HOW MUSLIM SCHOOLS CAN BECOME DYNAMIC INSTITUTIONS
by Mufti Z.Bayat
MUSLIM SCHOOLS ARE HERE TO STAY AND SERVE
“A strong, powerful Mu’min is better and more beloved to Allah than a weak Mu’min”
– Hadith. This Hadith encapsulates the ideal goal and vision of a Muslim School in a nutshell. The scope of this Hadith is a very comprehensive one. A strong Mu’min is one who is strong in every sense; physically, morally, spiritually, intellectually and even financially, to meet the challenges facing Islam. The Muslim School’s vision should be to develop a group of Mu’mineen (and Mu’minaat), who are strong in every way. In short, to strive towards developing a strong and dynamic Ummah!
Muslim schools have successfully completed the first leg of their journey in this country. The concept has taken firm root and needs no elaborate expounding or ‘marketing’ any more. Even nominal Muslims now understand the importance of these institutions. Many schools are already bursting at the seams. Wait-listing for a seat is not uncommon. This is a good sign. Many have now realised that we cannot entrust our children to ‘others’ for such an important matter such as education. With lots of Duas, sacrifice, pain, hardship and planning, this phase was completed. It was no mean or small achievement. May Allah reward those who worked tirelessly in this arena. But is the journey over? Do we stop here? Are we to be merely contended with the beautiful buildings and modern infrastructure of our schools? Is this the end of the journey or is there still more to be achieved?
‘PHASE TWO’ OF THE BUILDING PROJECT
Deep reflection will lead us to an answer. Yes, another phase of the construction has to be completed; the ‘spiritual phase’. This phase has to be vigourously undertaken now and brought to completion. Otherwise it may well be a case of the proverbial ‘Body without a Rooh (soul)’.
The next leg of the journey for Muslim schools is to focus sharply on the issue of cultivating a true Islamic ethos and the Sunnah culture of Islam within the school. Indeed, a few small steps have already been taken in this direction. Now big strides have to be taken. We should not be content with the present facade of a few external appearances of Islam at our schools, much like the glossy cover of a cheap magazine. A deep respect for the Sunnah culture and Islamic teachings must be fostered. A sincere fervour to practice and implement Islam in its entirety, not at random and will, is required of all role-players in Muslim Schools; from the governors, administrators, particularly the educators, pupils, and even parents. There are yet far too many complaints from the learned and the pious elders and Islamically- conscious parents in our communities about the luke-warm, half-hearted approach towards an Islamic ethos or ‘Islamization’ at our schools. This must change right away!
Another serious grievance surfacing frequently against Muslim Schools is regarding the inferior quality of Islamiyat education and the inadequate allocation on the timetable for Islamiyat as a subject. 3 or 4 half-hour periods a week is hardly adequate for Quran-Naazirah! A more realistic approach is required. These changes are vital if Muslim schools are to live up to their name and the great expectations that have been pinned on them!
PARENTS HAVE AN IMPORTANT DUTY TOWARDS MUSLIM SCHOOLS
The role of parents at Muslim Schools is that of ombudsman – a watch body – to ensure that the school is living up to its Islamic ethos and Sunnah culture. This should be their primary concern. If they find things going wrong in this area, they should notify the Shura Committee (Board of Governors) or the heads with due respect and sincerity. The intention should never be to stir up trouble or to indulge in mischief-making. This is wrong. Sadly, parents are more concerned about so-called standards of education and matters relating to extra-curricular activities at the school such as sports, excursions, etc. They tend to complain bitterly about shortcomings in these areas. But when the laws of Allah Ta’ala are violated, or the school veers away from its true Islamic ethos, there is hardly a whimper of protest from parents. It seems as though some parents attach greater importance to the secular education of their child, but not that much to the morals and Islamic education of their child. Yet this is far more important for a Muslim in both the worlds. Parents will need to change their attitude in this respect.
MUTTAQI’ ULAMA ARE NEEDED TO STEER THIS SHIP
With consultation, assistance and expert guidance of Muttaqi’ (pious) ‘Ulama and learned
elders, Muslim schools should now rapidly move towards ‘Islamizing’ or creating an
Islamic-orientation in every area of the school. It is noted with a sense of gratification that Alhamdulillah, already a powerful wave of change-for-the-better is washing over many schools. May these gentle winds of change now turn into a gale force! If a sincere and concerted effort is made, over a reasonable period of time, the Islamic character and culture of our schools should change, Insha-Allah. The change has to come. We should not hold back too long. This change is vital to draw the help and approval of our Creator, without which our Muslim Schools would simply be lifeless corpses and not very much different from ‘other’ schools!
May Allah Ta’ala make the contribution of these institutions a means of taking the children of this Ummah to their rightful position in the both the worlds.