Tag Archives: Home Schooling

I’m Not Running Away But…

Assalaamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuhu,

I’ve been going through a period of introspection lately, as I often do, every few months or year or two but this time it’s been much deeper and broader in scope than anything I’ve probably done since I said my Shahadah nearly 16 (lunar) years ago and indeed has lasted months not the days or weeks it has before.

Normally I pause, I reflect, maybe do a bit of research and ask people I trust around me and I correct my course slightly but still moving onward and upward again in the same direction more or less but this time it I find myself unable to move on again, I am frozen in place, and think I must choose a different path to what I’ve been on before.

Do they not think deeply about themselves? Allah has created not the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them, except with truth and for an appointed term. And indeed many of mankind deny the Meeting with their Lord.
Quran translation, Surah Ar-Rum, 8:8

I’ve come to realise the image of myself I have in my head, which in some ways is a reflection of what others think of me in the community and that I’ve taken their word for is not actually true. It is not me as I know me truly or a accurate reflection of how I feel in my interactions with others and I am not being honest with them, or my family or myself to continue this lie, and it is a lie in part at least.

Until now I thought myself in some ways a deep thinker, an activist, a Da’ee, a caller to the truth, the community reformer, even if only on a very modest scale but the truth is I am far from these things, I barely have mastery of my own household and it’s development or reform, or indeed of myself which is where the heart of this problem I think comes from.

Like many other reverts, almost since I said my Shahadah I’ve been pushed into this role, and that’s not to blame others, I’ve relished it,  and ran with it from the beginning, and the mistake of faking becoming this thing I am not, of fooling myself is my own way.

This has really hit home this ramadhan and especially last night at a community iftar meal, when I was speaking to an elderly brother who I know thinks a great deal of the work I do in the community. We spoke about family, and also homeschooling and he made mention how it must be good for the kids to benefit from a father who is able to teach them so much in terms of the deen and life.

I had to be truthful, tell him straight up this is not me, I do a little, but barely anything in terms of my kids Islamic education, or indeed other educational needs other than offering words of advice as any father would, that such lessons are taken up by my wife, my children’s devoted mother who has in her efforts to become a better home-schooler educated herself in ways I have not over the years.

This conversation, though brief prayed upon me all night, stopped me sleeping even the little hours I had to sleep, though the migraine which came in the middle which jammed the on-switch on my brain probably didn’t help, but this discussion played over and over in my mind summed up neatly my thoughts through many wakeful nights these past few months.

I know my own weaknesses, I cannot allow the assumptions of others that I am someone good or great at what I do to hide the truth, at least to myself that I am not that person they think I am. Allah knows the truth, I know the truth and I am not really helping anyone, least of all myself to continue to pretend otherwise.

In the past I’ve fooled myself I would change, become this person as time went on as I lived it, but looking back to my recent past this has just not happened, and I think for the past few years I’ve known this and hidden it deep within myself.

“It is in the nature of the human being to seek a justification for his actions.”
– Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation V-VII

I am only child in the fields I dabble in, fundamentally lacking in anything more than basic knowledge and so unable to enact change in anyway like the effectiveness I wish I could achieve.

My self development over the years has been severely lacking, forget learning arabic I am still struggling with reading the Quran fluently after 16 years of Islam and though languages is the one major area of learning I struggle with, I’ve allowed this difficulty to stop me even trying in anything like a meaningful way.

This Ramadhan has been the first time in years I have regularly prayed my sunnah prayers, rather than just the fard ones, my practice and knowledge is severely lacking yet the classes, the access to knowledge and skills was out there, I allowed myself to be distracted by being busy, but in an ineffectual manner.

In other fields I have a cursory understanding and knowledge, and being the one eyed man I’ve allowed myself to be setup as a ruler or at least and adviser among the blind when I know I can be, and should be far more.

In every aspect of my life I am falling short, deeni and other education, health and fitness, character and moral fibre, family and home, community and social life, career and wealth.

I am spread thin, running from area to area, helping this person or that project at an individual or small scale yes, but failing to build systems which could help enact change on the level on which it needs to take place.

It’s not enough, I cannot help others this way, or myself. I need to withdraw, reeducate myself, strengthen my being, redefine who I am internally and then have that reflected externally, so I become the man I know I could be, which others now wrongly think I am.

If I don’t the alternative is to know I ultimately fail in life. Myself, my family, my community and ultimately Allah who has the parameters of my being and how far I could truly go if only I pushed myself as I should and who knows how short I fall in reaching those limits.

So I am not running away, not exactly. I cannot stop everything which I have been doing, the need is too great and others are not yet willing to pick up those burdens but I am over the coming months going to be withdrawing from some activities where I can, taking up less new projects, freeing up the time I need, the space I need to grow and learn and become who I know I need to be.

I need my space each month, my time away in the cave of Hira, relaxation and reflection and not to be so busy with life and activism that I am stuck in being the role rather than becoming the man who can truly fulfill it as it needs to be filled.

For those worried about such things, I am not burned out, far from it, I am more determined than ever but I know continuing the way I have been for so long would ultimately lead me to that end, I’ve seen enough activists fall over the years to see the warning signs in myself and to take steps to avoid them if Allah wills it.

Writing is also something which I have neglected and I’ll probably be blogging more over this time also, I find I need to vent, and find the truth in what psychologists say, that far from thinking before we speak, instead giving word to my innermost thoughts helps me clarify what is true and good for me and others. I need to hear the words, or see them written to see the truth in them or not.

It is my sincere hope, that if Allah wills it, I can come back in a few years as a better man,  someone people can genuinely look up to but I am not willing to keep living right now as someone I am not and if not at least I will have tried.

Assalaamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuhu,

Gingerbeardman

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This Person Could Be Teaching Your Kids

Assalaamu Alaykum,

Though this letter is probably bogus, I am sure many of us have at times come across teachers like Adam Hilliker here, who regard questioning their authority as only a shade below questioning the will of God.

Though I am certain there are many great teachers out there, there are also way too many who teach by rote, rigidly according to the set syllabus, or else are themselves trapped in the mindset of modern western education, a methodology designed to mold and train our children and youth to become obedient workers rather than thinkers and creators of ideas.

This is one of the many reasons why myself and my wife chose to home school our kids and have stuck to that decision when many others have fallen by the wayside, gone over to the dark side of packing their kids off to secular schools in the UK.

You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah .
Quran translation, Surah Ale ‘Imran, 3:110

How can we hope to rise up to that level and be the best nation when we have given up on  trying to change the crookedness of society around us?

May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala protect all our kids, and allow us to be his instruments in raising up a generation who come to set a better example for the whole of mankind, not just to be conformists, but changers and reformers of society, enjoining the ma’roof and forbidding the munkar, ameen

Assalaamu Alaykum,

Gingerbeardman

 

HOMESCHOOLING – YES, SOCIALIZATION CAN BE A PROBLEM

Article taken from Sisters-Magazine – https://www.sisters-magazine.com/2016/04/12/bookshelf-fitra-journal/

In this excerpt from the new Muslim Homeschool Quarterly, Fitra Journal, Jamila Alqarnain admits that socialization can be a problem though it shouldn’t be a deterrent.

fitna journal

Yes, Socialization Can Be A Problem
By Jamila Alqarnain

The subject of socialization frequently pops up in the homeschool community. It seems we are always on the defense, trying to convince someone that homeschooled children have just as many opportunities to socialize with other kids as they would if they went to public school. We come up against the “What about socialization?” question not just from the anti-homeschool club, but also from worried parents who are considering the homeschool route. It’s natural that we have become defensive about it. Having the same question asked over and over again can do that to a person. However, I feel like as homeschoolers, we are so sensitive about this subject that we spend most of our time defending ourselves and not addressing the fact that this can be an issue for some families.

Of course homeschooling does not mean a child has to be doomed to a life of solitude. We know that there are plenty of social butterflies having all sorts of awesome adventures in homeschooling. The issue is that not everyone is having a wonderful time of it. Not everyone’s experience is the same. I think that the point should be made to parents considering homeschooling that it is really important to make sure kids have ample opportunity to get out of the house and be around their peers. Most of us simply do not realize that some families are having this problem. This is why I chose to address this unpopular and preferably ignored issue: to build awareness.

When I was working on my book The Muslim Family Guide to Successful Homeschooling, I interviewed adults who had been homeschooled when they were young children. Some complained about not getting out enough to be with other children. They felt that because of this they did not have valuable social skills. They were lonely, and unhappy with their homeschooling experience. I don’t believe that their parents were lazy or unwilling to find outlets for the children. Parents may not know what to do with their children and there may not be a lot of other homeschoolers in the area.

One sister said she lived in a small town and there simply wasn’t that much to do there. We all know that there are some Muslim women who, for whatever reason, just don’t get out a lot. So when they start homeschooling they stay in their usual routine of being homebodies. These sisters need to hear about the importance of taking their kids on playdates, enrolling them in classes, joining co-ops, finding sport outlets, etc. There are questions that they should ask themselves before starting their journey: Are there any other families homeschooling in my area? What classes are offered in my area? If there just aren’t a lot of opportunities for socialization locally, is relocating an option? Can we drive a little further out to meet up with other homeschooling families? What about our masjid? Is there a youth group or other opportunities for my child to socialize with other Muslim kids?

If parents come together and really give these things some thought, they will likely make a way to find plenty of opportunities for their kids to meet up with other kids. This may be more difficult for some than it is for others but it is still possible. We just have to make sure that we leave no stone unturned and take advantage of all the resources available to us.

The ultimate goal is make sure that our children have the best homeschool experience that we can provide. It is on us to ensure that their needs are being met and they are growing, not just academically, but spiritually and characteristically. In order to do that sometimes it takes strategic planning, especially when it’s not clear where the tools we need to meet our children’s needs are going to come from. Do some sleuthing around in your community. More than likely the answers are there. If we make lots of dua while looking for solutions Allah will make a way. He always does.

Jamila Alqarnain, a native of Buffalo, New York, and a 2nd generation Muslim, was an active child whose hobbies included sewing, arts, and crafts, reading, drawing and writing stories. She teamed up with her sister and co-founded Noon Publications. In 2005, she published her first book, The Muslim Family Guide to Successful Homeschooling.

Fitra Journal is published by and for Muslim homeschoolers across the globe and is available through Amazon in print and digital format. Email editor@fitrajournal.com for info on submissions, advertising, and wholesale orders.