Posts Tagged ‘American Muslims’

Chris Rock Reads Muhammad Ali’s Remarks for Hope for Haiti Telethon

January 23, 2010

Chris Rock and Muhammad Ali at Hope for Haiti telethon. Rock reads a statement prepared by Ali which speaks about the importance of charity in Islam and for all human beings.

Both Islamic Relief and Zakat Foundation are among the charities delivering assistance to the people of Haiti.

New York Times: Many Muslims Turn to Home Schooling

March 27, 2008
Karima Tung, 12, one of three girls home-schooled by their mother, Fawzia Mai Tung. An important part of the school day: reading the Koran.  
Many Muslims Turn to Home Schooling
Published: March 26, 2008
Across the United States, Muslims who find that a public school education clashes with their religious or cultural traditions have turned to educating their children at home.

See the full article here.

Abu Noor’s comments:

 The article seems a little jumbled to me.  It seems the author believed (based on some kind of statistical analysis in one very small area and I’m not sure what else) that the root of the phenomenon of Muslim home schooling was about Muslims wanting to keep their daughters out of school (and perhaps society in general) especially after they hit puberty.  Even though he felt he had statistics to back this up based on the fact that more girls were homeschooled than boys, he could not really get any Muslim parents who would talk with him to describe their reasoning in this way.  So, he reported some of the other reasons and some of their quotes but he still basically described the phenomenon the way he saw it.

Now, I wouldn’t deny that keeping kids away from the aspects of society and especially the public schools for adolescents that Muslim parents perceive as harmful is part of the drive for both Muslim schools and home schooling.  In many areas Muslim schools are not that plentiful, or parents cannot afford them, or some parents feel they may have some of the same issues the public schools have. 

The article mentions some factors that complicate this, though.  There are many converts who choose to homeschool and largely these are people who are from this country and who themselves grew up in the regular public school system.  These people often of course have the zeal of the convert as well as knowing exactly what goes in the culture.  Of course, other converts may take the attitude that they “turned out alright” or that they want their kids to be comfortable dealing with the whole society.   On the other hand, some recent immigrants may be more fearful of the society (especially for their daughters because there is no doubt that double standard is strong in many Muslim immigrant cultures) while other immigrants came here so that their children will have educational and therfore financial opportunities. 

 There is also a phenomenon represented most famously by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf of a deep critique of the American educational system which goes far beyond the normal concerns about being exposed to bad influences of other kids with different moral values.  Shaykh Hamza had a famous lecture several years ago entitled “Lambs to the Slaughter” about the Western educational system and he has promoted home schooling alongside non-Muslim critics of current prevailing educational methods such as John Taylor Gatto.  Of course one perhaps paradoxical thing you will notice about many of Shaykh Hamza’s closest followers and just fans in general is that most of them are people who are either converts or children of immigrants who who have in most cases gone through the mainstream Western educational system and usually done very well in it.   

Of course, because there are at least “two Americas” it also matters if one lives in a place where the public schools are any good or a place where they are a disaster.  Similarly the whole notion of home schooling or attending a Muslim school requires communities that are either wealthy or who are really willing to sacrifice to create an alternative educational pathway for their children.  This is one thing I have to admire about the people I come from, the catholics in America, is that even at a time when most of them were not wealthy and many were immigrants they sacrificed and struggled to establish a massive alternative educational system in this country at a time when in many places the regular public school system was unabashedly a protestant one. 

My own oldest daughter, Noor (obviously!) attended a Muslim school for two years and has now attended a public school for two years since we have moved to a community with an outstanding and diverse school system (diverse racially and socially, but hardly any other Muslims).  She’s still young and we’ve been very happy with her teachers in both the Muslim school and the public school.  So, we’ll see what happens…we’re kinda making it up as we go along.  I am a big supporter of Muslim schools because I think its important that we have such institutions in our community but I must say that even in an area like the Chicago metropolitan area with hundreds of thousands of Muslims and despite all the impressive sacrifices and work of the last generation (May Allaah (swt) reward them for I grow more and more amazed at what they did accomplish as I get older) there is still only enough Muslim school infrastructure to educate a very small fraction of the Muslim children.  And with all the challenges inherent in trying to homeschool, it is clear that barring some major unforeseen change in the community, the vast majority of American Muslim school children will grow up attending the public school system, for good or for ill.