The education system in the West Main Challenge in front of Muslim families: scholar
TEHRAN (IQNA) – A London-based Muslim scholar and lecturer says the education system in the West and how to raise children are the biggest challenges facing Muslim women and families in Western countries today.
A webinar titled “Challenges of Muslim Women and Families in the West” was held here in Tehran with the participation of three scholars who discussed the topic from different perspectives. The webinar was co-organized by the International Quran News Agency (IQNA), the General Office of Cultural Cooperation and Iranian Expatriate Affairs of ICRO and the ACECR branch of Alzahra University.
Syeda Umme Farwa was one of the scholars who spoke at the event. She is a lecturer and founder of the organization Labaik Ya Zahra (SA) in London, UK.
In two previous articles, IQNA published the views of Dr. Hakimah Saghaye Biria and Dr. Afsaneh Tavassoli on the subject.
Here is the full text of Syeda Umme Farwa’s speech:
IQNA: What do you think is the main challenge for Muslim women and families in the West?
Syeda Umme Farwa: Challenges such as finances, employment, racism and discrimination have been put in place for Muslim families coming to Western countries and these will also continue to exist, but the first and most important current challenge is the education system.
This very dangerous educational system has a capitalist and anti-Islamic theme.
Western countries change the curriculum from the age of four. Families suffer from it and it is not only Muslim mothers who are affected, but also Christian mothers who cry about it.
The education system has recently introduced teaching aids in primary or kindergarten to schools, which can be obtained at the age of 15 and 18.
So they started teaching kids about CSR [relationships and sex education] or LGBT where there is a range of gender changes and the freedom to choose whether you like being male or female. It is a very dangerous thing. And people from other cultural backgrounds are also suffering.
These hundreds of young people who left their Muslim families in the UK for Syria are the ones who suffered during their teenage years within the family. The parents weren’t educated as much as they needed to be linguistically and culturally and they suffered. They just wanted to adapt to western culture.
Children, youth and adults face negative stereotypes about Islam and Muslims in the West, and when raised without a proper foundation, Islamic education and family structure, children may feel misunderstood or may decide to try to fit in or adapt to fit in. with the crowd.
Thus, children feel a sense of detachment in an Islamophobic culture. Islamophobia is one of the issues that has increased over the past 10 years. This mainly targeted 60% of women in Western countries, including England.
High divorce rates in the West have also affected Muslim families and in turn have meant that parental focus and attention has been diverted from their children. The requirement for mothers to work full-time away from their children and to leave the education of their children to others – at best family members, at worst in the hands of pre-school or out-of-school clubs – has also changed the balance of family life away from being family-centred.
So there is also pressure for parents on how to increase closeness with children, because when children go to school, they receive a different education. They teach children that if you are unhappy with your parents, leave them.
The influence in the West on individualistic and materialistic societies as opposed to the family-supported collective society – hence children will prefer to sit on their PlayStations or computers to play on the internet rather than engage in activities that would be more enriching for their character and soul.
So I think the biggest challenge right now, as a mother and as a person living in the UK, for parents and children is raising and training the children, how to fit in and how combat this Islamophobia.
The situation around the hijab has improved and we can see a good evolution within families and young people. Yes, there are lobbies that introduce brands and different types of Islamic hijabs, but if we have strong faith and are equipped with solid teachings from the Quran, we understand what type of hijab is an Islamic hijab.
As anti-Islam lobbies and movements follow their propaganda, Muslims are also trying to face these challenges and gain as much knowledge as possible to present the beautiful face of Islam. This is where the organization Labaik Ya Zahra (sa) helps hundreds of families.
When I started this, I observed the distance between parents and children. We have done our best to reduce this distance and we have increased the beautiful relationship between parents and children.
There is a lack of teachers that I have observed in universities and in schools. We don’t have so many teachers and scholars who can spread the positive teachings of Islam.
IQNA: To what extent do you think the media and social networks affect Islamophobia?
Syeda Umme Farwa: We can say that the challenge is cyberspace and social media is so severe that even when parents are aware and put protective measures in place, social media targets children as young as 2 or 3 years old.
Mothers give a cell phone to their one- or two-year-old children. They play games and watch cartoons and the mothers do their job; it is very bad. Some mothers support this and say “because my child is very happy with this phone and now I can calmly do my work or my housework or whatever”.
This leads to children losing their motherhood. Mother loses children and children lose parents because both are connected to social media.
One of the schoolgirls who went to Syria to join ISIS in 2014 was reportedly listed on 70 websites used to spread ISIS propaganda and target young people. The young girl is said to have joined after suffering 18 months of disruption in her family life. An upheaval or disturbance in the home of a teenager is one of the great challenges of youth in the West.
Over the past 15 years, cyberspace has had the most negative influence on women and girls, especially those who have not had the opportunity to obtain training from their parents to enable them to focus on self-education or self-purification.
The negative portrayal of Muslims in cyberspace has led to targeted attacks against women and families. More than half of Islamophobic attacks in Britain are against women, who are usually targeted for wearing clothing associated with Islam, such as the hijab.
Last year in Canada, a driver intentionally hit a family for being Muslim, killing four people and seriously injuring a nine-year-old boy, in what has been denounced as an ‘act of unspeakable hatred’ and Islamophobia .
IQNA: What do you think are the solutions to deal with Islamophobia and anti-Muslim actions in the West?
Syeda Umme Farwa: It is important, from the Islamic point of view, that parents develop a strong relationship with their children, spend time with them and take a keen interest in their physical, spiritual, social and intellectual development.
Parents must not give in to the anti-family sentiment that surrounds their children which comes from outside influences indeed, parents must multiply and redouble their efforts to protect children from this wave.
A combination of the above has also resulted in high rates of depression and mental illness in children and young people
The solution lies in parents taking ownership of the religious and cultural education of their children and not leaving it to schools, madrassas and community centers.
Using a Quran and Ahlulbayt centered approach to raising children based on the teachings of the Quran and using role models such as Lady Fatima Zahra (sa) and Imam Ali (as) as a litmus test for raising families.
If we were to develop electronic tools to counteract the negative effects of the internet and games and enable children to engage with Islam from preschool age where they could click on a link that would lead them to Quranic learning , it would provide an alternative and positive counterbalance for children, diverting their attention with the Quran.
The connection with the Quran is crucial in this regard, as reported by Imam Ali (as) in Bihar Al Anwar book 1 page 224: “Learning in childhood is like carving something in stone”
In the end, if the parents do only one thing, they will win the fight and that is Tarbiyyat – e Aulad, as narrated in Al Kafi Volume 6 page 47 by Abi Abdullah Al Hussain (as) “Educate your children with the enlightening words of the Ahlulbayt (as): before misguided groups catch up with you in educating the thoughts of your children”
Imam Sadegh (AS) says: “It is necessary to take our children with the roots of kindness and light.”
And let us know the roots of darkness and evil which are the enemies of the Ahl al-Bayt (as). If they are taught this important matter, they will be safe from all harm from enemies.
My final word is that questions and issues are not over after we have discussed them. We need to be practical, we need to have international think tanks and we need to have solutions to these problems. We must introduce the best system of education and help Western families to improve their knowledge and piety and also have the best Akharah.
Program facilitator: Mohammad Ali Haqshenas