Advice to Homeschooling Mothers: Don’t Make Your Islamic Studies Irrelevant

July 16, 2010




 

Asalaam ‘Alaikum:

I have spent quite a bit of time trying to find the perfect curriculum for Islamic Studies – I have spent a lot of time trying to find the perfect Islamic educational books for my children – and yet, still I am pretty much empty handed. There is stuff out there – but in my opinion, it just doesn’t fit my needs. Who knows, perhaps I think about it too deeply or I am picky, but I just haven’t found anything that works for my family. In making my own curriculum – or lesson plans with my kids – one very important goal stands out from all the rest. We need to make our Islamic lessons relevant. There needs to be a purpose for your lesson – way beyond just teaching your child what happened in history – or what the important people’s names were.

Our children don’t need useless statistics – they don’t need to remember facts, numbers or dates. While these may be things you want your child to learn – they aren’t really useful in real life. I mean, I know that in school I learned that “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” I even remember the names of his ships that sailed – the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria. I think we must have learned some rhyme to remember those – and I can’t forget them. However, there has NEVER – EVER – been a time when that information has been useful or used (for that matter) other than during the test after we learned that chapter. Now, I’m assuming that you are not teaching about Columbus when you are discussing Islamic studies (although you could – trust me – I have often been able to teach Islamic Studies while learning history) – because one thing you learn in history is that people never learn from their mistakes 🙂 – BUT – the fact remains that learning useless facts are not what your child needs in his/her Islamic Education.

This will not ensure that you are giving your child an appropriate Islamic education. I know there are probably many many many Islamic schools and perhaps even homeschooling parents out there that would disagree – I know some people just love the facts. But, we have to truly understand – really understand – how our predecessors taught their religion. How did the Prophets teach their children – was it with a neatly outlined lesson plan where they took a test at the end of the chapter and only had to repeat important dates and facts? Or, did they teach their children the importance of what they were learning – how it applied in their daily lives? Just think about it – when we are all in our graves – what questions will we be asked – “what is the name of the Companion of the Prophet who …” or “what was the name of such and such battle?”

What our children need (and what we need to learn ourselves) is to learn Islamic studies – always keeping the following questions in mind:

1. How does this apply to me?
2. What does this teach me about Allah and my relationship with Allah?
3. How does this lesson teach me to be a better Muslim?
4. How should this lesson teach me to live or think differently?



 

If your child can answer these questions – than you truly have given your child useful Islamic knowledge. And Allah knows best.

Mind you – I am not an Islamic scholar – and I am not a person who has worked in Islamic schools all my life. I have not even been Muslim for half of my life so far. So, forgive me – but I have thought a lot about this – and this is how I want to share Islam with my children. I am trying my best to educate my children (and myself) in such a way that Islam will make an impact on their life – so that it changes them and helps them to strive to be the best Muslims they can be. I am hoping (insha’Allah) that they will continue thinking in this way when they become adults. And, in the future (insha’Allah) I hope that they can teach these things to their own children.

As the video about the Legacy of Ibrahim shows – which, by the way most of my visitors have not yet taken the time to watch, unfortunately. You have to not only think about your immediate goals – you have to look ahead to your future generations. If you have not seen the video yet, please take the time to do so – it is very enlightening, masha’Allah – especially in the beginning.

Now – I do not think that my own experiences are different from others – we share a lot in common. I often find people who gladly brag that their child knows this many surahs – how many does your child know. It is as if the quantity is what is important – instead of the quality. People – in the past – did not memorize surahs just for the sake of knowing this many or that many. They strove to understand the surahs they memorized – and they even took it one step further and applied the teachings of that surahs to their daily lives. And, I should mention – they did this before learning another verse. How many of us teach our children Qur’an that way today – or is it only important to us to have them be able to repeat the surahs without any understanding?

In the book entitled Way to the Qur’an by Khurram Murad, it explains the importance of learning the meaning of the Qur’an –

The Qur’an is a guidance for every person, his teacher and mentor. Understanding it is therefore vital; otherwise it will remain no more than a sacrament. The crucial centrality of endeavors, personal endeavors, to open hearts and minds to the messages of the Qur’an is made abundantly clear by the Qur’an itself. We are confronted with the utter folly of keeping our hearts locked against our understanding of the Qur’an:

What, do they not ponder the Qur’an? Or, is it that there are locks on their hearts (Muhammad 47:24).

Therefore the invitation to bring reason and understanding to the Qur’an is spread on almost every page of it: Why you hear not? Why you see not? Why you think not? Why you reason not? Why you ponder not? Why you understand not? Why you take not to heart? To whom are these invitations addressed if not to every human being who possesses the faculties of hearing, seeing and thinking?

This was an excellent book – I really recommend it. You can find it online here – but as with any book, I always prefer the real thing – instead of online 🙂

In The Return of the Qur’an – an article I found online by Yasir Qadhi, you find the following advice:

It is distressing to see that the Muslims of today have turned away from this great treasure that has been revealed to them – the very Speech of Allaah. They have made the Qur’aan a sacred family heirloom; to be treasured in exotic and expensive covers, yet to be uninhabited by the best of all covers – their hearts; to be recited and listened to in the best and most melodious of voices, yet to ignore its meanings; to be placed high above all other objects in any room, yet to occupy the lowest station in their daily lives; to be read when a death has occurred, yet to be ignored by the living; to be written in the fanciest of scripts and on the most expensive of papers, yet to be heedless of its commandments and prohibitions.

You can find the rest of the article here.

So, we really should see by this that we really need to reconsider our approach to teaching our children. It is not enough to teach them facts and figures without showing them how it should affect their lives. It is not enough to teach them how to recite the Qur’an beautifully – but we need to teach them the multitude of gems of wisdom contained within each ayah. Then, we need to discuss with them how these lessons should change their lives. We need to do this.

This concept does not just touch on the teaching of the Qur’an – but touches on all the Islamic lessons we teach our children. No matter if we are teaching them Hadith or the Stories of the Prophets – we need to get ourselves and our children thinking about those questions I mentioned at the top of this post.

I remember listening to a lecture once – I believe it was by Muhammad Al-Shareef. In the lecture he mentioned that when he taught children about hadith – he made them learn a hadith and then they had to try to apply it in their lives during the week. When they did that, they had to write what they learned in their hadith journal and how how they applied that hadith in their lives.

It’s all about making Islam come alive for your child –
and in my opinion, this is a wonderful way to make sure
your Islamic Studies are always relevant.

So, this is something to reflect on – and insha’Allah we can come up with solutions together as a community. I don’t have all the answers – I probably don’t even have half of them. However, I do believe that each of us can make a difference. I’m hoping that together we can improve the education of our children. We must not only think in terms of doing things for our child now – without realizing the long-term impact on our future generations. And, we also need to start caring about each other. If I only care about my own children – but I don’t worry about the children of others – what type of environment will that provide my children and their children in the long run?

In my next post I will try to give you an example from a curriculum I am working on for my kids based on the Stories of the Prophets – so please stay tuned, insha’Allah.

Asalaam ‘Alaikum,
Sumayyah Umm SAA

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

8 Responses to “ Advice to Homeschooling Mothers: Don’t Make Your Islamic Studies Irrelevant ”

  1. Umm Raiyaan on July 17, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    Assalamu Alaikum,

    I really enjoyed reading this mashaAllah. A sister and I have been discussing this a lot recently and have come up with a plan for next year that integrates understanding the surahs that have been memorised.

    BarakAllahu feeki for this wonderful post.
    Wsm
    Umm Raiyaan x

  2. Umm Ibrahim on July 18, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    As salaamu alaykum,

    Naam, I think I am picky as well in that a lot of what I see sold commericially does not fit our needs. I used to look at Islamic Studies as a more academic class in hopes that he kids would see its importance as English and Math, but now I try to teach it less rigorously and make it more hands on/application and reflection rather than worksheets and tests.

    I also try to get more out of our daily Islamic rituals and turn them into teaching experiences, elaborating more on them as they go about doing them.

    I like the idea about the journal, which I try to incorporate into my formal lessons. I really like to try to pull more reflection out as well as application.

    Great post, I am sure many will benefit, in sha Allah.

  3. Khadija Lockhat on July 19, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    Assalamu alaikum

    Reading your article felt as if the thoughts in my head were miraculously printed and reinforced. I’ve just recently been searching for a curriculum like the one you so aptly describe but have had no luck. While researching for information, I stumbled on your article and felt such relief, Subhannallah!My nine year old attends madressa four times a week but I feel he hasn’t been introduced to the true heroes of Islam, the beauty of building character by following the sunnah etc etc. I have twoo younger children and I really want to show them the true essence of Islam. However, although i’m a teacher,I’m afraid that my own knowledge of Islam is not adequate enough for me to do a good enough job!I look forward to ‘chatting’ and learning from you.

  4. admin on July 19, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    Asalaam ‘Alaikum Dearest Khadija:

    Alhumdulilah – I am glad that you are making the education of your children a priority. It is a shame that there hasn’t been a curriculum that teaches these things. Alhumdulilah, though, there are many resources that we can use to teach ourselves and then utilize those lessons to teach our children, insha’Allah. Do not let your own knowledge of Islam keep you from dong a good job teaching your children. It isn’t necessary! What you need to do is make a sincere effort to educate yourself in order to teach your children. If you have the time, take an Islamic Studies course – there are some online for free –

    http://www.islamiconlineuniversity.com/
    http://www.studying-islam.org/

    If you don’t have time you can dedicate to a course – find a book – start reading articles about Islamic topics – anything to start gaining knowledge. The month of Ramadan is almost here – aside from reading Qur’an – use that time to read books that will help you teach your children and to help you grow in Islamic Knowledge. If you do it for the sake of Allah – and you have sincere intention- you will be successful. And, don’t forget to make lots of dua for Allah to increase you in knowledge so you can teach your own family, insha’Allah.

    There are many books out there that are beneficial for learning more about Islam – I don’t have a list of them – but what you need to make sure of is that whatever sources you are using are based on the Qur’an and Sunnah. I am sure there is even a list out there somewhere of the books that are great for different topics – but I haven’t been searching around the internet much lately aside from my blog. Just do your best, insha’Allah.

    As a side note – I just want to say something I have said before on a previous blog post – when you teach a topic you end up learning more about it than you even knew in the beginning. When you start using these materials to teach your children – you will be surprised how much you will learn as well. When you read a book – most of it does not sink in. However, if you read the book for a class and you have to understand it – your understanding grows. It is the same with teaching, masha’Allah.

    Don’t let your lack of knowledge be an excuse for not educating the kids – but let it be a wonderful excuse for you and your children to grow together in Islamic knowledge. Insha’Allah – you and your family will greatly benefit.

    Asalaam ‘Alaikum,
    Sumayyah

  5. Khadija Lockhat on July 20, 2010 at 11:58 am

    Dear Sumayyah
    Assalamu alaikum

    Shukran for your advice. I’m sure it will keep me motivated to continue searching for Islamic knowledge, Insha Allah!
    Goodword Books published a book I wrote in 2003 titled ‘Allah made them all’. I’m presently working on an extension workbook to this book.
    I’ve also written a story titled ‘Sometimes we’re silly’,I’m waiting for the illustrations to be completed. Each page of the story has a relevant hadith attached as an extension.
    I would appreciate it if you will be able to give me some advice/critique on both these manuscripts if time permits.Please let me know if you are able to assist me by forwarding your email address.My email khatija@lockhat.com. I have a blog, http://www.kidenuf.wordpress.com (which needs much attention to organising).I have articles published there on children and education.

    Jazakallah
    Khadija

  6. Umm Hashim on August 15, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    Salaamu Alaikum Sister

    I have been going through a home ed crisis lately as well when I was noticing that, despite teaching all the relevant Islamic studies subjects including adaab, that my 9yr old was doing the opposite!! You can just imagine how horrifying this was!! On top of that he was saying just how boring he was finding it all.

    Anyway, I got on the phone and talked to a sister who gave me some great ey-opening advice. She too advised me that I was making the study of Islam too academic and that I had to explain and demonstrate the applicability of Islam in the real world. The world that he identifies with and experiences and not just hears about in stories.

    That’s why I have decided to throw my curriculum out the window and spend a good 6 months or whatever it takes to spend time on teaching my son key concepts about Islam in reference to the realities in which we live.

    Current affairs and what’s happening in the world is always a good place to start and reflect.

    May Allah (swt) guide us in our efforts and make our endeavours easy.

    WS

  7. Umm Haleema on February 9, 2012 at 12:16 am

    Asalaam O Alaykum

    I totally agree, wonderful article, feels like i have just screamed my thoughts out loud. May Allah (swt) guide us and give us the strength and sabr to learn our deen properly so that we may pass it on to our children in the correct manner. Ameen

  8. jamy on February 17, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    Assalaamu alaikum sis! Excellent advice! Puts learning Islam in a better perspective. I think as moms we like numbers and stats as if somehow it is translating our ability to teach but iman cannot be measured using numbers. Alhamdulillah. Thanks so much for sharing. I really needed this right now!

Leave a Reply

Follow Me on Pinterest