By Rumina Rizvi
As immigrants we bring with us a baggage of moral, social and cultural values along with religious and traditional values. In smaller nuclear family setups here, parents responsibilities increase as they have other important issues to tackle apart from raising kids with religion based education. As immigrants, people try hard to adjust in a new system and adhere to social norms of the society, it weakens the base for children to learn their religious beliefs and practices. So parents are under a lot of pressure. In today’s rapidly changing society it is not easy even for born Canadians to keep the right balance.
Canada’s education system offers many choices, from public schools, religion based public schools i.e. Catholic schools, and there are private schools full-time Islamic Schools included.
Quite often Islamic school is not feasible for many families due to high fee structure. A majority of Muslim children go to public schools in Canada.
Weekend Islamic Schools
Character building is very important in a society where parents should rely on not just social moral values but also religious and family values. Children face broader issues in schools and out and about in general as they are in a multicultural environment. The effects are visible all around us where kids are involved in drugs, crimes and bad influence. The impact of social media, broadcast media in whole is critical at all ages, everywhere. Unfortunately some parents are unfamiliar of the harsh impacts of social pressures and media on children, directly or indirectly.
As the majority of children go to Public schools, the need for Weekend Islamic schools is crucial. The responsibility of teachers and educationists in these schools is high as they have to instill and infuse the the importance of Quranic teachings, Arabic language, Dua supplication, Islamic history, Prophetic stories and Sunnah of Prophet (PBUH) along with daily rituals and practices in a weekly session with students at different levels. Also, keeping in the mind the social pressure these children face outside in their daily lives it’s not an easy job.
Online Quran classes are also a norm for many. Parents setup a VOIP software over their electronic devices to teach Quran recitation, tajweed and tafseer to children from another corner of the world. That doesn’t have the impact that a direct face to face interaction has. Obviously weekend schools have a greater advantage in this aspect.
Role of Parents and Teachers
The solution is ensuring balanced, tolerant Islamic teachings vs moral teachings at schools and the environment around them. For example, we as Muslims, do not participate in some social and multicultural events that are against Islamic teachings but at schools these events are celebrated in an open wider environment not just for acceptance, but for respect and tolerance for everyone in a multicultural society.
Social and ethnic events are a norm in Public schools and students have to participate in them whereas in Islamic schools or Quranic classes, the kids are taught that such events are against our religious beliefs. It does get confusing and contradicting for children of all ages. We may teach our kids not to be a part of these events in spirit, and internally not to accept them as rightful acts along with tolerance and respect towards others beliefs and values.
Let’s bear in mind that Ramadan and Eids are also celebrated in schools and we do get a platform to explain our religious teaching and values to others. A more positive approach to this can give children a broader understanding of issues instead of a contradictory one. Parents and teachers can coordinate and play that role together. Islamic teachings should be balanced and serve as reminders of our responsibilities as Canadian Muslims. We need to understand that we have to give proper education along with our values and social responsibilities to our children. As parents and teachers it’s an important job. It’s important to communicate with your children on regular basis and discuss things before they are told by others. We need to have open conversations with them often to get their confidence. It is also a good idea to be involved in the school activities, like council and board meetings, volunteering opportunities so we are always aware of what may be happening to them away from home, in other learning set-ups.
We all come from different ethnic backgrounds but what brings us all together in this country are the core values of practicing our deen and social value system. We’re all here for a purpose, to improve our lives and avail the benefits this country provides with equal opportunity for everyone. The new identity our kids will hold in future should be of a Canadian Muslim and they should carry it well, with a true representation of Islamic and Canadian culture.
Weekend Islamic schools bear a huge responsibility. They play a vital role in infusing religious teachings and values but at the same time as parents, it’s our responsibility to practice those values and develop the right atmosphere at home. Many parents think it is enough to send their children to weekend Islamic schools and their job is done. Practicing and creating a balanced environment at home is essential for the kids.
We’re blessed to live in a country where we can practice our beliefs without any compulsion. We have Islamic events, conferences, halaqahs, children’s events, festivities on a much large scale. We have a platform to give our children and show them how to be more productive and involved with religion in this society and make our identity strong. Build stronger social relations with fellow Muslims, and socialize on a regular basis so your children are in a stable environment. Respect other faiths and beliefs too.
The societal perplexity that we face today in the community can be diminished by teaching how to be a tolerant Muslim with keeping our identity and values intact. Teachers at weekend Islamic schools and parents have to work hand in hand , to raise a generation representing true Islamic morals with responsibilities, resilience to others beliefs and values, to add balance to the world and our children’s future.
About the Author:
Mother to two wonderful kids, Rumina Rizvi works for an Islamic Education Academy, catering to a large community of Muslims, conducting Quranic and Islamic studies. She also works with New Muslim Care Halton Chapter for our New Muslim Revert brothers and sisters and feel sprivileged to be living in this part of world, learning and exploring knowledge of Deen and contributing to her community.