By Musaddique Thange
The first and foremost duty that Muslim parents have towards their children is to raise them as conscientious Muslims. In a world caught in the vortex of materialism and ever increasing consumerism, performing this basic duty often seems daunting to many parents.
Added to these challenges is the fact that education itself is now commercialized. Not only are the goals of mainstream educational institutions dictated purely by economic concerns, their functioning is often at odds with the goals of Tarbiya or Islamic moral training.
Such is the extent of the malaise afflicting the education system, that many parents, including non-Muslims, are increasingly adopting homeschooling as the paradigm for their children's education. This article looks at homeschooling from a Muslim perspective and explores the role that fathers need to play in order to ensure its success.
Allah Says in the Glorious Qur'an:
"O ye who believe! save yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is Men and Stones"
It is clear from this verse that Allah is addressing both men and women, giving them the collective responsibility of establishing Islamic families. Even if a family does not adopt homeschooling, it is absolutely essential that husband and wife are clear about this joint responsibility. The success of parenting in general and Islamic homeschooling in particular hinges on a clear and coherent vision that is the result of a fair amount of study and discussion by both parents. Enforcing a style of homeschooling by either spouse is likely to result in much frustration and heartburn.
Life Style changes
In traditional families, it is usually the mothers who stay at home with the children while the fathers go out to work. In an age when Muslim women are increasingly pursuing their own careers, the decision to homeschool often entails enormous sacrifices on their part that need to be appreciated by the fathers and by the children too.
Being the family's earning member does not entitle the father to disengage from the homeschooling project. Moreover, we need to realize that effective homeschooling would necessarily involve some lifestyle changes on our part as well. This means:
a) Re-organizing one's time schedule to ensure that responsibilities towards family and homeschooling are adequately fulfilled, without short-changing responsibilities towards the community and the wider Ummah. This is of course easier said than done, and entails continual self-evaluation.
b) Helping with household chores that might not be related to homeschooling. While this should be done in all families, it becomes especially important for homeschooling families, where the monotony of one spouse doing the chores can add to the challenges of homeschooling and sometimes lead to frustration.
Homeschooling fathers also need to take up certain responsibilities related to homeschooling, such as researching curricula, organizing field trips, and ensuring sufficient interaction with other homeschooling families. In an age of information deluge, even something as simple as participation in homeschooling mailing lists by the father can ensure that the challenge of homeschooling is shared between the spouses.
As children grow, it is prudent to involve them in the decision making process, especially in matters that involve their education.
Most men are used to going home after a "long hard day of work". Homeschooling fathers need to realize that no matter how challenging their jobs maybe, taking care of children, and homeschooling them at the same time, is surely one of the most difficult and demanding tasks in the world! Translating this appreciation and empathy into understanding and concrete action is an essential element of a happy homeschooling family.
In other words, homeschooling fathers need to be realistic in their expectations. A loving family environment that preserves the children's "fitrah" is more important than always having "hot food on the table".
Striving Together for Allah’s pleasure
The Glorious Qur'an mentions the advice given by Prophet Luqman (peace be upon him) to his son. Part of this advice is in the following verse:
"O my son!" (said Luqman), "If there be (but) the weight of a mustard-seed and it were (hidden) in a rock, or (anywhere) in the heavens or on earth, Allah will bring it forth: for Allah understands the finest mysteries, (and) is well-acquainted (with them).
"O my son! establish regular prayer, enjoin what is just, and forbid what is wrong: and bear with patient constancy whatever betide thee; for this is firmness (of purpose) in (the conduct of) affairs.
And swell not thy cheek (for pride) at men, nor walk in insolence through the earth; for Allah loveth not any arrogant boaster"
The tone of the advice reflects not only the profound wisdom of Prophet Luqman, but also the close relationship that he shared with his son, a worthy example for Muslim fathers to strive to emulate. This can only come about through leading by example and respecting our children while expecting them to respect and obey us. Moreover, fathers who believe that education is a life-long process are usually better at instilling the love of learning in their children.
Hope and Optimism
Things don’t always work out the way we want them or expect them to. This is true of homeschooling as well. Surely homeschooling has its challenges and some anxious moments.
We need to ensure that these challenges do not erode our confidence and that of our spouses and children. Educating our children as balanced individuals with an Islamic world-view is a worthy goal that requires time, effort and lots of patience. In an age where instant gratification is encouraged, it is important not to be distracted away from the long term goals of Islamic homeschooling.
Finally, we should bear in mind that we will be judged for our intentions and our efforts. Success can only come from Allah. Not surprisingly one of the oft-repeated duas in Muslim families is:
"Our Lord! Grant unto us wives and offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and give us (the grace) to lead the righteous."
Muslim Home Education Network Australia ( MHENA ) is a united group of Muslim Homeschooling mothers, with experience in all of the learning stages up to stage 5, from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds. Read More