Publish date29 Jan 2022 - 18:29
Story Code : 536420

Scholar Says Education System in West Main Challenge Ahead of Muslim Families

A London-based Muslim scholar and lecturer says education system in the West and the manner of training children are the most important challenges that Muslim women and families are now facing in Western countries.
Scholar Says Education System in West Main Challenge Ahead of Muslim Families
Syeda Umme Farwa was one of the scholars who addressed the event. She is a lecturer and founder of Labaik Ya Zahra (SA) Organisation from London, UK.
In two earlier pieces, IQNA published the views of Dr. Hakimah Saghaye Biria and Dr. Afsaneh Tavassoli on the topic.
 Here is the full text of the speech made by Syeda Umme Farwa:
IQNA: What do you think is the main challenge for Muslim women and families in the West?
Syeda Umme Farwa: Challenges such as finance, jobs, racism, and discrimination have been in place for Muslim families who come 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 education system has a capitalist and anti-Islamic theme.
Western countries are changing the education curriculum from the age of four. Families are suffering from these and it is not just the Muslim mothers who are concerned but Christian mothers also cry on this issue.
The education system recently introduces in schools teaches materials in the primary or nursery that you might get at the age of 15 and 18.
So they started to teach children RSE [relationships and sex education] or LGBT where a whole range of changing gender and having freedom of choosing whether you like to be a man or woman exists. This is a very dangerous thing. And people from other cultural backgrounds are suffering as well.
Those hundreds of youths who left their Muslim family in the UK for Syria were those who suffered during their teenage within the family. Parents were not educated as much they have to be language-wise and culture-wise and they suffered. They just wanted to fit in the Western culture.
Children, youth, and adults are facing negative stereotypes about Islam and Muslims in the West, and when raised without a proper foundation, Islamic upbringing and family structure children can feel misunderstood or may decide to try and ‘fit in’ or adapt to fit in with the crowd.
So children are feeling a sense of detachment in an Islamophobic culture. Islamophobia is one of the issues that has increased in the past 10 years. This targeted especially 60% percent of women in Western countries including in England.
 High divorce rates in the West have also affected Muslim families and have in turn meant that parents’ focus and attention has been diverted away from their children. Mothers having to work full time away from their children and leaving the raising 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 a family-centric one.
So there is pressure for parents as well on how to how to increase closeness towards children because when children go to school they receive a different education. They teach children that if you are not happy with your parents, leave them.
The influence in the West on individualistic and materialistic societies as opposed to collective society supported by family – hence children will prefer to sit on their PlayStation or computers gaming over the internet rather than engaging in activities that would be more enriching for their character and soul.
So I think the most important challenge at the moment, as a mother and as someone who lives in the UK, for parents and children is education and training children, how to fit in, and how to fight this islamophobia.
The situation around hijab has improved and we are observing a beautiful change within families and youths. Yes, there are lobbies that introduce brands and different types of Islamic hijabs but if we have strong faith and are equipped with strong teachings of the Quran, we understand what type of hijab is an Islamic hijab.
As lobbies and anti-Islam movements are following their propaganda, Muslims are also trying to face these challenges and get as much knowledge as they can to introduce the beautiful face of Islam. This is where Labaik Ya Zahra (sa) Organization helps hundreds of families.
When I started this, I observed the distance between parents and children. We tried our best to reduce that distance and we increased the beautiful relationship between parents and children.
There is a lack of teachers which I have observed in universities and in schools. We don’t have as many teachers and scholars who can spread the positive teachings of Islam.
IQNA: How much do you think media outlets and social media affect Islamophobia?
Syeda Umme Farwa: We can say the challenge is of Cyberspace and social media are so grave that even where parents are aware and putting protective safeguards in place, social media is targeting children even as young as 2 or 3 years old.
Mothers give their one or two-year-old children a mobile. They play games and watch cartoons and mothers are doing their job; this is very bad. Some mothers support this and say "because my child is very happy with this phone and now I can do relaxedly my job or household or whatever it is."
This leads to children losing motherhood.  Mother loses children and children loose parents because both are connected with social media.
 One of the schoolgirls who went to Syria to join ISIS back in 2014 was reportedly signed up to 70 websites used to spread Isis propaganda and target young people. The girl was reported to have joined after having suffered 18 months of disturbance in her home life. Upheaval or trouble at the home of a teenager is one of the great challenges for youth in the West.
Over the last 15 years, cyberspace has had the most severely negative influence on women and young girls especially those who have not had the opportunity to get training from their parents to allow them to focus on self-education or self-purity.
The negative portrayal of Muslims in Cyberspace has led to targeted attacks on women and families with more than half of Islamophobic attacks in Britain are committed against women, who are typically targeted because they are wearing clothing associated with Islam such as the hijab.
Last year in Canada a driver intentionally struck a family because they were Muslim, killing four people and seriously injuring a nine-year-old boy in was denounced as an “act of unspeakable hatred” and Islamophobia.
IQNA: What do you think are solutions to confront Islamophobia and anti-Muslim actions in the West?
Syeda Umme Farwa: It is important, from the Islamic perspective, 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 should not give in to the anti-family sentiment that surrounds their children which comes from external influences in fact, parents should increase and redouble their efforts to protect children from this wave.
A combination of the above has also led to high rates of depression and mental illness among children and youth
The solution lies in parents taking ownership of the religious and cultural upbringing of their children and not leaving it to schools and madrassas and community centers.
Using a Quranic and Ahlulbayt centered approach for raising children based on the teachings of the Quran and using role models such as Lady Fatima Zahra (sa) and Imam Ali (as) as the litmus test for guidance when it comes to raising families.
If we were to develop electronic tools to counterbalance the negative effects of the internet and games and enable children to engage with Islam from preschool ages where they could click on a link that took them to Quranic learning, this would provide an alternative and positive counterbalance for children, diverting their attention with Quran.
The connection with the Quran is crucial in this, as reported from Imam Ali (as) in Bihar Al Anwar book 1 page 224: “Learning in childhood is like carving something into stone”
Ultimately if parents do only one thing, they will win the fight and that is Tarbiyyat - e Aulad, as related in Al Kafi Volume 6 page 47 from Abi Abdullah Al Hussain (as) “Educate your children with the enlightening words of the Ahlulbayt (as): before misguided groups overtake you in educating your children’s thoughts”
Imam Sadegh (AS) says: “It is necessary to take our children with the roots of goodness and light.”
And let us know the roots of the darkness and evil that are the enemies of the Ahl al-Bayt (as). If they are taught this important issue, they will be safe from any harm from enemies.
My last words is that the issues and problems are not finished after we discuss them. We need to be practical, we need to have think tanks internationally and we need to have the solutions to that problems. We need to introduce the best education system and help the families in the West on how to improve their knowledge and piety and how to have the best Akharah as well.
Your Name
Your Email Address
Security Code