Why should Muslims Homeschool?

Q. Why should Muslims homeschool? A. The immorality, bullying, Islamophobia and violence that plague many of our schools are neither conducive to learning or developing Islamic character and values.  That is the short answer to a complex question. When cities arrange special police patrols to help children safely arrive and leave school . Or when hijabis are taunted and told to “go back to where you came from.” When children endure months of bullying with no relief from their school.  When relationships of every kind, straight, bi and gay, are accomodated at schools. When students are allowed to freely walk through the halls, holding hands and kissing. You have to ask yourself, how much learning takes place? Are our students spending their day navigating, avoiding and sometimes participating in these  situations.
 
As Muslims we can all spout off hadith where the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.s. encouraged learning even if you have to go to China.  Or where he ordained the freeing of captives if they would teach someone to read.  Every Muslim knows that the first word of the Quran was “iqra,” usually translated as “read”. This established the link between Islam and education forever.  Education in Islam is both an obligation and a duty. We understand this, but do we understand what real learning is?
 
Learning is not just the processing and memorization of facts and ideas.  Schools today are navigating the same issues as their students, and very little learning is taking place.  Instead teachers focus on teaching the common core. Facts and ideas that students are expected to learn, memorize and master.  Mastery of these facts are gauged on achievement tests. The higher the score or grade marks a child as successful or not.  But learning is more than success on a test. Your child has learned when they can take the facts of various subjects and pull them together to generate new ideas, conclusions and apply that thinking to everyday life.  Taking what they have learned to the “next level”.  Next level thinking requires creativity and critical thinking. Two critical skills not taught in schools.  It was this next level thinking that allowed early Muslims to take ayats from the Quran and make revolutionary advances in diverse fields like  algebra, astronomy and optometry Are we raising the next generation of Muslim inventors, scientists, philosophers etc?  Are we raising community leaders and activitsts?
 
Teachers in today’s schools don’t have the time or the manpower to help children achieve their individual genius and potential. To help each child find and master their potential takes individual learning in one on one or small group settings Teachers also are not equipped or even encouraged to help children facing moral dilemmas. Teachers are not there to help your child stay on the “siratul mustaqeen. (the straight path).  Everyday your child is in a “jihad” a struggle against forces that want to take him away from his deen.  That struggle may be overt or subtle. But it is a relentless daily pressure, to conform and “be like everyone else.”  Is it any wonder, given this unrelenting stress, that many of our children leave the deen by the time they are in college.
 
There are many alternatives to the traditional schools that are failing our children so badly Many communities have full time Islamic schools that educate children very well in safe, smaller settings in an Islamic environment There are also some private schools which although not Islamic, do provide a safer place to foster true and creative learning.  Some times these options are not available, either because of location or expense. Homeschooling can become another possible alternative.  Homeschooling is not a good fit for every family.  It is not easy.  It is time consuming and can cost money.  But for those who are able and willing the benefits can be enormous and rewarding.
 
Should you homeschool your Muslim child? The answer is YES!!!  If it will help protect your child’s iman, give them a better academic and Islamic education and provide learning in a safe enviornment.  If you can provide these three things then you should homeschool.

an ayat a day

ASA,

Salaams all.  Recently I was sitting in on my kids’ Quran memorization class.  The instructor was trying to encourage them to memorize the quran and become hafiz.      He started throwing out stats like if you memorize these many ayats a day you will be a hafiz in these many years.  One child, trying to be funny, raised his hand and asked what if I only memorized, one ayat a day?  The teacher responded, it would take you 20 years.  The kids laughed a bit at that, but I thought…GREAT!

Since becoming a mom, I can barely remember where my keys are!  Any dreams I had at memorizing the quran have long been just that…a dream.  I tell myself, I am doing great just to retain, what I already know.  But I was greatly inspired by his challenge.  Memorizing an ayat a day for 20 years means that by the time my infant is in college, I could be a hafiz.  Even better if we are hafiz together!  I told myself that I can do this.  InshaAllah.  I struggled the first week but with advice from friends, I came up with a few simple tips that helped with the memorizing.

Tip Number 1:  Start with a clear intention.  (Remember, actions are by intentions!)

Tip Number 2:  The best time for memorizing is immediately after fajr prayer.

Tip Number 3:  Try to repeat your ayat in every rakat.  (That way you have reviewed it at least 17 times that day!)

Tip Number 3:  Practice with the children.  (They will love helping you especially if you give a reward for whoever remembers the best.  the more excited they are the more they will remind you and keep you focused.)

Tip Number 4:  Give yourself a reward.  (Allah always rewards us when we try to do something good.  So set small goals for yourself and give a reward as they are reached.)

Tip Number 5:  Be clear on why you are doing this, InshaAllah for the sake of Allah.  If you do it for the sake of pleasing Allah, drawing closer to Him and preserving your deen in your heart and the hearts of your children, then you can’t fail!  Even if you memorize very little.

Lastly:  Give yourself a break!  If you skip a few days or forget an ayat, don’t give up!  The only perfect one of us is Allah swt.

 

Help during difficult financial times

Salaams (peace)

It has weighed heavy on my heart during these difficult financial times that I am not able to help members of my family and community.  I am thankful (Al-Hamdulilah praise be to God) that He has provided for my family, given us shelter, food, clothing.  Just those basic necessities are something to be grateful for in these times of economic crisis.  In my own family I have two brothers who have been unemployed for nearly a year.  One a father with a toddler and infant twins was nearly evicted and living in a shelter until he was able to find a place to live.  But sill they struggle with poor, substandard living conditions because that is all they can afford.

So how can we help each other during these times?

1.  Make du’a .  (pray)  The supplication that gets the quickest answer is the one made by one Muslim for another in his absence.”  Reported by Abu Daw’ud and Tirmidhi  We should make a practice of praying for each other.

2.  Share what we have.  Host a “swap party.”  Individually we may not have a lot to give. But a swap party is a great way to bring friends together and share.  It works like this pick a theme or an item.  For winter a great idea would be coats.  Get a group together, every one who comes brings a coat that is no longer needed or used and is still in good condition.  All of the items are placed on a table and then guests pick what they need.  At the end any items left over are donated to a local charity.  You can do this for toys, clothes, video games, books, etc.

3.  Start a mitten drive.  If you have small children then you know how often they lose gloves, scarfs and hats in winter.  You can host a Mitten Tea and have friends over for a tea party and ask that each guest bring a pair of new mittens, scarfs or hats to donate.  Collect items into a box and donate to a local school or boys and girls club.  Then as children leave without winter attire they can select a new pair from the box.  Or you can just set a box out at your masjid and ask community members to leave a pair to give to those in need.  You can also collect for homeless is your area and donate to a local shelter.

4.  Host a fundraiser at your masjid.  Pot Lucks dinners are easy and inexpensive to organize.  Ask members of your community to donate a dish then charge a small admission price to the dinner.  With the money raised you can give Shelter and Utility (Heating) assistance to members of your community.

5.  Start a job bank or board at your masjid.  Ask business members to actively list open jobs and post them in a designated spot.  Even if one is not in the hiring position but knows of a job opening; that information would still be helpful to someone desperately looking for employment.  Networking is a huge part of successful job hunting.

6.  Produce an Community Assistance Referral guide.  Often there is help available in the community in which you live but many times people don’t know where to go to get help they need.  Names of assistance programs and contact information can be helpful to a person in need who may not know where to go to get heating assistance for example.

7. Start a food pantry and distribute food to the needy.  This is surprisingly easy!  As a non-profit organization your local masjid is eligible to participate in the food bank program in your city.  Most cities have this program which allows non profits to receive foods given by local grocery stores and given by USDA, some items are given and some are for sale at greatly reduced prices for example a watermelon might sell for ten cents!  Bread is usually free!

8.  Be Watchful!  Remember charity is for those who ask and for those who don’t.  Sometimes people in need aren’t sitting around with their hand out.  Often they are the family sitting right next to yours and you never know it.  So lend a hand even when it is not asked, what you think may be a small gift of food, might actually be the meal that family has that day.

These are just some ideas that can help those in need in this country.  But as we watch our brothers and sisters around the world suffer oppression and inhumanities inflicted on them, we can’t help but thank Allah(swt) for the blessing we have of being in this country.  So if you are able try to remember those outside of this country as well.

Most importantly remember…EVEN A SMILE IS CHARITY!

 

Toddler Visits

As-Salaamu-Alaikum, (peace be with you)

I haven’t had a chance to write lately because I am travelling.  I am staying with my family out of town.  We are here for an extended visit and it has taken some adjusting for all parties.  I have two toddlers, ages 2 and 4.  And i just want to give some quick tips to help make overnight visits with a toddler more comfortable for all.

1.  Please put glass and fragile items out of reach.  (Yes, I know I should control my children and watch their every move but it just is not physically possible at all times.)  They should not touch your fragile items but I have noticed that my son seems to be on a seek and find mission to find every possible breakable item and THROW IT.  (FYI plants, flowers and trees fall into this category)

2.  Understand that part of how toddlers explore new environments; is that they roam, pick up, touch, taste, etc, everything they can.  My children are not bad, but they are busy.  As a mother I am frantically running behind them to save  your  precious collectibles.   I am greatly concerned that my little darlings might actually damage something of yours.

3.  Please bear with us with patience.  As you criticize, sigh, roll your eyes, and threaten them, keep in mind that I their mother am trying my best to teach them not to act on their natural toddler instincts.

4.  Please put all of your toxic, household cleaners out of reach.  Yes, I know that they should not be under your kitchen/bathroom sink but it is so irresistible to a two year old.  And although my kids have not yet opened up a bottle of cleaner and swallowed, (AL Hamdulilah -Praise God) I am fully aware that it is something they COULD do.  I would rather avoid the possibility if I could.

5.  Keep your doors locked.  I know you always do right?  However even for moment, if you forget, a toddler is like a prisoner with an open jail.  THEY WILL ESCAPE!  My son loves to open the door and wander outside.

6.  If you feel you should not have to make any changes to your household to accommodate your toddler guests, you don’t.  Just be aware of the choice you are making and the chances you WILLINGLY incurred.  Because a parent can’t watch everything.

7.  Be patient always, forgive and overlook much, and remember that they are children and that the day will come when you will look back on these times with fond remembrances.

All Natural Household Cleaner.

As-Salaamu-Alaikum (peace be with you)

I am writing today about a well known household cleaner.  Well maybe not so well known.  I first heard about this after watching a news show several years ago.  During the show the reporter compared household cleaners of today, to cleaners of a century ago.  Many years ago, people cleaned their homes with “baking soda” and “vinegar”.  During a comparison of several popular brands and these two old fashioned cleaners, the old fashioned cleaners either equalled or excelled.  I tried it myself and I was astonished.  I had an oven top that I could not get clean.  I poured some vinegar on and topped it off with baking soda.  (You will get an immediate “fizzy” reaction.)  I let it sit for a few minutes and then started scrubbing.  (Yes, I still had to scrub a little bit.) But the results, WOW, amazing.  The oven looked brand new.  Then I, (I have to admit) went a little crazy.  I cleaned everything in the home.  Crayon  and marker stains on the wall, greasy residue on the cabinet above the stove, scuff marks on the floor, rust stains on the tub.  It worked on everything!  Now it is the only product I use to clean my tub. 

The best part is that after cleaning the bathtub with these two cleaners, I never have to worry about any chemical residue going into the kids bath!  I do rinse the tub, but both of these products can be added to bath water.  Both products are relatively inexpensive and easy to find and of course environmentally friendly.  I love them, they work well and I feel good about using something healthy to clean my house.  The baking soda alone works well with a brillo pad to clean burned food remains out of a pot.  And add a little vinegar for added boost.  I don’t have a specific recipe but it is inexpensive enough that you can play around with the combination until you find what works best for you.

Let me know what you think and feel free to post any other remedies you would like to share.