How Bad Do You Want It?

August 31, 2007

Asalaam ‘Aalaikum:

Thanks to the comments of a visitor – I have something else to share that is on my mind these days. It’s still related to the recent few posts, but perhaps I will take it from a different perspective this time. First of all, check out this blog entry from the sister that (I think) makes a good point:

http://ummrashidwrites.blogspot.com (See conversations)

I have also heard these arguments – many, from people I know. So many Muslims I meet say “I just can’t homeschool my children. It’s not an option for me.” However, all I can say is “I just can’t NOT HOMESCHOOL, because it’s just not an option for me.” People are always throwing out different reasons why they can’t homeschool – but none of them are a valid argument, unless you set your priorities differently than I do.

I have heard parent after parent tell me, “I need a break – I’m going to send my kids to school so I can get a break.” However, as a parent – and a Muslim parent especially – I don’t think our job in life is to just have a break all the time. Trust me, there are times that my whole being aches to have a break – however, would I rather spend this wondrous time with my children – experiencing life and the world to its fullest or lay back on a lounge chair with lemonade in hand while someone else is “raising” and educating my children? Really, would Allah (swt) reward this relaxation or the path I have chosen: to be there for my children – to share with them knowledge about his amazing creation – to guide their path and to mold their behavior (gently and lovingly as a parent would) to what is right and righteous?

To me, if I spent so much time relaxing or racing after the dunya – I would feel guilty. I mean, why did I have children in the first place? Allah knows best – and only He knows what is in our hearts and what our intentions are. Perhaps there are excuses for other people – I know there are parents who must work, etc. However, this is not a valid excuse for me. Besides, I have even met other homeschooling parents in my travels (non-Muslim) who do all they can to provide their child with the best education and upbringing at all costs. One woman I met (while sledding last winter) actually is a divorced parent. She works two jobs and yet still finds a way to homeschool her child! So, please don’t make the excuse that it is impossible (I hear that all the time) – because you can always do what you set your mind to – the problem is, you really don’t want to. Hey, I’m not saying it is not hard – trust me – IT IS NOT EASY – however, nothing worth having is ever easy.

Since I’m on the topic of that woman I met last winter – do you know how I met her? I was actually getting my daughters out of the van and she noticed the baby. She was asking how old she was, etc. and although I did not know her – I walked over to her – showed her the baby and started a conversation with her. Can you believe what happened next? She actually told me – “you homeschool, don’t you?” I’m not kidding! She said, “the only people I meet that are as nice and friendly as you are – whose children are well behaved – are homeschoolers. Other people, they just don’t have the time for other people any more and act like you are bothering them if you even ask a question.” I was shocked, but I think there might be at least some truth to that statement. Who knows?

Now, returning to the original topic: I have also heard from other people – I can’t homeschool because I can’t handle cleaning house with the children around and need time to be able to do that – and cook, and . . . Well, if you have so much stuff in your house that it’s a valid excuse for not homeschooling – perhaps you need to get rid of some stuff? I know that this year before starting homeschooling – I went through the house and got rid of things we really didn’t need. This helped a lot. The only problem I need to tackle at some point – is to clean out the school room of things we don’t need. However, since we are just testing out this K12 program – I don’t want to get rid of anything. I’m afraid we might need them if we decide to follow a program of our own next year. So, I do have too much there – and things have been arranged and re-arranged with our new school – but it’s still not to my liking. Insha’Allah that will improve later this year when we make a decision. Anyway, I just don’t think cleaning house is more important than homeschooling. I am learning now – as we follow this new program – that you shouldn’t always expect a spotless house when homeschooling – but what is more important to you? You can clean your house and have it sparkling more than anyone’s house down your street. Is that best you can achieve? Is that the best you can strive for? On the other hand, you can have a decently tidy house and have children who are raised to be upright and righteous individuals. Which is more important?

I have also heard people say, “I’m not educated enough. I just can’t homeschool.” Well, no one said you needed to have a PhD in order to educate your child. The nice thing about educating your own child is that you share in this education. While you are teaching them – you also are learning. So, education becomes a part of your daily life together. While driving to the store, you talk about what you have learned. If you go on a nature walk – you speak together about what creatures you learned about recently in Science. Since your child’s education and the life you share with them are not separate (as they are with school educated children) you know what they are learning – you share in that learning – and it evolves around everything you do. You have taught your child that learning and family are not separate and you have taught your child how important education is to you. Have you ever heard about a child that comes home from school – sits down for a snack and their parent asks “how was your day in school? what did you learn.” If I remember correctly, they usually say their day was “okay” and they respond that they didn’t really learn anything important. However, as a homeschool parent – first of all, you don’t even have to ask that question (you already know the answer) and instead you can find ways to expand on what they have learned throughout the day. What a difference!

The only other thing I’d like to touch on now is . . . alhumdulilah, with homeschooling you know where your child has been – you know what they have been through – and you have developed a special bond. Has anyone ever wondered why peer pressure is such a problem? I mean, when they are young you are supposed to develop a special bond with your child and then you cart them off to school. You leave them in the care of other people all day – leave them under the influence of other people all day and essentially, leave them at the mercy of other people all day. For those of you who have had positive experiences in school – perhaps you don’t see it this way. However, I did not have positive experiences in school – so this is the way I see it. If you try to help your child learn about Islam – help them learn to be an upright and moral person and then you send them to school with teachers and other kids that do not value those same things – what do you think is going to happen? You teach your child the importance of hijab or you teach your child about the importance of not mixing with the opposite sex but then you send them to school where those values are not only NOT taught – but the OPPOSITE is flaunted and practiced and enforced by the social values of the institution and the people who attend it.

Mind you, I have seen some children come through school life and they made it out okay. I know of one girl, masha’Allah that endured quite a lot of peer pressure in public school (not only from non-Muslims but especially other Muslims) and was able to be quite successful at retaining her identity. However, at what cost? It caused a lot of stress on her and her parent’s weren’t able to see it. Boys would try to rip off her hijab and other Muslim students (who were not practicing) would taunt her in order to fit in with the other students. Now, if you MUST do this – that is one thing – but if you don’t have to expose your child to such problems, stress and humiliation – why in the world would you?

Speaking for myself – it took a lot of time as a new Muslim to “find my own.” What I mean is – it took me quite a while to feel comfortable wearing hijab – and it took an even longer time to be able to walk into a public place and just not care what other people thought about me. Part of this – I’m sure – is because I was raised in the public school – I was raised with the important idea of “fitting in.” While in school, I was taunted because I didn’t fit in – because I was shy – because I didn’t have the right clothes – because . . . because . . . because . . . You learn the importance of being like everyone else – you learn the importance of conformity. If you stand out – you don’t shine – you aren’t allowed to be a shining star. No, they try to stomp out that light so that you are like everyone else. Okay – you wan’t to say I’m exaggerating – that’s fine, you can see it that way. However, the next time you say how hard it is to wear hijab in America – the next time you say how hard it is to be a practicing Muslim in America – the next time you say you wish you could make hijrah to a Muslim country so you can fit in (for once) – reread those last few sentences. Then, imagine what it must be like as a child – a child growing up with one set of values in the home (we would hope) and then a different set of values in the school. How hard must that be? However, you still send them to school – because . . . because . . . because . . .

Think about all those people who have achieved great things against the odds. Many of them, working dilligently while everyone else scoffed at their ideas. Just read the biographies and autbiographies of many of the great thinkers, inventors and scholars (many are Muslim – by the way).

Imagine that at one time we had no electricity – no cameras – no computers – no cars – no running water – and the list can go on and on. Then, imagine that it took human beings (like ourselves) to look at the world differently – to turn it inside out and to imagine what was possible. Mind you – as we all know – nothing truly happens without Allah’s will – but you have to admit their dedication and aim. They didn’t give up – they didn’t keep making excuses. They kept on going – charging ahead and through Allah’s mercy and grace, they found a solution to benefit society as a whole.

Now, I’m not saying that every homeschooled child will become the next Einstein – but what I am saying is that for every single improvement in our way of lives – for every single thing that we now take for granted – it took someone who was dedicated enough to go the extra mile and who was willing to fight for what they believed in despite social disapproval.

If you want something bad enough

keep charging ahead

let no excuse get in your way.

But find it a challenge

a test of your will

and turn to Allah and pray.

For nothing is impossible

with faith in Allah

and determination to do what is right

And NOTHING, my dear,

is more important or wise

than raising a child that’s upright.

(yemenlinks.com © August 31, 2007)

Yes, homeschooling is not easy. Yes, most people do not understand the desire to homeschool your own children. Yes, there are people out there that will fight you on that issue. However, the only real problem that exists is – how bad do you want it? What are your priorities and what are you willing to do and sacrifice to make sure that it works?

Allah knows best, but these are my own thoughts on the issue. Each person must search within their own hearts for what is right and true. Just remember, when searching your heart that you be true to yourself, because some day you will be held accountable for not making the right choice.

By the way – this is in no way a speech against Islamic schools. However, many of us either do not have an Islamic school available or the Islamic school that is available is not acceptable for one reason or another. I do strongly feel – however – that it is not acceptable to send a Muslim child to ANY public school – for any reason. This is only MY OPINION. However, since everyone is always trying to tell me that I should send my children to public school – I was under the impression that I also have the right to speak about what’s on my mind.

Asalaam ‘Alaikum,

Sumayyah Umm SAA

PS: For those of you that keep receiving criticism for homeschooling – who keep getting pestered by others who do not share your values. Just remember – we are only held accountable by Allah. My favorite quote – that I keep telling myself whenever I get weird looks or comments by people because I am Muslim: “Life is not a popularity contest.” Do what is right for you – set your feet firm upon what you believe and do what you have to – to make it all possible. Take what other people say with a grain of salt and walk away with the realization that alhumdulilah, Allah made you aware of what you need to do to raise your children properly. Feel sorry for them AND their children . . . but don’t walk away sad about your position or unsure about your choices. Instead – search through the Qur’an – search through the Hadith. I am more than certain (insha’Allah) – if you do – that you will find the strength you need to keep going on – you will find the proof that what you are doing is right and true. And – always remember – you are not alone. We are all in this together. I’ll hold your hand – if you’ll hold mine 🙂

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7 Responses to “ How Bad Do You Want It? ”

  1. Um Abdullah on August 31, 2007 at 1:01 pm

    Assalamu Alaikum,

    Thank you so much for forwarding this post to me! Its was so timely as I am having so many doubts about homeschooling due to family finances and also my fear of failing my children. Its just the reminder I needed to push myself to be creative in doing whatever I can to keep my kids at home with me. I need to keep reading those blogs of single moms who home school. If they can do it than I know my husband and I can work it out so we can continue to home school our children.

    Anyway, wonderful post.

    ma salaama

  2. educatingthemuslimchild on August 31, 2007 at 1:12 pm

    Asalaam ‘Alaikum:

    I just wanted to clarify for everyone. I am not really single – my husband would really disapprove of the statement! I’ll try not to chuckle while writing this!

    However, because of the way our lives are situated – with him working full-time and going to school for his PhD – we are quite similar to a single parent home. My husband, alhumdulilah, does his best – but it is not easy for any of us.

    The reason for the similarity between us and a single parent home is that most (if not all) responsibility, expectations and work in the home lies at the feet of one person.

    Anyway, the woman that I spoke about in this entry truly is a single parent and is an example to us all that it can be done. If this example is of benefit to you – and helps you remain strong – go ahead and find blogs of single moms who homeschool – I’m sure they are out there!

    Asalaam ‘Alaikum,
    Sumayyah Umm Sadiqah – Asma – Ayah

  3. In defence of home schooling at Ijtema on September 1, 2007 at 1:16 pm

    […] beautiful post on home schooling. I was actually getting my daughters out of the van and she noticed the baby. […]

  4. Amatullah on September 1, 2007 at 1:44 pm

    Assalamu’alaikum sis,
    Masha-Allah! I totally agree with you. It’s all abt priorities and our priority as Muslim moms is to raise righteous children. If only more moms are able to focus on the rewards and joys of educating our own children, they’ll definitely not want this golden opportunity to slip away. 🙂

  5. UmmSuhayb on September 3, 2007 at 2:14 am

    ASalamoaleykum, a very well-written thiouught provokimg post. Now I just need to keep going with my Swedish, as the authorities herare strict on homeschooling, plus persuade DH to find a job in English speaking country!!inshaAllah.

  6. ummrashid on September 9, 2007 at 2:28 am

    Assalamualaykum, “I just can’t not homeschool”, what a good statement! May Allah give us all the health and circumstances to let this always be true.

  7. Umm Hanifah on September 27, 2007 at 5:00 pm

    Assalamualaykum waRahmatullah,
    I totally agree with you and can identify with most of what you said. Especially about those Muslims who do not home educate and make comments like, ‘Wow you’re so BRAVE (meaning wow you’re mad), I cannot do it because of x,y,z’ rather it is they do not WANT to do it (or even give it a proper go) and I too feel they have just fallen into the whole rat-race chasing the dunyah. Keep up the good work Sister and may Allaah guide us and keep us firm in the Deen.

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