“Should I Send My Kids to Public School?” I was Proven Wrong By Granada School!


The Question:

Should I send my children to a well established public school or a not so well established Islamic school? I am constantly being told by family members to send my son to a state school as the level education is better, I would prefer to send him to an Islamic school because of the environment, because I don’t like the godlessness and immoral environment in state schools.

Answer:

Asalamu alaykum,

I’m not really able to comment on the U.K situation since my experience is in the USA. However, I have found that most of the kids who attend excellent public schools, combined with good parenting, seem to turn our much better than those who attend Islamic Schools who are sub par in their education religious and otherwise. This is my experience and it is not something that is written in stone. However, as an educator, I’m inclining towards sending my own kids to public schools for a number of reasons:

1. Preparation instead of incubation:
I’ve seen many kids come out of Islamic schools incubated and unable to deal with the drama that awaits them in High School and the Campus. Thus, and I’ve put this question to Islamic educators before, we need to move from an incubation psychology to one that prepares, empowers and strengthens our young people. By sending children to education reservoirs we are failing to prepare them for what awaits them. Thus, indirectly, we might be creating inverted personalities who fail to connect with the fact that they are part and parcel to the society at large. This effort to “protect them” as I’ve seen, only increases their hunger to break away from the pride lands and kick it with Beyonce. The most difficult youth I’ve dealt with were all graduates from such reservoirs. On the other hand, youth who went to public schools, had non-Muslim friends and engaged were far more comfortable with themselves. The others, to put it bluntly were walking Freudian slips.

2. Education standards and Ethics:
So far, and I’ve taught in Islamic schools for a number of year and have a degree in elementary education, I’ve not seen, at least in the States, any Islamic school that can educate a child the way public schools do. The latter have issues, but the former have not, in most cases I’ve seen, lived up to the visions associated with them. When it comes to testing your kids, addressing learning issues and cognitive development, many public schools are setting some amazing trends. Islamic schools are not able to offer the same resources for a simple reason: money.

3. Politics:
Unfortunately Islamic Schools have become the focus of many a political battle in communities. Wives, who are unqualified, of mosque board presidents get hired and some boards have no clue about education. In fact, I remember, during a job interview being asked, “Does one really need a degree to be a good teacher?”

4. At the end of the day, WE must raise our kids:
No Islamic school, nor any other institute is going to do the job that good parents can do. It is a simple fact that schools, and in recent years, the internet are closing in on parents as the most important factors in a child’s life. However, religion, morals and faith should be looked at like a grammar that is acquired, not preached, or uploaded. Organic and robust religious experiences come through a set of sociological constructs that are formed, shaped, nurtured and lived in one’s home.

5. Costs

Most of us, if we are holding down good jobs, are unable to pay the high costs of Islamic schools. Once you get past two children it becomes next to impossible to afford tuition, books and uniforms.

Allah knows best but I would:

1. Make Istikhara.
2. Talk with other parents in the community.
3. Make a decision based on the above.
4. Visit both schools and look at the philosophy of each school/ask to see test scores as well.

6. Proven Wrong by the Best Islamic School in America

If there is one school that I would fully endorse with no reservations it would be Granada School in Santa Clara California. This school proved me wrong and put my contentions, mentioend above to the test. By Allah I sent my daughter there and it was one of the best experiences of her life. In the beginning, because of my own experiences, I was a little worried, however her teacher was amazing and the school setting was awesome. Because of that experience I’m an avid supporter of Granada and have always complemented and supported it. If one can find a school comparable to Granada, then by all means I would encourage one to send his/her child there.

We ask Allah to bless you both, protect your children and raise your status. Please don’t take these words and write them in stone. They are mere opinions. They might be right or they might be wrong.

Suhaib

www.suhaibwebb.com

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16 Comments

  1. Yousuf Haq says:

    This is an amazing piece of advice. I’m in total agreement. I understand the need to educate in a submersive Islamic environment because public schools are breeding grounds for many things haram. But lets not forget Imam Suhaib Webb’s integration ideology.

    What better way to integrate fully in a society than to partake in foundational institutions? Namely, schools.

    The world works better when we are all connected and sharing ideas. Let try and not isolate ourselves. Evidence has shown that isolationist religions have failed miserably and usually evolve into cult like situations (Mormans and polygamy, Christians and Waco Texas, Amish).

  2. Abu Majeed says:

    I would like to throw in my two cents on each point since that’s what blogs are all about. It is not a matter of right or wrong, it is just simply offering different sides on certain issues.

    On point #1- I agree in that the way in which we teach the “Muslim American” identity is often very weak on the second half of the phrase “American”. Secondly, it is the responsibility of the home grown leadership to step up and more importantly the immigrant leadership to humble themselves and encourage that change of leadership. More in focus you can’t hide our youth from the inevitable realities on the outside. I rememeber when I was a teacher at an Islamic school and was talking to a group of 5th through 9th grade kids and mentioned how public schools don’t teach the values which Allah made for the well-being of mankind and so you have 13-14 years old girls pregnant and others who in their senior year look forward to making good money as a stripper. That night at the masjid a group of brothers approached me. A father of a girl in the 8th grade said that before I said that his daughter had until then believed that babies are made by a blessing of Allah after marriage! The danger in not educating our kids about the reality of America from a balanced Islamic perspective is that someone else may teach them and simply being in an Islamic school and not having cable at home will not deter that just simply delay it.

    2- I completely agree with this point which is why I stress my controversial opinion (which I hold passionately for reasons like this) that we need to stop sending millions of dollars of our Zakat and Sadaqaat to our brothers and sisters elsewhere until we have established our own infrastructure (which we are still in the early phases and far from done). Al-Hamdu lillah in the khaleej there are billions of dollars and they are fully set in infrastructure. The answer to this problem is simply having a budget to hire qualified experience thus raising the bar in excellence.

    3- Muslims need to grasp the practice of Ikhlaas, Amanah, Sidq, and Hikmah (sorry these words are stronger in Arabic than English). in their community dealings and leave emotional attachments out of it. Muslims across the world allow thier emotions to govern their life more than the beautiful values taught by their beloved Prophet (saws).

    4- I disagree with our shaikh and Imam in this most pertinent point. Of course the mother and the father are the primary influences in a childs life and in the first 5 years (before school) of their life they are setting a mold which is key to future develoment and identity. On the other hand, the school a child goes to is 6 hours a day and public schools from KG are introducing liberalism and secularism and then they will take this stuff home with them for homework for a couple hours. So of course an Islamic school will teach similar cirriculums but a Muslims teachers commentary or in the case the teacher was non-Muslim the islamic studies classes will complement such things. Yes, shaikh I agree that ideally the parents should live and teach by example, but how many have any knowledge or practice of deen to offer such a tarbiyyah. Most parents of Islamic school kids are not “Islamists” they just have money and put their hope in the school for their kids future as Muslims in America. Should they then put their kids in public school thus completely depriving them of any tarbiyyah? And lastly the Prophet (pbuh) said “The person is on the way (deen) of his close friend. So everyone should pay close attention of who they take as close friends”. In this instance we can insure that our kids have Muslim friends.

    5- Once again we are in much more need of the other third or half of the funds we raise in our communities instead of sending them outside of the US.

    6- The moral of this article (as I see it) is for everyone to take a conscious effort in establishing schools as does granada. I do not advise anyone to even think about sending their kids to public school, except US born students of knowledge who truly offer a fully Islamic enviorment at home and who are parents who are readily accessible with abundant “family time” during the week. We must support the growth and development of our local Islamic schools by first and foremost planning and strategizing and then trusting in Allah and putting our kids in them.

    Wallahu ta’la a’lam

  3. I can relate to this issue as I have two daughters in a religious school system. Albeit they live with their mother and they are being taught in a Orthodox Jewish school, the issues are nontheless the same. She is not being taught the tools she needs in math, history, science, or even English to function well in our society let alone a college campus which they will likely be discouraged from going…not by me.

    I understand the fear of parents to have their children exposed to secular influences. Yet keep in mind that children are very teachable. They are extremely adaptable and with the right guidance from the parents they will make right decisions. If they do not learn how to deal with the influences of our modern secular society then when will they? In Colllege? In the work force? Far better that they learn how to cope, and adapt to the influences under the guidance of their loving parents who as partners in their education lead and guide their growth and development.

    If you want to identify the real problem, do not look at the school whether it be a Public School, Islamic school, or a Yeshiva but rather look at the parent who is not playing the role they should in their child’s education. The Teacher is not supposed to be the one leading the effort to educate the child. The Parent is supposed to lead and guide the education of their child. We have these school systems because we have to go and work. The Teachers are our emmisaries in the job of education not our replacements!!

  4. Abu Taha says:

    I think we should be careful in over simplifying the choice between public schools and Islamic schools. It is important to look at why public schools were established in their current form in the first place. The American public school system is based on the old Prussian model and the goal is to control children and to get them conditioned to be rule adhering workers. For example, the bells are there to teach kids that regardless of what you are working on, drop it and continue on to your next task/station er class. With the establishment of the assembly line and a need for government to control its general population, the Prussian model was followed. There is a difference between education and schooling. Public schools teach schooling, following mindless orders, asking permission before doing anything even going to the bathroom. Education is teaching one how to critically think and provide solutions to problems. American high school graduates math/science test scores are well below other countries such as Sweden, Hong Kong, Canada, Iceland, Belgium, Lativia, Spain, France, Czech Republic, and Slovania. Look it up math/science scores compared to the world and the USA ranks near the bottom in all categories. The worst thing one could do is to send your children to public school. Public schools just provide a below average education and a daily attack on morals. If not Islamic schools, alternatives include charter schools, homeschooling, and if you can afford it private schools. Another interesting fact is that Sweden has higher test scores,a higher GDP, and they only attend school 6 months out of the year.

    May Allah guide us all

  5. Yousuf Haq says:

    In response to Abu Taha:

    The problem with your opinion is that it embodies isolationist mentality. In reality we should have options in our society to choose if we want to take our kids to private or public school. And guess what? We do!

    “Schooling” is actually a good thing because it teaches us how traverse a complicated system. A system you or I exist in if you live in the US. So there is no denying it. If you choose to try and integrate then you’ll have success. If you isolate then you severely handicap yourself.

    There is a famous psychological study with baby monkeys in isolation verses monkys wih other monkeys. The babies that were isolated basically were widthdrawn and retarded. The same applies to us on a more complicated level.

    Morality existing in schools is an issue and I’ll side with you here but as mentioned in the original story, there is a certain culture shock and subsequent post traumatic shock from sheltered muslims who can’t deal with the lack of morality once they encounter it.

    Having said that, your argument is exaggeratedly onesided, being pro private only. If we do take your advice and apply to everyone in society (since what is good for you is good for me as well) we would have a massively privatized education system and a collapse in governmental bodies from city to state to federal. We would then see a less cohesive society. Economic and value of life would greatly decline. Some would argue that this is already happening…..which supports cohesion ideals even more. We need to implement now.

    Jazakhalla kheir for your opinion

  6. Yousuf Haq says:

    I actually understand the idea of private Islamic schools. After all there is that famous saying, ” You are on the religion of your friends.”

    SO what is the response having understood this?

  7. Abdurahman says:

    Asalamualaikum wrt wb,

    All praise be to Allah, Lord of the Vast Throne.

    This seems to be a recurring theme, Imam Suhaib :)

    Can I add a few comments, as Muslim who attended public schools in the US from kindergarden to high school?

    1.) Going to public grade school was the most humiliating, difficult period of my life. I was constantly assaulted because of my name, which they twisted in colorful ways. I was assaulted for my color, my religion, my ancestry, the food that I ate, which they called cat food. I was physically beaten, because its easy to pick on the odd one out. I fought back, but it was a traumatizing experience for me, and some of the most difficult days of my life.

    2.) Did you ever hear the saying, fish out of water? Social pressure is one of the most powerful forces that affect human beings, and children are more susceptible to this influence. From 7th grade onward, I was attacked for being a ‘virgin.’ If it wasn’t for the mercy of Allah, I don’t know where I would be today. Can you honestly expect a 10 year old child to be superhuman and resist all these pressures?

    3.) Can you expect a child going through puberty to resist all the half dressed girls, or boys asking for phone numbers? What about prom night, clam bakes, dances? If you say that a child must get used to this type of environment, since this is what American society is like, that is hardly reasonable. You are expecting your child to find Islam on his own, which is highly unlikely in post 9/11 America.

    4.) Children must be educated in basic Islam knowledge, which includes Fiqh, Aqeedah, in order to form a proper understanding of Islam. Weekend school is not sufficient, and working parents will not be able to achieve this goal, and I agree with you that Islamic education is a basic duty for every Muslim parent. Putting kids in Islamic school is an extension of this duty.

    5.) If Muslim schools do not excel in some academic subjects, they can be supplemented afterschool. But putting children in a public school, and then saying, “I can supplement them at home in the deen,” sounds like putting deen on the back burner.

    6.) Costs: “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”

    7.) Testing: I agree, test students in public schools and Islamic schools, on deen and dunya subjects. Then multiply the deen scores by infinity, since that is how long the kids will spend in the afterlife. As for the dunya scores, multiply them by 0, since that is the length of time we spend in this world compared to the afterlife. Allah will obliterate this universe and bring a new creation. The Sahabah understood this concept, and that is why they were successful in both worlds.

    Just some gentle advice from your brother. I suffered a lot and would not want this for any Muslim child, and I don’t think my experiences are rare.

    Please forgive me for anything, I only wish the best for all the Muslims. You are the Imam. May Allah accept from you.

    And Allah knows best.

  8. Zubair says:

    Assalamu alaykum,

    Abdurahman, I too attended public school my whole life. Let me contrast your comment with my experiences. The points below correspond to your comments:

    1) I don’t think it’s fair that you speak through your experiences for all the Muslims attending public schools. I, and hundreds (yes, hundreds) of other Muslims who I know, who grew up Muslim and attended public schools have vastly different experiences than you. For me, the public school system was an invaluable experience that I would never have been able to have in an Islamic School. The trials you go through, the questions you receive about your religion, only makes your emaan stronger. I would sit on the benches during gym time doing other homework when it was the Dance unit in gym. Even though I wasn’t “practicing” back then, I still held on to Islamic values and principles. I really don’t know which public school you went to, but you were physically beaten because you were “odd”? I’m sorry to hear that, but that’s unheard of where I’m from.

    2) People respected me for being a “virgin” and not doing drugs. I remember talking to a kid (who was struggling with drugs) in 8th grade and the conversation I had with him. The topic came up, and I told him that I had never smoked weed in my life. He’s like “no way man!” I’m like “yeah…” He’s like “man, just wait, you’ll end up doing it in high school.” I saw him again years later in high school and that guy was like “man, you really didn’t do it huh?” I’m like “yupp”…

    3) Yes you can. It’s the hardest thing growing up and going through puberty and having to “resist all the half dressed girls, or boys asking for phone numbers?” But if you face it early on when it’s the hardest, when you come out of that, you’re MUCH better prepared to face the society around you. If you think the fitnah in middle school and high school is bad, what about college? Especially colleges which are far away from metropolitan cities (where girls and guys don’t have their parents around to hold them back?) Or how about workplace where people just want to get drunk and laid after work? Would you recommend not going to college and not working? With the proper tarbiyyah from home, the fitnah of going through puberty and high school can be faced and overcome with the help of Allah.

    4) I know people who went through Islamic schools who came out having only a shallow understanding and knowledge of Islamic. I personally know one guy who went through Islamic school, memorized the Qur’an, and ended up being the biggest drug dealer in our city. We don’t have many Islamic schools that can really provide the tarbiyyah and education (secular as well as religious) at a level where it really influences and changes the life of the kid.

    5) I think the point was that the deen should be the focus at home at all times after the kid comes back from school. I don’t think it was anyone’s intention to put the deen on the back burner.

    6) Nice quote.

    7) Your last sentence was ON POINT: “The Sahabah understood this concept, and that is why they were successful in both worlds.” Notice how they worked for this life instead of just sitting in a masjid and “worshiping” all day? By us working and studying for the sake of providing for our families and to make enough money for us to do Islamic Work, that is ibadaah in itself.

    Finally, jazakallahu khayr for your thoughtful comment, and please don’t take my comment as attacking you in any way. I just wanted to contrast your experiences with what people like me have faced going through the public school system while growing up Muslim. Please forgive me if I said anything wrong.

    wa Allahu a’lam.

  9. Abu Majeed says:

    ASAK
    I’m glad to learn of both Abdur-Rahman and Zubairs points as it lends to my perspective on the subject. I remember picking on Faisal Ali and Abdu-ahad azhar in 7th grade come to think of it. They were outsiders as well and didn’t integrate because of thier peculiarities. Secondly, in my stay in Michigan I led a MYNA teen youth group who were public schoolers. From among them most identitified themselves as Muslim, but were highly secular by default. A handful of others from that group mainly from the girls (according to my wife) were forced to go by their parents and Allah knows if they are Muslims at all.

    That being said out of the last two graduating classes of Peace Academy in Tulsa I see a HUGE difference between the percentage of knowledge, practice and identity in them as opposed to the other kids who were in public school one of which overdosed on barbituates and nitrous oxide and another is in jail for armed roberry and another son of a hard line salafi has been in jail twice. I remain pro building/struggling phase of Islamic schools while seeing it as a forbidden act for parents to put their kids in the public school unless they can’t afford the Islamic school or if they are strong in their general tarbiyyah and relationship with thier child and they hold confidence in sending them to public. But thats just my opinion as well as all of the mashayikh I have talked to on the subject. And Allah knows best.

  10. Abu Taha says:

    In order to make a decision regarding which school to send your children of course it has to be based on knowledge. To that effect, I suggest some books by John Taylor Gatto-The multiple time winner of the New York Public School Teacher of the year. He has many books but the two most important are:
    1. Dumbing Us Down
    2. A Different Kind of Teacher

    Also, in no way shape or form would I promote being isolated. Private schools are not isolated from the world, you just have higher qualified teachers and a more wholesome environment. You are not sending your kids to boarding school in the himalalays to be a hermit. The wealthy in this country send their children to private schools, where even in New York that they put their kids on the waiting list, from birth.

    Barack Obama, Shane Battier, Steve Ballmer (Microsoft CEO), and Bill Gates all went to private schools. They all seem to be pretty engaging in society so the idea that if you go to a private school you will be isolated from the community is weak.

    Yes, some people do make it out of public school in wonderful shape, highly intellectual, and their Eman soaring. But they are the exception not the rule. I think the problem is with the Parents who send their children to Islamic schools, not Islamic schools themselves. Parents see the Islamic School as the cure all for all of their children’s behavior rather than as it should be- a tool in their tarbiyya. Last thing, Parents usually send their kids to Islamic School by the time it is too late, not from the beginning.

    Wa Allahu Alim

  11. Ali says:

    Assalamu alaikum,

    My suggestion to the sister asking the question:

    Follow Imam Suhaib’s 4 points of advice, realizing that #3 is his U.S. perspective which was largely ‘proven wrong’ by his daughter’s experience at Grenada, just one of the many, many excellent Islamic schools with caring Muslims dedicating their lives to teaching young Muslims all that is good and needed for a successful life here and in akhirah.

    Add to his advice this:

    Ask ulama whom you respect and trust who live near you and know the schools in question. If possible, follow their advice.

    If any in the U.S. asks this question, I’d advise spending a day or two in the public school and in the Islamic school you’re choosing between. If the choice isn’t obvious after that, find another Islamic school and repeat. Send your child to the Islamic school you are happy with, if possible.

  12. Ummu Ziana says:

    Assalamualaikum-

    From my perspective, a mother of five children whom all have attended (the last two are currently attending) our local Islamic School from Pre-K to 8th Grade; I strongly suggest to all Muslim parents to send their children to Islamic School, if you can afford it.

    1. There is no match of learning the basic teachings of Islam in an educational environment. And yes, they have to begin at the early age, at least aged 5 or 6.

    2. I believe that learning in an educational facilty environment is more effective. There is a huge different between learning every weekday throughout the year, year after year, taught by an Islamic teacher verse a few hours a week at home by tired parents.

    3. Not all parents are qualified or have time to provide a systematic teaching to our own children even the basic teachings of Islam. Some parents, are not even at home most of the day time. Not all mothers are stay-at-home moms. Mothers who do not work are busy doing housework tasks and taking care of other young children. Most fathers, especially if living in the Silicon Valley, go to work early and come home late. The little time they have left is to rest, spend time with family (not teaching!) and socialize with their network of friends.

    4. In educational environment, the children learn more than just the basic teachings of Islam. They were taught how a Muslim should be – the moral values they gained at these Islamic School are no match at any public schools. Of course, there is always a rough diamond, but the Islamic School can take disciplinary actions. Public school cannot expel misbehaved students, except a very severe one.

    5. In Islamic School, they are given the platform to practice what they learned. The teachers are there to correct their mistakes and guide them in the right directions. Of course, there are tons and tons of homework, quizzes and exams that make them prepare; this itself makes them learn more and understand better.

    6. In Islamic School, they learn Islamic Studies, reading and memorizing qur’an and Arabic language. These extra three subjects are valuable lessons that have no match anywhere else. I disagree with some parents that investing children learning arabic is a waste because the children cannot speak Arabic even after years of learning Arabic in school. To the naked eyes, it is true especially for non-arabic families. But, the children are exposed to the language, their tongue have learned the correct pronounciations, they have learned how to read arabic and qur’an correctly (even though not understanding the meaning). It is an investment for them. They can take it to the next level if they want to when they grow up. It would be easier for them because they already have the base when they are young.

    I agree that we don’t just send our children out to any schools and expect the teachers to teach them all. As parents, we have to take responsibilities in their welfare and extending their education further. Know what they learn from school and encourage them to implement them at home and elsewhere other than at school.

    I agree that our children get a “cultural shock” when they go to high schools, but it lasts may be a few weeks. Afterwards, they adjusted themselves. In fact, my daughter gets more respects than their counterparts by being who she is. Prior to their going to high school, we need to prepare them before they get there. That life is more than just what we learn at Islamic School.

    My husband and I decided early in their age that Islamic foundation is necessary for our children, especially living in the western country. We know that some education such as Language Arts and extra curricular activities are not measured up to good public schools, but the price of not sending them to learn the teaching of Islam when they are young are way too expensive to pay.

    I wish all Islamic Schools are affordable for all. We are not well off, but we sacrifice a lot to send them to this school.

  13. Ummyahya says:

    As-salaamu alaikum,

    As someone who is currently a teacher in an Islamic school and a parent of students in an Islamic school, I am a little dismayed at the lack of endorsement of one of the most important institutions in our community. We need more Islamic schools and more Muslims in them. Of course Islamic schools cannot house all of the Muslim children in America— nor should that even necessarily be a goal. But what they provide is a blessed resource — a training ground for future leaders and followers in the Muslim American community.
    We want Muslims who are confident in their Islamic identity, who are raised to feel that their beliefs are normative, and praiseworthy. Because this is what public schools do for kids who believe in Santa Claus, Valentine’s day, boy/girl relationships at 13, and consumerism to name a few of the problematic issues. Their beliefs and values are reaffirmed while those of the Muslim are often negated (intentionally or not).
    Academics aside– public schools are a difficult social environment for anyone (Muslims or not ) to survive unscathed. Why should a seven year old who is trying to fast have to watch people eating in front of them? Why should they have to defend their beliefs to ignorant students and teachers at an age where they are just forming an Islamic identity. Parents want to know that their values are being reaffirmed in school not undermined or even attacked at each turn. What parent could or should have to spend afternoons detoxing their child after 8 hours of hearing “Islam spread by the sword”, “wow you can’t date?”, “does that thing on your head make you hot? etc.” It’s like throwing them in the water before they know how to swim— no parent would say “it’s a good opportunity to learn– and teach others to swim”. Yes some children will learn how to swim– but what about the one’s who won’t– who really needed the lessons — the shelter of a nurturing Islamic environment before they were sent out to the rough seas.

    A good (emphasis here on good) Islamic school prepares its student for the test ahead. Islamic schools now are well aware that most of their students will leave by middle school or have to go a public high school. They are laying a foundation. Its natural for new institutions to struggle. I can believe that Islamic schools have sometimes failed in their mission because of ignorance or weaknesses in community. But there have been so many other successes despite financial challenges and self-inflicted wounds. We have to invest some of our children in these institutions so that they can improve and we as a community can improve. Integration is beneficial when all parties come with a strong identity and they choose to compromise on issues that they understand can be set aside. How can we integrate children who do not know themselves, or do not know what is religiously ‘up for grabs’ in the social marketplace.

    Academics — back on the table. Alhamdulillah for those who live in a place where public schools are providing good academics and a socially secure environment but do not assume this is the norm in America. Inner city schools and some larger suburban schools are struggling. American public schools are generally on the decline academically as international surveys comparing US student performance to other less wealthy industrial nations show. Overcrowded classrooms cannot compare to the small, individualized instruction of a good Islamic school.

    True– investigate, compare but in this world and the next a good Islamic school and good public school are not on the same level. If your local Islamic school is struggling — hold off with enrolling your children but do something about it. See how religious or academic instruction can be improved.. advise the community about what they can do take the school to the next level but at least support what they are trying to do on principle and remember these schools in your du’a. Their work is challenging but so rewarding….

    wa salaam

  14. Abd says:

    as-salamu alaykum,

    I think this project is rather promising. Imam Suhaib, it would be an honour if you checked it out insha’ Allah – http://www.mef-ca.org/

  15. a sister says:

    as salaamu alaykum,

    I agree that we need to help our children learn how to integrate in a healthy way in the society in which they live, and that Islamic schooling leads to some dysfunction in that at times, however I have to ask: is it worth the cost? There are two HUGE reasons why I would hesitate to put my child in a public school:

    1. I would be leaving my child’s education and development in the hands of people who are paid to be secular, and to void out morality and religion from the information they are teaching — whereas I would want my children from the very beginning to learn in an environment that nourishes their spirituality and their faith and that doesn’t divide between knowledge of the world and religion. It helps cement the idea that religion is just ritual and that we should keep it separate from the way we really live our lives and the way we think. I don’t think it’s fair to send my child – at a very critical age, where they, their personality and their way of thinking is being shaped – to a public school five days a week where they learn about the world from a secular humanistic perspective, and then hope to patch that up by sending them to weekend school, praying that learning a little bit of deen will fix it. basically, I don’t think it’s good for the mental and personal development of the child to receive such conflicting ideas at such a young and impressionable age.

    2. The second big reason: is the fitna! I’m sure there are youth who have graduated from public highschools without falling into haram, but I have to say I think they are the exception. It’s definitely a struggle, and why put your child in those types of situations of temptation if they can be avoided? Our deen is all about cutting off the means to haram, if you think about the rulings on alcohol, interaction between genders, etc… its about developing an environment that makes the halal conducive and the haram difficult. So Islamic schools dont guarantee super Muslim kids, but I would want my child to be in a halal-conducive and iman-conducive environment, to make being a Muslim as easy as possible for them.

    again, I’m not saying that Islamic schooling is faultless, there are a lot of areas where we need improvement, but I believe constructing our own educational system, where the information is taught within a moral and religious construct is v. important, as well as ‘insulating’ but not isolating our children from immoral things which are rampant and even considered normal in the average public schools in the US. of course that has to be coupled with good parenting.

    Allahu alam, may Allah make the nwxt generation of Muslims among the best of this ummah and give us tawfeeq,

    wasalaam

  16. Mateen Mirza says:

    Your child is given to ‘YOU’ by allah. You, in turn decide to give your child to someone else, in their formative years, for an extended period of time during their hours of learning. You better know these people, and the environment where you are abandoning your child for a good number of hours. Who are these people, the teachers, the librarian, the security personnel, the custodian, the counsellor, the principal, the vice principal and last but not the least the fellow students?.

    My kids went to three different forms of schools in five different cities. I made it a point to meet and know every teacher in all these locations. I took appointments, met them, chatted with them, looked them in the eye and formed an opinion about these individuals. If I did not like something I discussed it with the principal or the vice principal. Even if I did not change something atleast I made them aware that a parent is watching like a hawk. I told them why I do it like this. “I have MY child with YOU”? That is why I am watching. Be careful!
    You must have an excellent rapport with your child, so that you communicate with your child DAILY about what went on in school, hour by hour. You should talk about the fellow students. Get to to know your child’s class mates by talking to them about every one of his friends and not so friendly classmates. If you sense a problem then help your child in dealing with it. If necessary, deal with it yourself by going to the school and addressing any issues raised during your conversation with your child.

    There is no substitute for the above. You must know that your child is your responsiblity. No matter which schools system you send your child to you are still handing them over to some other people, the more you know them the better off you are with your responsibility. As you get to know these people you might find that a particular school is “no good” because of whatever reason. Since you are vigilant you would know what school is acceptable for you to leave behind “your more most precious assets” with. Which school would you leave your life’s savings with, in cash form, every day from class to class, with all those kids from different families around?. Needless to say, your children are more precious than that. Now, think about it! Public schools or parochial schools, they are as good as the people who are running it. You have to know the people, in each one of them.
    Know the school thoroughly. Keep at it, be there for every function, for every opportunity to meet a teacher, to see a school official. Who said raising children is easy? It is definitely not for wimps.

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