Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) mentioned in a narration, “Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave”. The Messenger of Allah (swt) also said, “Seeking knowledge is mandatory for all Muslims male and female”. In this article, I would like to share with you some of my experiences. Since 1979, I have been in teaching and research, as a professor in universities and as a teacher in high schools. It is a pleasure to teach students especially from those from our community and other multicultural backgrounds. However, teaching in Islamic institutions such as the eastern and western madrassahs is completely different from teaching in public schools. In an Islamic madrassah, Islamic behaviour is implemented, causing the level of respect between students and especially towards the educators to increase. Along with the enthusiasm towards gaining an education creates the ideal learning environment.
Most of our students at our community, are attending the public school system. There are both posive and negative aspects in this. What is good about the public school system is that, it is the mainstream education in North America and is well funded by the taxes and money that we have to pay regardless. Therefore, parents should get involved with their children’s education by all means. One method of getting involved is through parent council meetings. Here, parents can question our children’s educators as to how and why certain teaching methods, which contradict the Muslim faith, are being used in the classroom.
In public schools we have no control on teachers’ background, life style, or if they are aware and educated about their student’s culture and religion. For some time and especially after the outburst against Islam in general in some of the media in North America, students have been particularly vulnerable to their school environment. Some of our students in different boards of education have suffered from individual discrimination from teachers, vice principals, principals and superintendents. There personnel are not being very understanding of the pressures surrounding the students, and some educators find it amusing to put certain students down at times like this. Parents should not tolerate such behaviour and should immediately contact the person in charge of multicultural affairs in each board of education. We have to know our rights and stand up and fight for them. We should have representatives to contact, communicate and demand for our rights to be restored. More teachers from our communities should be encourages to seek the field of teaching. The school board of education should hire those minority teachers that represent the majority of student’s background in all of the school boards of education.
In the mean time, we should think thoroughly about building or buying our own school. This experiment had already been started by some individuals as a private school like MindTech or as a community school as in the As-Sadiq Islamic School. We would like to hear from those who have done such projects. We would like to make a study to include what problems they faced in the past and how they dealt with it. This school project, if it comes to life, could be the chain of future schools that accommodate our communities in North America and resolve some of the suffering that some students may have to go through.
We are talking about our children’s future in North America. We are talking about saving our children’s confidence that deliberately gets harassed and damaged by those few individuals in the public system. It is very sad and hurtful to watch a child’s future go to waste, when it is in our hands to turn their future around and restore their faith and confidence. I hope that our community will start a wakeup call and start doing something about this matter.