Rafed English

The Muslim Mother and Education

I have chosen to speak to you on the Role of a Muslim Mother in the context of education. I must confess that I do not claim to be an educationist. But as a mother who has been parenting for over 28 years, as a family counselor and now in the most enjoyable role of a grandmother.

I have to realize what vital role mothers have to play in the education of our children and the formation of their personalities.

The state of Sri-Lanka, as you know, is a multi- ethnic and multi-religious society. We Sri Lankaians are exposed to all the major religions of the world: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam. We Sri Lankaians come from different communities. We Muslims constitute only 8% of the population. We are a geographically scattered community. So, you will see that we live in a predominantly non-Muslim environment.

Let me refer you to neighboring India where the position is somewhat similar. Recently an Islamic awareness test was conducted by the Quran and the Seerath Academy of madras.

A Muslim child was asked the question, ‘Who created you?’ ‘Pat’, he answered: ‘My father!’ There were more shocks. Jibreal, Mickaiel, Israfeel and Israel were identified as the ‘Caliphs of Islam,’ by another convent educated Muslim girl. A boy from a leading Westernized Muslim family described, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) as ‘Muslims' God’.

The problem here and in India is somewhat similar. Here too we are clamoring for admission to elite schools. These schools are either run by the state or managed by non-Muslim missionaries or organizations. So the problem that confronts us, Muslim mothers is acute. How does one maintain Islamic norms and values where the educational system is a breeding ground for other doctrines and values? I have heard it said that of course, Islam is taught in our schools today. But the question is do these schools impart the ethnical values of Islam? Is what is taught in the classroom sufficient to protect our children from the strong non-Islamic influences around us?

Indeed the media such as the television bring non-Islamic practices and values right into our homes. So the first point I am making is this - nothing is dearer to us than our faith. So that informal education at home must counter the prevailing non-Islamic atmosphere in which our children are placed daily. How do we do this? By continuously imparting to our children Islamic values and practices in our homes. This requires constant attention or even more important, that we mothers and fathers become role models.

Basic values such as respect for the truth, avoiding lies, respect for elders, revulsion against liquor, etc., can be ingrained in our children.

If I may give a simple illustration - liquor was never served in our homes. It was looked upon as something, which was absolutely, haram (prohibited). Indeed, most of us, who came from traditional Muslim homes, had not even seen a liquor bottle when we were relatively young. But unfortunately, this reserve appears to be breaking down now. There are Muslim parents who although they do not take liquor, permit liquor to be served to others on social occasions thinking it is fashionable or to win the respect of non-Muslims.

I have observed some Muslim children taking what is called non-alcoholic beer. What we don't realize is that by permitting such things, we are undermining the natural revulsion against liquor, which our forefathers built up.

The child's prejudice against liquor is broken down. He will only require a little persuasion from his friends to start on liquor itself. So you see we Muslim mothers must be conscious of these dangers and guard against them in our homes.

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