Little Lady and Little Man have been attending madrassah (Islamic school) for about a month now. They attend in the evenings after school for two hours to learn Quran. Initially we had a teacher come home and spend an hour with them but Alhamdulillah, he has moved to Madinah to study in the university there. I knew he was too good to be true – Masters in a secular subject before studying seven years to become a scholar, plus he was very good with the kids. When Little Man used to get sleepy, he would encourage him to jump up and down on the sofa to wake him up – certainly a step up from the beatings some kids used to get at from their Quran teacher when I was a kid.
As a child, I was taught Quran by my father, as an adult I attended tajweed classes to improve my reading of Quranic Arabic. I must have gone to the mosque once or twice, I remember sitting there for two hours, bored out of my wits and spending about ten minutes with the teacher. I was sure my children would not learn Quran this way. But when the teacher who came home left, the new teacher at the madrassah (a mufti or scholar), was not able to teach privately and we had to enrol our children.
At first I was unhappy at the thought that the children would be sitting there for two hours straight. I was also unhappy that Little Lady who had just started Quran was put back to the alphabet again. But a few things convinced me to stick with the madrassah routine:
1. Little Lady’s teacher is thorough, she won’t let you progress to the next page until you have leaned your lesson thoroughly.
2. She is a friend of mine and comes to the Sunday sister’s circle, so I can get updates on what is happening in class.
3. The boy’s teacher is a scholar and so the standard of teaching is fairly high, although there have been a few problems with discipline as he can’t seem to control some of the older boys too well.
4. My husband and his friends set up the madrassah with the intention that local children and especially their own could have access to high quality Quranic and Islamic instruction.
5. My husband is usually on hand for the two hours to help the teacher keep the boys under control and keep an eye on things. This means that Little Man, doesn’t get caught up in any silly behaviour and I don’t have to worry about how my kids are doing.
6. One of the things my husband mentioned he liked was that for two hours they are immersed in an Islamic environment – this means all of the children they are making friends with are from religious Muslim families, with similar aspirations for their children. These are people who give precedence to their children’s Islamic instruction and are active in the Muslim community – i.e. good role models. The masjid they attend is also very big on dawah (propagation), so they are getting a real sense of the importance of this. Little Lady came home a few days ago and told me that a man had come to the masjid and “embraced Islam – now he is part of our family”. They were happy and excited about what had happened.
7. The madrassah make time for learning aside from Quran – so some hifz (memorisation), stories from the Prophet (AS)’s life and some instruction around wudhu (ablution) and salah (prayer).
8. I get two hours in the evening to get my cooking and housework done and maybe even some blogging/e-mailing. I am enjoying thinking up treats and nice meals for everyone when they get back and Gorgeous either sleeps through this time if he hasn’t napped in the afternoon or follows me around keeping me company.
Alhamdulillah, although they didn’t like it at first, I am seeing less whinging and moaning about going to madrassah. There are probably two things which are really making a difference with them – going to madrassah and being with friends and learning together and the other is the weekly and sometimes daily taleem (or Islamic study circle) in our house. The weekly one is formal and structured and attended by local ladies and Little Lady sits with me through this. The daily one is 10-15 minutes at bedtime where we read from a book like Taleem-ul-Haq, which gives basic practical instruction, or Fazail-e-Amal, which has stories of the Prophet (PBUH) and his companion’s (RA) lives. There is a section on this on the courage and devotion of children which they particularly like and which I hope inspires them to want to be like the companions insh’Allah.