It is He Who has created you from dust then from a sperm-drop then from a leech-like clot; then does He get you out (into the light) as a child; then lets you (grow and) reach your age of full strength; then lets you become old though of you there are some who die before; and lets you reach a Term appointed: in order that ye may learn wisdom.
Surah Al-Mu'min, 67
This is intended to be a brief nasiha to fellow brothers and sisters regarding the education of our children in the formative years of nursery and primary schools. Many Muslim parents ignore the consequences of enrolling their children into non-Islamic nursery and primary schools. I wish to draw our attention to the implication of our attitudes towards this development.
Previously, Muslims in urban areas like Abuja hardly had a choice regarding the schooling of their children of nursery/primary school age, due to the paucity of private schools owned by Muslim proprietors and run by Muslims. Now, with such institutions beginning to takeoff, parents refuse to send their children to the schools with various excuses. For instance:
a. The schools are sub-standard
b. The schools are new, as such have no experience
c. The schools are not “modern” enough
d. We are only sending them to other schools temporarily
These and more are offered as reasons by parents to ignore the Islamic nursery/primary schools. I daresay, not all the excuses are baseless – but the purpose of this short discourse is to propound that if Muslims do not support the Islamic oriented school to overcome some legitimate shortcomings, nobody will.
This is all about children, so let’s see what Islam says regarding them. Allah (SWT) says:
“And know that your worldly goods and your children are but a trial and a temptation, and that with Allah there is a tremendous reward.” 8:28
This verse warns us not to forget our true purpose:
“I created the jinn and humankind only that they might worship Me.” 51:56
Since the sole purpose of our creation is worshipping Allah (SWT), then we should observe everything he bestows upon us – including children – within that context. The Qur’an proclaims:
“To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth. He creates what He wills (and plans). He bestows (children) male or female according to His Will (and Plan).” 42:49
“Wealth and children are an allurement of this world: but the things that endure, good deeds are best in the sight of thy Lord as rewards and best as (the foundation for) hopes.” 18:46
In essence, we should not get carried away with the idea that our children must get the best in western education at the expense of the more important Islamic education. Is it ok with you if your child closes his eyes to pray before dinner? Do you find his/her comments like “in the name of Jesus” amusing? Or is it entertaining when he/she comes home singing church songs?
Examination of Purpose
If your aim in life is to ensure that your child gets good western education simply so that you may guarantee the good life for him or her then lend an ear to this Ayah:
Say: “Behold, my Sustainer grants abundant sustenance, or gives it in scant measure, unto whomever He wills: but most men do not understand [Allah’s ways]” 34:36
Nobody has the power to guarantee either himself or anybody else wealth. Most of us, being brought up in rural life now abhor it and wish to change it for the better regarding our offspring; not inherently bad aspiration if we do so Islamically. It is Allah (SWT) Alone that can do that. Believing this, we should then endeavour to please Allah (SWT) and pray to Him for a good future for our children.
The majority of private schools are owned by non-Muslims in this country. We should not deceive ourselves that elements of non-Islamic teachings do not find their way into our children’s psyche, simply because we are assured by the proprietors that the schools “are secular”. In the first place, Muslims are required to raise their children as Muslims, not atheists.
Our Prophet Muhammad (SAW) instructed us regarding marriage partners:
“Choose a mother for your children.”
That is, choose a woman of Islamic knowledge, good manners and from a good Islamic background. This indicates the emphasis Islam places on the importance of children. The choice of a wife is been linked to her upbringing and comportment, as the mother in Islam is considered the first “school” of a child.
If you leave your children to chance and pretend they will come to understand Islam after the formative years of their lives – during the nursery and primary school years, then you are sadly mistaken. Consequently, leaving them to the designs of mushriks is certainly not a viable option.
Abu Huraira, narrated that the Prophet (SAW) said, "Every child is born with a true faith (i.e. to worship none but Allah Alone) but his parents convert him to Judaism or to Christianity or to Magainism, as an animal delivers a perfect baby animal. Do you find it mutilated?" Then Abu Huraira recited the holy verses: "The pure Allah's Islamic nature (true faith i.e. to worship none but Allah Alone), with which He has created human beings." (30.30).
I am flabbergasted by parents that find it odd when, later in life there daughter decides to marry Yohanna or Joshua, from among non-Muslims which is haram and unacceptable before Allah (SWT). The parents suddenly become aware, much to their chagrin, that they lost the child a long time ago. Our religion values children; but certainly not children that lose the path to Islam due to the negligence of their parents.
I wish to proffer suggestions regarding some of the issues raised about Islamic oriented nursery/primary schools.
a. Initially all schools go through a phase of commencement problems; we should be at the forefront in helping our schools to overcome these stages, through PTAs, investing in the school and donating feesabeelillah to them.
b. Funding is usually at the top of the list of problems for these schools. If we do not patronize the schools, how will they overcome problem (a)? We do not seem to realize that we inadvertently invest in the non-Islamic schools running into the billions*, thus becoming major customers of a kufr system to the detriment of our children and their future. I know people that are paying over N100,000 per child in such secular schools. This figure is not accounting for the truly rich that are doing similar exercises overseas, in dollars or pound sterling. Only our patience with the shortcomings of our own schools and hard work from both parents and school authorities will see us through.
*Lets do some rough arithmetic: investment in school fees, books, etc in non-Islamic schools for 1 million Muslim children at N5,000 per child/term = N5,000,000,000.
c. The rich amongst us should invest seriously in the education of our children by setting up schools of refinement in every respect, since they have the necessary funds. Firstly, they have invested in a low risk business and secondly, they will get Allah’s (SWT) reward for the effort. It may turn out to be sadaqatul jariyah. They should also invest in the implements of education e.g. books and writing materials and create education foundations to offer scholarships to fellow Muslims not so prosperous.
d. Muslim legislators should consciously make an effort to stay alert and avert dangerous laws that make it difficult for Muslims to practice their religion or that seek to secularize the regulation of education. This alone, is yet another major issue.
Finally, we should always try to aim higher than the fleeting luxuries of this world and fix our target on the hereafter. The last of the prophets, Muhammad (SAW) informs us:
“The life of this world, compared to the Hereafter, is just like when one of you dips his finger in the sea, let him contemplate how much of it his finger would carry.” Imam Ahmad, Muslim.
May Allah (SWT) reward you and me for the concern we show to this matter and give us strength to change for the future of our children. I welcome any comment/correction you may have.