Recently a question about homeschooling sparked a lengthy, and somewhat heated, conversation on an email list I belong to. It was good that it made all the noise that it did because I usually don’t notice much on this list. But this question made me think about my own reasons for homeschooling and articulating my reasons was a good exercise, as it’s important for us to all understand and review why we choose to do what we do.
A point I make when I talk to people about homeschooling is how our lives have changed drastically in so many ways yet we refuse to change the most important aspect of our lives- our education.
Let me explain, a short time ago at the San Francisco Museum of Art, there was an exhibition on the maharajas of India. While at this exhibition I noticed how our lifestyles today resemble those of the Rajas and maharajahs of past centuries. Our scholars have also mentioned this point in various talks as well, this was not my discovery. We eat food like the royals would have, we dress the way the aristocrats would have, we travel and live lives as those with a lot of money would have, yet we educate our children in methods worse than the poorest would. If we look all over the Indian subcontinent, the descendants of rajas and maharajas to this day are homeschooled. Historically anybody who was being groomed to be a person of importance was homeschooled or taught by a private tutor.
We are contradicting ourselves by saying we want the best for our children and then sticking our children in hospital like or prison like sterile environments for eight hours a day – sometimes without even windows to look out of! We leave them with people who may be very dedicated but are helpless in a system that is so crippled that it cannot even stand on its own feet.
Shaykh Salek Siddina taught a class on the rights of parents, which is in a way the rights of children. In it he highlighted to us this very point. He mentioned, that every child has a right to a good upbringing. This upbringing begins with being taught the right things at the right time in the right way. He said that a lot of Muslims in the west are facing a crisis of unprecedented numbers where people are reaching out to scholars for help with their children (young adults) who are leaving the deen. This is a problem scholars locally, in every US city, have to deal with daily- children or young adults moving away from the deen or seeing the religion as an unnecessary thing in today’s day and age.
I’m not saying that every child who goes to public school leaves the deen, but Christian homeschooling studies have proven that a lot of people become agnostic or at least move away from their own religious practices and beliefs by going to a system that is constantly questioning them and their religious beliefs. Unfortunately, that system is designed to separate God from education- and has gotten to the point of removing God from education.
Schools today are not much like the schools you and I went to twenty years ago. Our children are exposed to much more, much earlier than we could ever imagine. The environment in most schools has become more toxic than nurturing and Muslim students are facing Islamophobia in greater numbers than ever before.
Apart from giving a sense of security, our home provides for stronger and closer bonds between all of us. We know each others' likes, dislikes and what pushes our buttons and what excites us because we are with each other all day long. We learn to work with each collaboratively on assignment and off thus making for close, trusting friendships that are both respectful and understanding.
I feel very passionately about homeschooling just like a lot of others feel about Islamic schools or private schools. Like a good friend of mine said, “If we are homeschooling because our neighbors or friends or families are homeschooling, then it’s not the right decision for us.” But once we have made a decision to homeschool let’s look forward and stay focused regardless of who is beside us. Maybe homeschooling is not the way for them, but we need to stop worrying about what the world is doing to stay just focused on what we need to do.
May Allah grant us all Tawfiq to do what is best for our families.