'Don't let extra-mural activities wreck your child's spiritual future'
Giving preference to additional school lessons and extra mural activities over Madressah education is akin to favouring the Dunya over the Akhirah. These were the sentiments of a senior South African Mufti, commenting on the lack of enthusiasm amongst some learners in pursuing a primary Maktab education.
Speaking to Cii Radio's Ulama in Focus recently, Mufti Seraj Desai asserted the important role that parents needed to play in prioritising their children's Islamic educational requirements. Acknowledging the scarcity of learning time and the complicated trade-offs expected from parents and learners alike, he nonetheless argued that the contesting demands of the schooling system notwithstanding, parents could still ensure a fruitful Madressah experience for their children, provided that they acknowledged the critical role of Islamic education and provided the necessary support structures.
"We have to admit that academic pressure today is steep, schools are extending their learning hours and this does indeed pose challenges for learners who have limited time to commute, eat and come to Madressah. To compound the situation we sometimes have the need for additional lessons and demands to participate in extra mural activities such as sports."
The proliferation of these additional activities, which extend beyond school hours, is increasingly placing a strain on Maktab education, which in South Africa has traditionally taken place during the afternoons. Absenteeism or late-coming is common, and many private Madaaris with more flexible operating hours have now mushroomed.
Still, the Port Elizabeth based Aalim believes a solution to the problem is not farfetched. He contends that a lack of understanding of the objectives of the maktab from parents or sometimes even plain disinterest are the main factors feeding the trend. Parents, he argues, need to re-assess the goals they set for their children.
"We can sympathise with parents regarding additional tuition – they fear that if their children do not solicit this help, their results will take a knock. We can't run away from this fact: every parent who has a school-going child, has some or the other goal in mind. Most of the time these goals are financially motivated, and it is unfortunate that these goals seem to have overshadowed everything else, even our Deen."
He says additional tuition, where necessary, should not be abandoned. As a compromise, he advocates that parents come up with innovative ways of making up for lessons that are lost."The only way this can be achieved is by significant interaction between parent and Ustaad – meeting the Asaatizah regularly and discussing strategies of improving the Maktab education of the child."
In addition to facilitating academic progress for the child, Desai says providing enrichment classes at home can also reap benefits for parents themselves. "We know of parents who improved their Quranic recitation simply by working with their children. They also gain education that they themselves may have not acquired previously"
The respected Mufti said parents always had the best interests of their children at heart. However, exaggerated sympathy for their offspring, he said, should not come at the expense of their Islamic education.
"If our children still have time for computer games and TV even during school days, with the situation worsening at weekends – unnescesary and sometimes unIslamic activities – this is where the responsibility of parents come in. Set aside those (misplaced) feelings of sympathy towards the child. When it comes to schoolwork, there is no sympathy there – you will not allow a child to stay absent for a single day, if a child has not completed his/her homework you will ensure that they stay up for as long as the work takes to complete, but tragically this is not the same when it comes to Maktab work."
He suggested that parents make a firm commitment to their children's Islamic education and explore the possibility of evening or weekend classes to make up for the lost time.
MUSLIM SCHOOLS: LITTLE ISLANDS IN THE MIDST OF STORMY OCEANS
Muslim Schools are complex institutions, comprising many dimensions and facets. From the members of the Boards of Governors, the management, the staff, the pupils and parents, Muslim Schools are institutions that incorporate all strata and shades of people from the community.
Unlike other Islamic educational institutions where homogenous (one) type of persons are found, the situation in Muslim Schools is not so. It is much more complex and comprehensive. Here people of different levels of understanding, abilities and piety get together. This naturally leads to a situation where a variety of problems are created. Added to this, Muslim Schools are also relatively young institutions in this country. Most schools are still struggling to survive and are just about finding their feet. Despite all the problems associated with Muslim schools, one fact remains – they are little islands in the stormy ocean of chaos in the prevalent educational systems in this country.
Although there are waves of problem after problem in the structures of Muslim schools, at the same time, the potential these institutions possess in terms of shaping strong future Muslims is unlimited. A Muslim School is an ideal venue where effective Tarbiyyah, Ta'leem and Da'wah of the coming generation of Muslims can be conducted. If only the leadership of our Muslim Schools can realize the gold mine they are sitting upon! This supreme opportunity should help to overcome all the little obstacles in between and they should serve to spur on and encourage all types of people involved in Muslim Schools towards an optimistic and positive outlook for the future.
It is the experience of seniors and learned people, that the children who remain sound Muslims for life are those who have had very strong Islamic tendencies in their families or those who have had a solid Islamic Tarbiyyah and grounding, by way of sound Islamic institutions. So while Muslim schools are not perfect (and who is really perfect), they are among the more effective ways that many children, especially those from weak Islamic homes will be saved from the onslaught of apostasy and Kufr. To save the Imaan of a single Muslim is a major achievement for any Muslim community. Imagine if hundreds of young Muslims can be saved ...
It is the cry of the hour for concerned people in the Muslim community to become much more serious about the Muslim schools in the midsts and to put their full weight and support behind them. This is the only way we can make it happen.
Valentine Day, Birthdays, and Other Daze
What commercial and cultural propaganda presents as beautiful is rooted in ugly paganism but most blind followers do not know.
By Khalid Baig
There is a group of practices that we can consider as the twin sister of bid'ah. Like bid'ah they flourish on the twin foundations of ignorance and outside influence. Like bid'ah they entail rituals. But unlike bid'ah the rituals have not been given an Islamic face. They are followed because they are considered an acceptable cultural practice or the hottest imported "in" thing.
Most of those who indulge in them do not know what they are doing. They are just blind followers of their equally blind cultural leaders. Little do they realize that what they consider as innocent fun may in fact be rooted in paganism. That the symbols they embrace may be symbols of unbelief. That the ideas they borrow may be products of superstition. That all of these may be a negation of what Islam stands for.
Christianity tried to stop the evil celebration of Lupercalia. Its only success was in changing the name from Lupercalia to St. Valentine's Day
Consider Valentine's Day, a day that after dying out a well deserved death in most of Europe (but surviving in Britain and United States) has suddenly started to emerge across a good swath of Muslim countries. Who was Valentine? Why is this day observed? Legends abound, as they do in all such cases, but this much is clear: Valentine's Day began as a pagan ritual started by Romans in the 4th century BCE to honor the god Lupercus. The main attraction of this ritual was a lottery held to distribute young women to young men for "entertainment and pleasure"--until the next year's lottery. Among other equally despicable practices associated with this day was the lashing of young women by two young men, clad only in a bit of goatskin and wielding goatskin thongs, who had been smeared with blood of sacrificial goats and dogs. A lash of the "sacred" thongs by these "holy men" was believed to make them better able to bear children.
As usual, Christianity tried, without success, to stop the evil celebration of Lupercalia. It first replaced the lottery of the names of women with a lottery of the names of the saints. The idea was that during the following year the young men would emulate the life of the saint whose name they had drawn. (The idea that you can preserve the appearance of a popular evil and yet somehow turn it to serve the purpose of virtue, has survived. Look at all those people who are still trying, helplessly, to use the formats of popular television entertainments to promote good. They might learn something from this bit of history. It failed miserably) Christianity ended up doing in Rome, and elsewhere, as the Romans did.
How can anyone in his right mind think that Islam would be indifferent to practices seeped in anti-Islamic ideas and beliefs?
The only success it had was in changing the name from Lupercalia to St. Valentine's Day. It was done in CE 496 by Pope Gelasius, in honor of some Saint Valentine. There are as many as 50 different Valentines in Christian legends. Two of them are more famous, although their lives and characters are also shrouded in mystery. According to one legend, and the one more in line with the true nature of this celebration, St. Valentine was a "lovers'" saint, who had himself fallen in love with his jailer's daughter.