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High School Life: The Muslim Scene

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highschool.jpgWritten in conjunction with Su’di Abdulahi, my friend and a student of Abu AnonyMouse’s Madrasah.

Living Islam while in the West – it’s a common topic, especially with regards to youth. However, many of the articles and lectures on the subject are by those who have already left high school, and so I’ve decided to go to someone who’s still living in the trenches, so to speak. Let’s give a warm welcome to my friend and our sister in Islam, Su’di!

AM: All right, so let’s start with the ever-popular question: What are challenges that you face as a Muslimah trying to practice Islam in a fitnah-fied environment like high school?

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SA: In no particular order, here goes! The problems can be summarized in the following:

  • Compromising Deen to fit in with people. You have the choice of either hanging out with people – whichever group you’re drawn to and accepts you – and being around them while they’re doing haraam, or stay away from all the drama and haraam-ness but with the result of being a loner.
  • Always under pressure: please the “cool people” and you’re liable to get in trouble with your teachers, your parents, and ultimately Allah; please your teachers/ your parents/ Allah and you end up a social reject or outcast.
  • Costs too much to keep staying “hip” and “cool” – on both your emaan and on your wallet! What’s In one day is Out the next… save up a hundred dollars to buy a certain pair of running shoes, only to wake up the next morning to be looked down on because “Those are sooooooooooo last week!”
  • People think it’s cool to be a bum. If you attend class and actually try to get good grades, you’re a loser. This isn’t a specifically Muslim thing, but whatever… it’s still there, and it’s still pretty stupid.

AM: Wow… okay, so how do you deal with it all?

SA: Ditch everyone. Cut off ties with all those people who drag you down into their petty drama. Stop answering their calls. At school, hang out in different places. If you have spare blocks, like I do, and can go home for the next hour or two – do it. It’s better to spend most of your spare time taking the buss or walking home and back, and being able to at least recite adkhaar or go over what you’ve memorized of Qur’an, than hanging out with people who are just going to get you in trouble.

In a city like ours, where there’s only one or two Muslims in the whole school, there’s no point in trying to make “good friends,” because there are none to be made. Everyone’s a crackhead or a wannabe thug or a crazy partier.

AM: Tell us about one particular experience of yours that you think would benefit MM readers.

SA: Okay… here goes.
For me the real ‘turn around’ was when my dad pointed something out to me. Remember that one day we met up Downtown and we walked around and stuff and you blew bubbles? Ahaha, good times, good times! Anyway, I wore an abaya. A short time later my dad dropped me off at a Muslim girl’s house, except this time he noticed I didn’t wear the abaya. He asked me why it was that I wore an abaya around you but not Sayeeda (the other friend, who isn’t religious, which I felt I had to do because I didn’t want her to think of me differently or be embarrassed of me). That question kinda shocked me and I realized that I was being a hypocrite.
That feeling burnt me inside spiritually and I felt bad about it. But I didn’t change right there and then. It took other times where the hypocrisy of wearing abaya around certain people and not others came in, and I really changed for good. Times like when I went to Madarasah, I would only wear abaya on Fridays because on Fridays Husnia would give us a ride to Madarasah, and then I wouldn’t have to face the traffic staring at me for what I was wearing. On Tuesdays and Thursdays when we would have to walk, I wore the same black skirt, I figured a skirt isn’t as embarassing as an abaya. And at school I wouldn’t even wear the skirt, instead wore tight jeans. (Astaghfirullah! Oh Allah please forgive me for my days of ignorance!!!) When non-Muslim friends would come to my door and I was wearing the abaya, I would quickly go change my clothes. And finally I had to make a decision. And I made the right one, al-Hamdulillah! Thats how I changed. So in conclusion, you should know that if you sincerely want to change, you will do it inshaAllah, but the need and the desire to change must be there!

End of sort-of-interview.

(Note: I asked her the questions, took her answers down in point form, and then cobbled together the above. It’s a somewhat more eloquent version of what we managed to put together during break time at the Madrasah.)

High school life is tough, especially for Muslims. There are so many problems that young Muslims face, and it’s difficult to handle them… and how you deal with them often depends on your personality, your willpower, and above all, your emaan.

For example, if you’re the tough type, you can just not care about everyone else and happily take on the label of “loner” if it means staying away from the haraam. For others, it’s a bit more difficult to leave friends and cliques, to handle the gossip and malicious behaviour of others towards you when you try to be different.
Again, it’s especially hard when there are few or no Muslims at the same school or in your grade (or of your gender!) because you automatically end up becoming friends with non-Muslims. Not that there’s anything really wrong with that if you stay away from the “bad stuff”, but it does eventually affect your actions, your behaviour, and ultimately your emaan.

So, here are a few final words of advice:

– Keep strong in your belief in Allah. Have taqwah. Remember that wherever you are, whatever you do, whoever you’re with, Allah Sees and Hears and Knows all.
– Think of this as character building. Develop yourself so that you’re strong enough to not care what others say about you… it’s whether you’re pleasing Allah or not that matters. Acting on what others demand from you will get you nowhere but in trouble.
– You HAVE to WANT to change, and put up with the zillions of problems and obstacles that will come in your way. It’s not going to be easy. The only thing that will pull you through it all will be your emaan and your willpower.
– When the going gets tough, the tough start making du’a! Du’a is the weapon of the believer, and whenever you feel like it’s getting too hard, drop a couple rak’aat wherever you are and beg of Allah to grant you strength and patience to get through it.

May Allah grant all of us who are struggling with the fitnah of this world the strength of emaan, determination, willpower, and patience to get through it all safely, ameen!

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Zainab bint Younus (AnonyMouse) is a Canadian Muslim woman who writes on Muslim women's issues, gender related injustice in the Muslim community, and Muslim women in Islamic history. She holds a diploma in Islamic Studies from Arees University, a diploma in History of Female Scholarship from Cambridge Islamic College, and has spent the last fifteen years involved in grassroots da'wah. She was also an original founder of MuslimMatters.org.

74 Comments

74 Comments

  1. Danya

    December 7, 2007 at 10:12 AM

    I went to a public high school and a private middle school that in some ways was like a high school (similar drama and pressure).

    In middle school, I had a pretty low self-esteem and I really wanted to fit in. I wanted to hang out with the cool girls, be “cool” and stuff like that. I even made fun of other people because hey, it was cool and at least I was not the one being made fun of. There’s not too many Islamic rules you can break in middle school though, but same idea. One day, the most popular girl and I were talking and she pretty much told me how she didn’t like her “best friend” (who people saw as her “sidekick” not really someone who was “cool” in and of herself), that she didn’t like most of the kids, and she didn’t like being all that much popular and that she really liked me. Well, while those words really hit me because I realized things probably are not what they seem, but I never saw that translated into action so it didn’t really matter.

    In high school, it wasn’t too bad because I was in the IB program (short International Baccalaureate, which is an international intensive program, similar to taking 6 AP classes per semester). As such, it was not loser-ish to study, in fact, it was “good” to be smart (but not nerdy!) and the students were generally more open minded. I made a few friends but once they started to have more mixed parties, started drinking, etc it was difficult to fit in. People liked me and all, but there was always that feeling of being left out. Alhamdulillah though I pretty much stuck to my guns because I knew deep down inside that being “cool” is highly overrated and who needs that drama? I had enough of my own problems to deal with.

    In law school though, it’s somewhat similar because at every event (even school-related events), there is alcohol. I mean these people looove, loove, looooove drink. I did find a group of students who were more toned down and did not drink so much (some rarely) so it’s good.

    At the end of the day, you don’t need that many “friends” (actually, it’s probably better to stay in a smaller circle, less headache). Just be nice to everyone and do your thing, but popularity, especially the superficial kind, IS overrated.

  2. Nasir

    December 7, 2007 at 1:06 PM

    The best thing to do is enroll in an Islamic school or at least move to an area where there’s other muslims.

    Its negligent and foolish to send a young girl to a school where she is the only muslim. And its not reasonable to think she can turn out a good muslim.

    In circumstances like that she would be under severe pressure.

    It’s putting your son/daughter in difficult circumstances.

    The odds are she will turn out just like the non muslims girls, at best the girl will have the manners and attitude of non muslims wrapped in a hijaab.

    I’m not so much talking about where theres a group of brothers or sisters in a school, but rather a school where a muslim would feel like a “loner” or where as the article said,

    “You have the choice of either hanging out with people – whichever group you’re drawn to and accepts you ”

    If there’s not a group of muslims there, you should find another school.

  3. AnonyMouse

    December 7, 2007 at 1:45 PM

    Brother Nasir, keep in mind that there are cities – like mine – where the Muslim population is tiny and scattered.
    There are hardly enough children to fill up even one class at a school by themselves, and building a Muslim school is an option that is financially impossible.
    Moving to another city is not a viable option for many families, either, especially considering the economic status of most people in the community here.

  4. WhyAreZee

    December 7, 2007 at 2:30 PM

    Salaam,

    I came across this blog/article because someone sent it to me saying that it reminded them of MY high school experiences and all the drama I faced. One exception- i wasn’t in the West.

    I grew up as a desi in the arab world (okay, yes Dubai is quite the city of sin, but I finished school in 2002 and prior to that it was not as morally deficient),and had the same problems around me. They were actually even worse at times, because you had lots of muslims around you, who were indulging and experimenting in all things questionable.

    Talk about being alienated- you can’t separate yourself from them as easily- after all they were also are muslim, desi. I knew girls who wore hijabs, but also had boyfriends- and the boyfriend would be the only guy who saw her hair!! Not only was that just plain wrong, it was the non-muslims who’d pick up on the hypocrisy, and then end up questioning the hijab as well.

    I didn’t wear a hijab in school, but I was uncool, morally uptight, loser, all those lovely things because I didn’t date, didn’t go to parties etc. And worst of all, people refused to believe that I was ‘clean cut’, so when time came for someone to get pissed off about me and spread some nasty rumors about my reputation, it was easier for people to swallow the dirt than believe that one of their peers was ‘so good’. Aah, high school, how you scarred me ;)

    Coming to college for undergrad in the US was an eye-opener too. My naive assumptions of how high school kids back home (ie Pakistan for me) lived up to higher, more conservative moral standards were shattered. You assume that its good ol America that introduces them to hedonistic ways, When you sit down to talk to them, you realize, sex, drugs, alcohol, its happening everywhere, not just in the West.

    And along with all of this, goes the sheer hypocrisy of it all: everyone knows its wrong, but its still happening, and more and more, people are talking about it openly amongst their peers. Sure its less prevalent openly, but its there. And the overarching conservative atmosphere of the cultures just pushes these things underground, where you’re tempted to indulge in the excesses even more.

    I have younger siblings and cousins in high school, again in dubai and pakistan, and talking to them scares me. They talk about relationships they see amongst their peers in ways I’m not even ready to think about, even though i’m 7-9 years older. The norms for appropriate behavior have slipped – in particular when it comes to what you wear and who you hang out with, and I’ve started to feel extremely old, and im not yet 24!! However, since these are kids I love and care about, my self appointed role is of being the ‘cool yet religious yet ambitious’ older sister who they can talk to without feeling judged and more importantly, to be a role model.

    I feel like I can’t impose an absolute moral standard on them, because chances are, they will rebel, stop trusting me and I will have no idea what they’re up to – which describes the relationship many teens have with their parents these days. My role with them is to make them feel comfortable enough to tell me what goes on in their lives– whether its boys, concerts, parties. None of this is right on an absolute level, they know it and they are reminded constantly, but I recognize that its better that they tell me openly about what they’re up to so that I can stop things before they get too far–“sure you can tell me about a crush you have, but if you so much as even think about going out with him, I’ll make sure you’re grounded till your wedding day.” “Sure I’ll take you shopping, but you’re not buying that top while I’m with you..” I’m not sure how affective it is, but I get my message across, and I’ve got the trust of these girls who really need to see some positive role models who dont place cool/modern/ambitious on the opposite end of the table from religious. And they open up to me alot and look to me for advice. (I’m filling in the void created by a generation gap). Not talking about these things with them won’t make them go away, it will only take the conversation elsewhere, where you can’t be sure if the person on the other hand has their best interests in mind.
    Hopefully, this has some sort of a long term effect, so when that teenage urge to rebel and be “cool” subsides, they’ve had some sense knocked into them in the meanwhile which will help them lead better lives.

    To get teenagers to develop a sense of spirituality and religious responsibility is a wonderful goal, but its not always possible. Its a function of your environment, your parents and even your self esteem. In the US, I feel parents often try much harder to get their kids into Islam, whereas back home, its taken for granted and you float along with the societal norms of the time, even if they are flouting on religious principles. There’s also the notion of muslim community in the west that can serve as a safe space, that often disappears in ‘muslim societies’. Finding that support system is so much harder.

    I personally think self esteem, in combination with faith, is the most important factor– when you’ve got the confidence to be able to set yourself apart from the pack and not feel horribly isolated or alone because of it because you know God’s watching and taking care of you, you can assert your moral standards too. And developing self esteem in teenagers, particularly girls? It was painful for me, so I empathize. The last thing you need is more and more criticism and guilt, which is often how religious standards are presented to kids, which make you feel even worse. Even if the criticism is justified and it comes from people you care about, it crushes you. Thats not healthy on any aspect, and in the delicate yet formative teenage years, these kids need all the support they can get.

    As for friends, here’s a lesson I’ve learnt- my closest friends are people who respect my religion and my beliefs and my lifestyle, regardless of their own beliefs. This means that my best friends are not muslim, but supported me when I started the hijab, will make sure we go out to eat someplace where I have adequate halal options, be considerate when I fast and never force me to drink or go some place that’s inappropriate. Its a sorry state of affairs when muslims wanting to be more religious don’t find support from within their own people, but there are times when not everyone has access to a supportive muslim community they feel comfortable in, as was my case in college.

    Sorry for a long post, the main point of which is, its not just the west!

  5. Danya

    December 7, 2007 at 6:24 PM

    Nasir, I really disagree. I also went to an Islamic school in my younger years and my parents actually pulled me out of it. The quality was not good. It’s not negligent and foolish at all. Till this day I thank my parents for doing what they did and alhamdulillah, compared to those my age, I am behind in my progress in my deen (insha’Allah) and I am ahead in school.

    Also, Islamic schools have a lot of BAD and parents need to stop this willful blindness. Yes, there are drugs, dating, and just about anything you will find in a public school. So why compromise in terms of education? And the Islamic education was also lacking. After a certain age, frankly, there was little to be gained from being at an Islamic school. In fact, being in an environment where a lot of Muslim kids are breaking the rules could be more detrimental because the kids will begin to see it as normal because “hey, even the Muslim kids are doing it!” Also, don’t think that a lot of that peer pressure brought up in the blog post does not exist in Islamic schools.

  6. abdullah's mama

    December 7, 2007 at 7:44 PM

    “Ditch everyone.”

    Yeah, that.

    I’ve been there, done that, been to public school and begged my parents to take me the heck out because I knew it would destroy me. After one semester in high school I started homeschooling myself. Best decision I ever made. Not for everyone perhaps, but I’m convinced it helped save my soul ;)

  7. MR

    December 7, 2007 at 9:43 PM

    I hated High School. Wallah, the day I started my freshmen year at SBU, I was so happy.

    High school is more “fitnotic” than college life.

  8. Nadiah

    December 7, 2007 at 9:58 PM

    Sorry but Islamic high school (or homeschooling) is not the solution (to whoever suggested that). I’m not quite sure why everyone thinks Muslim kids don’t engage in such behaviour – because THEY DO. I absolutley hated Islamic school because of the poor quality of teachers and the hypocrisy that was quite obvious in the students. Hey, we got to be able to admit it but there’s some Muslim kids out there who are downright horrible! The best thing my parents did was switch me to a public high school where I was able to make my own choices. No, it isn’t all fitnah. If you’re insecure about yourself then you tend to fall with the wrong crowd which is what it sounds is happening with the student this is about. If you have strong beliefs and values then peer pressure is nothing! C’mon there’s harder things to deal with in life. In short, high school (public) was the best years of my life. All you need to do is find the right friend group which is not as hard as people make it out to be all it takes is a little effort. It’s getting really tiresome to read about Muslims who complain about high school rather than doing anything about it.

    It seems as though this article was set up to only bring up the negative aspects of high school. A more balanced view of schooling would be more beneficial. How about an interview with a young Muslim student who is flourishing in a public high school? There’s many who are quite a success …

  9. AnonyMouse

    December 8, 2007 at 12:15 AM

    I homeschool… and I definitely think that it was the best decision my parents made for me (hehe).
    Seriously, though – middle school was bad for me, those first few years that I was at public school. Sure, my household was a strong religious one – but stick a kid in a place as overwhelming as public school, and the kid will make a lot of mistakes before things straighten out. I know from experience, may Allah forgive me :S

    Yes, there are Muslim students who are ‘flourishing’ in high school – but they are, without a doubt, a minority.

  10. kd

    December 8, 2007 at 12:17 AM

    Assalaamu alaikum,

    I have been working as an islamic school teacher for over a year now and when I first got there I, like almost all the parents and teachers, thought, “Wow, mashaAllah, this is definitely the place I want to send my kids in the future- a nice Muslim environment where they don’t have to face all that fitnah of public school.” But now, after having seen the system first hand, I can’t say I feel the same way.

    Perhaps this post was not meant to revolve around whether Islamic schooling is the right or wrong way to go, but it seems relevant nonetheless. Of course having your kids surrounded by Muslims and an Islamic environment is a great thing because everyone is wearing halal uniforms and learning about Islam and the studying of the Quran is part of the curriculum. Can’t say I didn’t wish I had that when I went to school. But what I have noticed, now having taught the kids that go to Islamic school, is that since they have that Islam 24/7 (mashaAllah), in that they are being spoon fed Islam all the time, they take it for granted, and I feel like they aren’t all that excited about the deen.

    When I went to public school, there weren’t many Muslims and when I did get a chance to be around Muslims or anything Islamic, it was so exciting. Maybe if it wasn’t for the solid Islamic foundation that my family instilled in me since I was young, I wouldn’t have felt the same way. And that brings me to a very important point (or at least I think so): Islam starts at home.

    Many parents who send their kids to Islamic school think they are doing their Islamic job of exposing their kids to the deen, without feeling the necessity of reinforcing the Islam at home. This is a big mistake. How many kids have I seen who are forced to behave “islamically”, but outside the school these kids can hardly be distinguished in a crowd of kids who probably attend public school. One young sister and brother who attend the Islamic school I work at were sent to the principals office because they were talking and acting in a manner with each other that wasn’t very islamic. Later on, the sister protested to a teacher who was trying to explain why that type of behavior was not allowed in Islam. The student said, “Why can’t I act that way, my mom acts that way all the time!”

    I am not trying to discourage parents from sending their kids to Islamic school, please don’t get me wrong. I think that Islamic schools have come a long way, but that they still have a long way to go. A good education is what all parents want for their kids, and I don’t think that all islamic schools are at par with the public schools in this category. Islamic schools also many times lack organization and discipline, important things that we as an ummah in the west need to work on for our kids.

    Alhamdulillah, the sister who was interviewed seemed to have a solid foundation in the deen from home and perhaps that’s why she was able to conquer the fitnas that no doubt exist in public school, and I think this has been the case for many many Muslims who have grown up in the west. So I think the bottom line ( or at least one of them) is that your child’s Islam starts at home and whether they go to public school or islamic school, the islam needs to always start from home and be reinforced by the school (if it is islamic).

    And Allah knows best.
    wassalaam

  11. AnonyMouse

    December 8, 2007 at 12:51 AM

    KD:
    Your experience seems to be exactly the same as my dad’s! He was the Islamic Studies teacher at one of my old city’s Muslim schools, but he quit after a year due to management issues and other stuff.
    However, what he experienced there inspired him to do what he does today and has seriously affected his philosophies regarding Muslims living in the West.

  12. Irum Sarfaraz

    December 8, 2007 at 1:27 PM

    I absolutely agree with kd. Islam starts at home. When my daughter was very young I was told by everyone ‘the atmosphere at the schools is very bad, the culture is disastrous, it can ruin your kids’. When my daughter reached high school, I told all these people, ‘It is not the schools, it is not the culture outside the door, it’s the one within’. Yes the culture is disastrous, but what are the Muslim parents doing to contradict the effects at home? Where I live, only 2 percent, honestly, are doing anything at all. Lets not blame the disease for killing us if we haven’t even tried remedies to fight it.

  13. Zaynab

    December 8, 2007 at 3:47 PM

    Wow, may Allah reward all of those who had such tough High School experiences.

    For me, high school was a lot of fun! Granted, I wasn’t as practicing as I am now, but I wasn’t engaging in any relationships or going to parties and stuff. I was involved in tons of extra-curriculars, honour roll, sports. And when I started to wear hijab, not a whole lot changed, except that I stopped playing basketball.

    I think there are 2 main factors to consider:
    1- Home life: Most kids come from households where Islam is practiced culturally, and don’t know a whole lot. No matter where you send them, they’ll most likely still be lost without a strong influence at home.
    2- the Muslim influence at school: There were a LOT of Muslims in my school, and a lot of ethnic minorities, so I never really felt out of place. We had Jummah every week, we had a Muslim teacher’s assistant for a while and he was a great resource, we had lots of opportunities to share our religion and cultures with Multicultural events. So, all-in-all, good times. Alhamdulillah.

    Surprisingly, High school is where I really began to get interested in Islam and the Muslim community!

    So, what I’m saying is: Move to a city with lots of Muslim :)

  14. mcpagal

    December 8, 2007 at 7:16 PM

    Obviously your friends influence you a lot and you have to choose them with great care.

    I was in the same situation – at a school where I was the only Muslim girl (in the school really, not just the class. I was the only hijabi after my sister left anyway). But I think that this gave me a lot of my better qualities, rather than being around a lot of Muslims. Hey, that might be controversial, but it’s how it was for me.

    I actually disagree strongly with this point: “Ditch everyone… In a city like ours, where there’s only one or two Muslims in the whole school, there’s no point in trying to make “good friends,” because there are none to be made. Everyone’s a crackhead or a wannabe thug or a crazy partier.“. When you’re limited in who your friends can be, then obviously you shouldn’t just hang around with anyone because they’re available. But even at my school, where many (if not most) people were binge drinkers, chatted openly about their sex lives, went clubbing, or even liked to knife people for fun (it was a rough area :P) I found people who made good friends. In fact, some of them were more ‘Islamic’ than the by-name-only Muslims in the school.

    You can’t just tar all non-Muslims with the same brush, it’s wrong. It’s like people who act like all Muslims are the same – whether that’s in the form of ‘Mo from the other class is coming to the Christmas party, why aren’t you?’ or ‘Osama blows up buildings, so you must support him’. There are non-Muslims who don’t buy into the whole drinking, partying, freemixing culture. My non-Muslim friends at school taught me a lot – like tolerance, or that saying ‘Oh my God!’ all the time can be offensive to Christians :D

    Actually, I think it’s Uni/college that’s more fitna-fied than school. On one of my first days, all the Muslims in the year (brothers and sisters) went out to get a coffee together – me and one other sister didn’t go, and we are still treated strangely by the rest for that. If I hadn’t had all that experience being a proper minority at school, I don’t think I would have had the guts to walk away. And ISocs are always having issues with gender-relations. A lot of the time, issues with freemixing and gender relations only become a problem in an all-Muslim environment.

    Bro Nasir said “Its negligent and foolish to send a young girl to a school where she is the only muslim. And its not reasonable to think she can turn out a good muslim.”. I completely disagree. I meet girls from all-girls schools who, in a mixed environment like Uni, have no idea how to deal with the opposite sex, and go to one extreme or another (the same goes for all boys schools). And many, many people I’ve met from majority Muslim schools are constantly flirting with the opposite sex, even from a distance – unfortunately, that’s a skill they picked up.

    I’m not saying it happens all the time, but what’s really unreasonable is to expect a school to be the be all and end all in shaping a person. If parents aren’t bringing up their kids Islamically at home, then their school, Islamic or not, will not teach them to be a good person.

    And it’s also very unreasonable to have someone in an artificial environment – completely shaped by gender or religion – then send them into the big bad world for work or uni, and expect them to know how to behave.

  15. mcpagal

    December 8, 2007 at 7:16 PM

    On second thoughts… sorry for the long rant!

  16. AnonyMouse

    December 8, 2007 at 8:04 PM

    No need to apologize for long comments, people – they’re all really interesting and shed light on different perspectives, which I love.
    Al-Hamdulillaah! Keep’em coming :D

  17. Umm Layth

    December 9, 2007 at 1:19 AM

    Public school is filthy.

    What I do know is this; Allah controls everything. We can do the best we can and things can still go wrong, but atleast we should do the best job that we can at doign things as right as possible. We put our children in an environment where the odds are against them and all we can do is hope that we aren’t at fault for such stupidity. We have rules to follow, tips that our Rasul (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) gave us that sometimes we ignore, such as who to keep company with, and what not. We should stick to these as close as possible, as Muslims, period. And if things go right, we know we did our best. If things don’t go our way, Allah plans better, but at least we did we could.

  18. Umm Layth

    December 9, 2007 at 1:20 AM

    what* we could.

  19. Dawud Israel

    December 9, 2007 at 4:15 AM

    Cute article!

    Highschool > Islamic school

    In highschool I was forced to make a stand for Islam. At times I made mistakes (openly threatening to knockout a Bahai speaker for insulting Rasulullah SAAWS–to the applaud of my kaffir peers :)) to coming back and giving a talk on Islam today in front of 200 people where I openly affirmed that we kill apostates. Highschool is a place where fitnah happens yes–but fitnah is a good thing because it brings out the strongest. In an Islamic school everyone is automatically seen as “virtuous” when Islam has been forced on them and they haven’t been able to appreciate what they have.

    I have not seen or heard of a SINGLE person come out of an Islamic school as a devout Muslim, or intelligent (compare teachers) or for that matter having basic adaab (who has better manners, the white man or the brown?). The Hafiz kid leading taraweeh walks out to smoke a joint with his other Islamic school students. Or the brothers decide to sabotage the principals Lexus only to have them threaten to suspend the whole school.

    Islamic school as it is now was never really historically around in the Ummah. It’s a new thing. Perhaps it would be better if we went back to the education system we used for 1400 years. :D

  20. Dawud Israel

    December 9, 2007 at 4:17 AM

    ^Just to clarify I don’t consider admitting we kill apostates a mistake–but something I could’ve explained in more detail had I the time.

  21. inexplicabletimelessness

    December 9, 2007 at 12:18 PM

    As salamu alaikum,

    Although I don’t believe high school is better than Islamic school persay (both have goods and bads and high school is just wayyy too much fitnah, really) I’ve been attending public schools since kindergarten and it’s my last year in high school too! I agree with br. Dawud that attending a high school with few Muslims has REALLY made me stand up for the deen and explain it to my non-Muslim peers. It’s also given me a taste of the real world where I will not be surrounded by Muslims all the time. Plus, if you’re a hijabi like me, it’s walking da’wah!

    We have an MSA at our school and we do this thing called “Ramadan presentations” where we present Ramadan and Islam and talk about misconceptions, especially to social studies/english/history classes whose teachers sign up. This makes US as the presenters learn about Islam more (we go through a training boot camp thing) and also, it makes us proud to be Muslims. We’ve presented to over 25% of the school’s population and teachers love it, kids love it and they really respect the Muslim students now, alhamdulillah. They ask awesome questions and we try to respond with accurate answers.

    Sure, it’s hard in high school when your friends have different values than you, but life in general is like that too. It depends on the individual’s personality and if he/she is a follower or leader or if he/she is insecure or confident.

    For example, I’ve made it a habit and just a personality of mine to make sure who I befriend isn’t bad for my deen. I make sure I’m not hanging out with kids who are drinking, partying, etc… I would say I am friends with the ‘nerds’ more who care about school and volunteering and riding bikes. ;) We can sit down and have an intellectual conversation and I have a great opportunity to talk about Islam.

    I had a girl who recently was in my group for a group project thing and she *always* cusses. However when she sat around me and cussed she was like, Oh my gossh……I’m soo sorry! Or whenever people want to talk about bad things they’re like “Oh wait, Inexplicabletimelessness is here ” :D

    I have a Muslimah friend who goes to the same school as me and she told me that same girl (the one who didnt cuss in front of me) really picks on her and asks her strange questions about Islam like “So if God gave you hair, why do you have to cover it” and other cynical, dumb questions. She told me, ‘I don’t know how to reply!!!’ And then that same girl told me, IT, when I’m around you, I think Islam is perfect but when I’m around the other girl, I get so angry and think it’s not. So I’d argue it totally depends on someone’s confidence and if they are sincere and willing to practice the deen.

    So alhamdulillah, I have learned that:

    a) If you are given proper values at home
    b) If you are confident
    c) If you choose your friends wisely
    d) Set goals and limits for yourself and have a good Muslim support group somewhere

    inshaAllah it is possible to come through high school still alive! Of course, you are influenced by bad things, to a certain level, and of course, attending an Islamic school may be better for some people (though I don’t know if I’d send my kids to an Islamic school; I’d rather homeschool actually) BUT it is possible to come out of high school a practicing and confident Muslim, insha Allah!

  22. anonymousgirl

    December 9, 2007 at 8:06 PM

    It just seems awfully negative to say that the flourishing muslim kids are a minority. if you’re homeschooled yourself, I understand if you’ve had a bad experience in school and that’s fine, but not everyone is like you Anonymouse and the only homeschooled (Muslim) kids I’ve met are nothing to brag about. If we want our teens to do well we need to be more positive instead of encouraging them to be loners and view high school life as something depressing in unIslamic. You bring Islam wherever you want to, including a high school, it’s not impossible if you have faith and are determind. I speak from experience. Don’t let school life get you down, if it’s not working then try another school and start over, but the answer isn’t to withdraw yourself.

  23. AnonyMouse

    December 9, 2007 at 9:36 PM

    Sis Anonymousgirl, I get what you’re saying… but I’m not just speaking from my own experience – aside from the interview with my friend, pretty much all the other Muslim girls I’ve met have had similar negative experiences in high school.

    “we need to be more positive instead of encouraging them to be loners and view high school life as something depressing in unIslamic.”

    I agree with being positive – but given some situations (such as my friend’s), there is sometimes no other option but to isolate oneself. Otherwise, the risk of ending up with bad companions and getting dragged into haraam stuff is too high… and like I said, this isn’t just a few experiences, this is the experience of a LOT of people.

  24. Umm Layth

    December 9, 2007 at 10:55 PM

    Does our deen encourage us to stay away from places of filth, or not? This is something that those advocates of public school really need to think about. Just because there are some good stories, it does not remove the evils that are present in such environments.

  25. Umm Layth

    December 9, 2007 at 10:58 PM

    And also, I don’t know if we know the details of these ‘good’ stories. IT all, I suppose, come downs to what we believe a ‘good’ muslim is.

    I knew one sister who wore niqab in high school, here in America. She was tough, but even she hated it. She became stronger but every day she battled with finding a way to keep her Iman strong, and aching for Allah.

  26. ukhti

    December 10, 2007 at 12:22 PM

    Umm Layth, I understand your point but the reality is the vast majority of Muslim kids will go to public school. The median household income for Muslims is $60K, that means half of all Muslim families make less than this. Couple this with the fact that muslim families have more kids than average and many moms are not native english speakers, parents will not be able to afford private school or to be able to homeschool.

    We need to provide more support for public schooled kids and stop judging the parents who send their kids to school. I do think homeschooling is a better alternative but I know many moms just wont be able to do it and these kids need guidance in navigating the public school arena.

  27. Umm Layth

    December 10, 2007 at 12:40 PM

    Just because the majority is there does not mean we provide more support and encourage a stay there. I’m all for finding positive ways to influence those children in public schools, okay. But I am also for speaking the truth against them.

    I have spoken to many desi women who seem to really believe that public school is better than an Islamic school. When I mentioned to them my own experience in public school, they chose not to believe me. My own mother, who isn’t Muslim, doesn’t believe that public schools are the way they are here in America. But, of course, she didn’t attend school here.

    They need their bubble burst. If parents knew in more detail the truth, maybe that would give them a push to find other alternatives – even a charter school.

  28. Dawud Israel

    December 10, 2007 at 3:04 PM

    Anonymouse said:
    “I agree with being positive – but given some situations (such as my friend’s), there is sometimes no other option but to isolate oneself. Otherwise, the risk of ending up with bad companions and getting dragged into haraam stuff is too high… and like I said, this isn’t just a few experiences, this is the experience of a LOT of people.”

    There is a brother here whose father runs an Islamic elementary school. When it came to highschool he was told he could attend a public one or take online courses. He chose to study via the Internet. His choice, fine.

    This brother was Islamically strong and unfortunately there were those who weren’t so strong in highschool. One of his Muslim friends wasn’t so strong and went to highschool. They came from a practicing family but there were few Muslims whom he could relate to (culture, interests, personalities etc. weren’t the same) so he would hang around non-Muslims he could relate to.

    This brother went from giving Jumuah khutbah to having a boyfriend and becoming the head of the Gay Pride club in our highschool. (I was in university by now so didn’t know anything until it was too late)

    You are right to say highschool is a dirty place, it is. But when Muslims are present in numbers in highschool then things change. If the one strong brother had decided to go to highschool, than by now my homosexual brother in Islam could’ve stayed away from the wrong crowd and been around a Muslim.
    :(

    It is spiritually dark in highschool–but in darkness you just need one bright flame and light overtakes truth instantly.

    When a hurricane is going on you have people in danger and those in safety. If your in a safe spot you can stay there and isolate yourself or you can go and help those in the storm. When your a Muslim in highschool you will be on the search for someone like you–if you don’t find them you drown.

    I think people who endorse Islamic school, homeschooling etc. do so because they feel evil is stronger than good–which in my experience isn’t true.

    So for the sake of DAWAH and for the sake of Allah and His Messenger attend highschool!

    Also the other thing people forget is Muslims are taking over highschools. If you set a reputation for that school in your community and get parents to agree–you can easily Islamicize a public school and make it Dawah Central. There is one highschool in Toronto which is full of Somalis (thugs and practicing Muslims) and they have holidays for Eid because no one shows up on those days anyways! LOL!

  29. AnonyMouse

    December 10, 2007 at 4:08 PM

    Bro Dawud, I get what you’re saying – but I think that’s mostly applicable to places where there’s a large Muslim population, or at least a certain population percentage of Muslims attending a certain school.

    In my city, as with no doubt many others (small towns and cities), the Muslim population is so tiny and scattered around the city that the MAXIMUM number of Muslim kids going to the same school is three or four.

    My friend Su’di (the one I interviewed) is pretty much the only Muslim in her school (well, there is another girl, but she has a mental disability). Same goes for my other friends – they’re the only Muslims in their entire school. And you can’t say, “Oh, just get more Muslims to go to that school” because it’s impossible… there just aren’t that many Muslims around here!

    Small towners have it the hardest :(

  30. mcpagal

    December 10, 2007 at 7:31 PM

    I think it’s over the top to use the word filth to describe all state schools. Some are better, or worse, than others, but I don’t think they can be described as filth. Maybe the people in them talk filth, but that’s different!

    Perhaps there’s a difference in how high school is perceived in Britain and America too – I don’t think UK schools have the same level of cliquiness or emphasis on fitting in as American ones? I didn’t have to isolate myself, I hung around with a handful of people who had the same basic principles as I did, despite being non-Muslim. I can’t remember actually caring that I wasn’t the same as everyone else, or was one of the only people not to go to the prom, or that I was seen as weird. I had fantastic opportunities for dawah – not only through class discussions but just by being the only Muslim a lot of my classmates knew.

    Maybe it’s not for everyone, but Allah is the best of planners, and I don’t think I’d have been able to cope with Uni at all had it not been for going that school. At the end of the day, it’s down to the individual where they will most thrive, and there’s no point in dissing all public schools, Islamic schools or home schooling because different things bring out the best in different people.

  31. Nadiah

    December 10, 2007 at 8:41 PM

    Anonymouse, here is a question for you, is it not the fault of the parents for moving to a small town where they would be isolated and then send their daughter to a school where she is the only Muslim? I’m questioning the reasoning of the parents here. Still it seems simplistic for you (who is homeschooled and only attended a public middle school) to imply that high schools are a place of filth and temptation – I’m sorry, but it’s not what it looks like in the movies and I’ve found that many Muslims like to be overly dramatic when it comes to talking about high schools. What people really need to focus on is how wild our Muslim sisters from Islamic school get when released into the free world of university. Now that’s temptation! At least high school is secure with teachers and parents… and for the most part, friends who are GOOD. Maybe I come from another planet, but the bad kids (smokers, drinkers, drug users, were a very very tiny minority and often were kicked out of school anyway). There’s only temptation if you make temptation. Again, I think you’re being a bit silly to speak about something from another person’s point of view when you have no experience with it yourself. Try it, you might just see how rewarding being out in public and influencing other people to Islam can be. There’s a huge difference between sitting behind your screen on online classes and taking on the real world.

  32. anonymoous

    December 10, 2007 at 9:30 PM

    Nadiah, I think it’s grossly disingenious to imply that one can only talk about anything purported ‘evil’ having tasted it and experienced it first hand. Moreover – while I don’t intend to praise Mouse to her face, and granted she may only at times have ideas that perhaps require further develpment, she still nonetheless surpasses many, if not most, of her counterparts from the regular state schools. That, I would like to think, has something to do with her not having ‘experimented’ and ‘tasted’ the life on that side of the fence.

  33. Nadiah

    December 10, 2007 at 11:36 PM

    Oh no ‘anonymoous’, you don’t have taste evil to talk about it…um that’s not my point at all! I just think it’s a bit odd to speak so strongly about a school (a high school which is a completely different environment from a middle school) without having attended one herself. Sure she writes well, and that’s great. Not all homeschoolers do so I’m not sure what your point is, this isn’t about HER, it’s about Muslim girls in general. I don’t think that her writing has anything to do with her not having “tasted or experimented as you say” public school.

    The point is, high school isn’t the big bad place that many Muslims make it out to be and in my personal opinion this article doesn’t seem to be backed with any fact. If you disagree with me, that’s fine.

  34. Dawud Israel

    December 11, 2007 at 1:51 AM

    “In my city, as with no doubt many others (small towns and cities), the Muslim population is so tiny and scattered around the city that the MAXIMUM number of Muslim kids going to the same school is three or four.”

    Yeah I can’t really argue with you there…when I started highschool I had zero Muslim friends in highschool. But as time progressed (immigration is so great!) that number rose. In small towns you do however find non-Muslims who have Muslim heritage but were too whitewashed. I’ve seen a few return to their roots though…

    I think as more people migrate–the small town situation will change.

    The other thing I’ve noticed is homeschoolers, Islamic schoolers have very little social skills…on the net they may seem like they do, but in person they never talk so dawah=zilch. :O

  35. muslim anon

    December 11, 2007 at 12:00 PM

    i have read all of your comments, so i have a question does anybody now a school called bha? its a private islamic school and i think its worse than public school because all the kids almost do everything public school kids do except sex and drugs

  36. talib

    December 11, 2007 at 12:44 PM

    salam aleykum

    i’m usually not the person to spread breaking news of our community, but a very very sad incident happened in my city. A muslim father killed his daughter who has going to high school for not being observing of the hijab. The teen rebelled alot against the father but ina lilah wa ina ileyhi rajioon. here’s the link to the daily newspapers here, and beware they posted a picture of the sister without her hijab on, which they took from the obvious site facebook.

    http://www.thestar.com/News/GTA/article/284350

  37. AnonyMouse

    December 11, 2007 at 1:34 PM

    @ Naimah
    “is it not the fault of the parents for moving to a small town where they would be isolated and then send their daughter to a school where she is the only Muslim?”

    I think it’s unfair to blame the parents entirely for living in this town/city – they have to provide for the family somehow, and they made a choice to earn halaal rizq in this city rather than choosing the haraam in a big city.
    Like so many other situations (and yes, even the whole high school issue), things aren’t always black and white.

    “on the net they may seem like they do, but in person they never talk”

    Trust me, I talk waaaaaay too much! :p

  38. AnonyMouse

    December 11, 2007 at 1:39 PM

    I’d also just like to clarify that this post wasn’t meant to deliver any particular judgement about high school – as I said in the beginning, many lectures and articles about high school are by those who already out of high school. That’s why I chose to interview my friend, who’s in her last year.
    It was also meant to give some advice to those in a similar situation.

    So yes, I recognize that high school doesn’t always = hell for people, but I also know from experience – not mine, but that of my friends, and of other people I deal with on a regular basis – that it’s far from a healthy, thriving environment but for many.

  39. Dawud Israel

    December 11, 2007 at 3:45 PM

    http://www.thestar.com/News/GTA/article/284350

    Inna lillahi wa inna illahi raji’oon…

    Yeah even after all I’ve said, I think I would send my kids to an Islamic school or maybe just a Catholic one. Or start my own school…the kids of the people who run Islamic schools are the ones that are usually the only safe ones… :)

    Most Muslim public schoolers are pretty jealous of Islamic schoolers because to us it looks like Jannah…all Muslims, amongst your own kind and whatnot and they don’t appreciate it…

    And Anonymouse, I wasn’t referring to you lol. In fact, I think the fact that you are a small towner, in your teen years and doing some Islamic stuff (on MM) proves my point of being forced to make a stand for Islam.

  40. zaynab

    December 11, 2007 at 8:16 PM

    ^ Do NOT send your kids to Catholic school!!

    I went to a catholic school for a year of high school, my mom thought it would be more disciplined & there wasn’t an Islamic school at the time.

    Wow! Now THAT was filth! My public school was so much more wholesome! By the time I graduated, something like 4 girls in my year had been pregnant, in a year of like MAYBE 200 people.

    It was honestly like a movie – drugs, zina, cliques. *Shudder*

    But, even in all that I was able to find some really good friends who didn’t do any of that and came from good families. So it’s not impossible to meet good people, even in the worst of circumstances.

  41. mcpagal

    December 12, 2007 at 7:15 PM

    Not sure if I’m being overly sensitive, but what’s with all the special worry about where girls are educated? I have to say, most of my worry is reserved for the young Muslim guys.

  42. inexplicabletimelessness

    December 12, 2007 at 9:06 PM

    as salaamu alaikum

    the recent tragedy with Aqsa Parvez leads us to a different question about high schools:

    Do many Muslims in high schools live double lives?

  43. AnonyMouse

    December 12, 2007 at 9:58 PM

    Do many Muslims in high schools live double lives?

    Funny that you bring it up… when I sent my post to one of my friends, she said that Aqsa’s situation – of leading a double life – is not unique.
    In fact, she stated that many, if not most, of the Muslim teens she knows (and this is in my old city, where there is a sizeable Muslim population), do indeed live double lives… wearing hijaab or going to the masjid because their parents “make” them, but acting totally different around their own friends.

  44. Umm Layth

    December 13, 2007 at 12:50 AM

    I personally know that Muslims (not all) do live a double life in high school. In the year of my conversion, I got to meet many Muslims in school. There were, however, only 2 girls that wore a khimar. Out of those two girls only one wore it full time. The other sister would wear it to school, but on picture day she dressed up and just didn’t show her picture to her family. She didn’t wear a khimar anywhere else, like work. Her parents really thought she was wearing it properly, and to anyone that saw her once or twice, she was very religious. She just had no love for it and wanted to be like everyone else.

    When I heard of the real story of this sister, it depressed me. Not even those sisters who had completely removed it bothered me as much. I was so new to Islam and didn’t understand why anyone would wear it but not want to. But it’s just so easy to become heedless and to lose that love for ‘ibadah, subhanallah.

  45. Umm Layth

    December 13, 2007 at 1:03 AM

    Sister Nadiah, then take it from someone who was raised in a public school system as a non-Muslim… those places are filthy. Gosh, I even saw filthy things in elementary. Girls were dating, trying to smoke, touchy touchy. In middle school my friends were already sleeping around. I know because they told me everything. They would do things that I couldn’t believe. I was sooo innocent because my parents were so involved in my life, but one day it hit me that life isn’t so innocent there…and thank God that at that point Islam came in my life. High school is even worse. Everyone is dating, competing, teasing each other, finding clicks, smoking, doing drugs, bringing knives to school (gosh, my friend almost got stabbed because she hated on this mexican guy – and the guy was trying to use me for his scheme), drinking vodka in the middle of biology, doing each other in cars on school campus and what not. The Muslim girls that I sometimes hung out with were always talking about what guy was cuter and who they wanted to date. Everyone attended parties and got drunk. People would ditch class, tell their teachers off, and constantly lie. There were fights all the time in my math class in 9th grade. And this was a ‘good’ school in the white area.

    I always hated public school. Do you know why? Because my parents told me that school was for learning. My parents told me not to do what others did because it would only hurt me in the long run, but when I came home and told them the extent of the problems, they told me to deal with it and be tough about it, that it was life. But I really think that they just didn’t have a clue about what happened because when I told my mom about all the sexual related things that went on, they turned their heads.

    One day you just become desensitized and these things start to become normal. And they did for me. I stopped feeling disgusted at one point. I started to just get into fashion like everyone else. I wasn’t there for school anymore. And I saw many of the educated kids, who always got A’s, fall in the same. One day they were quiet, the next they were partying. It’s just too hard not to fall. And if you don’t, it is a real blessing from Allah. But the odds are against people, and the environment isn’t pure to begin with and that is why I believe that we shouldn’t risk losing our children. Plus, how can it be permissible to place them there when there is haram everywhere?

    Gosh, I remember 3rd grade. Those boys were so gross. In middle school there were already gay boys and lesbian chicks, and they would talk about their ‘experiences’. La hawla wa la quwwata illa Billah.

    Just to remember it, it brings back the reasons as to why I refuse to put my kids there. REFUSE. I eventually pulled myself out and homeschooled my own self. It wasn’t worth struggling with my deen, and I was so new to Islam that I wanted to taste loving my deen, but I found it way too hard to be encouraged in such an environment. It wasn’t impossible, no. I started to wear a khimar there, but the environment wasn’t pushing me to become better. And even the one sister that was masha’allah strong, she told me that it was very hard for her to keep her Iman up. So if being good means struggling to keep your iman, I’m sorry… I don’t find that very ‘good’.

  46. zaynab

    December 13, 2007 at 1:06 AM

    I do know a few Muslims that lead a ‘double life’, but again it’s more an issue of parenting. They can’t talk to their parents, they are strict and unwilling to compromise, and the relationship is generally a strained one.

  47. Umm Layth

    December 13, 2007 at 1:07 AM

    How many of those where discussing public school actually have kids of their own?

    How many of you have actually seen everything I described, heard it with your own ears, or been in situations yourselves to know what this environment really is like?

    If you went to public school in a time when things were more hidden (back in the day), you need to know that things have changed drastically. The only reason that we say it isn’t so bad is because we are so used to seing this stuff. But wrong is wrong and we should never be desensitized by evil. We should always want to stay away from it, to the best of our abilities.

  48. MuslimHomeschoolers

    December 13, 2007 at 2:55 AM

    Assalamualaikum All,

    Umm Layth, I totaly know what you are talking about.

    In elementary I was molested more then once.
    In middle school I learned I had to be tougher, less feminine and was mistaken as a lesbian. Don’t want to go into that. I’ve had people try to get me to hide guns and drugs. I’ve seen teachers passing out cigarettes to kids. Sex was already everywhere.
    In Highschool ,forget about it.
    I can’t even talk about it.

    Do you think that I would subject my children to this?

    So we went to Islamic School. My daughter was being bullied every day. She went home crying all the time. She was afraid to go to school. In third grade she was learning about condoms from a classmate. I felt like I was failing my daughter. I felt like a bad mother.

    There is NO place like home. It is hard work. We don’t have money from that second income. There is no guarantee how our children will end up. We just have to do our best.
    I hope I haven’t bored you guys.

  49. Dawud Israel

    December 13, 2007 at 5:08 AM

    “I hope I haven’t bored you guys.”

    :O
    No…unfortunately, no you haven’t.

  50. anonymousgirl

    December 13, 2007 at 9:04 AM

    Umm Layth the school experience you describe is not one shared by everyone. I went to a public school in Canada and send my children to one and we live in a good neighbourhood. My neighbour is a teacher at the school. High school was some of the best years of my life and I’m grateful my children get to attend the same school. If life wasn’t working because you went to a bad school, you really should have spoken to your parents about swtiching schools because not all schools are the same. You shouldn’t have subjected yourself to an experience you were unhappy of. We have control of our lives and 4 years of high school is a lot – it’s better to make the right choices for those 4 years and select, research, and know the school (and who your children play with). alhumdulillah I’m very involved with the parent’s council and supervise my children all the time and you can count me in as one of those parents who is very satisfied with the public high school system and would never think of switching. Unfortunately not everyone is as lucky as I was but I pray that more of us become involved in public matters and give our children the best. That’s all.

  51. Abul Layth

    December 13, 2007 at 1:02 PM

    Salamu ‘Alaykum,

    I converted to Islam at the age of 15. I left the evils of public schools; mainly that of fornication, drugs, alcohol, and every imaginable vice promoted by TV and the broader media. I was blessed by Allah ta’alaa to have been allowed to attend a well known Madrasah in the midwest of America. It was here that I grasped the sciences; physics, chemistry etc as well as the arts; particularly politics. In fact my professor, who I will leave unnamed here, won a grant by Toyota for a fantastic learning system he created for us.

    I was an ‘ajam and I learned to read Arabic in less than a month. I memorized several Juz’ of Qur’an. I learned Shafi’i fiqh beneath scholars from the levant, as well as the pennisula. I had exposure to all “brands” of Islam, having the freedom to choose what opinions I felt were strongest, without the blame of instructors.

    I was in a seperated environment, though in the same classrooms as the sisters. I thank Allah ta’alaa daily that I was saved from the cesspool and idiotic system of public school, and blessed to enter a madrasah, where I learned Islam and excelled in the arts and sciences. I currently hold a very high GPA in at Indiana University as can be attested to by Umm Layth.

    Some may criticize Muslim schools, and if you do, you are only to blame. It behooves me that “Muslims” would put effort into their “public” secular leftist-darwinistic brainwashing institutions, yet refuse to exert the effort needed to create a new generation of Muslim activists, brilliant minds who are able to live a life based upon knowledge and action. I have never, in all of my life, met a product of my generation that was as fluent in fiqh, ‘aqidah, tafsir, as well as physics and political science, as my class at the madrasah. I gurantee if we asked the simple questions asked to the 4th and 5th graders at the madrasah regarding sirah or fiqh, your public school graduates would not be able to answer the questions. What does that say about you parents that entrench your children in the government brainwashing systems of the west, under the false guise of better education and socialization.

    This does not mean that all madrasahs in the west are as fantastically staffed as mine was at the time of graduating. Yet, that does not mean we do not try and improve the education system for our next generation. It really boils down to this: Do you want your children learning the sciences and arts from a system made up by a bunch of paganistic secularist scum. Or that your child is forced to socialize with children who have children out of wedlock at age 12-15, drug addicts, as well as a system of peer pressure unrivaled in any prior generation.

    Some of you will argue that when they leave the “secluded” world of Islamic school, they will experience cultural shock. Not only do you have no scientific proof for such a claim, it is unfounded skepticism. Firstly, if you live in the west, it is nearly impossible to hide your children from the evils of western dogmas and evils. Kids are not stupid, unless you think yours are. They see things, they hear things, and they know things. The fact is, every child I have seen graduate from the madrasah has become an upstanding individual, though not perfect, perfectly able to deal with the social ills of western society. Not only can they deal with it, they do deal with it, all of the entering the work force and school force with an ingrained concious; Islam. If one knows Islam, one knows how to deal with all situations; Knowledge is power!

  52. Umm Layth

    December 13, 2007 at 1:16 PM

    TO MM Team:

    My husband just posted a comment and it said duplicate comment protection or something. Can you make sure the post isn’t lost in spam or something? He wrote about his experience in both public school, as a non Muslim, and the Madrasah, as a Muslim.

    Jazaka Allahu khairan

  53. AnonyMouse

    December 13, 2007 at 1:27 PM

    I recovered the comment :)

  54. Amad

    December 13, 2007 at 1:47 PM

    Personally, I would never send my kids to public school or even private schools unless they were parochial and segregated. I am a huge supporter of Islamic schools and believe that these school are the key to the survival of our next generation.

    I also recognize that not all public schools are the same, and some are vastly better than others.

    I also understand that some parents don’t have a choice (i.e. no option except to send them to public school), though I wonder if they couldn’t sacrifice and do home-schooling or use K12.com (an internet based home-schooling program), but I am still willing to give into that (some parents simply cannot do home-schooling because for e.g. the mom is not educated herself and the dad’s working).

    And finally, I appreciate that some GREAT kids have made it through public schools and are exceptional Muslims and activists.

    Nevertheless, would I risk my child for the chance (no matter how small) that he or she comes out a Muslim, let alone a practicing Muslim? No. I am just not willing to take that gamble. Whoever is, then he/she is far better Muslim and far better parent than I am. I won’t judge you because obviously there are many who have done a great parenting job, but I don’t think it is a choice that we should encourage for everyone. Instead, we should keep the pressure on for better and more Islamic schools.

    wallahualam.

  55. Dawud Israel

    December 13, 2007 at 5:12 PM

    “I have never, in all of my life, met a product of my generation that was as fluent in fiqh, ‘aqidah, tafsir, as well as physics and political science, as my class at the madrasah.”

    I was going to say, Sidi Hamza Yusuf is one such fellow who got the best of both worlds.

    I think the real question is between the quality of individual schools, not the categories of Islamic and public. It would be too naive to think since you are sending your kids to an Islamic school, that it is indeed Islamic. You have to research these issues and see how the personality of your child fits in or doesn’t fit in.

    Talking to other parents, people in the neighborhood and community easily solves this issue. Some Muslims are so insular they never do this.

    It would be great however, if Islamic schools got what they call a PTA (Parent-Teacher Assoc.) so the parents have a more active role and keep the standards high.

  56. Umm Layth

    December 13, 2007 at 6:19 PM

    Thank you anonymouse.

    Sister anonymousgirl, I had parents that loved me very much. I often mentioned to them that public school was filthy (and I wasn’t even Muslim dear), and they told me that I could just learn to ignore anything that was bad for me. It was me, in the end, after my conversion, that decided that I could no longer allow my parents to rule over me in this regard. I pulled my own self out of school and I homeschooled against their wishes. All because I wanted to keep that passion that I had when I first accepted Islam.

    Masha’Allah I am glad that you are involved. But please know that you represent a minority, and know that just because your children may not be so crazy like the rest, it doesn’t justify the means. There is too much haram there. And to say that it is easily escapable would be to lie. Maybe things work differently in the states, I don’t know. But I do know that my husband attended a good school in his town, and I attended a school that was supposed to be really good too. It’s just everyone is so dunyafied anymore.

    I just refuse to be desensitized by these evils. And I think any parent that is willing to risk losing their child (even though there are no guarantees to begin with), and put them in a place that is probably not okay to begin with, isn’t doing the best. And so I disagree with brother Amad. What brother Amad and his wife do is struggle quite a bit to find the better alternatives for their children. More of us should try that, because parenting comes with sacrifices.

  57. ...

    December 13, 2007 at 6:20 PM

    Ok im out of high school/college and in professional world, we have christmas party today and EVERYONE in my group and everyone on my floor is going to the party except for me– everyone is asking me as to y am i not goin… SubhanAllah there is so much pressure..
    I keep saying oh i dont drink and dance cuz of my relgion and yet they just dont understand……Alhamdulillah i was fasting today so that gave renewed energy to resist against the pressure (imagine hijabi/w/ jalbab going to corporate party) hahaha

  58. ukhti

    December 13, 2007 at 10:55 PM

    Do you guys realize how many muslim familes can’t homeschool or go to private school. Its a significant percentage. Whats sad is that these are the parents whose kids end up going to the worse schools because they live in low income neighborhoods. What are they supposed to do? Imagine raising 4,5, 6 kids, mom is uneducated and Dad has to work. What choice exactly do they have.

  59. MuslimHomeschoolers

    December 14, 2007 at 1:01 AM

    ukhti, I so hear what your are saying.
    It is very hard for a parent who doesn’t feel adequate enough to teach there children, but it is possible. If you can read, have comprehension, have a library, and patience that it all you need.
    I am not what you would call an educated person. I am mostly self taught. When people saw that I was homeschooling and how well my daughter was doing on tests they felt that they could do it as well, because I am so, simply put, poor and seemingly ignorant.
    We go to all things free, fun , and family friendly things. State parks are just a few bucks per vehicle.
    I also have girls pre-k and KG and I love to see their faces when they “get it”. If I sent them to school I would miss those moments.
    Now, I have to confess that my oldest daughter has passed me up,when it comes to math. I make sure my husband works with her before he goes to sleep. He is tired and his heart is not always in it, but I am adamant that he does this. It is very important to me. It is hard work and I can’t say that my children will never go to school ,but I know that I will do my very best to keep them at home.
    I know that this is MY choice. I hope I haven’t offended anyone. I am just sharing my ideas and experiences.
    As parents we can only do our best and that may mean different things to different people.
    I KNOW this is not a homeschooling thread and I apologize.

    peace

  60. ukhti

    December 14, 2007 at 11:41 AM

    Salaam muslimhomeschooler,

    I understand what you are saying. And yes honestly, probably alot more Muslims could homeschool, even though once you get past elementary school, it can be really overwhelming if you have a lot of children.

    But again there are many muslims who cant even do basic math, the moms cant even read in their own language let alone english. I just hate to see Muslim women who are so judgmental and who dont realize that yes there are actually people who have to send their kids to public school and they are not horrible bad muslims because they do. I happen to homeschool but I do know there are barriers to homeschooling, thats my point. So what are our communities doing for the vast majority of muslim kids who have to go to public school?

  61. MuslimHomeschoolers

    December 14, 2007 at 12:04 PM

    That is a big issue because it is a problem for the Muslim Community. I do believe when masjids are forming their different committees that this issue should be represented.
    We are our communities. We all have to be involved and aware.

  62. Umm Layth

    December 14, 2007 at 12:24 PM

    ukhti

    I know how hard it is for parents. My own parents didn’t think they had any other alternatives. When they found out about my sudden change, they flipped out. They felt that they could not help me, and that I would fail. But I told them I didn’t need their help because I was in higher grades at that point.

    I’ve spoken to some desi mothers about public school sis, and unfortunately they refused to believe anything I said about the evils that occur there. They said that the experience of one doesn’t reflect the rest. But it wasn’t my experience. I wasn’t the ‘bad’ girl. This is what was happening all around me, with my friends, and everyone, and I was constantly pressured to do this or do that.

    Unfortunately, in todays society, parenting has become a thing from birth to 5 years old. After that, we feel that our only responsibilities are once they come home. Cooking dinner, making sure they do their hw, etc. But there is so much that parents are missing by not taking that active role with their children. If THEY ARE putting them in a madrasah, or public school, or anywhere, they need to be involved in their lives. I don’t believe it is permissible to put your kids in an environment of evil, but if you are going to, atleast try to be there, talk to them, and don’t whine when they decide that a khimar isn’t what they want. It would then be the parents fault for putting their children in such an environment. There could be many more factors, but what still remains true is that the odds are against us when we find ourselves in places full of kufr and shirk and we are there 40 + hours a week.

  63. Umm Layth

    December 14, 2007 at 12:28 PM

    (okay, i guess my next one didnt show)

    Sis Muslimhomeschoolers, is there a way I could get in touch with you?

  64. Voyageur

    December 14, 2007 at 1:08 PM

    Some high schools in Canada are way better off.
    I switched around 4 high schools in my first year. Alhumdulillaah, I eventually found one that I liked.
    I didn’t love it as much, but I was content there.

    Started off the MSA, and ma sha Allaah, it was just amazing. Access to teachers, principal, staff and what not. It was the ‘cool’ group – as all the smart and cool kids were part of the MSA. We integrated well in high-school and as a result, had a lot of non-Muslims that would come to our meetings and events. Our staff supervisor (a non-Muslim, may Allaah subhanahu wa ta’ala guide her) encouraged us to start a wudhu area in school as she wanted us to make wudhu without being uncomfortable. We ended up having one! right by our prayer room!
    Had no trouble whatsoever!

    But in terms of parents.. when I was going through the high school hunt in my first year, they didn’t understand what I wanted. It was intense, but I couldn’t talk to my parents abt it. I just used to be silent. They tried forcing me to stay at one school, but I was determined in finding the one I’d like. I wasn’t a practicing muslimah at that time, but it was the age when I started reflecting. At the end, Alhumdulillaah. All praises belong to Allaah subhanahu wa ta’ala who guides us.

  65. ukhti

    December 14, 2007 at 1:47 PM

    Umm Layth,

    I guess I miss understood your point. Yes, alot of Muslim parents are in denial, some what. Especially with their sons, for whom I think public school must be the biggest jihad ever.

    I think its noteworthy that the positive stories we see here are from canadians or those who seem to be academic achievers. Its different in America and a lot of muslims are not surrounded by the brightest kids in school. Schools that cater to your gifted, high achieveing students due tend to be a better(no fights, kids are more focused) but there are still issues. You would not believe how many kids are cheating in schools, the same kids that end up at Harvard and MIT.

    Our community really needs to come up with solutions for the majority of kids who go to your average American high school, which many are the way Umm Layth described. I am sure their parents feel they have no other choice. I guess its up to our leaders to emphasize how much parental involvement is needed with educating your child along with exposing them to other options such as homeschooling.

  66. MuslimHomeschoolers

    December 14, 2007 at 6:49 PM

    Umm Layth,

    you can email me at muslimfamily@gmail.com

  67. miss.abbas

    December 15, 2007 at 12:52 AM

    I think as long as your an open-minded person you should really have no problem in highschool or in any other environment. There’s no need for us to defend Islam because it’s not something that needs any defence. Just plain truth will do it. I myself am in highschool and I admit, I’ve been tempted to do a lot of bad things. But as soon as those thoughts appeared in my mind, I said Astaghfirullah. And I realized, you know, I’m the next generation. I have to keep it up. Islam deserves to be portrayed in the right way. And SubhanAllah it’s a Beautiful Religion.

    May Allah Keep Us Strong

  68. Umm Reem

    December 15, 2007 at 2:05 AM

    Mouse: Great post :)

    I was a complete ‘loner’ in my high school. There were other Muslims but all of them with their girl/boy friends…
    I was the only one in hijab…well…there was another one but she used to remove her hijab at school!

    But, alhamdullialh, after one year of torture, Allah ta’ala removed me from this difficulty and I got accepted at a Magnet health professional school sponsored by Baylor College of Medicine, so all the students were studious and very civilized…in fact, it was very diverse…mostly Asian and Indian students…life became easier alhamdullilah:)

    In any case, I don’t believe that we have to expose our children to ‘some’ evil so that they can become strong. As far as I remember, we are not allowed to ‘test’ our imaan and so we are supposed to stay away from the places of ‘fitnah’.

  69. WM

    December 15, 2007 at 10:07 AM

    I never saw, and barely heard, of any of the enormities the people commenting above describe, and I have gone to ‘public school’ all my life. I suppose it depends on the crowd you mix with. Anyone who looks for evil is bound to find it.

  70. Umm Layth

    December 15, 2007 at 3:35 PM

    Statistics themselves show how bad public schools are becoming here in America.

  71. MuslimHomeschoolers

    December 16, 2007 at 3:14 PM

    I just read this article today and wonder how many schools are protected by state laws.

    http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/page/teachersex

  72. AbdulHasib

    December 16, 2007 at 3:53 PM

    as-salaamu ‘alaikum wa rahmatullah,

    I’d also like to bring a different perspective.

    As i’ve personally seen some islamic schools being detrimental in not only their secular learning, but their ISLAMIC as well!

    Separate sex school system. Something that can be practical not just for the Muslim community but the general community as well. We tend to focus on muslim-centric solutions. “How can WE as muslims help US in THIS society.” But the truth of the matter is, until we offer something for our neighbors, friends, and society at large we will continue to struggle on our own when there are so many in THIS regard we can work together with (conservative families, etc.).

    In my Human Development psych class, i had a discussion with the professor regarding the benefits of seperating the sexes and having Single Sex School establishments.

    She had her arguments so I decided to research the matter. And besides the plethora of findings and research done, some research showed that females did up to 40% better academically in separate school system, and males did up to 30% better. Below is just a small taste of the findings.

    There’s actually a lot of studies done regarding the subject – both on the micro and macro levels. I thought I’d list at least two lengthy ones.

    Here is a study from a graduate in the University of Arizona:
    http://cie.asu.edu/volume6/number16/

    and here is a study done by the US Department of Education:
    http://www.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/other/single-sex/index.html

    (sorry each of them are pretty lengthy reads ha, but if you want you can skim to the ‘good’ parts)

    what’s interesting is although the first study focuses on delinquencies it correlates very similarly with the US Department of Education findings.

    Also this podcast of a roundtable discussion on NPR which included a discussion about Single-Sex classes and schools and Bush Administration’s expanding of them. The talk about the schools starts at 14:00 so if you wish you can wait for it to load and then just fast forward to it. http://odeo.com/audio/2258308/play

    All this being said.. i hope still we can learn from the example of those islamic schools that developed a system that even the non muslims and private schools are learning from. And they DO exist.

    In the end it depends on the level of sacrifice of the parents.

    Growing up in high school and being very active in extracurricular activities and involved, I thank Allah ‘azza wa jal for the discipline of my parents.

    May Allah grant them Jannah. Ameen.

    And may Allah make it easy for the parents who have to face such difficulty and make their account on the day of judgement easy in THIS regard. Ameen.

    wAllahu ‘Alam

    was-salaamu ‘alaikum wa rahmatullah

  73. muslimah_10000

    July 10, 2008 at 12:45 PM

    I think it really depends on the person you are. There are always the positives and the negatives. It depends on how you look at them and which ones stand out to you the most…

  74. Salma

    November 20, 2008 at 7:17 PM

    Salams.

    Something I heard a while ago said by Shaykh Abdel Bakri:
    “If you grow up loving the deen, no matter what;even if you go astray, you will come back and love the deen.”

    Something along those lines.

    and also I want to clarify that it doesn’t matter what school you go to, it’s the people you hang out with, how you were raised, where you were raised, and how strong you are.
    because I know people who go to Islamic schools but they are some of the baddest kids I know, Allah forgive them.
    Think of the things on t.v and the magazines they read. They effect kids.
    It’s not even if they watch shows, the commercials are just as bad, because as you’re switching the channels you might see a commercial about what else but phones! and it has an image of a girl who’s hardly wearing anything.
    btw I don’t only see these types of commercials or t.v programs on American Television channels but International T.V as well.

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