All praise is to Allah, we praise Him, seek His aid, and ask His forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allah from the evils of ourselves, and from the bad consequences of our deeds. Whoever Allah guides there is none who can lead him astray, and whoever Allah leads astray there is none who can guide him.
I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah alone without any partners, and I testify that Muhammad ibn Abdullah, sallalahu allayhe wa salam (peace and blessings be upon him) is His last Prophet and Messenger.
As for what follows...
The Decision to Send Our Daughter to a Muslim School
Shortly after our daughter was born my husband and I decided that I would homeschool her. We did not have any conviction that this was the only way to educate a child, or even that it was the best way to educate a child, but our decision was made mostly out of economic necessity. Although we are fortunate enough to live in an excellent Muslim community that has a good Muslim school for ages Pre-K through high school, mashaAllah, the tuition was so high as to make it prohibitive.
Nonetheless, as our daughter approached Kindergarten age my husband had a change of heart. He was concerned that she would not learn enough Arabic or Qur’an if she stayed at home, so a flurry of preparations to send her off on her big day ensued. Uniforms were sewn, fees were paid and a deal of money was spent on school supplies. It was a struggle to come up with the monthly payments, but we wanted to do the right thing and give our child the education we felt she needed as a Muslim.
Our daughter loved Kindergarten for the first few weeks, mashaAllah. I would wake her up early and she would happily jump out of bed, ready to start her day. She seemed to be learning at least some, and most importantly, she was happy. I felt relieved. I was never one of those mothers who wept at the Kindergarten door after dropping her off at school. I figured; if she’s happy, I’m happy, and left it at that.
The Start of the Problems
Then, in November, it all started to fell apart. Slowly she started complaining about going to school. At first it was only an occasional protest in the morning; an “I’m too tired” despite having gone to bed at 7:30 p.m. the night before. Then she started telling me about problems with her classmates, that she was bored, that she was teased. I tried talking to her and talking to her teacher but with little result. Sure, she had good days, but they came less and less often. Really, she just wanted to be home with me and I began to feel worse and worse about sending her out of the house each morning. Further, it was hard to continue my enthusiasm about school when she obviously hated it so much.
Still, both my husband and I were of the opinion that she should at least give it a try for the year. We reasoned that she had started this thing (Kindergarten) and needed to finish at least that year. I thought that it was important that she learn to finish what she started. We tried being really firm with her saying, “All kids go to school”. As time passed, however, we started to see things that disturbed us about what and how she was being taught. In and of itself, the things that we disliked about school were small, taken individually. However, when they were put all together we saw a disturbing trend towards an unIslamic education – and of course that was the whole point of sending her to a Muslim school – that she be taught to live according to Islam on a day to day basis.
The Reason For the Problems
The first thing that concerned us was that the children were not even encouraged to make salat (pray). It is true that they were not yet 7 – most were 5 or 6. However, how can one expect a child to pray at 7 if they have never learned how? At home she always made salat with us at least once a day, and even in the pre-K the children were rewarded when they made salat. We tried talking to the teacher who insisted that the children should not have to pray until they were 7. Allhumdulilah, things were straightened out when the Principle became involved, but we were disturbed that at a Muslim school we had to fight for our child to even be reminded to pray.
To make it worse, kids would tease or try to pull my daughter’s scarf off. Again, she is far from puberty (Insha'Allah) – the time when she would have to dress more modestly. But in our daughters’ case she ASKED to start wearing a scarf when she was 3 ½. We had told her then that yes, we would allow her to wear a scarf, but that if she started wearing a scarf she would have to continue to wear it...that it would not come off again (in public). She readily agreed to this, and almost never complained about wearing a scarf even if it was very hot out. Basically, she liked being modest and being identified as a Muslim and was very happy about being muhajibah.
So then, imagine our shock and sadness when she was teased about it by her Muslim classmates! She was the only one in the whole kindergarten that always wore a scarf, and she was proud to do so, but it did make her feel bad when others would belittle her for it. I also didn’t want to tell her that she didn’t have to wear it, now, because of peer pressure. That is not the way it is in Islam, of course. We must work to please Allah, not people, Insha'Allah! This was a very sad thing to find in a Muslim school, subhannaAllah.
Finally, it was a bunch of other little things that began to add up:
When our daughter was taught to recite Qur’an she was also taught to say, "Sadek Allahu allathem." after her recitation, and she was chastised for not repeating this phrase. Saying this is bida: there is no evidence whatsoever that Prophet Muhammad, sallalahu allayhe wa salam, said this after his recitation of the Qur’an, even if it seems like a "good" thing to say.1
The children were allowed to watch the videos of the kuffar like 101 Dalmatians with Glenn Close – which is full of music 2. and is about dogs 3.! I had taught our daughter to not listen to music, ever – and that dogs were dirty things that would not make an appropriate pet.
When the children did something good they were rewarded with a big, cutout, smiley face – totally ignoring the Islamic injunction against drawing things with a soul. I had worked for years getting our daughter to understand that we should not draw people or animals, and instead she learned to do this in her Muslim school!4
Her classroom had both boys and girls in it so inevitably her friends were boys as well as girls. Granted, we knew both boys and girls would be in the class together, but we had no idea how much the boys and girls would really play with each other. Because some of the girls in her class were cliquish my daughter would befriend and play with the boys. The concept that we were really trying to get her to understand at home was that girls and boys should not play together. By putting her in a situation where the girls and boys were always together the inevitable was happening: that they would play together. Unfortunately, there was not the option of one sex classrooms at that age.5
Frequently the teachers simply would not actually be there. On more then one occasion, children from the higher grades (7th and up) were recruited to “baby-sit” the Kindergartners. Those poor children’s parents were paying a high, private school tuition so their children could baby-sit my child. Additionally, more often then not the Kindergarten teacher would be left alone with 20 + 5 year olds. Substitute teachers were just not available, evidently.
Although my daughter’s classmates were all Sunni Muslims, Allhumdulilah, they way they were raised at home was sometimes questionable. From her classmates my daughter learned about the things of the Kuffar that she would never, ever have been exposed to from us. Her classmates played Pokemon, were interested in “Sailor Moon”, Superman, Batman etc.… and a variety of other things from the television. The children learned to value these things rather then aspire to be like the numerous good Muslims that they could have for role models.
Certainly, the non-Western advice is to not overprotect one’s child. But subhannaAllah! Should we really follow the advice of the kuffar? Instead, we should follow the advice of our beloved Prophet, sallalahu allayhe wa salam: "A person is likely to follow the faith of his friend, so look to whom you befriend." (Abu Dawud and Tirmidi) We have to look carefully at HOW the Muslims around us practice their Islam. One should, of course, not be judgmental or harsh with the Muslims that we do not agree with – they are our brothers and sisters in Islam. However we also have to remember that the way in which someone practices their Islam will influence us. So we should take care to befriend those who practice Islam better then we do, and work to improve our deen and our manners Insha'Allah Is this not even more true for the children as they are so easily influenced, Insha'Allah?
In March the Arabic teacher simply “took a vacation” for 3 weeks without notifying the parents what was happening. Rumours were spread that perhaps she was coming back; but then again, maybe not. For us, that was the deciding factor. If the whole point of so much straining financially had been for our daughter to learn Arabic and Qur’an and now that teacher had just decided to not teach for awhile with no warning whatsoever, there was no point in keeping her in school any longer.
We pulled our daughter out the next day.
My point is this: these things all occurred in a good, Sunni Muslim school. SubhannaAllah!
The End Result
Allhumdulilah, now that we have been homeschooling things are getting better. While there are, of course, good days and bad days still, at least we can be assured that we are doing our utmost to make sure our family is raised following Islam according to the Qur’an and the Sunnah. She is now not used to playing with boys, and Insha'Allah, never will be. She is not being taught bid’ah, Insha'Allah She is not exposed to music or kaffir ideals, Insha'Allah She is learning how to make salat properly, Insha'Allah She IS learning Arabic and Qur’an mashaAllah, as well as Islamic Studies, and all the other “core” subjects, Insha'Allah
Allhumdulilah, Allah has made it easy for us to have our daughter back, Insha'Allah May Allah make it easy for all the Muslims to practice their deen, and may He forgive me and all the believers! Ameen!
Footnotes 1. Praise be to Allah.
Many people have the habit of ending a recitation from the Qur’aan with the words "Sadaqa Allaahu al-‘Azeem (Almighty Allah. has spoken the truth)," but this has no basis in Islam because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah. be upon him) did not do it, nor was it the custom of the Sahaabah (may Allah. be pleased with them), and it was unknown among the Taabi’een (the generation after the Sahaabah). This custom arose in later times because some recitors would say these words, on the basis of the ayah: "Say: Allah. has spoken the truth" [Aal ‘Imraan 3:95 – interpretation of the meaning], and people liked this. But this istihsaan (being liked) should be rejected, because if this was really something good, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah. be upon him), the Sahaabah and the Taabi’een – the salaf or first and best generations of the ummah – would not have neglected to do it.
The ayah"Say: Allah. has spoken the truth” (Aal ‘Imraan 3:95 – interpretation of the meaning) does not mean that these words should be said at the end of any reading or recitation. If that were the case, He would have said, "When you finish reading, say ‘Allah. has spoken the truth,’" just as He said (interpretation of the meaning): "So when you want to recite the Qur’aan, seek refuge with Allah. from Shaytaan (Satan), the outcast (the cursed one)." [al-Nahl 16:98] The ayah which the innovators use to support their practice of saying "Sadaqa Allah." after reciting Qur’aan was actually revealed in the context of confirming what was said about how all food had been lawful to Bani Isra’eel except what Isra’eel had made unlawful for himself. Allah. said (interpretation of the meaning): "… Say (O Muhammad): ‘Bring here the Tawraat (Torah) and recite it, if you are truthful.’ Then, after that, whosoever shall invent a lie against Allah., such shall indeed be the zaalimoon (disbelievers). Say (O Muhammad), ‘Allah. has spoken the truth; follow the religion of Ibraaheem (Islamic monotheism, i.e., he used to worship Allah. alone), and he was not of al-mushrikeen (polytheists)."[Aal ‘Imraan 3:93-95]
If this ayah meant that these words should be said after reciting from the Qur’aan, the first one to know and do this would have been the Messenger of Allah. (peace and blessings of Allah. be upon him). Because this is not the case, we know that this is not what was meant.
In conclusion, therefore, saying “Sadaqa Allaahu al-‘Azeem” after reciting Qur’aan is an innovation, and the Muslim should not say it.
But believing that Allah. has spoken the truth is obligatory, and whoever disbelieves or doubts the truth of what Allah. has said is a kaafir who is outside of the pale of Islam. We seek refuge with Allah. from that.
If a person says "Allah. has spoken the truth" on certain occasions, such as when something He has foretold comes to pass, affirming the truth of what He has said, then this is permissible, because something similar has been reported in the Sunnah. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah. be upon him) was giving a speech, and al-Hasan and al-Husayn came along, so he came down from the minbar, picked them up and put them in from of him, then he said: "Indeed Allah. has spoken the truth: ‘Your wealth and your children are only a trial…’" [al-Taghaabun 64:15 – interpretation of the meaning].
Izaalat al-sitaar ‘an al-jawaab al-mukhtaar by Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, 79-80). ( Answer taken from Islam Question and Answer Library)
2. The Noble Qur'an - Luqman 31:6
And of mankind is he who purchases idle talks (i.e. music, singing, etc.) to mislead (men) from the Path of Allah without knowledge, and takes it (the Path of Allah, the Verses of the Qur'an) by way of mockery. For such there will be a humiliating torment (in the Hell-Fire).
Ibn Masood (ra) said about this verse "I swear by the One other than Whom there is no God that it refers to singing [ghinaa].", and he repeated this three times. Ibn Abbaas (ra) said it referred to 'singing and the like' while Jaabir (ra) is reported to view its meaning to signify singing and listening to songs. Many taabi'oon such as Mujaahid, Ikrimah, Mak-hool and Umar ibn Shu'ayb viewed it as a censure of music and song.
3. Hadith - Bukhari 3:515, Narrated Abu Huraira
I heard Allah's Apostle saying;"Angels (of Mercy) do not enter a house wherein there is a dog or a picture of a living creature (a human being or an animal)."
4. Hadith -Bukhari 4:47, Narrated 'Aisha
I stuffed for the Prophet a pillow decorated with pictures (of animals) which looked like a Namruqa (i.e. a small cushion). He came and stood among the people with excitement apparent on his face. I said, "O Allah's Apostle! What is wrong?" He said, "What is this pillow?" I said, "I have prepared this pillow for you, so that you may recline on it." He said, "Don't you know that angels do not enter a house wherein there are pictures; and whoever makes a picture will be punished on the Day of Resurrection and will be asked to give life to (what he has created)?"
5. Praise be to Allah.
The meeting together, mixing, and intermingling of men and women in one place, the crowding of them together, and the revealing and exposure of women to men are prohibited by the Law of Islam (Shari'ah). These acts are prohibited because they are among the causes for fitnah (temptation or trial which implies evil consequences), the arousing of desires, and the committing of indecency and wrongdoing.
Among the many proofs of prohibition of the meeting and mixing of men and women in the Qur’aan and Sunnah are:
Verse No. 53 of Surat al-Ahzab, or the Confederates (Interpretation of the meaning); "...for anything ye want, ask them from before a screen: that makes for greater purity for your hearts and for theirs..."
In explaining this Verse, Ibn Kathir (May Allah. have mercy on him) said: "Meaning, as I forbade you to enter their rooms, I forbid you to look at them at all. If one wants to take something from a woman, one should do so without looking at her. If one wants to ask a woman for something, the same has to be done from behind a screen."
The Prophet (May peace and blessings be upon him) enforced separation of men and women even at Allah.’s most revered and preferred place, the mosque. This was accomplished via the separation of the women’s rows from the men’s; men were asked to stay in the mosque after completion of the obligatory prayer so that women will have enough time to leave the mosque; and, a special door was assigned to women. Evidence of the foregoing are:
Umm Salamah (May Allah be pleased with her) said that after Allah’s Messenger (May peace and blessings be upon him) said “’As-Salamu ‘Alaykum wa Rahmatullah’ twice announcing the end of prayer, women would stand up and leave. He would stay for a while before leaving. Ibn Shihab said that he thought that the staying of the Prophet (May peace and blessings be upon him) was in order for the women to be able to leave before the men who wanted to depart." Narrated by al-Bukhari under No. 793.
Abu Dawood under No. 876 narrates the same hadith in Kitab al-Salaat under the title "Insiraaf an-Nisaa’ Qabl al-Rijaal min al-Salaah" (Departure of Women before Men after the Prayer). Ibn ‘Umar said that Allah’s Messenger (May peace and blessings be upon him) said: "We should leave this door (of the mosque) for women." Naafi’ said: "Ibn ‘Umar never again entered through that door until he died." Narrated by Abu Dawood under No. 484 in "Kitab as-Salah" under the Chapter entitled: "at-Tashdid fi Thalik".
Abu Hurayrah said that the Prophet (May peace and blessings be upon him) said: "The best of the men’s rows is the first and the worst is the last, and the best of the women’s rows is the last and the worst in the first." Narrated by Muslim under No. 664.
This is the greatest evidence that the Law of Islam (Shari'ah) forbids meeting and mixing of men and women. The farther the men are from the women’s rows, the better, and vice versa.
If these procedures and precautions were prescribed and adhered to in a mosque, which is a pure place of worship where people are as far away as they ever are from the arousal of desire and temptation, then no doubt the same procedures need to be followed even more rigorously at other places.
Abu Usayd al-Ansari narrated that he heard Allah’s Messenger (May peace and blessings be upon him) say to the women on his way out of the mosque when he saw men and women mixing together on their way home: ‘Give way (i.e., walk to the sides) as it is not appropriate for you to walk in the middle the road.’ Thereafter, women would walk so close to the wall that their dresses would get caught on it. Narrated by Abu Dawood in "Kitab al-Adab min Sunanihi, Chapter: Mashyu an-Nisa Ma’ ar-Rijal fi at-Tariq"