Advice to Homeschooling Mothers: Don’t Make Your Islamic Studies Irrelevant
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.
Sumayyah Umm SAA