Is raising the next generation of Muslim youth being criminalised?
For every people, children are the greatest investment because we can build every element of our lives in this world. But within a few decades, it will mean less to you and me than the dust that surrounds us deep in the ground. For our children though, the next generation, what we build today means something.
As Muslims we understand this idea, more than anything that who you are is carried on in your children. The legacy of great Muslims shines in their children or their children’s children. Umar ibn Abdul Aziz (rh), regarded as the fifth khulufaa rashida was the progeny of Umar ibn al Khattab (ra) and the girl, who famously didn’t mix milk with water. Her story is one we tell our children today to teach them about the meaning of taqwa, as is the story of her grandson – the eminent Umar ibn Abdul Aziz (rh). This is among other stories of righteous scholars, borne from dedicated and pious mothers, throughout the history of Islam. Muhammad (saw) made dua for Hasan (ra) and Hussain (ra) to be protected in their future, which is the dua from the Sunnah we make for our children today.
Abu Hurayrah (ra) reported that Allah’s Messenger (saw) said: “When a human being dies, all of his deeds are terminated except for three types: an on-going sadaqah, knowledge (of Islam) from which others benefit, and a righteous child who makes dua for him.” (Sahih Muslim).
Criminalisation of Muslim schools
As a Muslim community we know we hold a great responsibility to raise our children in a manner that they hold onto their Deen. We want to raise adults who look after us in our old age, who hold the Qur’an in their hearts, who care for their neighbours, who tell the truth whatever the situation, who walk the ground with humility. So that when we are dead and gone, Islam is the light by which this community is led.
However we know the obstacles of carrying Islam in this manner, is being challenged today. The damning draft Ofsted report released on the Islamic school in Luton and the ominous “Trojan Horse” scandal of the Birmingham schools, have left Muslim parents and educationalists feeling that our efforts with tomorrow’s Ummah is a problem.
We have always been told as a community we cannot isolate ourselves, ghettoise ourselves – and Muslim parents for years have gotten involved, taking up civic positions like parent governors in order to address the needs of Muslim pupils in a state school environment. But the hype and rhetoric of the Trojan Horse document has now deemed such attempts as the infiltration of “extremists”. Sending the message across the board, that Muslims cannot be active in their children’s schools without unleashing desires for power which arise from their bloodthirsty religion, dictated by the sword. Before any proof has been presented, the Birmingham schools were painted as having experienced a “bloodless coup” by hard line Muslims and that Islam was taking over every aspect of school life.
So if being active in state schools is “infiltration” then what about our independent schools? Well, our own schools, set up independently off the back of our community has also raised similar furore.
Ofsted has had to come to the rescue in these “breeding centres for terrorists” (as they have come to be seen) by discreetly quizzing nine-year-olds about their knowledge of wider societal practices. This inappropriate interrogation of children in Luton’s Olive Tree Primary, shows how far an objective organisation like Ofsted will go, in order to “examine” a Muslim school.
The witch-hunting of the Muslim community shows one thing. That despite a range of faith schools existing from a host of communities, Christian, Jewish to Hindu – it is the Muslim schools and efforts of Muslim parents that are a threat. The Christian community, with the largest number of faith schools across the country, still significantly do believe homosexuality is a sin. The Archbishop recently released guidance to tackle homophobic bullying in schools, still acknowledging the significant religious view.
Orthodox Jews believe in gender segregation, with single sex schools in the UK. Islam, however, seems to be the only punch bag for such views by Michael Gove, licencing his sensationalist sweeping measures around Muslim schools. All because, anything can go in the name of tackling extremism in the Muslim community today.
This whipped up fury may appear like a big giant for us to overcome, as has been the gender segregation debate and calls to ban the niqab. But it is a giant we must push back on, with trust in Allah (swt) that He (swt) will support us and assist us. As a community we must come together to resist this pressure against the bringing up of our next generation. This is something we cannot compromise on an inch, and if we were to, it will do nothing but legitimise the vilification of it. We will rubber stamp the idea propagated, that we are trying to teach our children things which are harmful to society, breeding hatred and terrorists. This we know, could not be any further from the truth:
“O you who have believed, protect yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is people and stones.” [Surah Tahreem: 4]
This ayah stands today as it did yesterday and will tomorrow. That we must do everything in our power to save our children from the Hellfire, despite the overwhelming pressure we feel against media giants and anti-Islamic politicians. Many of us still have points to raise at the school PTA meeting about how our children will get through the school day in Ramadan in this climate; we may have children who will be going to a Muslim school where they will study the deen. We have to be brave and carry on. It is time, to increase our efforts not decrease them.
Muslim schools must confidently argue that they are one of the greatest achievements of the UK population. The Muslim community have garnered together much needed funds to establish a wealth of schools up and down the country. These schools have sought to instil values in the next generation that can only benefit the society they will live in. The belief that the idea of God consciousness, sense of accountability, values of compassion, care and responsibility to be helpful members of society which Islamic education imbibes is crucial for the adults of tomorrow.
The truth is, Muslim schools are producing children that this very society needs in a time where increasing materialism, individualism and a hedonistic culture is engulfing the youth. To claim Muslim schools are creating people harmful for society is not only the grossest case of libel, but laughable – when scores of state schools find difficulty in getting the child to respect the teacher.
But yes, ultimately it is another attack on our deen and Islamic lifestyle; we may feel we are not strong enough to stand up against it. It was Prophet Dawud (as) who came forward before the giant Jalut, knowing his battle didn’t look promising from the outside. But He (as) knew how important it was to stand up for the sake of the Haqq.
Dawud (as) was told to not even fight as his father felt he was too young and weak. But he went forward, persevering and as Allah says that it was He who ultimately gave him the firm decision:
“And We strengthened his kingdom and gave him wisdom and discernment in speech.” [Surah Saad: 20]
Our feeling of being cornered is true being a minority community with little access to the media. But the stories of the Prophets (as) that we read to our children, give us a strong lesson about perseverance despite how hard it appears because we don’t shape what happens, as a result of our efforts. Only Allah (swt) has the power to do that.
Finally, if we were to dip into our future fifty years from now, to see a community whose Islam was merely in a sir name and nothing else, we would be devastated because to just live means nothing, without living with the deen of our Creator (swt).
The mission for the preservation of Islam was not just the mission of the last Messenger of Allah (saw), but has become the mission of this minority community in the UK in the 21st century.
by Shohana Khan
Source: 5pillarz – Is raising the next generation of Muslim youth being criminalised?