, Married Women because they are EDUCATED and have understood their roles as women in society.
• Where do I get my information from?
The Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) once said,:
o “Your Heaven lies under the feet of your mother.”
o A man came to Allah’s Apostle and said, “O Allah’s Apostle!
Who is more entitled to be treated with the best companionship by me?” The
Prophet said, “Your mother.”
The man said. “Who is next?”
The Prophet said, “Your mother.” The man further said,
“Who is next?” The Prophet said, “Your mother.” The man asked for the fourth time, “Who is next?” The Prophet said, “Your father.”
Narrated by Abu Huraira
- Holy Bible
- World Health Organisations
- Perinatal Education Programme
- Dr Jack Newman
- Dr Thomas Hale
- Many others
o INFACT Canada
o La Leche League International
o Dr Seers MD
- The Translation of Noble Qur’an –
Chapter 2 (The Cow) Verse 233
The mothers shall give suck to their children for two whole years,
(that is) for those (parents) who desire to complete the term of
suckling, but the father of the child shall bear the cost of the
mother’s food and clothing on a reasonable basis. No person shall
have a burden laid on him greater than he can bear. No mother shall be treated unfairly on account of her child, nor father on account of his child. And on the (father’s) heir is incumbent the like of that (which was incumbent on the father). If they both decide on weaning, by mutual consent, and after due consultation, there is no sin on them. And if you decide on a foster suckling-mother for your children, there is no sin on you, provided you pay (the mother) what you agreed (to give her) on reasonable basis. And fear Allah and know that Allah is All-Seer of what you do.
Shukran to Dr Taleb for providing us with her Powerpoint Presentation which is adapted in this post.
by Sana Khan
Uncertainty: The Dilemma of Muslim Parents
Alphabets, numbers in Arabic, English and Urdu, colors, shapes, body parts etc. Is it wrong of me to think about schooling for my one year old daughter? Prior to getting married my significant other and I made it a point to discuss the topic of educating our future children as any young couple would. In hopes of sharing similar thoughts based on personal experiences we found ourselves hitting a dead end so to speak with regards to how we would want our children to be schooled. Now with our first toddler running around we find ourselves scrambling to teach her the best that we can. SubhanAllah, the blessings of Allah SWT are clear in the way our daughter imitates us, struggles to pronounce words, and gets into trouble to appease her curiosity. Children are sponges and their little hearts and minds soak in what they see, hear and experience. As a mother, the best thing about this whole learning phase is that I am the one honored with welcoming her into this world and teaching her whatever good I can about it. However, the worst thing about it is the constant state of worry my heart and mind will be in as she steps out of the safety of our home and experiences situations where she will have to put into practice all that I have taught her. That will be the ultimate judge of my upbringing and that thought alone has me fearful of her ever leaving my side.
This is the reality of many Muslim parents, both in Muslim and non Muslim countries. Children are raised in homes with or without parents and proper care from them. They go on to be contributing members of their societies and their contribution solely lies on their upbringing of which education is a major factor. In the west for many Muslim parents there is an on going debate between the various schooling options that parents have: public, private non Islamic, private Islamic and home schooling. Muslim children make up a great percentage of all of these schools and ultimately each comes out with a unique personality as a result of what they are taught.
A is for Allah: Education in Islam
“The educational philosophy of Islam is based on a simultaneous dual policy of “Ta’aleem” and “Tarbi’yaah”. The first one is the basic acquisition of knowledge and skills within a human mind and body, whereas the second one is the practical nurturing of the acquired knowledge and skills so as to nourish the personality of the individual. This in turn will lay down the foundation of grooming the person in order to mould the desired personality, according to the parameters of Quran and Sunnah. Thus we carve out an individual with his/her uniqueness in characteristics and features as a result of this dual policy,” shares Imam Jawad Ahmad, Islamic Studies teacher at Al Ghazaly Islamic High School in New Jersey and 877-Why-Islam Hotline Coordinator. For a Muslim the process of education comes full circle, it is a journey that begins and ends at home. This process factors in the time the child spends in an educational institution but does not solely leave it to said institution to fulfill all of his or her educational needs.
“When children are taught to think of home as their base of learning and the world as their classroom, they are motivated to learn year round, from a rich variety of sources. Instead of artificially separating subjects into different periods throughout the day, I wanted my children to get a truly interdisciplinary education, from real-life experiences. Children are all individuals, with their own unique styles of learning. The one- size- fits- all approach to schooling does not work for everyone. Alhumdolillah I realized that there are other options on educating our children today than there were ten years ago,” points out Mariam Junaid* mother of four children from which three are currently home schooled. I always knew that I would be the mother who played a key role in my child’s life; not necessarily an overbearing role but rather one where I can help her make the best decision for herself during important situations. So I began to think of home schooling my little one, but with no experience whatsoever and being both public schooled until college my husband and I stared blankly at one another in hope to see a ray of optimism in our current decision.
Public, Private and Home: Where Should One Start?
“True knowledge potential exists in the west due to overwhelming resources at our disposal, which can transform this knowledge into power for the individual such that it equips them with a vision that broadens their horizon and scope of activity in this world,” shares Imam Jawad. The key word here is: resources. The educational system in the west is overflowing with resources utilized in the classroom. These resources however are not limited to the actual learning environment. Instead, the World Wide Web has become a stepping stone for teachers, students and parents to tap into the wide array of tools that exist online. Muslim parents are raising their children in a society that provides educational toys for infants up until they are adults, along with the availability of utilizing technological devices at home such as computers and phones as key learning tools. But the question remains, with all these opportunities to learn at one’s finger tips what option is the best?
As a nervous parent hoping for the best for her child my search for providing a proper education had me discussing this concern with various parents, teachers and educational leaders within community. This dialogue led to the various possibilities that await both my daughter and I when we take our first steps towards actualizing our vision of education. “Before we ever embark upon any journey, we know that it is not going to be without challenges. While there are going to be unique challenges that every family will go through, some of the most common challenges include a lot of dedication, patience and time from my end. But I must say the results are beautiful and worthless Alhumdolillah,” states Mariam Junaid. Dedication, patience and time, are some of the most important factors in not only raising children but also educating them. It is with certainty for parents, whose children are attending the various types of educational institutions, that their role in the education process is key in producing the fruits of their child’s labor. Along with this positive reinforcement, awareness of their child’s needs and passion, as well as the difficulties in expression or subjects are all areas that require none other than parental involvement.
In my search for the best institution there was one flaw that I failed to recognize prior to embarking on this difficult task: each and every individual will support their avenue of education despite the positives and negatives for in the end it was that institution which shaped their personality. So at the end of the day, as I sit and watch my daughter read a book out loud to herself and be the only one to understand her gibberish, it was ultimately the decision of my husband and myself to sift through what we learn from this dialogue and make constant dua that our child be guided towards what is good.
Home Schooling: A New Road for Parents
“The society that we live in unfortunately gives us the impression that every thing has to be institutionalized and we are forced not to look beyond these boundaries set for us in the society we live in,” highlights Mariam. Home schooling is an up and rising trend amongst many parents in the west, both Muslim and non Muslim. The factors that lead to such a decision are the violent crimes in public schools, acceptance of immoral behavior in public school (clothing, language and gender interaction), and financial disability in enrolling in a private school. Such factors add to the increase in mothers putting their careers on hold to raise their children in the safety of their homes. But many argue that doing so can be detrimental to the upbringing of the child.
Having my daughter home with me would be the ideal situation, but would that mean I would be taking away from her complete learning experience? As a mother who was blessed to be brought up with an education that possessed unlimited resources I did not want to restrict my child from doing the same.
“Home schooling provides a highly enriching environment for brain development because of custom tailored curricula/syllabi for individual student. As well as full growth potential for the child, basically the sky is the limit! However, this may serve as a lack of socializing environment for the child, which can lead to an eccentric introvert personality unless proper measures taken,” advises Imam Jawad. Socializing is a recurring point in the arguments made against home schooling. The educational resources without a doubt are readily available in bookstores, online, libraries and home schooling networks, but what does one do about interaction?
“We want our children to be thinkers rather than mere parrots of other children’s thoughts. The more independent and self-directed they are going to be in their values and skills; they will largely avoid peer dependency. As a researcher (Holt) pointed out, human beings tend to behave worse in large groups. As a result, children in school learn to be cliquish, conformist, bullying and teasing. Human virtues like kindness, patience, and generosity are best learned in intimate relationships, such as those within the family.
My children have a full social life without school. They joined activities such as soccer, baseball, tennis and countless other group activities and one prevailing above all these is memorizing Qur’ān,” shares Mariam. This point alone made me think about the Muslim youth of today. Would there exist an identity crisis if they were able to grow up without the influences of another child’s thought?
Public vs. Private School: Not an Easy Choice
As Muslim Americans are increasing in numbers so too are the masajid and full time Islamic schools that become their first project. Young Muslim professionals who are having tremendous difficulty in finding jobs often accept teaching positions in Islamic Schools as an alternative until they get a break in the professional world. As a result many schools are steering away from the normal housewife teacher and more towards individuals who can relate to the issues of children being raised in this society.
“Islamic schools provide a healthy environment, are conducive to nurturing kids in Islamic moral values, and provide an enrichment of young minds. Unfortunately, many have very high tuition rates therefore making it unaffordable for many and more importantly sub-standard teaching at times due to lack of resources,” share Imam Jawad. Sadly, this is the case for a majority of Islamic schools in the west. With many making their own way towards this uphill struggle of providing the best, the price tag the comes with it becomes burdensome for most. Islamic schools must factor in each and every expense unless certified to receive government grants. Since many are not or do not know how to become certified they in turn have to charge the community through endless fundraisings and the parents through increased tuition in order to stay afloat. Furthermore, resources besides what is online become limited and outdated which limits the potential growth of students unless parents are making the extra effort at home.
Nevertheless, a fulltime Islamic school serves as an institution to instill within the child morals and values that public school simply are not allowed to. Many parents breathe a sigh of relief knowing that their child is being taught about Islam along with other subjects and teachings. However, do parents have to give up their opportunity to raise their child free of cost and with unlimited resources merely on the fear that they will be unable to maintain their child’s Islamic identity if enrolled in a public school?
“Public school provides the aptitude for enhancement of personal skills provided the child circumvents the liabilities of environment,” highlights Imam Jawad. The reminder here is to steer clear of the liabilities of this schooling environment. This thought alone brings many valid fears in the hearts of Muslim parents. With the disorganization seen in some Islamic Schools and the often times unaffordable tuition rates many Muslim parents are hoping to appease their hearts by sending their child to public schools and enrolling them in weekend Islamic schools in order to maintain a balance.
I think of my daughter’s future all the time, in what foods she eats for maintaining her health, in what she wears in ensuring her safety from sicknesses, and in what she learns in hopes of her becoming an empowered Muslimah. As in all walks of life, the decisions of grave importance provide no clear cut answer and require much thought and prayer to be guided towards what is the best for us. There is the recurring thought that the education does begin and end in the home. Furthermore, parents must play an active role in ensuring their child is given his and her right to a proper upbringing. Not only that, but also to provide their child with the best resources one can afford in order to produce well rounded individuals who in turn can be positive members of society. In hopes of raising leaders, parents are advised to interact with their children on a daily basis to understand the desires of their child and to encourage them towards good. Every day is a day to learn something new so let’s get to it.
*In order to maintain the privacy of the sister interview her name has been changed*
by Khadija Anderson
“Understanding Islamic Education” is the title of a tape by Imam Hamza Yusuf that I have been listening to recently. Interestingly, just last week, an article came to me via the internet called “The Impact of Western Hegemony on Muslim Thought” by Prof. Yusuf Progler. First of all, I had to look up “hegemony” in the dictionary. According to the dictionary, it means, “predominance of one state over others”. As I had hoped, the article was a link to understanding the differences between Islamic and Western Education. In both articles, the authors spoke about the contradiction of Western education and Islamic education, the effects of Western education on the Ummah in recent history, and most importantly, the effects on us and the next generation of Muslims, our children.
In my family, this has recently become a predominent topic of study and conversation as my 3 1/2 year old daughter is rapidly becoming the human sponge that Allah Subhanahu wa ta ‘ala created children to be. The important thing about this phenomenon is the way that children learn from watching and imitating what is around them. I did not realize this fully until one day during Maghrib prayer she recited the Fatiha and two other surahs . Just like that. I was pretty surprised and upon coaxing, I found out that she also knew two more surahs and could call the Iqama. Subhana Allah ! The need for formal education for her in another year and a half has led me to investigate different avenues available to us; private Islamic school, homeschooling, or public school.
In Prof. Yusuf Progler’s paper, he warns against Muslims participating in the Western educational system. He says that by using it, one adopts Western assumptions on the nature of existence. “Most Western practices of education have institutionalized (their) one version of what it means to be a human being…Muslims ought to re-evaluate their situation because the Western understanding of existence is quite different than the teachings of Islam. Islam has its own explanation…”
Western colonizers of Muslim countries knew the importance of taking Islam out of the minds of Muslims, and achieved this by secularizing schools and teaching Islam only in an historic context at the end of the school day when the student’s concentration was at its lowest. Results of this can be seen in many immigrant Muslims in America. When someone suggested to an immigrant sister that she should not let her children watch so much TV, and instead, teach them about their deen, she said that only Allah made people Muslims and she prayed that Allah would make her children Muslims. She honestly didn’t understand the concept of educating her children about Islam.
On the internet, a sister raised in a Muslim country was writing about the wonderful freedoms of living in the US. Some Muslims seem to take the influence of an Islamic atmosphere for granted ; adhan being called at each prayer time, modestly dressed people, halal food the norm, everyone greeting with salaams, lack of crime, availability of Qur’anic teachers and people treating one another as brothers and sisters in Islam, as being an influence in their upbringing. The importance of this environment on a young Muslims’s mind can not be replaced by the material advantages of living in a western country. The Western society teaches children by exposure that the norm of society is high crime, alcohol, fornication, high divorce rate, teenage pregnancies, deviant sexual practices, immodest clothing, putting individual desires over societal needs, lack of morals and charity, etc. According to Dr. Shahid Athar in “Sex Education: An Islamic Perspective”, children in America are exposed to 9,000 sexual scenes per year through the media and on television . Even now in public schools children are taught that homosexuality is an acceptable alternative form of family life.
Homeschooling can help Muslim families veer away from Western influences not only physically, but by allowing the family to choose it’s curriculum. There are many Muslim homeschooling resources, and one comprehensive program is ArabesQ Academy which is overseen by writer and educator Umm Sulaiman. She offers many solutions for Muslim families including lesson plans ranging from complete daily plans to monthly overviews. Also offered are on and offline correspondance courses with secular education taught via classic Islamic viewpoints, again with curriculum designed for each families needs.
Another family has fought the battle of raising their children in an Islamic household and then sending them to local public schools. They seemed to be a good example of how the two opposite institutions could coexist. After many years of this apparently good mixture of two worlds, things began to fall apart. The peer pressure of participating in Western culture raises it’s ugly head during the teen years. A typical problem is teenage daughters refusing to wear hijab unless praying or attending Islamic functions.
Prof. Progler also says that “…it’s not enough for Muslims to say that the West is bad without an understanding and development of what may be an alternative. This requires a delicate balance. Imbalance will lead to teaching religion without any understanding of how the modern world is affecting the practice and understanding of religion”. Many Islamic schools in America try to create this balance within their curriculums. The Islamic School of Seattle, for instance, commits to “…provide children with an atmosphere as close to the Islamic ideal as possible…strenghten them to meet and deal effectively with the challenges of living in the modern American society, and…to instill in them a pride in their heritage by enabling them to approach knowledge from an Islamic point of view.”
According to Imam Yusuf in “Understanding Islamic Education”, Arabic has to be a foundation for Islamic education. Knowledge is obtained by first learning the tools of knowledge; language, reasoning and the ability to articulate. The Arabic language has been preserved since the time of the Qur’anic revelations. This allows one to perceive the meanings of the Quran as it was intended and revealed to the people of that time, which is crucial as the Qur’an is not interpreted through conjecture, but through knowledge. That is why The Prophet, may peace be upon him, said that whoever interprets the Qur’an from his own opinion is mistaken, even if he is correct. Also, traditional Islamic education teaches children to memorize the whole Qur’an between the ages of 7 and 9. This, Yusuf says, “…develops a memory in a child that will surpass others in any school system.” From a purely academic point of view, “the idea is to empower a child with the ability to absorb information, as a good deal of learning is based on that ability.”
The next step after Arabic and Qur’an according to Imam Yusuf, is the study of Hadith, followed by fiqh. He then commented that at least one or two people in every family should dedicate themselves to this learning, or we will seriously decrease our knowledge in the future. We need to produce scholars to lead the future ummah. The Prophet, may peace be upon him, said that the two parents of a child who memorizes the whole Qur’an will be given crowns of light on Yauma Qiyauma. Why would we rather teach our children to be engineers or doctors? Imam Yusuf and Prof. Progler both quoted the following hadith in their works: The Prophet, upon whom be peace, walked into a mosque where there was a group of people surrounding a man. The Prophet inquired, “Who is that?” He was told, “That is a very learned man.” The Prophet asked, “What is a learned man?” They told him, “He is the most learned man regarding Arab genealogies, past heroic episodes, the days of Jahiliyyah, and Arabic poetry.” The Prophet said, “That is knowledge whose ignorance does not harm one nor is its possession of any benefit to one .”
We know the history of the Islamic state since the time of the Prophet, may peace be upon him. We have had successes and failures. The Prophet, may peace be upon him, said that the believers are a mirror to each other. It is imperative that we look in the mirror of history and see that the successes were achieved through seeking Allah. To do this, we must ask ourselves some serious questions. What are we living this life for? What do we want to teach our children to live their lives for? To work for Microsoft, or to work for the pleasure of Allah Subhanahu wa t’ala ?
Many warnings about this life are given by Allah throughout the Qur’an, as in surah 31:33; “…Indeed, the promise of Allah is truth, so let not the worldly life delude you and be not decieved about Allah by the Deciever (i.e.,Satan).”
This ayat appears again in surah 35:5. To ignore this would be to participate in the deception of our children. It is our responsibility as parents to give them the education they need in order to not be deluded by this worldly life. What this is ascribing us to is an ideal Islamic life. There are difficulties, but it is our responsibility to build ourselves and our children up to the Islamic excellence that Allah and His Messenger, may peace be upon him, have provided us with the guidance to achieve.
References: “Understanding Islamic Education” and “Elements of Success” by Hamza Yusuf, Alhambra Productions 1-510-713-8724
“The Impact of Western Hegemony on Muslim Thought” by Prof. Yusuf Progler of City University of New York http://www.muslimedia.com/impwest2.htm
“Sex Education: An Islamic Perspective” by Dr. Shahid Athar http://www.Islam-usa.com
ArabesQ Academy PO Box 77132, Seattle, WA 98133, (206)362-0204 http://www.arabesq.com
Islamic School of Seattle 720 25th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122
The Soul of your child is like an uncut precious jewel entrusted into your care by Allah. To you is given the awesome responsibility of shaping that precious jewel into a beautiful form, pleasing to the eye of Allah. It is your sacred duty to ensure your child grows up to be a good and right human being (Muslim). The oneness (tawhid) of Allah is also expressed in the unity of Islamic life. Raising your children to be good and right human beings is part of the necessary Islamization of world society. The simple fact is that it is very difficult, perhaps impossible, to raise your children to be truly good and right human beings in the world as it is at present.
Only in a fully Islamic world will the conditions exist where children will naturally develop into the good and right humans beings desired by Allah. That is the beautiful future we can offer our children, but to do this we must do battle with the influences of the present wrong world as we create that promised future for our children. We do this by learning the knowledge and skills it takes to be an effective Islamic parent, and developing in our hearts the unstoppable desire to put these skills and knowledge into practice in our everyday life as we aid our children in their development.
We are greatly blessed by Allah to be Muslims at this particular time in world history. The unique social and historical conditions, combined with new the knowledge and technology now available, make it not only possible but highly likely that within a generation or so we will live in that long unfulfilled dream of all Muslims, a truly Islamic world.
These unique conditions existing today are: the fact that the prevailing dominant world culture, the Western culture, is undergoing a widespread social collapse due to the inherent wrongness within its belief systems and behaviours; that the conclusions of modern science have finally reached a point where one must acknowledge science now supports the traditional beliefs in God and His works; that we have recently come to understand the laws of learning by which all human characteristics are developed; and, that we now have a worldwide communication network so effective that any important new idea could reach virtually every person in the world within days.
The result of these existing conditions is that: those suffering from the collapse of the Western way of life and thought are desperate for some solution to their distress and will see in Islam that much needed answer; atheism and secular materialism will lose their power to take the faith in Islam from our youth; through the spread of the knowledge of learning theory each new generation will come closer to the perfect expression of Islam in the physical existence; and, through the right use of communication technology a unified ummah of 1.2 billion Muslims will be able to effectively offer the traditional scholarship and knowledge of Islam to all the people of the world.
In the coming years there will occur many new opportunities for all Muslims to take an active role in the creation of this truly and fully Islamic world of the future. As a most important beginning to this momentous task it is necessary for every Muslim parent to learn and practice the techniques of effective Islamic parenting. The path to effective Islamic parenting consists of two parts, necessarily inseparable. They are an objective, accurate and positive worldview, combined with a good understanding of the laws of learning by which all human characteristics develop. This is necessary because the laws of learning are much too powerful to be used without a clear positive direction in which to influence the child’s development. Islam most certainly provides this clear, correct and positive direction, as Allah would never mislead us.
All laws in this physical universe belong to Allah, and the laws of learning, to the degree we correctly understand them, by which all human development takes place are created by Allah just as are the laws of physics which hold the moon, sun, and stars in place. These laws of learning provide the most powerful tool for directing the development of the individual or any social group that has ever existed. For a Muslim to be a truly effective Islamic parent it is necessary to understand Allah’s laws of learning.
Just as Allah has made our religion easy for us, Allah has made the laws of learning easy for us to understand and use. Actually, these laws of learning in their entirety can be quite complex, and to fully comprehend these laws and understand their widest application can take many years of study. Nevertheless, all thanks to His Mercy, Allah has allowed anyone hearing a brief and simple explanation of these laws of learning to be able to use most of their incredible power. This easily understood knowledge of the laws of learning is more than enough to enable a parent to raise their child as a good and right human being.
It is important that knowledge of these laws of learning and their use should never be seen as somehow separate from the unity of Islamic life. To be most effective in helping you raise your children, these laws of learning are not to be ‘applied’ like some mechanical tool, but they must be incorporated deeply into the innermost reaches of your consciousness until they become a natural part of your unique style of interpersonal communication and interaction with your child.
In order to keep this explanation of the laws of learning both brief and simple it will be presented as a successive series of individual points, but made specific for use in effective Islamic parenting:
GENERAL LAWS OF DEVELOPMENT
- Most basic premise – That any person or social group who possesses both a positive and accurate world view and an understanding of the laws of learning will move naturally and inevitably toward all things good and right.
- An infant child comes into the world perfectly good and only becomes other than perfectly good while growing into adulthood due to the influences upon him/her during their years of development.
- Human society is obviously not perfectly good at this point in history, in fact our world society has become so bad that some philosophers have made the claim that human nature is basically evil.
- The reason so much evil exists in today’s world is not because human nature is basically evil, but because the influences we naturally encounter as physical beings in a material world tend most often to direct our development away from Allah.
- The influences upon us come from three sources in our environment, the physical, the social(any influence coming either directly or indirectly from other people), and from inner speech(the influence of our own thoughts and feelings).
- Every influence upon a us will have some effect greater than zero; and, while most of these will be very small, some can be so powerful as to be life changing.
- The overall impact upon our development of any single influence from any of these three sources can be either negative or positive.
- Every individual is subjected to many thousands of influences every day, some of these influences being directed toward evil and some being directed toward Allah.
- To overcome the influence of evil (movement toward the material) and move toward Allah (the spiritual) takes consistent and concentrated effort.
10. If we do not recognize the affect of these influences upon our development we will go whichever way the influences take us, thereby too often moving away from Allah and toward evil.
11. If we can recognize the affect of these influences upon our development we can use the laws of learning to limit the affect of the negative influences upon us and to increase the affect of the positive influences upon us, thereby moving continuously away from evil and moving toward Allah.
12. When we see an influence upon us that we know would push us away from Allah we can say things to ourselves using inner speech that can take away the power of that negative influence.
13. When we see an influence upon us that we know would help us move toward Allah we can say things to ourselves using inner speech that can add greatly to the power of that positive influence.
14. As we learn to recognize all the influences upon us from the inner and outer realms of the environment, when we learn to correctly identify those influences as being either negative or positive upon our development, and when we learn to use our inner speech to say the correct things after each one of those negative or positive influences (which will reduce the power of the negative and increase the power of the positive), then we will begin naturally and inevitably to move away from all that is wrong and harmful, and we will begin to move naturally and inevitably toward all things good and right.
15. An individual who does these things cannot fail to become a good and right human being; and, a society that does these things cannot fail to become a good and right society.
GENERAL LAWS OF LEARNING
- Basically, all laws of learning involve what is commonly called reward and punishment.
- Any behaviour that is followed by reward (reinforcement) will tend to increase in the future.
- There are two classes of reward: when something that is desired is given after a behaviour, that is reward (for example, if you were to smile at your child after he/she says something nice); and, when something that is disliked is removed after a behaviour, that is reward (for example, when your feeling of shame for some wrong you have done is removed by offering sincere repentance and seeking forgiveness from Allah).
- Any behaviour that is followed by punishment will tend to decrease in the future.
- There are two classes of punishment: when something that is disliked occurs after a behaviour, that is punishment (for example, if you were to hit your child after he/she says something rude); and, when something that is liked is removed after a behaviour, that is punishment (for example, if your child is not allowed to continue playing after hitting a playmate).
- Punishment is always harmful to the child even if it seems to achieve the parent’s goal.
- The undesirable side effects of punishment are: the child will sometimes try to escape from or retaliate (fight) against the punishing situation; the child will sometimes have negative feelings toward whoever punishes him/her; and, punishment usually remains effective only when the possibility of punishment is clearly present.
- The alternative to punishment should not be permissiveness (meaning to let your child do anything they want), if there is anything more harmful to the child’s development than punishment it is permissiveness.
- The right alternative to punishment in raising a child is called directed positive influence.
10. Directed positive influence means to reward (with praise, attention or an occasional small gift) your child after they do things that are good and right, while gently providing correction when your child does wrong.
11. The younger you start using directed positive influence with your child the easier it will be for you and the more effective it will be in helping your child develop into a good and right human being.
12. To provide effective Islamic parenting you must understand the concept of ‘shaping’.
13. Shaping is the consistent rewarding of successive small steps toward any desired goal for your child.
14. With the shaping process correctly and consistently in effect there is no positive goal that cannot be achieved.
15. Set every goal at perfection, being rewarding of successful steps along that unending path but never punishing the non-arrival at that perfect goal.
16. The beginning steps in the shaping process should be kept small so they are easily accomplished successfully.
17. If during the shaping process you make any step so large that it cannot be accomplished then the progress toward the desired goal will come to a stop, and often revert back to a much less desired level.
18. Lots of reward should be given at the beginning of the shaping process and then should be gradually reduced in the later stages.
19. If reward is given after every behaviour in the shaping process this is called ‘continuous reinforcement’.
20. Continuous reinforcement is very good for getting progress toward some desired goal underway.
21. The problem with continuous reinforcement is that the behaviour can become too dependent on the reward, and could stop quickly if the reward stops.
22. If reward is given not after every behaviour in the shaping process but after only some behaviours this is called ‘variable reinforcement’.
23. Variable reinforcement is a good way to maintain progress toward a desired goal without the behaviour becoming too dependent on the reward, so that your child does not always expect to be rewarded for their right behaviour.
24. To make the shaping process most effective you should teach your child how to reward their successful progress with inner speech, their own thoughts and feelings, so reward from others is no longer necessary to maintain good and right behaviour.
25. It is good to always discuss your goals for your child with him/her so that you are consciously working together to achieve goals you both desire.
26. It will help your child greatly in their development if you can teach him/her the specifics of the laws of learning that you are using to help them become good and right human beings.
27. For most effective parenting everyone in the family group should be made aware of and helped to understand these laws of learning, should try to relate to each other on the basis of these laws of learning, and should share, appreciate and work together to achieve the desired goals.
SPECIFICS OF EFFECTIVE ISLAMIC PARENTING
- For Islamic parenting to be most effective there must be a truly Islamic society, so part of your responsibility as Muslim parents is to help recreate a right Islamic world.
- Parental love for their children is a Mercy from Allah, not only in humans but even in animals.
- In Islam the love of a parent for their child is so taken for granted that it is not even thought necessary to state this as a requirement for parents.
- In Islam the main responsibility the parent has to their child is to provide for their education (this is to be understood in the broadest possible sense, including all things that assist the child to become a good and right human being).
- The Qur’an also places great responsibility on the child in regard to their parents, requiring the child to be kind to the parents, to help their parents in their old age, to never speak to their parents with contempt, to never reject their parents, to honour their parents, and to fulfil all these responsibilities with humility.
- Every child should be taught from their earliest years about their responsibility as a vicegerent(khalifah) of Allah; that it is their duty as vicegerent to transform themselves into Muslims living in true submission to the Will of Allah, that it is their duty to transform all of human society into an Islamic society living in true submission to the Will of Allah, and that it their duty to transform the physical world of space and time into a garden paradise for Allah.
- Raise your child to be a courageous Muslim, willing to struggle against evil in the greater and lesser jihad, as this will be necessary to create a right Islamic world for the future.
- Raise your child to fully believe they will successfully create and live in a truly Islamic world, because belief is critical to successfully achieving any goal.
- Anything that you believe will happen is more likely to happen because you will find ways (both consciously and unconsciously) to make sure it happens, and anything that you don’t believe will happen is less likely to happen because you will find ways to make sure it doesn’t happen; this fact is known as the ‘self-fulfilling prophesy’.
10. The parent should never let their love for their child prevent them from doing what is right for their child (for example neglecting to correct the child when he/she does wrong).
11. If there is a conflict of interests, the requirements of Islam have priority over the desires of the child (for example, if the child would rather play than pray).
12. Teach your child to love Allah, The Prophet, Islam, and Islamic values.
13. Teach your child to see all things and understand all things from the perspective of Islam.
14. In Islam if it becomes necessary to correct your child for some wrongdoing this must be done according to a certain hierarchy: first, explain to your child in a gentle way how they have overstepped some limit from rightness into wrong; second, if the gentle instruction does not result in the child correcting that wrong behaviour, you should indicate your disapproval of that wrong behaviour by withdrawing your favour (for example, do not give smiles, hugs or kind words to your child at such times); and third, only as a last resort, your child can be physically punished (beaten) if they do not correct the wrong behaviour.
15. In Islam if it becomes necessary for you to beat your child there are specific rules and limitations: you may not hit your child on the face or stomach, you may not hit your child more than a maximum of three times, and you may not hit your child hard enough to leave a cut or bruise on the skin.
16. You should never hit your child when you are angry, not only are you then more likely to become excessive in your punishment but doing so will teach your child that it is right to hit people when they are angry.
17. It is important to realize that if you reach a point where you feel it is necessary to beat your child then something has gone badly wrong, and you previously have not done all you could have done to avoid this becoming necessary.
18. It is a fact of learning that you cannot punish a child without harming him/her, so punishment can only become necessary if you have no positive alternative, and the good that comes from being punished will outweigh the harm you do to your child.
19. Remember, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) never once hit a child, a woman or a servant.
20. Do not argue with your child, as there is almost never any benefit in doing so.
21. Although your child might well choose to pray at a younger age, at seven years of age your child should be required to pray through gentle encouragement; and, at ten years of age your child can be beaten for not praying, although this circumstance should never arise with correct Islamic parenting.
22. Your child should be taught to memorize the Qur’an, the benefits are many and much wider in scope than is often believed in these modern times.
23. At every age there must be appropriate rights given to your child and necessary limits set upon your child’s behaviour, which will allow your child to fully explore their human potential while not causing harm to themselves, harm to others or damage to their surroundings.
24. If you see your child doing something wrong it is usually not even necessary to mention the thing that is wrong, instead, it is often sufficient (and always more desirable) only to say how much you like the right thing which is the opposite of the wrong being done.
25. You should not expose your child’s failings or wrongdoings in front of others, if this must be done it is best if it be done privately.
26. Don’t give much attention to the bad or wrong things your child does and says, but give lots of attention to the good or right things your child does and says.
27. You should, of course, always love your child unconditionally, but you should only express that love at times which are most beneficial to your child.
28. You should at all times be a model of a good and right human being (Muslim) for your child.
bismillaahir rahmaanir rahiim
EFFECTIVE ISLAMIC PARENTING
(Read each morning!!!)
- I am raising my child to be a successful vicegerent (khalifah) of Allah, who will help create a truly Islamic World.
- Today I will try my best to know and understand all the influences upon my child’s development.
- Today I will try my best to help my child understand the power of negative influences to take him/her away from Allah, and the power of positive influences to take him/her to Allah.
- Today I will try my best to shield my child from the power of the negative influences to take him/her away from Allah.
- Today I will try my best to enhance (increase) the power of the positive influences upon my child to take him/her toward llah.
- Today I will try my best to notice some positive things my child does or says, and tell him/her how much those things are appreciated by me and by Allah.
- Today I will try my best to say nothing negative to my child. Even if I have to correct my child’s wrong behaviour I will try my best to find some positive way to do so.
- Today I will love my child unconditionally, but I will try my best to express that love at times which are most beneficial to my child.
- Today I will try my best to be an example of a good and right human being (Muslim) for my child.
10. Today I will pray for Allah’s help that I can be a good parent for my child.
Source: The Khalifah Project – Towards an Islamic World http://www.islamic-world.net/khalifah-project/EIP.htm