Education has always been an important aspect of Islamic teachings. In fact, the first word ever revealed to our Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was “read” and revelations that follow encourage believers to contemplate and study the universe and God’s creations. Muslims are encouraged to seek knowledge of the world from an academic perspective as well as knowledge of Islam. Therefore, any able person, man or woman, boy or girl has a right to a proper education that includes both aspects.
Historically, some of the greatest scientific breakthroughs came from the Islamic world, including those in mathematics, medicine, engineering, and agriculture. With this in mind, many Muslim parents aim to recreate that renaissance and revive the creativity and zeal for knowledge. For many parents, homeschooling is one such option because it provides the freedom to integrate that knowledge into real-life experiences through trips to museums, zoos, science centers, nature walks, art shows and encounters with experts in their fields.
A typical day in our house starts like any other ordinary family routine. Our kids wake up, brush their teeth, make their beds, and head downstairs for breakfast.
What may seem conventional for a typical weekday, our dynamic quickly transforms when our 7-year-old son decides to cook pancakes for the whole family. He makes the batter from scratch and proceeds to set a lavish breakfast table. In another corner of our house, our 9- year old daughter sits quietly, consumed in a book with bedhead hair.
There’s another hour or so for the children to acclimate into their morning before school begins, which consists of my calling them to our dinner table with their planners open and beginning their day’s lessons. Our school is homeschool.
Like many other American Muslims, my husband and I were born and raised in America, went through the public-school system and continued to universities and post-graduate education. The birth of our first child sparked intense discussions on education and the best methods to raise them in society. Ultimately, we decided that a homeschool education would be the right fit for our family.
Muslim families in America and across the world homeschool their children for various reasons depending on their situations and needs. Some of these reasons include the lack of better education in their locality, a child’s learning disability or health issues, a desire to nurture a lifelong love of learning, an aim to guide children in an Islamic way of life and a way to better their relationship with their children. Muslim parents may also find a need to protect their children from negative school environments such as previous incidents of bullying or influences that are against the Islamic faith (i.e. school dances, faith-based holiday celebrations, etc.). Some children homeschool because they have taken on the immense task of memorizing the entire Qur’an by heart. With such an undertaking, parents may homeschool to lessen their academic load so they can focus just on memorization. While being homeschooled, children can easily manage the time commitment.
In broader homeschool communities, the same reasons as above are why many parents are turning to homeschooling. Regardless of beliefs, parents are more aware of their children’s strengths, weaknesses and likes and dislikes and using homeschooling as a platform to bolster their child’s natural abilities. On the other hand, some people of faith might find that there isn’t enough religion in schools and keep their children home so they can have a wholly religious influence.
Furthermore, other reasons to homeschool include giving children a higher quality education and providing an environment where children can excel and exclusively work on areas they have an interest in. Homeschooling has become a popular option for many Muslim families with its flexibility, child-centered approach and ability to impart a customized Islamic education.
Homeschooling also allows children to build their Muslim identity without the perils of peer pressure and a culture of ‘fitting in.’ For some, this Muslim identity is the ability to schedule their day around the five daily prayers and for others, it is the freedom to dress modestly without fear of being ostracized for their fashion choices.
My husband and I chose homeschooling as a lifestyle; we find learning opportunities wherever we go and enjoy the family bonds that are being fostered along the way. We are able to develop our children’s character and inculcate values and morals that we deem important for them to be good standing members of society. We encourage them to be involved in the community via sports, scouting and community service opportunities. We are also part of a larger Muslim homeschool community as well as many secular homeschooling groups. This allows our children to socialize on a weekly basis with a diverse group of people from various faiths and beliefs. Our children strive towards their interests and we support them through various methods. We have made learning and the love of learning a priority in our home.
Muslim homeschoolers endeavor to impart the values and instill the morals that Islam promotes and at the same time give their children the academic edge they need to succeed in their careers and lives. Indeed, Islam is a religion for those who love to learn and for those who have a conviction towards the oneness of God.
About the author: Ayesha Siddiqui is a mother to four children whom she homeschools. She began one of NJ’s first Muslim homeschool cooperatives. She is a girl scout troop leader, soccer mom and an avid reader.