It was as a result of application of knowledge that Muslims were the superpower of the world for twelve centuries. Today, globally Muslims have the lowest literacy rate. Education of Muslim children in the west has both opportunities and challenges.
In the Western World the purpose of education is to provide for the economic prosperity of a nation. At a personal level the purpose of education is to acquire academic and professional skills that enable one to earn a respectable living with riches and fame, and also a luxurious and comfortable life. For a Muslim providing economic prosperity of a nation does not contradict his/her Islamic beliefs, however focusing the goals of education solely for the purpose of money making is unpalatable. Muslims want to impart Islamic education.
The vast majority of Muslims think that Islamic education means acquiring Islamic religious knowledge-study of Qur'an, Arabic, Hadith, Sunnah, Seerah, Fiqh, Islamic history, and allied subjects. As a matter of fact, in the present world broadly speaking we have two types of Muslims. Those who have followed the Western type of education or secular education and those who have acquired Deeni or Islamic education.
In the twentieth century, due to colonialism and Western influence, Muslim parents concentrated on imparting only Secular education to their children. The weak or not so bright students were sent to Deeni (religious) Madrasas (schools) in their own countries or to one of the Middle Eastern countries. The Muslims who emigrated to Western countries became aware of their religious identity and wanted to impart both Islamic and Secular education, what is now known as "Integrated Education." When they lacked the numbers and resources, they sent their children to public schools during the week and to the Islamic schools in the Mosque or Islamic Center during the weekends.
As their numbers grew and acquired sufficient resources, they have opened full-time Islamic Schools from kindergarten (K grade) to 12th grade (senior or final year) in High School. In North America, an estimated 300 Islamic Schools are functioning which impart Integrated education. There are even a few full-time Hifz schools in North America producing homegrown Huffaz (plural of Hafeez-a scholar who has memorized the Qur'an). It takes about two to three years of full-time study to become a Hafeez. During this time the student takes an equivalent to sabbatical leave from his or her public or parochial school.
This paper analyzes the choice the parents make in sending their children, to Public, Parochial, Private non-parochial, Islamic, Virtual Islamic, or Home School. Their advantages and disadvantages.
The greatest objective of education is to prepare the young generation for leadership. Islamic education is of course has the highest objective, and more than that can hardly be imagined. The aim of Islamic education is Character building. Growth and development of an Islamic personality should be the final goal of any Islamic School. Islamic values are the foundation of the Islamic personality. As Muslims our educational aim is to develop the personalities of our children to the end that they will be conscious of their responsibility to God (the Creator) and to fellow humans. The aims and objectives of Islamic education have been defined in the Recommendation of the Committee of the First World Conference on Muslim Education as:
"Education should aim at the balanced growth of the total personality of man through training of the human spirit, intellect, rational self, feelings and senses. The training imparted to a Muslim must be such that faith is infused into the whole of his/her personality and creates in him/her an emotional attachment to Islam and enables him to follow the Qur'an and Sunnah and be governed by Islamic system of values willingly and joyfully so that he/she may proceed to the realization of his/her status as Khalifatullah to whom God has promised the authority of the universe."
We need to prepare the younger generation having leadership quality and not to be the followers of alien ideologies but to play the role of torchbearer by their excellence in knowledge, character, and positive action. Some scholars believe that this quality can be developed in Muslim youth by a direct study of the Qur'an with a view to solve the problems of life in its light. A program of action to bring up the younger generation for leadership has not yet been formulated.
Every Muslim parent is advised to raise his or her children well and properly. A happy home, comfort, care and love, providing the necessities of life and a good education are some of the responsibilities that parents are required to fulfill. Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said whoever is not kind to young people is not one of us and the best teaching that a parent can give a child is the teaching of good manners and character. The Muslim child absorbs the Islamic values from its parents, teachers, peers, friends and the environment, including the care-givers. Nip it in the bud is the best advice. Otherwise once the Muslim child develops undesirable habits and unethical values, it becomes extremely difficult to make the child into a good Muslim/Muslimah.
Parents play a vital role in the education of their children. Early childhood education program emphasizes the role of parents. It declares that learning begins in the first days of life and continues for long. Parents should develop a habit to read with their children every night. Parents should provide an Islamic environment, an Islamic culture. It is hypocritical to do things differently and expect the child to have Islamic values. Parents set the best examples for their children to imbibe. Like parents the role of family has also been considered important in learning and upbringing the children.
As the children grow the teachers, community elders, their friends exert deep influence on the character of the child. The parents should choose the right schools for their children. Audio-Visual media such as TV, Video, video games, Movies, peer pressure could play an effective role in erasing the Islamic personality the parents are building and deeply influence the behavior of the children for years. It takes constant and continuous effort on the part of the parents and others to keep our youth on the path of Islamic values. Otherwise they will become an American statistic. Character education, promotion of order and discipline and ending the culture of guns and drugs from schools are the important steps of Islamic education. Islamic education should open the door of college education for every Muslim.
The frontiers of learning are expanding across a lifetime. All the people, irrespective of age, must have a chance to learn new skills. Internet is now the power of information. The classroom, library and even the children's hospitals are planned to connect with it for easy access to knowledge.
In America the parents of Muslim children are facing the challenge of picking the right school for their children. Parents can choose the school their children will attend. Parents would like to send their children to a school that promotes academic excellence and a value centered educational environment. The following pages list the different types of schools available for Muslim children, their advantages and disadvantages.
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