Secular education vs Islamic education

A maktab or place where deeni knowledge is sought is so vital to build an upright Islamic community. Yet with the increase of these madaaris and makaatib we still find disinterest in deen or rather there is a feeling of complacency that children ARE learning some form of deen, so there is no desire to increase or further Islamic education or to adopt Islamic ethos.
Necessary Islamic studies include learning to read the Qur’aan which here usually takes approximately three to four years for a child to read fluently, sometimes longer depending on how much the child practices his Qur’aan reading. Aqaa’id (Islamic beliefs), Akhlaaq and Aadaab (etiquettes and morals), Taareekh (history of the Prophets), and Seerah (life of the Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu alayhi wa sallam). Then there is memorising surahs from Juz ‘Amma and daily du’as. All these are necessary for a child to grow up and have an identity as a Muslim. It is these makaatib along with life at home that makes us the type of Muslims we are.

Today in South Africa we are blessed to have many makaatib and madaaris with dedicated Mu’allims and Mu’allimahs imparting this priceless knowledge. This knowledge that will shape the Muslim Ummah, the ONLY knowledge that will avail one in the qabr and aakhirah.
Although many parents feel that Islamic education (and by Islamic education here, I am referring to Islamic education at elementary level) is important, one can distinctly see that secular education is given preference over Islamic education. I’ll give you an example… A parent knows that her child is weak in Qur’aan and almost every other necessary subject. Yet should an extra mural activity come up, the Islamic lesson will be missed. Yes that particular lesson may be redone, but the sacrifice of learning the deen of Allah is lost. Another example, parents will make appointments for extra secular tuition or dentist appointments and the like during madrasah/maktab hours, but it will NEVER be done during school hours. School fees will be paid on the first of the month, yet Islamic education fees somehow slips their minds.

I have seen Muslim children go to catholic schools with a condescending attitude and no regard for the importance of deen ul Islam. I have had parents come to me asking me to not teach Seerah as they felt it is “not an important subject”. With tears in my eyes I asked “Is learning about the Prophet’s (Sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) suffering too much for you? ” Is hearing how he (Sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) kept wiping the blood off his mubaarak face in effort not to let a single drop touch the ground too much for you? What difficulty are you going through? Studying a seerah book is too hard? What have WE sacrificed for this beautiful deen to come to us? An extra hour, more petrol in your car for an extra madrasah trip, a few rands more? Could it ever compare to the sacrifices of our Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) and those after him?!

The point I’m trying to make is that as human beings who have to live in this world albeit temporary, we have to learn secular education but give preference to the knowledge that is everlasting. Most parents are content with their children just knowing basics of Islam. Would you be content if your child knew only how to add and subtract or how to read elementary school books for the rest of his/her life? Of course not! You would encourage your child to continue his/her studies as well as keep a check on him/her at home. Why do we not have this same desire for our children to further their Islamic education? Some will become doctors, lawyers, business men/women, artisans, etc. But how many will shoulder the heavy responsibilty of imparting sacred and priceless knowledge of deen to the ignorant masses? How many will become huffaaz or ‘ulamaa?

Again I’m not saying that we should have no doctors or business people. We can have doctors but doctors with taqwa who put the need of the sick before money, who marvel at the greatness of Allah every time he/she looks at the human body. Let us have business people with ethics and scruples who have good mu’aamulaat with others and know their laws of buyoo’ (Islamic masaa’il on trading). Let us educate ourselves with what will benefit us when neither wealth nor people with influence will avail us.
Let us ask ourselves how much preference is really shown to this deen of Allah?

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