Serious Muslims in Christian Schools

Discussion in 'Islamic Discussion' started by Um Ibrahim, Nov 3, 2013.

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Would you ever put your child/sibling into a Christian school?

  1. If the school is good, yeah why not.

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  2. Definitely not! I don't think it's ever a good thing to put a Muslim child in that kind of school

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  3. I'm not sure

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  1. Um Ibrahim
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    Um Ibrahim Alhamdulilah :)

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    Asalaamu Alaykum all,

    I hope you are in the best of health and iman. There is a family that I know (not very well), a relative of mine is their son's tutuor. So I see this child sometimes in my house. Any way, sometimes he wears his school uniform and my brother noticed one day that there was a cross on it. So he asked him why there's a cross on his shirt and the boy said he goes to a catholic school. I was a little surprised. There are couple different Islamic schools for children in our city and this child's family chose to put their son in a christian school. The boy said he doesn't participate in their bible study sessions or any other religious things, but it's still not an environment that's good for a Muslim child that's growing in my opinion.

    What do you guys think of this? Is this OK Islamically?
  2. Mabsoot
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    Mabsoot Amir Staff Member

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    Wa alaykum salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

    If there is an Islamic school which has good teaching, and children attending there are known for there have good behaviour parents should definitely choose that school.

    However, it is not haram to send your child to another school if they are not making the child partake in anything haram. Personally, I come from a religious family alhamdulillah, but I grew up in a predominantly Christian neighbourhood, I went through most my education alongside non-Muslims and went to what is known as a Grammar school, which is independent type of school in the UK and was actually boys only. It is a several hundred years old Christian school, so they do religious assemblies, Easter and Christmas. However, I never partook in those things. My parents always made the choice to send me to the schools which were known to have good education. Typically, the children who attend such schools are very well behaved and of good character. In primary school, when I was aged 9-10, my teacher Mrs Cottom, let me bring in the Quran, and prayer mat, etc to teach the class for a few lessons about Islam and my way of life. - They even let me have the Friday afternoon off, so I could go to the Masjid. Later in secondary school, I was invited to give a lecture before Easter, in front of the whole school assembly (around 900 students) about the life of Jesus in Islam. Again, they made it very easy for me to go to Juma, in fact I had special privileges which made some of the other students jealous :) - being able to go for dinner earlier, coming back later - so that I could pray. It was not always easy, I kind of hoped nobody asked me what kind of music I listened to!! as I didn't listen to music! Although, growing up with two elder brothers ensured I was "trained" well enough to fight off any would-be bullies.

    In contrast, my aunt wanted send my cousin to an Islamic school. She was already going to a top ranking independent girls grammar school (with Christian and Jewish girls). However, my aunt decided she needed an Islamic school. On the first day the other girls (Muslims) were calling her names, teasing and even scratching/pulling at her hair. The school itself was filthy, and the teachers lacklustre. All of this made a bad impression on my cousin who at age six was well aware of her environment. After the next day, she was back at her old school. She was always happy there, and able to practise her Islam, wearing hijab from a young age.

    Of course, this is not going to be the case with all schools. There are many good ones I am sure.

    Most important is the environment in the home. If the home is Islamic, and young children / teens have a lot of Islam around them, praying and learning at home, watching Islamic shows, reading books etc, attending lessons in the mosque.. they will be able to get "strong" identity as a Muslim, and good level of Iman to sail through all types of environments in sha Allah.
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  3. um muhammad al-mahdi
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    um muhammad al-mahdi لا اله الا الله محمد رسول الله Staff Member

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    Assalamu Alaykum sister,

    If the parents cannot afford the Islamic school, they have 2 options: non-Muslim school or homeschooling. Personally I would opt for flexy school (part time school placement and the rest taught at home) and make sure the non-Muslim school is aware of what my son can and cannot do there. If the school is not happy with that, I would look for another school, even if a bit more far from my home. And Allah knows best.

    Jazakillahu khayran
  4. A.Abubaker
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    A.Abubaker Junior Member

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    You have given the intended participants very limited options. what if the only school in your area is a christian school, and for some reason home schooling is not an option?
  5. Mahzala
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    Mahzala فَتَبَارَكَ اللَّهُ أَحْسَنُ الْخَالِقِينَ

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    Wa 'alaykum salaam,

    As if I haven't been ranting about this enough, that I land myself here too :)

    So, Christian schools and Muslim students, do they work? Academically, majority of the time, we pass with flying colours. Religiously, we compromise a lot. It's true that the foundation has to be strong from home regardless of which religious school you enrol a child in, but the biggest challenge in most schools is compulsory participation. Prayer services, Christian studies and singing religious songs on a daily/weekly basis which have deeply rooted connotations, compulsory training to serve the community by 'converting the masses' are among the few. I know and am well aware that studies like these are beneficial, but ultimately, our loyalties to our faith become questionable. Not everyone has positive experiences or opportunities to avoid the compulsory, and @Mabsoot being allowed to do is suggestive of the fact that we shouldn't have to participate in those activities, but then again, the reality is that not every school will give you this choice, not to staff, so students are out of the question.

    Islamically, yes, it might not be prohibited, but there are so many elements to consider in a choice like this that do affect our religion and our purpose. For example, how do you expect a growing girl to adopt love for hijaab when she has to wear short sleeve dresses that only go below the knee, where stockings are only available for winter? And similarly, the expectations are quite neatly defined for boys, where being 'clean shaven', shorts above the knees, specifics about their size are all expected and communicated on a daily basis and can't be challenged. Private Christian schools are great for behaviour management and learning, but when ones religious practices are compromised, one needs to think again. Not every Muslim adolescent is going to use their lunchtime to pray for instance. And so, it goes without saying that if we forego our obligatory purpose and acts of worship, and ultimately replace them with other services and prayers, then clearly, priorities change, ideologies shift and beliefs are distorted.

    As for answering the question, if I had to make a decision for a child in my care, it would be this: primary years in a non Muslim school with a strong religious focus at home. At the secondary level, my choices would be, one, an International Baccalaureate school, two, Islamic school or, three, a private school that is not religiously affiliated.
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2013
  6. Um Ibrahim
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    Um Ibrahim Alhamdulilah :)

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    Jazakalahu Kheyran for your detailed input. I guess you you're right in some way especially about the home and the parents being the greatest influence on the child. But unfortunately some families who take their children to these christian schools are not even practicing Muslims themselves. This is where the child's identity really becomes damaged and might even end up leaving Islam altogether.
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  7. Um Ibrahim
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    Um Ibrahim Alhamdulilah :)

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    Well brother if the only school in your area is a christian school that means there's no other choice. But I was talking about parents with choices and who still take their children to christian schools instead of Islamic schools in their cities or communities.
  8. Um Ibrahim
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    Um Ibrahim Alhamdulilah :)

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    MashaaAllah sister Mahzala, you really bring up good points. It's true, no matter how strong your iman is, you can't get away from all the other stuff going on in a school, especially a Chrisitian school that's designed for Christians. Although it's not impossible to survive and even come out of a school like that with great experience as brother Mabsoot told us, for many children there's something great at risk and that's their Islamic identity and iman. I most definitely would not put my child in a Christian school when I see an Islamic school. Yes some Islamic schools are not that great academically, but Muslims need to work together to make their schools better for our children.
  9. SonOfAdam
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    SonOfAdam Well-Known Member Staff Member

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    I don't advise it. My cousin went to a Christian private school and they would pull him to the side and try to convert him to Christianity and talk bad about Islam in their attempts in doing so. This is the faculty of that school too, not the kids.
  10. Tabassum07
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    Tabassum07 Smile for Allah

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    :salam:

    I actually studied in a convent school till 10th grade, run by nuns. Being in India, there were only a handful of Christian students and most other students were either Muslim or Hindu.

    We were never given Bible classes. But we had "Moral Science" which is common in all schools in India, regardless whether its a convent school or not. So rather than religion, our teachers taught us etiquette, manners, morals and principles that weren't part of any one religion. (Honesty, punctuality, discipline, stuff like that) Yes, we did have morning assembly every day and had to do some hymn singing (our father being the common daily one). But I suppose our parents always told us that Christians call God as Father but we don't believe that, so it was never a big deal. The school was obviously a very good one in terms of discipline and education, so mainly my parents chose it for that reason, and the rest of the public schools were pretty bad. Our school had functions of all the major religious holidays, not just ones centered around Christianity, so I grew up learning about all religions.

    The only thing that stands out to me was a nun who all students used to call "Praise the Lord" because she said that rather than good morning when entering a class. She was a bit of a joke, to be honest. In order to avoid studying, students would say to her "Sister, let's pray!!" And so she would say "Okay, everyone close your eyes and sit peacefully and repeat after me... and she would say stuff like grant us wisdom, forgive us, protect us, praise the Lord... etc etce etc" Something that could be applied to all religions. And then at the end of the class (we just spent the whole time silently laughing, kicking each other under the desks or nudging one another with our elbows trying not to laugh too loudly). Anyway at the end of the class she would say "Now, take out a sheet of paper and write down what you saw." I never saw anything. No one ever saw anything. But for a laugh, some students used to write down "I saw an old man in front of a waterfall, he was dressed in all white." Nonsense like that, and the sister would actually believe them. A few times students asked her to take us to the chapel so we could ditch classes, and she did so gladly - the chapel was just a huge room without any chairs so we would sit on the ground and there was just a cross at the head of the room. Anyway, Nearly everyone almost failed History that particular year (she was History teacher). Um.. she was transferred to a different school some years later. And she used to waste lecture time telling us these weird stories about the marriage proposals she'd gotten when she was young, or stories about how she had sent a letter and forgot to add the address, but it reached its destination anyway. (Around 10 years later, one of my cousins attended the same school and the sister was back there again. Apparently she was still telling the same story of letter without address reaching its destination.)

    I really don't know what to say about my experience. It was just like a normal non-religious school would be, except we were really disciplined to be well-behaved and hard working. There was no Islamic school in my area. I still don't know what to think of my experience there....
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2013
  11. Aapa
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    Aapa Mirajmom

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    Assalaam alaikum,

    We all want the absolute best in terms of education for our children. The question becomes what is the definition of the absolute best.
    This is a deep question. We have to ask ourselves what is that is the end result of a process. I have had the luxury of teaching in many educational institutions. I was a teacher in an all female Muslim academy I would have to say this was the combination of best of both worlds.

    Whereas, the Christian educational institutions do provide an excellent education it is the question of the source of knowledge. Many of the textbooks are written from a Christian perspective. The role of Islam in the world is downplayed. Our intellectuals, our scholars, our contribution to the knowledge of the world and serving the world is reduced to three pages under religious studies in a history textbook. Furthermore, there is no connection between the living faith and its rightful place in current times.

    In many secular schools as well as many Christian schools the issue of gay teachers is overlooked. Do you really want someone who is gay to teach your child? Children love their teachers. They respect the teachers and their views. Do parents have the time to glean the reading material assigned in schools? I have always questioned the reading assignments.

    How do you explain to your child the person they respect and gives them knowledge does not bow down to the Creator or has no notion of the Giver of Life.

    Many Islamic schools are expensive. But, there are simple solutions to some of the expenses. We need more volunteers. If some of our sisters who do not work could teach it would save money. They in turn could use this as a major tax deduction, including gas to go to and from work. Our brothers who are seeking higher degrees could do the same. We need to devote our services to Islamic schools.

    There are few if any disciplinary problems in Islamic schools. If any they are innocent and usually make the staff smile. The Islamic schools are safe for the students.The time spent in the classroom is quality time.

    The trouble with homeschooling is that it makes a child isolated. They do not develop the social skills they need to cope with diversity and situations that are outside the comfort zone. Unless, you have a group of sisters who are invested enough to make a mini-school.

    Forgive me for being so long-winded, but our children are our gifts and we have to think carefully who we give them to be influenced.
  12. Um Ibrahim
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    Um Ibrahim Alhamdulilah :)

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    "Forgive me for being so long-winded, but our children are our gifts and we have to think carefully who we give them to be influenced." I couldn't agree more sister Aapa!
  13. josie_987
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    I agree. I have sent my son to a Catholic school for exactly the same reasons. He is receiving a high quality education, in an environment that supports his educational and emotional needs but is also encouraging of his Islamic faith. He is learning to respect other religions and people different to himself.
    Inshallah he will grow to be a man of whom we can all be proud!!
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