As most of my readers know, when my daughter started school in September, I was sad, anxious and felt like a failure. But this soon went away as I realised how much she enjoys school. One of the best conversations I had was with a sister at the masjid, after the imam had spoken about the importance of parental responsibility etc. The sister who herself is a homeschooler, very lovingly and sincerely said to me: “as long as you are the primary educator for her, it doesn’t matter which setting she’s at.” That’s all she needed to tell me and I physically felt my heart settle into a place of peace. Don’t you just love sisterhood!
That night at home I thought about Umm Sulaim again, the mother of Anas (ra) – she was one of the women I found so very inspiring when I wanted to homeschool. I thought about her again. She knew what she wanted and that’s the key to how her son grew up. She found resources in her surrounding, she instilled a love of the Prophet (saw) in him before they had even met. She did all this because, she ultimately knew what it was she wanted from her son; obedience only to Allah. These thoughts really helped me understand what it is I want. The same as her. But just like her son was a reflection of her Iman, I need to think about how my children will be a reflection of what I carry in my heart and soul.
So I thought, maybe I need to do start thinking about her Islamic Studies more seriously. For now, we have decided not to send her to madrassah, and see if we can find a Quran teacher to come to us. I don’t think this will actually happen because of where we live. Either way, I wanted to add a bit of structure to the way she learns about our beautiful Deen.
InshaAllah, if I get some time, I hope to make our syllabus a printable with some guidance on how to implement within the home. Make dua I can do this.
I put a little “syllabus” together and thought I’ll use that as a guide to see what I can “teach” her. We do our Arabic alphabets before school every morning – I feel this is when she’s most alert and we only spend about 10-15 minutes on it. I’m using the ‘Read’ book available from Learning Roots. Alongside the book, I use flashcards and other bits of resources I’ve collected over the years. This is working well for us, although I think I should be pushing her a bit more – I’m hoping it will develop and become something more challenging. We sometimes have a quick revision session after school too, but only if she feels like it. This is to get her ready for any Quran classes in the future InshaAllah.
I picked the topics/themes in our “syllabus” according to what I think will be a good start to structural learning as well as something of real essence and meaning. We’ve decided to spend 45 minutes either on Saturday or Sunday mornings with these themes. There’s no real prior lesson planning, more what I come up with on the day. If there’s something I see online that I like, I try and see how I can incorporate it into our learning experience. I feel having a theme a month is what will help me most. I also think the same syllabus can be used when she’s older, I just need to enhance the actual content of what I will cover with her age and development.
This has been exciting and also a lesson in itself – I say this because in trying to think about what it is I want her to learn, I actually realised that it’s all about the seerah, seerah and more seerah of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (saw). Everything we want our children to know and become is directly linked to his (saw) life. We can learn to love Allah above everyone and everything by seeing how he (saw) did. From worship to manners to personality – all this is documented beautifully in the life of the Prophet (saw).
When we picked seeds straight out of a pumpkin, she said: "Khodu (Bangla name for a pumpkin or gourd) is the favourite food of Muhammad, sallalahu alayhissalaam. His mummy's name is Aminah." In small things like this, I try and make the Prophet (saw) a real person in our home, someone we constantly talk about.
So although I’ve decided to put some structure into teaching my daughter Islamic Studies, I’ve decided that the best teaching will be done when I am most acquainted with the seerah myself. And for me the seerah goes beyond the life of the Prophet (saw) into the lives of his family and companions. I remember last year at our first family halaqa at the masjid, the imam said: “The Prophet (saw) was the epitome of all beautiful qualities and these beautiful qualities were scattered amongst his companions” since hearing this got permanently engraved into my brain. And since then, I’ve enjoyed learning more about the companions than before, it’s allowed me to see into the life of the Prophet (saw) through their lives. I think before I’d only learn about their lives but now I take double meaning from it, and all this is what I want my children growing up knowing but most importantly living.
Yes, we clearly need to set up Qiblah lessons for the little one. :-)
Last night, me and the ameer were talking about Hassan and Hussain (ra) – and I told him how the Prophet (saw) had said (paraphrased): “whoever loves Hassan and Hussain, loves me and whoever dislikes Hassan and Hussain, dislikes me.” The ameer said, “yes, very true, but in order to love him (saw) and them (ra), we need to know them. We can’t love people we don’t know.” I think for me his words were the final bit of icing I needed to push start my Islamic Studies journey at home. And InshaAllah when she starts madrassah, I will need to be as keen and involved with what she learns there, because as someone who has taught Islamic Studies as a subject in two separate masjids, in two very different cities in the UK, I know that children learn far more at home, when what they learn at madrassah is shown and encouraged inside their home.
So, even though I started all this off, so I can deliver some lessons to my daughter, I think in the process it’s become an eye opener for me about how much I live my life according to the best of lives, because if that is line with what is asked of me, the Islamic Studies lessons are simply add ons and the real pieces of my children’s Islam will be completed with what I truly give them in the form of the Islam I live.
So I think I’ll be calling our lessons ‘Islamic Living’ and not studies because knowledge in Islam is to be lived.