FULL CIRCLE Q2:121


My son has begun his life’s sojourn into formal Islamic education. We used to take a few lessons on the Arabic alphabets and a few short surahs (Chapters of the Holy Qur’an) but we also wanted him to interact with more Muslims in a classroom. They do tend to learn faster that way and it is more consistent.

During his first week, I felt separation anxiety every time I dropped him off. It was weird because I thought I was over that since he started regular school a couple of years ago. I would walk him to the gate or classroom where he would wave solemnly and turn to enter and my smile would falter. Immediately I returned to pick him, promptly at the closing time, I would grill him about how the class went; if he made new friends; if anyone fought with him or beat him, but he would be all smiles. Running ahead of me excitedly, he would tell me names of new friends (which I would hurriedly commit to memory) and snippets of how the 2-hour class went. Yeah, I know…a mere two hours!

This reminded me of when I began my Islamic education too. I cannot quite remember my age but I was older than my son is, and I went with my brother. The school was a weekend one and lasted about 4 hours. It was a farther distance from our home than my son’s is and we used to be dropped off in the car but would often walk home when we closed.

I do not have fond memories of this school. I don’t think I ever discussed it with my brother but I was filled with dread whenever it was weekend and we had to go. I know he was too. I was a good student and did not get beaten by my tutor but the matron of the school (who I will call ‘Ma’) scared the hell out of our little minds. Pa, on the other hand, was a gentle soul.

Abu-Darda (R.A.) reported that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, “He who follows a path in quest of knowledge, Allah will make the path of Jannah easy to him. The angels lower their wings over the seeker of knowledge, being pleased with what he does. The inhabitants of the heavens and the earth and even the fish in the depth of the oceans seek forgiveness for him. The superiority of the learned man over the devout worshipper is like that of the full moon to the rest of the stars (i.e., in brightness). The learned are the heirs of the Prophets who bequeath neither dinar nor dirham but only that of knowledge; and he who acquires it, has in fact acquired an abundant portion.” – Riyad Saliheen Book 13, Hadith 1388

Yet, Ma attracted such curiosity out of me. I used to peep at her if she performed wudhu beside me. I would surreptitiously try to catch a glimpse of her face when she prayed beside me. She was not Nigerian, I could tell even though she was always in black and all I could see were her hands. Her complexion, her accent and her children’s looks gave her away.

I think I was eight or nine when this family came in quite late. Classes were in progress in an open space (we had long desks and chairs arranged in the compound) so when the group came in, we all looked up, distracted. A man reported one of his daughters (I think?) to Ma and it was a grievous crime that this teenager had committed. Ma ordered for canes and holding her niqab to her face with one hand, she lashed this teenager repeatedly following her around as she tried to escape the burning strokes. The cane broke and she asked for another! It was amazingly scary seeing this rather diminutive niqabi striking a precocious teenager who was even bigger than she was. The cane whipped the student’s hijab off and I saw blood streaks. It was gruesome and we were horrified.

Alhamdulillah, our Islamic school was eventually changed (my parents had begun to hear rumours about the school which probably correlated with our complaints). The new Islamic school was even farther (an hour walk) from home so we were usually dropped off by my mum or we took the bus. This place was so much nicer, run by medical students, and less oppressive. I have fond memories of this place <3. Now, it's my turn to do the dropping off 🙂

Do you have any memories of your early Islamic education?

May Allah bless our (good) teachers everywhere!

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20 thoughts on “FULL CIRCLE Q2:121

  1. Wow that was horrifying to read. Wonder what crime she could have committed to receive such a brutal treatment.
    Alhumdulillah the madarsa that I attended, I had become the teacher’s favourite. So all memories I have of there are great ones 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Although your experiences sound horrible, I feel at a disadvantage not being able to take some kind of Islamic education. It seems like I have to figure it all out on my own. P.S. I think it’s normal to worry about your son so much. When I have children, InshALLAh, I assume that I will worry excessively 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Salam,

    What an experience for you. Since I am a revert I have no Islamic schooling but do have the catholic Sunday school. I did see a few things but never to that degree..

    On a happy note Masha’Allah you worry about your child. I think that makes a great parent. Insha’Allah your child’s experience is one of nurturing and positive times.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am sorry for the delayed response, Muslim Latina. You see, I had replied you in my mind 🙂 Thank you for your comment and compliment ❤

      So how do you gather information on Islam as a revert and does the knowledge stick easily?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Salam,

        No worries, we all have busy lives and sometimes it gets really hectic.

        Well I did have a mentor at the masjid that we used to go to. She answered a lot of my questions and guided me on how I could get my foundation strong in Islam. We used mostly the Quran so I truly do have not gotten to read hadiths or Sunnahs right now. Once in a while I will email her with a verse I might not understand, she also refers me to an imam she trust when she cannot provide me with what she feels an acceptable answer.

        My husband and I basically read the Quran together and discuss it. When it comes to prayers, I am still learning after 6 years. I have a book given to me by my mentor with the steps and prayer in English. It is hard for me to memorize things (even as a kid) so it has been a long journey for me. Slowly though I have been memorizing the small parts and Insha’Allah I will have it all memorized soon…

        I do wish mosque’s had actual classes for reverts as they do with children. The classes they do have for adults are for ones that already have a basic understanding of the Quranic Launguage or were born Muslim so they already have a deeper understanding…

        Sorry I didn’t realize my answer would be this long lol..

        Insha’Allah you have a great week.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Rukayyat says:

    I attended just a few years of Islamic school as a child. I remember in one of the schools we were tasked to memorize the first 5 verses of suratul baqara and the successful ones were given this very delicious biscuit. it’s really amazing looking back now how I struggled as a seven year old to memorize those five verses while my daughter at that same age now as memorized so much more. Maybe it was our orientation then- that the Islamic school’s not as important as the western.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So true, Sis Rukayyat. Children are beginning earlier these days and hearing someone is a hafidh(a) is no longer as shocking as before. Parents are definitely educating their kids islamically better than before. The gamut of educational materials ensuring ease of learning also contributes to this unlike when all we had was a radio cassette player! 😀

      Like

  5. Thanks for your understanding, Muslim Latina. I appreciate your insight.

    I never paused to consider how difficult it must be for reverts. Was your mentor chosen for you or you found her?

    It is beautiful that you and your spouse get to explore the Quran together. It’s a shame there are no revert classes at your end. We have married women’s classes in this part of the world for older women who want to learn the deen. You should suggest it to them at your masjid.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My mentor was chosen for me. Most masjid here cater to the ethnicity so it is a bit difficult. The masjid I used to go to has started with those type of classes but I unfortunately do live in that area anymore or else I would be going. I still have not found a masjid my husband and I feel comfortable with so as of now we just pray at home and read the Quran. Allah (SWT) will guide us to the masjid that is meant for us.

      Liked by 1 person

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